Rugby Insight: Play of the Week

Former England fly half Andy Goode runs the rule over Saturday's victory over Argentina and picks out his standout play. 

My IBM TryTracker Play of the Week comes shortly after the Joaquin Tucalet yellow card and resulted in a first Test try for Nathan Hughes.

This score had three key elements: fantastic awareness, sublime accuracy and ferocious finishing.

The phases leading to this try were just as important however, as small carries over the gain line edged England ever closer to the opposition 22 metre line. From here they were able to manipulate the space left as a result of the sin bin. 

Ben Youngs (base of ruck) hits Mako Vunipola (circled red) on a short line and the prop takes it tight to the Argentine defence.

Defenders have to commit to Mako, because he is such a destructive ball-carrier, but he also has the ability to steady his feet and make plays, which he does wonderfully to George Ford out the back here. Ford has seen space out wide and made it clear he wants the ball.

Mako’s run has attracted an Argentine defender (about to make tackle), as has the line of Courtney Lawes (wearing number 4 shirt), who is running on his outside shoulder. This enables Ford (about to receive ball) to drift onto the pass.

By Mako taking it that close to the line, the defender is committed; and those outside him jam in. If Mako does that two metres back, the Argentinian defenders don’t commit to the tackle therefore their line integrity stays together, they drift together, and there is no space out wide.

Having received the pass, Ford then busts outside of Agustin Creevy, making it a five-on-two, and without breaking stride he sees that Martin Landajo has crept out of the defensive line (circled blue) and floats a well-weighted pin point pass toward the touchline. This is a tough skill but Ford makes it look effortless.

Hughes bobbles it a little bit, but gains control of the ball. He still has a bit to do at this point, being 20 metres from the try line, but for a big man he is extremely athletic. He sticks the ball under one arm, steps inside and rides the tackle of the covering defence, getting the ball across the whitewash for his first Test try.