Think of kicking in rugby and your mind goes to Naas Botha hoofing the ball miles into the air or the Heyneke Meyer “liefling” strategy whereby Derick Hougaard used his right foot at nauseum. Whilst times might have changed it does not mean there is no place for boot to ball in modern rugby and Week 17 of Super Rugby proved this in no small measure. So, on this note lets briefly explore the phenomenon that is the attacking tactical kick by looking at the different modern day kicks – I promise it will give you a kick!
Up-and-under, aka Gary Owen: The big skyer that has more hang-time than LeBron is a method to gain territory but with the potential benefit of possible getting the ball back as well. A try as direct result of this tactic is almost as scarceasa full house in poker but comes with the added benefit of looking rather spectacular when the ball is plucked out of the sky at pace and mid-jump a la Folua at his best.
The Jaguares showcased this tactic against the Sharks.
The kick-pass: A flat kick often used by the flyhalf with the sole purpose of gettingthe ball to the winger quicker than Marc Marquez doing a Debonairs delivery.
The Mo’unga-Ennor combination was in full effect this past weekend showing exactly how it’s done.
Chip and chase: In the days of flat defensive lines this short, steep chip option (think a Phil Michelson sand wedge) is often used to get behind the defensive line and put you in a good position to score if you are able to regather the kick.
Johnny Kotze utilised the chip over the Highlanders defenders which Divan Rossouw was able to regather whilst Lions flyer AphiweDyanthi also notched up one of his tries using this method.
Grubber:Similar to the chip except that the ball is rather kept on the ground to minimise the risk of the charge down (basically a “thru-ball” in soccer). Getting nutmegged, like pretty much every football defender in Europe has experienced playing against Messi or Renaldo, is no fun when on the receiving end.
Adam Ashley Cooper benefitted from this option to score against the Brumbies.
TIME TO GIVE HIM THE BOOT
How Daryl Gibson is still employed is beyond me. Yes, there has been the Folau issue as well as the problem of not really having a stable home base in Sydney but how a team can perform so poorly with such a large number of Wallabies at your disposal is pretty pathetic.
Another man who must be close to being forced to walk the plank is Rob senior. The Sharks are likely to be in the position of having to tackle the 2020 Super Rugby season with a fresh-faced squad as many seniors look to further their career abroad. If the current coaching staff couldn’t turn a squad of proven performers into title contenders then the time has surely come for the suit wearers in Durbs to entrust new leadership with the future of Sharks rugby.
KICKING IN TO OVERDRIVE
The Crusaders had a few less than impressive outings over the past month or so but they were back to their devastating best as they quite literally put the boot in to the Rebels. Mo’unga pulled the strings to perfection and exhibited almost all of the kicks mentioned above (done to perfection on each occasion of course) whilst the dangerous back three had an absolute ball.
IF THE SHOE FITS
We are one week away from Super Rugby playoffs and the quarter-final spots are becoming scarcer than a Hashim Amla run. With a number of the contenders playing each other the final permutations might be far from cut and dry but most teams have their fate in their own hands and will know exactly what needs to be done. The top four spots should be set in stone and the Bulls are sure to remain involved. But the Rebels and Chiefs will in all likelihood battle it out for a spot whilst the Sharks and Stormers will also know that nothing but a win will do – given how both these South African sides have performed one might venture to say that they may as well save their unions some money and their fans an extra week of stress by rather missing out on the “privilege” of possibly having to travel to Buenos Aires, Wellington or heaven forbid Christchurch!
The Jaguares caught Rod dup junior day dreaming about how he was going to pull chicks in England next season as Bofelli grabbed the ball from right under his nose after a well placed up-and-under.
Dylan Sage had an industrious outing for the Bulls but the sevens star also had a moment which left him with egg on his face as the outside centre retreated back and put in a diving effort to gather a tactical kick yet was more Protea and less India in his efforts as he split the ball leaving the Highlanders with the easiest of scores.
It proved to be a master stroke from Plumtree to have his experienced All Blacks charging on from the bench. ArdieSavea pulled off four crucial turnovers for his side – in less than 40 minutes of rugby! Dane Coles was his busy self and racked up two scores. With his first effort he was firstly co-conspirator with a sharp move around the edge of the far touchline and was then rewarded for his never-say-die attitude as he followed through with his effort by opportunistically picking up the unattended ball and getting over the whitewash.
And then there was also a great try: Coles was used from the set piece play to hit the ball up in midfield, just inside the Lions half, before the visitors recycled the ball and a smart little wrap around move involving Lam got the ball to Savea roaming free in the outside channel. The electrifying loosie set-off on a power run which included treating Elton Jantjies like his personal door mat before walking a tight rope with the touchline and getting his inside pass away just in time to put Lam over for a brilliant try.
Your resident Couch Critic
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby and Sports Betting Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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