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England’s defensive dominance: The weekend in numbers

England’s defensive dominance: The weekend in numbers

England’s defensive dominance: The weekend in numbers

The second round of the Autumn Nations Cup is now in the rearview mirror and we are one step closer to finding out who will finish top of the two groups heading into Finals Weekend.

England have taken command of Group A with an impressive 18-7 victory against Ireland at Twickenham, as Jonny May stole the headlines with a sensational try double.

Wales also responded to their opening round defeat to Ireland in Dublin by overcoming Georgia 18-0 as Wayne Pivac’s side ended their six-match losing run at Parc y Scarlets.

A full throttle weekend of action concluded with a barnstormer between France and Scotland at BT Murrayfield as Les Bleus triumphed 22-15 to move into pole position in Group B.

And with Round 2 done and dusted, what better time to reflect on some of the key statistics from the three games as we cast our eye over the numbers behind the drama…

238 – Tackles made by England against Ireland

Jonny May was rightly showered with plaudits after his starring role as England’s beat Ireland at Rugby HQ on Saturday, with his magical second try one of the best you will ever see.

But as good as the electrifying winger was for the hosts, one look at the statistics from the game showed just how important England’s defensive brilliance was to the result.

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Eddie Jones’ men made a remarkable 238 tackles in 80 minutes – compared to just 72 from Ireland – while they only missed nine as they suffocated the men in green time and time again.

Those are figures that will surely allow England defence coach John Mitchell sleep soundly, even though Ireland managed to grab a second-half consolation through Jacob Stockdale.

Three men in particular were at the heart of that rearguard effort, with Player of the Match Maro Itoje leading the line with 24 tackles along with Tom Curry (23) and Billy Vunipola (22).

94 – Metres carried by Aaron Wainwright

It wasn’t pretty but a win’s a win. That was the overriding emotion for Wales after they ended their barren run under Wayne Pivac with a hard-fought victory over Georgia in Llanelli.

There were promising signs from a number of new caps as Johnny Williams, James Botham and Kieran Hardy all started and handled the step up to the international stage well.

But it was Aaron Wainwright who put in the biggest shift on the evening for the hosts, with the 23-year-old taking the bull by the horns with an all-action display from No.8.

He was awarded Player of the Match after making 18 carries for a total of 94 metres – the most of any player on the field – while he also contributed in defence with six successful tackles.

Williams also deserves an honourable mention for his 13 carries for 80 metres on his debut, with the centre also racking up nine tackles as Wales shut out Georgia.

15 – Carries by Gregory Alldritt for France

France avenged their defeat to Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations earlier this year as Fabien Galthie’s side emerged from a ferocious battle at BT Murrayfield with a 22-15 victory.

The contest was even throughout as the two teams went into the break level at 12-12 before Virimi Vakatawa’s try just two minutes after the restart proved decisive for the Les Bleus.

And one of the visitors’ standout performances was Gregory Alldritt, who continued his impressive run of form from the 2020 Six Nations in which he won three Player of the Match awards.

The No.8 was a relentless force from the first whistle, making the most carries of any player on the pitch with 15 while covering 36 metres, as well as finishing with 14 successful tackles.

His defensive effort was only surpassed by teammate Bernard le Roux, who completed 21 successful tackles, as France nullified the Scotland attack in Edinburgh.

16 – Penalties conceded by Scotland

The defeat for Scotland not only ended their run of five consecutive wins, it also means their Autumn Nations Cup fate is no longer in their hands as France moved top of Group B.

Victory for Les Bleus against Italy will mean they will face the Group A winner in the top placing match on Finals Weekend, with Scotland’s game against Fiji already cancelled.

Gregor Townsend’s men will feel like it was an opportunity missed against France and they were left to rue their indiscipline as they conceded 16 penalties to the visitors’ nine.

The first half was back and forth as they traded penalties, with Duncan Weir perfect from the tee, but every time they got back into the contest, they presented France with another chance.

One positive will be another powerful performance on the wing from Duhan van der Merwe, who carried for 70 metres, while Matt Fagerson was just as effective on his return to the side.

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