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Best stats from Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

Best stats from Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series

Monty Ioane stats

Three nail-biters, history and tries galore – Round 1 of the Autumn Nations Series certainly did not disappoint.

Digging a little deeper, and the numbers point to some intriguing outcomes, and leave us wondering what were anomalies, and what may be trends that continue throughout the rest of November.

Firstly, a quick recap of what happened. In chronological order, Italy earned an emphatic 49-17 win over Samoa at the same time as Scotland got the better of Fiji 28-12.

Then New Zealand ran away with it against Wales, coming out on top 55-23 victors, and Ireland edged out world champions South Africa 19-16 in a white-knuckle ride in Dublin.

Last up on Saturday were Grand Slam champions France, who pipped Australia at the death, 30-29, and it was the same scoreline at Twickenham as Argentina shocked England.

So with that in mind, what were the key insights from Sage which jumped out?

Sage

Midfield joy in defensive Dublin battle

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With just 35 points scored in all, the clash between Ireland and South Africa was the lowest-scoring affair of the weekend, but the centres certainly played their part in attack.

Time again, it was in the midfield that both teams had joy – Garry Ringrose topping Ireland’s tally for defenders beaten with four, one clear of centre partner Stuart McCloskey, who was forced off before half-time. His replacement, Jimmy O’Brien, carried on where McCloskey left off, beating a further two defenders as Ireland probed away in the centre of the park.

Ringrose Stats

But it was not just Ireland who targeted the midfield, Damian de Allende beat five defenders all on his own, while partner Jesse Kriel provided one of the Springboks’ four line breaks.

Considering how South Africa struggled for fluidity with Damian Willemse a little overmatched as the only real playmaker in their backline, it still shows the threat that they can pose with ball in hand.

As for Ireland, even without Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki, this was a reminder that their centre depth is a real strength and will be a weapon against Fiji and Australia in the coming weeks.

Clinical Argentina punish England

Emiliano Boffelli has spent much of this year staking a claim as perhaps the most dangerous goal-kicker in the international game, combining accuracy with huge range.

England felt the force of that at Twickenham as Argentina racked up 30 points despite spending barely a quarter of the game in opposition territory.

Emiliano Boffelli stats

Eddie Jones bemoaned the number of penalties in the modern game, but the ten England conceded is not an extraordinarily high number – in fact only Italy and Samoa conceded fewer this weekend.

The issue is that eight of them were in kickable territory. Six times Argentina elected to kick and Boffelli obliged. And then, when the clock was ticking down and Los Pumas led by a point, they elected to turn down the points and kick to the corner to force England to win it from deep. They could not do so, but it all came down to Boffelli.

Consider that England made just 42 tackles in the entire game, 103 fewer than their opponents. They missed just seven and had 12 dominant tackles, nearly a third of all their tackles which is virtually unheard of. On the surface, that should be a good sign, but the fact they still conceded 30 points showed the issue was elsewhere. They gave away unnecessary penalties in their own territory and paid the price.

With Japan, New Zealand and South Africa to come, it is something they will need to rectify, whereas Wales and Scotland have been warned about infringing in their own half.

All Blacks keep Wales at arm’s length

Wales fell into an early hole by going 17-0 down, but did well to come back into it through Rio Dyer’s debut try and a Gareth Anscombe penalty.

The problem was, on three separate occasions, Wales got back to within a score and on each occasion, they conceded almost immediately.

First time around it was Jordie Barrett who crossed three minutes after Wales got back to 17-10.

Aaron Smith New Zealand All Blacks

In the second half, it was even quicker, Aaron Smith twice crossing two minutes after Wales had brought it back to a six-point game.

The second of those appeared to knock the stuffing out of Wales, with the All Blacks cutting loose as they often do.

For skipper Justin Tipuric, that was the biggest frustration, with Wales unable to back up their good moments and being punished as a result.

Peerless Penaud steps up

Australia’s clash with France produced an incredibly rare moment. Damian Penaud was beaten for pace on the outside as Australia scored perhaps the try of the weekend.

Tom Wright was the man to do it, getting outside the winger and racing away to set up Lalakai Foketi.

Penaud got his own back though. With five minutes remaining and France down by four, Penaud received Matthieu Jalibert’s floated pass with 30 metres to run to the line and Wright to beat.

Damian Penaud

Where seeing Penaud beaten for pace is an anomaly, this was very much textbook. He swerved one way then the other, leaving Wright grasping at air before handing off Jock Campbell on his way to the line.

That is now 19 Test tries for Penaud, one away from France’s top ten all-time, and at just 26, you would not bet against him moving all the way to number one by the end of his career – Serge Blanco currently leads the way on 38.

Scotland out-offload Fiji!

If there is one thing that is usually guaranteed when the Flying Fijians are in town, it is that you will be treated to passes out of the back of the hand, out of the tackle and the ball being kept alive at all costs.

While Scotland’s 28-12 win was not necessarily unexpected, the fact that they made more offloads than their opponents, seven to six, was certainly a little less predictable.

Jack Dempsey provided two of those in just 29 minutes on the park and while playing an unstructured game may not have been in Gregor Townsend’s game plan before kick-off, Scotland certainly were not afraid to take a few chances.

As is often the case against Fiji though, it was the basics that made the difference for Scotland, getting the better of the visiting scrum time and again after the break to control the game.

Monty back with a bang

In the Guinness Six Nations, the numbers indicated that Monty Ioane was among the most dangerous attacking weapons in the game.

However, after missing the summer and returning to Australia for personal reasons, there was some uncertainty about how he would get on in his first game back on the international stage.

We need not have worried. The former Benetton man was outstanding in a thumping win over Samoa, grabbing two tries, beating seven defenders – level with Cameron Redpath for the most of any player – and notching four line breaks – as many as England managed in 80 minutes against Argentina.

With Cardiff heroes Ange Capuozzo and Edoardo Padovani both absent through injury, Italy needed their third member of the back three to step up, and Ioane did that and then some.

The tests will get tougher with Australia and South Africa next up, but Ioane will be a key man if the Azzurri are to improve on a record that has seen them win four of their last five Tests.

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