Attacking style

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Attacking style

Postby royc on Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:18 pm

Some very interesting comments in the Zebre thread which IMO merit wider consideration, have taken the liberty of reprising some of them here as a discussion point.

macdone on Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:22 am
Pretty horrible game plan from us - kick, maul and defend. In contrast Zebre attacked non stop from everywhere. Credit to them.

doedin on Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:24 am
The reality is that everyone has moved on, including the Italians, and we are stuck playing a pretty awful style of rugby and completely lacking confidence. Watching the Italians playing running rugby and off loading from their own 22 to our 22 and then watching us kicking ball away at almost every opportunity was a role reversal from where we both were 5, 6 or 7 years ago. Our game is painful to watch and you can almost feel the crowd willing the team on to be more confident.

Crichton Gunner on Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:30 am
People shouldn't be criticised for raising concerns about our attacking strategy. On last night's evidence it seemed pretty much the same as the Solly approach, using either box kicks (from which we almost never get possession from) or pods of forwards trying to bash their way through the defence. Everything is done so slowly the defence has always got time to get in position, making it very hard to get anywhere. Fowles is capable of quick service, so when you see him standing behind almost every ruck waving his arms at forwards to get them in position or setting himself for a box kick while the seconds tick by, you have to assume it's the game plan he's been given rather than his own choice. If that is indeed our attacking strategy, we must be a dream to defend against, so hopefully there is more to it than that. I don't think I can take another two seasons of watching Solly-ball reincarnated.

Zebre's attacking play was much more adventurous than ours, and if they had kicked that virtually unmissable penalty in the first half they would have won. It would have been hard to argue that they didn't deserve it.

Friday Knight Lights on Sun Oct 08, 2017 6:02 pm
Credit where it is due indeed, I'd love to do a Connacht. However, as a team before any of the good play was a functional and simple forward based game plan. Which they could then evolve into fluent and exciting rugby. We have nothing to evolve yet.

Everything else being about equal (including the reffing!), you generally win games by scoring more tries than the other side. Edinburgh is averaging barely two per game, and one a game in the last three outings. Further up the Conferences, they are scoring 4 a game on average, which is why we are sitting in mid table.

For the first three games, the backs attack went quite well and the centres notched up 5 tries between them. It seems to go better when Fruean is on, the centres are slicker and open up gaps in defence. Since then though, the box kicking game seems to have become the main blunt instrument with which we try to open up defences. I think that is leading up a blind alley. Kicking for territory, in behind a winger so that it bounces into touch is a real pinpoint skill. If successful, the oppos are looking at a defensive 5m lineout and are going to scramble to kick it back, but our scrum halves are not that accurate. A box kick from behind ruck or scrum to clear the ball from our 22 is fine, as long as there are blockers on each side of the ruck, or you are going to get yourself charged down and give away tries, as Fowles has already demonstrated. A low chip kick can be a good tactic - as long as you can get the ball to bounce exactly where your winger needs it, but that again is a real skill that requires loads of practice, the wing being in the right place to start with and there being a suitable space within reach.

I don't think our 9s really have the skill levels to be attempting these things, in which case we are just giving the ball away. The up and under/garryowen (which, pedantically, is not necessarily a box kick, as you can kick it from anywhere, as opposed to the mini box behind your scrum/maul), is again quite an art. The ideal is that your winger is the first one there to catch it or, failing that, to tackle the receiver and contest the breakdown or set up a maul, if support arrives quickly enough. The danger is that, if the kick is too high or a couple of yards too far, the receiver will win the high ball, recycle it quickly and you will be on the receiving end of a counter-attack.

It would be great if the half backs could perfect some of these skills, but at the moment, it is not a great attacking weapon and is being used far too much. Good scrummies use the box kick sparingly, because they are looking for the right moment to surprise the opposition by exploiting a fleeting gap in the defence. If you use it repetitively, then the surprise element is gone and the tactic becomes predictable and easy to defend against.

I think the backs need to go back to what they were doing quite well, running good angles, getting the ball out fast from the set piece and ruck, keeping it in hand and either breaking through in midfield or spinning it out to the wing or to Kinghorn whizzing into the line. A bit more of that would do nicely (and be a lot less boring to watch).

I don't agree with FKL about the main building block being a simple, forward-based game, from which no doubt one day some more fluent attacking rugby may evolve. That is just too reminiscent of the weary (and unsuccessful) Solomons era. There is nothing to prevent all three elements - forward play, defence and backs attack - developing in tandem. The defence is a lot better, the forwards are inching forward to being at least competent in most areas of play, if posing a pretty limited threat or support in attack, but the main focus of the backs' attack seems to have veered off in a less productive direction that is difficult to do well.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby Friday Knight Lights on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:41 pm

Other than maybe Wasps I can't think of any Pro14/Aviva team that has a good attack without a really good pack/foundation. Or a successful one at least as you have maybe Gloucester/Cheetahs too but they are like Bradley era Edinburgh and going nowhere. And Wasps managed it by spending God knows how much on Robson, Cipriani, Le Roux, Gopperth, Beale and already having Wade and Daly. And then their great attack doesn't win them anything as their pack isn't good enough to win them games vs Sarries/Exeter. Who themselves aren't great attacking teams they just have a pack that bullies folk and clinical backs who can execute at a very high level.

Point taken Edinburgh don't have a pack of 8 bullies and can't execute at a high level. But that's easier to coach.

It's like the All Blacks, they have the best backs in the world but you don't see their pack going backwards in the forward battle. You need a good pack to have a good platform to attack from. Without that you are going nowhere no matter who you have in the backs.

For what it's worth - I think to improve the attack we need a better 9 and 10 combo who work well together. I don't see any squad chemistry yet and none between the half backs. Look at Finn these days - so much better playing outside Price.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby doedin on Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:19 pm

At first I thought the post title was a bit of an oxymoron when discussing Edinburgh so far this season!

However to be fair I thought we looked ok in attack against Cardiff and Dragons and very good in attack for the first 20 odd mins v Benetton and scored a couple of lovely tries with backs running nice lines. Fruean and Dean looked like they might have been forging a bit of an understanding, however they looked a bit weak defensively later in the game, Dean especially. However our attacking style v Zebra was almost non existent and we seem to have gone backwards in our attacking game resorting to the old kick and chase game, albeit done relatively poorly.

For me the backs look completely bereft of confidence and are playing a very, very conservative safe game which is all about not losing rather than winning games. I agree that a lot of our problems stem from our half backs but I still believe that SHC and Weir have the ability and skills to play far better than they are at the moment. Cockerill still needs to find a centre pairing that works and hopefully Bennet will be the missing ingredient in the new year. Still not convinced that we have a good enough back 3 yet. Cockerill is correct that for all his promise Kinghorn has made some real howlers in recent games and needs to cut them out. None of our wingers, despite the odd glimpses, have really impressed so far. Probably Fife has done the most but he even managed to botch up a great break v Zebra by kicking the ball away when under pressure.

I would be happier if our guys were a bit more adventurous and tried some more variation in attack, kept the ball in hand more, went through the phases and tried to recycle and generate some gap, overlaps or mismatches. We might make a few more mistakes but hopefully it would build some confidence playing with ball in hand.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby The Feral Goat on Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:27 am

It is the same inconsistency we have seen in attack for a number of seasons, there also looks to be an inability to think on their feet.

As Doedin said we have scored some really nice tries this season. In attack Dean looks full of confidence he and Kinghorn in particular look dangerous making some nice breaks. Tovey/Burleigh/Johnstone looked good in attack v Leinster but struggled v Zebre. While we can complain about the ref and them being offside did we ever try a little chip over the top and make them think twice about squeezing up I don’t think we did even when we had both our 10s on the pitch.

There is the issue with service from 9 and 10 be it game plan or not it can be too slow so we are frequently up against well set defensive lines and then reliant on individual skill or oppo error to get us over the line. Moreover on occasions when we do get quick ball how often do we see a pass that is not accurate enough too high/low or behind the man that kills the momentum these issues should surely be getting fixed on the training pitch?

Bennett and Van Der Merve to come in later in the year should really add to our backline but short term it will be interesting to see what happens when Dean comes back in to the team, he looked to be making good decisions and for me he was key to the early season attack.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby dolf_lundgren on Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:00 pm

Our attack did look better in the first couple of games. It wasn't rocket science, it was good angles hit at pace, not much more to it than that. We seem to have stopped that for some reason.

It could be down to quality of ball though. If it is slow you cant throw flat passes to a player at pace. The box kick seems to be our go to when it is slow. Annoyingly, even they were better in the first couple of weeks where they were contestable.

I'm not sure it is the tactics which are wrong, more the execution at the moment. It just isn't clicking and there is a dearth of confidence.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby joe soap on Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:45 pm

dolf_lundgren wrote:Our attack did look better in the first couple of games. It wasn't rocket science, it was good angles hit at pace, not much more to it than that. We seem to have stopped that for some reason.

It could be down to quality of ball though. If it is slow you cant throw flat passes to a player at pace. The box kick seems to be our go to when it is slow. Annoyingly, even they were better in the first couple of weeks where they were contestable.

I'm not sure it is the tactics which are wrong, more the execution at the moment. It just isn't clicking and there is a dearth of confidence.


I find a lot to agree with in that.

Edinburgh make breaks, they don't convert as many as they should.
And slow poor quality ball means it doesn't matter who the outside backs try its still slow poor ball. Service from 9 and 10 is slow if the ball they get is slow (and I am not suggesting they couldn't be better, just putting the horse before the cart)

FKL said he didn't know of a good attacking side that didn't have a really good pack. Depends on how we define a really good pack Weegies are a good attacking team, but are doing an amazingly good impression if having no set piece!

What the Weegies do is get rapid support to the breakdown and break; quick ball, and in a line break, often more than one player in support. This is the difference. Edinburgh don't produce enough quick ball especially in successive rucks -this is what puts defences on the back foot in retreat and gives time and space for the backs
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Re: Attacking style

Postby Friday Knight Lights on Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:14 pm

joe soap wrote:
dolf_lundgren wrote:Our attack did look better in the first couple of games. It wasn't rocket science, it was good angles hit at pace, not much more to it than that. We seem to have stopped that for some reason.

It could be down to quality of ball though. If it is slow you cant throw flat passes to a player at pace. The box kick seems to be our go to when it is slow. Annoyingly, even they were better in the first couple of weeks where they were contestable.

I'm not sure it is the tactics which are wrong, more the execution at the moment. It just isn't clicking and there is a dearth of confidence.


I find a lot to agree with in that.

Edinburgh make breaks, they don't convert as many as they should.
And slow poor quality ball means it doesn't matter who the outside backs try its still slow poor ball. Service from 9 and 10 is slow if the ball they get is slow (and I am not suggesting they couldn't be better, just putting the horse before the cart)

FKL said he didn't know of a good attacking side that didn't have a really good pack. Depends on how we define a really good pack Weegies are a good attacking team, but are doing an amazingly good impression if having no set piece!

What the Weegies do is get rapid support to the breakdown and break; quick ball, and in a line break, often more than one player in support. This is the difference. Edinburgh don't produce enough quick ball especially in successive rucks -this is what puts defences on the back foot in retreat and gives time and space for the backs


Glasgow are a good example but I'm putting them with Wasps at the minute, I think they'll have a very tough time vs Exeter and then Montpellier. Either their scrum improves and line out functions or they just won't compete in the big games. I'm not quite as convinced by them as others, Cheetahs was an incredible result but the rest were expected.

I agree our rucking is poor - but that partly comes from bad team selections as Bradbury and du Preez aren't good in the breakdown. Gilchrist and others a bit slow there.
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Re: Attacking style

Postby joe soap on Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:29 pm

Friday Knight Lights wrote:Glasgow are a good example but I'm putting them with Wasps at the minute, I think they'll have a very tough time vs Exeter and then Montpellier. Either their scrum improves and line out functions or they just won't compete in the big games. I'm not quite as convinced by them as others, Cheetahs was an incredible result but the rest were expected.

I agree our rucking is poor - but that partly comes from bad team selections as Bradbury and du Preez aren't good in the breakdown. Gilchrist and others a bit slow there.


agree with you there as well. Only used the Weegies to highlight the importance of rucking and support play, they are very good, Edinburgh are very poor, and long as that is poor worrying about attack style is missing the point
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Re: Attacking style

Postby Friday Knight Lights on Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:35 pm

joe soap wrote:
Friday Knight Lights wrote:Glasgow are a good example but I'm putting them with Wasps at the minute, I think they'll have a very tough time vs Exeter and then Montpellier. Either their scrum improves and line out functions or they just won't compete in the big games. I'm not quite as convinced by them as others, Cheetahs was an incredible result but the rest were expected.

I agree our rucking is poor - but that partly comes from bad team selections as Bradbury and du Preez aren't good in the breakdown. Gilchrist and others a bit slow there.


agree with you there as well. Only used the Weegies to highlight the importance of rucking and support play, they are very good, Edinburgh are very poor, and long as that is poor worrying about attack style is missing the point


Certainly, I am pleased we seem to be finding a baseline intensity with Cockers we just need to be a bit quicker doing everything. Everything is to slow from carries, to rucks, to passing. On support play it's only really Kinghorn who follows up breaks from others which is a problem, you feel where Glasgow expect a break it surprises Edinburgh.

Also, Glasgow look much fitter and leaner, I still think the Edinburgh players don't look quite as well as conditioned as our neighbours.
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