Stat Attack: Age is but a number

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Cardiff Blues overcame Benetton on Sunday after a fine second half performance that saw Dai Young’s men claim an important bonus point win to set up an intriguing final weekend of the season.

Going in 14-10 down at half-time, an early second half try was followed by two more as the game wore on so that Cardiff won the second half 0-19. Here are some selected stats…

Captain fantastic

Josh Turnbull led the Cardiff Blues once again on Sunday and produced a captain’s performance as he led the side in restricting Benetton’s lead during the first half, and led the side in carrying the game to the Italian side in the second half.

In attack he produced 13 carries from number eight, while in defence a huge 18 tackles was comfortably more than anyone else in the team. It means that overall in the Guinness Pro14 he has 113 carries this season, sixth in the league, and 194 tackles this season, more than anyone else in the league.

Turnbull turned 33 at the end of last week but is showing no signs of slowing down, churning out big performances week-in, week-out. Aside from the short suspension at the start of this season, he has started in 32 straight games, meaning he has not missed a league game through injury since March 2019. The ultimate professional.

Staying in control

During the first half out in Treviso, Cardiff Blues only saw 38% of the ball and enjoyed 35% of the territory, as we kicked the ball away too much and invited pressure on to ourselves, before dominating with 72% of possession and 77% territory in the second half.

A big reason for the overall dominance though was keeping turnovers and penalties down, something which has been an issue for the side all season.

Against Benetton we conceded just 10 turnovers and gave away only eight penalties, making the total number under 20 for the first time since beating Scarlets at Cardiff City Stadium on New Year’s Day. That will be crucial against Edinburgh next week.

Razor sharp

The man-of-the-match award may have gone to Ellis Jenkins once again on Sunday, but Rey Lee-Lo can’t have been far behind in the consideration after yet another superb showing in the centre.

14 carries for 35 metres, beating seven defenders, making a line break and scoring a try along the way, are the stats from a standout attacking performance, while seven tackles led the backs in defence and led directly to two turnovers being won.

It’s not bad at all from the 34-year-old who is playing with all the energy and exuberance of a 24-year-old, and is showing no signs of slowing down at all.

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