Six Nations Diary - Round four

Posted 14th March 2019

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Our experts review England's impressive ability to convert possession into tries following their fourth round victory over Italy

Our editorial team are experts at creating stories from Opta's detailed rugby data. Throughout the Six Nations we’ll be taking a look at one of the key matches from each round and – from a statistical viewpoint – dissecting where the game was won and lost. Check out our Six Nations diary entries from round one, round two and round three of the competition. Get in touch here to learn how we can help you bring your rugby coverage to life with quality data and insightful content.

Round four

For the teams still in the mix for the title, Round four of this year’s Six Nations was all about avoiding banana skins and still being in the mix come Super Saturday. First up were Wales and they potentially faced the toughest challenge, a trip to Murrayfield. A shimmy of the hips from Josh Adams proved the difference as a nervy Wales side put behind them a turbulent week of political strife and set up a Grand Slam showdown with Ireland in Cardiff this weekend.

Super Saturday

England had few troubles brushing aside Italy and although the scoreline was less conclusive the manner of victory for Ireland over France was even more dominant. In this week’s blog we take this theme of dominance and efficiency to see how the teams in this year’s Championship have converted or wasted the opportunities they have created.

Clinical efficiency

They may be well in the hunt for the title still and waiting impatiently for Wales to slip up, but England have surprisingly had the least amount of possession of any side this year, just 1 hour and 10 minutes across the four rounds. Despite this lack of ball Eddie Jones’ men have scored more than twice as many tries (19) as every other side except Ireland (13), scoring a try at a rate of one every 3 minutes and 43 seconds of possession. Every other side has required at least six and a half minutes of time with the ball before they have crossed the whitewash with a wasteful Scotland needing over 10 minutes.




Can you have it all?

There is always an argument of whether a good attack is more important than a good defence but this year England will be confused as to why having the best of both still might not be good enough. They have conceded a try for every 13 minutes of possession so far, the best rate of any side in defence, although only marginally better than Wales to be fair to them (12m 55s). Italy have been the softest egg to crack, conceding a try for every 4 minutes they have lined up in defence, maybe a final opportunity against France will see them batten down the hatches and finally break their 21-game drought in the tournament.

Slam showdown

Both England and Wales have tackle success rates of 89% this year, the best in the competition, so it is fair to say a consistent defence is the basis for success. On the flip side though Wales have actually scored just nine tries and made fewer metres and clean breaks and beaten fewer defenders than any other side, posing the question of the value of a strong attack. Having said that, Warren Gatland won’t be too fussed about how many defenders his side have beaten if they are victorious over Ireland and secure a record fourth Grand Slam (since 2000).



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