Stat Attack: can’t catch, won’t catch

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Cardiff Blues went down to an embarrassing 29-0 defeat at the hands of Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday night as the Guinness Pro14 returned.

It was the first time we have been nil’d since the European Challenge Cup defeat away at Sale in December 2017, and the first time it’s happened in the league since January 2010 when we lost 26-0 to Ospreys.

I’ve picked out some of the noticeable stats from the game, although they generally don’t make pretty reading.

Toothless

In all honesty Cardiff Blues were lucky to score zero on Saturday, as we hardly, if at all, threatened the Connacht try line. In fact, we did not visit their 22 in possession at all in the first half.

All-in-all we only manufactured three line breaks, beat 10 defenders and completed a solitary offload as we made 14 handling errors as part of 20 turnovers conceded. 44% territory overall is not good enough.

233 metres made at barely two metres per carry left us fighting a losing battle all game, running into green wall after green wall when we were able to cling on to the ball.

15.02.20 - Connacht v Cardiff Blues - Guinness PRO14 -

The main man

One player to come out of the game with his head held high was Olly Robinson, who should have won man-of-the-match despite being on the side that lost 29-0.

Five turnovers, 14 tackles and nine carries was a huge shift from the openside flanker, particularly impressive seeing as he left the field on 49 minutes. If he had stayed on he would have been well on the way to leading the tackle stats.

Robinson was part of an effective back row who also retain some integrity as Will Boyde won a turnover and made 12 tackles while Josh Turnbull made a huge 19 tackles. James Ratti and Rhys Gill also impressed with their 13 tackles. Between these five players they made over half of Cardiff Blues’ total tackles.

Olly Robinson Connacht

The lineout…again

Just when you think the quality of the lineout cannot get any worse, it reaches probably the lowest point it has been at so far.

The official statistics state that Cardiff Blues won just 18 of 24 lineouts on Saturday night, but in truth it’s even worse than that as at least two turnovers came after we officially ‘won’ the lineout but with ball so scrappy that it caused a turnover immediately after it.

One of the lost lineouts led directly to the first try as an overthrow on our own five metre line went straight to Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan to score, not the first time we have conceded a try in that fashion this season.

With stats available from 14 games, the Cardiff Blues lineout has been won 173 times from 205 throws, a success rate of 84%. Not great in itself but when you factor in the immediate turnovers it’s probably closer to 75%.

Serious questions are now being asked about the future of forwards coach Tom Smith.

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