Rugby World Cup 2015: Ireland coach Schmidt demands better

Peter O'Mahony and Iain Henderson in action against Edoardo Gori of Italy
Peter O'Mahony and Iain Henderson in action against Edoardo Gori of Italy

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has warned his players they must up their game to beat France in Sunday's crucial Rugby World Cup Pool D match in Cardiff.

The Irish booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 16-9 victory over Italy at the Olympic Stadium despite a somewhat unconvincing display.

"It's going to be very hard for us to beat France," said Schmidt.

"Physically they have players who are very, very powerful and that will make things difficult for us as well."

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The winners will finish top of the group and avoid the likely scenario of facing reigning champions New Zealand in the last eight.

"The French media have high expectations and so do the team. We have to be more accurate," explained the Ireland coach.

"I've watched their games and I'll be doing a lot of analysis over the next 24 to 48 hours.

"We'll come up with a plan and hopefully we can be more accurate in putting that in place than we were against the Italians."

Ireland have enjoyed an excellent recent record against Les Bleus, winning two and drawing two of the last four meetings.

Pool D table

"It's a timely reminder of where we need to be," Ireland captain Paul O'Connell said.

"France are an incredible side with incredible talent. They have size, physicality, skill and they play with a lot of passion as well.

"In recent years we've done well. We've had to produce massive performances to make those games tight. It's a mountain of a challenge."

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Ireland need big improvement - Best

Ireland never trailed against the Italians but struggled to dominate their opponents, who now cannot reach the knockout stages but will take heart from a spirited display.

Keith Earls ran in his eighth World Cup try in the first half to become Ireland's top try-scorer in the history of the tournament, while Johnny Sexton kicked 11 points.

The result could have been very different, however, were it not for Peter O'Mahony's try-saving tackle in the second half, which saw the Irish forward drag Italy's Josh Furno into touch just as he touched down in the corner.

"I said last week I'd take a one-point win - I'd rather not though, even a one-score game is tough on the heart," Schmidt said.

"Sometimes it's not your day and in the context of that, we are delighted to have got the result and qualified for the quarter-finals."

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