Northampton Saints’ revival under New Zealander Chris Boyd, who was appointed as Director of Rugby at Franklin’s Gardens in the summer of 2018, has been really impressive. They have gone from being a mid-table team to a team looking to finish in the top four. One of the players who has been instrumental in that rise has been their co-captain, Number 8 Teimana Harrison. This try, scored by him against Wasps in their Premiership game earlier this season, showed the quality that the Saints have in their team.
This wasn’t the most complex try tactically, but the way it was created was what made it interesting.
The move began with the ball in a breakdown situation, and South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach, who has left the club this summer to join Top 14 side Montpellier, played the ball out towards Wales fly-half Dan Biggar. Biggar then passed it to Samoa international back Ahsee Tuala, who is in the green circle in this image.
This is where it gets interesting. Instead of passing straight away, Tuala holds the ball and waits for the two Wasps defenders to move forwards, which they do, assuming the ball will go to the Saints player behind Tuala. The black arrows show these movements.
Instead, when Tuala has the space, which the defenders vacated, he plays the ball out to Teimana Harrison, who is on the wing.
You can see how there are no defenders blocking Harrison’s path, and this is another reason why this try was scored. Due to the breakdown situation in the middle of the pitch, they have all come inside, leaving the Saints the room to attack down the wing and score in that area.
Again, this isn’t a long analysis, but what makes this try special was the way that the Saints moved the ball quickly out to Tuala, who then waited and delayed his pass out to Harrison. This is what took the defenders out of the game, and gave the Samoan the space to set up Harrison.