The Wallabies had 145 phases from the 50 times they commenced a possession sequence. Yet they were only able to make five line breaks and score two tries (one of which was an intercept).
The Irish had 82 phases from the 42 times they commenced a possession sequence yet they were only able to make two line breaks and scored no tries. Hardly entertaining rugby!
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The scrum was better than against England or was it just that the Irish scrum wasn’t as good at the English scrum? Hard to know but I think on balance there has been some improvement over the last two games. The lineout was good, winning 100% of Wallaby ball and taking three lineouts from Ireland.
The defence of both sides contributed to the lack of attacking effectiveness but both sides kicked away a lot of ball. The Wallabies kicked 27 times from the 50 possession sequences they commenced and lost the ball 11 times. It’s very hard to build any continuity with those sorts of numbers.
The Wallabies missed 10 tackles of the 68 they attempted – an 85% success rate. Only 16% of the tackles made were dominant, which is down from an average of about 28% over the first three games this season.
The back line has just about come to a spluttering halt and the combination of Cooper and Giteau is not working at all. The Wallabies would have known going into the match that Ireland’s defence would be well organised yet the only options the back line had were a) hope Quade can dance his way through; b) turn the ball back to a runner coming inside; or c) just pass the ball through the hands until the ball had travelled the width of the field and there was no space left. The backline didn’t attempt a single starter play to split the Irish defence!
I went to Wallabies training last week and watched the lowest intensity back line training session I’ve ever seen and I seriously mean from Under 11’s to other international teams. The only thing Robbie Deans and Richard Graham had them practicing was turning the ball inside to a runner, all done at half pace. The guy I was standing with and I were perplexed and I made the comment at the time that the complexity of the session looked like something you’d run through with a schoolboy team where the players had never met and need to just need to get to know each other. Then I thought, a) they’re not running anything in public and are saving their starter plays for a private session; and b) what do I know compared to Robbie Deans? Then as I sat watching the game footage earlier today I realised that they back line played exactly the way they trained!
I’m not advocating and overly complex style of play but the approach used by the Wallabies aginst the Irish clearly didn’t work and it certainly won’t work in the Tri-Nations. Or, is Robbie foxing and is going to bring out something special and make me eat my hat?
Watching the game again, Elsom and Pocock were heavily involved. Although we didn’t measure breakdown involvements this week, those two made one third of all tackles made by the team and had 18 carries between them. Brown, Mumm and Chisolm were either missing in action or ineffective and the absence of Sharpe was very noticeable. Given how quiet Brown and Chisolm were I don’t understand why Robbie Deans didn’t bring Hodgson and Chapman on for the last twenty minutes. Hodgson has shown he can handle this level and would have added some spark and taken some of the workload off Elsom and Pocock. It was also a perfect opportunity to find out if Chapman can handle this level and I can’t see how he could of been any worse that Chisolm.
Drew Micthell had a poor game and unfortunately he’s had too many poor games recently to be retained in the starting fifteen.