Schmidt happy to ‘win ugly’

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt admitted his relief in qualifying for the Rugby World cup quarter-finals after their 16-9 win over Italy at Olympic Park on Sunday.

It wasn't the big win Irish fans had been hoping for as Italy pushed the Pool D favourites right down to the wire with only one try scored, but Schmidt gave Italy credit for their performance.  

"I said last week I would take a one-point win. I would rather not though. Sometimes you have to win ugly," said the Kiwi coach.

"We let them get too much ball back. We tended to give back a lot of the ball we got. It was pretty difficult to break them down. I said earlier in the week they are difficult to break down, particularly when they are up for it.

"I think we have been lulled into a false sense of security having played two tier-two teams (Canada and Romania). Italy had a win-at-all-costs attitude and that made it tough for us and at times we made it tough for myself.

"Sometimes it's just not your day. In the context of that we are delighted to get the result and qualify for the quarter-finals.

"We were stretched at times, even the try (by Keith Earls) came a little bit too easy, too early in the game and we switched off a bit. We believed things would happen rather than we had to make them happen and they almost made us pay for that."

Ireland now face a pool decided against France next weekend.

"The weeks keep getting bigger and bigger. The next one is huge," said Schmidt.

"In the end we have qualified but either of the opposition in the quarter-final will not be easy at all (Argentina or New Zealand). Both will be favourite to beat us."

"They (France) are armed with more weaponry than we saw today and we will have to be more accurate than we were today. I will be doing a lot of analysis over the next 24-48 hours and hopefully will come up with a plan and put it in place."

The coach also did not complain about Peter O'Mahony being sent to the sin-bin for a no-arms tackle.

"It is what they (officials) are looking for. If you look hard enough you will find something. We have to be whiter than white," he said.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was frustrated by his team's errors. 

"You have to hold on to the ball to see what you can do with the ball. For us it's all about having the ball. At times we were inaccurate with ball in hand," he said. 

"It is probably a timely reminder of where we need to be. There is too much quality in the rest of the competition.

"When we have big games we have been good at adapting and we need to do that again next weekend.

"When you make mistakes and concede penalties, it flattens the performance and you can't get into any sort of rhythm. To turn it over it takes the edge off it a little bit and that is something we have to deal with. We probably did not do that well today."