We got the job done, says Schmidt


Dublin (AFP)

Joe Schmidt said it was mission accomplished with regard to Ireland securing the bonus point win over France 26-14 to keep their hopes of retaining their Six Nations title alive on Sunday.

The 53-year-old New Zealander -- whose team gave him and captain Rory Best a victorious Six Nations bow at home as both will step down after the World Cup later this year -- admitted there had been frustrating aspects of the performance, like conceding two late tries.

However, he was more than happy that he can still entertain hopes of a remarkable fourth Six Nations title since he took over after the 2013 tournament when they take on table toppers and Grand Slam hopefuls Wales in Cardiff next Saturday.

The Irish showed much more attacking fervour and cohesiveness than they had in three underwhelming performances so far in the championship.

"I am satisfied in getting four tries and the bonus point was what we needed to stay right in the mix," said Schmidt.

"Considering we are still in the mix with one match to go is a lot more comfortable feeling than when we sat here last month having lost to England in our opening match.

"We have some of our rhythm back."

Schmidt, who has also guided the Irish to second in the world rankings during his tenure, admitted he had rarely seen a side dominate as the Irish had in the first-half.

Tries went abegging as Garry Ringrose knocked on when he was tackled and prop Cian Healy did similarly as he went to put downward pressure on the ball.

"That is always a frustration but what did impress me was the lead up play to it and Garry Ringrose was unlucky," said Schmidt.

"Cian it was an incredibly smart call by him he was a bit unlucky I was frustrated by us being awarded three scrum penalties then the French had a yellow card but they still cleared their line."

Schmidt, who said he expected veteran fullback Rob Kearney to be available for Wales after a calf muscle injury forced him to withdraw just before the France game, said it was a shame to have conceded the late tries -- which denied the hosts their first whitewash of the French since 1929.

- 'We showed character' -

"We were up against a good French side and they needed to get something out of the game," said Schmidt.

"I was disappointed the replacements came on (several at the same time before the hour mark once Ireland had the bonus point and led 26-0) and had done well but then a couple of slips slightly takes the shine off."

For Best it was an extra special day as he started the scoring with his 10th try in his 116th Test.

The hooker, who turns 37 in August, said a break in Belfast for the squad last week -- including a dinner out with a few glasses of wine -- had done wonders to freshen them up a bit and change their environment.

As regards his final Six Nations home appearance he was rueful.

"Look it is not something I had thought much about," he said.

"It is strange that it is the last time I hop on a 6 Nations bus in Dublin

"However, on the upside in terms of performance and result this is how you would plan it to be and delighted to be part of that.

"Also Joe got very emotional and said he would not leave without me going too," he added with both of them grinning.

For the French there was little to smile about although France coach Jacques Brunel took some solace in the manner that France had defended against incessant Irish pressure and in coming back at the end.

"We showed character in the second-half because in the first half we missed the boat completely," he said.

"The end of the match showed that we as a team did not hold our hands up in surrender but kept on going."