Stats don't tell you everything, but they don't paint a pretty picture for the last AB/SA game.
MOTM voting was tricky - I went for Savea and Mo'unga, and I was tempted to give Read a vote, but he accounted for about half (4) of our penalties (9), so he droped out. Finding a third vote was hard.
From looking at the stats of the game (see link above), here is the crucial stat for me - according to ESPN, we had one offload. All game. We just never got going. Before this test, what money would you get if you bet that Etzebeth (1) would have the same number of offloads as the entire AB team?Embed from Getty Images
So, what can we learn from the stats?
We played with the ball for 40% of the test (apparently) but kicked it 21 times in comparison to their 20.
Beauden Barrett probably had his worst game in black: Five runs for 11 metres, although he beat three defenders. He made slightly more tackles (4) than he missed (3), but conceded three turnovers. It's worth noting that a lot of those metres and (at least) two of those defenders beaten happened after he went to FB.
Btw, in thirty minutes, Mo'unga ran twice for 10 metres, and beat two defenders, making one tackle and missing none.
Where is the front foot ball?
Only two forwards ran for more than 10 metres (Whitelock, 12; Taylor, 23 - 15 of them from one break), and there were a few missed tackles with Whitelock missing two and making 10, and Franks missing two and making nine. Taylor also missed one and made nine, but also conceded one turnover, and under threw at least one line out, being outplayed by Marx.
If you take out the hookers (where Marx ran for one more metre than Taylor), their locks ran for about the some amount of metres (26) as the rest of our starting forward pack (31).Embed from Getty Images
Our loosies ran for a total (including Savea) of 10 metres. In comparison, SA got 100 from theirs, with Du Toit getting 44 of them. That's telling, as he beat a number of defenders, including making SBW (amongst others) look a bit silly.
Frizell made 12 tackles, missing none (leading the forwards) but ran once for two metres. That's it. I don't think he got many chances of course, thanks to the fucking stupid kicks and dropped balls, but nevertheless, we got no real go forward from any of our supposedly 'power' runners (except one Taylor break that led to a try). SA defended well, but also I don't think we ever really tried to use him or Read or Savea (Cane has zero running metres btw) anywhere except for tackling. We miss Moody, BBBR and even Squire there.
Is it time for the midfield to be re-assessed?
While the individual missed tackles are a killer, a lot of them happened through 10-14. A total of 24 tackles were missed according to ESPN, with B Barrett (3), SBW (3, I think one leading to a try), Crotty (2, including one misalignment leading to a try), Ioane (2), and Naholo (1) all missing tackles.
Looking at SBW, it's hard not to wonder whether he should be first choice. He has had one good game this year (versus the French), but been poor in the last two. In this game, he made two passes, two runs, and gained as many metres (3) as he missed tackles (3), while also giving up a penalty.
Crotty led all tacklers (14) with two misses and one turnover, and managed 39 metres on eight runs - but looked out of place on defence at times - quite simply, he is just better at 12. It seems past time for ALB to be given a shot - contributing 16 metres off three runs, while also making three tackles with no misses. Goodhue's sickness is a shame, but his the future.
So, lots to work on - not just tackling and kicking. Reading those stats, I can't see how we won - which just shows their limitations - because they don't show the quality of decisions in the last 10 minutes when we got ball, straightened things up, got some metres from the subs (RM with 10, ALB with 16), kicked better, and used the forwards (both as a group and individually - Pat T with 2 runs for 6 metres helps here), and managed to get over the line.