Dwyer's view: England first, daylight second - Green and Gold Rugby
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Dwyer’s view: England first, daylight second

Dwyer’s view: England first, daylight second

Yesterday at Twickenham, England produced an inspired performance to dominate the visiting Wallabies to the tune of 35 points to 18 and take their first home victory against a Tri Nations team for four years. Each team scored two tries, with the winning margin coming from a faultless kicking display from fly-half Toby Flood – with two conversions and seven penalties.

These statistics, however, flatter Australia to some extent, because, for most of the match, England dominated at the tackle contest, both with and without the ball, won the gain line decisively and generally “out-Wallabied” the Wallabies. In recent weeks, Wallaby stocks have risen, mainly on the back of some enterprising performances from their back-three – Beale, O’Connor & Mitchell/Turner – and their halves – Cooper & Genia.  Yesterday, however, it was the England back-three of Foden, Ashton & Cueto and their halves, Flood & Youngs, who provided all of the intent and vision. They backed it up with pace, skill and superb footwork rarely seen at ‘headquarters’ – at least, not from the home team.

So much for the attack. On the other side of the coin, England were equally dominant in defence and consistently drove back the Wallaby ball-carriers. For most of the match – save for a period in the second half – the gain line was only a distant blur for the Australians, and it’s difficult to see how this can be improved in the immediate future, given the players available. Tatafu Polota-Nau is one who comes immediately to mind, but, in his current position, he would replace Stephen Moore, who was head and shoulders above any other Australian forward. Just a thought, but I presume that the selectors know that Tatafu has frequently played at prop in club rugby in the past. Importantly, he is our most explosive forward in both ball-carry and tackle, and is the strongest player in the squad.

On the statistics, Australia missed roughly ‘one in ten’ tackles. This is just not acceptable, but, indeed, it looked even worse to me. Dominant tackles by the visitors were non-existent. There was a total lack of urgency in our realignment in defence, whilst England looked positively ravenous for another taste of blood. I lost count of the number of times that England gained the overlap – sometimes with two or three men extra.

England matched the urgency of their realignment in defence with the same in attack – both in the phases and in the counter. This is a real ‘hobby-horse’ of mine; it is very simple, technically and physically – sometimes requiring nothing more than one or two steps backwards, to be in position to receive an urgent clearing pass. Ashton’s second, long-range try was evidence of this – an eagerness, a desire to play, to ‘seize the minute.’ [Just by the way, I thought that the tackle by Palmer on Genia, immediately preceding Ashton’s breakaway try, should have resulted in a penalty to Australia, and a yellow card to Palmer, for ‘deliberately and cynically failing to release the ball-carrier’.]

England had indeed given us a preview of this capacity in the closing stages of the previous week-end’s match against New Zealand. During the week, I had written this off as another example of “a team only trying to win, after the game had been lost’; another team with “not enough bottle to risk failure in order to achieve success”. Indeed, I said as much, but I was clearly wrong. It looks as though the players have convinced their conservative coaching staff that there is another way to play the game – indeed, one that they are well capable of handling. If this is so, then well done to them. We should have anticipated this approach with the selection of the much more mobile Dylan Hartley over the stronger scrummaging Steve Thompson, but we could never have anticipated the extent.

Full marks also to England’s tactical approach in denying possession to the dangerous Wallaby attack, by the simple means of keeping the ball in-hand. This worked an absolute treat and gave them ample opportunity to seek out Quade Cooper for a test – or three! Cooper failed miserably and the selectors must be beginning to wonder if they can continue with the luxury of his selection, given the huge cost involved – great attacking player though he clearly is.

Australia on the other hand showed no respect for England’s attacking ability – strange this, remembering their display last season against France, and more recently, against New Zealand. The Wallabies may have set a new record for ‘the number of chip kicks in an international’, as they consistently sought the easy option for a ‘cheap score’. It doesn’t work that way when the stakes are this high. Further, the ridiculously ambitious decisions to kick for goal early in the match, simply handed possession over and took the pressure off the England defence. As was the case in Cardiff last week, we had no appetite for the real contest.

Last June, after the second test between Australia and England, in Sydney, I wrote, “On current form, and in my assessment of their respective potential, I don’t see either team as winning quarter-finalists next year, and, of the two, I see England as the more likely to alter my opinion.” Yesterday, at Twickenham, they went a long way to doing just that.

  • E.

    Well said, although I think the Wallabies have a lot more individual talent then the Poms, and if this is given a proper foundation and built upon then we have far more potential next year than the English. That being said, if we don’t sort out our goalkicking, (can’t believe its still an issue), then we’ll be trumped by the likes of Flood.

    • realist

      The decisions to kick for goal early in the match were correct. Any competent captain will take points that are on offer. Our problem is that we have unreliable kickers as well as unreliable defenders, coaches and administrators. Too many show ponies on and off the field.

      • vidiot

        Unfortunately the points weren’t on offer, in that the kicks were Steyn range, not O’Connor range.

      • Patrick

        Agree entirely, and if they were too far out we should have used Beale. They are always the percentage play, the line-out would have been the exact opposite of playing what was in front of you!

      • E.

        Agree, theoretically kicking for points there was a good idea, however what was good in theory was not so in practice. If other Test teams are kicking at that range, we should have someone that can answer that. KB comes to mind. Now that JOC isn’t here for Italy maybe it’s time to give him a go.

  • Who Needs Melon

    Spot on Bob. I don’t think they’ve ever really come fully to grips with the ‘play what’s in front of you’ bit. It’s almost like last week they saw Beales chip work and thought I’ll try that… All game, when it clearly wasn’t on. They kick for goal when they shouldn’t and kick in general play when they shouldn’t. And keep trying the same tricks (eg the inside ball) when the basics would have served better. Keep going in for the turnover when they should just commit some numbers to the ruck, etc. It’s one reason Moore and Sharpe look good in this team – they’re just doing the simple basics well.

    Speaking of coming to grips, the picture headlining this article on the front gagr page is a perfect example of Quades absolutely atrocious ‘tackle’ style. I don’t think the ball carrier even knows he is there. And the look on Quades face, with his eyes closed… Priceless. Someone put this up in his locker please.

    • Robson

      “– they’re just doing the simple basics well.”

      How very true. And that’s what playing winning rugby is all about. As Bob says, “we had no appetite for the real contest”.

      But there are some really hungry players in this touring party. It’s just that they never get to play when the stakes are really high. Goddam it – it’s painfully frustrating.

    • Blinky Bill from Bellingen

      WNM – Yep, yep & yep.

      I was wondered what it was about Sharpie that I’ve warmed to of recent times & you my friend have made it crystal clear. He does the basic, hard yard, unspectacular stuff and does it well. As does Moore. Full credit to them.

      Not all that long ago Sharpie would not have been one of my first picked. These days the bloke’s just about indispensable, which is a concern of mine.

      • Serious?

        I cannot understand the fanfare around Sharpe. He often over-commits at ruck and maul time consequently leaving gaping holes around the fringes (his performance at Hong Kong was a prime example of this), rarely seen to be talking or taking the lead in the pack which should be a given for an ex-captain and senior player and for someone his size and experience he should be a serious physical presence around the park like a Paul O’Connell or Brad Thorn. For mine he looks like he runs from ruck to maul and does very little when he gets there. I certainly don’t doubt his ticker, he has a heart the size of Uluru, but I seriously doubt his conditioning and his ability to make any impact at the WC in 2011.

    • Nick

      Someone has tell to Quade to forget about ripping the ball out and crouch down and tackle the PLAYER! I am big fan of QC but even now I am thinking if he keeps sliding off tackles its time to find someone else.

  • Skip

    I for one don’t think we can afford Cooper against top sides until he learns to tackle. He is a genius going forward but in my view he is too much of a liability in defense – it’s actually an affront to the rest of the side that he is too darn scared to get hurt (or so it looks). He can be covered quite often at super level but in a test against a top side, he gets exposed.

    I’d be playing him on the bench henceforth behind Barnes. The fact that Barnes can tackle well makes up for Cooper’s edge in attack compared to his non attendance come tackle time. Cooper didn’t lose the game but there needs to be some casualties and for several tests in a row, this has been a glaring issue. Bring him on for some spark later on if needed. Elsewhere, Higgs ought to get a go, not sure about Giteau….he might work well outside sookface. TPN to the bench and the riot act read to the rest of them. My 2 cents, every fan is the world’s best selector. :D

    • Langthorne

      Agree with you about Cooper, but please don’t start with the Higginbotham bandwagon. Did you see the match with Liecester? He was adequate without being outstanding, and well behind both Brown and Hodgson in overall performance. He has talent and great physical attributes but he is better off developing with the dirt trackers and then maybe getting a chance from the bench.

      Bob – Spot on again but TPN has not played much prop at any level, especially of late. The last recent occassion was when he returned (injured) to the field for Australia A against England and promptly injured himself further playing tight head prop.

    • realist

      Unfortunately Barnes has also been tried and found wanting. He is too slow in attack and is another who gives away possession by resorting to kicking when the ball needs to be held in hand. The current ARU combination of O’Neil and Deans have made an absolute meal of player development. There are so many flakey players in the test team that they should be renamed the Kelloggs. One of the biggest concerns is that players seem to be asked to play when injured and not returned to the test squad after overcoming an injury. The only way forward seems to be to change the odious culture at the ARU by sacking these clowns at the helm and starting from scratch.

    • Josh

      Why dont we swich to grid iron? Cooper in attack, and barnes in defence? Or even rodzilla, Flood would think twice before running into hm!

  • Garry

    Let’s not forget that Sookface and Gits have been the flyhalfs for a good period under Deans, with very ordinary results. Do we go back and revisit those days? I can’t see these coaches coming up with something different for them to do?

  • Drew B

    Is it too early to call for KB to step into the No 10 jersey? His defence has improved considerably, and he has the same x factor as Quade, so the game plan wouldn’t have to be re-written. Quade has a slightly better pass on him, but I’d give that up to have a tackle % in the 10-12 channel over 25%.
    Realistically, I think it is too early, but if the tah’s had stuck with him at 10 he may well have developed into what we need now and for the WC next year.

  • Reddy!

    I see merit in moving KB to 10, but he is our best fullback right now, why change it.

    • Serious?

      I agree, why change something that is working, and working very well. In my opinion, Beale is the most dangerous player in world rugby on current form. Much more space for him to exploit from the back than at 10.

      Something seriously has to change with the Wallaby loose forward trio. Elsom is way of the pace in terms of physical presence and work rate. I cannot understand how Deans and Co can expect anyone to follow him. And despite the initial positive press around McCalman, which was ill founded anyway, I think the past 3 tests he has offered next door to nothing. Pocock cannot be expected to function consistently as we know he can without support from his 6 & 8 – he is a one man band at present.

      • Garry

        Same thing has been happening in recent games until it was realised that he was doing the work in tight because our tight 5 weren’t pulling their weight. When Mumm and Mafu were (eventually) replaced, it improved. He was supporting more.

        Has our tight five gone missing again?

      • matty dee

        Are you serious about Elsom, Serious?
        Have another look at the tape.
        How much more has this guy got to do to get the seal of approval.
        Because of all the duds in the team he exhausts himself every game at the breakdown/rucks.

  • realist

    Does anyone have the win/loss stats for the Wallabies during the Deans/O’Neil era?

    • Jay

      From pickandgo –

      Overall
      Played 41, Won 22, Lost 18 Drawn 1

      Home
      Played 19, Won 13, Lost 6

      Away
      Played 19, Won 8, Lost 10, Drawn 1

      Neutral
      Played 3, Won 1, Lost 2

      • realist

        Thanks Jay

  • Seb V

    How easy is it for a hooker to be a Prop? Just imagine having Moore, TPN, and Robinson in the front row at the same time. That would be so strong. An extra wallaby ball-carrier that doesnt get driven back in the tackle, and another more player who dominates in the the tackle!

    • Bobas

      Robinson? I would have thought he would be the first person you would drop.

      I just think they ease TPN back in by playing him in number 8. We dont need another jumper will Elsom Chis and Sharpe doing beautifully in that aspect of the game.

      TPN got his current ankle injury having to hold up a scrum from tighthead.

      • Bobas

        And to answer your question I dont think it is easy for a world class hooker to become a world class prop. J Smit is an example of that and Pek Cowan is an example of a bad prop also making a bad hooker.

        • Garry

          Do we need a hooker these days. The ball gets fed into the second row anyway.

          Perhaps we need a prop who can throw to the line out?

      • pants

        I agree, TPN should go to 8.

  • Thomas

    Van Humphries and Hynes have been dropped to the bench for the mid week game could this mean there going to be used in the Italy game? Because if so I all for it.

    • Funk

      I saw that and was hoping the same? We could have done with the both of them against England….
      I have to disagree with Langthorne in regards to Brown he has had his chances and done nothing with them, give Higgers his chance, I’d even prefer to see Hodgson in there over “Letdown” Brown.
      Definately have to give a congrats to England on the W/end, came in with a game plan and played it to perfection. The wallabies were even poorer that Jobert!

    • realist

      They can tackle so they will be among those sent home.

  • realist

    The current Wallaby backline including reserves features 2 halfbacks (Genia, Burgess), 5 5/8s (Giteau, Beal, O’Connor, Barnes, Cooper), 3 fullbacks (Mitchell, Ash, Turner).
    Where are the specialist centres and wingers?

    • Bobas

      They play the positions they are chosen in.

      Just cos Larkham was a fullback didn’t mean he wasn’t a flyhalf upon his first game there.

      Are you telling me you categorise Beale as a first reciever despite him being one of the best fullbacks in the world?

      Turner and Drew are a wingers if i’ve ever seen one.

      Gits played most of his games in 12 is he not a centre just because he’s played 10. Is AAC a fullback despite playing 13 at a younger age, wing for the brumbies and then 15 as Deans forgot that you need a fullback who has lots of options in attack.

      Maybe you should change your name for realist to dillusional…

      • realist

        You know so little that a reply is not warranted…

        • Bobas

          clicking the reply button and writing a message is a reply, genious.

          You’re just struggling to back up your point. Yes we have players that can play in a number of positions, the way it should be in a backline.

          Just cos you think their all fullbacks, halfbacks or 5/8ths doesn’t mean they are.

          Do you need to do a batchelor and then a post-grad in a certain position to become what you’d define as a specailist?

      • realist

        Bobas – The point is that there is a shift towards attack and away from defence. By picking players who come from playmaking positions across the backline we have a brilliant attack but less than brilliant defence. There is also a lack of size and ability to get across the advantage line. I think the backline is not balanced. I suspect that this is ARU policy for marketing purposes. ie to make the game more visually attractive to non-rugby viewers in particular.

        • Bobas

          That’s a point, albeit a stretch from your post player positions and non specialists.

    • rugbyinmyblood

      gifts needs a straighter runner to be effective however aac is more of an asset than gifts is at the moment. if any one watches the all blacks you will notice that guys straighten the line for them. coop is a great powerful runner but crabs a little as for gits he is just out of form and he is not giving the go forward. i hate to say it but i would put ant in there he will go forward and tackle his heart out maybe he can give QC some confidence. i hate mortlock but god he could give us some direct go forward it would be great to have a real centre like him again. I also think digby will be in the world cup team so its not all doom for our centres

      • Seb V

        I rated Faingas super 14 season but on his test debut against the ABs he was pretty dissappointing. He got caught out in defence and missed a few important tackles and defence is ment to be his strong point.

        Im going to keep saying it, Id love to see horne at 12 if he ever stays fit.

        • JTM

          Yep, I’ve always wanted to see a fit and firing Horne play inside for the ‘Tahs. I reckon he would seem very similar to Timmy Horan.

  • westy

    There’s lots of talk about England playing Australia’s usual game plan and it clearly worked for them. But don’t we have to question what RD was thinking getting the WB’s to turn their back on what had worked for them in Bloemfontein , Hong Kong and Cardiff and instead play a more typically English game plan. There once again seem to be big question marks over his decision making. Every time we’ve employed this one pass, bang it up close to the ruck a couple of times then kick possession away tactic we get blown away. We lost a June test that way and once again against NZ in the Tri Nations. The WB’s cant seem to execute it.

    How can Robbie expect the WB’s to beat England at its own game, at its home ground with a pack of forwards that are clearly weaker then their opposition and with such deficiencies in defense? Why employ a plan that so limits the only weapons we have (the back three)? Why give the ball back to them by kicking so many times when you know your team is very poor in the tackle contest?

    Also from listening to their post match presser it doesn’t even seem like they recognize this. Very disappointing.

  • dillusional

    I take offence.

    • realist

      I prefer defence.

  • Fitz

    Here is the fundamental problem with Australian Backline…. they are too small…England backline is 582KGs compared with 541Kgs….we give away 7kgs per man.
    Sure they can attack but they get smashed and thus revert back into their shell…it’s all in the size….They are too small….and don’t start me on Cooper!!!!! My 11 year old can tackle better than him….Go Low and Go Hard you learn that when you are in the unders7’s

    • Seb V

      I think our Forwards being small is worse then our Backs being small.

  • sack quade
    • Fitz

      Who did that!!

    • rugbyinmyblood

      thats bloody funny. problem been he is a confidence player and if we bag him he will get worse…. if you watched his first years at the reds it can get a lot worse aswell

    • Bullrush

      Hilarious!!

      I would def play KB at 10. Like Dan Carter for the ABs, I think the more he has the ball in his hands, the better for the Wallabies.

      Of course, JON is probably now paying him about $600k per year so he has to play doesn’t he?

      • Andrew

        Its pretty simple with Quade in my opinion – like any other professional he should have KPI’s. You miss more than 3 tackles a game – you’re dumped for the next match. Put his destiny back in his own hands and see how he copes. Fix your attitude in defence or you’re not back in and the Wallabies find some other way of scoring without your attacking brilliance.

        I reckon something similar happened with Nathan Sharpe a year or two ago and he had a chat with Deans and went back to repairing the basic faults in his game.

        For the record, Beale would be a better fly half than Cooper he never deserved to get dropped from that position at the Tahs in the first place. In any event you wouldn’t want to change anything he’s doing at the moment

        • Funk

          Good idea, should be done for all the players but then Robbie would be playing 11 different players against Italy this week end, with only Sharpie, Moore, Beale and Pocock getting another run. Would need a lot bigger touring squad!

        • Toadman

          The KPI should be extended to Deans. If he was one of my employees his underperformance would be a dismissal, immediate and with prejudice. He is an abject failure as a coach, but I keep hearing he is the best in the world. Coached Crusaders to a few wins as have several other coaches. Failed already at World Cup level as an assistant. He is a tactical buffoon and in my view has zero credibility other than glib post match comments. He is a bum and we need to flick him

  • Drewboy

    Bob as you have often said it comes down to basics and this is what the Wallabies lacked on Saturday.

    The main difference between the backline in this game compared to the Hong Kong test was the passing. None of the passes we were being received in front of the player and hence we were static in attack.

    The one time passes hit the man running onto to the ball we created an overlap with Beale joining the line.

  • Colvin

    Come on Aussie. The Wallabies did extremely well in their last six internationals prior to the England game and have made tremendous progress. They should be supported not torn apart.

    The most difficult task is to keep a team playing at its’ peak. England pulled it off this time but they certainly don’t have a track record of success and are not likely to beat the Springboks next time out.

    The Wallabies fell back this time but you can be sure they will work on or be worked on where they failed. It’s mainly in the top two inches, the English wanted it more. And Quade must tackle to keep his place.

    • murph

      What six games was that? The two dead rubbers against the ABs? One of which was an AB experimental side that won the game when Kaino et al were injected from the bench? A couple of wins against a Springbok side which is being coached by a madman hence and struggling to adapt? And another win against a weak and depleted Wales in their first hit out of the season.

      Face it: the Wallabies are a basket case. Deans’s win/loss record is equivalent to that of that other similarly inflexible and clueless fool, Eddie Jones.

      • realist

        Spot on Murph.

      • jay-c

        im not happy bout the win loss ratio either
        but i wouldnt compare eddie jones and robbie deans
        rd is setting australia up for a long period of dominance with extremly young players an average age bout 4 yrs younger than our competitors> this puts us in good stead for the next world cup and the years after till the 2015cup
        eddie jones rode the rod mcqueen wave of success doing nothing for the future of our game and squeezing everything out until the wallabies had nothing left
        then connely managed to squeeze a little bit more till we were left with a bunch of old men who were never going to improve
        thank rd’s for moving on from the dunnings/baxters and waughs of yesteryear for it is likely they would still be around had it been any other coach

      • Toadman

        Love your work murph

  • JTM

    I think that this pretty much sums up why we lost, and why there needs to be a fucking rev up of the boys and a few scalps that have to be made example of by Deans.

    Just watch the opening ten seconds of this video as a flat footed Lawes hits it up. Keep your eye on Genia!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0MTai7O5oA&feature=player_embedded#!

    What the fuck is he doing!? Why isn’t he slamming into the bloke and driving him onto his fucking back!? Why has he allowed the guy to gain a meter and to place it so easily!? Why the fuck does he then wallow on his back on the AUSSIE side of the ruck instead of getting up and getting back into line to make the next hit like someone who is playing against the old enemy, for a jersey steeped in as much history and guts as the goddamn fucking Wallabies gold, the jersey of the AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL RUGBY UNION TEAM!!

    The next 40 odd seconds show him being similarly fucking useless and docile.

    FUCK

    • murph

      That is appalling

      • Garry

        “…and a few scalps that have to be made example of by Deans.”

        or perhaps by Big JON ( yes you BJ, you F*King Chocolate teapot)

  • Glenn Condell

    Yes, what has happened to Will Genia? The zip of 09 has gone.

    This year he has increased:

    harbour bridge or behind the man passing like Burgess at his worst
    stuff-arsing around pointlessly at the ruck like Gregan at his worst;
    shuffling at half pace across the field from rucks like most NH halves (bar Youngs)

    and even his defence has fallen off.

    2nd year syndrome?

  • reggie

    Its time the forwards contributed more, they can’t keep relying on the backs to preduce the goods. Winning the scrums would be a good start and then getting go forward ball for the backs would be another step in the right direction.

  • Gnostic

    Deans selection of the squad was flawed in many ways but he left a fit and explosive running prop who demonstrated against Alexander and Fairbrother that he was up to scrum standard with them at home. I am of course talking about Sekope Kepu. Kepu will not fail to make metres with the ball against even the best defence. But no he is left at home and Daley is selected despite being shown not to be close to test standard.

    • Thomas

      He got the wallabies supporters MOTM against England so actually he played well for his debut, it’s Mafu who was the bad selection choice as he’s a lazy fat thing

    • Seb V

      I too was very dissappointed Kepu was not taken on tour.

  • RBH

    Comment by Colvin – “England pulled it off this time but they certainly don’t have a track record of success and are not likely to beat the Springboks next time out.”

    This statement is garbage mate. England dont have a track record of success? They have beaten the wallabies twicw in a row home and away, they have won a RWC more recently than the wallabies, they have kicked the wallabies out of 3 of the last 4 world cups.

    I will be staggered if they dont beat the boks. This Aussie trait of dismissing England teams because they are England is nauseatingly chippy. They are genuine contenders at the 2011 RWC and if the seedings prove true they will face the Aussies in a quarter or semi final. I dont fancy the Wallabies chances

  • David

    does anyone like the idea of higganbotham in the centres…he is quick and is built like an animal…sure would go a way to combating SBW, nonu, basterau, tindall etc…

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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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