10 of the Best Stats from Round Three

Cory Hill scores a try despite Billy Vunipola 23/2/2019
It was a dramatic weekend of action in the Guinness Six Nations as Wales made it three wins from three, while France and Ireland also clinched victories in Paris and Rome.

It was a dramatic weekend of action in the Guinness Six Nations as Wales made it three wins from three, while France and Ireland also clinched victories in Paris and Rome.

Warren Gatland got the better of Eddie Jones for the first time at Test level as Wales won 21-13 against England in Cardiff, shortly after France had seen off Scotland 27-10.

Then, on Sunday, Ireland withstood an Italian comeback to run out 26-16 victors at the Stadio Olimpico.

With Round Three in the books, it is time to reflect on some of the most eye-catching numbers of the week, which we have dug out with the help of official stats provider AWS.

The game at the Stade de France saw a lot of interesting family connections in evidence, not least Romain Ntamack’s first start at fly-half. The son of former France international Emile was born three weeks after Scotland’s last win in Paris, in which his dad was playing. He ensured that streak would not end by opening the scoring in the game.

However, Ntamack was not the only famous son in action. Adam Hastings, whose father Gavin scored the winning try after the ‘Toonie Flip’, came on in the second half andd France back-rower Grégory Alldritt also came off the bench to score two tries.

The La Rochelle player’s father Terence was born in Scotland, meaning that he was eligible to play for both teams; a fitting opponent for his first Test tries.

Wales conceded a penalty in Cardiff within a minute of kick-off, but that was certainly not a sign of what was to come. In total, Warren Gatland’s side conceded just three over the course of the entire game, including that early whistle against Justin Tipuric.

Rob Evans was pinged on 16 minutes at the scrum, and Hadleigh Parkes failed to release just after the hour. Between those two penalties, England managed to give away eight consecutive penalties and a free-kick, allowing the Welsh to seize momentum in the game.

Tito Tebaldi had not played a Championship game since 2014, and that wait had been delayed a little longer when an injury in the warm-up at BT Murrayfield in Round One saw him pull out at the last minute.

As a result, Sunday ended his five-year absence from the Championship, and he made an immediate impact. A threat with ball in hand throughout, he produced once crucial turnover penalty in the first half, and then the steal from Conor Murray’s hands that ended with Luca Morisi’s try just before half-time.

It had been a long time coming but Tebaldi took his chance with both hands, and was even nominated for Player of the Round.

While we talk about long waits, it is also worth mentioning Sean Cronin, who started a Guinness Six Nations match for the very first time, in his 33rd Championship appearance.

When it comes to Wales’ clashes with England, if the year ends in nine, those west of the Severn Bridge usually end up celebrating. That was the case again on Saturday as Wales got the better of England 21-13. They have now beaten the English in 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009 and of course 2019.

The other notable number for Wales is of course 12. This was their 12th successive Test victory, a perfect dozen which takes them into new territory.

England controlled the first half in Cardiff, but found themselves under pressure in the second as Warren Gatland’s side roared back into contention. For many coaches, the answer might have been to look to the bench, but Eddie Jones had other ideas.

Three players did not come on at all (Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Robson and George Ford) while two more (Ellis Genge and Brad Shields) got just four minutes apiece), as Jones’ replacements combined for the fewest total minutes under his reign so far.

The 60 minutes they were on the pitch was one fewer than the final Test in South Africa last summer.

Wenceslas Lauret was recalled by France for the clash with Scotland, and the Racing 92 flanker made the most of his opportunity.

As he had in the opening game, Lauret managed to turnovers at the breakdown, a round-high for each of the games he has started.

He added in a lineout steal, which means his three total turnovers were more than any other player and the most in a single round of the Championship so far.

A lot has been made of the England kicking game so far in the Championship, and it was again a clear tactic in Cardiff, albeit negated by the Welsh back-three’s excellence under the high ball.

Once again, England kicked more than any other team, putting boot to ball on 13.5 percent of their possession, where no other team cracked double figures.

Ireland were at the other extreme, with just 3.5 percent of possession kicked, as they instead chose to keep ball in hand for the most part in Rome.

Scotland had a tought afternoon in Paris, with their injury-hit side struggling for cohesion throughout. One man did stand out though in Blair Kinghorn, with the Edinburgh full-back filling in admirably for Stuart Hogg.

The two will never be confused on a pitch, not least because Kinghorn is nearly six inches taller, but in terms of running threats, the 22-year-old has proven as elusive as his illustrious teammate. Kinghorn’s 187 metres were the most of any player in Round Three, and the highest total of any player in the Championship so far.

Kinghorn also topped the metres made charts in Round One, his only previous start in the campaign.

Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara spent a decade as the pre-eminent half-back duo in Ireland but their record of half-back appearances together in the Championship was beaten this year by Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton.

This weekend they broke new ground with their 50th start together for Ireland.

That half-century was capped with a victory, with both men contributing. As has happened a little more often recently, Murray took over kicking duties with a pair of conversions, after Sexton had knocked over the first of the game.

While Murray and Sexton were playing together for the 50th time for Ireland, and have also featured together with the Lions, there was new half-back duo getting their first Test starts together.

Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack enjoyed a fine first outing together, helping France to a 27-10 success.

The pair both play for Toulouse but have only once started a match at 9 and 10, which came back in January 2018 against Sale Sharks. On that occasion, they also won, in a backline that featured Gaël Fickou and Yoann Huget.