x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

British & Irish Lions tour: Jenkins happy Lions are getting their kicks

Lions coach Neil Jenkins lauds his side's success rate and points out match's often come down to goal kicking.

The Lions' kicking coach Neil Jenkins is happy with how Owen Farrell, above, and Leigh Halfpenny have handled goal-kicking duties.
The Lions' kicking coach Neil Jenkins is happy with how Owen Farrell, above, and Leigh Halfpenny have handled goal-kicking duties.

Neil Jenkins has labelled his kickers as the "best of the best" after the back-up fly-half Owen Farrell followed Leigh Halfpenny's example by producing another impressive display with the boot on the British & Irish Lions' tour of Australia.

The 21-year-old Englishman Farrell improved his tour record to 18 successful kicks from 19 attempts by slotting three attempts as the Lions dismantled Melbourne Rebels 35-0 on Tuesday in their final warm-up ahead of the second Test against the Wallabies on Saturday.

Halfpenny, the Wales international, 24, has made 27 from 29 attempts on tour. He contributed 13 points as the Lions beat the Wallabies 23-21 in the first Test this past Saturday at Brisbane to put them in pole position to claim a first series win since 1997.

The outcome at Suncorp Stadium 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 just short.

"The importance of goal kicking was seen on Saturday and generally the result does come down to goal kicking," said Jenkins, the Lions' kicking coach. "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."

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 Brisbane 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 teammate stepped up.

Neither had been expected to kick with the inside centre Christian Leali'ifano nominated, but his Australia debut lasted only 54 seconds after he suffered 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 match at Etihad Stadium.


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