Cardiff Blues fell to a third defeat of the European Challenge Cup campaign on Sunday afternoon as a disappointing second half display cost us against Leicester Tigers.
While calculations are ongoing about how we can make the quarter-final, first let’s look back at the key statistics from the game at Welford Road.
The lineout wobbles spread
After the atrocity that was the lineout in the previous week’s loss at home to Scarlets it was never going to be a quick fix when it came to our throwing game, and so it proved at Leicester where the lineout went at 71%, losing two and a third resulting in scrappy ball.
Perhaps most worrying though is how the lineout problems are impacting other areas of the game. A penalty in opposition territory when we were chasing the game in the final quarter was turned down for a shot at the posts, with the lack of confidence in our throw possibly preventing the kick to the corner.
Worse was at the restarts though where at least three kick-offs were not fielded properly, preventing us from capitalising on momentum from points scored, and at the lowest point allowing Leicester to score in the first few minutes of the second half.
Adams keeps on climbing
There was always a danger that Josh Adams’ try scoring exploits at the Rugby World Cup may have inflated expectations of what he could achieve at the Arms Park, but that certainly has not been the case since his arrival!
Although he was initially named at centre for Sunday’s game the late withdrawal of Hallam Amos saw him returned to his rightful home on the wing and that paid off inside the first few minutes of the game when he expertly finished a flowing backs move.
That was his fifth try in all competitions since making his debut against Pau last month, putting him second on the Cardiff Blues top try scorers list for this season, while his fourth in the Challenge Cup sees him tied for the competition’s top try scorer after five rounds of the pool stages.
Missing tackles in key areas
Interestingly, when comparing the tackle stats, Sunday’s game was remarkably similar. Cardiff Blues missed 22 tackles, making 83% of their tackles, while Leicester Tigers missed 21 tackles, making 86% of their tackles having attempted slightly more.
It’s who missed the tackles that is crucial on this occasion, with 15 of the home side’s missed tackles coming from their starting backs, including seven from their wingers, while 10 of our missed tackles came from our starting pack, with seven coming from our second and back rowers.
With the forwards defending in the areas around the breakdown it is why we were cut open through the middle of our defence so often in the second half, whereas Leicester were able to shepherd us towards the touchline and drift to cover any missed tackles out wide.