Gainline success

Despite Australia dominating possession 64% to 36%, the key stat in England's favor was gainline success. England with 90% gainline Success compared to only 65% gainline success from Australia.

Achieving gainline success and earning the right to play wide leads into the next point of analysis: width of attack.

Tackle sequence and completion rate

Despite Australia having a decent tackle completion rate and very good tackle sequence, they still missed vital tackles that led to two of England's tries. 

The below image shows a tackle matrix produced by Rugby Analytics and Hudl Sportscode, which is able to identify areas of weakness in the Australia defensive system.

The tackle matrix is a complex table showing areas where Australia missed their tackles with a clear sequence of events that led to England’s first and third tries.

  1. Australia missed 60% of their tackles where England played phases consecutively in the same direction with quick ball and with width, meaning Australia did not have time to fold defenders around the corner and get organised in defence. 

Lack of dominant tackles, poor accuracy at defensive rucks as well as England’s variation in attack with Owen Farrell directing play as the primary first receiver. 40% of his contributions from this position contributed to these vital tackles being missed.

The missed tackle matrix output from Hudl Sportscode showing the key tackle stats from the match.

Width of attack

When we look at the average attacking width of the two teams, Australia used more width on attack with an average of 7meters however the whole picture they attacked 77% of their ball carries was within 10 meters of the ruck, that played in to the hand of England’s strong defence. (92% Tackle Accuracy). This narrow attack was also a factor in Australia's difficulty to win the gain-line battle as they crashed into tightly-defended areas close to the ruck. 

England on the other hand had an average of only 6m attacking width but had 36% of those attacking plays were between 10 and 25 meters, giving the impression that they wanted to suck the Australian defenders in and expose the space out wide. 

England's gain line success and quick ball resulted in Australia missing important tackles that played a part in two of England's three tries from structured play.

Despite Australia having a 90% tackle completion, England attacked with an average width of 6m (this is relatively narrow compared to the RWC average of 9-10m). However, 36% of England's ball carries where between 10 and 25 meters, a clear indication that England were able to suck in Australian defenders and then exploit the space out wider.

Playing around the corner

If we look at the build-up of the two lineout tries from England, they had a specific plan to suck in defenders playing off 9 from the edge, moving phases by phase around the corner and stretching the Australia defence. This tactic was effective in leaving Australia over-committed on the nearside.

For England’s first try, Australia missed two tackles out wide on the second Phase. These missed tackles allowed England into 22m area with great momentum and Australia were unable to recover as England's players played quickly the same way to the left again and had a numerical advantage. 

Despite Australia not missing tackles during these phase, the speed of England attack meant Australia were down on numbers.

One phase before England's first try in the left-hand corner. Quick phase ball around the corner stretched the Australian defence to the point where they ran out of numbers.

England's third try

England third try was basically a repeat of the first try. With England playing around the corner until running out of space and then changing direction. Australia missed two tackles out wide (both by Beale on the 2nd Phase and 5th Phase).

Once again the speed and width of England’s Attack left Australia over-committed on the nearside and bunched within 10 metres of the ruck. Farrell found Kyle Sinckler with a flat pass in the midfield to expose this midfield gap created by bunching too close to the ruck closer in.

Australia are bunched close to the ruck and a gap is left in the midfield for Sinckler to target on his way to the line.


It was England's speed at generating continuous attacking phases that caused Australia genuine problems in this match - allowing themselves to get across the advantage line with regularity and creating opportunities in the wider channels with the Wallaby defence outnumbered and backpedaling out wide. 

It will be interesting to see how England set out their tactics against New Zealand in the semi-final. They can choose to either play a slower and structured game which is more low risk against a team that is extremely good at punishing errors, or England can take the game to the All Blacks as they did to the Wallabies in this game.