Wait! What? A Lions Try analysis? I know, this is Green and Gold Rugby, but bear with me here.
I wouldn’t normally focus on non-Australian teams, but I wanted to do something different for this anatomy of a try and look at this brilliant Crombrink effort for the Lions against the Waratahs, and for a couple of reasons.
First of all it’s a great try, 22 – try line in under four phases, and comes from a lovely set piece move. Secondly – and of a little more interest to us here – it thoroughly exploits the yellow card Rob Horne received fora tip tackle and the defensive mess it left the Waratahs in.
Horne is having a great season, and has found a home on the wing that has seen him propelled into what i believe is a genuinely world class player. Importantly for the Waratahs he’s also a fantastic defender.
I’m not a believer in that you only score good tries when teams defend badly, but this sequence whilst a good try, is certainly worth looking at to see how Horne missing impacts on the ‘Tahs 1st phase defence, and that once the line is opened up how difficult it is to close that down.
In my opinion Nathan Grey is rapidly developing into one of the most intelligent defensive coaches out there; a coach that utilisies his players skill to the fullest. Last year we often saw the backline reshuffle to take lighter players like Foley and Beale out of the front line and this season we’ve seen that develop a lot more with Foley defending at 2 and Hooper at 10 from line outs and Horne frequently lining at 10/12 on first phase ball.
Yeah, a huge part of the Tah’s back field defence is built around using Hornes aggressive defence.
There are a few things to watch out for in the video; Phipps having to retreat from the scrum early to fill the 10 slot, and allow Foley to drift out to 12 – which he never quite does. The fact that without Horne they are unable to run a sweeper behind – something that is compounded by the fact the Lions scrum keeps the Tah’s pack interested slightly longer than they need to be. The fact that the midfield don’t drift as a unit – Ashley-Cooper drifts early and Foley is held leaving the door open.
Additionally something I only picked up on when reviewing the video after it was finished, is Michael Hoopers defensive reading in the sequence. We see him tracking play as early on he identifies that they will be stretched on the right (our left) and instead of filling in at guard or going for the ball he just sweeps around behind the ruck and fills in the wide channel. It’s a wonderful piece of awarness and illustrates why Cheika and Grey place such faith in him.
At the end of the day it’s a lovely try by the Lions, and it’s hard to begrudge such excellent Rugby. It’s also unfair to hold Horne completely accountable for the try. Yellow Cards happen and teams need to deal with them and come the business end of the season discipline will very likely be the deciding factor between getting knocked out and going through to the next round..