Sport

O'Connell hails Ireland's return to winning ways

O'Connell hails Ireland's return to winning ways

Ireland's hard-fought 22-13 win over Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday lent weight to the suggestion that Japan should target the Scots when the three sides battle to progress from Pool A at the Rugby World Cup later this year.

"In that first half we were in our 22 for 34 per cent of the time and in our half for about 72 per cent of the time".

"Joey is a quality player, you don't want to see anyone go off injured, but it's great to see everyone coming off the bench and stepping up", he said.

But after a breathless first half in which the Irish edged 12-10, they scored a third soft try for some breathing room and their defense limited Scotland to just a penalty.

But Scotland, who have been revitalized nearly beyond recognition in recent years, had the world No. 2 side on the back foot for much of the first half, especially when their exciting backs got on the ball and unleashed their renowned passing game.

Gregor Townsend leapt to the defence of his Scotland players by insisting that he was to blame for the defeat to Ireland.

Scotland badly needed some points but turned down a simple three for a quick tap by Russell and the Irish defence swarmed to force a turnover inside their own five metre line. 'In the second half, the execution of our set-piece plays to get us into our game and to put more pressure on Ireland just didn't happen. He was also relieved by the team's effort.




"We'd ideally like to play better and with more fluidity, and probably get on the front foot more", said Best.

"We are relying on others, but when it comes to next week [in Italy a week on Sunday] and the final two rounds we don't have to rely on them for how we approach things and how we perform", Schmidt said.

"The first half showed how good we can be".

Schmidt admitted it "wasn't the prettiest game", but he was "partially" pleased with Ireland's display. "We've got a lot of improving to do".

Scotland's next Six Nations match is against France in Paris on February 23. "If we're going to progress we need to start winning these games".

"I believe that the way we play will put pressure on any team, whether we're playing at home or away".