Cardiff Blues fell to a tough defeat against Scarlets on Friday night to finish the festive derby period with a defeat, in a game that the players will no doubt feel they could have won.
I’ve had a look at a few of the key statistics from the action at the Arms Park.
Chances, chances, chances
Once again Cardiff Blues found ourselves on the wrong side of the possession and territory statistics, with just 44% of the ball and 44% of the field position. This completes a clean sweep in the derbies as we had less of the possession and territory against Ospreys and Dragons as well.
Fortunately we were still able to make more of what ball we had than the opposition, beating 30 defenders, making 14 offloads and finishing with 13 clean breaks. Scarlets, on the other hand, could only muster 20 defenders beaten, four offload and two clean breaks.
The problem was that Cardiff Blues could not turn more of those attacking statistics into points. Making the most of the ball we have is a positive thing, but upping those possession and territory stats to ensure we’re playing in the right areas for longer is something to be aimed for.
The slinky Samoan
One of the standout players over this festive period has been Rey Lee-Lo, who put in another excellent performance against Scarlets, exposing Steff Hughes a number of times as the Wales coaching staff looked on and considered who would be named as the centres in their upcoming Six Nations squad.
12 carries for 60 metres with four defenders beaten, two clean breaks and a try assist were quite outstanding statistics from the 33-year-old, who seems to be playing as well as ever despite being at an age that some would describe as ‘advanced’ in rugby terms.
It takes his total attacking stats over the festive period to 24 carries, 116 metres made, five defenders beaten and five clean breaks overall. Not bad when you consider the above lack of possession and territory.
Unfortunately the statistics do underline in stark honesty the two areas that really cost Cardiff Blues on Friday night, and it leads to individuals being named with pressure on them to get things right before a big game against Leicester next week.
The lineout was the real concern as after a few weeks of getting by at a just-about acceptable level it disintegrated in dramatic fashion against Scarlets. Securing seven of 11 throws at 63% is well below par, and the manner with which two of them were lost were almost laughable with not a single jumper from the home side going up.
Goal kicking had an even lower success rate with just 40% of kicks going over. These were both conversions as three penalty attempts slid by the posts, with just one of those being successful potentially being the difference between winning and losing.
Forwards coach Tom Smith, as well as goal kickers Jarrod Evans and Jason Tovey, have to take those stats on the chin and put it right this week.