You have to admire the fighting spirit of Austalian rugby teams. It has often been said that when the Wallabies’ backs are against the wall they come out with a big performance. And this they did against Argentina last week.
Many pundits think nothing less than a 20-point victory against teams such as Argentina is a pass mark. Anyone who has played in Argentina will tell you that a win over there is as good as it gets, no matter what margin. The Wallabies had the unfortunate task of following the All Blacks, and the comparison is unfair. To win with the injury toll within the camp was a great effort.
There was some great play too, including Digby Ioane’s match winning try — below.
There are really only two options for Kurtley in this play, Tapuai and Digby. You’ll notice as Kurtley goes to the line that he’s never thinking of Pat McCabe. But why this move?
Look how close together the Pumas backs are. They start narrow and are drifting hard from the outset. When playing a hard, drifting defence it’s imperative that someone changes the angle to cut off a defender. Ben Tapaui does this very well and as the 12 commits to him, the 13 continues drifting and Digby goes straight through for the try.
So how do you defend this move? As I said, you can see that Kurtley can’t really play Pat McCabe. His body language suggests that he’s never going wide. Attacking the line and watching what the defenders do stops Kurtley making the necessary preparations to pass long (i.e. spotting his target and balancing).
If a10 attacks the line like this good defences will actually flip the scenario mid-stream. They will stop worrying about the overlap, play ‘man-on’ defence and take line speed. With time for only one long pass, the advantage lies now with the defending team. You’ll note how often receivers of long passes these days are hit as they catch the ball, often with two unused men outside.
Sounds very simple, except for one thing: if you decide before the play to just take linespeed and not drift, attacking teams will play early and get outside you. They no longer need to commit the defense by taking the ball at the line because the defence has committed itself. This allows the attack to remain deeper, giving it the time needed to execute the passes. The trick for defending teams is changing gears, when to stop worrying about the width and just commit to the short runners.
The biggest cue to change gears is when the attacking 10 runs at the line. With the pressure a defence can exert on the attack with line speed, it will take a miracle for the ball to reach the overlap, and if it does, it certainly won’t happen often. But this is why players like Kurtley Beale are called geniuses – they work miracles, and when they do all you can do is clap!
Meanwhile in the land of France, it’s blowing a gale and pissing rain ahead of a massive match for us (Narbonne) this weekend. One of our two grudge matches for the year is on this weekend against neighbouring Carcasonne. The whole town is pumped and I’ve been advised to do next week’s food shopping tomorrow in case we lose. Should the unthinkable happen, the townsfolk are apparently quite animated with their feedback.
Ciao for now!!