Before the Six Nations started, we highlighted a few key matches where Lions candidates would be going head-to-head, and with the help of Accenture’s match data, we can see how they went.
With Alun Wyn Jones being tipped for the Lions captaincy, and England fans unable to decide which of their second row combinations is the best in the world, this was a key battle on Saturday in terms of Lions selection.
The workrate of the English duo stands out here, leading the way both for Carries / Metres made in attack, and for successful tackles in defence. Overall possession in the match was split 50/50, so it really is comparing like for like.
And here are the same stats for the back row units.
This is really interesting to me in terms of the back row balance, which has been discussed on another post. You can see that the Wales combination have broadly similar stats across the board, with Moriarty lagging slightly by virtue of being substituted in the second half.
By contrast, England’s Nathan Hughes is way ahead of the others for carries and metres made, but Jack Clifford’s contribution here is almost non-existent. Clifford also hit fewer rucks and made fewer tackles than his back row colleagues, but in the ruck effectiveness stats (not shown here), Clifford was very high on 92%, ahead of Launchbury (91%) and Jake Ball (88%). Sam Warburton was the least effective on 63%, behind Nathan Hughes (64%), Jones (74%), Itoje (77%), Tipuric (78%) and Lawes (81%). Moriarty was the only player with 100% ruck effectiveness.
You can also see that the back row were not used as targets in any of England’s 9 lineouts, whilst Warburton and Tipuric caught 3 each, compared to 1 each for the locks, as above.
What do you make of the statistics? Does this affect which players you would pick for the Lions?
Follow Hutch on Twitter: @Hutch_James