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Jonathan Sexton: Costly miss against All Blacks made me a better player

By Cian Tracey

Published 27/10/2016

Still hurting: Jonathan Sexton missed a key penalty in 2013
Still hurting: Jonathan Sexton missed a key penalty in 2013

Jonathan Sexton may have nailed five kicks at goal from the exact same spot since, but his crucial late penalty miss in the defeat to New Zealand three years ago is still fresh in his memory.

As the clocked ticked into the 74th minute, Sexton's penalty would have put Ireland 25-17 in front and within touching distance of a famous victory. He missed and the rest is history.

The Ireland out-half didn't shirk the issue then and while he has moved on, he is eager to make amends when Ireland get two shots at an historic first triumph over the All Blacks in the next month, the first on Saturday week at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Nine times out of 10 Sexton would have slotted it over and the fact that he has done so from the same spot five times since proves that. But this was a pressure situation.

He will know that the painful memories aren't likely to be banished unless Ireland get that elusive win over the All Blacks.

"I think about it quite a lot," Sexton admitted. "Obviously it will be fresher in my mind now but I think I learned a lot from it. Everyone learned something from that game.

"I learned why I missed the kick and the funny thing about it was that I had five kicks to go two scores clear from the exact spot afterwards, that was bizarre. I got them to go two scores clear the rest of the time.

"I wish I could go back, but you can't. I learned from it and I think I became a better kicker for it. But I would still love to go back and be able to take it again.

"When I kicked the ball I thought it was going over. It was a great strike but it was a small little block. Why I blocked it out there - that's really what I learned.

"They're the best team in the world and they're being talked about as the best team ever. Now we've got to go and try stop the winning run.

"It would be typical Irish to win your first game against them in Chicago after the few weeks that we've just had."

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