Schmidt pleased with Ireland’s fighting spirit

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has praised his players for their fighting spirit
after they came from behind to beat Scotland 28-22 in their home World Cup warm-up
clash in Dublin on Saturday.

Vern Cotter’s Scots went behind early on, but twice took the lead against the
world’s number two ranked side, before Ireland put the smile back on the faces
of the Lansdowne Road crowd.

Both coaches proclaimed themselves happy with the workout, with Schmidt happy
to earn a win and come through unscathed on the injury front.

Cotter admitted there was a mixed bag to review on his side -” as well
as a potentially serious injury to prop Ryan Grant, who had an X-ray on his
injured leg.

Three second half tries were a bonus for Schmidt who admitted post-match that
his men endured a tougher game than last week’s victory against Wales in Cardiff.

“One of the real positives is that was a test match, and we were tested
on a number of levels,” said the Ireland coach.

“Our scrum went well, that was a positive, but we were tested on the
scoreboard, we fell behind a few times, and had to show composure and spirit
to get back in front.

“They tested our defence, ran good lines, and we fell off tackles, and
lacked something in our defensive line.

“It was a mixed bag overall, but the real positive is we can report a
clean bill of health “- everyone got through pretty well.”

Ian Madigan, at fly-half, and winger Luke Fitzgerald impressed, and Schmidt
admitted he was delighted with Madigan’s all round showing.

“I think he demonstrated he could play the position, his line kicking
was spot on, kicking off tee was super, his pass delivery was very positive,
and there were two crucial involvements in the third try and a crucial kick
in the delivery of the fourth try, capped off by Fitzgerald,” he said.

“Luke also looked really strong in the air, strong on the ground, with
very good acceleration and footwork, but you have that expectation of him. He
stayed focused and made what is difficult to do look easy.

“We’ve had 29 players start a game in the last two matches, and given
two new caps, so to do that and get two wins is great for the confidence of
the group, but anyone watching knows there’s more work to do.”

For Cotter, it was a case of taking the positives from defeat -” and
working out the creases in their game.

“There were some good things, some things we can work on, but we definitely
need to be more accurate,” he said.

“I think there are things we can fix quickly. And we need to.

“We need more composure at the start of games. We were perhaps a little
nervous.

“We turned over too much ball, especially in the first half. We let them
score a couple of tries a little bit too early.

“I would have taken three tries before the game, but it’s important to
improve and that’s our focus now.”

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