Analyzing the First Zimbabwe Try: Winning the One on One Battles and Maintaining Defensive Structure
In the wake of the Canada U20 loss to Zimbabwe we dove a little deeper into the play and analyzed the first Zimbabwe try. The conclusion is that it came down to winning the one on one battle at the breakdown, coupled with some chaos in the defence.
In the video it looks like the hero of the play is the #10 who spies a gap, takes a chip and chase and delivers it off for the scrum half to score. In review it's the player wearing #26, the second row Rua Karimazondo who does the yeoman's work on this. Interesting that he's a player/student at Wheeling University in West Virginia. He not only wins the one on one battle at the breakdown but holds up the Canadian flanker for a second delay which is integral in the try being scored. He also is the first support player who links up with the eventual try scorer.
The screen shots below explain.
The two Canadian flankers make the tackle, the blindside is on the ground, the openside is over the ball threatening the steal. The Zimbabwe support player is the second row wearing #26. The Canadian #12 ponders whether to help support the openside for a possible poach or get back in position, he chooses the latter.
The Zimbabwe player wins this battle hands down, he straightens up the defending openside and takes him off the ball. Leg day has paid off, and for those who wonder why wrestling is great training for rugby, this is the answer.
The scrum half is quickly on the ball but curiously the defenders on the near side are 2 metres away from the offside line. It's difficult to close down space when you're giving up another 2 metres. Once the ball is off the ground the defenders can charge but there's no pressure in this situation. Notice the openside is still being held providing some valuable extra seconds.
The ball is on the way to the #10, the defending hooker is the first to close the gap but there's plenty of space and time for the #10.
The key moment, the defending prop is fixated on a backline player who is already well marked leaving a gap that the #10 immediately sees. The defending hooker is trying to get over in time. The defending openside who has finally got free is providing deeper cross cover.
The #10 runs and chips through the gap, the defending prop has his back to the play and is still fixated on the outside centre who will never see the ball. The defending #12 who now sees the threat is blocked by his own player.
It looks like the defending openside will be able to recover but that extra second he was held will prove crucial. The hooker is providing pursuit.
The ball takes a rugby bounce and the #10 scoops it up and brushes off the defending flanker.
#26 is back in the play as the support link, he dishes it off to the scrum half and that's the try.
Lessons to learn, win the one on one battles, it's key. Don't panic on defence, stick to the structures and play what's in front of you.