Cardiff Blues finished the run of Welsh derbies in style on the weekend with a 29-20 win over 14-man Scarlets at the Cardiff City Stadium.
After the disappointment over the performance against the Ospreys the week before, and the circumstances surrounding the departure of John Mulvihill in the build up to the game, it was an excellent result to start a new era at the club. Here are some stats to cast an eye over…
Jinkin’ Jarrod runs the show
Over the previous two weeks the fly-halves for Cardiff Blues; Jarrod Evans, Jason Tovey and Luke Scully, have either carried or passed the ball 16 times between them. Against the Scarlets, Evans passed or kicked 32 times as he and Tomos Williams effectively ran the game from half-back, creating all three tries and scoring one themselves.
Of course they were given a platform by the forwards, and up against an opposition that was a man light for roughly 50 minutes, but you still need to play a bit and we did that brilliantly, beating 23 defenders and making 10 line breaks, with 100 carries averaging 3.8 metres per carry.
With 57% possession and 59% territory we were able to keep our foot on the throat so that when the Scarlets did have their big chance through Steff Evans, he had much further to go to score and the miss-kick let us off the hook.
Ill-discipline continues to strike
Despite the positives overall from the game against the Scarlets, there was a period in the 20 minutes after half-time where the away side were very much on top, largely thanks to a run of penalties conceded by Cardiff Blues.
In the end we conceded 12 penalties despite coming out on top, which have added to 128 total penalties conceded in the Pro14 this season, the most of any team in the league. 28 of those have come at the set piece, meaning 100 have come from open play, averaging nine a game.
With eight yellow cards awarded to our players, the concern is that Cardiff Blues will gain a reputation amongst referees as an ill-disciplined team and they will start expecting infringements, perhaps looking for some that aren’t even there.
The Tackle Machine
There’s a fair argument to be made that the stat attack series on the blog is just a shrine to Josh Turnbull, but it’s not my fault he churns out performance after performance packed with a work rate that puts most other players on the field to shame.
Against the Scarlets he carried eight times, more than any other forward, and made 14 tackles, with only James Botham (15) topping him. That takes his total tackles made in the league this season to 134, more than anyone else in the Pro14.
With his seven turnovers won putting him fourth in the league he is a double threat in defence, and his leadership continues to be key in the squad. Is it possible to clone rugby players?