Brian Smith's Analysis: Good Start - Green and Gold Rugby

Brian Smith’s Analysis: Good Start

Brian Smith’s Analysis: Good Start

Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika will be happy with Australia’s first hit out of the Test Match season. The Wallabies scored 5 well-executed tries and their Attack Coach Steve Larkham will be delighted with the execution of their strike plays. Let’s take a look at the ties in sequential order.

1. Kick to Score

The Wallabies have a very good driving game but every team needs a Plan B if the drive gets sacked, or if the referee calls for the attack to use it or lose it. The Bernard Foley cross kick from left to right for Israel Folau was well thought out, as it gave Izzy a chance to jump off his preferred take off foot (his left foot). It was an excellent way to get the Wallabies strike player into the game early. Hats off to the coach and play caller.

2. Keep Going Sequence

Australia’s second try came hot on the heals of the first try and was a beautiful sequence play off a lineout around the half way. The Wallabies centres set a target in midfield, whilst Scott Higginbotham and Adam Coleman raced the Fijian back row around the corner. I think the ball was probably meant for Higginbotham but with Coleman receiving the ball he was able to use his long right arm to play Higginbotham through the line. This is one of those plays that every aerial forward will be asking their coach to include in the playbook. Again great thinking from the coaching staff as this play is designed to test the work rate of the opposition back row. That was something the Wallabies coaches clearly wanted to do.

3. Hooper’s 6Man Play

When you have a player like Michael Hooper in your team you can run shortened lineouts because he has the skill set on par with all the backs. There are plenty of back rowers who can only run decoy lines on short lineouts, Hooper is way better than that. The timing of this 6Man play was perfect. Ball players want their runners to all be live options. That’s exactly what happened on this play. Izzy hit the line at 100 miles an hour and their were live options out the back. Having the additional ball players in the form of Karmichael Hunt and Dane Haylett-Petty in the backline means the Wallabies can run these intricate plays. You can’t run these plays with a crash bang 12.

4. Drive to Score

Australia’s driving game gives them the ability to play an all court game. They are well drilled and they were very efficient throughout the match. Scoring from a drive strikes a massive psychological blow to the opposing pack. Mario Ladesma will be happy with the drive performance against Fiji and he’ll look to build on that in the next game.

5. Breakout Play

The Wallabies final try was scored from a breakout option as the Fijians set themselves to defend the drive. Tevita Kuridrani was used to bend the defence line and the Wallabies again raced the Fijian pack around the corner as the backline ran a simple block play to give Henry Speight his second try of the match. All of Australia’s tries were scored from set piece and all were scored within 20 seconds of winning possession. Impressive numbers that suggest the attack execution was clinical and precise. Well done team.


The Wallabies performance was very commendable considering they were only together for one week in preparation for the Fijian match. The comprehensive win will give the entire group plenty of confidence going into the Test Match v Scotland on Saturday. The Scots will be more disciplined in defence and their Australian Defence Coach (Mat Taylor) will be preparing his troops to stop the Wallabies plays that have been highlighted above. The Wallabies coaches in turn will be pouring over vision of the Scotland v Italy match looking for weaknesses to attack and strengths to defend. Scotland will be a sterner test but the Wallabies will be ready. Good luck boys the country is behind you!

  • Bobas

    This race around the corner style will always be effective when you have the pace in the back row that Higgers and Hooper produce.
    I just wish we complimented this by selecting players who offer a presence over defensive rucks so we could add another dimension to our game not merely change tactics.
    Latu would balance out the back row. So would Fardy… but Hanigan was okay… I just dont want to lose to Scotland, again.
    Play our best 23.

    • Pclifto

      Agreed. And playing Latu means Moore is, well, no more…

  • Bobas

    Love the articles Brian, great insight.
    Would love your opinion on MOTM, the official one was Genia.

    • Stin

      Genia was MOM? Oh I don’t think so! He was, I thought, a tad shy of his usual excellence. Having said that I’m not sure I’d choose. Folau?

    • Pclifto

      Coleman was MOTM for mine

    • Chinese Dave

      K Hunt all day long if you ask me. First Wallabies game, first time at 12, looked like he’d been doing it all for a while. Say what you will about bringing in the Leaguie stars, the really good ones have poise from here to, well, a very far place, is what I’m saying :)

  • idiot savant

    In the second try Im not sure that the first option wrap around ball wasn’t meant to come from TK to Foley. If Kerevi was playing he would have offloaded to Foley who would’ve cut straight through the hole left by TK’s straightening line which sucked in 2 defenders. Nonetheless it was Impressive running from Coleman and Higginbotham to get all the way from the line out and provide a second option. I like the look of this play with an offloading 13. Theres 2 genuine options.

    • Steve

      Not sure that’s true IS as you can see Foley was looking to wrap around; he wasn’t running toward the breakdown looking to catch the offload. More likely they were looking for TK to bend the line, recycle quickly and create numbers on the wrap.

      Foley was sucked into the breakdown as the loosies weren’t quite there in time to hit the ruck, but Coleman was able to make up for it with his own offload.

      • idiot savant

        You could be right Steve. I think for moment it looks like TK wants to offload to Hunt but the opposite 13 gets his hand on the pill. I just thought Foley wasn’t running to set up in a first receiver position, he was running to wrap around but then as you say realised that a clean out was needed.

  • Adrian

    Good analysis Brian, and thanks for clarification of the plays with forwards sweeping around.

    Do you think the forwards should be beefed up a bit for Scotland?

    Maybe Timani? If so for who?
    Maybe Arnold for Carter?
    Latu on bench?
    Anyone else?

    • idiot savant

      You are clearly not a vegetarian Adrian. Latu would be a few steaks short of Moore would he not? If Sio is fit I expect he will start probably with Kepu so that immediately adds more beef up front. Carter has no value as a finisher but he has value as a worker so I would leave him to play 50 with Arnold upping the beef in the final 30. Tui would be too big a gamble against the Scots. Timani to 8 and Higgers to 6 would result in more beef than Timani and Hanigan but I can’t see Cheika doing that so I expect Higgers might go to bench and replace Timani early as Timani is not really match fit yet.

      But I don’t think the Australian pack was humbled by the Fijians who are big and all very experienced NH players. Its set piece and maul that will be biggest challenge against Scotland not beef per se. Indeed mobility might be an advantage our pack has over the Scots. As always its a balance. And that brings us to tactics. Beef is good if you want to play it in the forwards but that would be a dumb way to play Scotland who have been playing pick n drive in those peat bogs since Macbeth was a boy. We have backs and I think its written down somewhere that its their job to score tries. So as long as we bolster our scrum, I think we should play to our strength which is ball playing in the loosies and in the backs.

      • Adrian

        Your probably right with what the team will look like.

        Yes, Moore might have more kgs than Latu, but Latu is bigger than most think, and actually uses it when he’s on the charge !

        • idiot savant

          Yep, its not the size of the dog in the fight…

  • Kev

    Love these analyses. Never knew there was this much thought behind attacking plays.

  • Chinese Dave

    The thing I like most about that Coleman -> Higginbotham -> … -> Speight try was that for once I got to see forwards running fast and playing the ball with skill and they weren’t fucking Kiwis.


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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