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British & Irish Lions coach Gatland lauds Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny has been in sublime kicking form

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Article Published: Saturday 15 June 2013






British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said that fullback Leigh Halfpenny could turn out to be their lucky charm as he could kick the Lions to victory over Australia.

Halfpenny played in the Lions team against the Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium and scored a record points tally of 30 points overtaking Ronan O'Gara's record against a Western Australian side in 2001.

The fullback slotted eight kicks out of eight - four penalties and four conversions - and also ran in two tries for a personal haul of 30 points in the 47-17 win, the Lions' biggest victory in 125 years of playing the Waratahs.

Halfpenny's figures also overtook the 19 scored against the Waratahs in 2001 by England's Jonny Wilkinson, who famously drop-kicked the winning points in England's 2003 World Cup final win over Australia.

The Lions' last series victory, in 1997 against South Africa, was also sealed by a last-gasp Jeremy Guscott drop-kick, following a gritty goal-kicking performance by Neil Jenkins.

"Previous Lions tours and World Cups are won on goal-kicking," said Gatland after Halfpenny's performance, a week before the first Test against Australia next Saturday.

"Apart from his goal kicking I thought some of his lines of running and his positional play defensively and kicking out of hand... I think he is playing at the top of his game.

"He is the ultimate professional. He prepares and does everything that you would expect of him. I thought again today he was very, very good."

Halfpenny, who is being tutored by Jenkins on the current tour, now boasts place-kicking figures of 22 out of 23 and he landed all 11 attempts, many from acute angles, in the Lions' 69-17 win over Western Force.

 
 
 
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