VIDEO ANALYSIS: Anatomy of a try – Michael Hooper - Green and Gold Rugby

VIDEO ANALYSIS: Anatomy of a try – Michael Hooper

VIDEO ANALYSIS: Anatomy of a try – Michael Hooper

When doing analysis it’s very easy to focus on the negatives of a teams performance, why their attack or defence systems didn’t work, or individual failings. It’s also important to look at the things that go well, so I decided to undertake an anatomy of a try for Michael Hooper’s first score against Argentina in The Rugby Championship, as it’s a wonderful collective effort full of positive play.

The game was a bit of a stop start affair, partly due to the weather, partly due to some pretty negative tactics from Argentina and partly due to an Australian side struggling for consistency. You play what’s in front of you though, and for the opening two minutes Australia ripped into Argentina with such intensity that the Argentinians were five-nil down before they knew what had hit them.

Argentina tend to shoot up in defence. Their line speed is fast, very fast. Hernandez and Bosch are good defenders and like to get up and in among the attack line, hoping to pressure the opposition into making mistakes. The issue is they leave a lot of space on the outside and if they are moving backwards as they do here it’s very difficult to get off the line as quickly as they’d like.

The Wallabies analysis team has clearly noticed this, and the opening sequence is straight out of the Waratahs play book.

Understandably all the focus was on the superb final pass by Foley to put Hooper away but this try goes all the way back to the lineout the sequence starts from.

If you are facing an aggressive defensive line you can do a couple of things – turn them with little kicks, sit deep and try and pass around them, or meet them head on where the key is beating the tackle line to the gain line.

The easiest way to do this is be moving before you get the ball. In attack if you move before them, you have more momentum, so will cover more ground. It’s a very simple concept that is executed perfectly here; off the top ball, Foley and Betham get over the gain line on the first phase and then keep the defence moving with alternating wide and short punch groups.

OK, it doesn’t hide the fact the Wallabies have some issues, but with only really New Zealand looking like a settled side a year out from the World Cup, they are not alone in this. Small moments like this show the talent Australia have and the fact they can play with some serious tempo and intent.

  • Brendan Hume

    Nice article and video. Some good carries by the tight forwards, lots of clean phase ball and some good intent. Don’t believe Sanchez had to move in on that attacker though, that was a poor read mainly due to the pressure of the pace. It’s interesting though that this game plan works against Argentina but it would not be nearly as effective against the ABs or SA. NZ sides in particular target the 15m on the edge as an opportunity to attack the ball defensively and there were quite a few rucks that could have had a bit more of a contest from the Pumas if their defensive line was a bit more in tact… Nice try, well executed, just need to take this type of rugby and execute against the best in the world under a heap more pressure.

  • RubberLegs

    Simmons fluent take and distribution from the initial line-out allowed Phipps and Foley to time their runs perfectly.

    • Mart

      Simmons had a good game. Just need him to step up against the AB’s and Saffa’s

    • Pclifto

      Yes, he did a good job in the one area of the game he is selected for…

      • RubberLegs

        Watch the clip – later he drew 3 players and passed the ball to Hooper in space.

  • Parker

    Pivotal in all of this was the speed at which Phipps gets to the ruck and clears the ball. It is essential that the Wobs seize this advantage. Too often in the past halfbacks have been selected for qualities other than this and we have suffered.

  • mutley

    For me the interesting part of that video is that only one of the four forward hit ups made any ground whatsoever (I think it was McCalman but not sure).

    • It is a good point,and i think one of the biggest issues is it seems to be a head down, tuck the ball and run at the man approach – which is fine if you dominate the collision or use a hammer to punch through the contact, but if you don’t you need to be moving the tackler off his line so they aren’t dominant.

      If we watch the all blacks carry it’s almost never just man on man like Slippers carries here, it’s often that one out pass to a man attacking the tacklers weak shoulder and the passer then clearing – but when they do carry in a more traditional punch group they latch on at the contact and drive through as a unit.

  • Pclifto

    So basically what you’re saying is:

    1) have a halfback that distributes quickly and cleanly (i.e. not like Genia was wont to do in his latter days);
    2) have a 10 who takes the ball to the line, has the ability to draw and pass and put people through gaps;
    3) ensure that passes are out in front of the targeted receiver, and ensure that receivers are running on to the ball with momentum.

    Simple stuff – skills perhaps we took for granted in the late 90s and early 2000s… there are glimpses from the current bunch but maybe some more “back to basics” coaching is required.

    Oh, and consistency in selection would help.

  • John Tynan

    Thanks Graeme, I enjoy your contributions. So is it the combination of pressure AND fatigue where we lose our accuracy?

    • i think they are certainly contributing factors, and no team is on the front foot 100% of the game, but like most other people I think the biggest problem is the inability of their pack to continually go forward. Even here the recycles are quick but the carries from the tight 5 are pretty ineffective – they don’t get over the gain line and don’t suck in multiple defenders.

      That indicates an issue with their understanding of the game plan and how they identify when they are losing momentum.

      If i was EM i’d be asking them to stay on their feet longer instead of passively looking for the ground early, and use pick and goes a bit more to suck in those lateral defenders and stop the oppo’s fringe defence drifting early.

      • John Tynan

        Thanks again. I like your point on fighting to stay on your feet, which is where the Saffas, AB’s and to an extent English seem to show us up.


an Englishman living in France, Graeme runs the Rugby Analysis website He coaches in his spare time, is an IRB qualified coach and you can catch him on twitter lazily re-tweeting other peoples comments.

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