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Perth Spirit beat Canberra Vikings 28-23 in round one of the NRC

Canberra Vikings playmaker Christian Lealiifano brushes off a Perth Spirit defender.

Canberra Vikings playmaker Christian Lealiifano brushes off a Perth Spirit defender. Photo: Jay Cronan

Wallabies playmaker Christian Lealiifano has vowed to work tirelessly to rediscover his goal kicking mojo, admitting his wayward year with the boot is taking its toll after he missed three crucial conversions in the National Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.

Canberra suffered a shock round-one loss to the Perth Spirit 28-23 at Viking Park, despite boasting 10 Brumbies and Lealiifano after he was released from Wallabies camp to get game time.

Canberra and Perth scored four tries each, but in the end it was kicking that made the difference in a revamped NRC points structure.

Canberra Vikings Isaac Thompson breaks through defence. Click for more photos

NRC: Canberra Vikings v Perth Spirit

NRC: Canberra Vikings v Perth Spirit at Viking Park, Wanniassa Photo: Jay Cronan

Conversions are worth three points instead of the traditional two, in a move designed to encourage teams to score tries instead of kicking penalty goals.

But Lealiifano got the yips with his kicking and missed three of his four attempts. Had he kicked all four, the Vikings would have beaten the Spirit by three points.

Less than a year ago Lealiifano was regarded as Australia's best sharpshooter and was given the Wallabies' kicking duties.

But after a rough season from the kicking tee, the ACT Brumbies star wants to repay the faith coaches have shown.

"Goal kicking makes a massive difference [in the NRC] and that's what's frustrating me the most to be honest," Lealiifano said.

"It sort of cost the team, I don't know what's going on. I've just got to keep working at it.

"It's starting to get to me a bit now, a lot of people have put faith in me to step up in that area and I just keep letting everyone down. I'll just keep at it and hopefully it will come around soon.

"I've been waiting a long time and it is frustrating, but I'll learn from it and I'll push forward."

Lealiifano was kicking at 83 per cent in Tests and 78 per cent in Super Rugby last year. But in trying to regain his confidence this year, Lealiifano's accuracy has dropped to 51 per cent.

Canberra captain Fotu Auelua backed the star playmaker to rediscover his best form after an off day in the NRC and just one training session with the Vikings.

Lealiifano's game mirrored the Vikings' team performance, dropping regulation passes as Canberra failed to built any momentum.

Canberra was held scoreless in the first half before Robbie Coleman scored a double to put the home team in front with time running out.

The Spirit refused to go away and scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to seal victory, including a 50-metre effort from outside centre Ammon Matuauto in the dying minutes to score the match-winner.

"It's not just one player, Christian has come back from international duties but you need players around him to work so that it sparks," Auelua said.

"We only had ourselves to blame; we weren't clinical in the breakdown and we didn't keep it simple."

Canberra's next game is against the Greater Sydney Rams on Thursday night.

Despite boasting 10 Brumbies, the Canberra side looked like a second-grade club team fumbling their way around the field.

They dropped every attacking chance they had in the opening exchanges and Perth took control of the game.

Canberra had to wait until the 50th minute before they crossed the line with Isaac Thompson slipping through a gap and then hit the front through tries to Coleman and Nigel Ah Wong.

Canberra coach Dan McKellar said his team needed to make amends for a "flat" performance.

"We obviously didn't click, we had a poor start and by half-time we hadn't got through two phases," McKellar said.

"They worked harder than us and wanted it more. We don't have time to drag our chins along the ground, we have to get one back on Thursday night."


PERTH SPIRIT 28 (Zack Holmes, Dillyn Leyds, Heath Tessmann, Ammon Matuauto tries; Zack Holmes, Luke Burton conversion; Luke Burton penalty) bt CANBERRA VIKINGS 23 (Robbie Coleman 2, Isaac Thompson, Nigel Ah Wong tries; Christian Lealiifano conversion) at Viking Park on Saturday.

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Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 Stats
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Canada 3 0 3 0 -71 1
Romania 2 0 2 0 -61 0
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