Wales implementation of their attacking kicking strategy has been done very, very well.
This has been a part of their game for long before the World Cup. Warrenball dictates that the kicks from the back 3 remain in field, so Wales superior fitness and line speed can apply pressure to the counter-attack. The kicking that the Welsh are espousing now, however, is a different breed entirely.
The majority of it comes from Dan Biggar. To a certain degree, aside from his defensive game, this is the reason I feel Dan Biggar is the 1st choice 10 of the Welsh side.
Biggar at 12
He is to me, the Owen Farrell of Wales. England can run up to 80% of their potential with him running the attack, but the simple fact is that George Ford is needed to spark the England attack to its maxima. To reach that 100% optimum performance. Due to the instinct, the vision, the feel of the game a player like George Ford has to play outside the template. Outside the structure.
In Wales, they had a player like that on the wing. A man by the name of Shane Williams. Aside from Jason Robinson my favourite little player of all time. You want someone who has the X-factor on top of their ability to play the system and perform the basics well. England have shown the ability of a flat playing 10. Which is why in my position I would stick with Sam Davies at 10, due to his ability to play flat, and bed Biggar in at 12.
Sam Davies needs a crack
Fair enough that Sam Davies has not been in prime form in late 2017. But, he never had much of a chance to make the Welsh 10 shirt his own. Sam Davies at 10 could get Wales playing their new 1-3-3-1 game to its 100% maxima with a little time, and trust in the saddle. The man needs confidence, and no better way to deliver it to him then to trust him. All the while, there is a very experienced campaigner outside him in Dan Biggar who can take some of the pressure off. Who can offer advice and an extra pair of hands, in exactly the way Farrell does for Ford.
Dan Biggar being at 10 in lieu of the attacking instincts of Davies means that Davies is still an unknown quantity at 10. And for me, Wales are still working out where their focus on attack will be. Do they want to espouse this ball in hand game to the point where they lose some of their kicking ability and defensive shore? A move that would involve Davies at 10? Or, do they want to still back up there kicking game and defence to be the core part of their game and offer a good but unelectric multi-phase attack? In which case Biggar is their man.
It’s an open subject for sure. But for now, I can only comment on Dan Biggar’s remarkable execution of the Welsh kicking game. Let’s get into it.
Cross Kick Strategies
As one can imagine, there are not many ways to do an effective cross kick. The ball has to be kicked into the right amount of space, it has to have good hang time, and needs a good chase by all involved so the winger has support options on the break. This is especially true for Wales and their knack of 1st phase tries.
Here we have a classic kick chase set up. A flat line off Biggar, (yellow), though the trick behind a cross kick is the wing will always be flatter. But as we can see, Wales have gone to the crossfield kick. Possibly noticing the change Ireland got out of that area the week prior. They know the Bok back 3 are inexperienced under the high ball and act accordingly on this tactic.
The kick from Biggar is pitch perfect. As we can see, the flat line, have not slowed up in their chase. They are pushing hard and as physically fast as they can to run an effective support for Amos (blue) who has not had to break stride to catch this kick.
He takes an inside step off his right and offloads to Scott Williams, one of the yellow highlighted players. Who goes over for the try. A great try where Wales exploited the Bok weakness, and where they showed some great support play to go over.
Chip Kick Strategies
Whereas the prior kick was not really preventable, this one was. The last one, and all of its factors were so perfect, technically it was hard to stop. This, however, was stoppable. And credit must go to Hadleigh Parkes and his effort to beat the Bok backline.
Here, we have a similar, if identical setup to before. The difference is this is post crossfield kick. This means South Africa are very nervous about this option and Coetzee (green) stations himself closer to the wider channels. Gelant is also covering close to the 15-metre line, and if we look behind below there’s quite a bit of space exploitable.
Parkes and Williams go through, but at this point, they are surrounded, and you expect the Boks to carry the ball over the line and go for the 22.
The difference here, is the Parkes does not stop chasing. He does not stop running. Whereas the Boks, they ALL slow up. All of them, even when they’re ahead, as they clearly expect any one of the others to take the ball over. None do. This means Parkes reaches the ball.
He goes over. This was preventable. The Boks were tired. But, this shows great commitment from Parkes. Which must be applauded.
This shows great decision making on the chip by Biggar and a great chase by Parkes.
Thanks for tuning into the series; if you’ve missed any of the Welsh series you can get to them here: Part 1: Introduction, Part 2: The Tenets, Part 3: The 1-3-3-1, Part 4: The 3-3-Tip on and Part 5: On the break.
Author: Conor Wilson
Recently retired from the Military, Skydiving and rare Steak Enthusiast and Coach and Player of the beautiful game of Rugby.
Joe Schmidt, Will Greenwood and Rod MacQueen are my heroes, and my proudest moment was putting Jason Robinson in for a try at a promotional Rugby day. It was truly beautiful.