11 Sep 2011

Wilkinson bemused by bad night at the office

11:36 am on 11 September 2011

England 2003 World Cup star Jonny Wilkinson missed five successive kicks at goal in the team's opening Rugby World Cup match against Argentina in Dunedin on Saturday night.

England eventually won 13-9 after Wilkinson finally rediscovered his touch to convert a try in the 65th-minute and then land a lengthy penalty.

His tally for the night was three from eight.

However, Argentina were even worse. Fullback Martin Rodriguez and flyhalf Felipe Contepomi missed six of their nine attempts, four of them in the first half when they were in control.

Wilkinson was bemused by what went on and even lost count of his wayward efforts.

''The difficulty was that I felt I was hitting the ball well and expecting to see it go where I wanted it to go,'' he said.

''But when the ball moves a bit, how do you correct something that didn't feel wrong?

''I didn't even know how many I missed. You can only focus on the bit you can control and today I felt really good.''

Low lights, a transparent roof, a series of white girders resembling goalposts and the ball itself were all suggested as possible factors, but Wilkinson refused to look for excuses.

"I'm the one kicking the ball,'' he said. ''There was nothing out there that you haven't seen somewhere before.''