The art of attack

Oom Rugby

Hi guys. There many beautiful sights in rugby, like for instance the front row winning a tighthead, a fullback jumping high to take a up-and-under, or the smile on Eben Etzebeth face when he take someone by the jersey to say hello.

Another thing we love to see is when a team score a try with a well execute play from set piece. Western Province do this on the weekend against the Sharks so let us take a look!

It is a Province throw on the halfway line and they call the seven-man lineout. But there is something interesting going on here… can you see it?

The scrumhalf Duvenage is part of the lineout, standing at the front. And more than that, Province has not replaced him with anyone in the receiver position, so essentially Province playing without a receiver. \

But the Sharks does have a receiver – we can see Chilliboy standing at the back. He have swapped with Schreuder at hooker and is standing at the tail so he can get wide if the ball go out. But the first domino have fallen… because now the Sharks has 9 men involve in this lineout and Province only has 8. They have a man extra somewhere else.

As the throw about to happen we see the plan taking shape. Both WP locks turns away from the front of the lineout and Van Zyl will go back to be lifted to take the ball in the middle. Sharks lock Droste follow Van Zyl back but cannot find anyone to lift him. We can see Droste clapping his hands shouting to Daniel, but Daniel is still watching Duvenage because Duvenage still have his hands out for the ball. It is a crucial detail because it keep Daniel occupied.

Van Zyl will take the ball in the middle uncontested and then Duvenage will actually run around and be the receiver anyway. So it is two for the price of one and it will give WP a extra man in the line.

Now we see some problems for the Sharks. First is that the speed of Senatla is being used as first receiver to immediately get WP playing from over the advantage line. All Blacks uses speed of Barrett in a similar way. Sharks actually has fast line-speed here but by using Senatla, Province has successfully claimed the space first.

We have heard of rush defence? This is rush attack and it is the new trend. Get into the set piece vacuum fast and play out.

Senatla force a commitment by Sharks inside and put the brakes on their drift. This is a problem because they heavily outnumber and drift is going to be their best option. Remember WP lineout give them a one man advantage? Well, because the lineout is in the middle of the field the Sharks must also have two guys back for a kick, so WP actually now has three extra men on attack.

If we look at the picture we see they have put every single one of remaining players outside to really make this mismatch count. It is calculated but brave because if they make a mistake and Sharks transitions into attack they will have nobody left at the back.

We can see above that Senatla play the ball out to Du Preez beautifully late, so Bosch and the centre Louw must “bite” on his run as well as the decoy run of WP centre Ruhan Nel.

Nel is very kind because he get out of Louw’s way when Louw try to scramble across, but a more streetwise centre will use this opportunity to block Louw for a moment and slow him down! Worth to remember for next time if WP run this type of play again.

But the truth is that Louw was just one split of a second too slow with his reading and movement anyway. We can see that he have time and space to shift out to cover Du Preez, but he will be just little bit too late. He is a promising player, but as a ex-flank now playing centre he will have to learn to make his reads quicker.

We can see Van Wyk have checked his drifting angle and is now in a deadly static position because he realise he must cover for Louw.

Du Preez show very good instinct and rugby “feel” here. He have quite a few options but he hold onto the ball in two hands and delay the pass, so now the Sharks D is in a mess because they do not know where to commit. Because Louw was just too late to shift, Du Preez can now attack Van Wyk who is immediately compromise and going backwards trying to cover two men.

The flank Coetzee will run a short line with great timing off Du Preez shoulder. Coetzee have the advantage of sprinting forward while Van Wyk is still turned toward Du Preez, so he hit the gap and is free.

Coetzee make the break and then show great technique, keeping ball in both hands and scanning for options. To his left he see Willemse is covered, but to his right he see that Du Preez have stayed alive and is taking a line on his inside.

There is only one Shark defender ahead, so Coetzee hold his line but Du Preez run slightly to his right to create the two-on-one.

Nkosi is the last man but there is nothing he can do. Coetzee draw him and then pass to Du Preez who score. We do not often see tries from set piece from so far away but Province manage to do it with some clever planning, some brave attacking attitude, perfect execution, good player “feel”, good decisions and one or two small mistakes by the Sharks.

When we run a strike move from set piece it seem like a big thing but it is actually many, many small things that must be done well for it to work. And that is high level rugby in the nutshell. Every small action can have a huge outcome – if it is one wrong step in defence or a player delaying his pass for just a moment longer.

Cheers guys and let us see who can play these moments the best in the Currie Cup semi-finals this weekend!

DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans.

- Oom Rugby

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  • gerhard van tonder gerhard van tonder

    Great read. All that little detail that goes into a move like that.

  • Peter

    Well spotted Oom….firstly clever lineout play and then Senatla and du Preez break up any chance Sharks had of stopping this…just goes to show ….drift rugby is rubbish …best line of attack always go as direct as possible….and hope like hell

    • Oom Rugby

      the drift is important part of any team’s defence. when you outnumbereded you will usually use the drift – stay inside the opposition and push them out toward touchline (the 16th defender). when it is done right it is very effective and even three guys can defend against 4 or 5 guys. but when it break down like this and player’s loses touch with each other then it is a mess.

      • Peter

        Agree as a defensive ploy drift is good …man on man marking….but its used all too often as an attacking move as well and more often than not; because of the very reasons you have mentioned leads to no gain. Attacking the defence directly as in this instance gives way more options whether on the break or maul time….and if support is good ….options aplenty are there

  • dbaggins

    Dankie Oom
    Always love your work

    • Oom Rugby

      cheers hey mr baggins!

  • Great analysisi and very empowering and enjoy the deatail keep up the good work is enjoyable

    Great analysis and very empowering keep up the good work

  • Bryan

    I look forward to reading your article each week. Please keep the great research and explanations,

  • Stoffel Poggenpoel

    Nicely explained oom . . .

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