Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

A look at the statistics ahead of Wales’ Six Nations clash with England

The match in Cardiff could help decide who will claim this year’s title.

Wales and England go head to head on Saturday (Joe Giddens/PA)
Wales and England go head to head on Saturday (Joe Giddens/PA)

England take on Wales in the Principality Stadium on Saturday in a match which could go a long way towards deciding this year’s Guinness Six Nations champions.

Here, Press Association Sport analyses the key statistics which could determine the outcome.

Tries tough to come by

bpanews_105359fe-8019-4ccd-8aee-456f4ac656b0_embedded230069210
Elliot Daly’s 2017 winner in Wales was a relatively rare try in this fixture (David Davies/PA)

England’s last five visits to Wales have each seen three tries or fewer, with potential title implications often making it a cagey affair.

Indeed, only twice this century have the two teams exceeded that total on Welsh soil – 2007, when England needed a large winning margin to have a chance of lifting the trophy but were beaten 27-19, and a 44-15 England win in 2001.

Wales were without wing George North on England’s last visit two years ago, when the visitors won 21-16 with two tries to Wales’ one – an exact repeat of 2015’s Friday-night tournament opener – while even Wales’ 30-3 win in 2013 contained only two tries.

England entered this year’s tournament averaging the fewest points per entry into the opposing 22, according to analysis by Gracenote of matches since August 2017 between teams in the world’s top 10.

Wales also did not rank highly and with both sides in contention to win the Six Nations, as has been the case in recent years, their inclination may be to take the points on offer through penalties.

Making penalties pay

bpanews_105359fe-8019-4ccd-8aee-456f4ac656b0_embedded1897721
(PA Graphic)

That approach would also help continue Wales and England’s domination of the penalty goal count in the 2019 tournament thus far.

Only two players have kicked more than two successful penalties to this point – Dan Biggar with five for Wales to Owen Farrell’s four for England. Biggar has been named on the bench for Saturday’s game but is almost certain to feature in the second half.

Gareth Anscombe will be the man entrusted with any shots at goal in his absence and the pair have combined for an 80 per cent kick success rate so far across penalties and conversions, compared to Farrell’s 71 per cent.

Wales counting on experience

bpanews_105359fe-8019-4ccd-8aee-456f4ac656b0_embedded239482465
Alun Wyn Jones, right, is closing in on 50 Six Nations starts (Paul Harding/PA)

The Wales starting XV for Saturday’s game have a combined 225 previous starts to their name in the Six Nations – over 40 per cent more than England’s 159.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is comfortably the most experienced player in either side – his appearance this weekend will take him within one of a Six Nations half-century.

He is joined in an established Welsh pack by the double-figure tallies of prop Rob Evans (15), hooker Ken Owens (12) and flanker Justin Tipuric (16), while in the back division Jonathan Davies has 33 caps, George North 32 and Liam Williams 21.

England’s most experienced Six Nations campaigners are half-backs Farrell, with 31 caps, and Ben Youngs with 26, while starting wings Jonny May and Jack Nowell have 16 apiece. Five of the eight forwards have three starts or fewer, with 11 apiece for George Kruis and Mako Vunipola and 19 for Courtney Lawes.

The teams’ Six Nations try totals reflects their respective balance, with England only four behind on 39 despite their overall lack of experience. North has 19 of Wales’ 43 and is the only man on either side in double figures.

Press Association

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph