Hi guys. The first round of Super Rugby action is finished and there is a lot to talk about. But today I want to take a specific look at the second try of Rosko Specman against the Stormers because, as with anything in rugby, the closer we look the more we see!
It all start with a poor exit kick by Stormers 15 Marais from near his own 5m line. Normally we want to kick properly out in a situation like this, but Marais hook the ball and it stay in play.
Credit to the Bulls who is well set and we see Brits carry it straight back to his support, as we see in the picture below. The man to keep our eye on is Specman on the top right. He put pressure on the Stormers kickers and now he is returning to play.
But what is interesting is that he is not returning to his position on the left wing… he is heading for the middle of the field. It can be because Kriel took up Specman’s position on the left when he chased, but it is also possible that it is a broken play situation, and now Specman have a role to play to possibly exploit a disorganised defence.
The Bulls recycle from Brits, carry to the left with Vermeulen, and again to the left with Jenkins as we see below. We can see the value of big carries when we notice how many defenders getting sucked into these battles. Every big carrier is like flypaper that attract tacklers, and every positive ruck is like a obstacle that the poor folding defenders must negotiate as they chase the ball. The Bulls is doing the hard work now that will pay off later.
But again the man to look at below is Specman. He is sitting outside first receiver Pollard, scanning and waiting for opportunities appearing.
The Bulls recycle from Jenkins and below we can see Pollard take it up, which will take three defenders out of the game. The Stormers is slowly but surely losing the numbers game…
Do you also notice Specman hanging around inside? He is watching and waiting.
But now I want to draw your attention to the “unsung” hero of the Specman try – Warrick Gelant. You can see him running a pass support line off Pollard’s carry.
But in the next picture below we see that he immediately adjust when Pollard take contact. He is sealing and fighting successfully against De Allende and the prop Vermaak. It is quite hard to change from a committed run support line to a cleaning action like this. It firstly help that the dominant carry by Pollard against Willemse meant Gelant did not have to go backwards to then come in and clean.
But you must also be switched on to read the carry and quickly change your action, and you must have the technical ability to enter the ruck correctly and then to clean successfully. This kind of thing will make Alan Zondagh very happy as he is a firm believer that good technical ability mean you do not have to overcommit support. So you start to win the numbers game.
Now the Bulls changes direction and carry to the right as we see Liebenberg take it up again below. Why this tight carry? Firstly, the Bulls is forcing more rucks, and more folding. When a team is not defensively switched on, THIS is where they start to make mistakes on getting correct numbers up and connected on each side of the ruck. Secondly, Liebenberg was hunting loose forwards, as we can see both Du Toit and Kolisi involved in the tackle area. This mean it is mostly backs and tight forwards involved in defence on the next phase.
But again the guy to watch is Gelant. He is running back after his clean at the ruck, and at the same time he is scanning the Stormers defence. He have seen a opportunity, and now he call for the ball back to the left hand side.
Papier oblige and the Bulls change direction. Below we see Gelant take the ball nice and flat, carry to the line, and then delay his pass beautifully for Specman who have been hanging around like a hungry Jack Russell at a braai.
The Stormers just became too disorganised as the Bulls went through phases, and eventually we see a mess up in the transition zone with Vermaak and Schickerling losing connection when the Bulls came back left. For a Sevens guy like Specman to run at a prop and a lock is like Christmas.
Another angle below. Bulls doing everything right in the lead up to the try, and then keeping width with Kriel and Odendaal to stretch and stress the Stormers further. Hard work and intelligence from Gelant, and awareness, patience and the clinical strike from Specman closing the deal.
As we can see, a lot of work by a lot of people go into a try like this. It is not just “Sevens magic”. First we must create the conditions for people like Rosko to have a chance to get a linebreak. It is about working hard off the ball, carrying at the right places at the right times with the right players, good technique, awareness, and communication.
I think it is also about utilising the Seven’s players in the right way. No use to just stick them on the wing where there is no space… rather try to get them involved as the Bulls did, so that the Blitzbok killer instinct can strike when the time is right.
DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans