Dwyer's View: seven out of ten - Green and Gold Rugby

Dwyer’s View: seven out of ten

Dwyer’s View: seven out of ten

The first Test of the the Wallabies spring tour and it’s a win – so we’ve got to be happy about that. It wasn’t a complete performance but it wasn’t too bad at all. Given that its only week two of a work in progress, we can be thankful.

I do detect some positive movement, which must be, from my observation, the result of effective coaching.

First, I see Will Genia passing the ball off the ground most of the time – the first time for years. Yes, we saw him dawdle across the field, but then he’d switch back. If we’ve got effective coaching in one area it should be that we’ve got it in others.

Bernard Foley was extremely flat in attack most of the time, but if they’re under pressure he drops back – which is OK. I don’t see any second touches from our nine and ten though. Good attack always results from second touches. I’d like to see second touches from the nine or ten on Foley, Christian Leali’ifano and Tevita Kuridrani breaks. This way we know the attack is straight.

Our locks have improved in terms of ball carry. I still don’t think they can be the locks in a World Cup-winning side, but they are better.

Sean McMahon’s debut was good, he just needs to subconsciously adjust to the pace of the game. Sean’s a good player with great acceleration and power. His work rate is fantastic.

Joe Tomane was much improved (mind you he was dreadful in his last game). I would have picked RobHorne but they clearly like the look of Joe’s genuine pace.

I didn’t think the game was of the highest international standard; probably an 80 per cent game. We need to improve – Ireland is a good side and them doing so well against South Africa is a big sign.

I’d give us seven out of ten but we want to be looking for nine. The team was well selected and the replacements well used. Matt Hodgson coming on at the end worked well – if you want to close out a game, one of the things you’re looking for is a ball steal at the tackle and Hodgo’s turned the game around.

joubert hodgson penalty wales 2014

All in all not too bad.

However, the scrum is still a worry.

We’ve got to find another tight head. Even the commentators are remarking on how the scrum collapses whenever Ben Alexander comes on. It happens every time!

I noted that Kearnsey thought it was Will Skelton’s bad body position that gave way to the penalty try, but what we don’t know is what caused it. Did the prop drop his hips and lose Skelton? We’ve not seen it before at Super Rugby level. We’d want to be sure of it though at practice.

One thing we don’t want to happen is for anyone (other than flankers) to change their body position in the scrum. Everyone must work to keep their shape and make sure the sum total of the scrum is better than the individual parts – to make sure you don’t lose force through the contact points.

One thing for sure Skelton wasn’t as effective in his carries. We need to make sure we have him on the move as he’s never going to have acceleration from a standing start. He needs to be rolling onto the ball, most likely as first receiver off Foley.

We should definitely not be demanding offloads from him. The offloads are part of two things: the effectiveness of the ball carrier over the defender and the positional play of the support runner – he can’t be too wide and can’t be too flat. He needs to be tight and have depth, as sometimes the hands can’t get free immediately and then the support player needs to be able to drive onto the carrier. You can’t just walk on the field and get two or three offloads – it’s a team game and that’s a team situation.

On the scrum – are all loose heads in the world allowed to scrummage at right angles to the scrum or is it only Charlie Faumuina?

Also, in two games, tries appeared to be given when the ball didn’t reach the try-line. It didn’t appear to with Alun Wyn-Jones’ try and it also didn’t happen for a try in the All Blacks, England match. This isn’t league – you don’t give the benefit of the doubt if you can’t see it.

  • Mike

    The scrum didn’t collapse this time when Alexander came on – our other players were able to function quite well in that department without him!

    Slipper was blamed by Joubert for one scrum collapse, Kepu for at least two others, and probably should have got a couple more. And in each case, there are locks behind the props and flankers holding them in who also had questions to answer.

    On the positive side, it was Kepu at TH with Skelton behind him when the Welsh loosehead was pinged for hingeing.

    Rum thing, scrums.

    • Bobas

      There was one scrum collapse just after the hinge came on.
      But after that he did well in the scrums and all other aspects of play. Best game BA has had for some time and helped us over the line from the bench.

      • Tahs_Man_Fan

        Never thought I’d say this, but you’re spot on. Alexander seems to have a new found energy and enthusiasm, which is hopefully another sign of Cheika’s good coaching. BA had at least 3 carriers in about a 5 minute period, made a few good tackles, and held his side of the scrum pretty well I think

    • fatprop

      I think Kepu is playing longer minutes than he should, a better THP reserve would make that less of a need

    • Who?

      Joubert was only reffing one team in the scrums. The Welsh TH bound on the arm all day, the Welsh LH was packing with his hips above his shoulders all day. Not saying we were angels, but I do think that they were often hair-splitting decisions which were made on the basis of preconception, given the offenses were often equal. Remember, Joubert ended Baxter’s Test career over binding on the arm (even when, in that game, the greater offenses were coming from Myth). SO it’s not something of which he’s unaware.

      The game was definitely one of the better ones we’ve seen from Alexander for quite a while – quite appropriate, given his arrival on the field made him the sole holder of the most test caps for a Wallaby prop – overtaking Le Fuse and Fat Cat.

  • Rob

    I’m sorry bob, but more than ever this contribution from you sounds like the unstructured ramblings of a man who’s past his prime. There was a cogent comment about the game in there somewhere, wasn’t there?

  • Bobas

    Overall 7/10 looking for consistent 9’s, I tend to agree. McMahon having a ‘good’ debut, I’d tend to disagree.

    • trent

      I think it was hard for McMahon to meet the feverish hype that surrounded his Barbarians game. Test rugby is a step up. He certainly has talent but a starting birth for someone with no experience against the experienced backrow of the Welsh was an interesting decision that I don’t think paid off.

      McMahon was error prone in the 1st half and was directly involved in 3 opposition tries. 2 in the first half (buying the dummy and he was the defender on the line for his 2nd after he gave away another penalty to phases before) and the final scrum penalty try was because he was deemed offside and was penalised. The other errors would be less noticeable if these 3 hadn’t been so costly on the score board.

      I think brining him on as cover for 6 and 7 would be kinder. I look forward to watching him and Hooper develop over the next 5 years plus. Can you imagine their form and experience by the next rugby world cup? That is an exciting prospect to me more so than this RWC.

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      I don’t think McMahon shoukd have started. It should have been Hodgson with McMahon on with 30 to go. Always does my head in that we rush talented players into the starting line up, they have a tough day in the office, then we shred them saying they are shit. McMahon will come good in good time, but not if he is thrown in the deep end like he was

  • Hack Ref

    Spot on Bob about Will Genia. thought he improved from coaching and just game time. I expect he has discovered the way forward and looks to be the a strong contender for bench halfback. Phipps speed and accuracy was very high and kept the pace up in attack. I thought this made the locks and loose forwards looking good.
    Although they didn’t really dominate the collision. I just don’t know who can do this. I think we must look toward Skelton for this role but he is still a way off this. I did think his work rate improved though.
    The players in general seem to be responding to Cheika at the moment. So lets keep the fingers crossed.

  • zer0

    “On the scrum – are all loose heads in the world allow to scrummage at right angles to the scrum or is it only Charlie Faumuina?”

    Seems big Charlie F. has quite the magic trick. What with his ability to scrummage on the loose-head side while simultaneously packing down on the tight-head side.

    • Lee Grant

      Don’t blame Charlie – he’s seen too much of role-model Wyatt Crockett.

    • MattyP

      The Welsh loosehead was doing a pretty good job in the series of scrums that lead to the PT.

  • crumpo

    That’s a very brave comment Bob about Thugby League. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a rugby writer or comentator in Australia have a go at that most boring, predictable, repetitive, violent and useless game.

    • Jay-c

      That’s a silly comment. Rugby league is not useless. It is providing a valuable education resource in teaching bogans to count to five

      • crumpo

        Well said Jay-c. Absolutely nailed it perfectly!

        • Roley

          It also keeps them off the streets of the nastier parts of syndey.

    • Braveheart81

      He’s not having a go at rugby league. He’s just commenting that their rules provide that the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking team. That doesn’t exist in union.

  • The Doctor

    Bob do you think we should be looking to bring a scrummaging specialist tight head off the bench to close out games rather than one that is going to deliver the workrate of a Slipper or Kepu? If so, you’ve mentioned previously you like the cut of Paul Alo Emile’s jib. Is he the answer to hold up scrums when we are under pressure in the last 10 mins and turn a weakness into something that could become a strength for us in the last 10 mins which has quickly become the championship period in test matches?

    Also, do you see room for Pocock on his return in the 23, possibly at the expense of Hodgson on the bench if not starting in place of Hooper? Would love your thoughts on whether we can survive with Pocock and Hooper in a starting XV and what that means for the balance of the backrow, ie who do you need to play in the third backrow spot to complement two 7s if that was a path Chieka went down?

    As always love your analysis. If only the rugby sections of newspapers took your column as well we’d have a much more informed and rational rugby press rather than the sensationalist drivel that the rugby scribes push out these days.

    • I think his column is great where it is!

      • Bobas

        That’s what he said.

      • The Doctor

        Me too mate!

        • Bobas

          Bob Dwyer, quite the silver fox it seems.

    • trent

      I’ll be interested to what he says regarding Hooper & Pocock. Should Pocock find his form again it really is an interesting prospect. Hooper and Pocock are at polar opposites in style. While Hodgson is more a middle ground between the two styles.

      The only real restriction of having Hooper or Pocock on the bench is that they are only 7s. They can’t jump and have no experience at 6 or 8. That is the benefit of Hodgson. He has played 6 and 8 against the best in the Southern Hemisphere across the entire backrow as required by the coach over many years. He is a skilled lineout jumper and caller (something in surprisingly short supply in our lock stocks). Certainly with his build/height 7 is where is best suited. But I can’t think of anyone who offers the backrow coverage that Hodgson does. And if he has a year like he did this year and isn’t on the decline, then it would be a brave decision to leave this versatile, reliable technician out of the RWC squad

      Many will and have argued that he isn’t the first pick in any of the positions. I understand that. But no-one else is a stronger reserve across all backrow positions on game day.

      • Tahs_Man_Fan

        Agreed. I didn’t understand why McMahon started over Hodgo, in what was a baptism of fire for McMahon. Hodgo should have started, McMahon on there for the last 20

      • PiratesRugby

        Matt Hodgson is great at S15 level but is not Test standard. McMahon got his start because he is much quicker, bigger and more powerful. To be sure, he made a howler to gift the Welsh their first try. He’s only 20. He’ll learn from that. He’s a good player now and he’ll be a great player one day. Hodgson is like a Saia Faianga. Played a great game but you’d still start Moore and TPN ahead of him. And he’s toward the end of his career so we’re not going to get much back from our investment at this stage.

        • trent

          After watching the game again last night I’m even less impressed with McMahon’s test effort. The first try was agreed a howler. But the other 2 Welsh tries he contributed to were the icing.

          Again in the 1st half he gave away that penalty against the line that 2 Phases later resulted in a try being scored in his lap right before half time. A double dip of McMahon being found wanting.

          Finally the penalty try came from a penalty against McMahon for not rolling away as the ref explained to Hooper. Something that the ref had been on all game and right against the line where discipline is essential.

          3 tries at this level is unforgivable. He has great potential but starting him in games isn’t the option. He’s too green.

          Hodgson had has only 10 caps. Most of those for less than 10 minutes an outing. So how you can say that he isn’t test level? Based on what? He’s been amazing in the limited opportunity he had had this Wallaby season. And you can hardly judge the guy on anything from 3 years ago. So on current form and impact he’s our man.

          And regarding age. He only needs to be in this fine form for another 12 months. And given his super rugby form he is still very much peaking. After next year’s RWC I don’t expect Hodgson to be in the mix ever again. But for me you select best in form players full stop with only 12 months until the RWC.

          Plenty of time for McMahon to develop his skills, experience and physique. I expect to see Hooper and McMahon for a very long time in Gold. But that doesn’t mean that McMahon is ready right now As a starting player.

  • RugbyCrop

    To many times wallaby 1st receiver caught with the ball. MC will not be happy.

  • Bobas

    You’re just jealous because your weiner is still missing.

  • bobby brown

    second touches from 9 and 10 huh… bob its not the amateur days when defenses hardly pressed up or spread out, and 10’s were free to loop 2 or even 3 times… although i respect your deeds you also have a responsibility to respect that times have changed…

    • …but arithmetic hasn’t. Distributors getting second touches still has the capability to create numerical mismatches, just like it did when 4 was consistently greater than 3. The ABs do this all the time with Cruden (and Carter before him) energetically tracking the runners he hits. More athleticism is required now to achieve it, not just by first receivers but by ball runners able to offload. Money Bill is the perfect example.

    • Tahs_Man_Fan

      The 10 looping will never go out of fashion no matter how much times change. If you watch the work rate of Folet normally, he is always involved more than once by looping around to create that overlap, but he didn’t seem to do that in this game. Bob was spot on

    • bad ass

      Cooper seems to be there for the second touch quite often. I’m not sure getting a second touch standing as flat as Foley is that easy with the defence rushing up. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Sape

      Im watching the game now, 32 minutes gone and Biggar has atleast 2 second touches. Second touches arent allways about loops, but also realigning after passing and like Bob says its about the attack beig straight, if you are running sideways and passing its harder tp realign and support breaks/half breaks.

  • RobC

    Thanks for the article. Its very hard to double wrap for Check-ball unless you have a play maker in the pocket:
    – Both halves primary job is to feed the pack and centres against a rush defence.
    – Makes it hard to pick these moments, unless there’s a yawning gap
    – This has been Beale’s role for the Tahs. But unsure this is a luxury afforded at test level

    Scrums. Its all in the players head and coach’s attitude imo:
    – The starting scrum should have pushed well against the Welsh for the first 50′
    – Instead it was 50/50 even with the starting scrummagers
    – Its speculation. But it seems they practiced less on the pack’s strength when actually packing scrums, and more on how they win collisions.

  • teh Other Dave

    Re: Skelton in the scrum – when you watch him pack down, his hips remain in the air – the rest of the wallaby scrum looks beautiful and flat like a snooker table, and did so before he came on, but in a few scrums it looks more like the table from the castle at Skelton’s end, with his hips in the air. He needs to bend his knees.

  • Richard9

    I must be watched a different game Sunday morning.
    While playing better, we were again lucky to win. First try by Folau was off a Hooper forward pass which only Greg Martin and myself seemed to have noticed.
    Second Folau try an intercept that could well of been a Welsh try/goal.
    Scrum going backwards (God help us if the Welsh can get a penalty try against us). And tries after just two games 9 for the Aussies and 9 for the op.
    Not great you have to agree.
    Our reserves show no impact what so ever and its ain’t getting better.
    Enjoy the the two wins against the (Mickey Moose) Barbarian side and a not so good Welsh side that looked world beaters the other night.
    Oh! and if your representing the Australian Wallabies Tevite sing the National anthem.
    Finally Chieka ,get your bloody Captain to pull his sox up and start to look like a footballer.

  • Cyclops2

    Poor old Bob Dwyer. Offering all kinds of advice on scrum technique yet he doesn’t know a tighthead from a loosehead.

  • Blahdy blah blah

    So Ben Alexander’s impact from the bench must be huge if he’s responsible for the scrum collapsing, he wasn’t even on the field when the penalty try was given. The scrum was collapsing well before he came on, he actually helped steady it a bit.
    Get over what ever bias you have against certain players. then I will take your columns a bit more seriously.

  • Nabley

    Notwithstanding the loss by Wales, I think Gatland will be very happy with what he saw from his opposition. Equally Cheika will be concerned and I am talking about forward set piece play and scrums in particular. Could you imagine a crowd in Australia being as appreciative of repeated resets as we saw when the penalty try was awarded. Must have taken up 8-10 minutes of playing time and it was riveting because a point was being explored and made.
    These games in RWC lead ups are as much about finding out strengths and weaknesses as they are about winning the game. For that reason I agree with Bobs assessment that it was a 7/10, maybe 6/10. A team like the Wallabies should have thrashed the depleted Wales team; they didn’t.

    • Who?

      Cheika does seem to coach a weak set piece… The Tahs scrum this year wasn’t the weapon it was a few years ago. I seem to recall the Reds – that most underrated of scrummaging packs – dusting them. And the Tahs’ lineout was abysmal. It didn’t escape my notice that, for a good period of the game, we really only had one genuine lineout option out there. Simmons, and when he was replaced, Horwill.

      • Nabley

        In the Waratahs he had a poor front row. That sealed the fate of everything. I do not think we can blame him about the Wallabies yet as he has just arrived, but if they do not improve, they will be his Achilles heel.

        • Who?

          Very, very inaccurate statement. He had Fat Cat – Australia’s second most capped prop and, according to so many on here, a player absolutely robbed not to have been in the team for every test this year (though now only on the bench behind Slipper), for his technical scrummaging ability. Next, he had Taf. Someone long rated Australia’s best scrummaging hooker. And he had Kepu, who’s been a bull for the Wallabies this year. I will accept he had Paddy Ryan and others, but there’s no denying that there’s certainly the talent and experience there, and that those players have performed better at the set piece in Gold this year than they did in sky blue.

          Then consider how he ran his lineout, being happy to have Dennis run it, emphasizing ball running over set piece (think selecting JacPot, Douglas, Skelton).

          I’m not saying that he can’t have better set piece personnel at the Wallabies than at the Tahs. But there is a clear history of his team over the past two years weakening as a force at the set piece, as he focused on other areas.

        • Nabley

          Sorry so late getting back Who. Went and saw an NRC game that had Fat Cat in it. Even my wife saw that he was a total waste of space on the field. When replaced his team started winning and his replacement was everything that he wasn’t. I think he has seen his best days and they are now well behind him.
          In reading through your case, parts of which I accept, the strange thing is Cheika was a forward I am told and a front row one as well. The real point is you can only work with what you have got.
          The Wallaby problem is front row based. You can see it everytime they go down. Part of it is they have emphasised mobility and that comes at a price of stability in the front row.
          Australia has not got much at present and the history of imports to Australian front rows, means they really do need to look overseas again.

        • Who?

          No stress! :)

          I’ve decided that where a coach played is often where they coach the least when they’re a head coach. Our backs were quite poor under Deans, whereas our work at the breakdown improved. Our scrum was abysmal under Eddie Jones, and he was a hooker.

          I agree you can only work with what you’ve got, just not sure that Cheika’s got a history of getting the best out of his scrum. Or lineout. It’s one of the question marks I had hanging over him after winning the Super 15. To win the Super title without a functioning set piece is a HUGE achievement!

          And I’d counter that the problems in the scrum aren’t solely front row related. If your locks aren’t pushing… I’ve heard whispers that the most maligned of our locks (the one who’s apparently only there because he can jump) is actually our best pusher in the scrum.
          All that said, I actually agree with Cheika’s assessment of our scrum in the game. We got pasted once, the rest of the calls were close, most of them could’ve gone either way.

    • Bill

      Thrashed? Support the tahs? The wallabies always looked more composed than Wales, but they’ve earnt their stripes in their crucible. Wales? I dunno, that’s the benefit of not just playing the Boks and All Blacks twice a year, but trying to beat the pricks. Throw in Argentina, I think the rugby championship have got the measure of the six nations. But there were several aspects of that game that were problematic for the wallabies, made so by welsh play.

  • Bill

    Pretty hard to lose Skelton in the scrum when he starts off in a bad position. The good thing is he improved his body position progressively through that sequence of scrums. It’s certainly something to be working on. The good sign was he was able to adress it in game. Ultimately same result, but still. Those ended up being very low scrums, I thought we competed well but deservedly got done, however, a young tall lock at that level? I thought he did ok.


If you don't know Bob Dwyer is the world cup winning coach of the 1991 Wallabies, then give yourself an uppercut. He did a load in between, but he now runs Bob Dwyer's Rugby Workshops, which you can read more about on his site.

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