Cardiff Blues secured an impressive 29-7 bonus point over Connacht at Rodney Parade on Saturday night to make it two from two in the Guinness Pro14.
John Mulvihill’s men took a 10-0 lead in at the break, and after a tricky 20 minute period at the start of the second half that saw the Irish side score and Dillon Lewis sent to the sin bin, the hosts roared back into life with three tries in 15 minutes to secure all five points.
Here are some of the key stats that came out of the game.
The tackle twins
Over the first two games of the season, James Botham and Shane Lewis-Hughes have been the standout players for Cardiff Blues, and the standout back rowers in the Pro14. Their partnership at flanker has probably been the best part of both performances.
Carrying-wise they’ve added a pace and strength to the attacking game that has been necessary for some time, but it’s defensively they have stood out.
Against Connacht, Lewis-Hughes made 22 tackles and Botham 18, taking their respective tallies up to 43 and 37, the first and second highest in the league. Lewis-Hughes has also won four turnovers, with Botham on three, making them a feared combination. Now they just need a duo name!
Defence wins games
While the try bonus point was excellent reward for an attack which functioned much better than away in Zebre during round one, it was the defence once again that was the bedrock of a winning performance for Cardiff Blues.
177 tackles made with an 89% tackle success rate kept Connacht scoreless in the first half, and crucially kept them at bay for around 15 minutes at the start of the second half when they were pretty much camped in our 22, rather than allow them to create any sort of momentum.
That leaves the Cardiff Blues defence as the best in the league according to the Pro14 stats after two rounds, making the most tackles with 373, winning the most turnovers with 22, and with only Edinburgh and Glasgow having a better tackle success rate.
Dacey me rollin’
After missing out on the squad in week one, Kris Dacey was thrown into action early on Saturday night after Kirby Myhill went down after 20 minutes and went on to make a huge 20 tackles as he showed he has plenty in the tank still at 31 and after missing much of last season with injury.
His outing against Connacht was his 160th appearance for Cardiff Blues, just three off making the top 10 in the post-2003 appearance list, but even more impressive was his try tally after pushing over for the bonus point score at Rodney Parade.
Dacey now has 27 tries, taking him above Chris Czekaj and Dan Fish in the post-2003 try scorer list up to sixth, as well as scoring in his eighth straight season. The try machine!