Finn Russell Modern defensive trends offer chances to quick thinkers

Finn Russell This is another smart ingredient!

There was some fantastic individual performances in the Champions Cup over the weekend.

Mike Haley was in flying form for Munster with eight defenders beaten and two line breaks. He thrived on a classic European night against French opposition in Thomond Park and really looked the part counter-attacking from full-back.

I haven’t seen every performance from Haley since he joined from Sale Sharks but this performance was the one that showed what the hype was about.

The counter-attacking and ability to beat defenders is one thing. But a basic skill – one that often isn’t as well executed as it should be – is staying square as an attacker and putting another player into space in a 3 v 2 situation.

Haley and JJ Hanrahan attacked the narrow side of the ruck with square hips and shoulders to put Keith Earls away in the corner with another tidy and conscious finish in the corner from the winger.

The ability to stay square means the defender can’t push off on to the next attacker, which helped Earls to get away.

Finn Russell
Mike Haley was critical in the creation of Keith Earls’ try against Racing 92

There was some individual brilliance from Finn Russell as well but it was from a penalty advantage. 

It’s easier to have a go with a grubber or kick and chase when you have the insurance policy of coming back for a penalty, although that’s not to take away from the brilliant skill of Russell.

At Racing, the Scottish out-half is really allowed to express himself and started opening up in the second half before Munster took back control.

The display of skills that really caught my eye was the near carbon copy attack that led to tries from both Jo

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