Brian Smith's Analysis: England Steal the Show in Six Nations - Green and Gold Rugby

Brian Smith’s Analysis: England Steal the Show in Six Nations

Brian Smith’s Analysis: England Steal the Show in Six Nations

This Eddie Jones coached England team keep finding a way to win. This time it was the very experienced Wales team that lost at the death to this seemingly blessed England team, making it two wins out of two for England in the Six Nations. Jones keeps talking about being the best team in the world, and his team keeps finding ways to win. Win ugly, win late…it doesn’t matter how they do it this team just keeps winning and it’s the sign of a very good program.

In this analysis we’re going to look at a few things in attack from each team. There was not a lot between them but there were some interesting things of note for both teams.

Attack Zone

Wales ran this very clever 2 x phase spread play off a six-man lineout that created a lot of room for Liam Williams and exposed the English edge defence. As the clip shows, the play started with a strong launch phase targeting George Ford. Once Wales had shortened the English defence line, they ran a nice block play on the second phase to create space on the edge where Williams enjoyed cutting in and turning the English edge defence inside-out.

England also ran a 2 x phase spread play of their own off a kick return and this also created problems for the Welsh blitz defence. After the first strong carry England set a “tunnel” shape outside their first receiver designed to get Wales to bit on the decoy runners. As this clip shows the “tunnel” shape created plenty of space and a scoring chance for England’s edge attack.

Red Zone

Like last weekend, this weekend’s tries were scored from Red Zone shots. The pick of these was the Welsh try run from a scrum on the left side of the pitch. The play is beautifully executed, as the running scrumhalf plays his blindside winger through the defending midfield. Both Ford and Farrell have multiple runners to contend with and Liam Williams bursts through the line to score almost untouched.

England’s Red Zone try was scored out wide after the English pack had hammered away at the Welsh try line. The Welsh defence scrambled well on their try line but England could not be denied as Ben Youngs took his chance after some excellent passing and footwork out wide on the open side edge.

Running Halfbacks

Both England and Wales are blessed with intelligent running scrum halves and there were some excellent examples of their guile and artistry throughout this match. As both attacks found themselves a little bogged down their scrum halves stepped up and attacked the fringes with close support runners. The tactics worked very well to turn slow ball into what the Kiwis call “Lightning Quick Ball” (LQB). Both these clips illustrate the value of running 9s in creating front-foot LQB, which in turn creates space and scoring chances on the edge.


It would appear that England’s coach Eddie Jones has the midas touch and it’s hard to see how this team can be stopped. They have three matches remaining, and whilst Italy and Scotland will give them a work out, it looks like it might be Ireland who have the best chance of turning over this very well balanced English team. I guess time will tell.

  • idiot savant

    I know I’m a biased Australian but the Williams try looked very similar to Wallaby moves we saw on the spring tour – with some key differences. On the spring tour we saw Folau and Kuridrani run the same cut back inside unders dummy lines that the Welsh 12 ran but the difference was we ran from from wider out. From memory (and I may have this wrong) the straighten up line was run by either Foley wrapping around or by our blind side wingers. Another key difference was our wingers did not appear to have Williams’ pace. Naivalu and Korobete may change that going forward.

    These moves might be old hat in the NH so sorry if thats the case.

    • Brian Smith

      You’ve got a good eye…and coaches do like to steal plays they’ve been hurt by…on the Spring Tour we carved up Wales on hit back plays (21 Patterns) but this one was a same way play…that’s what attack coaching is…adding subtle variations to deceive the defence.

  • mikado

    Many thanks for the analysis Brian. The Welsh try was beautiful I thought, but I did think at the time that Farrell could have read it better (and perhaps trusted Ford better to make a tackle). Looking at it again, the defence was outnumbered whatever they did so I’m not sure what Farrell could do except guess.

    • Brian Smith

      If England’s blind side winger joined the defence line they could have defended the play man on man…that’s the best way to defend scrum from the left when all of the attackers are loaded to play off the 9.

      • mikado

        That would be Jack Nowell. He should perhaps have seen Rhys Webb whispering to Williams as the scrum formed!

  • Mica

    For England’s first try, is Daley legal? I don’t think he’s part of the ruck and he is standing in an offside position. Youngs then scores in between the ruck and Daley. See attached screen grabs – note Ben Youngs circled in last shot in sequence.


    (Note I am not interested in a should Wales have won type of argument, just looking to better understand the laws and subtleties of Rugby :) )

    • mikado

      Mica this seems normal nowadays for the attacking team to be allowed to stand offside, along with being allowed to flop over the ball, handle in the ruck, etc, etc. I assume it’s policy to favour attacking rugby.

    • Haz

      Technically correct as it’s not a full arm bind.

      It is seen regularly with forwards when they are blocking for their scrum half a they box kick.


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.

More in England