WE KNOW, WE know: ‘there’s only one stat that really counts and that’s the scoreboard’.
But for rugby nerds there were plenty of interesting figures flowing from Ireland’s heroic and hectic defeat to New Zealand to ponder.
Here are a few that stood out for us.
Possession 9/10s of the law
New Zealand ended up with 53% of the overall possession. Ireland’s dominant first half aided by 57% possession and 58% of territory, but when the World Champions turn the screw they really do twist it in. Steve Hansen’s men had 62% possession in the second period and 66% territory.
In new money, it all equated to a mountain of tackles for Ireland – 183 to be precise, 19 were missed.
Kicking kings no longer
Ireland’s efforts with ball in hand improved greatly before our eyes and it was noticeable how brave they were in attempting to play their way out of or into positions where previous incarnations of the same team would have kicked far more than 24 times in a Test like this.
New Zealand still lead the way when it comes to running rugby, however. Aaron Cruden ran the ball more than he kicked, highly unusual for an out-half without a kicking option alongside him at number 12.
Their 147 carries to our 113 almost looks close until you look down to their whopping 535 metres gained on foot. Ireland carried for 294 having made three fewer clean breaks and beaten eight fewer defenders.
Jamie Heaslip is a machine
It’s difficult to award an accurate rating for Jamie Heaslip from high in the stand when you’ve the small matter of the rest of the game to keep you occupied, but you never have to look far past the raw data to realise why Jamie Heaslip’s coaches love him.
10 carries is about standard for the Leinster number eight, but to make 21 tackles is an astonishing effort. It’s not quite Thierry Dusatoir in ’07, but he’s on his way.
As for Paul O’Connell…
Sean O’Brien was named RTE’s man-of-the-match, and deservedly so with 16 tackles and one of the sweetest Irish offloads we’ve seen since February, but O’Connell’s nine big carries, 12 tackles, one turnover and six line-out makes makes him a force of nature.
Murray a man for all reasons
Before the November internationals kicked off, the Sydney Morning Herald described Murray as having the frame of a back row. Yesterday, he put it to good use.
Along with a brilliant commanding display behind his pack, Murray made 12 tackles for his side. Throw in a decent day with the boot and you’ve got yourself a serious weapon to have at half-back.
Stats via ESPN, correct at time of publishing, but you can see the live data here.