Reuters 253d

Schmidt confident Sexton will return quickly from head injury against Scotland

Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton should recover swiftly from a head injury sustained in his side's bruising 22-13 Six Nations win over Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday, coach Joe Schmidt said.

Sexton limped off after 23 minutes, sparking fears he could miss some of an Irish campaign revitalised by the three tries to one victory following their opening home loss to England.

"Johnny failed an HIA (head injury assessment), he hit the ground quite hard but we are confident he will bounce back quite quickly," Schmidt told reporters.

Schmidt appeared to row back from earlier comments suggesting Sexton had been the victim of a stamp by a Scotland player, saying the alleged stamp might have been an Irish player and that Sexton had expected to be targeted.

"Because he is who he is that's going to happen," Schmidt said of the world player of the year who had impressed in the early exchanges of a see-saw first half during which Scotland's Stuart Hogg also left the field early.

Ireland's players and coach praised the side's traditionally strong set-piece work as the tournament favourites recovered from an upset last week when they were outfought by England.

"We put a lot of time into our scrum and lineout, we want to be able to play off our set-piece to get some ball to very dangerous backs," Ireland captain Rory Best said.

Scotland were left nursing a sense of disappointment after they failed to bring the same intensity after halftime as they had showed in the first period.

Coach Gregor Townsend blamed himself for his side's inability to convert several promising periods of attack into scores.

"In the second half the execution of our plays didn't happen...if we'd been able to replicate the first half we'd be sitting here with a win," he said.

Townsend did not offer a prognosis for the injured Hogg, who has been along with flyhalf Finn Russell instrumental to Scotland's attacking flair in recent games.

"He is very sore, his shoulder is not right, we'll see. It was very disappointing, he got sandwiched between two players," Townsend told reporters.

Townsend said an injury to flanker Ryan Wilson had been just as much of a blow to Scotland, whose forwards struggled to get over the gain line against their Irish counterparts.

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