Leigh Halfpenny owns up to ‘mistake’ after Wales penalty confusion

Leigh Halfpenny owns up to ‘mistake’ after Wales penalty confusion

Leigh Halfpenny has owned up to the "mistake" of turning down a penalty attempt in Wales' RBS 6 Nations defeat to Scotland, according to kicking coach Neil Jenkins.

Halfpenny - who has scored 594 points for Wales - rejected the chance of a kicking opportunity at Murrayfield on Saturday which, had it been successful, would have levelled the scores at 16-16.

Skipper Alun Wyn Jones had already indicated to referee John Lacey that Wales would go for the three points, but outside-half Dan Biggar ended up kicking into the corner instead.

The failure to score from the resulting set-piece, however, saw Scotland establish crucial momentum on their way to a 29-13 victory - their first over Wales for 10 years.

"I have had a good chat with Leigh and he has put his hand up," Jenkins said about the 51st-minute incident.

"It's clear he wasn't decisive enough, so Alun Wyn has made the decision to go to the corner.

"You are going to make the odd error in Test rugby, but you have to brush that off and go again.

"Leigh didn't grab the ball and say 'I'm taking this'. He'll accept that and say he's made a mistake."

Halfpenny had earlier missed a first-half penalty attempt in the swirling Murrayfield wind.

But former fly-half Jenkins, Wales' record points scorer, said Halfpenny remained his country's top kicker.

"Leigh is still our number one kicker," Jenkins said.

"He was a bit off in the autumn against Australia after being out for a year through injury.

"But he only missed two in the autumn after that and two in this championship.

"He's 88 per cent for the championship. He's a world-class kicker and the stats speak for themselves.

"He's been there, done it - Grand Slams, Championships, (British & Irish) Lions - and I believe he'll keep doing it at the highest level for Wales for a long time yet.

"I think he's in the top three kickers in the world and I've no doubt that he'll be ready to go against Ireland a week on Friday."

Skipper Jones feels Halfpenny's decision not to take the penalty has been over-exaggerated, saying a "lot of things could have gone right to influence the game, not just that kick".

But Jones admits Wales must improve their accuracy and execution in their final two championship games against Ireland and France.

Should they lose both those games, Wales would fall to ninth in the world rankings ahead of the 2019 World Cup draw in May.

That would raise the prospect of being placed in a tough group in Japan, just like they were at the 2015 World Cup when they were paired with England and Australia.

"I think I was decisive, I motioned to the posts and the ref agreed," Jones said about the penalty controversy.

"Leigh felt the conditions weren't right. I back the decision of my world-class kicker. We had the option of the line-out, but it didn't work out.

"If you keep the ball, you are not going to invite pressure.

"Whatever happens, we will be in a group of death (at the World Cup).

"We are used to it, but we have to look at games week to week rather than anything beyond that."

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