A big talking point after the opening round of Super Rugby 2019 is the incredible tries from Rosco Specman, a 7’s star turned Super Rugby winger. The underlying point though is the great form of the Bulls in Round 1 after they clobbered the Stormers. In this article, we will examine how a team can build tries like these, and make the best use of the talent at their disposal.

Let’s find out how the Bulls found space for the first try.

Super Rugby 2019 | engineering the overlap for Specman try #1

The Bulls start this move by taking the ball off the line-out and making a huge dent in the Stormers line. The Stormers have to fold around the ruck in the direction of the red arrow.

The Bulls force the Stormers to fold
The Bulls force the Stormers to fold

We have talked about folding in a previous article, but all it means is making your opposition run further to take up defensive positions than you have to run to take up attacking positions. Basically, the Stormers are struggling to get players out to the right-hand side.

The next play from the Bulls is sloppy, but the Stormers are impatient. The two players in the red circles start to push up out of the defensive line. One of these players should really be in the backfield.

Hot potato
Hot potato

Now it’s Specman time. He pumps of his left foot to leave two players in the dust.

The step of dreams
The step of dreams

As we zoom out, we can see another two Stormers players who could have been in the backfield. Whether they could have even stopped Specman is anyone’s guess. He scores his first Super Rugby try in style.

Speckman scores his first
Specman scores his first try

There were plenty of defensive mistakes here for sure. But forcing the Stormers to fold was a smart move from the Bulls, and the individual brilliance from Specman can’t be written off as luck. If you’re enjoying this defensive manipulation analysis, check out how Joe Schmidt does it with Ireland in the article below. Some of those moves will blow your mind.

Scotland v Ireland Tactics | Joe Schmidt’s Power Plays In Depth

The next try takes a lot more work to set up, but the end result is well worth it.

Super Rugby 2019 | engineering the mismatch for Specman try #2

Here the Bulls work hard to isolate some hefty Stormers forwards. The Stormers decide to kick this, despite the Bulls fielding a mammoth 6 players in the backfield (red circles). Not the greatest decision, but we will see what comes of it.

The Stormers kick the ball back to a heavily defended Bulls backfield
The Stormers kick the ball back to a heavily defended Bulls backfield

Schalk Brits runs the ball back and sets up the next Stormers attack.

Schalk Brits runs hard
Schalk Brits runs hard

The Bulls now have good field position, and as they work across the field we can see frustration building in the Stormers defence. Specman floats ominously on the left side of the shot as Willemse wastes time talking to the referee.

As the play continues, we can see Schickerling calling for support on the far side as two Stormers players run back through the line with their backs turned to the opposition. 

The Stormers defence is experiencing plenty of stress
The Stormers defence is experiencing plenty of stress

Thankfully the Bulls aren’t quick enough to have a crack at them, but Specman is moving into position.

The Bulls go back to the left and it is clear that Schickerling’s calls for support went unanswered. It’s just him and a prop trying to defend Specman now. The other defenders are completely unaware of the threat, and Pieter-Steph du Toit isn’t even watching the play.

The Bulls have successfully created a mismatch
The Bulls have successfully created a mismatch

Here we go again.

Speckman scores his second try
Specman scores his second try

This is memorable for that lightning-fast Christian Cullen style direction change once he gets through the line. But what really made this was the work the Bulls did to squeeze the Stormers defence onto one side of the ruck, making them tired and frustrated. It will be interesting to see whether better defences will bend to the Bulls will like this as the season goes on.

Super Rugby 2019 | can Specman’s form continue?

It’s difficult to say whether this was a one-off due to the patchy Stormers defence, or whether Specman is a superstar in the making. The Bulls have the Jaguares next round, who are coming off a loss to the Lions. We hope he continues to make highlight reels as the season continues.

Can Specman break into a Springboks squad that’s already full of talented outside backs? Let us know your thoughts.

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