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Rugby, Australian Football: Wilkinson backs Englands kickers

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posted on Feb, 15 2005 @ 02:11 PM
Jonny Wilkinson has defended his England team-mates after an inability to convert their goal-kicking chances was instrumental as the team slumped to defeat against France in the RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham. Goalkickers Charlie Hodgson and Olly Barkley missed six penalties between them in contrast to the accuracy of Dimitri Yachvili, who kicked six penalties from seven attempts as France wiped out a 17-6 interval deficit and recorded their first victory at Twickenham since 1997.

Wilkinson's absence became more apparent when Hodgson sent a late drop-goal attempt wide. However, the Newcastle Falcons fly-half has stepped forward to defend the pair after they became the subject of much criticism insisting the extent of the opprobrium was unwarranted.

Wilkinson told The Times: "Sitting where I was, Charlie Hodgson had six place-kicks at goal and hit five of them perfectly, so the reaction he has had to face, while predictable, has been blown out of all proportion.

"It's easy enough to say France kicked six goals while England missed six, but it's far more than just goal-kicking that wins or loses games.

"Three of his six goalkicks went over, three did not, on a blustery day that affected the flight of the ball.

"What is true for Charlie is true for Olly Barkley, too.



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