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.
|QUADE COOPER||MATT GITEAU|
|Phase Number||Phases at First Receiver||Passing||Running||Kicking||Phases at First Receiver||Passing||Running||Kicking|
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|
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.