VIDEO: Schmidt defends Sexton's kicking display

Sun, 25 Feb 2018 00:00

REACTION: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has defended Johnny Sexton after his performance during Ireland’s 37-27 win over Wales.

The Leinster flyhalf put in an uncharacteristically poor kicking display, leaving 10 points behind.

He missed his first three attempts at goal, the first of which was right in front of the posts.

Unfortunately today his goal-kicking wasn’t what it normally is. To coin a golfing analogy, you can be super off the tee, your short irons can be great, but he didn’t quite have the putting game that he normally does.”

Schmidt was keen to stress Sexton’s running game was crucial to the victory.

“He decided he was going to carry today and play like a big man, which did admirably. He probably had a bit more contact that he normally does. He did some things superbly, he brought other players into the game, that is one of the beauties of having Johnny.”

“It was a super, super pass for Jacob (Stockdale) to really jog in. He showed the full gambit (of passing).”

The coach, who has guided the Irish to two Six Nations championships (2014/15) but never the Grand Slam, did reveal that defence was a cause for concern - especially having turned it around from trailing 13-5 to lead 27-13 in the second-half.

The most frustrating thing was at 27-13 that we didn't keep that margin or grow it and they worked their way back into the game," said Schmidt.

"With some defending, we should do better and we will do better."

Schmidt said he was delighted to have scored 13 tries in the past two matches but again he said there was a downside.

"It was frustrating against Italy and today in conceding tries," said the 52-year-old New Zealander.

"But a lot of positives too with eight tries (against Italy) and five tries today. We are keeping ourselves from losses but we have to do better than conceding three tries in both matches."

Ireland are now the only team left in the competition who can complete the Grand Slam after England’s shock defeat to Scotland.

Agence France-Presse & rugbypass

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