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Living off scraps?
Crutch (IP Logged)
06 August, 2018 16:46
Whilst no one would disagree that we need to make a couple of quality additions to the pack in order to compete towards the top of the league, there also seems to be a not uncommonly held view that our potent backline were "living off scraps" last year and I think it's worth examining if this was truly the case.

Firstly, the scrum went well for most of the year and our lineout was at the top of the chart for most of the season despite Neild's aberration. Therefore I don't think this was the reason for any lack of possession and denying the backs opportunities.

I'd like to review the statistics, but I'd guess that at home for sure our possession stats would be reasonable, and away from home in the first half the same. We certainly scored a lot of tries considering we're not that clinical.

Clearly Dimes not trusting his front row replacements will have had an impact on conceding territory and points later on in games, but I think the larger impact is due to our tactics.

I'm not sure if it's due to a weakness in our kicking game, or the ability to control the ball and maintain possession for long periods to exit from deep, but away from home especially we seem content to kick away ball without gaining sufficient territory, and then trust the defence to contain the opposition attack. I'm not sure that will be anymore successful this year even with a couple of quality additions unless we change the emphasis to control more of the ball.

Re: Living off scraps?
clutch (IP Logged)
06 August, 2018 16:54
I think the living of scraps argument doesnít quite hold true. Itís more being able to win ugly and control the game in the tight 5 when needed. Plus the poor kicking game of course.

Sometimes we do lose the gain line battle as well which can result in slow ball but Faff is capable of creating quick ball.

Re: Living off scraps?
thekeg (IP Logged)
06 August, 2018 17:32
Itís a lack of carrying ability that I see as the biggest issue. I think the scrum is solid enough, if not necessarily a dominant weapon, the line out generally good if key personnel in the team and we have got better st creating quick ruck ball since Ross arrived. We definitely still lack big ball carriers. Phillips will help a bit but we need a couple more options to help get a better flow of quick ball A big carrying loosehead to do damage in the final 20-25 mins would be great. Hopefully Moore will give us more options as well this year and cannonball obviously helps a lot too.

Re: Living off scraps?
MartWhit (IP Logged)
06 August, 2018 20:12
A few key fallibilities.

Winning ball was not the problem. We were effective at set piece, even with 2nd string, and had a low penalty count at scrums.

However, we have a high error rate, often unforced, with poorly judged offloads and careless knock ons proliferating. This we often cede possession before we gain territory and put ourselves quickly in danger. IMO the root cause of this is the same as the root cause of our remarkably low injury toll, namely avoiding training with heavy contact and taking regular training breaks. We keep our small squad fresh and Uninjured this way but donít train under game pressure.

Secondly, we quickly become passive in defence and drift rather than play linespeed. This limits our turnover chances and leaves us defending phase after phase whilst slowly conceding ground. Doesnít really play to the curryís strengths imo.

Thirdly, i Believe we concede more penalties for poor tackle technique and driving maul defence than most sides. I think this probably derives from our relative size disadvantage and, later in games, supplemented by fatigue where replacements are less used.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2018 20:34 by MartWhit.

Re: Living off scraps?
H's Dad... (IP Logged)
09 August, 2018 10:19
Isn't that looking at things the wrong way round Martwhit? i.e. even taking your statements as true;

If we have a small squad we therefore need to look after it by using a drift defence rather than a far more physical and aggressive (and therefore more injury-prone) one. Ditto training. Manifestly it's working in terms of our injury rates.

Aren't we also merely focussed on playing to our strengths in our exciting backs, especially the back three, which also tends to focus selection on mobility in the back row as we go wide more often and play with a very high tempo. That almost inevitably results in a higher error rate. If we played a more conservative game when attacking we might well make less errors and have selected a bigger back row but wouldn't we score far fewer tries?

Can you provide evidence of our "relative size disadvantage". It seems only a season or two ago Dimes was referring to our monster pack. We still have quite a few big units in our squad!
If there was a significant size advantage in the matchday 22 wouldn't it be reflected in set-piece stats.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/08/2018 10:28 by H's Dad....

Re: Living off scraps?
StalyShark (IP Logged)
09 August, 2018 10:41
High risk back play can be exciting, one way or the other and MIGHT bring better crowds in. The only way we can get "star" names on 5-6k attendances at the moment is by having a small squad. Strong first XV, a decent enough back up/versatile player and an academy lad.
However, looking at the team photo with the addition of Denny and Rohan our squad is pretty evenly split between forwards and backs. This I believe is more to do with the current academy intake not having many quality tight 5 forwards unlike Redpath and Wilkinson who reportedly are.

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