first_imgJoe Schmidt offered a nod of sympathy to predecessor Declan Kidney after being appointed Ireland head coach until 2016. Kidney was told last month that his contract would not be renewed in response to a poor RBS 6 Nations that saw the team finish fifth, their worst championship performance since 1999. However, his final six months in charge were undermined by an appalling injury list that bordered on the farcical at times. Schmidt, who will oversee the remainder of double-chasing Leinster’s season, acknowledges the challenging landscape in which Kidney was forced to operate, and he said: “I certainly sympathise with the recent Irish performances and the results that didn’t go their way can be mitigated by the number of key players who were missing.” Press Associationcenter_img He added: “It’s been the same at Leinster this season. If you have injuries you’re compromised and have to fight your way through those periods. “Look at the way Munster have recharged themselves recently following the return of key players. I hope that with Ireland we’ll have less injuries and give the performances that will meet the expectations of our supporters.” Schmidt guided Leinster to consecutive Heineken Cup crowns in 2011 and 12 and it was that success that identified him as the outstanding candidate for the Ireland job. The 52-year-old New Zealander will officially begin work on July 1 with Les Kiss – the attack coach under Kidney – overseeing the summer tour to the USA and Canada. “When I came to Leinster in 2010 I didn’t really want to be a head coach, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience since,” he said. “I’m really motivated by challenge and this is a super but intimidating one. “If you’re going to find out what you can bring to a group, what better way than to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby. “I’ve had a good look at a lot of Ireland’s players and when we get our collective together, we’ll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible.” last_img read more


first_img As Norwich poured forward in search of a deserved equaliser, second-half substitute Diame was released into the Canaries’ half and finished the game off deep into added time. The win moved the Hammers up to 10th in the Barclays Premier League and left Norwich down in 16th – with Hughton bemoaning his side’s missed chances. “I am very, very frustrated,” he said. “When you come here, you know you’ll be up against a direct and physical game and you have to match them. For nearly all the game we were able to do that but you rely on getting a little release by scoring goals. “No-one can say we didn’t attempt to get into goal areas and didn’t create chances. It is a bit too familiar, creating chances and not putting them away. We put more pressure on ourselves. “The first goal is a ball we dealt with all game and on that one occasion we didn’t. When you don’t get the lead that you think you deserve, you are always under pressure. It’s the first goal that hurt us and the missed chances.” England goalkeeper John Ruddy was culpable for Collins’ crucial opening goal as he rushed from his line only to see Diame’s cross float over his head. But Hughton refused to lay the defeat at the door of his goalkeeper, who had faced a largely quiet opening 84 minutes of the game, “I’m never one to apportion blame but it’s the type of ball we dealt with very well all game,” said Hughton. “When you play West Ham you have to deal with a lot of them and we did it well. No doubt the better chances fell to us. There was so much good about our performance. “The (opposition) keeper’s made some good saves and unfortunately in our last two away games both keepers have put in man-of-the-match performances. It shows we’re creating chances. But we’ve got to look at ourselves.” West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has now seen the club enjoy three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time since the end of the 2006/07 campaign, turning around early-season form as they seek to remain in the top flight. “It is just delightful,” Allardyce said. “An outstanding victory and a hard-earned win – 13 points from six games is a terrific run of form considering where we were and the trouble we were in. “Even 10th might not be out of trouble – we have to continue and get more results. “It’s a great end to an important run of fixtures. If Norwich continue like that, they will have no problems. They were very good and gave us a good game.” Allardyce was again left singling out the heroics of goalkeeper Adrian, who kept his fourth clean sheet in succession to set his side up for another valuable three points. “Our goalkeeper kept us in the game,” Allardyce said. “We scored late, when it is hard for anybody to come back into it – his reward was us winning it.” Norwich manager Chris Hughton was once again left ruing the inability of his players to convert their chances as the Canaries were beaten by two late West Ham goals. Press Association Summer signing Gary Hooper spurned the best of the visitors’ chances at Upton Park as Norwich continued to come up against Adrian, a goalkeeper in fantastic form. Robert Snodgrass and Alex Tettey also saw decent efforts kept out by the Spaniard before James Collins headed home a Mo Diame cross with six minutes remaining, paving the way for a 2-0 win. last_img read more


first_imgST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – Cheteshwar Pujara tuned up for next week’s first Test with a compact hundred on the opening day of India’s three-day tour match against West Indies A here yesterday.The right-hander, who averages 51 in 68 Tests, struck exactly 100 as India enjoyed a good warm-up, ending on 297 for six at Coolidge Cricket Ground.Rohit Sharma chipped in with 68, Hanuma Vihari finished 37 not out, while Lokesh Rahul (36) and Rishabh Pant (33) both also got starts but failed to carry on.Part-time seamer Jonathan Carter was the home side’s best bowler with three for 39.India started soundly with Rahul and Mayank Agarwal (12) posting 36 for the first wicket before Carter struck twice as the visitors lost three wickets for 17 runs in the space of 29 balls.Agarwal missed a full-length delivery from Carter and was bowled, Rahul hooked at fast bowler Keon Harding and taken at long leg by Romario Shepherd while Ajinkya Rahane lasted just six balls before falling to a catch at the wicket after flirting at one from Carter which swung.Pujara then combined with Rohit to resist West Indies-A in a 132-run fourth-wicket stand after India went to lunch at 89 for three.Unbeaten on 16 at the break, Pujara went on to face 187 balls in a shade under 3¾ hours while striking eight fours and a six. Rohit, meanwhile, also counted eight fours and a six in 115-ball knock which lasted just under 2½ hours before holing out to long-on where Harding took an excellent running catch on the ropes off off-spinner Akim Fraser.Pujara, not out on 89 at tea with India on 219 for four, added a further 58 for the fifth wicket with Vihari both retiring after reaching three figures.Pant put on 53 for the sixth wicket with Vihari before playing back to Carter and falling lbw.INDIA 1st inningsL. Rahul c Shepherd b Harding 36M. Agarwal b Carter 12C. Pujara ret. out 100A. Rahane c wkp. Hamilton b Carter 1Rohit Sharma c Harding b Fraser 68H. Vihari not out 37R. Pant lbw b Carter 33R. Jadeja not out 1Extras: (b-2, lb-3, nb-4) 9Total: (6 wkts, 88.5 overs) 297Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-52, 3-53, 4-185, 5-243, 6-296.Bowling: Shepherd 11-5-35-0, Mindley 12-4-26-0, Harding 15-2-57-1, Carter 13.5-6-39-3, Pierre 14-2-44-0, Fraser 17-1-63-1, Hodge 6-1-28-0.WEST INDIES A – Jahmar Hamilton (captain), Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Jonathan Carter, Akim Fraser, Keon Harding, Kavem Hodge, Brandon King, Jason Mohammed, Marquino Mindley, Khary Pierre, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Jeremy Solozano.last_img read more