3. Close-quarter attack puts pressure on, and causes a concentration of, opposition defences
The use of phase-ball in close-quarter attack by the All Blacks differs significantly from that of the Wallabies. They favour, in general, the quick ball, short pass/es routine, which puts immediate pressure on the defence and the gain line. We favour the slow, wide, flat pass that puts maximum pressure on our attack and none on the defence. ‘A succession of hospital passes’ would describe it nicely! Their passes are consistently about one-to-two metres in length; ours are around five-to-six metres and easy meat for forewarned defenders.
4. The value of ‘hard yards’, which attract defenders and make space for attackers, appears to have escaped our team.
New Zealand frequently had hammers in place on ball-carriers at the tackle line and consistently gained valuable territory beyond the gain-line. I can remember only one such occasion for the Wallabies. Just before half-time, Digby Ioane (again) threatened the defence and, when tackled, was joined by both Dennis and Pocock in the classic hammer role and they continued to drive the ball forward another 7 or 8 metres down the left touchline. (Higginbotham incidentally, but unsurprisingly, was positioned down the right wing!)
Surely someone associated with the team must have noticed the value of such a tactic and its absence from our performance!
All in all, our performance lacked urgency and initiative and, if that’s not bad enough, I feel that some players are just not up to this level – and, in my opinion, probably never will be.
Sekope Kepu and Scott Higginbotham both promise a lot and deliver little. Kepu’s scrummaging is OK, but he completely lacks urgency and I despair that he will ever deliver on his huge physical potential. Likewise, Higginbotham – who is a very good lineout forward – has such a low, and ineffective at best, workrate that we just cannot carry him. Benn Robinson has not delivered for over 12 months now and his selection must be questioned.
Our 10, 12 and 13 are individually and collectively basic. If we could, and wanted to, play like the Springboks, then perhaps – and even then, only perhaps – find a place for them. I fear, however, that they also are just not up to it.
We must have players who can deliver, both physically and emotionally, and we must not stay with ‘good enough’ because it’s just too hard to start again. It seems to me that we are just not going anywhere. We want to be Number 1 and, at the moment, all we can do is hope for a gift from the gods. It’s just not good enough!
Like I hinted at above, I wish that next Saturday would just go away.