Monday 18 December 2017

How to make the most of your team's line-breaks

Matt Healy
Matt Healy

Eamonn Molloy

If your partial to a bet you might be analysing match stats this lunchtime with a view to a flutter on Connacht or a calculated accumulator.

So what can be read into the many percentages and ratings that flash across our screens and fill the sports pages. Does scoring a higher ratio than your opposition reflect on the scoreboard?

Not necessarily.

Let's take a more in-depth look at the figures and how they could influence a coach's training and match strategies. In Connacht's final pool game, we outscored Exeter in possession, territory, carries, rucks won and line-breaks. Not a bad day's work but the Chiefs still took the game 33-24.

Within an hour of the match the analysts will have the match cut into segments and the coach will begin delving into the detail. The initial task is to assess why the possession you had didn't tell more on the opposition or why your carries and line-breaks didn't finish in tries.

The variables can differ for every game:

•Holding possession in the wrong parts of the pitch (using time and valuable energy).

•Possession without direction or tactical decisions.

• From line breaks, is the ball carrier looking for support (to continue momentum) or is the support itself absent.

The outcome of all this analysis then drives the upcoming training sessions with a view to capitalising on the good work to get it over the line.

Where you consistently cannot compete in some areas match after match a change in your playing style and possibly even philosophy maybe required.

The Italian team in the past has competed by playing without the ball, they found they were more effective using an aggressive defence to force errors and penalties from the opposition.

In possession they would quite often use a strong kick chase-game to put them in a better territorial position to defend once more.

On the other hand a team like New Zealand can often survive on equal or less possession than their opposition as when they have the ball they can use it to such devastating effect or as Ireland found just calmly retain it until they get to the whitewash.

From the pool stages few teams are as evenly matched as Gloucester and Connacht. In the individual performances only Matt Healy (above) is as prolific at beating defenders as Kvesic, May, Hook and Sharples. Pat Lam as head of defence must have a well rehearsed strategy to negate these threats while Andre Bell will have built many plays around getting the Lansdowne winger into space.

Interestingly both Jack Carty and Craig Ronaldson score highly at getting off-loads away along with Danie Poolman, George Naoupu and Rob Henshaw. There is a success chain in the modern game that if you can turn an off-load to a line break, you are most likely within a pass of a score.

Coaches must not only develop plays that increase the chances a player will be in enough space to off-load but also have his team organised and empowered to have the right players on the end of those off-loads. Tommy Bowe would have this freedom with Ireland and regularly pops up on the shoulder of players in the mid-field or around rucks.

As coaches many of you may not have the equipment or time to go through match footage, but you would all have taken team traits from your games. The key is to ensuring those traits formulate your future sessions and game-plans.

Young hopefuls brave elements for coaching

OVER 30 young players braved the elements to attend last Monday's session of the East Connacht Regional Development Squad.

Special guest was Connacht's star out-half Jack Carty who put the young hopefuls through a series of drills and games for the hour.

It was a superhuman effort by Jack and the other coaches to keep the players going during the session in the driving wind and rain.

Coach Development Officer, Charlie Couper said: "It was fantastic to have Jack there on such a wet and windy evening and he motivated the young players with his enthusiasm to train at a high intensity.

"Scrum guru David Henshaw and S&C expert Michael Horan also made valuable contributions to the weekly session.

"Many thanks to all the coaches, and especially Jack, for their inspiration as we move forward to our regional games next week."

Irish Independent

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