Defense wins Championships



  • For all the talk of our outrageous 2016 attack, where we're scoring for fun, it's our defense that's impressing me (okay, it's ALSO our defense that's impressing me). Strong tackling, great linespeed and a rock solid set piece means we're not giving up many.

    I had a look at the results of the last 3 years, and it's remarkable. We've given up 28 points once (and won); 27 points 3 times (2 of which we lost) and for the other 30 tests, the most we have given up is 22 points, all for wins (or a draw).

    This year the average is just 15. 15 fucking points a game across 9 tests against Aus, SA, Argentina, and Wales. I reckon half the reason we play with so much freedom is we know we don't need it to come off too many times to win the game. We're very rarely under scoreboard pressure, so we can toss it around knowing we only need 2 or 3 passes to stick, and we're probably home.

    We're a fucking great team to watch with the ball, but there is a lot of stuff working at the moment, it really is a golden time.



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  • in other years we have simply backed ourselves to simply score more points, through sheer skill and fitness...now, add in the brutal structured defence too....yikes!

    We just need to sit back and enjoy the ride while it lasts!

    Sure good old Steddie claims to have a plan to beat us, and given we dont play England until 2018, he can talk as much shit as he likes right now without fear of being proved right or wrong...but all good having a plan, but when the heat comes on, can your players execute it, and maintain it for 80 mins? The Argies looked like they had a decent plan to beat us in the first test we played, if tests were shorter....



  • @taniwharugby to me it's looked the Argies are the ones who have caused us the most problems defensively, by offering a couple of different methods of attack. They've stuck the highest score past us this year, and we were under a fair bit of goal line pressure in the away test as well. But as you say, they can't keep it up, and we stack on the points to take the pressure out of the game. The more "traditional" methods of the Boks and Wallabies were fairly easily countered.

    Looks like cracking us at the moment involves offloads to stop us slowing ruck ball and getting our defensive pattern set. Of course this comes with it's own risk, as we brutally punish turnover ball if you spill anything.

    It leads to the big question, if you were coaching against the ABs, what would you try?



  • @mariner4life said in Defense wins Championships:

    @taniwharugby to me it's looked the Argies are the ones who have caused us the most problems defensively, by offering a couple of different methods of attack. They've stuck the highest score past us this year, and we were under a fair bit of goal line pressure in the away test as well. But as you say, they can't keep it up, and we stack on the points to take the pressure out of the game. The more "traditional" methods of the Boks and Wallabies were fairly easily countered.

    Looks like cracking us at the moment involves offloads to stop us slowing ruck ball and getting our defensive pattern set. Of course this comes with it's own risk, as we brutally punish turnover ball if you spill anything.

    It leads to the big question, if you were coaching against the ABs, what would you try?

    Was having a yarn to my mate from SA last week and he's all but given up on his national team. I tried to make him feel better by saying the ABs may trip up, always tough playing SA in SA etcetc and he pointed out that Damien De Allende was a better player than Crotty which all things being equal he may be but you can't help be impressed with how Crotty has shaken the journeyman tag and become an integral part of the team. De Allende probably struggles by having a first five who kicks, kicks, thinks about it then kicks or sometimes kicks though. Man for man would any Boks actually make the ABs ahead of their opposites ?

    As Fitzy said, it's up to the rest of the world to catch up to the ABs, he might even get Dane Coles name right one of these days too.



  • @mariner4life was listening to SJK on the wireless on the way home tonight and he reckons that we have fooled the rest of the rugby world into thinking they have to play like us to beat us, whereas you need to play your own game and impose it on us.



  • @mariner4life said in Defense wins Championships:

    It leads to the big question, if you were coaching against the ABs, what would you try?

    Big wingers and kick contestable cross-field kicks.

    Any team that's going to beat the All Blacks needs possession and patience.



  • offloads all day on attack.

    On D, throw numbers at each and every ruck, slow down the source, and thus minimise the mismatches. Don't kick aimlessly, don't kick at all once you pass the 40m mark (unless bogged down, or it's high and on the wings).

    Not sure it's going to work, but try to upset the pattern is the go. Hope you are in front with 10 to go and they get the jitters because they can't remember the last time they were behind.



  • @antipodean and yet the cross field kick is one of the more low percentage plays in rugby.

    Whilst they don't get a lot of plaudits, our props have been superb defensively. Franks, Moody, Crockett, Faumuina all hit the line at speed and land tackles with real venom. They're quick to realign and then back into it.

    Barrett and Crotty have also formed a formidable defensive combo at that all important 10-12 channel. Despite their SWB status, they are robust defenders that position well and never shy away.

    And even Dagg is nailing his tackles....



  • @mariner4life said in Defense wins Championships:

    offloads all day on attack.

    On D, throw numbers at each and every ruck, slow down the source, and thus minimise the mismatches. Don't kick aimlessly, don't kick at all once you pass the 40m mark (unless bogged down, or it's high and on the wings).

    Not sure it's going to work, but try to upset the pattern is the go. Hope you are in front with 10 to go and they get the jitters because they can't remember the last time they were behind.

    I disagree with throwing numbers at rucks. The abs tactics are pretty simple. Play at speed, commit as few as possible to rucks, get ball out and exploit overlap using both backs and forwards. That and getting big munters like Retallick to charge up the guts and draw in defenders. Simple in theory but farking hard to pull off. Flooding the breakdown not only plays into their hands and is also incredibly energy sapping. I'm not sure if any team can do that for 80 minutes and still be able to offer something in attack.

    I think teams have to concentrate more on unlocking that defence first. As you mentioned, its been phenomenal this year.

    I guess the Argies offered a bit of an insight into how to do that, but again Im not sure unlimited pick and drive is going to get an 80 minute result.

    Basically I don't know wtf the opposition are supposed to do right now. It's the perfect game plan, executed by the perfect personnel with the right skill and fitness. I guess other teams should play to their strengths and hope the abs have a really bad day.



  • @Rancid-Schnitzel i know it's not sustainable, but just fanning out doesn't work. The saffers on Sunday defended 20 phases on their line before we found a mismatch (well, overlap really). If you sntad off, we just hit and place, the halfback runs up, and throws it one way or the other, and we spread and spread, the defense never gets set, and eventually it's big man on little man, or quick man on slow man, and we exploit.

    While it's not sustainable, i think the only hope at the moment is to slow it down at the source, and force some of those fringe runners to commit to rucks.

    Obviously just my opinion of course, and seeing as no one is ringing me for a professional coaching vacancy, it's probably less than valid



  • Anyone else reckon it's the simple fact that the ABs are just that much fitter than other teams ? they bring on subs as well so in theory both teams being profesional'n'all should be tiring at about the same rate but other teams bench players don't change the game like the ABs do.



  • @MN5 there is no way it can be that simple, given we've been perceived as fitter for years now. If it was fitness, someone would have caught up.

    It's a range of things, like the quality of the guys we bring on, right through to an entire national system designed to produce great test players.



  • Fitness is definitely one piece of the puzzle, and as I alluded to in abother thread, Nic Gill is probably one of the unsung heroes of this coaching team, because without the fitness levels we have, our boys wouldnt be able to play the style of rugby that we are.



  • @taniwharugby said in Defense wins Championships:

    Fitness is definitely one piece of the puzzle, and as I alluded to in abother thread, Nic Gill is probably one of the unsung heroes of this coaching team, because without the fitness levels we have, our boys wouldnt be able to play the style of rugby that we are.

    Our boys are fit in the right kind of way, in that they have a great balance between strength and endurance. Other teams, particularly in the forwards, don't have that balance IMO and waver in the final 20. It's no good being super strong if you are out on your feet and can't utilise it.

    Also TR in that article you linked about Gill he made the comment that when he first came in only McCaw could handle some of the regimes he put in place, but today we effectively have 30 McCaws in the squad that have incredible endurance.

    Another thing that gets talked about is the mental side of things. We (Enoka) put a lot of emphasis on making good decisions when your body is under extreme pressure fitness wise. Keeping a clear head when the body is battered and the lungs are burning does not come naturally to anyone, and is a part of our game that has let us down in years gone by.

    Agree with what's been said about our gameplan and having the personel to implement it. Don't want to sound arrogant but the ABs really are the complete package right now. The coaches and management are absolutely nailing both the onfield and off-field stuff, they are pretty much the most professional sporting outfit in the world, in any sport, and I am hugely fucking proud of what they are acheiving. 2016 was meant to be our "rebuilding" year.

    If our media wasn't so completely fucking retarded they would be giving them the plaudits they deserve right now instead of trying to stir up shit storms out of nothing in some fucked up effort to tar the NZRU's name...



  • @No-Quarter said in Defense wins Championships:

    @taniwharugby said in Defense wins Championships:

    Fitness is definitely one piece of the puzzle, and as I alluded to in abother thread, Nic Gill is probably one of the unsung heroes of this coaching team, because without the fitness levels we have, our boys wouldnt be able to play the style of rugby that we are.

    Our boys are fit in the right kind of way, in that they have a great balance between strength and endurance. Other teams, particularly in the forwards, don't have that balance IMO and waver in the final 20. It's no good being super strong if you are out on your feet and can't utilise it.

    Also TR in that article you linked about Gill he made the comment that when he first came in only McCaw could handle some of the regimes he put in place, but today we effectively have 30 McCaws in the squad that have incredible endurance.

    Another thing that gets talked about is the mental side of things. We (Enoka) put a lot of emphasis on making good decisions when your body is under extreme pressure fitness wise. Keeping a clear head when the body is battered and the lungs are burning does not come naturally to anyone, and is a part of our game that has let us down in years gone by.

    Agree with what's been said about our gameplan and having the personel to implement it. Don't want to sound arrogant but the ABs really are the complete package right now. The coaches and management are absolutely nailing both the onfield and off-field stuff, they are pretty much the most professional sporting outfit in the world, in any sport, and I am hugely fucking proud of what they are acheiving. 2016 was meant to be our "rebuilding" year.

    If our media wasn't so completely fucking retarded they would be giving them the plaudits they deserve right now instead of trying to stir up shit storms out of nothing in some fucked up effort to tar the NZRU's name...

    But wasn't fitness the reason the 95 team did so well ? Fit, mobile forwards who had been conditioned like fuck by Laurie Mains ? ( @Bones going back 20 years now, even further than usual ) guys like Mark Cooksley, Aaron Pene etc discarded cos they couldn't hack it and Jonah only making it cos of his other freakish talents ? ( middle distance running not one of them ).

    With the British Lions cast of thousands in 05 I'm sure there must have been some sort of coach for the "mental" side of things. Back to 2003 when Martin Johnson took the ball into contact, it was passed back to Jonny Wilkinson and bingo, drop goal, World Cup won.....surely there was some sort of contingency plan implemented by some "mental" coach.

    That prancing, pompous English dickhead in the cap can't have been that good at time management to sort all that himself could he ?



  • It helps that our best athletes often play rugby, which is less true in countries where other forms of football are their national game. It's not the only factor, but they all add up.



  • @Godder said in Defense wins Championships:

    It helps that our best athletes often play rugby, which is less true in countries where other forms of football are their national game. It's not the only factor, but they all add up.

    I reckon it's more 'best Rugby players' rather than 'best Athletes' personally. Other teams seem to have the athletic freaks, not the ABs.



  • Of course our defensive pattern is outstanding - Wayne Smith is in charge of it. You know the guy England rugby coveted far more than Eddie Jones who sits as third banana for us.

    The team conceded three tries with 15 men during the six game tournament. Cordero's opener in Hamilton, Tuculet's try in the dying minutes in Argentina and Habana's effort in Christchurch.

    Australia have scored one even strength try against us in their past 4 tests. They haven't scored an even strength try against the ABs in their last 3 tests over the past 14 months.

    The All Blacks scored as many tries in the final 20 minutes of the Rugby Championship than were scored against them the whole tournament - 6.



  • The AB defence is certainly a big part of it. The linespeed was probably the biggest factor in that from my point of view, having seen limited AB games this year.

    The number of tries scored against them also depend on what is happening on the scoreboard, and what the intent of the opponent is.

    If the ABs put in a good defensive 20 minutes, you might get a shot or two at goal in that time, and you'll take them because Test rugby.

    If they suddenly put on three tries, you're unlikely to go looking for the sticks again, right? You're chasing the game. Your handling becomes more risky, and you present opportunities to that defence.

    Whether they're at full strength or not is a smaller factor IMHO. The fitness levels just seem to be at the level where 14 men isn't going to be much of a problem.



  • The point isn't the fitness.

    Generally a yellow card results in the opposition having possession, field possession, the invcentive to attack (almost all the AB yellow cards in the past 12 months have been in the 2nd half with a decent lead) and the chance to exploit a compromised defensive pattern from set piece.

    Basically the closest you can get to putting handing them the ball in goal and asking them to dot it down. This is the only way teams are scoring against this defense these days.

    Even with 80 minutes in a test these days it's basically the only way these teams are breaching this Wayne Smith defense.



  • @rotated - yeah, nah.

    Certainly the penalty immediately relating to the yellow card the opposition has possession. Maybe even (in the case of a "red zone" card) field position.

    But after that? You can still successfully keep the ball away with only 14 men. You can take your time kicking penalty goals. You can waste a bit of time at scrums.



  • we're not unbeatable, far from it.
    that initial burst from the argies showed that linebreaks are quite possible against us - they lack the patience and decision-making to turn them all into points, they don't have the depth/fitness to stay with us for 80 minutes, and they lack a bit of size in the backs to deal with guys like savea.
    our first half against the saffas was full of errors - but they didn't even try to capitalise on them, they just kicked it back to us. this is a shit tactic because our back 3 can counterattack, and our lineout is excellent.
    our goalkicking is suspect.

    so: don't play territory, play possession. we don't have dominant tacklers everywhere, so run at them and look to offload to get in behind us and get momentum as the argies did, not allowing our line to reset and come at you. this is the key - the patience to keep the ball until that opportunity presents itself, and the nous to have a crack when it's on.
    on defence, choose very carefully which rucks to attack, like joseph's highlanders - otherwise undercommit and focus on linespeed , preventing offloads and attacking the ball whenever possible. harass the halfback. keep discipline at all costs.
    and hope you catch us on a bad day.



  • @ACT-Crusader said in Defense wins Championships:

    @antipodean and yet the cross field kick is one of the more low percentage plays in rugby.

    True, but add a couple of Folau's on the wing and the percentage increases.



  • @mariner4life said in Defense wins Championships:

    @Rancid-Schnitzel i know it's not sustainable, but just fanning out doesn't work. The saffers on Sunday defended 20 phases on their line before we found a mismatch (well, overlap really). If you sntad off, we just hit and place, the halfback runs up, and throws it one way or the other, and we spread and spread, the defense never gets set, and eventually it's big man on little man, or quick man on slow man, and we exploit.

    While it's not sustainable, i think the only hope at the moment is to slow it down at the source, and force some of those fringe runners to commit to rucks.

    Obviously just my opinion of course, and seeing as no one is ringing me for a professional coaching vacancy, it's probably less than valid

    You're offering alot more suggestions than me mate. I'm just one of those guys who can only offer criticism 🙂

    In all seriousness, when talking about flooding the breakdown, I immediately get visions of Bled no. 1 when Bono and co were trying to grab everything and we just threw it through the hands and scored because of overlaps. The poor aus wingers on that day didn't know what the fark to do.

    But yeah, a conservative game plan won't cut it. Risks have to be taken and plenty of off-loads. The problem with that again is that you risk length of the field counter attacks if you make a mistake.

    I reckon the very best option is to hire someone to kneecap Coles, BBBR, Read, BB and BS. But even that might not make a difference.



  • @Rancid-Schnitzel

    Kneecapping anyone propbly wouldn't cut it as the All Blacks are like a hydra, they will just grow more world beaters if someone goes down 😅


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