Schmidt full of praise for Pumas

Date published: October 18 2015

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt lamented his side's slow start as they suffered a 43-20 quarter-final defeat to Argentina at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Tries from Matías Moroni, Juan Imhoff (2) and Joaquin Tuculet did the damage to the Irish, who go out of the Rugby World Cup in the last eight.

Schmidt was honest in his assessment of the game and had no complaints about how the result ended, with los Pumas marching into the semis.

"It's pretty hard not to respect the performance that Argentina put on. Their combination of power and pace made it pretty difficult for us to win collisions on either side of the ball," said the Ireland head coach.

"Coming down the wide channels they certainly have some players with great footwork and pace. As difficult as it is to be going out of the World Cup at this stage, it was a fantastic Argentinian performance. There were a lot of our players who have never been in a match of that intensity. Hopefully that experience will help them in the future."

When asked whether he was surprised by the fast start Argentina made in Cardiff, Schmidt admitted it was expected but unfortunately his men were laboured early on.

"They did exactly the same thing to New Zealand. They were probably unlucky not to be ahead by more against the All Blacks," he added.

"You can't afford to give such a good team a head-start like that. But at 23-20 we worked an overlap that we couldn't finish off.

"Once we were chasing the game at the end, there was always the potential for them to get a couple of breakaway tries. You over commit in places you don't need to."

Schmidt reserved special praise for Pumas fly-half Nicolás Sánchez, who kicked 23 points in an impressive performance, with the possibility of all southern hemisphere semi-finals looking increasingly likely ahead of the Australia versus Scotland fixture.

"It is a frustration," he said of the southern dominance. "It would have been great if there were teams from both hemispheres, particularly because the tournament is in the north. 

"Sanchez was imperious today, but I do think he milked that (Devin Toner high tackle) for everything that it was worth."

He added on Argentina's recent improvements: "I think the higher level you play on a consistent basis, the higher level you attain. They did the same thing to the South Africans they did to us today. We were very conscious they could potentially do that.

"Consistently playing the top tier nations has had a real benefit for them. I don't know that they need to get too much stronger to be a real threat at this World Cup."