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'We got a 12-3 lead and we stopped playing to a degree': Schmidt laments penalty calls after shock in Shizuoka

Ireland conceded nine penalties, and Schmidt complained about four ‘tough’ offside calls.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt cut an aggrieved figure as he faced the post-match cameras and complained about ‘tough’ refereeing calls.

Ireland lost out to an inspired attacking display from Japan. And while Schmidt’s men had initially met fire with fire by matching the home side’s high-tempo approach, they visibly struggled to sustain the early efforts that yielded tries from Rob Kearney and Garry Ringrose inside the first 20 minutes.

“We played well in the first quarter, we got out to a 12-3 lead and we stopped playing to a degree,” Schmidt said pitch-side after the 12-19 defeat.

Once he got inside, he expanded in an interview with RTE.

“The second (try) was on the back of two penalty advantages and they were making errors.

Then I suppose it reversed. We got penalised four times for offside. Watching the monitor they were pretty tough calls. It gave them a bit of oxygen and they didn’t need too much, they were superb tonight. They got off the line and put us under pressure.

“It’s one of those evenings where, if you’re not up to the mark, they’ll knock you over and take advantage. They take control of the pool now.” 

Though he decided not to make a change to the pack who started the win over Scotland last weekend, Schmidt again highlighted the challenge of a six-day turnaround as Ireland ran out of steam early.

“We didn’t do a lot during the week,” said the Kiwi when asked about training preparations.

“We had a six-day turnaround. I know I might sound like a broken record, but an eight-day turnaround and a six-day turnaround does make a difference. You get a bit more time to recover and a bit more time to put a plan together.  We knew that was coming.

“Conditions were pretty tough for us, but they were the same for both teams. It’s pretty tough going, we’ve got to be able to get beyond that, we’ve got another game in five days.”

cj-stander-with-michael-leitch-and-pieter-labuschagne Stander and Leitch grapple. Source: Jayne Russell/INPHO

While Schmidt resisted the temptation to rotate his forwards in such testing conditions, he insisted he was happy to leave Jonathan Sexton in the stands after marking him fit to play midweek.

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Instead, Jack Carty – who Schmidt only handed an international debut this year – started against the host nation.

“I don’t think you ever regret utilising the squad. We were here four years ago and we didn’t use the squad. We didn’t want to make the same mistake again. There’s no guarantee anyone is going to be fit at the end of the day. Guys have to get their opportunity.

“I thought Jack controlled the first half. but once we came under pressure, it was very hard to get the ball off them. They did a lot of deep cleaning in the rucks and we were getting taken out two or three metres past the ruck and that gave them the impetus to keep coming at us.”

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Sean Farrell

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