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Best stats from Round 4 of the Autumn Nations Series

Best stats from Round 4 of the Autumn Nations Series

Mark Nawaqanitawase

The Autumn Nations Series signed off for another year in style thanks to two thrilling games on the final weekend of action.

The southern hemisphere took the final set of bragging rights, as Australia produced an incredible comeback against Wales and South Africa eased past England at Twickenham.

Both matches were a fitting end to another enthralling edition of the Autumn Nations Series – here’s what the stats tell us about the final two Tests of 2022.

Springboks shine at set-plays

Nailing your set-pieces is a key tenet of any good performance, and South Africa showed exactly how to dominate the dead ball at Twickenham.

The Springboks won a huge 11 scrums, losing just one while the hosts won just three on home soil.

That single lost scrum saw Owen Farrell slot over after 14 minutes to open the scoring, but the South African pack quickly restored their dominance throughout the rest of the evening in South West London to earn a first win at Twickenham since 2014.

At the lineout, there was no room for error as the visitors won all ten on their own throw while also stealing one from their opponents.

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Eben Etzebeth and Marvin Orie were supreme in the air for the visitors and cut a stark contrast to the home side, who lost three of their own lineouts as England fell to their second defeat of this year’s Autumn Nations Series.

Morgan and Nawaqanitawase impress

Jac Morgan and Mark Nawaqanitawase had barely picked up a rugby ball the first time Australia visited Principality Stadium for an autumn international.

Fast forward 21 years, and the pair were two of the star performers for their side in a brilliant encounter in Cardiff.

It took just nine minutes for Morgan cross over for his third try of the Autumn Nations Series, latching on to Alun Wyn Jones’s line break.

It was one of 15 carries from Morgan across the match, four more than any other player, as the flanker also racked up the most metres carried, 115.

The 22-year-old scored again as he powered over from a driving maul, but Nawaqanitawase was not to be outdone as Australia fought back from 34-13 down to secure an outstanding comeback.

The wing was making just his third Test appearance but looked right at home in the Cardiff cauldron, scoring his first two international tries to haul the Wallabies back into the contest.

Nawaqanitawase beat eight defenders, the most of any Australian, and also produced three offloads and carried for 102 metres to cap an electric performance.

England reeling but plenty of positives

England fans could be excused for not feeling too positive after defeat to the world champions left them with just one win from their four Autumn Nations Series matches.

A comfortable defeat at the hands of South Africa was certainly not the way they would have wanted to finish 2022, as they end the calendar year with just two wins at HQ.

But there were still some positives for Eddie Jones’s men to take from the visit of the Springboks.

Wing Jack Nowell beat seven defenders, three more than anyone else on the pitch, with South Africa’s Damian Willemse the next best with four. That is a remarkable return when you remember that he only came on at half-time.

However, it was Kurt-Lee Arendse who shone most with ball in hand, as the winger produced a wonderful step to beat Marcus Smith for his try, the standout moment from his match-high 130 metres carried.

There are reasons to be cheerful off the ball for England too, with 11 dominant tackles almost double South Africa’s six, and Tom Curry registering the most tackles in the match with 13.

But the hosts failed to turn those numbers into meaningful ball, with the visitors producing four turnovers to England’s one, despite the Springboks missing 22 tackles compared to their opponents’ 13.

While Eddie Jones and England will be smarting this Christmas, there is still plenty of good on which to build for a successful Guinness Six Nations.

Australia finish on a high

It has been a mixed Autumn Nations Series for Australia, with losses against Ireland, Italy and France meaning the Wallabies would have registered their worst calendar year since 1958 in terms of win percentage had they fallen to defeat at Principality Stadium.

But Lachlan Lonergan’s last-gasp try meant that unwanted label was avoided, with the young hooker dotting down in the corner to seal Australia’s fourth win of the year.

It has been a tough year for Dave Rennie’s men, with a first-ever defeat to Italy underlining their struggles but, like England, the positives are there to be found.

Defeat has come narrowly throughout the Autumn Nations Series, with just a single point separating their first three matches, and while the defeat to Italy will hurt, there is plenty to take from a 30-29 defeat to Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam champions France in Paris, and similarly they were close to beating world number one Ireland last weekend.

Victory against Wales was perhaps the perfect tonic to finish a difficult year for the Wallabies, as youngsters shone in Cardiff amidst a string of Australian absentees.

Nawaqanitawase will take the headlines for his brace of tries and all-round blockbuster performance, but this was a youthful Australian team throughout who stood up when it mattered.

Lolesio, 22, impressed with the boot after replacing Ben Donaldson who is just a year his senior and Tom Wright, 25, produced the most carries, 11, and the second most metres carried, 95.

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