A WEEK after Ireland’s dream of back-to-back Grand Slams had been ground into the Aviva turf by England, Irish coach Joe Schmidt admitted he could see a difference in his team’s attitude ahead of yesterday’s clash at Murrayfield.

“To be honest, it’s not even something you want to be able to say, but there was a definitely a rise in temperature, definitely an increase in energy. And it’s hard to put your finger on why we just lacked that last week,” conceded Schmidt who was pleased with the way Ireland handled the loss of their playmaker, World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, during the first half to head and ankle injuries.

“Johnny failed an HIA in the lead-up to our second try,” Schmidt confirmed, adding that Sexton had also been stamped on.

“He hit the ground quite hard but he’s pretty good now. We are always going to err on the side of caution with those just because we want to look after people.

"But he copped a stamp, yes, but I don’t even think it was a Scottish foot – I think it was one of our guys who tripped over him.

“He got one knock, then another. It was a little bit accumulative. He got a stamp on the ankle, and when they went on to treat that the just decided he wasn’t 100 per cent and that they needed to do an HIA.”

The Irish No 10 appeared to have been targeted for special attention by the Scots, although the Ireland coach felt that was nothing out of the ordinary. However, he complimented his stand-off with his bravery to make the telling pass for Ireland’s second score.

“He gets that because he is who he is,” Schmidt conceded. “That’s going to happen.

"He probably knew he was only going to play 20 minutes so he tried to jam it all into one quarter,” he joked.

“He certainly got into a few contact situations, but his pass release to get Jacob (Stockdale) to get that space, in the set play, was perfect.

“We hadn’t used (the play) before. We felt Scotland would expect us to carry around the corner and for Johnny to come back and strike on that side of the ruck, we thought might be an opportunity – though you can never say that for certain.

“There was no better man to get it in his hands than Jacob. I thought he looked quick and strong today and created the opportunity for us to get the first try as well.”

However, for Schmidt, it was more about getting the very basics right, compared to how they fell apart against England.

“I thought our set-piece was very strong, and the line-outs were very good, when we got some line-outs. We were probably a bit unlucky with the mauls, but our scrums were good initially until it turned into a bit of a spinathon.

“Our defence was good. I saw a stat that 34% of the first half was spent in our 22, and we didn’t have the ball and that was massive for us.”

Ireland captain and hooker Rory Best praised his department and Sexton’s replacement, Joey Carbery.

“The boys in the front five put a lot of work in and when you have a pretty good day there, it’s satisfying.

“Joey is benefiting greatly from being down in Munster. You can see him growing in to the game."