Weekend in numbers: Rees-Zammit and Watson steal Round 4 headlines

Louis Rees-Zammit 13/2/2021
Rugby’s Greatest Championship delivered another feast of tries, incident and drama over the weekend – and the numbers once again tell a fascinating story.

Rugby’s Greatest Championship delivered another feast of tries, incident and drama over the weekend – and the numbers once again tell a fascinating story.

The action began in Rome where the Grand Slam train continued to rumble on for Wales as Wayne Pivac’s side ran in seven tries to defeat Italy 48-7 at Stadio Olimpico.

It was then all about Le Crunch as England welcomed France to Twickenham for what turned out to be an enthralling end-to-end contest before the hosts triumphed 23-20.

Sunday then brought the curtain down on the weekend’s entertainment with another brilliant contest in Edinburgh, where Ireland overcame Scotland 27-24 with a late penalty.

And with the dust now settled on Round 4 of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, we dived into the Stats Powered by AWS to see what the numbers said about the weekend’s games.

157 – Ball carry metres by Louis Rees-Zammit

Wales wing sensation Louis Rees-Zammit showed once again why he is so highly rated as he ran in his fourth try in four Guinness Six Nations games against the Azzurri.

The 20-year-old’s score was one of seven as the visitors ran riot in Rome, with the Gloucester man intercepting Carlo Canna’s pass to cross the whitewash from his own 22.

It capped off a fine performance from Rees-Zammit, who carried for 157 metres overall during the game to leave teammates George North (122) and Josh Adams (101) in his wake.

23 – Tackles made by Josh Navidi

The Wales back row has been at the centre of their success in the 2021 Championship, with Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau largely receiving all of the plaudits.

That has meant Josh Navidi has gone under the radar in comparison but his influence was clear to see against Italy, with the flanker making an impressive 23 tackles against the Azzurri.

His work rate from start to finish was relentless and saw him also make the join most opposition ruck arrivals, alongside Tipuric and Jonathan Davies, completing five cleanouts.

21 – Ball carries by Sebastian Negri

While Italy were unable to upset the odds against Wales, Franco Smith’s side continued to show promising signs for the future in the talented Monty Ioane and Paolo Garbisi.

The always reliable Sebastian Negri also performed well for the hosts, making 21 carries for 88 metres as the 26-year-old regularly tested the Wales defensive line.

Italy will be hoping for a similar work rate from Negri against Scotland on Super Saturday as they look to finish the 2021 Guinness Six Nations on a high.

9 – Offloads made by England

Much has been made about England’s attack during this year’s Championship but the Red Rose were not short of flair against Les Bleus as they emerged triumphant at Twickenham.

Itoje strikes late to steer England past France

Eddie Jones’ side even managed to out-offload France, finishing the contest with nine to the visitors’ seven as Owen Farrell (3), Billy Vunipola (2) and Mako Vunipola (1) contributed.

In fact, Billy Vunipola enjoyed another superb showing following his exploits against Wales, making another 18 carries for 86 metres – only the second most metres behind Jonny May (124).

6 – Breakdown steals by Ireland

Andy Farrell was full of praise for his side’s set-piece work at the weekend and it’s easy to see why after Ireland managed to steal three of Scotland’s lineouts in their win in Edinburgh.

Vote for your Guinness Six Nations Player of Round 4

Ireland were also a constant thorn in Scotland’s side at the breakdown, securing six steals to Scotland’s four to ensure Gregor Townsend’s men never had a reliable attacking platform.

In terms of standout players, Tadhg Beirne produced two of those breakdown steals for the visitors while CJ Stander’s 17 carries for 94 metres also deserves recognition.

Scotland, on the other hand, will also take comfort from the performance of Hamish Watson, who scored a try, made 15 tackles (three dominant) and carried 13 times for 68 metres.