Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 6 - Green and Gold Rugby

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 6

Wallabies – It’s Time For A Fightback! Part 6

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.

[youtube id=”z6YvFaP8eOs” width=”600″ height=”350″]

  • redteam

    Exactly what I thought.our defense is not our problem its our attack.

  • Barbarian

    Great work again Scott.

    How about Ant Faingaa taking out Carter at 3:29? Didn’t see that in real time.

    One question I do have though relates to the centre pairing. Do you think Horne and Faingaa (noted defensive centres) performed any better than Barnes, Cooper or AAC?

    The missed tackle stats seem to indicate they are all about the same.

    Who do you think are our best defensive backs?

    • Scott Allen

      Tough question.

      Missed tackle stats don’t help because would have to take into account different minutes played and percentage of tackles made is more accurate than just number of tackles missed.

      Different channels defended by players and where opposition attacked in matches also makes comparison hard.

      Just looking at mid-field players:

      With Barnes, Faingaa and Horne in game 1 v All Blacks they attacked wider so not as much to deal with in 10/12/13 13 channel and not much use of SBW.

      With Cooper, Barnes and Horne in game 2 v All Blacks they targeted 10/12 channel obviously to get at Cooper and SBW was prominent.

      Can’t judge AAC on mid-field until after this weekend but he’s been the best in the 13 channel defensively over last few years.

      Cooper has his issues but misses in last game were mainly result of falling off after other players had joined the tackle – needs to complete rather than leave to others but is at least getting shoulder into the tackles so there is a basis for improvement.

      I’ve been disappointed with Faingaa in defence in 2012 tests.

      Barnes has been more passive this year than in the past.

      Horne often gets his positioning wrong.

      I think Cooper/Barnes/AAC is the best mid-field available at the moment – defence will be okay and attack will be better so better balance than we’ve had so far in 2012.

      • Jkb

        Scott what is your day job mate?
        I love reading ur analysis.
        Thanks a lot mate for ur efforts.

    • RJ

      Ben Tapuai is the best defender in the reds backline. Also the best attacking centre in the reds.

      • Timbo

        Thanks for that. have another redskin and a lie down.

        Tapuai could be the best defender in the world and have the attacking prowess of the illigitmate love child of Bernie Larkham and Timmy Horan but as he’s not playing it means bugger all. maybe we need a Wallabies A team for all those players who ‘should’ be in the team

        • BloodRed

          Maybe we just need a coach who will pick the best players from the best performing teams and give them a game plan that takes advantage of their attributes.

    • bludge

      youre right baabaa it looks as if that was carter trying to a wrap-around with SBW and faainga took it out thereby breaking it up.

    • Fin

      Barbarian. I thought something similar. The new pairing didn’t appear to weaken our defence at all. Unfortunately it didn’t appear to strenghten our attack either.

  • You show in this how devastating it is when a team is skilled at offloading in the tackle. This has been a increasing facet of the All Blacks game for a couple of years with all their players improving.

    Why then do we not see this skill being implemented with the Wallabies. Its not rocket science, its clearly effective yet it just doesnt seem to be a focus.

    Is it that most of our backline cant actually pass? Horne, Fingers, McCabe, Ioane, even AAC. It just doesnt seem that passing of any form is being coached.

    • JimmyC

      Add Barnes and the other tah’s backs to that list. Honestly WTF has Scott Bowen been doing. Our skills are extremely poor.

  • spectator

    Players who look to apply more pressure with their defence are more likely to miss a tackle here and there than those who are more conservative so stats can be mis-leading. Pressure on defence can often stop tries or create opportunities where as the other is more a by the numbers, & while making all tackles, is not always as contributive to defence as the former, so it’s an individual balancing act.

    To me, Cooper/Barnes/AAC is the best type of combination in general IF the overall calibrations are for expansive attack.

    Barnes is naturally a open space player in his inclinations, ball in hand can hit the ball up yes, like in try against Wales world cup but it is more in a context of passes in space being hit with speed to choose where you hit the line, & this is in his general angles and linking game too – which also means he can adjust with X factor situations without too much hesitation. For a more league type of setting with attack, more flat and thrusting, which has become the more standard approach in modern rugby, he is not the guy (more suitable to a McCabe as a second).

    I think it is in the more classical expansive mode that the Wallabies can be the best with, but they need to do a few adaptations due to the modern game so it is not resting on one way in establishing a channel of play for a greater natural game rhythm or not.

    Another interesting game in the weekend, go the Wallabies!

  • sarina

    Hansen agreed with u scott he said cooper n barnes wer passive in d evrytime sbw ran at them allowing him 2 get ova the advantage line evrytime he ran. Nonu wont b much different in brisbane. Maybe a loosie needs 2 b stationed inside him evrytime to effect the easier sideon tackle saving barnes n cooper. Cooper is usually only a speed hump

  • Bobby

    Interesting to see they all all backs with the missed tackles. In game two was Hooper playing too tight as I didn’t see him in any of those defensive lines. Barnes came out today saying they needed to attack more. Mate stop kicking the ball away and then we may have a chance to actually attack.

  • Dirt Tracker

    Scott – thank you for all the work you have put in. It means mere mortals like me can understand much more clearly what is happening, and what ought to be happening.

    Having followed all the critique so far in this series, I place a much greater weight on the pace of the ball through the backline, and the decisions to kick. On these grounds I would be looking to drop Barnes. Of course I have nothing to do with team selection, but could you spare a moment to say why you rate him as the #1 pick for his position please?

    Another really interesting question now that we have two Aus/NZ games under the RC belt – which players from Aus RC 1 and RC 3 would make it into the All Blacks matchday squad? In other words, if they were somehow eligible over the other side of the ditch, who of teh current Wallaby is of calibre enough to oust their opposite All Black incumbent?

    I suspect the answer is 2. At most.

    • spectator

      A flat Cooper in the thick of it, a deeper Barnes and expansive backline click with timing & speed for opportunities with space.

      Creating a developed kickin attack game to compliment forward game in options for go forward game play & less sureness of footing in opposition defence against backline.

      A balance to having Cooper play an instinctual game & having a backline integrated with it.

  • Swifty

    Which 2? I would say 0 would replace their direct opposite.

  • the ardent b’stard

    Ioane would make the ABs……thats it.
    Note Moore is ruled out this morning, not good.

    • Patrick

      Genia for all his occassional meerkatting would get a crack at 9.

      And I think a fully firing and fit Pocock and Beale would be superstars in an ABs team.

  • Joe Blow

    The Boks are a different kettle of fish. They will bang it up in the centres and get over the advantage line to get their pigs on the front foot. Barnes and AAC will need to do some offensive tackling to stop them. Hooper will also play a big part here as Pocock has in the past.
    The Wallabies scrambled incredibly well and saved a lot of tries where most other sides would have conceded a lot of points. That’s good I guess but it would be nice to see our first up tackles putting doubt in the mind of the opposition from the start.
    Looking forward to seeing AAC stiffen up our defense in the centres.
    Thanks Scott for another very informative piece!!

  • sarina

    I think ioane genia pocock oconner wud make the abs


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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