Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Schmidt looks to 'fickle friend' to stay onside for Grand Slam bid

Chris Farrell during Ireland rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth Co Kildare Chris Farrell during Ireland rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth Co Kildare
| 01 March, 2018, 15:19

Wales coach Gatland issued a tongue-in-cheek apology to Ireland counterpart Schmidt, after appearing to believe he had previously offended his Kiwi compatriot.

On reflection, pass master Sexton's control of the game was exemplary, pulling the ball back, whizzing it across the face of the vaunted Welsh rush defence and changing the point of attack.

However, the skills of Tadhg Furlong, absent on Saturday, would be nearly redundant without the core duty to anchor the scrum. Instead we saw some heavy-duty ball-carrying and defensive duties from Chris Farrell, Andrew Porter, Bundee Aki and James Ryan, who between them have 19 caps.

By that stage he had failed to convert a Jacob Stockdale try, Ireland's opening score of the worldwide, and had missed an earlier penalty kick a player of his quality would expect to score.

In the end, it didn't matter because all of the Four Musketeers plunged their swords into the risky Welsh.

Joe Schmidt has been careful about exposing these young men to the glare of the media.

More than all others, this was their 80-minutes in the sunshine. The focus changes a little bit.

"What a huge stage to come onto and replacing two huge players for us in Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson".

Schmidt was sanguine about Gatland's post-match comments on Saturday - and praised the way Wales went about the game.

Asked if the Ireland squad can keep any Grand Slam talk at bay, Schmidt said: "It's a lot easier for us than it is externally because we do live in a bit of a bubble through the championship".


"There was a few nerves but I tried to get myself in the best position I could and with "Bestie" helping me out beside me and the talent we have in our second-rows and in the back-row - I think it was a pack effort".

Coach Warren Gatland cursed Wales' indiscipline.

The Irish, who maintained their proud Six Nations home record under Joe Schmidt in never having lost since he took over after the 2013 edition, will host the Scots in a fortnight and hope to go on from there for a mouth watering potential Grand Slam decider with champions England on March 17.

"To me the biggest frustration was the penalty count in the first half", he said.

"The disappointing thing from our point of view is that the things we worked on during the week and spoke about in the week came back to haunt us like the discipline, being prepared to go through lots and lots of phases against an Irish team without giving anything away".

"When they get penalties they're generally pretty clinical at converting them into three or five points".

However as the game seemed to be wrapped up, Ireland were made sweat as Shinglar and Evans scored two tries to reduce the deficit to just a single score.

"The penalty count in the first half, even though it was only seven, it was really nine because they've had two penalty advantages and they've scored off that", said Gatland.

And they say you can win nothing with kids.

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