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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 4°C
©INPHO/Billy Stickland Kurtley Beale watches his wayward penalty attempt in the 79th minute.
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Coach gives Wallabies goalkicking lessons from South Africa... on Skype
The Aussies landed four kicks from nine in the First Test loss to the Lions.

THE GOALKICKING OF Leigh Halfpenny [92% success rate] and Owen Farrell [95%] has been so good on tour that Jonny Sexton has struggled to get a look-in since landing just two from five against the Barbarians.

The Lions have consistently punished teams with penalties and converted extras when discipline and defensive formations have slipped. Halfpenny missed one penalty attempt in the First Test while Australia, between James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale, converted just four of their nine chances. If all of the kicks had sailed over the posts, the Wallabies would have won 35-26.

Instead, they were left to rue two stray Beale penalties in the final 10 minutes, including a slip-induced miss in the final seconds.

The Lions can rely on the goal-kick coaching of Neil Jenkins, an outhalf that played all three Tests of the 1997 Lions Series from fullback and proved a constant thorn in the Springbok’s side. The Australians are using a man, currently residing in South Africa, as their part-time kicking coach.

Braam van Straaten is giving the Wallaby kickers pointers from his home in Pretoria. The former Springbok, capped 21 times from 1999 to 2001, studies videos of the Aussies taking kicks on and gives advice over Skype. Hardly ideal for a team that should be aware of the minor differences it takes to win a Test series.

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Neil Jenkins keeps a close eye on outhalf Owen Farrell. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Jenkins is quoted on the Lions website today stressing the importance of making every chance count on the pitch. He said, “It’s generally goal-kicking that wins or loses Test matches. We’ve seen already with the way things went last Saturday the importance of your kickers.

“Kicking is a huge part of the game, we all acknowledge that, and Leigh has been a tremendous kicker now for the past two years. He’s put a huge amount of work in and he’s pretty special in what he does.”

Jenkins added, “I tend to allow the guys to do what they do best. I stand and watch what they are doing, and if I think something needs to be said, then I go in and say it, whether it’s punting, restarts or any kind of kicking. But I’m not one for speaking for the sake of it, and people who know me will know that.

These boys have worked incredibly hard since we got together six and a half weeks ago. I believe contact is very important. We have a bit of banter but, generally, I try to stay out of the way and let the guys do what they do best. But it’s important to stand behind your kicker, watch closely at how he’s shaping and how things are going.”

If Australia lose another Test due to errant kicking, Skype may fast become a dirty word Down Under.

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