Brian Smith's analysis: BLITZ BUSTERS
Wales

Brian Smith’s analysis: BLITZ BUSTERS

Brian Smith’s analysis: BLITZ BUSTERS

When you play against a Shaun Edwards coached team like Wales you have got to do your homework because his teams run a very good Blitz Defence that ball players can find claustrophobic. Stephen Larkham can take credit for an excellent preparation of the Wallabies attack. They tore Wales apart in the first half with some well executed plays that are worth a good look at. We’ll call them Australia’s Blitz Buster plays…

Blitz Buster 1 – “Strike Play”

The Wallabies ran one of their favourite strike plays form a lineout around 18 minutes in to the match. It’s the same play they scored against Argentina during The Rugby Championship – a Larkham peach.

Block plays are a great option against a Blitz Defence because defenders tend to target the lead runner and the 2nd man runners can find space. In this instance Tevita Kuridrani runs the lead line and Foley slices through the line. The try is bombed but that’s not the coach’s fault…the play is GOOD!

via GIPHY

Blitz Buster 2 – “21 Pattern”

The next big Blitz Buster play was run from another lineout around 7 minutes later only this time the Wallabies targeted the blind side using a 21 Pattern (that’s when you play 2 x phases to the open before hitting back to the blind).

This play was designed by Coach Larkham to target Wales’ tight forwards and it was run to perfection. Stephen Moore did an excellent job in a ball playing role to play Bernard Foley and Reece Hodge through the blind side defence.

via GIPHY

Blitz Buster 3 – “31 Pattern”

The Wallabies struck again around 10 minutes later from another blind side raid, this time they hit back after 3 x phases of play from to the open side. It’s another well designed sequence play from the Attack Coach again targeting Wales forwards.

This time Bernard Foley ran a more conventional block play to the left edge cleverly missing Izzy Folau to release Tevita Kuidrani. It was a play inspired by the NRL and even Jonathan Thurston would have been happy with Bernard Foley’s pass.

via GIPHY

Blitz Buster 4 – “Kick to Score”

In addition to running some terrific strike plays and sequence plays the Wallabies were also very creative from phase play against Shaun Edward’s Blitz Defence.

Early in the game Bernard Foley peppered the right edge with clever cross kicks to find the space behind the rushing defence. The tactics were smart and the execution was mostly precise. Bernard Foley’s compact stature enables him to have an extremely effective short kicking game. On any other day his skill would have created at least another try. Had it been Foley and not Dane Haylett-Petty kicking to the right corner Izzy may have scored early in the game.

via GIPHY

Summary

It’s great to be a Wallabies supporter this week, our boys have put a marker down kicking off their Grand Slam Tour in fine style. Coach Cheika and his staff (particularly Stephen Larkham) should savour this performance. They prepared the troops very well and the team really performed.

We take on the Scots next who no doubt will be out to avenge their controversial exit at the 2015 World Cup. It doesn’t get easier for the Wallabies but like their supporters they’ll have a spring in their step this week. They will draw great confidence from this victory.

  • Footyyy

    Beautiful, and encouraging, stuff.

  • brumby runner

    I have to credit Mick Byrne also. The players’ skill levels in passing and catching as well as Foley’s short kicking game have markedly improved since he came on board and I think that has allowed Larkham to design an attacking game plan that is very effective because generally the players are now capable of carrying out their tasks with some accuracy.

    • Peter Morse

      I think Mick Byrne’s fingerprints are all over a lot of the stuff the Wallabies are now doing.

    • Brisneyland Local

      To a degree, but Jesus we coughed up at least 3 trys in the first half. All down toskills errors. That I could see at least two potential trys went missing again due to skills errors. Foley’s kicking game has improved but is still not up to standard. His place kicking was also crap too, how ever his orchestrating of play and running the line, were the best we have seen all season from him.
      But the team still has a lot of work to do in the skills area.

      • Dean’s Mum

        Can I ask – what exactly the criticism of Foley’s kicking was for this game? I agree that his place kicking could have used work, but the statement that his “kicking game has improved but is still not up to standard” should point to some evidence, particularly given that was the best tactical kicking he has displayed in a while.

        This is not a jab – I am just genuinely curious as to whether or not there was something I missed, or if the criticism is based more on his previous games and lack of consistency

    • Pearcewreck

      Good point brumby runner.
      Hopefully Mick Byrne is having a good effect.

  • Graham Osborne

    thank god we finally have an offensive kicking game, Bernard Foley has never been good at it BUT he as found it finally!!!
    The difference is dramatic we are no longer totally dependent on running every play regardless of the situation . a couple of years ago a friend of mine asked Michael Cheiker why he didnt let Foley field kick more and he said “because he is shit at it”. And he was right.
    But not any more , fantastic stuff.

    • Seb V

      Foley can chip kick fine but so far thats the extent of it. No evidence suggests clearance kicks or kicking under pressure has improved. He had an absolute blinder last game but he also didn’t have to do any kicking under pressure, lucky Hodge was there to exit our own half.

      • brumby runner

        Early in the game the Wallabies were deep in their own 22m area. Phipps double pumped the pass from the ruck and Foley was almost charged down. All credit to him in this case though as he found touch just a couple of metres inside the Wallabies’ half.

  • Simon

    Beautiful to watch the first two – they actually turned the blitz defence into a liability by pinning the inner defenders, meaning that the wider defenders who rushed up left a huge hole in the line.

    It seems that for so long now under Cheika, the Wallabies just haven’t had this multi-faceted attack capable of threatening a blitz/rush defence that it’s just become second nature for opposition teams to defend that way. Then when they bring out an innovative, multi-faceted attack that turns the rush defence into a disastrous liability, the opposition just can’t cope.

    If they can maintain the handling skills required to play this style of rugby (looking at you Mick Byrne) they have the capacity to be a VERY dangerous side. It’s so fantastic to see.

    Just a pity it was Wales that sprung the trap and not the Poms!

    • MCOD

      Hi Simon totally agree – some beautiful rugby on display – would say though that the difference for me in the last 2 tests is the platform for the attack, the locks and Timani are heavy hitting ball carriers and are winning the collisions, breaking the gain line and recycling quick joyous ball – a talented back line couldn’t ask for much more!! – it shouldn’t be underestimated what a difference that can make – ask the AB’s!

  • BigNickHartman

    Good stuff Brian! Now, could you perhaps write a devil advocate’s article on why Dean Mumm should stay in the XV? I’d like to see that

  • Bobas

    That Folau miracle ball was one of the best I’ve seen. If Kuridrani could have linked up with someone else or timed that fend better, that would’ve been the try of the year. A safe but retrospectively conservative option.

  • chasmac

    Interesting to see Hooper’s role in all of these 4 plays. His mobility is top shelf.

    • Peter Morse

      Yep, he’s right there in 3 out of 4 of those moves.

      • harro

        I think he’s in all four. In the third one, is he making the decoy run as Foley throws the wide pass?

        • Peter Morse

          I just couldn’t see him in the Kurindrani try, that was all – is that the one you mean, in which case, yes all 4 then – for all the others he was there in perfect position to take a pass.

        • harro

          Yeah, that’s the one. It’s hard to tell, but I think he’s the player that runs to the line and Foley passes behind him to TK. He then heads towards TK and is in support when TK dots down

        • Peter Morse

          Yep, that’s him alright.

    • Watch him get in the way of Jamie Roberts behind the ball for Hodge’s try. SURELY A NO TRY?!?!?

      • Peter Morse

        In two of those, the 2nd and the 3rd he’s heavily marked by 2 players and in both sequences both players seem to end up on the ground and he’s still running. I prefer to see it as him being tackled without the ball – so surely its a penalty try!!!.
        But I still can’t understand why he’s in the team.

  • LED

    Anyone noticing there seems to be far more offloads gradually appearing in the Wallabies attacking play? I like it – feels like its been missing for some time.

  • skip

    I’m glad you mentioned that kick. Jiffy edwards was saying on TV that it was good Welsh defense that caused it which made me burst out laughing.

    That new skills coach is beginning to make his mark too. Each game there’s an improvement in the catch-pass level.

Wales

Brian Smith is a rare breed who has both played and coached international rugby and doesn't mind telling it as he sees it. He's currently putting his Oxford degree to good use teaching Commerce and coaching rugby at the Scots College, Sydney.

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