The 8-9 Drift

Published on: 23rd October 2015

Filled Under: Analysis, International, World Cup 2015

Views: 2043

With the way that teams arrange their defences to dull the strengths of the opposition, it can be difficult to get into a position to exploit weaknesses when you’re in attack and teams are left trying to find a matchup where a back can go against a forward. The problem with this is that there’s always a back leftover that can come across and cover.

With some of the most dangerous open field runners the world, the All Blacks would like to attack Fourie du Preez but South Africa will hide him deep as kick cover. One place that they can’t do that is the scrum, where du Preez will have to cover Aaron Smith around the fringes.

Look for Smith to attack du Preez any time that the All Blacks have a scrum in or near the South Africa half around 20-25m in from the touchline. The All Blacks will line up with one winger wide on the blind side and shift the rest of the backline to the open side, forcing South Africa to match up one on one and leave a winger on an island against his opposite number. In this situation, du Preez (with the help of his loose forwards) will have to account for Aaron Smith.

The objective of the play is for the 8 to feed a pass to Smith as he drifts or for Smith to snipe straight from the base of the scrum. Smith will then look to commit the winger and feed a pass to him or run by him if the winger continues to mark his man. The lines broken and, if you pass to players in space on straight support lines, you’re in for a try.

You can see a great example of this play in action in these two videos:

The Chiefs have a backrow of Japan captain Michael Leitch, All Black tyro Liam Messam and the heir to McCaw in Sam Cane. Smith burns past the trio, who are notably quicker than their Springbok equivalents as well as Brad Webber, who is a speedy scrum half himself. In the second instance, you can see the Chiefs have made an adjustment and that Messam even tries to illegally get at Smith but such is his class that he manages to create a score anyway. The stats might say that Naholo scored those tries but in reality, they belong to Smith and if he repeats the trick against South Africa, they won’t be able to stop him.



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