Video Anatomy of a Try: Bernard Foley vs England 2015

Video Anatomy of a Try: Bernard Foley vs England 2015

Video Anatomy of a Try: Bernard Foley vs England 2015

There are a bunch of things we could focus on in the Australian defeat of England, the scrum, the defence, the breakdown. All valid discussion points, but I’m English and before I erase this horrible game from my hard drive, and memory, for ever, I’d like to focus on how wonderfully simple and well executed the Australian game plan was.

It was about as good an example as you’ll ever find of just getting the basics right and letting the rest takes care of itself. Out of the window went complex lineout calls and screened passing moves – in came territory, solid set piece and players attacking space. Nowhere better was this demonstrated than with the (real) man of the match Bernard Foley’s second try.

Leading into this game there was some discussion about what the Wallabies had been holding back in the way of strike moves and plays. The answer is, not that much, this is it.

If it wasn’t before it’s abundantly clear now that the Wallabies have been using the last few games to slowly develop a game plan that all 31 players understand, buys into and are able to execute. For example, Rob Horne goes off, Beale comes on and knows his role, knows what’s expected of him and delivers a line break that Drew Mitchell would be proud of. Hell, scratch that one week earlier Drew Mitchell was proud of it as we saw the same split field attack pattern they used against Uruguay deployed against England.

Likewise, Hooper steps out, McMahon or McCalman can step in without the team readjusting and changing tact. The complete polar opposite of England it has to be said.

When it all boils down to it the simplicity of the Australian game plan allows the players to just concentrate on their core skills and express themselves on the field and they seem all the better for it.

The try itself comes from that Split field set up we mention earlier. Line out just outside the 22, Moore taps Pocock on the side to give him the signal to break and as he comes around they split and go at the 10 channel. Genia plays the same side and then once midfield they rewind back and Foley and Beale combine to pry England’s defence open.

Split fields are nothing new, New Zealand do it all the time as we saw against Namibia, but what I loved about this try was how Foley and Beale use that set up to just identify and exploit a 2 vs 1.

Cast your mind back to all the times your coach had you doing those boring as hell single channel 2v1, 3 v2 drills. You know the ones, a long narrow channel with one maybe two defenders stood behind each other, you run down the channel beat them or throw the dummy. Then look at how Foley and Beale tear through England here. Forget everyone around them, just look at how Foley moves Youngs off his defensive line, Beale hits that space, Foley maintains depth and tracks Beale, Beale draws Brown and Foley is in the clear.

It’s just your classic 2vs1 drill in a game situation.

Of course, I’m over simplifying (there is that word again) things a little, there is clearly more to international rugby than what you do at training at your local rugby club, but not by much.

So it’s a good position Australia find themselves in, performance of the tournament by far. It will be interesting to see how Wales take them on, will they stick to the power game or run the dual open side model? Hard to tell, but I think both teams will be keen to top the pool and avoid the other side of the draw.

As for England? The results are probably not reflective of where they really are. That’s not to say they don’t have issues, they certainly do and lots of soul searching to do between now and the six nations. Possibly even a new coaching team. But they do have a lot of good young players coming through, guys who have dominated at U20’s level and will be stronger for some of the older heads rotating out.

But just past that, on the not to distant horizon is a three test series against Australia, I reckon that could turn out to be some test series.

  • Mart

    Well done Graeme, good little packgae. It was a cracking try. Putting that one together must have hurt. Kudos!

    • cheers mate. it wasn’t too bad to be honest. Obviously disappointed to lose but on the other hand I love seeing great rugby no matter who plays it and that was great rugby.

  • Older I Get

    It’s interesting to watch Kepu. He is right of the ruck in a right side 5/8 position. He knows what is about to happen. As Foley and Beale come toward him at speed he slyly sneaks forward toward the remnant of the ruck so as not to attract the attention of another defender, lets them go by and watches Hooper and Folau go in support. A well drilled team.

  • Yabba88

    Superb Graeme. Thanks for this. Just beautifully done by Genia, Foley and Beale. Every touch and pass perfect. Brown done like a dinner. Just lovely!

  • Douglas

    Great analysis Graeme, thanks. I don’t think that try would have happened if Phipps were on at the time. btw. I’d love to know if the photographer got any pics before the ball hit the camera.

    • Who?

      Up front, I’m a Genia fan. But it did happen with Phipps on the field. A week earlier, against Uruguay, which, as Graeme pointed out, happened with Mitchell as the left side winger instead of Beale. Quade at 10 pulled the post defender off the right side of the ruck, Phipps scooted out left towards Quade, then threw the big inside ball to Mitchell who beat the defenders and scored.
      It’s clearly a coached option, one well taken by both 9’s and 10’s. And I’m really pleased to see Phipps adding some sniping to his game. He’s got pace (arguably his pass on the run is better than his pass from the deck, too), and it makes his delivery from the deck more dangerous, as it holds defenders at the ruck for longer (they can’t push wide early if there’s a chance he could have a dart).

      • Douglas

        Good point, I guess Phipps deserves more credit than he often gets. I’m still recovering from the heart attack I nearly had from his wild pass in the last game, luckily it only cost us 3 points.

        • Dat Mavis

          That pass that went through five forwards, three of whom actively avoided catching the ball?

          Also, they tried the move again in the 65th minute when Phipps was on, but Foley held onto the ball.

        • Douglas

          None of those five forwards knew who the ball was for, I’m not sure Phipps knew either, maybe Fardy’s head?

          They tried the move again with Phipps but it didn’t result in a try – not all his fault I guess.

  • Hugh Cavill

    Great analysis Graeme, as always.

    As I said on the podcast, Genia’s role in this try is really under-rated. He moves to the left which draws in the left side defenders, but then spots Foley and throws a great pass across his body. If that pass isn’t out in front of Foley the play dies then and there.

    Genia had a sneaky good game apart from a few dodgy box kicks. His flat pass to Foley also played a big role in the first try, putting it out in front of Foley and allowing him to run onto it. They are basic skills but to execute them in the big moments is still great to see.

    • Ooaahh

      It’s going to get multi uses. Watch the video again. Pocock stays at his hit up position to win the ruck should it form and Falau is there on Foley’s outside shoulder should the inside pass not be on or if the pass works and Foley is taken out then Falau is there instead of Foley to take the try. What I really love about this move is that it totally takes the fullback out of contention (Brown) as he was following the flow which leaves only a single line of defence to breach. Gold.

      • Garry

        And what about Foley’s bullseye on the camera man to finish. Now that takes skill and composure.

        Did the camera man get the snap?

    • Mart

      Good composure and decision making throughout the game

    • totally Hugh, i listened to the podcast and agreed when i heard you say it.

      Genia was brilliant, it’s incredible how momentum has swung his way when a few months ago it was all Phipps

      To be honest there is so much we could focus on in that sequence, the communication between Moore and Pocock at the lineout, the blocking line from Kepu, the support line from Folau that holds Morgan, the poor defensive read from England… but as i said on twitter I just really wanted to focus on Foley and Beale and celebrate what a brilliant yet simple piece of attacking play it was.

  • wilful

    Check out what happens at 1.52. Completely unnecessary contact by the english No. 8 on Foley, had a big big think about checking him illegally.

  • Chinese Dave

    Great example of a fly half creating space with his movement and unleashing others through that space. This is what good fly halves do. All Foley needs now is to develop a sharp, flat, accurate wide pass and he can be up there with the best. I’m hoping that will happen over the next year or two.

  • Marcus Pontmercy

    I thought launchbury got motm

    • jamie

      Yeah. But foley deserved it. And everyone knows the truth

    • yes hence the (real) in brackets.

  • TouchFinderGeneral

    Thanks again Graeme. The perfect accompaniment to a try so beautiful it will be part of a higher level geometry course in years to come.

    One of the many wonders is that from the moment Genia finds Foley there was little England could do to stop the try.

    My wife being English I had to curb my enthusiasm at the time. “Slick” was what I said. It wasn’t what I was thinking.

  • stanley

    Foley had a 10/10 game for his skillset. What I think has been glossed over is how limited the wallabies outside backs were with Foley only being able to deliver in tight. This was on the back of an english side who did not challenge the breakdown leading to possibly our greatest period of forwards dominance ever. None of the top 8 will roll over as England did. Then we will see how Foley goes in unlocking our outside backs

    • Who?

      This is why I’ve been asking questions about Giteau… It’s not just the 10 who needs to deliver to unlock the outside backs, especially when your 12 is a second ball player, and even moreso when he runs sideways. Disappointed Toomua’s not getting a go against Wales.


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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