Stats Column: Metres make wins

Our resident statto Dave Parkinson will be taking a weekly look at the nuances of the rugby league statistic in this new column, to see whether the numbers can point to trends in form or otherwise.

Now to my mind, metres make wins. If you can make more ground than your opposition you can apply more pressure and, in theory anyway, post more points.

I was keen to apply this theory to the past weekend and looking at each contest, it largely stands up.

So our last Super League weekend began at Wigan where 2016 Champions were hosting 2017 League leaders.

History hasn’t been kind to Castleford in Wigan but on this night they won 27-10.

Here are the metres and key stats for me from both sides:

Stat

Wigan

Castleford

Metres

1259

1343

Carries

200

166

Attacking kicks

12

9

Missed tackles

26

28

The stats would suggest Wigan having more ball – 34 plays more. They also suggest that Wigan rely a little more on their kicking game to try and create panic while Castleford play a lot in hand. Missed tackles are pretty level and normally I would highlight someone that makes five or more missed tackles in a game (Adam Milner missed 7, but in his case, he also made 46!).

For the Tigers 166 carries made 1343 metres, that’s an average gain per carry of 8.09 metres compared with Wigan’s gain of 6.295 metres.

There were some real metre eaters for both sides. I have highlighted those who made or almost reached 100 metres in the game.

Wigan: Metres (Carries)

Castleford: Metres (Carries)

Tom Davies 149 (19)

Greg Eden 182 (10)

Liam Farrell 112 (20)

Junior Moors 149 (20)

Willie Isa 106 (18)

Zak Hardaker 143 (17)

Morgan Escare 95 (11)

Jesse Sene-Lafao 116 (16)

Jake Webster 113 (13)

Ben Roberts 90 (11)

Moors is a brilliant forward, where even if you contain his running game, you have to also wrap up his offloads (and he still made two in this game).

I’ve long been of the opinion that Liam Farrell is amongst the best second rows we’ve got and you can see he did a lot of work with 20 carries, by comparison Mike McMeeken who people are suggesting should be on the plane with England in a month made 9 carries and 74 metres.

Let us now look generally at metres made by teams this week (and carries)

Wakefield 1377 (196)

Widnes 926 (130)

Warrington 1519 (199)

Leeds 1155 (179)

St Helens 1519 (192)

Huddersfield 1352 (204)

Leigh 1076 (154)

Catalans 984 (157)

Hull 1021 (139)

Salford 1344 (177)

Interestingly there was one game that from a metres point of view flies against everything that I’ve said so far. That was Leigh v Catalans. It finished with Leigh actually making almost 100 metres more than the French side. Much of those can probably be attributed to Ben Crooks who made 147 metres and got hauled down following two forty metre breaks.

This was a strange game that Leigh actually started well. However, after conceding the first try after seven minutes, up until the point Gareth Hock was sinbinned eight minutes later, the visitors had built a 16-2 advantage and they also scored two more tries to make it 28-2 after 25 minutes.

The first half hour brought a massive weight of possession to Catalans – 17 sets to 9 and that was the difference despite a Centurion fightback in the second half.

As for pace of game, maybe this is telling by the number of carries produced in total.

Wigan v Castleford produced 366 carries in all.

Wakefield v Widnes produced 326 carries.

Warrington v Leeds saw 378.

St Helens v Huddersfield saw 396.

Hull v Salford produced 316.

With that Leigh v Catalans game seeing 311 carries.

I reckon St Helens and Huddersfield fans that you got your moneys-worth last week while Leigh and Catalans fans can maybe feel short changed at seeing 85 less carries in their game.

Every week I will also pick out a couple of players for praise for their workload.

The first this week is St Helens Alex Walmsley. He made 21 carries for 183 metres against Huddersfeld and weighed in with 31 tackles too.

Chris Hill also got Warrington going forward with 144 metres from 20 carries and 26 tackles.

Mitch Garbutt (170 metres, 20 carries, 36 tackles) and Adam Cuthbertson (137 metres, 20 carries, 6 offoads, 46 tackles) deserve big mentions but for sheer tackling resilience this week, Brett Delaney stands tall! With 54 tackles to his name he must have been in need of an ice bath after Leeds game with Warrington!

I’ll be back with a double edition of this column after Easter.

For many years I’ve been involved over at Radio General – Warrington Hospital Radio, providing commentaries and doing a regular show that is also our podcast here.

Those listeners will already know that I like a statistic and indeed my friend and colleague at the station Dave Birch coined a hashtag that seems quite appropriate #lovesastat – if you’ve spotted anything worth noting, send us a tweet @loverugbyleague using the hashtag #lovesastat

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