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'We didn't get too many launching points': Schmidt laments set-piece and errors in Rome

‘We’re normally nailed on at the set-piece,’ said Schmidt.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt admitted a sense of relief as his side came away with a bonus point victory despite a problematic performance against Italy in Rome.

Schmidt’s side won out 16-26 with a bonus point thanks to tries from Quinn Roux, Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls and Conor Murray. But the performance was littered with handling errors after two weeks of Ireland speaking about ‘cohesion’ and ‘rhythm’.

Speaking to Virgin Media post-match, Schmidt steered clear of the suggestion that Ireland’s struggles are part of a bigger picture across the opening three matches of this Championship.

“Every game has an independent life-span and through that game we didn’t put enough together, we didn’t keep the ball well enough, we weren’t accurate enough with those passes,” said the Kiwi.

“We didn’t get too many launching points that were clean. Even when they were clean, like Keith Earls going straight through, we managed to throw that away.

“I can’t put my finger on it at the moment, but we’ll have to sort a few things right before France.”

Leonardo Ghiraldini and Bundee Aki Aki's absence was felt by Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Of particular concern for Schmidt was Ireland’s line-out, with Sean Cronin missing his target with over-throws three times in the first-half, one of which led directly to an Italian try.

We’re normally nailed on at the set-piece and we didn’t get that set-piece flow ball. And when we did get it we put passes down.”

Schmidt suggested the early withdrawal of Bundee Aki was a factor in the difficulties, with Chris Farrell having played little rugby at inside centre since returning to Ireland.

“Relief”, he said in summation, “at the end of it, we got our five points but we were too inaccurate. Italy got in amongst us and made it very difficult.”

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