Brian Smith's Analysis - Holy Naholo! - Green and Gold Rugby

Brian Smith’s Analysis – Holy Naholo!

Brian Smith’s Analysis – Holy Naholo!


A lot has been said about the Wallabies set piece woes, their 40 missed tackles and all those turnovers. Even Coach Cheika has come under fire from sections of the media. However, it was one player that inflicted most of the damage on Saturday and that player was the formidable Waiseke Naholo. We’re going to have a look at the 4 tries he featured in more detail.

The Inside Ball

Naholo had a huge impact in creating the All Blacks first try. In this clip you’ll see his terrific inside ball to Kieran Read whilst dealing with the cover tackles of Will Genia and Michael Hooper. He had no space to work with and no right to stay in the field of play let alone dish off a peach of a pass to set up the Kiwi’s first try.

The Strip

In the All Black’s second try Naholo also plays a key role stripping the ball in his tackle on Mareka Koroibete. After the strip the All Blacks are ruthless in their counter attack, picking off the Wallabies scrambling defence. It’s a great example of playing off turnovers and a good lesson to any schoolboy team. You probably have 3-5 seconds to strike after a turnover because that’s about how long i takes for an attacking team to transition to defence after a turnover.

The Chase

Eventually Naholo is rewarded for all his good work when he gets on to the end of a Beauden Barrett cross kick. The damage was done on the far side with Kurtley Beale forcing a pass and turning the ball over. The Kiwis clicked into counter attack mode and with Damian McKenzie on the pitch they were always going to chance their hand. McKenzie jinked across the pitch searching for opportunity and then he found Barrett who instinctively put the ball in space for Naholo to chase. Another cracking try from counter attack.

The Finish

In the closing stages of the game McKenzie gets in to first receiver and the All Blacks run a rugby league style phase play with Keiran Read showing off his great skill set. His inside ball created space on the edge for the All Blacks and even though the ball went to deck Naholo was able produce a piece of brilliance beating 4 Wallaby defenders from 40m out.


It was sometimes hard to watch if you’re an Australian but Naholo was on fire in this game and he deserves credit for what he produced. Australia too has a big unit that can play on the wing and cause havoc. His name is Taqele Naiyaravoro and he’s heading off to Northampton. Michael Cheika has a big job to turn his team around this weekend. No doubt his team will bounce back and give it a huge crack. The weight of history is against them but the support of a nation is with them.

  • Archie

    Awesome player and some poetic moves! Thanks Brian.

    No matter which side of the fence you sit, Im sure we can all appreciate beautiful tries and attractive rugby. Speaking of which, I came across these pearlers (‘Top 10 Bledisloe tries’)…. remember that solo effort from Matthew Burke in Sydney, or that crazy triple loop-de-loop switch move from the ABs in Wellington… very nostalgic.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Thanks for that Archie. Some fantastic viewing there

  • juswal

    Unfortunately, his tackling isn’t very good.


      Which should ALWAYS be excused if you personally help make it up on the score board. … he does.

  • Brumby Runner

    Naholo isn’t a big unit in the Naiyaravoro mould. He is somewhere around 186cm and 96kg. That’s not even as big as DHP. We have quite a few wingers around the same size as Naholo. It’s more that Naholo plays big – he seems to be big the way he plays. Pity some of ours don’t.

  • Who?

    Some of those tries have some very simple defensive mistakes in them. For Goodhue’s try, Hooper didn’t show any trust in Foley’s capacity to cover his man. If Hooper had done, he’d have pushed out onto Reiko earlier, and would’ve had a chance to make that tackle. There was only a couple of steps in it.
    The ‘solo’ try, I pin that one on Samu. Toomua had the wing covered, he couldn’t come in hard as Naholo jinked infield as there was the potential for a switch with Harris, and Toomua also had to cover the step to the wing – he was on the end of the line. But Samu slowed to account for Harris, who wasn’t a potential recipient until after Naholo passed him, and who had no potential to run back infield. Samu just needed to go harder at Naholo – if he does that, there’s no try. Naholo can’t step behind Harris to avoid Samu – that’s a clear and obvious obstruction. And running the line he did, if Samu gets another 2 steps further across (which was achievable, given he slowed for Harris), Naholo doesn’t get through.
    Also, kind of surprised by Hodge’s relative lack of pace on the kick chase for Naholo’s try off BB’s kick. Thought he was a little quicker than that.

    • drrea81

      WOW there is some poor D. Look at that last try.

      Not sure where Foley had come from but he was way behind. If you pause the clip as McKenzie catches and look at the Wallabies D line. It is like under 10s – all over the place. We should have had that covered easy if we just held together in a line.

  • Nutta

    Fantastic player and clearly a massive influence on the game for a guy who arguably should not of been on the park after the 10th minute or so.


    An article on Naholo…..and no mention of his spear tackle on Folou that 100% should have seen him yellow carded.

  • Jimmydubs

    “Even Coach Cheika has come under fire from sections of the media”

    40 missed tackles, non existent set piece. So much shitness and you’re somehow surprised your mate has come under fire. Shocking stuff.

    • Who?

      Be fair Jimmy, 40 missed tackles in the first Bledisloe of the year… It’s not that uncommon. Happened in 2016, too.

      • Jimmydubs

        I do wonser what % of games that the wallabies have missed 30 or more tackles have been under Cheika?

  • Shtinatina

    Pity Naholo can’t get the #deleallichallenge right though

  • Natman

    Just a few comments from an untrained observer.
    In the first clip the defence of the Wallabies is spread across the field while almost all the ABs are looking to or are moving go right. At 10sec in the video the number of AB going right to support the ball carries outnumbers the Wallabies by 2-3 players. Not much but over a few phases the overlap/mismatch in numbers was inevitable. At 15sec that equated to a final 3-1 attacking situation. Hooper was chasing around after the ball but committed to stand and defend only once on Naholo who was already being tackled by another Aussie. Not trusting the team mate exacerbated the number mismatch I have mentioned.
    The second clip shows the same mismatch of defence drift. But really the actions of Hooper at 16sec should be counted as a missed tackle, a diving tackle at that point may have been an option?
    I couldn’t really go pass the Beale pass in the third clip. He looked at the AB while he passed it to him! Game over from there, except to say at the end Naholo had 2 support players at the point when he only had 1 man to beat. How many times do we see Wallaby players making a break, looking around for support and eventually getting caught in an isolated tackle? My dad, a lowly low grade school coach used to call the AB attack style “V” rugby, ball carrier always with a support option each side. It needs superior team fitness to work however.


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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