Rhodders' Rugby Championship stats wrap
By Rhodri Jeremiah | Twitter: @RhodriJeremiah
Last Updated: 04/09/18 5:39pm
Rhodri Jeremiah analyses the numbers from the Rugby Championship's first two rounds, and looks ahead to round three this weekend...
We're two rounds into this year's Rugby Championship, but who have been the stand-out performers so far?
As a team, New Zealand have been comfortably the best; sitting pretty at the top of the table with bonus-point victories over Australia in Bledisloe I and II. How have those victories come about? Essentially, the world champions get the simple things right, with and without the ball. Whether they're attacking or defending, they're clinical.
Steve Hansen's side have the best attack in the tournament to date, having scored the most points (78) and the most tries (12). They also have the best defence, having conceded the fewest points (25) and the fewest tries (2).
In attack they average 158 carries, 740 metres, 23 clean breaks and 40 metres per game - the most in the competition. In defence, the All Blacks miss the fewest tackles on average per game (22), whilst also conceding the fewest penalties, an average of eight per game.
Australia, on the other hand, have a tackle success rate of 77 per cent - the worst in the competition. Michael Cheika's team make an average of 133 tackles and miss 40 per game. Argentina have made the most tackles with an average of 161, and South Africa have made the fewest, an average of 119 per game.
The Boks beat Argentina in their first outing at Kings Park last month, but lost the reverse fixture just a week later at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas. The most telling stat of those polarising results? In Durban they missed 11 per cent of their tackles, while in Mendoza they missed 26 per cent. Again proving that if you want to win Test matches, you have to get the simple things right.
Barrett leading the way
As far as individuals are concerned, the top performers are Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Eben Etzebeth and David Pocock.
Following his record-breaking exploits at Eden Park, Barrett is now top points scorer (43) and top try scorer (5) in this year's Rugby Championship. He has made the second most carries (31) and the most metres (227) so far. He's also beaten nine defenders and made the most kicks in play (40) - unsurprising considering he's a fly-half, but perhaps surprising given the consensus on the way he plays the game.
In terms of overall records, Barrett is 56 points behind Dan Carter's record for points scored in a Championship campaign; 99 of them coming for Carter in 2006. Current All Black Ben Smith has the record for most tries scored in a Championship season, crossing the whitewash eight times in 2013. Barrett needs only four more from the last four games to break that record.
Retallick missed the June Test series against France with a chest injury, but was back in black in time for Bledisloe I in Sydney in August. He made up for lost time putting in a man-of-the-match performance, crossing over for his fourth international try in the process.
Over the course of the first two rounds the lock has made 24 carries, 82 metres, 18 tackles, won six lineouts and stolen four. Sir John Kirwan recently described him as "the greatest all-round footballer in the world", and those stats certainly back up that claim.
🇳🇿 GUZZLER GOES OVER 🇳🇿— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) August 18, 2018
Brodie Retallick crossed the whitewash for his 4⃣th Test try this morning, as the @AllBlacks ran rampant in Sydney to win the first #bledisloecup2018 fixture 🏆
✍️ REPORT: https://t.co/cHtnio7i3A#TheRugbyChampionship pic.twitter.com/NhCc40meKQ
Another second row who consistently impresses on the world stage is Etzebeth. The 26-year-old, capped 69 times by South Africa, has featured in both opening rounds and has been a pillar of strength, especially at lineout time. South Africa have won a total of 32 lineouts - the most in the competition, and Etzebeth has won 10 of those, also the most in the campaign.
Australia's main man has been David Pocock; if not for his tireless work-rate, Australia's tries-conceded column would have been in far worse shape.
Pocock has made the most tackles (35) in the competition, missing only two along the way. Though Australia have the worst tackle success rate in the competition, one cannot point the finger at their No 8.
Can the visitors turn things around?
History will be made on Saturday as Trafalgar Park in Nelson will play host to the All Blacks for the first time ever when Hansen's side take on Argentina.
History would also be made if the Pumas manage to win. The closest they have come to victory, home or away, was in November 1985 when they drew 21-all in Buenos Aires. The other 25 encounters have all been won by the Kiwis.
Australia welcome South Africa to Brisbane in Saturday's second fixture, and it's not a happy hunting ground for the South Africans - the Boks have only ever beaten Australia once at Suncorp Stadium.
If the Springboks do win, however, it'll be their 50th win over Australia. Cheika, for his sake, will be hoping that his team spoil the party, and add to their tally of 36 wins over Saturday's visitors over the course of history.