Six Nations 2015: Joe Schmidt happy as Ireland win in Italy

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Joe Schmidt is happy after watching his Irish side start their Six Nations title defence with a 26-3 win over Italy in Rome.

Coach Joe Schmidt was happy to see his Ireland side clear the first hurdle in their Six Nations title defence by seeing off a dogged Italy in Rome.

Second-half tries by scrum-half Conor Murray and flanker Tommy O'Donnell earned the holders a 26-3 victory.

"If I had been offered a differential of 23 points before the match, I think I would have taken it," said Schmidt.

"We were scratchy at the start but settled into it and squeezed them into making errors."

O'Donnell was only playing because Ireland were forced into making a late change just before kick-off when flanker Sean O'Brien suffered a hamstring injury.

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2015 Six Nations: Italy 3-26 Ireland highlights

"We had just finished the last bit of the warm-up and his foot slipped out from under him," explained Schmidt.

"He just got a twinge in the hamstring. The power was still there in the hamstring and on another day we might have put him out there. But we just felt it was not worth taking the risk.

"Tommy did not let us down. He came on and got through a power of work and took his try incredibly well."

Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell felt they had come through a tricky game in good shape.

"Italy are good in Rome and in the first day of the Six Nations, so we are happy with the result," said the 35-year-old Munster second row.

"There are aspects we would be disappointed with. We started poorly which meant we did not get momentum and put them under pressure.

"But we fixed it all in the second half."

Ireland full-back Rob Kearney said: "Any time you come to Rome you expect it to be a slog.

"We knew that if we just kept chipping away and trying to build some phases that eventually we would break them down."

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