Brian Smith's Analysis - Job Done - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brian Smith’s Analysis – Job Done

Brian Smith’s Analysis – Job Done

The Wallabies enjoyed a very good win in Cardiff on Saturday, and the performance puts them in a good position going into the big clash with England this Saturday.

In recent times the Wallabies have dominated Wales when it comes to results – in fact it feels like the match up with Wales brings out the best in the Wallabies. In 2016 the Wallabies put on a show, and they played some excellent stuff in this match as well.

This week we’re going to focus on two of Australia’s tries in the first half. Both tries started with scrums on the right edge of the pitch and both involved attacking kicks.

Try 1 – Spread Play

The Wallabies are known to flip players in and out of their traditional positions in both attack and defence. This scrum play around the halfway line is a great example of that.

Bernard Foley (10) sets up on the right wing with the flying Marika Koroibete (14) setting up on the left wing. Reece Hodge (11) steps up at first receiver, Kurtley Beale (15) is at inside centre and Samu Kereve (12) sets up at fullback. Only Tevita Kuridrani (13) sets up in his selected spot at outside centre.

The Wallabies have set up this way to suggest to the Welsh defence that Hodge is going to hit it up with Kuridrani, but their real intention is to run a “Spread” play to give Koroibete a crack at Liam Williams. Against Shaun Edward’s blitz defence this is a good play, and the Wallabies make some great territory down the left edge thanks to the distribution of Hodge and Beale.

Off the back of the bust, the Wallabies struggle to make any more inroads into the Welsh defence, so Foley looks to put the ball into the right corner. To be fair, he’s had a fair bit of success cross kicking to Israel Folau this season but unfortunately he didn’t have much success in this game.

This time the chaser is Kuridrani and defending this play, especially for the young winger Steffan Evans, is a difficult assignment. Whilst the kick was not perfect it is a clever option because the Welsh fullback, Leigh Halfpenny, was the primary tackler of Koroibete on the other edge. The other smart thing is that Foley cross kicked from centre field so that ball would not be hanging in the air long enough for other defenders to scramble into the play.

The driving maul has been Mario Ledesma’s gift to Australian rugby. When he came onboard Micahel Cheika’s coaching team. the Wallabies were getting hammered by the driving game from England and a number of other test teams. This is no longer the case. We can drive with the best in the business and the Wallabies scored this first try with relative ease.

Notice the hard work from Sekope Kepu, Sean McMahon and Tatafu Polota-Nau. Once the maul was set these players did very well to stay on their feet and rumble over the line.

Try 2 – Sequence Play

The Wallabies second try also started with possession from a scrum on the right edge – only this time it was on the Welsh 22m line. The Wallabies set up in a similar way to the previous scrum only this time Foley was at first receiver and Hodge was on the right wing. They ran the same block play that they used to score against South Africa during the Rugby Championship.

In this play Kuridrani ran a hard line off Will Genia to launch a sequence play designed to expose the Welsh tight five players. Most teams call it a “21 Pattern”, where the attack hits the ball up twice to the open side before hitting back to the blind side. It’s a smart option against a blitz defence and the Wallabies used similar plays last year when they tore the Welsh apart on the blind side. On this occasion the Wallabies do well to create an overload on the right edge but they fail to make good use of it.

Despite the failure to capitalise on the overload on the right edge within the first 4 phases the Wallabies maintained the ball deep inside the Welsh 22m area, eventually scoring a try after 15 phases. Again it was the right edge and, again, there was an attacking kick involved.

Halfpenny did well to scramble and spoil Hodge’s scoring chance but eventually the Wallabies crash over with Adam Coleman for a well deserved try. Genia’s composure and his pass selection close to line was excellent.

The Wallabies have used the “Double Block” well in the Red Zone and this was a nice variation on what they ran in Japan last week. It all looked off the cuff, but the alignment of Kuridrani and Coleman suggest the Wallabies’ policy is to have two hard line runners off the scrum half close to the line. It was an effective tactic and is a sign that this group has been together for a while.

Conclusion

The Wallabies are on a roll and they’re in a very good position going into the clash against Eddie Jones’ England.I know full well the pressures involved with England playing at home in Twickenham. The crowd will be enthusiastic and cocky due to their recent successes over the Wallabies.

However, if the Wallabies can start fast their confidence will grow and it will silence the masses. The tour has gone according to plan so far but make no mistake this is the big prize for Cheika’s men. Good luck to the Wallabies!

  • Bobas

    That last play is my favourite. Cool heads after almost scoring twice.

  • Nick Gregory

    Cripes Beale can throw a pass

  • phil peake

    I’m enjoying the passion the Wallabies are displaying but I still think our defence out wide is a major concern. Not the actual tackling but the metres we are giving up by coming in to take the inside guys and gifting the opposition overlaps. We have been doing it for a few years now. It’s ok against some teams but generally fails against the top teams.

    • Jason

      Yeah, I was expecting Koroibete to be exposed by New Zealand but they were too wounded to put him to the sword. I think Kerevi will be fine so long as we have Kuridrani in to guide him in defence but Karmichael would be even better.

      I think the big issue for the Wallabies right now is our strategy has tended to be we’ll score two for every one you score and that can work against Argentina and Wales but England are a genuinely world class team. And they have been laying in wait for us. They are only playing 3 games this EoYT ours would have been circled since the end of the six Nations.

      • phil peake

        I totally agree about the strategy and that it will work up to a certain level. If we are aiming to be the best then I can’t see our defensive strategy being good enough and it’s a coaching and selection thing. It happened again against Wales. We gave up heaps of ground when they got outside us which was often as our strategy is to come in and try to shut it down leaving space out wide.

    • Hunters

      I’m somewhat confident about the England game but share the concern about the wide defence. Hopefully we’ll shore that up this week. At least we don’t have too many things to fix like we did a few games back.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I know it’s a case of ‘take it one game at a time’. However, I’m probably just as concerned about the Irish as I am the Poms.

    • Metootootoo

      Well you have 7 months to work about the Irish

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

        Oh is that right? Boy am I out of touch. Do we play Scotland then?

        • Dorothy Ball

          Yes, the Jocks on the 25th.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

          Thanks for that Dorothy. I think I’ll go back and zzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Those who bag Hooper as not being a “proper” openside flanker should watch the Koro run carefully. At the scrum on the right hand touchline near half way, Hooper is bound and pushing. As Genia passes out to Koro via Hodge and Beale, watch the line Hooper runs to get to where Koro is going to be. He is the first Wallaby to the tackle and has run from the other side of the field a distance of at least 50 metres, where he secures the ball for the next phase. Phenomenal because Beale, Kerevi and Hodge had 20 metres less to run but still arrived after Hooper.

    • Mica

      Without a doubt Hooper is brilliant at securing attacking ruck.
      I lament the loss of a ruck dog like Pocock, Smith, Waugh, Gill etc. but whilst also having great engines, none of these guys ever had the speed to contribute to the the attacking rucks that Hooper does.
      This is why I liked having Fardy running tandem with Hooper as Fardy can play the ruck dog role.
      With Fardy out, I am hoping that Dempsey can work into this role. I think this will provide better balance for the Wallabies going forward.

    • Mica

      Also Hooper is in perfect position for primary support should he be required (if Koro can pop a pass).
      Great play and great endeavour.
      Watching him closely this is something he does very well, again and again.

  • skip

    I wasn’t over the moon about this performance. I know in the 6N any side that went to Cardiff and scored 4 tries would be pretty pleased but for me it was not a polished effort. They didn’t really get to grips with Glenn Jackson, a referee they should be familiar with, they under used Hodge’s boot, and never really dominated the Welsh. I am just hard to please I guess.

    Kerevi’s body position in the tackle was not good and this is such a basic skill it just has to improve or the huge english forwards will choke tackle him and carve huge meters from the scrum penalties they will do their best to win.

    While Hannigan has talent and is a prospect, his lack of line bending ability will cost us and to me he doesn’t offer enough elsewhere to warrant keeping his spot.

    This is the best English side since 2003 and they are high on confidence and every player knows another performance like last week will see them on the outer, potentially forever. Eddie Jones is as dislikable as Hanson but he has got that team firing and to get a win we’ll have to play as well as in Dunedin.

    We might run them off the park the Australian way but I think this english side are fit enough for that. We’ll beat them by keeping them in their end, strangling them of decent ball and taking the right options. I believe more than I did in June but the performance level against the Welsh won’t be enough.

Rugby

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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