Joe Schmidt Analyses What Went Wrong For Ireland Against Wales

Joy Montgomery
March 11, 2017

Ireland must win in Cardiff to keep their title hopes alive, while Wales are aiming to hit back after consecutive defeats.

George North's two wondrous tries handed Wales a deserved and hard-fought victory over Ireland on Friday evening (10 March).

But if they can get back on track following reversals against England and Scotland, then it would also guarantee a top-eight seeding ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw in May.

"Luke passed the HIA on the day, he's done checks up until this point [Wednesday], he's just got his contact protocol to go through and he'll be fine".

Johnny Sexton was rightly sin-binned for denying Jonathan Davies a try as Ireland creaked under heavy pressure, while scrum-half Conor Murray played on despite a clear arm injury.

"We came here expecting to win, we knew we had the quality to win".

Wales interim head coach Rob Howley: "There were too many unforced errors in our game [v Scotland] from 40 to 55 minutes, after a really dominant first half on the back of one of the best games in the Six Nations against England".

"They have got aspirations for the title". He linked with Webb whose long, inviting pass found Leigh Halfpenny and he sent big winger North cutting in past Keith Earls and over in the corner despite Simon Zebo's cover tackle. They were embarrassed by their failure to get to grips quickly in their last match with Italy's innovative tactics at the breakdown, and such a humiliating experience might normally provoke a backlash from a good side in their next outing.

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While the grumblings about Ireland's performance last night and in this championship will likely rumble on over the coming days, Schmidt was insistent that even after this defeat in Cardiff, his side can redeem their championship by beating England next weekend. The referee ignored the young centre, ignored all pleas for mercy.

In the second half Wales stretched their lead when Halfpenny scored a penalty in the 39th minute.

Ireland did have chances to regain the initiative when trailing 15-9 but lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Ireland coach Nigel Carolan has made five changes from the team that beat France, three personnel and two positional. There are quite a few things to put right there, and as a team we have got the opportunity to do that.

If that isn't enough for the Irish players to be tearing down the walls of Carton House this week then we don't know what is. Credit to the boys. It's about handling the pressure from one minute to 80 minutes.

"For myself, personally, there is still a level of hurt there from the Scottish defeat, and I am sure the players are feeling that as well, so we need to react in a positive manner against what will be a very confident Ireland team".

While Ireland were many peoples' favourites for the championship this year, they now find themselves heading into next week's clash against England at the Aviva Stadium with relatively little to play for - barring pride and finishing as high up the table as possible.

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