Stat Attack: Trusted faces and trusted places

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Cardiff Blues managed to bounce back from the heavy loss away at Connacht last week with a bonus point win over Benetton at the Arms Park on Sunday.

It was a game of two halves for John Mulvihill’s men, with a half-time deficit of 7-19 turned into a final score of 34-24. I’ve had a look at some noticeable statistics from the game.

Play in the right areas

There was a lot to like from the attacking stats posted by Cardiff Blues on Sunday as we carried for 436m at just over 3m per carry, beat 19 defenders, made 12 line breaks and of course scored five tries, our first try bonus point in the league since the last time we played Benetton back in November.

Most important though was the fact that we manufactured a lot of that good attacking play in the right areas of the field, with 57% possession and 59% territory overall, which included 60% possession and 67% territory in the second half.

Too often this season we have found ourselves playing a lot of rugby inside our own half, and Sunday’s game was actually the first time we had dominated territory in even a 40-minute period in the Guinness Pro14, let alone a whole game, since we played 14-man Cheetahs at the Arms Park back in early November.

Lloyd Williams Benetton 2

The reliable men

International periods are important times of the season in the Pro14, where the side with the best depth often comes to the fore and gives themselves a great chance to finish in a competitive position come May. Fringe players have to step up, but there also must be a core of players available all season who step up and lead.

Cardiff Blues had that on Sunday through four men. Seb Davies had his best game for some time, and in his rightful home at second row, carrying 10 times, one of which resulted in a try, and making 11 tackles, while Ben Thomas got his hands on the ball 22 times, including 10 carries for 25 metres and a line break that led to a try.

Hallam Amos looked really solid at full-back with three successful up-and-unders, as well as getting 30 other touches of the ball, carrying for 92m, breaking the line three times and getting a try assist, and Josh Turnbull earned a well-deserved man-of-the-match after a huge 14 carries for 39 metres, including a line break that led to a try, and a leading 15 tackles.

Cardiff Blues v Benetton Rugby

Defensive wobbles

While there were noticeable improvements in attack, kicking and set piece as the game went on for Cardiff Blues, an area of concern will be the defence as we move from a game against a fairly poor Benetton outfit to a clash with the in-form team at the top of Conference B, Edinburgh.

Giving up 433m at essentially 4m per carry, as well as having 27 defenders beaten and conceding seven line breaks, with three tries going against us, isn’t a great performance, especially considering the Italian side only had 43% possession and 41% territory.

The big concern is the tackle statistics though as Cardiff Blues only made 112 of 139 attempted tackles for an 81% tackle success rate. 27 misses away at Edinburgh could lead to yet another tough game on the road for John Mulvihill’s men.

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