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Class is dismissed for a few days as Joe Schmidt's squad take a break following an intense fortnight of Six Nations action.

The players can forget about 'learnings' and 'work-ons' for now, but they will be back on the clock later this week as attention turns to the third-round meeting with the Azzurri in . An opening-day loss to England and Saturday's redemptive win against the Scots sees Ireland sit fourth in the championship standings.

Here, Sportsmail gives a mid-term report of Ireland's Six Nations campaign to date. 

Joe Schmidt will inevitably learn more from the shock defeat to England in the long run

Joe Schmidt will inevitably learn more from the shock defeat to England in the long run

THE HEAD COACH 

Stuart Lancaster observed that, as painful as losses can be, coaches inevitably learn more from them in the long run. No doubt, Schmidt will have examined every element of that England thrashing in forensic detail.

Ireland's head coach very much had the measure of the Eddie Jones regime in the previous two championships: derailing England's bid for back-to-back Grand Slams with a 13-9 shutdown in Dublin before masterminding Ireland's own clean sweep in Twickenham last season.

Jones promised brutality ahead of that Lansdowne Road visit and England duly delivered a relentless display of physicality for 80 minutes. It's rare that Ireland are out-fought and out-thought these days with England providing a blueprint to thwart Schmidt's green machine.

A trademark playbook move from Joe Schmidt resulted in Jacob Stockdale's brilliant try

A trademark playbook move from Joe Schmidt resulted in Jacob Stockdale's brilliant try

Schmidt admitted that Ireland were not their usual dynamic selves in the lead-up to that game. It was a painful lesson for him and his squad, but better to suffer that trauma now than at the World Cup in Japan.

Schmidt returned to form last weekend against Scotland with a trademark playbook move resulting in Jacob Stockdale's brilliant try. 

Interestingly, it was the first time that Ireland rolled out that strike play in a big game, a sign that their canny Kiwi coach still retains that ability to unlock opposition defences.

ATTACK 

A work in progress. There remains a nagging sense that this Ireland set-up is far too reliant on Johnny Sexton when it comes to breaking down opposition defences. Scotland were not the first team to realise this and the home forwards were duly sent out to unsettle Ireland's conductor-in-chief at every opportunity.

Sexton had a central role in Ireland's first two tries in Edinburgh before he left the field battered and broken after 24 minutes. His aggressive, flat attacking style is the key component to bringing Ireland's power runners into the game, but it leaves him vulnerable to late hits and he copped four of them in Murrayfield.

Jonny Sexton had a central role in Ireland's first two tries in Edinburgh before injury struck

Jonny Sexton had a central role in Ireland's first two tries in Edinburgh before injury struck

His cause has not been helped by the form of Conor Murray and Bundee Aki. After an off-colour display against England, Murray was much improved last Saturday, but is still some way off his customary sharpness in attack while Aki has failed to convince in the secondary

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