In the final part of my series analysing the Wallabies I’m going to look at the Wallabies’ defensive performance.
The Wallabies have adopted a more defensive game plan over the last two seasons and if I were ranking the areas they’re currently performing best in, this is the one I’d put at the top of my list.
In 2010 my statistics showed that the Wallabies missed an average of 21 tackles per match and had a tackle success rate of 87 per cent. In 2011 my statistics showed that the number of missed tackles by the Wallabies fell to 17 per match and the tackle success rate increased to 89 per cent.
A success rate of anything over 90 per cent in international rugby is outstanding. That normally equates to no more than 15 missed tackles per match.
According to statistics from Sportsdata, in the series against Wales this year the Wallabies missed an average of 20 tackles per match and in the two matches against the All Blacks the Wallabies have averaged 30 missed tackles per match. The Wallabies’ tackle success rate so far in 2012 has been 85 per cent. Obviously the number of missed tackles against the All Blacks stands out as an area of concern but the tackle success rate against the All Blacks was still 84 per cent, due to the fact that the average number of tackles the Wallabies were required to make per match against the All Blacks was 20 per cent higher than in the matches against Wales.
Those statistics confirm that although further improvement is required with the Wallabies’ defence they have performed reasonably well so far in 2012. As with all statistics we need to dig further to see if there are any issues hidden within the overall numbers.
In 2010 the Wallaby forwards were responsible for 45 per cent of the team’s missed tackles. In 2011 that increased to 60 per cent.
So far in 2012 the Wallaby forwards have been responsible for 46 per cent of missed tackles. Against the All Blacks they were responsible for just 34 per cent of the misses.
The Wallabies’ backline has missed an average of 20 tackles per match against the All Blacks in 2012 whereas they averaged just 12 missed tackles per match in the series against Wales. Some will point to Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale as the cause of this increase in missed tackles, and they did missed their share, but they were not alone. Beale missed 6, Anthony Faingaa 6, Cooper 5, Genia 5, Horne 5, Barnes 4, and Ashley-Cooper 4, with Mitchell and Ioane 2 each.
Those statistics show a bit of a mixed bag for the Wallabies so far in 2012. Whilst we’ve restricted the All Blacks to just three tries in the two matches, that’s got more to do with the number of errors made by the All Blacks when in try scoring position.
The forward pack has lifted its defensive performance against the All Blacks and the backs will have to do the same if the Wallabies are to be really competitive against the All Blacks.
One of the big threats the All Blacks pose for any team is their offloading game and not just from Sonny Bill Williams. The Wallabies used an interesting tactic in the matches against the All Blacks to try and shut down the offload from wide runners. As you’ll see in the video the Wallabies were getting their outside defender up into the All Black line and into a position to try to intercept any offload.
Whilst Sonny Bill won’t be playing the next time the Wallabies play the All Blacks there are plenty of other players offloading as well. The Wallabies need to make sure the first tackler goes low, and only then can the next player go high looking to shut down the offload.
Tomorrow I’ll give you my summary of where the Wallabies stand at this time, and reiterate which areas need the most attention to achieve the goal of being number one in the world.