Sexton: Schmidt is the best coach

first_img Press Association The 35-year-old centre will make his 141st and final Test appearance at the Stade de France on Saturday, with Ireland in pole position to sweep the Six Nations title should they subdue their hosts. Racing Metro playmaker Sexton believes an Ireland win would surpass the achievements of O’Driscoll and captain Keith Wood’s 2000 vintage, a first Six Nations title since 2009 adding extra weight. “I think we’ve got the best coach around; I think we’re going to go in with a game plan that everyone trusts,” said Sexton. “I think we’re full of confidence, we think that we can go there and do the job. “We don’t get too bogged down in ‘we haven’t won there for this long, we haven’t done this or that, so on’. “We’ll be very much focused on how we’ll beat them with our attacking moves, with the defence we use on the day. “The history will be talked about by everyone else, and I think it’s better like that for us.” Ulster wing Tommy Bowe has been released for club duty this weekend after training with Ireland on Monday. Cian Healy is now expected to make a full recovery from the ankle problem he suffered against Italy, while Peter O’Mahony is back to full fitness after hamstring trouble. Relishing the challenge of facing the French in the city that homes his Top 14 club side, Sexton said head coach Schmidt knows how to alleviate big-game pressure. Sexton won two Heineken Cups, a RaboDirect PRO12 title and the Amlin Challenge Cup under Schmidt’s Leinster stewardship. Now the 28-year-old is confident the schoolteacher turned international coach can deliver again. “Sometimes when you go into finals, you get so worried about the result that you lose track of what got you there in the first place,” said Sexton. “It will be very much performance-driven. “From having worked with all the coaches here before, especially with Joe, having played European finals and Rabo finals, it’ll be very much focused on the performance. “Even though it’s a winner-takes-all, it’s very much the same as usual. “It just shows how difficult it is to go and win there; that’s all it shows us. “It means if we go and win, we’ll have earned it and it’ll be something to remember. “We’ve a chance to go and make history now. “It would eclipse what they did in 2000, because there’s a trophy on the line.” Sexton expects to have to strap his thumb for match action for the rest of the season, as he continues to recover from ligament damage. The 42-cap outside-half warned Ireland not to let France’s inconsistency lull them into a false sense of security. “We have to be wary of this French team,” said Sexton, aware that France can still claim the Six Nations crown for themselves. “We just had a look at their player profiles, their individuals, and it’s pretty impressive, no matter what position you look in. “We don’t know what team they’re going to pick, but they’re going to be very dangerous. “I don’t think they’d be delighted with the way they’ve performed, but at the end of the day they’re coming into a cup final this weekend. “They’ve a championship to play for, the same as us. “They haven’t set the world alight like we know they can, but we have to be ready for the chance that they do it this weekend. “They’ve individuals across the park so you just can’t write them off.” Joe Schmidt can spearhead an RBS Six Nations title drive against France to “eclipse” Ireland’s only win in Paris for 42 years, according to Johnny Sexton. Fly-half Sexton hailed boss Schmidt as “the best coach around” and is confident the New Zealander can inspire Ireland’s first win in France since 2000. Brian O’Driscoll’s stunning hat-trick from that 27-25 still resonates, with Ireland unable to repeat that winning feat for a generation. last_img read more

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Adrian Gonazlez (3 HR) leads Dodgers’ home-run derby over Reds

first_imgOPTIONAL CUT FOR PRINT HEREMonday’s barrage tied the record for the most home runs hit in a game at Great American Ball Park. The Dodgers are the first visiting team to do it. The Reds have done it three times since the stadium opened in 2003.END OPTIONAL CUT FOR PRINT HEREThe seven home runs and four in one inning were also the most by a Dodgers team since Sept. 18, 2006 — the game that featured four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning by the Dodgers against the San Diego Padres.“Doesn’t ring a bell,” joked Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was the Padres’ left fielder that night. “Chavez Ravine. Marlon Anderson, Nomar (Garciaparra). Me in left field. I was in left field watching one go over my head, a couple to right center. Yeah, I remember.” CINCINNATI >> The space between ‘Ball’ and ‘Park’ in the officially named Great American Ball Park is just making room for a baseball to pass through.The most homer-happy stadium in the majors — yes, more so even than Coors Field — played it coy with the Dodgers for three days before letting them go 50 shades of deep Monday afternoon. The Dodgers hit seven home runs, including four in the fifth inning, for their biggest offensive output since 2006 in an 18-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.The Dodgers also had 14 hits that weren’t home runs, giving them a season-high 21 hits. The 18 runs were the most they have scored in a game since a 19-run frolic at Coors Field on Sept. 28, 2006.The win sends the Dodgers into their crucial series with the San Francisco Giants, starting Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, leading the division by a full game. So does Adrian Gonzalez. He was the Padres’ first baseman that night.“Who won?” Gonzalez joked. (The Dodgers won 11-10 when Garciaparra hit the seventh and final home run of the night in the 10th inning.)Boarding started early for the frequent flights Monday. Gonzalez hit the first of his three home runs — a three-run shot — just four pitches into the game. He added a solo home run in the four-homer fifth and a another three-run shot in the seventh, part of a career-high eight-RBI day for him and his second multi-homer game on this trip.After one of his home runs, the SportsNet LA cameras caught Gonzalez trotting back to the dugout with a wide smile, saying, “I love this ballpark.”“It’s tiny, the ball flies,” Gonzalez said. “Right field’s really short. Left field plays short.“I hit two fly balls for home runs today. It could easily have been a 1-for-6 game with five outs. It ends up being a pretty good day.”Gonzalez has had a lot of those recently, including an ongoing 15-game hitting streak. Since being held out of the lineup for two days in late June, Gonzalez is hitting .355 with a 1.013 OPS, nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 46 games.Andrew Toles and Rob Segedin hit back-to-back home runs during the fourth inning — each was the first home run of their major-league careers. It was the first time in franchise history players had hit their first major-league home runs in consecutive at-bats.Corey Seager hit the other home run during the six-run fourth inning, going back-to-back with Gonzalez. It was his 22nd of the season, tying Glenn Wright’s franchise record for a shortstop (set in 1930 with the Brooklyn Dodgers) and one of his four hits in the game (matching his career-high).Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning. It was the first time in Dodgers’ history they had three separate incidents of back-to-back home runs in the same game (excluding the four consecutive home runs on Sept. 18, 2006).Even with all that offense, the Dodgers couldn’t get out of town without another issue in their starting rotation.Starter Scott Kazmir couldn’t make it through three innings, retiring just eight of the 17 batters he faced.Afterwards, Roberts and Kazmir revealed the left-ahnder has been “fighting through” neck and back issues that make it difficult for him to maintain his mechanics on the mound.“Where he’s at right now, consistently trying to execute pitches obviously is tough for him. He’s out of rhythm,” Roberts said. “I think part of it is that neck issue on the right side, trying to get his head to the target. So he’s flying open, trying to create arm speed and all these things. When your front side flies open, it’s tough.”The 32-year-old Kazmir said he has had the issue “for years.”“A little stubborn,” he said “I’m like, ‘I can fight through and get it done.’ That’s just the competitor in me. But when you’re putting up numbers like that and leaving that much for the bullpen to do …”Kazmir said “I fully intend to make my next start,” but acknowledged he will likely undergo an MRI and meet with the Dodgers’ medical staff when the team returns Tuesday to Los Angeles.“Obviously where these games are so important, the bullpen has been taxed — we have to make those decisions that are best for the ballclub that day,” Roberts said. “Right now, we’re not thinking about the DL. We just want to get home and get our docs on him. But that is a decision. If he’s not going to be 100 percent, we have to make the decision that’s best for the ballclub.”NotableOutfielder Josh Reddick was scratched from Monday’s starting lineup due to a jammed middle finger on his right hand. The struggling Reddick is not likely to start Tuesday either against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. After popping out as a pinch-hitter Monday, Reddick is 10 for 67 (.149) without an RBI in 16 games since he was acquired by the Dodgers in a trade-deadline deal with the Oakland A’s. … Right-hander Ross Stripling joined the Dodgers in Cincinnati but has not been activated yet. The Dodgers are hedging their bets in case the blister on Brett Anderson’s index finger prevents him from making his scheduled start on Thursday against the Giants. Stripling was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday and can only be recalled to replace a player who goes on the DL. … The Dodgers’ first-round pick in 2015, right-hander Walker Buehler, will make his professional debut by pitching in an Arizona Summer League game Tuesday. Buehler had Tommy John surgery shortly after last year’s draft.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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