Monday 24 April 2017

'We've gone four years where we haven't lost a home game in Six Nations' - Schmidt insists Ireland belong among the best in the world

Photo - RTE
Photo - RTE

Jack O'Toole

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has said his side are among 'the best teams in the world' after Ireland defeated England 13-9 at the Aviva Stadium.

A first-half try from Iain Henderson, and two penalties from Johnny Sexton were enough to give Ireland the win in Dublin and deny England a second consecutive Grand Slam.

The victory maintains Ireland's undefeated home record in the Six Nations under Schmidt and after the game the New Zealander said that beating the three sides ranked ahead of Ireland in the world rankings was a big goal for Ireland's playing squad.

"We've gone four years now where we haven't lost a home game, and I think that the players talked a little bit about that there are three teams ranked ahead of us in the world, and it would be nice to have captured a win against all three of them," Schmidt told RTE Sport in his post-match interview.

"To have done that, for this crew, is a massive feather in the cap."

The 2017 Six Nations was Ireland's fourth campaign under Schmidt and many have questioned whether Ireland have regressed the last two seasons under the former Leinster coach.

 

Those concerns will largely have been alleviated after defeating an England team that was on the verge of setting the world record for most consecutive wins, but Schmidt insists that consistency is still something that Ireland are looking for.

"Hanging in there," Schmidt told Clare McNamara when asked where Ireland were after their latest campaign.

"They're in the top four ranked teams in the world.. that's big for us, that's huge. You're not going to get consistency because there are a lot of human factors in a performance - including how our opponents play and the decisions that the man in the middle makes - so for us we're just going to keep on trying to control as many of our elements in our performance as we can, and I guess we'll know a little bit more about ourselves come this time next year."

Here is how the Irish heroes rated in momentous win over England  

Ireland

Jared Payne - The new full-back had a horrid start, but grew into the game as it progressed. Defensive skills counted in the second half. 6

Keith Earls - Almost got a first half try, Earls worked so hard. He has to have a great chance of going on the Lions Tour. 8

Garry Ringrose - Lively and powerful, Ringrose  was excellent in Ireland’s midfield as he took on the English tackles. 8

Robbie Henshaw - Did plenty of running in the Irish midfield when Ireland were on top. 7

Simon Zebo - Got in a few good clearance kicks and was always there to give Marmion an extra option. 7

Johnny Sexton - Just oozed class all evening despite yet again being targeted by the opposition. 8

Kieran Marmion - Understandably slow to get going, but Ireland’s new scrum-half grew as the game went on. 8

Jack McGrath - Ferocious with ball in hand and held up the Irish scrum under English pressure. 8

Rory Best - Had to leave the match from 15 minutes in the first half, but returned to make serious yards. 7

Tadhg Furlong - What a beast as he carried the ball straight into the English wall and never flinched. 9

Iain Henderson - The big man justified his call-up with a serious shift crowned by that first-half try. 8

Donnacha Ryan - Worked like a Trojan, hitting hard and knocking over would-be tacklers. 8

Peter O’Mahony - He gave Ireland that something extra in the line-out, messing up England’s set-piece. 8

Sean O’Brien - He had his best game for Ireland this Spring. This was more like it from the Tullow Tank. 9

CJ Stander - Not quite as visible in the loose as in previous matches, but Stander worked hard throughout. 7

 

England

Mike Brown- 8

Anthony Watson- 6

Jonathan Joseph- 7

Owen Farrell- 8

Elliot Daly- 7

George Ford- 7

Ben Youngs- 7

Joe Marler- 5

Dylan Hartley- 5

Dan Cole- 6

Joe Launchbury- 6

Courtney Lawes- 6

Maro Itoje- 8

James Haskell- 7

Billy Vunipola- 7

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