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.