Statistics and Austin's Thoughts from Bledisloe 4 - Green and Gold Rugby
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Statistics and Austin’s Thoughts from Bledisloe 4

Statistics and Austin’s Thoughts from Bledisloe 4

Finally, a victory against New Zealand but what can we take out of the game?  Sure, a win is a win but now some of the excitement has died down let’s look at the statistics to see what they reveal.

It was really enjoyable watching this game back when preparing my analysis and I have watched that final 15 minutes a number of times and I’m sure I will again.

The Wallabies won 71% of their own lineout ball, well down on the 86% during the Tri Nations.  However they only had 7 lineouts and that means only 2 were lost – the Mark Chisolm miss and the horrible confusion when Faingaa came on.  So whilst the win % is ugly, I don’t see too much drama there. Now the New Zealander’s with only a 60% win % is a different story – the Wallabies were really good defensively.

Scrum time was a mess and there’s been plenty said elsewhere on that subject so I won’t take up too much time here trying to apportion blame.  The Wallabies managed to win the ball from 5 of 8 – 63% but all three where they didn’t get the ball back were from penalties or free kicks.  However, a lot of the ball they won was scrappy and didn’t offer a great platform to attack from.  New Zealand also had two penalties or free kicks against for a 75% win rate but the ball they won was a lot cleaner.  There’s plenty of work required in this area for the Wallabies.

One of the major differences in the game was the amount of possession each side had.  The Wallabies started with the ball 43 times, which is a little higher than their average of 38 times in the 2010 Tri Nations but New Zealand only started possession 30 times, well down on their average of 38 times in the 2010 Tri Nations.

Just a quick note before I go further – I only record the commencement of a possession when a team gets the ball to work with, so if the team is in possession and a scrum is packed from which there is a penalty, I don’t count that as a start of possession or an end of possession.  The other point to make is that penalties against a team at the breakdown when in possession are recorded as a breakdown lost, not possession ending as a result of a penalty against. These points may clarify some queries on the next set of numbers.

New Zealand lost 50% of their possession (30% through errors and 20% at the breakdown).  Of the remaining 15 possessions they kicked 8 times and from the remaining 7 possessions they scored 3 tries and kicked 1 penalty goal.

By contrast the Wallabies lost only 28% of their possession (14% through errors, 12% at the breakdown and 2% through a penalty when in possession).  Of the remaining 31 possessions they kicked 15 times and from the remaining 16 possessions scored 4 tries. 

The positive from these numbers is that the Wallabies have improved their ball retention.  In the June tests this year the Wallabies lost 36% of their possession (30% through errors and 6% at the breakdown) and in the Tri Nations this year they lost 38% of their possession (25% through errors and 13% at the breakdown). I’ll be watching these numbers closely during the rest of the EOYT to see how the Wallabies perform in this area.

Of course the Wallabies strike rate of scoring from possession was affected by 4 missed penalty goal attempts but New Zealand also missed 3.  Do these strike rate numbers suggest that the Wallabies were firing blanks in attack?  There doesn’t seem to be any need to worry about the potency of the Wallabies attack – 20% of the Wallabies possessions ended with a score compared to 21% for New Zealand.

So what caused this difference in the strike rate of scoring against possession? There was one major factor – New Zealand ended the Wallabies possession on 8 occasions by giving away penalties (19% of the Wallabies possession).  The Wallabies only ended 1 New Zealand possession by giving away a penalty (3% of New Zealand’s possession).  Whilst I’d rather not be the one to start another round of the discussion about the number of penalties New Zealand concede because I thought that all got a little boring, the numbers in this game can’t be denied.

The penalties and free kicks went against New Zealand 14 to 8 in the match.  If we just look at infringements outside of the scrums it was 11 to 4 against New Zealand.  Eight of those against New Zealand occurred within their own half and 4 of those were within their own 22.  The Wallabies conceded two penalties in their own half and 1 of those was within their own 22. Three of the penalties against New Zealand occurred in the last 3 minutes when the Wallabies were making their charge to victory.  The two penalties conceded by New Zealand in the last minute of the game demanded yellow cards but thankfully the referee would have been aware that stopping the game at that time to award the card would have disadvantaged the Wallabies. The Wallabies certainly didn’t look like they were going to wait around for a card against a New Zealander in 2010 and took matters into their own hands.

Onto other areas and the next area I’ll comment on is defence.  The Wallabies missed 28 tackles and as a result only had an 81% tackle accuracy rate compared to 86% in the Tri Nations this year.  Quade Cooper was the main culprit with 7 misses and I have seen no improvement in his technique at all.  We’ve seen video of the work the Wallabies were doing with Phil Blake in their recent camp but it’s clearly not helped Quade at this stage.  His problem is with his technique and the main issue is going too high. In 5 of the 7 tackles he missed he made contact with the shoulders and arms but was bounced off.  The other 2 misses were poor attempts with arms only. Non’u had a field day running against him on Saturday and no doubt every other team that plays the Wallabies will be targeting him.  I believe he’s going to play a vital part if the Wallabies are to finish off 2010 well and then have a successful 2011 but having other players covering for him causes other problems.  Let’s hope Phil Blake spends a fair bit of time with Quade one on one whilst they’re on tour because his 22% success rate on Saturday was woeful.  Ben McCalman also needs to do a bit of work – all four of his misses were poor attempts with arms only.

David Pocock was absolutely fantastic in all areas of the game.  He carried the ball forward effectively; he topped the tackle count and didn’t miss a single tackle.  Oh, and he went reasonably well at the breakdown!  He was definitely my man of the match.  It’s amazing to think that just twelve months ago George Smith was such a vital part of the Wallabies – now I think Pocock is even more important to the team and that is not meant to be a blight on George Smith in any way as he was in great form on last years EOYT – it’s just that Pocock is playing so well at the moment.

Ben Alexander’s work rate was fantastic and the quality of his work around the field was good.  Nathan Sharpe was good again and Ben McCalman did plenty of work.  Stephen Moore was a little quiet but I really don’t understand calls for him to be replaced by Faingaa as I don’t think Faingaa offers as much at this time.  Mark Chisolm’s numbers look reasonable but I thought most of the work he did was ineffective.  Of the 8 times I recorded him carrying the ball he only made 6 metres in total with 4 of those carries producing no gain in ground.  I think Dean Mumm looked better when he came on and deserves a start again.

Quade Cooper had a mixed day – he looked dangerous challenging the line and his long passes certainly opened up space but apart from his defence I thought he struggled with his kicking and his control of the game in the second half.  The footage of him when the Wallabies were awarded a penalty on the left touchline with 3 minutes to go showed him to be very flustered when the Wallabies really needed their playmaker to take control and either kick for the lineout or organise the attack.

Matt Giteau was solid.  Let’s look at his performance outside of goal kicking because Robbie has now said that goal kicking isn’t the primary reason for selecting him in the team.  He showed some glimpses in attack but still ran across field.  In defence he only missed one tackle where he fell off late in the tackle. 

I’m a big believer that a player should retain their position unless they play poorly or another player plays so well that they would make a significant positive impact on the team. Giteau didn’t play poorly so the question for me is whether Barnes played well enough to suggest he would make a significant positive difference to the team.  In both defence and attack I think Barnes outplayed Giteau when he came on.  Was it enough to dislodge Giteau?  On that measure alone, I don’t think so but then I consider what positive impact Barnes would have on the team over Giteau and I focus my attention on Quade Cooper. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Cooper should be the Wallabies number 10 when he’s available – he offers a real X factor.  However his defence and his ability to control a game are real issues for me.  In those areas I think Barnes would make a positive difference to the team because he’s a much stronger defender than Giteau and I think he’s better at controlling a game.  I think having him alongside Cooper justifies moving Giteau to the bench.  I certainly don’t think Giteau shouldn’t be in the 22 and I think it would be a good way for him to get some of his mojo back coming off the bench with 15 minutes to go when he could make a real impact.

One final comment – the Wallabies had a 38% success rate with their goal kicking and New Zealand only had a 57% success rate.  It was obviously tricky kicking conditions on the day.  Thank goodness for James O’Connor – Mr. 100%!  Well done young man.

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  • Richo

    Superb work, mate. Very interesting reading. Thanks.

  • BG

    “and from the remaining 16 possessions scored 4 tries.”

    Where’d the other 12 possessions go?

    • Austin

      43 possessions less 28% lost (12 possessions) = 31 remaining less 15 kicked = 16 remaining.

      • Darkhorse

        Good read. Although, I think have the same query as BG.

        Out of the 16 remaining they used 4 to score 4 tries, leaving 12 possessions. What did they do with the other 12?

        • Austin

          Okay – I missed the point of the question before. Of the 12 remaining, 8 were ended by penalties conceded by New Zealand and 4 were ended by resets (for example where the ruck was unplayable so we started agains with a scrum). On all 12 occasions the Wallabies got possesion back again.

  • Gnostic

    Of course as expected I totally disagree re:- Giteau. How was he solid? Ignore his kicking as that has been much discussed elsewhere. What does he bring to the side now. Not in potential or what happened 3 or four years ago. What has he put on the park this year and even last?

    The best performances from Cooper at 12 have come when Barnes has been at 12, it is about balance and as you yourself stated Barnes provides this.

    I also found it interesting that Genia drifted in defence leaving gaps on the inside as he was obviously (to me anyway) moving in cover for Cooper. As you say Cooper’s deficiencies make it hard on those around him, so this is another reason to select the better defender in Barnes. I would also say it is another reason to bring on Burgess earlier in the second half as he is IMO the best defensive halfback in Oz. It has also gone somewhat unremarked how his pace and energy (an unusually accurate pass) played a key role in the Oz fight back.

    • Funk

      Argee with the whole Gits bit.

      I have to say that I was one of those screaming for Burgess to be dropped when Deans kept picking him in the starting line up, his passing was attrocious and he always needed to run backwards 4-5 steps prior to passing, he looked to be constantly a step behind the play. But now, it looks to me that Burgess has done a significant amount of work on his play, and I think his spot off the bench is perfect for the wallabies. Genia hasn’t been in top form recently but by no means has he been poor and still deserves his starting spot. Burgess coming off the bench and running at a tired defence has made him the new Chris Whitaker! I would not have any other Australian half back on the bench! Great work Burgo!

    • Austin

      Gnostic

      Ignoring his kicking as I said in the article – in his 64 minutes on the field Giteau carried the ball to the line 5 times – all of them were productive and adavanced the ball – he threw no poor passes – he made 7 tackles and missed one where he knocked the player down but fell off as the attacker was going to the ground (this resulted in no gain to NZ) – he made no other mistakes so I think that’s solid.

      In his 15 minutes on the field Barnes made 2 carries, one of which resulted in the line break but then made his poor pass to O’Connor – that pass was at O’Connor’s knees – it was a poor pass not a lack of pace by O’Connor – he made one good tackle – he made no other mistakes so I also think that’s solid.

      On the basis of performance in that game alone Barnes was not vastly superior to Giteau.

      In terms of balance and having the better defender there, we actually agree that Barnes is the better fit and obviously if we were selecting we would both go that way.

      In relation to Burgess – he came on in the 77th minute when the fightback had been well and truly underway for a while. He made 16 passes, 14 of which were good and 2 which were poor (one at Cooper’s knees at one above Barnes’ head). He carried the ball once for no gain and was slow arriving to three rucks. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with his performance but I didn’t see it as anything special. In my opinion he was also solid, as was Genia.

  • Joe Mac

    Austin,

    Excellent analysis as usual but i think you are a little too soft on Giteau. I cant remember seeing Nonu so dominant in a game before and the person who was supposed to be his opponent on the day was MG.

    In attack I also hate his inability to run straight!

    I agree we should keep him in the squad, Sookface to 12 I say

    • Austin

      Just had another look at Giteau’s running and on three of five carries he was straight – one he straightened the attack by stepping back inside and creating a half opportunity for AAC on the inside and on only one occasion did he go across field – on that run he made a half break.

      Don’t forget the Kiwis changed their pattern to run Nonu at Cooper – the Wallabies are playing a zone defence so he was Cooper’s man whn he missed him on 3 occasions – then Chisolm missed him and Moore missed him as well – Giteau didn’t miss him once.

      But I agree, Barnes to 12 – do we really think Robbie will do that though?

      • Joe Mac

        I stand corrected. Thanks Austin.

      • Nutta

        Sorry lads. Totally disagree. I may be a simple front-rower, but give me the basics first and the gravy & glam later. To plagiarise Mr Dwyer, Cooper is a classic Campo – “He will score 3 tries but will cost you 2″. He is costing us too many opposition breaks and Barnes has a better kicking game. Bring in Coopers spontaneity when folk get tired and the game opens up. Open with Barnes at 10, Gits at 12, AAC at 13. Cooper comes on at 60min into 10 replacing either Barnes (1 for 1) or Gits (Barnes to 12). This would coincide with a fresh loosie, lock and front-rower to freshen up the cover defence required to back-up Coopers mere presence

    • Robson

      Yes Barnes runs a more direct route to the defensive line and he thereby creates opportunities on both sides of him for backup runners to find a gap. Giteau’s cross field running doesn’t have the threatening subtlety that Cooper’s has (like Stephen Larkham) so the space options Giteau can create for other runners is limited. It’s this quality of Barnes that I prefer over Giteau, although both had a pretty reasonable day.

      Giteau would find more opportunities for using his step (something he seems to have lost) if he ran a straighter line. Because he drags the defence with him when he runs he can’t step without getting bagged by a covering defender. I strongly suspect it’s this aspect of his play alone which is inhibiting his potency on attack. He used to be so threatening to the defence and I believe it is just a matter of him correcting his angle to recapture some of the fizz he once had.

  • Who Needs Melon

    I think with George Smith it was one of those very rare occurrences where a player retires at exactly the right time.

    • The Rant

      his bank balance agrees :)

  • Robson

    Notwithstanding the fact that the ball is often carried in circumstances that don’t permit an offload or are not conducive to one being made, I think the number of offloads (6) per number of carries made (127) is quite low. Having said that there is nothing to compare it with except in contrast the ABs seem to offload quite a bit more frequently.

    • Austin

      Robson – only numbers I can give you in comparison are for the Wallabies from the Tri Nations – 824 carries for 33 offloads, so one offload very 25 carries. In the 4 games in the June tests the Wallabies had 556 carries for 37 offloads = one offload every 15 carries. In this game 127 carries for 6 offloads = one offload for every 22 carries.

      To clarify, I measure a carry when the player takes the ball to the line and engages a defender before passing – doesn’t have to make contact with the defence but if they just catch and pass, I don’t see that as a carry. I then record offloads only if the player has been contacted by the defence and then gets a pass away.

  • Bobas

    Bloody good article Austin. Love it.

  • Skip

    I think cooper’s defence is as much attitude as technique and both need to improve as, to quote Johnson of England, it’s not an optional extra at test level. It’s the attitude side of it which annoys me the most. Not saying he should be dropped – certainly not, but if wants the money he feels he deserves from the ARU, RD as well as someone in the side (perhaps a Sharpe or a front rower) ought to remind him they don’t like giving easy yards when he cocks one up.

    • Simon

      I completely agree with you Skip. Great article and yes defense is still the biggest issue the Wallabies have. It’s hard to get on a players band wagon when they can’t make a tackle. This is not Gridiron where you only play attack or defense. Our glorious game needs you to pull your weight in a respectable way.

  • Reddy!

    Geez that’s a bloody brilliant analysis. Thanks for informing my opinion :)

  • It seems unlikely Austin, because I have actually seen you, but are you in any way related to Will Genia?

  • JrGibbsy

    Great work with the analysis. However Stats alone can sometimes dull the truths of a game- epecially when held as sole indicators and and used as proof ad nausiam -(see american sports.) IMO. Great insight none the less.

    The main conjections are the 2nd row, no2, and…. Gits.

    Clearly we struggle for tall thick timber… at least ones with a ticking heart. Thank god Sharpie found his, and Horwill is on the mend. I no Chis fan…. I think he is generally poor to average-. at best. But he clearly adds something to the pack at srcum time, and the difference is felt most through the platform they provide our boys out wide. So, maybe- if the team is functioning he has merit? i dont like it but maybe… Then Mumm, who for all his athleticism and rugby IQ, isnt physically up for it in the moments it really matters over 80 mins. So hand over to Van the man?

    At 2 moore was IMO off the pace slightly. He seems to have lost a bit of dynaism he had a few years and a few Kgs ago. maybe a bit of speed work? He was at fault for more than a few breaks by being slow to his feet or slow to adjust his defensive line(footwork). Sfingers is like a puppy being let out in a park…. into everything! good to have around to bring up the tempo.. maybe not wire to wire.

    And geez- ya either love him or laoth him. Gits is searching for his killer form, maybe suffering from the glare shining off quade inside him. or kurtly, or JOC. He used to be THE MAN! he was all we had in the backs that you could call World class. and now no one reckons he should be in the 22 ????? slow down, – the guy does good work in defense, knows what they are trying to do, but hes having trouble finding his groove in the game were he feels he can be the man. The making of this is if he can figure it out… because you dont lose class. Barnes is a great controller of the game- a closer. He is fantastic in def- and he lifts the teams work with his organization there. he is great at trying to keep a structure and make the ‘correct’ rugby plays. But does he ‘play whats in front of you’? isnt that what we are about? hmm. if Gits has still been quiet in 2 games time, and running straight towards the touch lines, i will be eating my keys…

    IMO Deans just needs to use the bench better, to lift and maintain the MOMENTUM that we need to carry for 80 mins. Give them enough time to be on and stop our mid game wobblies. Chis/Van off at 50/55- for Mumm. Higgers (WTheF has he been?) for Mcal at 65… Burgo for the last 10-15… and Barnes as and when he is needed. Let them know they will be used and ready them to unload for x mins. Let the guys coming off know they have x mins to bust a gut. 3 mins isnt enough to change a game. momentum.

    Either way the Wallabies and mr Deans are leaping in the right directions.

    But lay off on the ‘goodbye gits’ stuff eh? Remember cardiff? That was, how long ago?

  • Damo

    So are we saying that Quade was solely responsible for 25% of all our missed tackles. He is a genius but this has to improve

  • Gibbo

    You are bloody amazing austin! great analysis and some great points made in the comments too!
    Why did sookface have such a poor S14 but such a brillant stint for Sydney Uni and is playing well off the bench for Oz? seems weird.
    I agree that he needs to be put at 12 to compare him properly to Gits.
    also i dont think McCalman is doing enough to justify him starting. what is holding robbie back from using Higgers?! such good S14 form!..

    now the NZ monkey is off the back do people reckon Robbie will actually make some exciting changes?
    Davies in 11?
    Barnes in 12?
    mumm/ humphries/ simmons/ fkn anyone but chisholm in 5?
    higginbotham in 8?

  • Joe Blow

    I think Deans will leave Giteau there this week considering what he did to Wales last time around.
    Also Wales look like like they will be starting an inexperienced centre pairing and backrow which equates to a lot of attacking opportunity.
    This might be the test for Gits to get back his Mojo.
    If he’s not doing the business Dingo should hook him at or around the half time mark.

    Great stats as usual.

  • Joe Blow

    Oh…..and give the kicking duties to Britney from the start please.

  • sean

    quade cooper. fucking rubbish defense. any first fifteen player would have a higher tackle % at that level

  • Gibbo
  • D.

    Great read Austin, but from my understanding of last nights rants on this site, it’s unfortunate that you went to all this work to put this post together. None of the tackles, missed tackles, breaking the line, points per carry matter. It doesn’t matter!!!!!! It all came down to Stephen Donald. Just ask the ducks across the dutch. I didn’t see that stat. You’re slipping Austin…..

    Sorry, I don’t suffer fools well.

  • Langthorne

    Austin = legend

    Thanks again for the great work.

  • @JrGibbsy

    “And geez- ya either love him or laoth him. Gits is searching for his killer form, maybe suffering from the glare shining off quade inside him. or kurtly, or JOC. He used to be THE MAN!”

    He has been the MAN against almost everyone…except the All Blacks. Can you remember any AB Test that he dominated? Got Man of the Match? That he won for the Wallabies?

    I can’t….but I may be wrong.

  • Bay35Pablo

    Nice analysis. Except

    “Mark Chisolm’s numbers look reasonable but I thought most of the work he did was ineffective. … I think Dean Mumm looked better when he came on and deserves a start again.

    So Chisholm was cr@p, but Mumm less cr@p, so he deserves a start? I was a fan of Mumm’s, but the love is gone. He isn’t a test lock, he’s a 6 and he ain’t budging Elsom. I couldn’t get Douglas in there fast enough …. or wait until we can bring back Horwill, Vickers, Kimlin, someone so we can bench Mumm as the utility back 5 forward!!!!

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@ScottA_

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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