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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Schmidt: 'I think maybe we got lulled into a false sense of security'

The Ireland head coach felt his side lacked the same intensity that Italy brought.

Murray Kinsella reports from Olympic Park

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Ireland may have approached their World Cup clash with Italy in a more relaxed manner than ideal, partly because of their big wins over Canada and Romania in recent weeks.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt was happy to get through with a win against Italy. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland struggled at times against a ferocious and skillful Italian effort in Olympic Park, eventually emerging with a 16-9 win but suffering a handful of frights, none more so than when Peter O’Mahony needed to make a try-saving tackle on Josh Furno after half time.

“Sometimes you do have to win ugly, particularly when you’re up against really good teams,” said Schmidt post-match in London.

“For us I think maybe we got lulled into a false sense of security over the last couple of weeks. We were able to get some scoreboard pressure early in the games and it meant our opponents had to play a little more.”

Ireland started well against the Italians, defending comfortably against the first attacking thrusts from Jacques Brunel’s side. There were promising signs in attack too, culminating in Keith Earls’ 20th-minute try after a Robbie Henshaw offload.

However, Ireland missed further scoring chances throughout the game and Schmidt felt that there was intensity lacking from his men.

“A few times I felt we got into good scoring opportunities and didn’t quite finish them off,” said Schmidt. “I think sometimes when you score early in a game, particularly when there’s an expectation that people have around the game that you should win it, sometimes I think your intensity can drop off a little bit, you can expect things to happen instead of making them happen.

“I think we were probably a little bit guilty of that today. We didn’t play with the same intensity that we needed to and that intensity was thrown back at us by an Italian team that was inspired today.”

Schmidt highlighted O’Mahony’s exceptional tackle on Furno as an example of Ireland’s good scramble defence when they made frustrating handling errors, of which the Kiwi felt there were far too many.

Paul O'Connell and Jonathan Sexton Captain Paul O'Connell and out-half Johnny Sexton. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ireland head coach wasn’t going to be drawn on the yellow card for back row O’Mahony late in the game.

“Look, it’s what they’re looking for and if you look hard enough you’ll find something,” said Schmidt. “It just means you’ve got to be whiter than white.”

A disappointing performance from Ireland under intense pressure from the fired-up Italians, but Schmidt’s men are three from three and are now into the World Cup quarter-finals.

Ahead of them next weekend is the small matter of the decisive final Pool D clash with France, when the ferocity Ireland face will be even greater.

The French have high expectations, both from the team and the media,” said Schmidt. “I think it’s going to be incredibly hard for us to beat them next week. They are armed with some more weaponry then perhaps what we saw today and I think we have to be more accurate than we were today.

“Physically, they have some players that are very, very powerful and that’s going to make things difficult for us as well.

“I have watched their games but I’ll be doing a lot of analysis over the next 24 to 48 hours and we’ll come up with a plan, hopefully we’ll be more accurate in putting it in place.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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