Salford clip the wings of Hull, Catalans win away from home and the Wire trips up the Rhinos, round 8 threw some random results at us but what did the stats tell us?
Widnes Vikings returned to regular scheduled programming recording a loss against an in-form Wakefield Trinity side and in doing so recorded a single try in their efforts.
A try every 8 minutes on average for Salford gets them 10 tries in their demolition of Hull FC which a lot of people had as a closer encounter.
Do you remember around round 3 I warned the Rhinos that committing so many tackles in a round isn’t something to be proud of? After seeing Tigers and Rhinos game on TV I knew why the tackle count was so high. Over committing in tackles was the issue and well it’s crept in again during this round, as it was on TV I had the chance to relate the stats to how it happens on the field.
Watch a side like Salford, Wigan or Wakefield you’ll see those sides don’t over commit in tackles, what I mean by that is most sides can stop most players using 2 or 3 players. Repeatedly Leeds put 4 players into the tackle, what that does is waste energy for not much gain. Getting up from the floor takes energy as does the impact of tackling, this is extra energy the opposing team isn’t spending, over a match it takes its toll on a team.
Unsurprisingly the Rhinos completed more tackles than any other team in round 8, 80 more than the second highest team which was Saints. The lowest tackling team was Salford with just 271, although it’s hard to tackle when you score 10 tries in a match!
The challenge of the tackle bursts continues, Salford registered a very respectful 42 in this round but doesn’t hit the dizzy highest from previous rounds of over 50 from the likes of Wigan or Castleford.
Widnes Vikings failed to make many bursts, they were limited to just 13 in their defeat to Wakefield.
Warrington for the second round running makes the most metres (1519) but again misses the avg carry gain metric, this mighty Castleford side take this key metric making on average 8.09 metres per carry.
Only one team got into double figure clean breaks in round 8, Salford produced some impressive metrics in the 10 try demolition of Hull and 13 clean breaks is up there in a round where they were hard to come by. Wakefield were the second highest team for clean breaks with 8, and Widnes didn’t manage one clean break.
Mixed fortunes in the goal kicking contest, we saw a few tries under the posts which helped Gale have 5 goals and 0 missed for Castleford. Leigh and Warrington were the only other teams to kick 100%, Widnes missed their only goal attempt.
Missing more than they converted were, Leeds, Saints, Giants, and Widnes.
Salford made the least errors with just 5 and the most error hit team was Saints with 17 errors in 80 minutes that is under 5 minutes on average between every error. You’ll always struggle to win games if your errors are that high, Hull weren’t too far behind with 15 errors.
What does it all mean?
Castleford are still looking unflappable and put Wigan aside with a professional calmness that has been lacking in previous Tiger sides. They now sit 2 points clear with that round 11 game in hand to 2nd place Salford. They have the best defence and attack in the league with a host of other top of the table statistics to boot. Will the heavy April timetable take its toll on fitness?
With Kieran Cunningham now a Saints manager of the past it will be interesting to see how this Saints side change over the next few rounds but taking this round as an example the 17 errors will have to be cleaned up before success return to the field. The question is… does that side have the potential to turn a lack-lustre season around?
Warrington got the win this round and completed a relieving victory over a good Rhinos side, a corner turned perhaps? Widnes added to that loss tally against a good Wakefield side and remain at the top of the table.
Wigan against Saints will be a classic as ever but it’s two sides struggling (relatively speaking) at this part of the season and could a Saints upset be on the cards? The 2 bottom teams play each other on Thursday night so a leap in points is possible for one team but not in table position. Bring on round 9!