The best stats from the first round of the Six Nations
Last Updated: 06/02/19 2:23pm
Sky Sports Rugby's stats guru, Rhodri Jeremiah, takes a closer look at what stood out after the first round of the Six Nations...
Prior to kick-off in Dublin last Saturday, many were predicting a comfortable win for the men in green. However, Owen Farrell & co tore up the script and put in a display that will live long in the memory.
Not many sides win in Dublin, winning with a bonus-point is a collector's item. England's rush defence was a key factor in this 32-20 victory. They made 48 dominant tackles compared to Ireland's eight. Dominant tackle is the new buzz-stat. It's any momentum stopping tackle and, to the viewer, it seemed like Ireland could not cope with this herculean defensive effort from the visitors.
Ireland did not have a Plan B and even when they tried the wrap around move that has brought Johnny Sexton and his pals much success in the past, it did not work on Saturday afternoon.
Mark Wilson and Mako Vunipola were the top tacklers, making 27 apiece. The latter also reached double figures in the carrying stakes making 11 in total.
Jonny May had one of his best games in an England shirt. He crossed over the whitewash, was confident under the high ball and made all 10 of his tackles. In fact, the whole squad left the Aviva Stadium knowing that they had done something special with May calling it the "best England performance" he's been involved in.
Over in Paris last Friday night, it was a tale of two halves with France dominating the first 40 going into the sheds with a 16-0 lead. However, France crumbled in the second half in spectacular fashion and Wales used their 'get out of jail free' card and recorded a 24-19 victory. This comeback was the biggest ever in the tournament. France held the previous record when they came back from 15-0 down in Dublin in 1989 to record a 26-21 victory.
George North scored twice, both gift wrapped by the French. He's now scored 36 tries in 80 Tests for Wales - not a bad record for a 26-year-old! He is Wales' third all-time top try scorer and is only four behind Gareth Thomas' record of 40 tries in 100 Tests. If North stays fit, you can see him breaking not only Thomas' record but also Shane Williams' tally who tops the chart with 58 tries in 87 Tests.
At Murrayfield last Saturday, history was made….not with the scoreline but by Italy captain Sergio Parisse. He overtook Brian O'Driscoll's all-time appearance record in the tournament with the Italian talisman now leading the way with 66 games in the competition. Of those 66 appearances, he's started all of them but has only won nine.
66 - @sergioparisse is set to make a record 66th appearance in the Six Nations (currently level with Brian O’Driscoll on 65), he's also made the most carries and metres in tournament history, as well as making the second most tackles and winning the third most turnovers. Legend. pic.twitter.com/w1U6lKgFo3— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 2, 2019
In the game itself, Blair Kinghorn was a top performer in the 33-20 win for the Scots. He made 15 carries, 89 metres and beat six defenders on his way to scoring a hat-trick. This was the first hat-trick scored by a Scotland player in the tournament since Iwan Tukalo did the same against Ireland at Murrayfield in 1989.
All in all, it was a gripping first round and all eyes will be on Twickenham this Sunday to see if the French will be able to record their first Six Nations win there since 2005. That fixture was also a game of two halves with France coming from behind to record an 18-17 win with Dimitri Yachvili slotting six penalties. If France implode in the second 40 this Sunday like they did last Friday, England could be sitting pretty at the top of the table come the final whistle.