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TryTracker suggests England's lineout platform will be crucial in Rome

13 March 2014

  • IBM TryTracker puts emphasis on England's penetration in attack
  • Italy's scrum under the microscope 

Sunday’s defeat of Wales represented an important watershed for Stuart Lancaster’s young side. In the event, they avenged their 30-3 mauling in Cardiff a 12 months ago stylishly. Two first-half tries from Danny Care and Luther Burrell – two of this campaign’s stand-out performers – proved enough to overturn Warren Gatland’s charges 29-18. In fact, only some needless indiscipline kept the scoreline that close.

As well as a significant psychological boost, the result brought England’s first Triple Crown in 11 years. Now there is a chance for more, though. Involved in the first game of the day, Chris Robshaw and co. can put pressure on Ireland with another heavy win and hope that France do them a favour in Paris. However, Italy will be desperate to end a disappointing tournament on a high. They have never before managed a victory over England and would dearly love to derail Lancaster’s designs of the first Championship in his two-year tenure. We have another intriguing encounter in store at the Stadio Olimpico.

Owen Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

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.

England keys

  • Succeed with at least 73.3 per cent of kicks at goal
  • Win 91 per cent of lineouts on own throw
  • Beat at least 15 defenders

Engaged in a shootout with Leigh Halfpenny, one of the very best goal-kickers on the planet, Owen Farrell was flawless from the tee against Wales. A seven-from-seven return rewarded his pack for their dominance and ensured England could enjoy scoreboard pressure. Having landed 16 from 24 over the course of the tournament though, the young Saracen is operating slightly below the required figure for this game as suggested by IBM TryTracker. That said, he didn’t look like missing a thing on Sunday.

Tom Wood takes a lineout

Photo: Getty Images

The Northampton Saints axis of Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood is serving England magnificently at set-piece – only five of 49 lineouts have been lost. Italy do have experienced locks in the form of Quintin Geldenhuys and Marco Bortolami, but Graham Rowntree’s standards are extremely high. Whether as a launchpad for the backs or the foundation of a driving maul, the lineout is crucial. Exacting standards must be achieved once more.

Wiry countering from Mike Brown punished Wales’ wayward kicking out of hand, while Jack Nowell’s all-court game brought a plethora of headaches as together. Together, that pair beat 12 defenders and – with Manu Tuilagi lurking on the bench to be unleashed when Italy become weary in the second period – a target of 15 is well within Lancaster’s men.

Italy keys

  • Average 6.6 metres per carry with the backs
  • Have at least seven attempts on goal
  • Force a penalty on 30 per cent of own scrums 
Leonardo Sarto

Photo: Getty Images

Italy's 46-7 loss in Dublin last Saturday was characterised by bloody-minded defence. Though a Brian O'Driscoll masterclass eventually broke the Azzurri down, the visitors racked up 245 tackles – a Test record. However, there was one moment of brilliance with ball in hand, Leonard Sarto tearing over from from 50 metres out for the best individual try of the entire weekend. The 22 year-old Zebre wing ended the match with 76 running metres from just four carries and six beaten defenders. With TryTracker outlining an average of 6.6 metres per carry among the Italian backs as one of its Keys to the Game, more incision is required.

Having only conceded one try in their past three matches, England will be confident of quelling Italy's attacking threat and once more keeping the line intact. Luciano Orquera starts at fly half and is likely to assume the kicking duties. Keeping the scorebaord ticking over regularly is vital, and TryTracker has predicted the hosts will need a minimum of seven attempts at the posts.

Though skipper and talisman Sergio Parisse is back in the fold having been rested for the defeat to Ireland, Jacques Brunel must do without another veteran in injured tighthead Martin Castrogiovanni. Loosehead Alberto de Marchi, who has enjoyed an impressive RBS 6 Nations to date, is moved to the bench as well, meaning Matias Aguero and Lorenzo Cittadini form a new prop combination. That pair will be charged with destabilising the England set-piece and compelling French referee Pascal Gauzere to penalise the visitors up front.