Joe Schmidt unhappy at lack of accuracy against Wales

‘We probably lost the battle in the air and we got slow ruck ball in that second half’

Reaction from Joe Schmidt, Paul O'Connell, Tommy Bowe and Eoin Reddan as Ireland lose narrowly away to Wales. Video: Daniel O'Connor

 

Joe Schmidt bemoaned a lack of accuracy at key moments as Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes disappeared in a 23-16 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

A 67 per cent success in the lineout was one of the standout figures against his side, with Rory Best’s wayward throws leading to four steals in 12, while Ireland turned the ball over 14 times to Wales’ seven.

Outhalf Jonathan Sexton also had a poor afternoon as Warren Gatland’s side rekindled their hope of championship success on the final weekend of the Six Nations.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed, we felt we probably did enough to win the game but those fine margins got away on us,” admitted Schmidt.

“We probably lost the battle in the air and we got slow ruck ball in that second half. The way it was in the first half, if you were at all near the ball you were very quickly penalised. We didn’t quite get that consistency in the second half and we didn’t quite get the speed of ruck ball that would have maybe helped us.

“We didn’t help ourselves and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”

Schmidt credited Wales for their performance, particularly the key third-quarter spell when they soaked up a deluge of Irish pressure .

Wales made 289 tackles to 104 from Ireland, with Luke Charteris (37), man of the match Sam Warburton (30) and Taulupe Faletau (24) combining for over 90 tackles between them.

“A lot of credit has to go to the Wales defence, I think they made a lot of tackles and they hung in really well when we did get pressure inside their 22,” added Schmidt.

“We weren’t as accurate as we would have liked to have been and part of that is the Welsh pressure, part of that is just a little bit of lack of continuity from us.

“When you know it’s going to be such a fine margin, when those things escape you, you’ve got to fight your way back into the game. I thought we did that, I felt we did it really well. And even right at the end I felt we got our maul set up really well. It was disappointing not to at least try to come out with one point at the end of it.”

Despite the setback, Schmidt pointed to Ireland’s ability to come back from a defeat to England last season to claim the title, although the performance was nowhere near that of Twickenham.

“I felt like we responded really well last year when we lost by a one-score margin in Twickenham. But I felt we probably played pretty well in Twickenham, today I think we let ourselves down a little bit. We probably had enough possession and territory to win the game. As I said there’s a lot of credit falls on the Welsh defence and probably a little bit of inaccuracy from us.”

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