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The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday's rugby internationals

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Australia head to Twickenham with a spring in their step and eyeing revenge when they face England, while New Zealand take on Scotland and France host South Africa in another mouthwatering Saturday of international rugby.


England retained the Cook Cup by beating the Wallabies last year, but Michael Cheika’s men are in fine form 12 months on and Eddie Jones’ side must raise their game after a disjoined display in the win over Argentina.

World champions New Zealand head to Murrayfield on the back of being outplayed by France in the second half at Stade de France last weekend, having been outstanding in the opening 40 minutes to set up a victory in Paris.

Les Bleus will fancy their chances of seeing off a Springboks side that was hammered by Ireland, who should see off Fiji at the Aviva Stadium. Wales will aim to take the frustration of their latest loss to Australia out on Georgia.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the five Tests.

England v Australia

The Six Nations champions have won their last four matches against Jones’ country of birth, including a 3-0 whitewash in Australia last year.

Australia have scored 55 tries in 2017, only twice have they scored more in a calendar year (64 in 2003, 56 in 1998).

England, who welcome Owen Farrell back into the side with Maro Itoje on the bench, are unbeaten in 12 games at Twickenham, their second-best sequence of victories at home. They won 22 in a row from October 1999 to September 2003.


France v South Africa

The Springboks whitewashed France 3-0 on home soil in June, all three victories by a margin of at least 22 points.

However, Les Bleus have come out on top in four of their last five home Tests against South Africa.

Antoine Dupont made four clean breaks, beat seven defenders and made 91 metres against New Zealand last Saturday. Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, no tier one scrum-half has matched any of those statistics.

Ireland v Fiji

Joe Schmidt’s side may not have expected to beat South Africa so emphatically, but they will be expected to rack up the points this weekend.


Ireland, who have handed a debut to centre Chris Farrell, have played only three Tests against Fiji, winning all three by 35 points or more.

Fiji wing Josua Tuisova has won 12 turnovers for Toulon in the TOP 14 this season, more than any other player in the competition this season, he’s also crossed for five tries in his seven appearances.

Scotland v New Zealand

The All Blacks have never been beaten by Scotland in 30 Tests, only twice being held to a draw.

None of the current Scotland squad were born the last time they avoided defeat against the All Blacks – a 25-25 draw in 1983 – while Wyatt Crockett and Jerome Kaino are the only players in the world champions’ touring squad to be born before that clash.

Scotland have won their last five matches at Murrayfield, their best winning sequence at the famous venue since a 13-game run from 1989 to 1991.

Wales v Georgia

This will be the first Test meeting between the two nations and Georgia will be looking for a first win against tier one opposition.

Wales missed just three of 153 attempted tackles [98 per cent success rate] against the Wallabies, the last time they missed fewer was in 2013 against Scotland. However, the 20 turnovers conceded was their highest figure in 15 matches.

Georgia full-back Soso Matiashvili scored 34 points against Canada last weekend, the most ever by a Lelos player in a Test match.


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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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