Cardiff Blues went down to a heavy 40-5 defeat at the hands of Leinster on Sunday evening, as a late blitz secured the hosts yet another bonus point win at the RDS Arena.
It was a disappointing scoreline that didn’t reflect the game, from my point of view, and leaves John Mulvihill’s men with a huge game against Glasgow Warriors next weekend in order to make the first Guinness Pro14 fixture block a largely positive one.
Here’s some stats from Sunday’s game that caught the eye…
The Young Guns
With injuries to Olly Robinson and Willis Halaholo, as well as the absence of Kris Dacey, the team that Cardiff Blues took to Dublin on Sunday was one of the youngest we have fielded for many years, including a first Pro14 start and two debuts.
The starting XV had an average age of 25.7 years old, with only Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull and Jason Tovey over the age of 30, before by the end of the game that had dropped to just 22.5 years old, despite the fact both Turnbull and Tovey were still on the field.
The introductions of Iestyn Harris, Kieron Assiratti, Teddy Williams, Gwilym Bradley, Jamie Hill and Max Llewellyn brought that average age right down, with the forwards having an average age of just 21 at full-time. I wrote this week about a corner being turned when it comes to trusting young players, the future is indeed bright.
Tackle machine check
It seems to be a weekly occurrence now to check in on how many tackles Josh Turnbull has made per game, but this week’s 26 is a quite stunning amount from the number eight who’s engine never seems to run out of gas.
This week he was joined in the 26 club by James Ratti, who put in a big shift on the blindside flank, while Alun Lawrence made 23 tackles on the makeshift openside flank, for a total of 75 tackles made by the starting back row.
That’s almost a third of the total Cardiff Blues tackles coming from those three players on Sunday. Not bad at all for a bit of a thrown together trio.
Too many turnovers
Usually this wouldn’t be a bad thing, as John Mulvihill’s men are still the best in the league at pilfering ball from the opposition at the breakdown. However, this week we’re looking at the other type of turnover.
While we steal a lot of ball, Cardiff Blues have also coughed up a lot of possession this season, with Sunday no different as a number of handling errors contributed to conceding 15 turnovers at the RDS Arena.
That has added to a total of 88 turnovers conceded during the course of the season, with only Zebre and, surprisingly, Leinster conceding more. However, when you have as much possession as the Irish side do then conceding a high number of turnovers is perhaps to be expected. With us still struggling to hold on to the ball for long periods, conceding a lot of turnovers is a problem for the attack.