Schmidt confident Sexton will recover for Italy after failing HIA

Rex Christensen
February 13, 2019

Townsend had seen his side pick off Italy 33-20 last time out, but the head coach admitted their failings in attack against Joe Schmidt's men pointed to mistakes on his part.

He was as frustrated as anyone with the 22-13 defeat to Ireland but immediately focused on that encounter with the country he has made his adopted home at the Stade France, where Scotland haven't tasted victory since 1999.

Ireland had lost the physical battle against Eddies Jones' England team, prompting a week of soul-searching, but Scotland were never going to beat the Irish in a similar way.

With Scotland back in the game at 10-12, the second half was delicately poised and both teams went into the dressing room still on optimistic of a win. "But you have to give credit to them, they took their opportunities".

"I think it was very important", he said of the result and Ireland's Six Nations title hopes with England in the ascendancy after their emphatic 44-8 win over France yesterday.

"They're obviously disappointed, the effort the players put into the first-half was outstanding, how they implemented the game plan we worked on all week and put Ireland under pressure", he said.

Scotland dominated the Irish during the first half but two defensive slips allowed Conor Murray and Jacob Stockdale in to score. 'Just that final piece, the execution off our set-piece, which has been really good, that fell off the jigsaw today and that's my fault.

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"Johnny Sexton got a bit of treatment out there and he got a stamp on the head but he is feeling better and we expect him to be back in the next couple of weeks", Schmidt said.

"But we don't strive for all right, we want to be the best we can be and England wasn't it".

Scotland will meet Ireland in their opening Rugby World Cup Pool A game in Yokohama, Japan on Sept 22, with the victor in that fixture likely to top the group and avoid a possible quarterfinal with defending champions New Zealand.

"I thought one of two decisions didn't go Scotland's way that could've, but at this level you rely on your performance".

Gregor Townsend shouldered the responsibility for Scotland's Six Nations defeat at home to Ireland on Saturday. We're confident that he will bounce back quickly.

"Why did we have such a good first half and not play the same in the second half?"

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