What’s happening with the Wallabies lineout and what can they do to fix it?
As I watched the game against Ireland the other night I formed the view that our lineout performance had been woeful. After analysing each lineout, I’m not feeling as unhappy. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t good enough and there’s lots to work on – but it wasn’t a complete disaster. Have a look at the video analysis of each attacking lineout (apart from the one where there was no footage) to see what I mean.
We won 13 from 18, which is barely a pass mark and certainly needs to be lifted if we’re going to get back to the top of world rugby. Last weekend against England we won 11 from 15, so no real change from week to week. The following table summarises what happened in each lineout.
|Wallabies Throw||Numbers||Thrown To||Result||Notes|
|1st Half Lineouts|
|1||7||#1||Won||Fake by Elsom at #5 – Horwill walks forward to #1 and thrown short with no lift or jump|
|2||5||#2||Won||Good throw to Chisolm who beat his opponent getting up|
|3||Won||Not shown on coverage|
|4||5||#4||Lost||Throw looked okay – Robinson had to move from #1 to #4 to lift Horwill and it looks like they didn’t get Horwill up fast enough|
|5||6||#2||Lost||Throw was too low to Palu – Irish jumper simply took it out of Palu’s hands|
|6||5||#3||Lost||Throw was in the right position to Chisolm but at the point of arrival the lifters don’t have their arms extended. Either the timing was wrong or it was a poor lift. As a result Chisolm doesn’t quite reach the ball and knocks on.|
|7||7||#6||Won||Throw to Elsom with Ireland not getting a jumper up|
|8||5||#3||Won||Throw to Chisolm who just beats his opponent but a loose one handed tap down. Irish lock came through the lineout early and should have been penalised.|
|9||5||#3||Lost||Same as previous lineout but this time the Irish jumper just gets in front of Chisolm.|
|10||5||#3||Won||Same as previous lineout but this time Chisolm beats his opponent.|
|2nd Half Lineouts|
|1||5||#2||Won||Elsom straight up at #2. Good clean win|
|2||7||#2||Won||Palu straight up at #2. Good clean win. Notice how Moore nods to Palu to tell him when to jump which suggests they know they’re not getting the timing right.|
|3||7||#6||Won||Horwill straight up at #6. Good clean win.|
|4||5||#3||Won||Chisolm straight up at #3. Good clean win.|
|5||5||#2||Won||Elsom straight up at #2. Throw was a little low but good grab by Elsom.|
|6||7||#2||Won||Horwill straight up at #2. Good clean win.|
|7||5||#3||Won||Chisolm straight up at #3. Good clean win.|
|8||4+1||#2||Lost||Elsom moves forward at #2 andthe lift is late. The Irish jumper is 1 metre off the ground before Elsom leaves the ground and as a result easily beats Elsom to the ball.|
Lineout numbers 4 and 6 in the first half and number 8 in the second half were the result of poor or slow lifting. Lineouts number 5 in each half were the only two where I saw the throw as being the issue and we only lost one of those. The only other loss was lineout number 9 in the first half where the Irish jumper just got in front of Chisolm. The positives are that the throwing has improved over the last two games and more variety has been added (I thought the first lineout straight to Horwill at #1 was a good option).
The negative is that we are still having problems with the timing of our lifting. The final Wallabies lineout in the game shows how poor we are in this area. Okay, it was late in the game and there may have been fatigue but take a close look at the video to see how far ahead of us the Irish were in this lineout and they were fatigued as well. Unfortunately the Wallabies saved their worst lineout performance of the game for the lineout that gave Ireland the field position they needed at the end of the game! At least with solid throwing there is a platform for improvement in timing because the lifters and jumpers will start to gain confidence that the ball will be delivered where they need it to be.
Now let’s look at the Wallabies defensive lineout. In this area there was little improvement from the England game. Against England we were only able to win 2 from 16. This week we were only able to win 1 from 14 (and that was only when the Irish communication broke down and they didn’t jump). If we are going to become a real threat to the top teams, we have to start being able to pressure their ball at the set piece. We’re doing that now in the scrums but we are ineffective in the lineout. The following table summarises what happened in each lineout.
|Ireland Throw||Numbers||Thrown To||Result (for Wallabies)||Notes|
|1st Half Lineouts|
|1||7||#4||Lost||Chisolm up slower than Irish jumper so not high enough when ball arrives|
|2||6||#2||Lost||No jump from the Wallabies even though ball near halfway|
|3||7||#4||Lost||Both Horwill and Chisolm up but too slow so not high enough when ball arrives|
|4||6||#5||Lost||Chisolm up slower than Irish jumper so not high enough when ball arrives|
|5||7||#4||Lost||Chisolm leaves the ground at the same time but he is being lifted by Robinson only whereas the Irish have two lifters. Wallabies had two lifters on Elsom who jumped at #5. As a result, Chisolm never gets up high enough to threaten|
|6||7||#6||Lost||Elsomleaves the groundwell after the Irish jumper so isn’t high enough when the ball arrives. Ball goes over the back but Irish recover on the ground.|
|7||7||#5||Lost||Chisolm is slower getting off the ground but at least gets a hand on the ball for some disruption|
|2nd Half Lineouts|
|1||5||#3||Lost||Horwill is only lifted by one lifter so never gets high enough to threaten|
|2||7||#4||Lost||Wallabies don’t compete – ball near our 22|
|3||7||#5||Won||Irish don’t get a jumper up and ball falls into our hands|
|4||7||#5||Lost||No jump from the Wallabies even though ball near halfway|
|5||7||#4||Lost||Wallabies don’t compete – ball near our 22|
|6||7||#6||Lost||Wallabies don’t compete – ball near our 22|
|7||7||#5||Lost||Wallabies don’t compete – ball near our 22|
The following video shows those points. I’ve also included a still frame after each lineout showing the moment the ball arrived at the lineout. This demonstrates how far above the Wallaby jumpers the Irish were, which makes it impossible to put pressure on their ball. I’ve marked a couple of those still frames with red lines indicating the relative height of the players.
Here’s a similar video of last weeks defensive lineouts against England.
It is apparent that we have an issue with the timing as we are slow getting off the ground far too often. This could be that we’re not reading the timing of the opposition throw but if you have another look at the Irish defensive lineout video you’ll see their hooker makes a very pronounced movement just before he throws. It shouldn’t have been hard to anticipate when he was going to throw. If that was the problem, it’s a fairly basic issue that can be fixed.
However, I suspect it’s actually an issue of being reactive rather than anticipating where the ball is going and jumping that little bit earlier. I’d prefer to see us get jumpers up a second earlier even if they haven’t predicted exactly where the ball is going – at least they’d get it right some of the time and just by being up before the opposition you exert some pressure on the throw.
Should be a busy week for Jim Williams and the forwards.