Schmidt off to a winner as moments of magic see off Samoa

first_imgJOE SCHMIDT SPOKE before today’s 40 – 9 victory over Samoa game of his nervous feeling before opening night.The Kiwi compared it having three months to study for an exam, but leaving the result hanging on some last minute cramming sessions.‘If we’re lucky and the right questions come up we might just have some of the answers.’In the end Ireland did, but Schmidt probably didn’t expect the first 40 minutes to actually feel like a study hall.Ireland struggled to build momentum with Samoa relentlessly carrying the ball back at them and referee Steve Walsh unable to offer any decent advantages.However, they did manage to build a score. Paddy Jackson calming any lingering goal-kicking nerves with two straight 40 metre shots either side a Tusi Pisi’s leveler.The one moment to get the Aviva Stadium on their feet came after Jackson declined the posts and kicked to the left touchline. From there everything clicked for the pack: Rory Best’s throw was on the money and Ireland’s maul began to rumble the 15 metres to the try-line.Chris Henry initially took control of the ball, but as the green pack mowed it’s way through, Samoan defenders began collapsing in from all angles and Henry led his weight to the clearances and left the touchdown for a deserving Peter O’Mahony.Pisi would narrow the gap back to 11 – 6. However, within 10 minutes the visitors had George Pisi sin-binned after a long review of a tip tackle on Tommy Bowe as he offloaded to Fergus McFadden.Jackson kicked his third kick from four attempts to give Schmidt a 14 – 6 lead to consider in his first half-time team talk.Highlight reelThe second half promised more of the same disappointing fare, the Mexican wave even threatened a return appearance. Fortunately a Jackson kick allowed O’Driscoll add a moment to his all-time highlight reel.As the ball spun back from Brando Va’aulu, the veteran instantly scooped a pass between his legs to allow McFadden make ground up the left. The move briefly looked like it would break down, but a smart pass from Conor Murray found replacement Sean O’Brien and one tackle wasn’t enough to keep him from scoring.McFadden was heavily involved again when Ireland upped the tempo and discovered a rhythm again 20 minutes later. The winger cut to make the most of a line break and once after Cian Healy and bored his way towards the line to set a platform, the ball was spun right and Dave Kearney showed his finishing prowess to earn a debut try.It was soon 35 – 9, a decent scoring feat at any stage of a coach’s tenure. After Ireland spin the ball away from a scrum in front of the post, Gordon D’Arcy takes the ball on and briefly looks like he’ll attempt to roll the clock back and step the defender, but thinks better of it and allows McFadden scamper round the corner.After an Ian Madigan break from his own half in the closing minutes, D’Arcy, making a record-equaling 51st appearance in tandem with O’Driscoll briefly pondered going for glory again. Instead, he drew the cover tacklers and off-loaded with perfect timing to let Kearney claim his second.Plenty of plus-marks for Schmidt in his first Test, particularly in the second half. The room for improvement leaves plenty of reason to think Ireland’s optimism for his tenure was not misplaced.GIF: O’Driscoll genius opens up Samoan defence‘Samoa the appetiser, there’s a double main course to come’ — Schmidt Player ratings: here’s how the Irish team got on against Samoalast_img read more