Brian Smith's Analysis - More Painful Lessons - Green and Gold Rugby

Brian Smith’s Analysis – More Painful Lessons

Brian Smith’s Analysis – More Painful Lessons

It’s tough times as a Wallaby supporter. Michael Cheika’s team is under pressure and it’s as though the team has forgotten how to win. At times like this the coaching staff and the team have to stay on task and deal with technical and tactical issues rather than get caught up in the drama of the situation. It’s probably a good thing this next game is on the road as it will be easier to keep the squad focused and aligned.

In this analysis we’re going to look at some key moments and look for learnings that schoolboy players and coaches can take away.

Exit Easy

The Wallabies got off to a disastrous start to the game possibly because Kurtley Beale was a little anxious or maybe because he wasn’t clear on the team’s exit strategy. Watching the clip you can see the first kick off was caught in centre field. That’s the perfect position for a right foot kicker to kick the ball to his own right touchline. It means the kicker’s right foot is protected and he can chose to pump it long or put it out without getting charged down.

Instead of kicking from the first ruck, Kurtley organises a hit up on the left and then drops into the pocket to kick. Because of the extra hit up he’s further away from the right touch line plus he’s far too shallow. For mine he doesn’t give himself enough room to kick and the Springboks clearly set out to apply charge down pressure.

Credit should be given to the Springbok coaches because the pressure on our exit was a tactical decision. Beale’s lack of depth meant he was forced to pass and the South African exit trap caught us out. There is a saying in rugby – exit easy and save your juice to apply pressure in your opponents half. Hopefully the Wallabies can address this because we can expect Argentina to adopt the Springbok exit pressure tactics in Salta.


Bang Bang

In any code, at any level, if you concede two consecutive tries in the first 20 minutes you’re in big trouble. When the Springboks scored their second try it was a major blow to the Wallabies already fragile confidence.  To be fair the Wallabies should not have conceded this try. We have numbers in the front line of defence and we have a sweeper in position to mop up any breaks. Pollard is many things but he’s not a live wire running threat.

The Roosters showed in the NRL Grand Final that great defence will win big games. In contrast, the Wallabies defence in this moment was shabby and made the task of winning on the road extremely difficult. These two soft tries (bang bang) suggest this Wallabies team have a crisis of confidence. There is no excuse for the defenders involved in this try.


Blind Side Blitz

There is a saying among coaches when attacking against a blitz defence – the blind side is your friend. In order to Blitz the defensive line works hard to keep numbers on their feet and have width on the long side. It’s very difficult to play around a Blitz that is well organised and this Springbok Blitz is that. They were outstanding v the All Blacks making a record number of tackles in a test match.

However, there is always an Achilles heel and Will Genia exposed the Springboks on the blind side twice to drag the Wallabies back into the contest before halftime. In the first clip Genia uses a beautifully weighted pass to put Reece Hodge in the corner. In the second clip he uses his running and support game to score himself. Both clips illustrate the fighting qualities of our scrum half. Without his blind side efforts we’d have struggled to get a foothold in this test match.




The Wallabies have no choice but to tough it out and be brutally honest in this week’s review. These are painful lessons but that is the price this team must pay to get better. The tide will turn if they all stay tight and fight to improve.

It is concerning though that we struggled to score points in the second half. With the half time score 20 v 12 we clearly needed to come up with at least two tries to win. Unfortunately that was beyond us on this occasion.

Michael Cheika and his coaches will be under fire again this week. They desperately need a win in Salta to keep the wolves from the door. It’s not an easy assignment but it’s a must win game and the players must step up to protect their coaches. Let’s hope this test is a turning point for our team.

Over the weekend we saw the fight back spirit of the West Coast Eagles in the AFL and the tactical smarts of the Sydney Roosters in the NRL. We need our Wallabies to be inspired by these teams and produce a performance all Wallaby supporters can be proud of. It’s time to shine boys!

  • Custard Taht

    That long looping pass for the Boks first try, was a thing of beauty.

    • Bobas

      Beale for SA 10

    • Andrew Luscombe

      And was that Hopper the target moving away from the ball?

      • Bernie Chan

        What’s with that backline setting…Beale-Hodge-Hooper. Where’s the winger…
        Must be a tactic, as Hooper spent so much time on the wing…so did Hodge and neither has the pace of a winger to take advantage of turnover ball.

      • Garry

        Hooper was running back to his wing position. Question is, what’s a winger doing near the ruck?

        • BF

          A winger was there because hooper is not and never is.
          He’s a disgrace.

        • Dud Roodt

          “He’s a disgrace”

          Calm down chief

      • Damo

        I have no doubt Hooper called for that ball from Beale. He thought there a big swag of space on the outside if he could get the ball cleanly. When he saw the Bok threat coming he thought he could step outside his running line but still snatch the ball and be off. When he should have realised the idea had turned to shit and he needed to just secure possession.
        However what was even worse for me was Hanigan’s complete lack of urgency/energy in assisting to stop Pollard in the 2nd try. Have a look. 20th minute FFS!

        • Andrew Luscombe

          He looks like he’s lumbering around, but he was positioned to tackle green 5 which is where the ball likely would have gone if he had run faster and run between green 10 and green 9 to cut off the pass. Gold 3 was worse I think.

    • Geoffro

      Yep,right on his chest.

    • GeorgiaSatellite

      The cut-out of our super-boot 13 was a master stroke.

  • Garry

    Brian, I don’t agree about Pollard. Good balance and acceleration, and vision. Have a look at his YTube highlights. I’d trade for Foley in a flash, and throw in Phipps for a sweetener.

    But you must take Cheika as well, but that’s a given,

    • Geoffro

      Good balance etc shown for sure but he must’ve thought all his xmasses had come at once with being confronted by two lumbering front rowers and Genia covering going full speed on the wrong foot.Polly is still not quite real deal for me yet but he is definitely improving his game and has always had the potential to be a great.

      • BF

        Therein lies the problem.
        Cheika sets the team up as if he was playing rugby league.
        The front towers line up in the middle of the field. That’s where Beauden Barrett and Pollard take us apart.
        Backrowers playing out wide – league will call these players edge runners.
        Our locks then play either side of the front row.
        Cheika’s game plan/management is fatally flawed.
        It just doesn’t work.

  • mikado

    It seemed to me that the Wallaby exit that led to the first Saffa try was preplanned. Two carries into centre field gave space for the “surprise” move. When he received the ball, Beale didn’t for a moment look to kick, but instead shifted it on towards Hooper. Aphiwe made a great play to go for the ball but it was disappointing that neither Beale nor Hooper saw the danger.

    For the FdK try Pollard made a great play, which surprised me I admit. The Aussie defensive line was misaligned which gave him just enough space. It was disappointing that Genia, as sweeper, failed to lay a hand on him.

    However in the big scheme of things, leaking two tries is not too bad. The major problem I think was the failure to score in the second half.

    • Fatflanker

      Yeah, that’s my sense as well – a set play. Hooper looks to be moving to step outside the onrushing Aphiwe but mistimed it badly. Had he taken the pass and stepped the defence it was a straight sprint up-field but talk about a low percentage play.

      • mikado

        Yeah, lovely play if it comes off but very, very risky.

      • Geoffro

        Very low percentage,Hooper’s not going to sprint the length of the field to score and neither would Hodge in support.

  • Fatflanker

    Brian, I think you hit the nail on the head – the players are playing for their coaches’ jobs next weekend.

  • Jack

    good analysis mate

  • sambo6

    The headline is misleading…..calling it a ‘lesson’ implies that something has actually been learnt….

  • Nutta

    Cheers for the efforts Brian

    However I think there is a problem with your language. Lesson explicitly entails learning. These muppets will not learn.

    They will take another week of salary, another match payment, some more free kit, tolerate some more pesky sponsors lunches and then move on.

    Maybe they will train well next week.

    Probably a couple of ex-playing knob-jockeys will abuse me for daring to have an opinion.

    Foxtel will clip the ticket for another week of broadcasting embarrassing shit.

    RA will commission another consultants report and tell us all they have a plan.

    But nothing will change. No one will lose their job. Nothing will be done differently.

    And one more fan will stop giving a flying fuck each day.

    In the meantime, did anyone check the opposition over the weekend? The FAFL wiped the floor with every other sport in the nation. Even the Mungo was more entertaining.

    • Will the players not learn? Or will they not be taught?

      I realise that they’re top-flight professional athletes in a sport that more than just about any other requires thought while performing at peak output so you’d hope reflection and analysis of thought processes and decision making was in their skill set. But we’re not seeing it, and we’re not seeing the coaches help improve things – so I wonder if the coaches are focussing on other things and not giving the players time to focus on their mistakes as they’d like because they see other things as “more important.” While we, the “stupid fans” wonder what they hell they’re doing for their drinking vouchers…

      • Nutta

        Honestly I’m fkd if I know. What I do know is I’m getting closer to saying I’m fkd if I care.

        • it would a shame to lose you from here. But I know what you mean.


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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