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Magnificent Maro and formidable Faletau: Finals weekend in numbers

Magnificent Maro and formidable Faletau: Finals weekend in numbers

Magnificent Maro and formidable Faletau: Finals weekend in numbers

Autumn Nations Cup Finals weekend did not disappoint.

Four hugely competitive and entertaining contests were played out, culminating in Sunday’s dramatic final which England won in sudden death against France to delight the 2,000 fans making their return to Twickenham.

The tone for the weekend was set on Saturday lunchtime as Fiji made up for lost time, running in six tries – including a hat-trick for Nemani Nadolo on his international comeback – against a gallant Georgia at BT Murrayfield.

Ireland sealed third place by beating Scotland 31-16 in Dublin, with Keith Earls scoring twice, while Wales picked up a morale-boosting victory over Italy in Llanelli to earn fifth spot.

As ever, there were some impressive statistics on display from all sides, who each played their full part in contributing to a memorable weekend of rugby.

We’ve delved into the stats to provide an overview of Finals weekend in numbers…

2 – turnovers won by Maro Itoje

England ensured their triumphant autumn ended with another trophy added to the cabinet, edging past France 22-19 thanks to Owen Farrell’s sudden death penalty following a captivating draw in the 80 minutes.

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The success of Eddie Jones’ side has been built upon the power and reliability of the pack, with Maro Itoje playing a key role throughout the tournament.

The lock was as influential as ever on Sunday, making 12 tackles and embarking on nine carries as well as winning two crucial turnovers – the last of which, in sudden death, proved pivotal in helping England over the line.

6 – tackles broken by Brice Dulin

France may have been without an array of regular first-choice players at Twickenham but their performance only served to emphasise the enviable strength in depth at Fabien Galthie’s disposal.

They were seconds away from winning the match in normal time, only for Luke Cowan-Dickie’s last-gasp try to send the game to sudden death, and plenty of players put their hands up to be considered for future selection.

One of those was Brice Dulin. At 30 years of age, the full-back is not among the glittering crop of French youngsters but he showed what he has to offer in a fine display which saw him score the game’s opening try, make 70 metres and break six tackles – the highest tally on either side on Sunday.

118 – metres made by Jacob Stockdale

Another full-back in fine form over Finals weekend was Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale, who made more metres (118) with ball in hand than anyone else.

The Ulster man may not have got on the scoresheet but he carried a consistent threat and kept himself heavily involved in the action – of the home side, only CJ Stander made more than Stockdale’s 13 carries.

Stockdale’s display helped Andy Farrell’s side end 2020 as they began it, with victory over Scotland in Dublin, and he will hope to build on this display in next year’s Guinness Six Nations.

His opposite number on Saturday, Stuart Hogg, also stood out. The Scotland captain broke eight tackles in his 10 carries, making 83 metres in the process along with two offloads, but was left frustrated by a familiar result in a city his side have not won in since 2010.

18 – carries by Taulupe Faletau

The leading carrier on Finals weekend was wearing the red of Wales as Taulupe Faletau was at his unstoppable best against Italy in the fifth-placed play-off.

The No.8 made 18 carries on Saturday, eating up a remarkable 101 metres in the process to end as the only player on his side to break into three figures for metres gained.

When added to six broken tackles, two offloads and – not forgetting his defensive responsibilities – 12 tackles made as well as a turnover win, it all added up to a Player of the Match display for the 30-year-old.

Italy posed an attacking threat themselves despite ultimately going down 38-18 and debutant Monty Ioane impressed, making the most metres (109) of anyone on either side in Llanelli.

5 – tackles broken by Josua Tuisova

The weekend kicked off with a belter between Fiji and Georgia at BT Murrayfield in a contest which saw the Fijian wingers in sensational form.

Nemani Nadolo’s hat-trick capped a fairytale first match since coming out of international retirement while, on the opposite wing, Josua Tuisova was a thorn in Georgia’s side from the outset.

The in-form Lyon star made 97 metres from his 10 carries, broke five tackles and gave two offloads – one of which superbly set up Mesulame Kunavula’s try in the second half.

Not forgetting, of course, that Tuisova went over for a score himself in the first period to help the Flying Fijians on their way to a victory made all the more impressive by the time they have spent in quarantine over the past month, due to a Covid-19 outbreak which forced the cancellation of all their group games.

20 – tackles by Tornike Jalagonia

Georgia may have ended up winless in the Autumn Nations Cup but they will have gained invaluable experience from taking on tier one nations and showed plenty to suggest they could hold their own if given further opportunities in the future.

Their back-rowers were particularly impressive at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, with flanker Beka Saginadze crossing twice late on and No.8 Tornike Jalagonia putting in an all-action display alongside him.

Jalagonia signalled his early intentions with a lovely step and surging run in the 12th minute and he was at the heart of his side’s defensive efforts, making 20 tackles – not missing a single one – and winning a turnover.

Only Scotland’s Jonny Gray matched Jalagonia’s tackle tally across Finals Weekend and the 21-year-old’s performance was one of several positives for the Lelos despite the result.

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