Barnes is bringing back the drop goal
During a phase of play last week, the Wallabies were again pressuring towards the Welsh line. As the momentum ceased, Barnes took charge, pivoted to the right and slotted a drop goal to keep the score ticking over.
Barnes has many flaws but one of his strengths is his reliability in slotting drop goals. In fact, he is now approaching a Wallaby record.
With seven of them from 39 tests (28 starts), Barnes is now three in front of his closest rival Matt Giteau, who disappointingly only kicked four drop goals in 92 tests (79 starts). He is tantalisingly close to the all time wallaby record of nine drop goals set by both Phil Hawthorne (21 tests) and equalled by Michael Lynagh (71 tests).
Barnes is also one behind the attacking genius that was Mark Ella who slotted eight drop goals from his 25 tests.
What surprises me by all this is just how few drop goals our no 10′s have kicked since Phil Hawthorne and Mark Ella so openly advocated the drop goal as a means to success. I suppose Lynagh and Giteau could argue that they played a lot of rugby at 12 but then again so did Jonny Wilkinson.
Interestingly, Wilkinson has the almost unattainable, ‘Bradman-esque’ record of 36 drop goals from his 91 tests (70 starts), which is a fair reflection of a player that reportedly practises his kicking even on Christmas Day.
Nevertheless, I’d like to see Barnes keep dropping goals this series and break the Wallaby record.
The benefit for the rest of us would be that this would help win the next two Test matches as it did the last one. Drop goals are worth three points, which last time I checked is almost as much as a try, so, as long as you have put the hours of practice in, I say go for it. If you can do it consistently well, it is like fishing with dynamite.
In terms of the benefit for Barnes, who knows, one day at the selection table Deans may tip the decision into Barnes’ favour as a result.
I sincerely doubt that so Barnes really has to get his skates on if indeed he is to take advantage of being on the cusp of Wallaby greatness. The best way to do this? By kicking drop goals.
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