This will have New Zealand worried - Green and Gold Rugby
Analysis

This will have New Zealand worried

This will have New Zealand worried

I do not want to be seen as a rock-spider now coming out to have a dig at New Zealand while they are lying down. In fact I will start presenting this analysis with a graphic that shows New Zealand still doing the basics so well:

stat3

The above shows how Australia launched their 43 attack raids. While New Zealand conceded too many handling errors, turnovers and even an intercept, they did not give away a single controllable set-piece. They are still ruthless and still get those basics right!

Now cast your eye to the ‘Field opposition kick’ – a statistic which illustrates how happy New Zealand was to ‘surrender’ possession in return for territory/pressure. But to understand this strategy, let’s also look at where they kicked to:

stat2

New Zealand kicked 5 times to our 50m area, and twice to our 22, while 2 of their scramble kicks awarded us an attack platform in their own 50. Again , the kiwis did not offer Australia any ‘freeby’ attack platforms in their own 22.

Australia would have only 2 line-outs, 2 penalties and 1 scrum set in New Zealand’s 22. Amount of points scored from those platforms? 11 (2 penalty kicks and a try that was not converted.) This point to how ruthless Australia (finally) decided to be.

The scary part

So here comes the bad news for NZ fans. You often wonder if a team’s attack is great or if the opponent’s defence is shoddy. Considering that Australia lost the ball 12 times while on attack, or 26% of all the times they tried, their attack was not as accurate as many want to believe. So, this leaves only one explanation: New Zealand’s defense was a bit Spongebobby.

stat1

Australia escaped their own 22 a massive 87.5% of all times they had the opportunity to. A crazy 62 off percent they progressed into New Zealand’s 50m area, and even made it into New Zealand’s 22 once (12.5%)

Now consider this: You play the Kiwis and they force you to attack from your own 22 on 8 occasions. However 5 of the 8 times you get to motor all the way up to their own 50? This would be standard if Australia were playing Georgia or Romania, but New Zealand?

Eden park wont let Ozzie take a stroll in it.

Be it a tackling or a defense issue, we can expect the Kiwi’s to improve the above stats in Auckland. So will Australia have the nous and the drive to crack the nut again? Data will tell.

Want to learn to generate analytics and help Brendon cover World Cup games alongside other aspiring analysts? Want to learn a new skills and start covering games for your state,club or schools team? Pop Brendon a mail: bren@rugbycology.com to find out more!

  • Cole

    I think we have different meaning of rock spider.

    • Anonymous bloke

      Ha! That was my immediate thought too.

      • Brendon Shields

        Pardon lads yes my connection to rock spider comes from SA where its something the English called the boers for their propensity to strike while the English were down, mostly out from rocky area’s in mountains. I just Googled what ‘the other’ meaning is and will not be using that metaphor ever again :-)

        • Yowie

          faaaaaaaark. No wonder my garage band “The Rock Spiders” never got any gigs.

      • Brendon Shields

        Pardon lads yes my connection to rock spider comes from SA where its something the English called the boers for their propensity to strike while the English were down, mostly out from rocky area’s in mountains. I just Googled what ‘the other’ meaning is and will not be using that metaphor ever again :-)

    • Nutta

      Oh thank God I’m not the only one who noticed that.

    • Yes, awkward.

    • Huw Tindall

      I’ve learnt something new today….other than Brendon’s excellent statistical analysis

  • numpty

    awesome breakdown brendon. As many people have pointed out, its like each team walked out in opposite colours. WBs clinical in taking their chances and walking away with pts, NZ giving away too much possession and providing too many opportunities for attack. It’d be nice to see a similar breakdown on Aus’s defence. All the talk in the washup of this game is how good the WB attack was, but we still let in 4 tries, two of which were as usual from turnover ball. We seem to take too long to set our line.

    • Brendon Shields

      True Numpty – I just covered Oz attack, and would not declare them ‘accurate’ or clinical in attack either. What Oz gets right at the moment is that they create a lot of chances and a lot of momentum. But as against SA and Arg, they fluff many. As for the defence- how NZ scored would be a cause for concern, especially from the restart.

    • idiot savant

      Numpty I think you are onto something. The ABs have always been able to beat us by kicking a lot and playing down the other end. They have been unconcerned about giving up possession. Only in Perth this tactic backfired. The ABs had very little ball. I thi k this will be the biggest change in AB tactics in Auckland. The ABs will kick much less and maintain possession and test what has often been our Achilles heel under Grey – poor defence.

      • numpty

        They have played this style for a long time and don’t think they will change it this week. I think they will look to dominate the contact area more and essentially try and create more opportunities for themselves in attack. Their kicking wasn’t bad, it was just that the WBs didn’t give the ball back and made good meters. Usually the WBs turn it over alot more and are unable to build pressure. If the ABs can force the WBs to drop it/turn it over/ kick it they will be in with a good chance. Also, teams will have to tighten up because of the wet. Aus set piece will be handy in this regard.

  • The Wallabies looked like a star rugby team instead of a random collection of rugby stars. A very impressive performance that will hopefully propel them over the line this weekend though my spidey sense tells me the Kiwi’s will not be so uncoordinated for the game. ;) Go hard boys.

  • skip

    The parallel I am reminded of was when NZ lost to Ireland in Chicago in 2016. In that test one Brodie Retallick was out injured and the Irish attacked their line out and break down very aggressively, starved NZ of ball and scored quite a few more tries than NZ did. So far so familiar.

    In the following test the next week NZ were significantly more physical, which is to say thuggish. Feketoa got a yellow for a high shot that the powers subsequently said should have been red but ended up later scoring a crucial try, and getting 2 for the night. Sam Cane got only a yellow for a shot that hit a player’s head with his shoulder and was darn lucky to not get a red. Sexton was forced off injured and it was doubtless a plan to “target” him. Suffice to say, NZ reacted in a way that both pushed, bent and broke the laws so it will be interesting if, having had the card to Barrett, they follow that tactic and if the referee on Saturday is prepared, in the pressure cooker of Eden Park, with the crowd on his back, to let them get away with it. I have my doubts

    NZ truly an excellent side and if you add them getting away with murder then it’s nigh on impossible. I think we all know full well what a kiwi crowd would be like to the ref if they won by plenty after having their skipper (an open side no less) hit with as many high and cheap shots as Hoops got, never mind what they’ll be like having lost.

    Anyway here’s hoping for a response that’s a credit to the game.
    Speaking of murder, they got away with blue murder at the scrums once Barrett was off. I do not recall a single one on their feed in the second half that didn’t immediately collapse a’la Wallaby scrums circa 2007. Maybe this week is the time we get some change for having such a dominant scrum?

    • Reinforce

      Concur re: scrum time. The calls to play it after the Wobbs smashed them once the ABs had collapsed was mind-boggling. I thought the tactic of smashing their scrum, earning a penalty, progressing down field, line-out win, maul, penalty, points was going to be our go to. Ref was having none of it. The ABs were very lucky on that front.
      This week is dragging on. I have consumed every piece of every article about the weekend’s game. Apologies in advance for the following comment but we win the Bledisloe and lose the World Cup and I will still sleep very, very soundly.

    • idiot savant

      Agree on the scrum. I was screaming for pay! I wonder though if this is a new direction in international policing as the scrum is one area of the game that is a turn off for women and even rugby supporters who are not into the dark arts. It wastes huge amounts of time and if you are at the ground offers no spectacle at all. You need the TV to make scrums interesting.

      Re Physicality. I am worried for Thor. I think he may well be in the frame for a square up with the ABs drawing the refs attention to every tackle he makes. That goes for Latu as well. We will need to be careful about our aggression.

    • As someone that is recording scrum outcomes for these matches, I will tell you, categorically, your memory of the second half scrums is wildly inaccurate.

      In the first half, AB scrums went down, certainly. Three of them. One where the Australian front row went down too. There was a penalty kick in the first half too. Overall there were only three scrum resets, but none of those were on Kiwi scrum feeds in the second half.

      In the second half, the AB played route one ball and apart from one that shot out the back really fast, the other three were straight to Savea’s feet. He picked up and passed the ball away. All four of them stayed up. In fact, straight after the match I commented that for all of those scrums I was disappointed that the Aussie pack didn’t show more impact against seven men.

      Sorry to ruin your memories with facts.

      • skip

        An internet debate with a stranger that starts off with that tone? gee, thanks but no thanks, I’ll just go back to my various comments to kiwis which were really civil and feel positive about them while contenting myself that i’m not alone in the view that on the occasions you mention that both went down it was cos of wallaby pressure, while agreeing they adapted very well to a weakened scrum and just move on. life is too short and this site generally too pleasant.

        • Sorry if it came over unnecessarily aggressive. Although it was a self-appointed task, I wanted to see what all the stupidly summarised scrum stats we see might actually mean. You know the ones that say “Team x 87% scrum success.”

          So throughout TRC I watched all the matches and recorded the scrum outcomes, resets, scrums going to completion, penalties, free kicks, whether the front rows went down, who picked up at the base, whether the ref called hurry up or not. For the last two rounds I recorded how often the ref called a scrum advantage and then advantage over too and any points that emerged from that before a stoppage/turnover.

          They’re all posted in the match reports. So someone saying all their scrums collapsed once Barrett went off, when I watched them closely and it’s just not true was a bit of a red rag to a bull.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          I’m with you on this. Nothing more enraging than lazy opinions about topics to diehard like us mean the world! I couldn’t care less about scrums personally but if I catch some Muppet spouting how effective Foley is as a playmaker….. I see red too!

        • skip

          I would have welcomed a more pleasant discussion on the matter but that passive aggressive tone belongs on twitter and to sulky teens, not G&GR. We didn’t, in mine and a lot of other people’s view, get much from scrum dominance as we could quite reasonably have expected. However, rugby has laws and they are subject to interpretation, not rules which are not.

          The remaining remarks about how the last time NZ found themselves in this situation following a loss (Fekitoa, Cane and also Coles getting away with no arms and high shots without proper sanction) have stood unchallenged and that’s enough for me. On the rest, as I said, I welcome civil debate.

          And i agree about Foley btw.

        • UTG

          If you look at the AB scrums in the second stanza, their front row is standing up in at least half of them. They also should have been pinged for an incorrect feed as the alleged well-executed channel one ball was no more than Smith launching it through the scrum League style so there was no chance of a contest. At one point the ball pops out the back of the scrum so quickly Read can’t control it and it goes spinning backwards a few metres. It was clear Garces was going soft on the scrum because they were a man down.

      • skip

        An internet debate with a stranger that starts off with that tone? gee, thanks but no thanks, I’ll just go back to my various comments to kiwis which were really civil and feel positive about them while contenting myself that i’m not alone in the view that on the occasions you mention that both went down it was cos of wallaby pressure, while agreeing they adapted very well to a weakened scrum and just move on. life is too short and this site generally too pleasant.

  • Al Statz

    Love the stats, but staying in the “stats” frame of mind, and including the data from the last ten years, last week’s game is what statisticians call an “anomaly”. A few good results in a row will make a “pattern”. Then we can start reaching conclusions. The current “pattern” points to pain for WB fans at Eden Park. Anything better than that is a step forward for the Wobbs

    • Brendon Shields

      Hi Al, I will get more data this weekend, but from what I have seen so far, Oz creates a lot of chances. More than SA, Arg and NZ. Funny that the year before the Reds won Super Rugby (2010?) they also created a lot of chances and a year later started rounding them off. So there is that.

  • Twoilms

    I am enjoying the enthusiasm but i am fearful for what we are going to meet at Eden Park.

    I wish that was the only match we had against them.

    • Huw Tindall

      I’m tempering my excitement too as it’s just one match but the more I look at it I wonder exactly what will NZ do differently? Is it really an ‘attitude’ thing and we just out enthused them or is their pack struggling a little due to injuries and aging bodies? With Retalick and S Barrett out now they are testing lock depth and Franks and Moody have 0 impact around the park. Read is aging and Savea and Cane can’t do it all by themselves. By contrast the Wallabies have a young side or players still in their prime. Kepu and AAC are past their prime but they aren’t in the starting side anymore (and rightly so). Sure NZ are efficient and dangerous but they aren’t the same team of 2015 full of legends at their peak.

      • Patrick

        As pointed out above their go to in this situation is playing even rougher… but the red card might play with their mind a bit and if they can’t do that then maybe they are just stuffed?

        Not to hide that we will have to be at least 10% better and that is off probably the best game most of this team has ever played.

    • Huw Tindall

      I’m tempering my excitement too as it’s just one match but the more I look at it I wonder exactly what will NZ do differently? Is it really an ‘attitude’ thing and we just out enthused them or is their pack struggling a little due to injuries and aging bodies? With Retalick and S Barrett out now they are testing lock depth and Franks and Moody have 0 impact around the park. Read is aging and Savea and Cane can’t do it all by themselves. By contrast the Wallabies have a young side or players still in their prime. Kepu and AAC are past their prime but they aren’t in the starting side anymore (and rightly so). Sure NZ are efficient and dangerous but they aren’t the same team of 2015 full of legends at their peak.

    • BarneySF

      Wondering whether/hoping not we’re the new France? As in – who knows which team will show up on the day?

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I research schools and club sport to help coaches create better training sessions and smarter game plays based on science. I believe that data hides these coaching gems that are very rewarding if you are willing to mine deep enough! Yes it's nerdy, but it works!

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