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England will work to avoid more RWC missed kicks

Updated: September 14, 2011, 23:34

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand(AP) England will be trying hard to break-in the match ball for Sunday's Rugby World Cup encounter against Georgia in an effort to avoid a repeat of the missed kicks that could have cost the side dearly against Argentina.

Between them, England and Argentina succeeded with just six of 17 kicks at goal at Otago Stadium, with the usually accurate Jonny Wilkinson missing five of eight shots.

Teams only get to practice with the match balls a day before each World Cup game - each being allocated four from the set of eight - so England will be striking their share more than usual in an effort to increase the size of the so-called sweet spot that kickers aim for.

"The sweet spot is always in the same place, it's just how small it is. When it's new, it's just a bit smaller,'' said Toby Flood, who could replace Wilkinson at flyhalf for the Pool B match. "They are the same Gilbert Virtuo as in the Six Nations. It's the same piece of equipment. I just think it's because they are a bit fresher at game time.

"When we are at home, we'll probably kick them in for a few days, whereas here's it's just an hour or so, so they behave slightly differently.''

Had Argentina capitalized on one of its two half-openings or succeeded with more of its own kicks, the missed shots at goal could have left England embarrassed against the Pumas.

England trailed 9-3 but outlasted the physical Argentine forwards to triumph 13-9 through Ben Youngs' try, which Wilkinson converted.

The roof in Dunedin, where England and Georgia will also meet, means that wind and rain are not an issue for kickers.

Wilkinson said that he thought he had struck the ball well but was at a loss to explain his misses.

"It's always frustrating to miss a couple of kicks and see what you think is a good strike go wide,'' Flood said. "But I've watched Jonny kick all week and it's been good prior to that.

"Whenever you hit a bad one, it's always the ball's fault, or the wind or the ground or whatever, but they are fairly predictable. You always get the odd one that does something different, but you've had that forever really.

"Whenever they are newer, they are more likely to do something you're not expecting but as long as we kick them in and get on top of them, I'm sure that we be OK.''

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