Video & Analysis Wallabies in Possession v Fiji

Video & Analysis: Wallabies Possession v Fiji

Video & Analysis: Wallabies Possession v Fiji

Any discussion regarding how the Wallabies used their possession against Fiji will probably focus on how the combination of Quade Cooper at #10 and Matt Giteau at #12 worked. There was a lot of talk before the game suggesting they would take turns at first receiver or possibly have a left side/right side first receiver.

What setup did the Wallabies use in attack? How effective was that setup? Was Cooper able to bring his creativity during the Super 14 to test level? Who was the Wallabies most effective ball runner? The answers, the video and more are here ….

The Wallabies actually ran a standard 10-12 arrangement against Fiji with Quade Cooper taking the first receiver position in the vast majority of phases, both from set pieces and in general play.  Matt Giteau only moved to first receiver on 1st phase ball on 4 occasions, two of which were to take clearing kicks on the left side of the field and the other two from quick taps.

Phase Number Phases at First Receiver Passing Running Kicking Phases at First Receiver Passing Running Kicking
1 13 11 1 1 4 1 1 2
2 13 9 1 3 1 0 0 1
3-5 11 8 0 3 4 2 1 1
Over 5 2 2 0 0 1 0 1 0
Total 39 30 2 7 10 3 3 4


I was surprised that Cooper didn’t take the line on a little more. The only time he really had a go at the line was in the second half and it was effective – I hope we see more in the coming weeks.  Overall Cooper was good – he created opportunities for his support runners and controlled the game quite well.  There was a little too much running across field for my liking, but I guess that’s part of his game so the Wallaby backline will have to adapt, like the Reds have.  What I did like was when he took the ball to the line, committed a defender and then popped a ball to a supporter running close into a hole.  The break by Rob Horne that led to Richard Brown’s try and the lead up to Kurtley Beale’s second try were great examples of this.  The pass to Beale for his first try showed great vision and the execution was really good.

However, I thought Giteau had a really quiet game. He really only attacked the line once to set up the try for Drew Mitchell and that showed what he’s capable of but he spent a lot of the game running sideways and just shovelling the ball to men outside him.  Fiji obviously targeted him as a dangerous player but he didn’t look like the dangerous player he used to be. Whilst some of his lateral running is due to Cooper’s line, based on this performance I think Cooper will be the Wallaby #10 for the foreseeable future so Giteau is going to have to adapt to Cooper’s lines if he’s to be effective himself.

The other thing I found interesting was the conservative nature of the backline plays.  Sure Cooper ran a couple of creative plays but they were generally to inside runners or runners off his hip.  When the backline took the ball wide I thought they offered very little – it was just catch, pass and support.  The outside backs played well and found some space from turnovers and in counter attack but there was really very little mid-field combination between Cooper and Giteau.  The one occasion where there was combination was the lead up to the Brown try where Giteau ran a really good overs line opening up space for Horne to come close to Cooper.  I’ll reserve judgement on the combination for now and put it down to being their first game together with Cooper at #10 but the Wallabies will want to develop something more than this basic type of play if they expect to make line breaks against top defences.

There was also some poor passing where the ball was above or behind the man that disrupted the flow of the backline.

Have a look at the video and see what you think.


The Wallabies carried the ball 181 times with Digby Ioane and Adam Ashley-Cooper leading the backs in metres gained and a great performance from Nathan Sharpe in the forwards.  I’ve seen some comment on the site that suggested Sharpe was seagulling.  The evidence doesn’t support that view – he carried the ball more than any forward, he was one of the top players in metres gained and made more tackles than anyone else in the tight five.

Player Carries Metres Gained Average Metres Gained
Ben Alexander 6 16 3
Huia Edmonds 3 5 2
Salesi Ma’afu 6 23 4
Dean Mumm 13 47 4
Nathan Sharpe 18 82 5
Rocky Elsom 13 45 4
David Pocock 4 13 4
Richard Brown 11 30 3
Luke Burgess 8 21 3
Quade Cooper 25 82 4
Adam Ashley-Cooper 11 95 9
Matt Giteau 13 57 5
Rob Horne 8 71 9
Digby Ioane 15 124 9
Kurtley Beale 14 76 6
Saia Faingaa 3 5 2
Pekahou Cowan 1 6 6
Matt Hodgson - - -
Drew Mitchell 9 49 6
Total 181 847 5


The Wallabies kicking was below par.  Of the 14 phases where they kicked, only 9 were positive.  Burgess kicked twice for a gain of 55 metres, Cooper 7 times for a gain of 155 metres and Giteau 5 times for a gain of 120 metres.

Overall, whilst the Wallabies scored 7 tries, that was largely the result of some good individual work from turnovers and counter attack.  The Wallabies backline didn’t look threatening from set pieces, apart from the Rob Horne break that led to Richard Brown’s try.  There’s plenty to work on this week in training but the first thing I’d do is work on getting Giteau’s line straighter and taking inside balls from Cooper.

  • Noddy

    great stuff.

    Gees that pass of Quade’s to KB for his first try was sensational. Left to right too. You watch the front on slow mo replay and get a true appreciation of it.

  • ScrumJunkie

    I thought burgess service was atrocious as usual, and this caused problems for the backline. Particularly for poor Gits… Poor pass from Burgess, Cooper has to stop and jump to catch the ball, shovels it on to Gits, who gets lined up and smashed by a huge Figian as he catches the ball. Can’t wait to see how this wallaby backline performs when the Genius is back.

    • D

      You’re 100% right and everybody screamed before the match that this would be the case. Why oh fucking why is this douche in the team? This stroker needs a derogatory nickname. I’m sick to fucking death of calling this tosser by his given name. What about “burgers”? That’s what he should be doing instead of playing rugby, flipping burgers. I don’t know, it’s a start at least.

      • Bobas

        I personally call him ‘aspergers’.

      • Butten

        i can’t agree more!,

      • rsea

        hahahaha burgers!

      • jase

        + one for burgers
        wont be too long till another pops up but thats a goodie!

  • Tiger

    Cracking effort – many thanks for all the work

  • GregT

    thanks for that. thought cooper was terrific. really understated in a sense but he needed to be in the conditions (dew) and circumstances (lack of combinations). Agree some of the passing (not just, but including, Burgess) was crap — have a feeling Giteau will grow into the inside centre thing again. His feet are wonderful. Hope the tight five can get the backs enough good set piece ball against poms to let them shine.

  • Robson

    At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, the passes from Burgess were consistently terrible. During the match itself I didn’t notice it so much, but hells teeth the video isolates it and it’s bad, bad, bad. He didn’t put one decent pass in front of Cooper all night. MR DEANS GET RID OF THIS MAN, before he creates some real grief for you and the Wallabies.

    I can not for the life of me figure out WTF Deans sees in him. There are at least two better distributors around and one of them was sitting on the benches. Another one didn’t even get into the squad. So no doubt everyone is keyed up for the return of Will o the wisp Genia. Sooner the better I think.

  • BRIX

    Fijians were playing offside all night, they were seldomly behind last feet. TPN style torpedos in defence were the order du jour.

    Must have spoted 7 hits during the match with no arms wrapped, straight shoulders.

    1:27 of the clip when Horne makes the break, I think it was Mitchell getting taken out on the far left of the screen without the ball. Tough day in the office for the boys. Would love for the Baa’s to get up later on today.

    Thanks for the video

    • Gibbo

      It was gits that got taken out- the fijian that did it received a 2 match ban. and the fullback who put on the shoulder charge on gits got 1 week.

      • BRIX

        Cheers Gibbo, perhaps should have stayed on subject matter a little more and alluded to the fact that the Fijian ‘style’ of defense and coming up out of the line targeting out 10 & 12 hampered our attack greatly.

        They found their rhythem towards the end though thankfuly. Look forward to seeing more from both Quade and Gits with clean ball!

  • Superb stuff Austin.

    We all know how vital the ball in front of the man is – when it was passed like that the Wallabies made metres, but as the clip above showed that was the exception rather than the rule. I count giteau putting only one pass in front of the man.

    • Richard


      I have been admiring this terrific site since my ‘discovery’ of it in the last few months. You guys do a really fabulous job! This video analysis report is peerless world-class rugby reporting, and very instructive (for me and son) for really understanding the game in depth vs the shallow ordinariness of, well the SMH and Australian, mostly.


      Is it not so that Giteau – wash my mouth out – is on the verge of being consistently overrated and badly needs down time…or something…or time in Toulon perhaps. His performance last year _against top sides under pressure_ was patchy at best, he let the Wallabies down at some critical moments with ordinary, listless play, he nearly fell out in a hissyfit with Deans that looked more ego than substance, his S14 this year was distinctly poor, etc. Something is badly wrong, the ‘live on reputation’ tank is drying up fast.

      Also, the omens from this game at the breakdown and scrum play were highly concerning. If we cannot quickly out-scrum the under-resourced Fijians, and just wipe them time and again at the breakdown, will we not surely hit the same old ‘if onlys’ when competing in the Tris.

      I see no improvement 2010 on 2008 say in these ‘business critical’ areas that have dogged the Wallabies up front for years now. We have just lost so many top matches in this department, most lamentably perhaps the 2007 RWC semi, the list goes on and on. We love backline flair (see all the mainstream weekend articles), but it’s just half the goods. Let’s also recall the glowing optimism of last June’s Tests and BaaBaas…then came the generally v poor Tris, the loss to Scotland, the draw with Ireland, the bad loss in Tokyo…in my view until we can _consistently_ match it with the ABs and SBs at the breakdown, and begin to dominate there, we will just have another ‘happy June and sad December’ all over again…and again…

      Keep up the outstanding work guys, our game needs you.

      PS: Tell us when Robbie logs on.

  • Scotty

    Cooper needs to find Horne more, coming back on the angle, with Giteau running the wider dummy run line. Cooper needs a short ball and inside ball option. He had the inside ball option with the likes of Ioane and Beale, but didn’t have the short ball option because Giteau either hangs back or runs to the sideline.

    And I don’t actually think that Giteau’s run created the try to Mitchell. Giteau was going to try and beat the man on the outside, and really only worked out he should pass it when Cooper called for it after positioning himself inside. Cooper then knew that Mitchell was on his inside and got rid of it straight away.

    I’m sure Cooper was told to underplay his hand and set up his outside man, and he did it well. I’m not even unhappy about his little chip kick, because it is worth trying different things to keep the defense guessing, and it wasn’t tried in a location that was going to be dangerous for the Wallabies.

    Actually looking at the highlights again, Gits seems to be a bit off the pace as far as decision making is concerned.

  • Drew

    Agree with the point about Giteau going sideways the whole match. Cooper is too used to have Anthony Faainga outside him who ran straight all season to great effect. Reds v Force is a good example of his line.

    Not sure if Giteau has the size or the want to play in that role.

    • Drew

      And one more thing – the one time someone did run a straight line off Cooper was Horne when he made the break that led to the Brown try.

  • Richard


    So right. There can be no doubt that Faainga A had a much more skill-deploying and productive S14 than Gits (and was instrumental in the Reds revival) and I for one would bet he’d produce more with a Wallabies jersey on outside Cooper than Gits will in, say, the next say 5 Tests (I am not hoping that, I just think that’s a rational conclusion from the last 3 months of S14)…bar of course fixed kicking duties.

    Remember too to your good point re ‘want to play in that role’ that the whole arrival of Prince Quade will be a huge ego issue for Gits, whatever he says to the gullible Aussie rugby media.

  • Chris

    Appalling passing from Burgess – just diabolical for this level. Those split seconds lost taking the ball slow and/or at shoulder height must make a difference to back line fluidity. Will be great to see crisp passing from Genia. That said, on too many occaisions players ran across the field – hopefully things will get more direct as the combos get familiar. Would love to see Road Davies on the wing! (when fit). Great effort with the stats and the vid btw

  • JTM

    I’ve always been a fan of having a solid inside who can hit it up and put on a shot to anyone looking to rough up the 5/8, but Giteau is just too good to leave out of the team. His S14 might not have been his best but just look back at some of the Brumbies highlights and he plays a hand more often than not. He deserves first crack at inside because when he plays he plays with alot of obvious passion and toughness for the jersey no doubt and has for years. Repay him with a bit of faith.

    Faainga will get his shot in the next couple of tests I’m sure and then we’ll decide eh.

  • Richard

    It’s quite amusing: over on The Roar there’s a very long comments thread following the latest Brett McKay analysis of Aus v Fiji.

    Observation therefrom: the vast majority of the comments concern backline bouquets (mostly) and a few brickbats, with all manner of speculation about what backline combos should be tried, where AAC should play, etc. Optimistic tones abound (just like after the local BaaBaas match last year when most were thrilled with JO’C and the hearty scoreline…different story come Tokyo and Murrayfield sadly)

    Fascinating that so few comments concerned scrum and breakdown play and stats relating thereto. No one seemed too concerned that the relatively unfit, under-prepared-and-all-coming-from-all-over-Europe, coming-from-warmth-to-freezing, and with little local prep work, Fijians really held the Aus scrum off very well and were by no means trounced at the breakdown.

    Far better those dreamy Cooper passes, Ioane’s fine work, and all related.

    Was this game tunnel light, or train…?

    Btw, McKay quite happy with Burgess, just like Wayne Smith. Seems there’s many definitions of what constitutes a good pass.

  • Brumbyfan22

    Another thing to remember about Giteau guys is the ‘Chris Judd’ effect. Judd was the best player in the AFL when West Coast were in their heyday, but then rival coaches specifically told not one but TWO players or more to mark up on him.

    Same thing here. Fijians were targeting Giteau. Every team targets Giteau, because he has that ability. Yes he was running sideways, but he’s played his first test in that position for over two years so give him a bit of leeway.

    People will start to see Cooper as a threat more, and that will even up the attention, and allow them a bit more freedom. Who’s our back up 12? Coz apparently Barnes and Cooper dont mix with playing styles and Faingaa is solid, but if you want solid, pick Ryan Cross. (Not that i want him in the team or anything, i like twin playmakers)


Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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