Where the match will be won and lost

The Daily Telegraph - Rugby World Cup - - Sport: Rugby World Cup 2015 - Mike Ford


Aus­tralian de­fen­sive set-up at line-outs

The Aus­tralians are very smart. They do not do things the con­ven­tional way. Their coach, Michael Cheika, puts play­ers such as Matt Giteau (No 12) where you think you can­not get at them, in the nar­row tram­lines (see di­a­gram). Or they will sta­tion their best tack­ler, Michael Hooper, with the blind­side wing in the 10/12 chan­nel. Fly-half Michael Fo­ley is then the blind­side wing.

Tech­ni­cally, Eng­land can get at them by peel­ing around the front. They can also get at them with good drives. They have got the power to do so, and the in­clu­sion of Joe Launch­bury helps that. Ben Mor­gan is not the light­est ei­ther. The drive and the peel can be a se­ri­ous weapon. If it goes well to start, then they should keep do­ing it. Eng­land have to mix up that ploy – shape to drive one way to get at Giteau but then go the other way.

Giteau is of­ten in those tram­lines. Even though Aus­tralia put their two best de­fend­ers, Hooper and which­ever wing, Rob Horne or Adam Ash­ley-Cooper, in the 10-12 chan­nel, I still think Eng­land should go for them.

Hooper de­fends very well if you run straight at him. But (see di­a­gram) if you put some shape on him in your at­tack, with 10, 12, 13 go­ing up but with 14 out the back, you force him to make a de­ci­sion – to fix and stay, or read and go out the back, or do both.

Eng­land must not be afraid to chal­lenge Hooper, make him make de­ci­sions against fast backs.

There are other con­sid­er­a­tions in the line-out. Where can we get to them is one ques­tion but where can they get to Eng­land? Seventy per cent of their line-outs are ei­ther peels or drives. They of­ten also put in a wing in the front of the line-out, or scrum-half Will Ge­nia, to free up a for­ward.

If a wing is in and around for­wards, that is a trig­ger that they are go­ing to drive it or do a peel with David Po­cock mov­ing into the 10 chan­nel. They do mix it up, and they have been suc­cess­ful against Fiji and Uruguay, Po­cock get­ting two tries from mauls against Fiji. But Eng­land will re­sist far bet­ter.

If the wing is around the 10 chan­nel, they are com­ing off the top so Eng­land can gear up their de­fence ac­cord­ingly – but I would also be wary about Aus­tralia hav­ing some­thing in the locker they have not put out there yet.


The scrum

There have been all sorts of barbs thrown at Eng­land about their scrum­mag­ing against Wales. I hope ref­eree Ro­main Poite takes no no­tice of it. If Joe Mar­ler is bor­ing in, it is usu­ally be­cause of what the op­po­si­tion tight­head has done. Poite knows his scrum­mage. I would have been ner­vous if it had been Jérôme Gar­cès.

Eng­land went very well against Wales and I ex­pect more of the same. It will be a big night for Dan Cole, who has to re­ally test Wal­laby Scott Sio, their loose­head. If Cole man­ages to get on top, then that is a big boost for Eng­land. You can­not play with­out a sound plat­form.

Eng­land have to be smart in mak­ing sure that they get a proper en­gage­ment so that they can use their scrum­mag­ing tech­nique to good ef­fect. Poite will be on the look­out for any tricks.

3 Phase at­tack and Phase de­fence

Aus­tralia are very good at throw­ing shape in at­tack on op­po­nents, com­ing at them from a va­ri­ety of an­gles. Matt Giteau is fan­tas­tic at ma­nip­u­lat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

He is the key, not fly-half Bernard Fo­ley nec­es­sar­ily. Giteau is the eyes and ears, on the look­out for any sort of an open­ing and with some­one as threat­en­ing as Is­rael Fo­lau to bring in to the at­tack, that is some weapon.

Eng­land must sit tight on Giteau. The flip side is that the Aus­tralian de­fence do not tend to make big tack­les. Eng­land can go through them be­cause they de­fend wide. Also, as they shuf­fle re­sources at the line-out, with Giteau out of po­si­tion in the tram­lines, they take time to re­or­gan­ise. So Eng­land have a chance to ex­ploit that with mis­matches.

They must not hold back from at­tack­ing. And if we get penal­ties, we have a bet­ter goal-kicker in Owen Far­rell than Fo­ley.

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