Schmidt sympathises with Sexton

Date published: March 11 2017

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt felt that Johnny Sexton was hard done by after his yellow card before half-time against Wales.

Sexton was penalised for not rolling away close to his own line, allowing Leigh Halfpenny to put Wales ahead 8-6.

The visitors noticeably missed Sexton’s control which he was off the field, having also departed earlier for a Head Injury Assessment, and Schmidt felt that there was no way his fly-half could have wriggled his way out of the ruck.

“I felt a bit sorry for Johnny. He’s trapped in by three players and it’s very hard to get out. But when that happens close to the line, that’s sometimes what happens,” Schmidt told The42.ie

“A penalty count of 10-4 and we cop a yellow card, it’s tough but we know in that area it’s always a risk.

“Even in the first half, I felt [Wales] were probably a bit lucky when CJ Stander went up the left-hand touchline and we were looking for fast ball and we got penalty advantage, but that was it.”

Schmidt admitted that Wales had capitalised on Sexton’s absence earlier in the first half while the fly-half was being treated, and that Ireland’s failure to convert early pressure early in the first half when they were on top proved to be critical.

“They attacked well, especially when Johnny went off to get checked out and they went straight through around his area. I think it’s something that we’ll learn from,” Schmidt added.

“I really did feel that our first 15 minutes, we put them under some huge pressure and got very close to scoring. Unfortunately, we lost Johnny and lost a little bit of leadership and you don’t need to give Scott Williams too many invitations to break the line.

“He hit a nice line on a good change-up and we weren’t quite connected, but it was very tough for Paddy just coming on, to suddenly slot straight into that.

“But, again, that’s a learning experience and I honestly think that you can profit from that further down the line. That’s a challenge for us and we have to make sure that’s what the case is.”

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