Video: Waratahs On Attack

Scott Allen March 26, 2013 7

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Tahs – on the attack

You can tell a lot about a team’s attacking intent by what they do on first phase. The best attacking teams recognise that first phase presents an opportunity to try and break the line when many of the defenders are occupied elsewhere in a scrum or lineout.

We don’t see a lot of first phase plays from scrums these days because only a small number of scrums are completed and teams tend to focus on developing and practising plays from lineouts, which occur nearly twice as often as scrums.

A first phase play doesn’t have to include decoy runners, players looping around or even cut-out passes – it can be as simple as players catching the ball, running at their defender and committing them before passing to their support runner. Of course, first phase plays that do include decoy runners, cut-out passes and other deceptions can be a thing of beauty.

The Waratahs showed an intent to use first phase ball more expansively in the Blues match, rather than kicking it away or using short lineouts with forward runners in mid-field to punch the ball over the gain line. They were also prepared to run the ball from within their own half and they kicked on just six occasions in the whole match.

The breakdown numbers reflect the fact that the Waratahs were playing a more expansive game. Two of the top four players first into breakdowns were outside backs – Israel Folau and Drew Mitchell, with Adam Ashley-Cooper being first into just one fewer breakdown than those two.

In recent weeks I’ve been making the point that the Waratahs’ back-rowers (particularly Dave Dennis) weren’t getting into the breakdown quickly enough. It seems Cheika has been giving the players a similar message because the performance was a lot better this week. The player getting into breakdowns first more than any other was Dave Dennis, who hit 10% of breakdowns first – double his average so far for the season. It’s a simple game, isn’t it, when everyone is doing their job? Well done, Dave Dennis – nice to see you back.

Handling also improved with only seven handling errors in the match.

I’m looking forward to seeing this attacking intent continue from the Waratahs. Who knows – maybe it will inspire Robbie Deans to have the Wallabies play with some attacking intent later in the year.

Discussion

  • USARugger

    Aside from that one moment it was nice to see D. Mitchell having a very positive game overall. Definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him juggle the ball into the try zone against the Lions once or twice this Summer.

  • Bay35Pablo

    Nice analysis Scott. Better than the gibbering Fox usually spouts, even when Kafe can steal the microphone for 2 seconds.
    Was watching from the Bundy Bar, so didn’t get the same angles, but it definitely looked like there was intent and cut through. Overall, the boys look like they are starting to execute Cheik’s evil plan for world domination. When they carried out 14 phases without error and then scored, I started to think I was dreaming. Just showed what the style can achieve when executed without stupid stuff ups. The Blues looked good in defence at times, and I started to worry we wouldn’t crack them, but they can’t hold out for ever against an attack that keeps looking for gaps and has the talent to exploit them once found.

  • Mountain Man

    It was great to see players looking for the offload but far too often there was no one there to accept it. Was also great to be at the game, the atmosphere was a surprise, lots of die hard fans there, not the fair weather types!

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      I heard on the ABC we won it 30-27 at the death and I only got back last night & watched the replay. Overall I was impressed with the improvement. One of the biggest improvements I thought was the crowd. They looked and sounded really good.

      The Waratahs haven’t opted for Rent-a-Crowd have they? Okay only joking!!!

  • le roo

    Great analysis as usual Scott, and the drastic reduction in aimless kicks in general play is a great improvement, however low numbers does not necessarily mean better/smarter rugby (though i have to agree I love the intent). One thing that was painfully obvious at the game was that when the Tahs finally clawed the lead back with about ten minutes to play, what was required from the restart was a long kick to the corner/touch with a good chase, kick it to the sh!thouse as Bob would say. They didn’t, Blues penalty.

    J.Mogg has been getting a heap of praise recently, much of it for his ability to kick a ball, and from memory when the Reds won it in 2011 those in the know ID’ed their tactical kicking as a key. Like it or not, knowing when and how to kick is crucial to win tight games.

    Intent is good, intent with some nous is even better.

  • http://twitter.com/martyaskew Marty Askew

    Great intent from the Tahs. Loved it. Especially the well worked move. They stuck to the game plan the whole way through, had belief and look what happened.

    Halfbacks looping always seem to produce results. I’m suprised we don’t see it more.
    The centres were solid!!!!

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      To me AAC looked almost back to his old self and Rob Horne really surprised me at 12. I thought he was defensively sound and made some good breaks looking to off load but wisely took the tackle.

      Promising signs at 10, 12 & 13 and working under Brad Fittler, well who knows?

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