At last we have rugby union back! This weekend we see the reappearance of Super Rugby where New Zealand sides will play each other. Bearing that in mind and to wet your appetite, here is some analysis on a great team try back in 2016, involving two New Zealand sides, the Highlanders and the Chiefs, played in Dunedin.

The beginning

Matt Faddes, the outside centre for the Highlanders, fires out a wide flat pass to the blindside flanker, Elliot Dixon, who is the furthest circled teammate at the bottom of the picture. Taking the option to get the pass wide with one pass is the correct decision. If Faddes chose to move the ball to Pryor, who is the circled player closest to the passer, then the defender (arrowed), racing across has a good chance of making the tackle and stopping the move. The Chiefs’ defence is drifting across the field. Faddes has three teammates in support so, with an incisive pass, the ball is immediately outside the opposition’s drifting defence.

Dan Pryor. Highlanders v Chiefs, 2016. Try Analysis

The inside ball

Elliot Dixon takes the pass from Faddes. He could try and beat his opponent (circled), directly in front of him, but he is in an excellent position to make the tackle. On the outside, the other Chiefs circled player is also in a good situation against the Highlanders winger, Patrick Osborne. Dixon has either seen the inside option or has received a call from a teammate. The space to break through, as you can see, is back on the inside. With Malakai Fekitoa on his inside shoulder, he pops up a lovely short pass, freeing Fekitoa. He has taken a beautiful angle into the space left by the stretched defence, who have been unable to fill in the area. It’s a lovely bit of skill, and it has unlocked the first line of the Chiefs’ defence.

Dan Pryor. Highlanders v Chiefs, 2016. Try Analysis

Fekitoa breaks into the gap and is tackled quickly by the Chiefs defender who you can see coming across in the above picture. The Chiefs are now trying to regroup from the initial break. Fekitoa in the tackle, as he is going to the ground, passes the ball onto Dan Pryor, who in the above picture, is the teammate directly on Fekitoa’s inside.

Making the right choice

Pryor has now run into the wide open field, and has one defender in front of him. At this point, Pryor has acres of space behind the last defender so could kick or try and beat the last man, or look to keep the ball in hand. All these options and only seconds to make his mind up. He decides he is going to go for the pass. His teammate outside him is covered by a Chiefs defender, so he looks inside. Faddes has a small bit of room, and has raced up in support; he is ready to take the pass from Pryor. The defence, as you can see, is desperately trying to get back to stop the attack.

Dan Pryor. Highlanders v Chiefs, 2016. Try Analysis

The final assist

Faddes takes the pass but is quickly tackled. However, Ben Smith, (circled above in green), is outside of him and now in support and takes the pass. Smith now has a teammate who has given him an option inside him, but Smith steps inside Chiefs defender Damian McKenzie, and, as you can see, has two teammates in support (Osborne and Pryor), and just the one defender, Anton Lienert-Brown. The defender now has a real dilemma. If his teammate had made the tackle on Smith and not been beaten on the inside, he would still be in a relatively good position, but now he is can learn about Epson Adjustment Program He has four Highlanders advancing, and all could potentially score a try from this position. He has to take a risk, and decides to go to the ball carrier as per the arrow on the below picture. He can only hope he can knock him over and stop the offload. Smith is way too proficient not to miss this try scoring opportunity; he sees Lienert-Brown approaching and offloads to Pryor, who is directly next to him.

Dan Pryor. Highlanders v Chiefs, 2016. Try Analysis

Pryor, who has been in the move earlier, has continued being available in support to his ball carriers, and has the relatively easy task of running the last few yards and diving over the try line. It is a fantastic team effort, and capped off a fine Highlanders win on the night.

Dan Pryor. Highlanders v Chiefs, 2016. Try Analysis

Overall analysis

From the very offset of the attack, the Highlanders have taken the correct option at every stage. The first pass is flat and instantly takes defenders out of the equation. The short inside ball from Dixon and the angle taken by Fekitoa slices the Chiefs’ first line of defence wide open. Once that first break is made, the Chiefs are in retreat, frantic to get back. Pryor again has time to make a decision and picks the correct one, and once Ben Smith is on the ball, then it is no surprise that he provides the final assist back to Pryor. It was a well-worked collective team try. If you want to see the try in its entirety, then go onto YouTube and put in the search, “Top 10 Super Rugby NZ Tries.” This try is around two minutes and twenty-five seconds into the clip.