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Ireland winger Simon Zebo holds on to the ball against France. Photo: AFP

Ireland must take their chances to beat England, says Schmidt

Ireland's hopes of avenging last year's defeat by England hinges on the defending Six Nations champions putting their scoring chances away when they meet in two weeks, said Irish coach Joe Schmidt.

AFP

Ireland's hopes of avenging last year's defeat by England hinges on the defending Six Nations champions putting their scoring chances away when they meet in two weeks, said Irish coach Joe Schmidt.

The 49-year-old New Zealander - who has turned Ireland's fortunes around since taking over the coaching post after the 2013 Six Nations - was speaking after the Irish had held on to beat France 18-11 in a nervy encounter at Lansdowne Road.

It was Ireland's ninth successive test victory, putting them within one of the national record of 10 set back in 2002-03 and ended in sensational style by England when they thrashed them 42-6 in a Grand Slam decider in Dublin.

To come back from 10 points down as England did against Wales and win is one of the best all-time Six Nations performances
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell

Schmidt, who came to the Ireland post after a successful spell with Leinster, which included two European Cup triumphs, said he wasn't aware of the record but added that it did not mean anything to him, at least for the time being.

"I didn't know that was the record," said Schmidt. "What I do know is that it will be a year since we lost to the same foes. I have a lot of respect for [England]."

Schmidt said he wanted his side to be more clinical in finishing off their chances than they had been against France, with the host team relying on five penalties from man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton and one from Ian Madigan.

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"I just hope our killer instinct and accuracy will be on song," said Schmidt. "Their [England's] performance against Wales is better than anything we have managed in our two games so far this campaign," added Schmidt, referring to England's come from behind 21-16 victory over the Welsh in Cardiff on the opening weekend of the tournament.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell concurred with the views of his coach.

"There are a lot of things to be improved upon," said the 35-year-old lock, who was celebrating rare back-to-back wins over France in his 98 cap career.

"To come back from 10 points down as England did against Wales and win is one of the best all-time Six Nations performances," he added.

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Schmidt, who was proved right in his selection of Sexton despite sceptics doubting he would be at his best after being out for 12 weeks after four concussions last year, said it would be disrespectful to suggest the winners of the game with England would be set for the Grand Slam title.

"It's our next match but I have too much respect for two of my fellow Kiwis Gats' [Warren Gatland coach of Wales] and Vern [Vern Cotter coach of Scotland, who Schmidt assisted at Clermont] to even think about that," said the Irish coach.

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"They play each other on Sunday and one of those teams will come back into the game with victory," added Schmidt.

Schmidt said that it was too early to say whether No 8 Jamie Heaslip would be doubtful for the England match after the British and Irish Lions star got kneed in the back by France lock Pascal Pape in the second-half.

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This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Schmidt: Ireland must be better to beat England
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