IRELAND COACH JOE SCHMIDT had no complaints, only regrets, after witnessing his side squander a 19 point lead to lose late in the piece to New Zealand.
The New Zealander was 30 seconds away from becoming the first Ireland coach to lead the country to triumph against the All Blacks but it was not to be. Ryan Crotty scored a late try, Aaron Cruden added the extras and Ireland lost 24-22.
Addressing the narrow defeat post-match, Schmidt told RTÉ: “You never feel the taste of it in your mouth until the final whistle. They got over in injury time and we have to accept that.
It’s really tough to take; four weeks’ work. It was a game that, of the three it was the one we wanted. It’s the one, I feel, that we were certainly up for.”
Schmidt said he hoped the Irish supporters were not too disappointed and refused to linger on a question about Jonathan Sexton’s missed penalty; pointing out that his team had possession with 20 seconds to go before a penalty went against them. “We had to defend that last phase,” he said, “and you’ve got to be prepared to defend until the end and we didn’t quite hold them out.”
The former Leinster coach did not argue with the awarding of Crotty’s try, which was awarded despite suspicions of a forward pass from Cruden. He added that the out-half’s late conversion was inconsequential as a draw would have felt like a loss.
“I thought we busted them where we tried to hurt them. We got some rewards for our endeavour but I felt that we didn’t get the reward at the end but there’s not too much we can do about that,” Schmidt added.
“The measurement of progress will be whether we can reproduce it; that will be our challenge, against Scotland in the Six Nations, early next year.”
Like rugby? Follow TheScore.ie’s dedicated Twitter account @rugby_ie >