Player fatigue was a big factor for round 17, coaches complaining before and after the fixtures of the “Double Easter” being difficult to swallow for many. Top of the league rolled a dice and won Jackpot! Let’s see what the stats had to say…
Huddersfield Giants scored an impressive 8 tries against a worryingly poor Wolves side. Catalans and Warrington both could only manage the 1 try.
Now this is where I must tell the truth, because of fixture congestion/ lack of wifi in Scotland I wasn’t quick enough to get some stats so within these stats the following team won’t be in but will be in next round…Wigan, Leigh, Hull and Leeds – sorry.
Saints made the most tackles with 393 trying their best to stop a determined Castleford side out. The Giants had a very easy defensive game making just 282 tackles, it is very interesting there is over 100 tackles difference between the bottom and top team for tackles made this round.
Like a carbon copy of round 15 Saints missed just 14 tackles and Catalan missed 40 tackles! I said in round 15 if Saints could keep on with such low missed tackles per game it could be key to a strong finish and I still think that’s the case. Catalans can’t continue missing so many tackles in a game and expect to get anything out of this season.
Widnes, hello and welcome to the season long game of who can get the most tackle bursts. Your score of 42 isn’t going to worry the big hitters in this metric such as Wigan, Castleford and Salford but still a very respectable. Castleford surprise strugglers and normal big hitters on this metric but given the squad make up it wasn’t surprising they struggled to beak though that improved Saints line.
Warrington this time struggled to get over the 1000 metre mark which is a sure signal that a teamed struggled in a match. Widnes again running away with top of the table stuff this round with 1483 metres gained at an average per carry of 7.72 which wasn’t the highest avg gain per carry that was Salford with 7.98 metres per carry.
Runs from Dummy Half
I always finding it interesting when a team changes tactic either permanently or just for a game, Castleford deployed this tactic 23 times, Widnes did it 21 times , their average over the 17 rounds has been 17 (how about that?) runs from dummy half so it does show an increase on the norm.
A small mention here on the 4 yellow cards that Catalan managed to collect in just 12 penalties, could well be a record for card per penalties! The good guys of the league are still Castleford and Wakefield with one yellow card each after 17 rounds, it could go into the mix to explain their fortunes this season.
What does it all mean?
They rolled a dice in favour of player safety after a number of games over a few days, I get the feeling it was that but also a single finger salute to the RFL who created this condition but also that meant that Saints had a distinct advantage by being rested. It was a gamble that paid off, on paper they were a shade off this round compared to others but it showed great depth. They are now 4 points clear at the top and even if someone got close to them a monster points advantage is making it more like a 5 point lead.
I wonder what the bookies whould have given you for the top of table looking like it does after 17 rounds, they’d probably given quite wide odds. As much as Castleford being top, Wakefield’s climb through the table this year has been great to witness and with Hull and Wigan struggling for form it might make for a very different top 4.
Averaging 4 tries a game, 23 tackle bursts, 7.34 average gain per carry and only 10 errors a game (second lowest in the league) it’s good foundations to push this season.
Key matches to watch out for, Salford vs Hull will be a good match no doubt there but third plays fourth in Wakefield and Leeds so lots a stake in that one.