Lions in Australia

Lions kickers 'the best'

2013-06-26 14:09
Owen Farrell (AFP)

Sydney - British and Irish Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins labelled his kickers as the 'best of the best' after backup flyhalf Owen Farrell followed Leigh Halfpenny's example by producing another impressive display with the boot on their tour of Australia.

Englishman Farrell improved his record to 18 successes from 19 attempts by slotting three kicks as the Lions dismantled the Melbourne Rebels 35-0 on Tuesday in their final warm-up ahead of the second test against the Wallabies on Saturday.

Halfpenny has nailed 27 from 29 on tour and contributed 13 points as the Lions beat the Wallabies 23-21 in the first Test on Saturday to put them in pole position to claim a first series win since 1997.

Saturday's outcome in Brisbane could have been different, though, had Australia not missed several kicks at goal, with replacement Kurtley Beale pushing one late effort and then slipping as he attempted a last minute penalty that dropped short.

"The importance of goalkicking was seen on Saturday and generally (the result) does come down to goalkicking," Lions kicking coach Jenkins told reporters on Wednesday.

"We are very lucky to have the kickers we have, they are the best of the best and they just need to keep doing what they've been doing.

"Things have been going well, touch wood, but we need to keep it going for Saturday," the former Wales flyhalf added.

Jenkins, who struck five penalties for the Lions in the second test against South Africa to seal the series in 1997, said he had warned his kickers about cleaning their boots before efforts to avoid a similar fate to Beale.

"The pitch was a bit soft under foot and we'd had rain the day before as well," he said of the Lang Park surface.

"I'd always encourage our boys to wear as long studs as possible. I encourage them to clean their boots as often as possible as well.

"It was one of those things for Kurtley. It can even occur with long studs."

Beale had taken over the kicking duties from James O'Connor, who missed three shots at goal in Brisbane before his team mate took over.

Neither had been expected to kick with inside centre Christian Lealiifano nominated, but his Australia debut lasted only 54 seconds after suffering a head injury.

The ACT Brumbies back is expected to be fit for the second test but Jenkins was surprised the Wallabies did not call upon fullback Berrick Barnes to take the shots at goal in Brisbane before he also suffered injury.

"He never really misses," Jenkins said of Barnes, who will miss the second Test.


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