- IBM TryTracker sets England a target of four line-breaks
- Scotland's tackle success must be much improved from Ireland loss
Gael Fickou’s last-gasp try was a gut-wrenching blow for England and condemned them to defeat in Paris at the end of a game that – for 50 minutes following a disastrous start – they had dominated.
However, France did achieve two of their three Keys to the Game as predicted by IBM TryTracker – Les Bleus’ forwards carried for over 3.2 metres on average and their scrum success rate was 100 per cent. By contrast, Stuart Lancaster’s backs did not hit their mark of 7.7 metres per carry and the visitors only had five kicks at goal. Now England head up to Edinburgh to face Scotland, who were also beaten last weekend. To keep dreams of clinching the RBS 6 Nations alive, victory is essential.
IBM’s Predictive Analytics software analyses historic and current rugby data provided by Opta, the world’s leading sports data provider, to provide valuable in-game stats. It gives viewers access to insights that will heighten their understanding of what to watch for in each game and explains what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of a team win against specific opponents.
The IBM TryTracker includes the ‘Keys to the Game’, which predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. If a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory. The data collected and provided by Opta for all England internationals is analysed by IBM, before being hosted on RFU.com.
- Beat more than 16 defenders
- Tackle success rate of 91 per cent
- Win more than 88 per cent of their own set pieces
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Huge onus will be on British and Irish Lions tourist Stuart Hogg if Scotland are to hit their first target. He demonstrated his sparling footwork on the counter against Ireland – beating six defenders and racking up 75 metres from 13 carries. England will be well aware of Hogg’s talents ; a year ago the electric full back announced himself to Twickenham with a fantastic run that led to Sean Maitland’s early score, before crossing himself in the second period. Maitland’s absence due to a leg injury he picked up in Dublin could prove vital here though, and the hosts will need burly wing Sean Lamont to be at his powerful best.
TryTracker has also singled out rock-solid defence as a crucial aspect of Scotland’s Calcutta Cup campaign. Facing Jonny Sexton, Cian Healy and co. on Sunday, they conceded a worrying total of six clean breaks. Skipper Kelly Brown, back row colleague Ryan Wilson and lock Tim Swinson showed immense industry to tally 40 tackles between them, but, with the bar set at 91 per cent success rate against England that work ethic and accuracy has to be shared across the entire side. Making his debut in place of Brown, Glasgow Warrior Chris Fusaro must step up straight away.
Finally, the spotlight falls on Scotland’s set-piece, which was perhaps the most disappointing area of the loss to Ireland. Losing two scrums and two lineouts, their overall return languished at a lowly 66.7 per cent and hooker Ross Ford came in for widespread criticism. Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes were impressive in the air last time out, disrupting four French deliveries. Graham Rowntree will be eager for his front row to assert themselves as well; a figure of 88 per cent is a tough aim for Scott Johnson’s men.
- Break the line more than four times
- Average 5.2 metres per carry
- Force more than 14 turnovers
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In arguably their most ambitious performance with ball in hand under Lancaster, England broke the line eight times in Paris – one glorious effort from Billy Vunipola off the shoulder of Owen Farrell leading directly to Luther Burrell’s maiden Test try. In possession, their structures were much improved and a total of 14 offloads allowed them to get behind France on numerous occasions. Scotland outside centre Alex Dunbar is an excellent defender so the visitors will have their work cut out, but four clean breaks should be well within their grasp.
The Murrayfield surface has deteriorated rapidly in recent months and, given the abject weather this winter, could cut up quickly again. That would make TryTracker’s figure of 5.2 metres per carry quite difficult, but Danny Care marshalled his forwards brilliantly at the Stade de France and conducted some punchy, close-range phase-play with aplomb. Once that work is done, Jonny May and Jack Nowell will be eager to make an impression out wide.
Finally, focus falls once more on the breakdown with 14 turnovers sets as a goal for England as they look to record a fifth successive win over the Auld Enemy. Yannick Nyanga was influential on the floor and the likes of Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw will need to be more precise than they were in Paris. Contestable high balls from the boot of Care and Farrell, plus customary line-speed in defence could also be effective.