Tuesday 17 September 2019

Schmidt: We're in for a tough day if we're untidy again

Ireland 28 Argentina 17

Bundee Aki goes over to score a try. Photo: Sportsfile
Bundee Aki goes over to score a try. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Another record banked, but there is little evidence of celebration on Joe Schmidt's face as he sifts through his teams 10th home win in a row.

No Irish team has enjoyed such a run of success on home soil, but if they want to extend that record to 11 they'll need a huge improvement against the last team to beat them at Lansdowne Road, New Zealand.

Johnny Sexton has his momentum halted by Matias Orlando. Photo: Sportsfile
Johnny Sexton has his momentum halted by Matias Orlando. Photo: Sportsfile

In some ways, a scrum-inspired win over Argentina was a perfect road-test for the All Blacks and Ireland found there was plenty of dirty petrol in the system as their lineout struggled, their kicking game was off, their defence was breached a few times and their ball was slowed down successfully.

"I think it demonstrates that we need to get the car tuned," Schmidt said, picking up the metaphor and running with it.

"We're going to need the cohesion that a smooth-running vehicle has.

"What we can't do is have untidy elements of the game because they love to play off those, when things become unstructured.

Sean O’Brien leaves the field with a broken arm alongside team doctor Ciaran Cosgrave. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean O’Brien leaves the field with a broken arm alongside team doctor Ciaran Cosgrave. Photo: Sportsfile

"At one stage, I can't remember the player, but he chipped over the top and Kieran Read gave it to Damian McKenzie with jets on, going in the other direction.

"Now, Owen Farrell got back and managed to knock the ball out of his hands, but I just think that if we're untidy as we were tonight, it's going to be a very tough, tough day at the office. We have to tidy up a number of elements of play.

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"I thought there was some really good stuff as well. Maybe it's the expectation we have of ourselves or that you guys (the media) have of us now that we (are expected to) come out and hit the ground running every time. It's tougher to do than that.

"We got back from Chicago on Monday. We trained pretty quietly on Tuesday. Then it was into training on Thursday and I felt we trained reasonably well.

"I was hopeful a few things would work out alright and enough worked out alright to beat a team that have just finished a Rugby Championship together.

"Talking to Mario (Ledesma), they had two weeks off. Then they had two weeks to prepare for us.

"They are a really good team. To come through that and get out the other side, the players merit a little bit of respect on the back of that.

"Then, also, they will merit a few tidy-ups as well."

The performance of a dominant scrum will please him; it created two walk-in tries for scrum-halves Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath in either half. Bundee Aki grabbed one in between, with the rest of Ireland's points coming from Johnny Sexton's boot.

The lineout was messy as Argentina applied huge pressure, and while the home team's capacity to hold on to possession and control territory limited the Pumas' threats, they did manage a brilliantly worked score of their own before half-time for Bautista Delguy.

Undoubtedly, Schmidt will look at his team's tackling - three of their six penalties came for infringements in that area - but he will surely make the case to World Rugby that Argentina's repeat infringements should have resulted in a yellow card.

Had ref Nic Berry marked his first Tier One game with a sin-binning things might have opened up; instead the capacity crowd was served up a stop-start game.

Ultimately, that won't be remembered come kick-off next weekend when the match of the series, and perhaps the season, takes place at the same venue.

"Look, it is exciting," Schmidt said. "I've had guys from New Zealand ringing me looking for tickets for the last six to nine months.

"I haven't got tickets, so I can't give you tickets. So, if you guys have got any spare I've got people to give them to.

"We shouldn't really be giving them to Kiwis anyway, because we want to get as much green in there, as much volume supporting us as possible.

"Because, you know, the two times we have played them here - I remember the roar in 2013 was phenomenal.

"When we were driving that lineout with 10 minutes to go, the roar was just deafening.

"While it didn't work out the right way... and it was the same last time we played them, but they scored a phenomenal try very, very quickly at the start of the game the last time we played them; that was pure All Blacks class.

"The speed of the ruck, the speed of transfer, the quality of the passing and the running lines, all of those things that we know that are coming, they presented.

"There's no doubt they'll want to hit the ground running in a similar fashion and we have got to be ready to do the same."

Competition: Independent.ie has two pairs of tickets to the sold out Ireland vs New Zealand game at the Aviva this Saturday. Enter here.

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