Where have the Australian franchises five-pointers gone?
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Wallaby coach Robbie Deans can forget about his team and bench for the first international against the Lions on June 22 – for the moment.
And spend the time trying to figure out why the five Australian franchises have forgotten how to score tries, those match-winning five pointers.
This weekend the five franchises managed just five tries between them, with the Rebels topping the list with two on the way to a first-time win in six over the Waratahs.
But don’t get too excited about the five, only three of them were good rugby tries – the two by young Rebels winger Tom English, and the one by Force fly-half Sias Ebersohn in the corner, after a decent backline move.
The other two – Israel Folau scored for the Waratahs with an intercept from three metres out to stroll over, and Nic White for the Brumbies, having toed the loose ball through, regathered five metres out with a dive, and slid the distance on the rain-sodden turf.
The Reds went tryless.
Season-wise, the Brumbies have earned a four-try bonus point in four matches, the Reds and Rebels have done it three times, the Waratahs once with their 11-try blitz of the Kings, but the Force has yet to strike a try-scoring bonus point blow.
Not much to show for 13 rounds of rugby – just 11 try-scoring bonus points out of a possible 65.
For the record, the Waratahs top the list so far with 37 tries this season, but that’s inflated by those 11 tries against the Kings, the Rebels are second with 34, the Brumbies third with 33, the Reds have only 26, and the Force 21.
Surprisingly, the Brumbies and Reds have scored the majority of their tries – 24 and 15 respectively – in the second half, and they are the two leading Australian franchises.
But that doesn’t answer the question of why aren’t more tries being scored?
There’s no doubt all coaches have devised a far better defence system, and there aren’t enough attacking footballers to breach those systems.
And there’s a growing and boring tendency to pick and go inside the opposition quarter, rather than spread the attack out wide.
While the referees have also played a part, many aren’t playing advantage enough.
Those Australian results this week – the Brumbies beat the Blues 20-13, the Stormers beat the Reds 20-15, the Force edged past the Highlanders 19-18, and the Rebels beat the Tahs 24-22.
But only seven tries between the eight sides.
Now ask the question why the Chiefs are on top of the Super tournament able?
Six times in 13 matches, the defending champions have earned a bonus point for four tries.
And it’s tries that will beat the Lions. Robbie Deans can now think about his team ans bench, picking those most likely to give him those lost five-pointers.
And let him still live in Sydney.
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