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TryTracker suggests England forwards can level series

05 June 2014

  • IBM TryTracker predicts 'Keys to the Game' ahead of DunedinTest
  • England's scrum and first-up tackling must be strong against the All Blacks

Following its debut during the 2013 RBS 6 Nations, IBM TryTracker has formed part of RFU.com’s extensive match coverage. It returns this summer for England's 2014 tour of New Zealand, and presented an accurate preview before last Saturday’s series opener in Auckland.

Mirroring the closeness of a hugely tense encounter that the All Blacks eventually won 20-15, both sides landed one of their 'Keys to the Game' at Eden Park. England's scrum forced penalties from a third of their put-ins, while New Zealand's just about held firm to win just over 91 per cent of their own ball.

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.

New Zealand keys

  • Win at least 90 per cent of own scrums
  • Average 5.8 metres per carry
  • Beat more than 17 defenders
Julian Savea

Photo: Getty Images

Joe Marler hailed Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks as "world class" props this week, and fully expects the experienced pair to bounce back from a less than authoritative set-piece performance in Auckland. Despite enduring some scrum difficulties though, New Zealand still managed to return over 90 per cent of their own ball – a figure helped by the presence of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock in the engine-room, no doubt. TryTracker has set the same aim, so Steve Hansen will be looking for his front five to produce a more sturdy platform.

Reigning IRB Player of the Year Kieran Read again sits out due to ongoing concussion problems, but the return of wing Julian Savea is a significant boost for the hosts. With a phenomenal strike rate of 19 tries in 20 Tests, he is a predatory figure out wide and burly specimen to stop up the middle. England's suffocating defence only allowed the All Blacks an average figure of 3.8 metres per carry last weekend, so the likes of Jerome Kaino and Ma'a Nonu must be far more penetrative in order to meet TryTracker's target of 5.8.

New Zealand's final Key runs along the same lines and demands more from the hosts' attack. One indellible hallmark of England under Stuart Lancaster has been defensive solidity. Even so, restricting the All Blacks to beating just 12 tacklers on Saturday was a superb effort. Again TryTracker has set the bar at 17, so Savea and Hurricanes teammate Cory Jane on the opposite flank will have license to thrill.

England keys

  • Forwards average 3.8 metres per carry
  • Have more than seven attempts on goal
  • Force a penalty at 29 per cent of own scrums
Owen Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

Just a single change to his pack – Tom Wood replacing James Haskell – suggests Graham Rowntree's is wholly confident of England continuing their ascendancy over New Zealand up front. Ben Morgan's outstanding performance in Auckland sees the Gloucester No.8 retain his place at the anchor of the England scrum and some more of his trademark dynamism as the tourists look to pass the figure average figure of 3.8 metres per carry among the forwards. Despite a clean break from captain Chris Robshaw in the opening seconds at Eden Park, they could not quite surpass that number. This time, with the likes of Billy Vunipola, Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley among the replacements, there will be 80 minutes of powerful carrying.

Once again, TryTracker suggests England will also need at least seven shots at goal to conquer Forsyth Barr Stadium. Freddie Burns and Danny Cipriani did their bit last weekend, nailing five consecutive penalties between them. However, Owen Farrell's return sees a switch at fly half with Burns dropping to the bench. That should not damage England's potency from the tee, though. A tally of 259 points in 25 Tests is an admirable return for the young Saracen, whose temperament is excellent.

Finally, we come to England's scrum, where Bath Rugby's David Wilson and Marler of Harlequins are under the spotlight once more. Delivering six possessions from six put-ins for two penalties, they were outstanding last week with Bath Rugby's Rob Webber offering considerable ballast and technique at hooker, too. Each of the tight five retain their places, so Rowntree is clearly hoping the attacking scrum retains its rhythm. The referee on Saturday is South African Jaco Peyper – it is he who will judge a pivotal contest.