Brian Smith's Analysis - The Italian Job - Green and Gold Rugby

Brian Smith’s Analysis – The Italian Job

Brian Smith’s Analysis – The Italian Job

It might have been ugly but a win is a win and the record books will show the Wallabies won comfortably 40 v 27. However, the scoreboard did not tell the full story as the Italians made life very uncomfortable for Michael Cheika’s team when Rory Arnold threw a loose pass in the 67th minute to gift the Italians a try. At that point it was 28 v 27 and things were getting a bit funky but as you’d expect the Wallabies rallied scoring two late tries to see off the brave Italians. So to quote Shakespeare…”all’s well that ends well”.

Sefa’s Scrum Double

Before the game Coach Cheika said Sefa Naivalu was looking sharp and he carried his training form into this match scoring 2 excellent tries. The first was a scorcher from a centre field scrum and the second was a run in off the back of some brilliant skills from Bernard Foley. Let’s hope the flying Fijian can get back on the paddock soon because he’s as good a try scorer as there is when he’s in form. Check out how quickly he gets over the ground in this first effort.



Shaping Up

The Wallabies will be pleased there general phase shape was effective in this match. The following tries were engineered thanks to the Wallabies well organised multi phase attack. In the first example Karmichael Hunt stepped up as first receiver whilst Bernard Foley floated menacingly out the back of the Stephen Moore pod. Wallaby Skills Coach Mick Byrne will be very pleased with the length and accuracy of Karmichael Hunt’s 20m pass off his left hand to put Izzy away.



Defence Challenges

Whilst the All Blacks currently have their hands full wrestling the British Lions their analysts will still have an eye on the Wallabies for the forthcoming Rugby Championship. The Italians attacked two key areas with success and Wallabies Defence Coach Nathan Grey can expect the All Blacks to have taken note. The first area to be targeted was the halfback channel from scrum ball. The Italians ran a “Box” shape from the left side scrum targeting Will Genia and Bernard Foley with their Centre Tommaso Boni and big left winger Giovanbattista Venditti. Notice how Italy’s open side winger stands wide to ensure Israel Folau shuts the gate early allowing Michele Campagnaro a straight run the line.




The Wallabies will not be satisfied with this block of test matches and nor would we expect them to be. There are questions about their fitness and confidence and there is a general malaise around the broader game in Australia. At times like this the rugby community is looking for strong leadership. Michael Cheika is delivering that. He’s blooded a generation of new players through a very turbulent time for all players in Australian rugby. And he’s been brutally honest with his players and the rugby public. He knows he’s got a huge task ahead of him if his team is going to threaten the All Blacks this season but that’s the task at hand so good luck to him and the boys in Gold.


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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