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Early results no easy feat

Getting results at the front end of the season is always a complicated process. That we’re enjoying our best start to a Super Rugby campaign since 1999 by winning our opening two games proves just how difficult winning is from the get-go.

Much was written and said around the mindset of the Reds coming into the season and while you can always argue about the method, the reality is we’ve recorded two derby wins – one of which was a nine year drought-breaking win on the road against the Waratahs in Sydney. 

We have every right to be happy right now, especially with our success coming with seven players injured on the sideline.

Securing little pieces of history along the way is important as when you break new barriers or reach new performance milestones. It means there’s improvement within the squad.

Critical in getting the start of the season right is correctly predicting game trends.  I’ve focused on this before but you don’t want to be chasing the competition and doing unnecessary remedial training on areas you can avoid should you pick the trend correctly.

Coaches and spectators have the ability to listen to referees during a match with Sports Ear and this is an important piece to see how a game is progressing, so you can accurately coach player behaviour.

It’s interesting to note the changes from 2011 to 2012 when taking a quick look at the stats.

Last year’s penalty total of 146 penalties through round one games has increased to 162 this year, while the number of penalties against the attacking team has increased from 19 to 27 per cent.

This figure is critical as it illustrates whether teams are going to have a positive mindset around running the ball or if they are going to play field position.

By increasing field position, teams end up in front of the posts where they can place pressure on the opposition with the risk of a penalty goal always looming.

Sure enough the round one number of shots at goal across the competition increased from 38 to 49 per cent of total points scoring.  The number of successful shots also went from 18 to 59 – thanks Mike Harris – and therefore the next action is a kick-off at halfway.

Less actual rugby is played as a result and until the trends show that attacking teams can confidently apply their structures, the best strategy might be to make sure the opposition pays for their sins by accumulating points.

When thinking through the impact of a field position approach there are also many subtle flow-on effects. To be successful with this strategy you need to have your defence working well. 

By kicking you are either increasing the number of set-piece opportunities (lineouts) or are inviting your opponent to play. The option you choose must play away from your opponent’s strength.

In any event you need to have your defensive patterns sorted with three key elements - set piece, kick chase and turnovers - as all three are critical to success. Luckily for the Reds, the good work done by defence coach Matt Taylor has seen us start very well in this regard.

While everyone is worried about the number of tries being scored, it’s the tries you concede that are most crucial. We have let in more than we have scored but we have played the game in front of the posts and subsequently been rewarded with more penalty opportunities than try opportunities which is a result of attack being stifled by uncertainty.

The good news is that by round four the attacking part of the game begins to become more prominent with combinations in teams improving while there is also more clarity in the refereeing approach.

Already we saw 20 less penalties blown last week in comparison to round one. From a Reds perspective,e we want to play an attacking game and it’s how we practice each week.

I’ll continue to watch the trends like a hawk and we are always probing to make sure we can shift to trends while being realistic and understanding that we don’t want to become the victims of how the game is being played at any given point.

Right at this point in time Mike Harris has proved to be very important. Every successful team has a high-quality goal kicker but the good thing about rugby is that teams have a reliance on a number of individuals to score points and win the game.

Managing these players and accurately predicting trends of the game is the difference between winning and losing and at the moment, we’ll continue to ride the wave of what is a record-setting start to our year.

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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