2016 was certainly not the year of the bonus point for Cardiff Blues. Across the 29 European and Pro12 games of the year we managed just eleven. And that’s the total of losing and try bonus points combined.
In the Pro12 table that ended 2016 we were the second lowest bonus point scorers, something that currently leaves us lying nine points behind Glasgow, despite having won just one less game than them. A reminder that bonus points definitely do win prizes.
So where did they come from last year for Cardiff? Well there was seven try and four losing bonus points, with three of the four-try hauls coming in the Challenge Cup thanks to wins over Calvisano and Bristol, as well as a high scoring loss to Harlequins. There were then Pro12 triumphs over Munster, Treviso and Edinburgh resulting in the extra point.
Losing efforts came away to Treviso, before twice when Leinster visited CAP and on the trip to Glasgow. The big issue though is how close the team came to getting further bonus points on a number of occasions, but couldn’t quite turn the chances into points.
I have found thirteen games whereby a bonus point was agonisingly close. On three occasions a losing bonus point was just one score away, ten times we were just one try from the magic four try haul, while against Ulster at home in the new season another try would have been good for a try and losing bonus point. Altogether fourteen points missed out on across the year.
A really frustrating stat on top of the already tough ones to take is that six of the games where a try bonus point was so close were away wins, two of them against the Italian sides. This suggests a mindset of ‘the away win is enough’ when really a side challenging for the top six needs to be turning four points into five as often as possible, especially against Italians.
The start of the 2016/17 season has been particularly bad for lacking bonus points, and Danny Wilson has been speaking about it more and more recently, as well as the players, but as long as white line fever exists, so will Cardiff Blues’ bonus point woes.
Hopefully as the season wears on the side’s fortunes will change, as per last season when we saw a vast improvement after Christmas, and picking up a few bonus points would be a good start on that road. Come on Cardiff!!