TOKYO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The one minor blot on England’s 39-10 victory over Argentina on Saturday was an uncharacteristically poor goal-kicking performance by Owen Farrell, who missed with four shots in a row in the first half.
Those kicks - three conversions and a penalty - would be considered relatively straightforward for England’s captain, but he hooked all four, either side of having his head smashed in by the shoulder of Puma lock Tomas Lavanini, who was sent off for the hit.
With George Ford, also an excellent kicker, at flyhalf, England had options but Farrell is not a man to shun responsibility and he turned things round in the second half with four successful kicks. Farrell had looked on the ball when practising an hour before the match and said: “I fixed it up after halftime but I need to do some work on it this week.”
Coincidentally, when England played Argentina in the pool stages of the 2011 tournament, Jonny Wilkinson missed five kicks at goal, including four in a row.
The man whose drop goal won England the 2003 World Cup was working as a TV pundit for Saturday’s game and was his usual, analytical self when asked at halftime if he thought Ford should take over.
“No, he’s OK,” Wilkinson said. “He’s not missing by much.”
Editing by Antony Lawrence