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Tale of the tape: England 13 Ireland 10

24 February 2014

  • Gainline battle win crucial in England victory over Ireland
  • Dave Attwood made nine tackles, hit nine rucks and won turnover in 11 mins
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster chats to England analyst Duncan Locke at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

The score line is the only statistic that matters, evidenced by the jubilation on the pitch and in the stands after the 13-10 defeat of Ireland at Twickenham. But more detailed analysis can also provide a view on the game so RFU.com called on the unique insight of the people analyse the match for the England coaches and provide in-game data, Michael Hughes and Duncan Locke, to see what other stories the match stats have to tell.

This is what they had to say:

“The margin of a three-point win on the scoreboard is also reflected in the statistics, with many of the measures we us for the game coming out dead-even or at least very close.

As well as scoring one try each, both teams gave up 15 turnovers and made four line-breaks, while England had 47 possessions to Ireland’s 45 and conceded 11 penalties to Ireland’s nine.

Lock Courtney Lawes took five lineouts against Ireland

Photo: Getty Images

Lineout success rate was even too with both teams at 100 per cent, although Ireland threw the ball in twice as many times as England – 16 to 8. Lock Courtney Lawes got up in the air to take possession five times, while his Northampton teammate Tom Wood took the ball three times.

The ball was in play for 41 minutes eight seconds, with an intense passage towards the end where there was a not break in play for a full four minutes, virtually 10 per cent of the game. It was during that period the Joe Launchbury made the crucial tap-tackle on Dave Kearney in the wide channel.

So how did England edge the close game? The gainline battle and winning collisions is always crucial and England just had the better of Ireland in that area with a gainline success rate of 64 per cent to Ireland’s 57 per cent.

Man of the Match Mike Brown was the top carrier in the team with 10, taking five over the gainline and producing the pinpoint pass for Danny Care’s try. Jonny May, Billy Twelvetrees and Jack Nowell all made nine carries, with Chris Robshaw (seven) making the most in forwards.

England wing Jonny May on the run against Ireland

Photo: Getty Images

England also exerted concerted spells of pressure on Ireland’s try-line, having possession for six minutes, 48 seconds in their 22 and having 35 rucks there, nearly half their total (72) in the game. By comparison, Ireland attacked in England’s 22 for four minutes 37 seconds.

Winning gainline battle was backed up by phenomenal workrate in defence and discipline when defending in our own half. Ireland had 59 per cent possession and England had a tackle success rate of 93 per cent, with some outstanding individual contributions.

Robshaw made 23 tackles, Joe Launchbury 21 and Billy Twelvetrees 18, while off the bench Ben Morgan made 18 in 54 minutes and Dave Attwood made nine in just 11 minutes in that crucial final period.

A collision between Paul O'Connell and Joe Launchbury

Photo: Getty Images

The same men were equally industrious at the breakdown: Launchbury hit 29, Robshaw 28 and Attwood nine in his 11 minute cameo. And in terms of turning over opposition possession, Launchbury got the ball back four times, Robshaw three and Attwood once. 

David Wilson put a considerable shift in too in his first game back after injury, making 10 tackles and hitting 28 rucks from tight head.

The scrum was the one area where Ireland were comprehensively on top. They won nine of nine on their ball and turned over possession four of nine times on England’s put-in. Two of the nine wins produced penalties, but they were both in Ireland’s half and out of range for Johnny Sexton.”