Cardiff Blues made it back-to-back derby wins on Boxing Day as a Shane Lewis-Hughes try and the combined kicking of Jarrod Evans and Jason Tovey secured a 16-12 win over the Dragons.
On another rainy day at the Arms Park, here’s the key statistics from a fourth straight Guinness Pro14 victory.
Defence wins the day
For the second game in a row Cardiff Blues spent large amounts of the 80 minutes without the ball, as Dragons finished with a roughly 60% share of both possession and territory.
However, they could not do enough to get points past a home defence that made 160 tackles with a 91% success rate, missing just 15. That meant restricting the visitors to just four line breaks, with good discipline resulting in just six penalties conceded.
There was also victory in the battle over the ball as Cardiff Blues won the ball on the floor seven times, as opposed to four for the Dragons. An all-round strong performance on the defensive side of the game.
The Tackle Man
It’s been a meteoric rise for James Ratti from Cardiff RFC player at the start of the season to now arguably first choice second row for Cardiff Blues in key Welsh derby games over Christmas.
Boxing Day saw the 22-year-old top the tackle stats across both sides, as he made a monumental 22 tackles without missing any at the Arms Park.
That, combined with 14 tackles against Benetton and 16 against his old side the Ospreys, leaves him with 52 tackles and just one missed in three Guinness Pro14 starts. If he maintains that then Ratti could be the surprise of the season.
Making the most of possession
While Cardiff Blues once again had to make to do without much ball on Boxing Day, we still managed to put together some good attacking numbers against the Dragons even though we only crossed for one try.
Carrying for 365 metres at just over three metres per carry was impressive, while 14 offload and 23 defenders beaten led to 11 line breaks, with Dragons forced to miss 23 tackles during the 80 minutes.
With both sides making 25 kicks from hand, the task now for John Mulvihill’s men is to work on holding on to possession longer, building pressure and converting that into tries.