Stat Attack: Searching for positives

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Cardiff Blues fell to a thoroughly disappointing defeat at the hands of Edinburgh on Saturday night, going down 11-19 at the Arms Park.

A performance that had very few redeeming features led to a loss that failed to build on last week’s bonus point win over Southern Kings, and left us with a lot of work to do ahead of travelling to Scotland to face Glasgow Warriors next weekend.

In amongst it all there were a few noticeable statistics to run through in this week’s Stat Attack.

Watching the game slip away

The conditions at the Arms Park on Saturday night were far from favourable for the running style of rugby that Cardiff Blues have tended to play under John Mulvihill, and were a large part of why we were so poor defensively.

In the end it was 28 missed tackles, a tackle completion rate of 85%, that seriously contributed to our downfall, particularly when we were on the back foot for the majority of the game with only 42% possession and 43% territory.

The conditions were the same for both teams though, and Edinburgh did not struggle in the same fashion. We looked good shape-wise, but lost the ability to actually make the tackles. Tough to watch.

Mark Bennett Edinburgh

The one improvement

After the win at Southern Kings last week the noticeable statistic was four lost lineout, with a lot of talk on social media after the game being focused around our shoddy lineout.

This week it’s all change though, as 15 out of 15 Cardiff Blues lineouts were won, up to 100% success rate.

Yes a lot of the ball was secured safely at the front, rather than offering quick ball from the back of the lineout, but after last week’s horror show it was a big step forward.

It does beg the question though, did we only practice lineouts and nothing else in training last week?

Defensive imbalance

Perhaps something for defence coach Richard Hodges to consider is the priorities of the forwards in defence, as second row duo Rory Thornton and Seb Davies comfortably led the tackle stats at full-time with 18 and 16, respectively.

Olly Robinson and Josh Turnbull at flanker, on the other hand, only made 16 tackles between them, as the back row targeted the jackal heavily, getting little reward from referee Frank Murphy.

With Liam Belcher winning a superb three turnovers over the ball, perhaps the first focus of every forward should be making tackles, safe in the knowledge that there are a number of players in the team capable of carrying out the jackal.

Rory Thornton Leinster

Nipping ahead

Matthew Morgan has started the season in great form, winning the man-of-the-match award against the Southern Kings and certainly being a contender for best Cardiff Blues player against Edinburgh on Saturday.

Across both games he has carried the ball 23 times, made 119 metres, and scored a try, with John Mulvihill singling out his showing on Saturday as trying to add some spark to an otherwise poor attack.

Lloyd leaps Melon

In last week’s Stat Attack there was disappointment for Gethin Jenkins as he lost his record for Wales test caps to Alun Wyn Jones and saw Lloyd Williams draw level with him in second place on the Cardiff Blues appearances list.

Now the scrum-half has taken second place outright, making his 196th appearance against Edinburgh. He could now make his 200th outing as early as Cheetahs at home, while setting his sights on Fa’ao Filise’s record of 255 games.

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