Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall's chalkboard: How the Wallabies can challenge the All Blacks defensively

David Pocock shows his dejection during the first Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty Images
David Pocock shows his dejection during the first Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks. Photo / Getty Images

After conceding six tries last weekend, Australia need to focus on shutting the All Blacks down. But, they were also inept on attack, and they won't win tomorrow without challenging the All Blacks defensively, so here's how they need to improve.

In Sydney they were far too deep on attack. They got enough ball but they didn't challenge the All Blacks defensively and a lot of that came down to how deep the first receivers, including Bernard Foley, were standing. It allowed the All Blacks to come forward and knock them over behind the advantage line and slow their ball down at the breakdown as they were on the front foot.

Many teams now use forwards in the attack line, and there are few better at doing it than the All Blacks, and in particular Brodie Retallick.

The forwards now offer more of a variation than just crashing the ball up.

As you can see in Diagram 2, the way this works for the All Blacks is that a forward receives the ball and has several options - to carry himself, pass to the player beside him, or roll into what is a transition play where he shifts the point of contact and pass out the back to attack the midfield or further wide. If done properly, all of those options can cause headaches for the opposition defence.

Retallick has got to the point where he exercises his options while almost at the point of contact, an incredibly difficult thing to do because of the pressure he is put under by the defence, and one that is hard to mimic, as we have seen.

Australia were using the set-up from Diagram 1, which was way too deep. The first ball carrier started too deep, didn't engage defenders, and the ball was shovelled across with the All Black defence in Wallaby faces.

This is just a micro skill of the game but I wanted to highlight it because it has such an impact on the game. When you play behind the advantage line you struggle to break the defensive line, and I can hardly recall a clean break by the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium. If they are going to challenge the All Blacks, Quade Cooper, and Foley are going to have to flatten up and engage defenders, or suffer the same fate as last weekend.

- NZ Herald

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