With less than 48 hours to go before Glasgow Warriors host Scarlets in the PRO14 playoff semi-final here’s On Top Of The Moon’s guide to how the teams’ key stats stack up against each other (and the rest of the keague).
NB Stats only include regular season PRO14 matches and are the average per game unless otherwise stated.
81 (2nd in PRO14) Total tries for 69 (5th in PRO14)
38 (1st) Total tries against 43 (3rd)
81% (4th) Kick success rate 76% (6th)
Both sides have broken their respective club records for tries scored in the regular season. Glasgow in particular have been try happy in this campaign, topping the 72 scores notched during 2016/17 despite playing a game less.
Having only conceded 16 tries during their 10 league fixtures at Scotstoun the home side will be looking to shut down the Scarlets’ attack. That’s easier saaid than done though and while the loss of Leigh Halfpenny is a blow for the visitors’ defence and kicking game, the return of Johnny McNicholl adds to their firepower. He was a key component in the all-court attack from anywhere rugby that took his side to last season’s title.
475 (1st) Metres run 377 (8th)
10.2 (1st) Clean breaks 8.6 (5th)
20.5 (3rd) Defenders beaten 18.0 (8th)
17.2 (14th) Turnovers conceded 14.8 (11th)
If there’s one number that could change Glasgow’s fortunes for good or ill it’s that turnover figure. A combination of lost possession at ruck and maul plus handling errors, it’s an area where the Warriors have (statistically speaking anyway) the poorest record in the league.
It’s partly a result of the high octane style they play and crucially every one of these possessions conceded is really a try-scoring opportunity lost. Games like the 1872 Cup first leg have slipped away from Glasgow as they’ve coughed up the ball when the hard work of breaking through the defence has been done. If they can keep turnovers to a minimum though the Warriors will be very difficult to contain.
129 (8th) Tackles made 124 (11th)
87.9% (7th) Tackle completion 88.6% (5th)
5.5 (1st) Clean breaks conceded 7.7 (7th)
In the first half of the season Glasgow were near the top for the number of tackles made but they’ve moved more towards the middle of the pack as the league has progressed. That suggests they have spent a little bit more time in possession, which may well be one of the keys to negating the Scarlets’ attacking talents – just don’t let them have the ball!
Overall though neither of these teams are really set up for attritional defensive duties. Which is good news for those hoping for an open, entertaining, attacking contest on Friday night.
97.0% (2nd) Ruck success (own ball) 96.5% (10th)
3.8% (5th) Ruck success (opposition ball) 4.2% (2nd)
79.1% (12th) Maul success (own ball) 89.3% (4th)
11.6% (9th) Maul success (opposition ball) 20.2% (2nd)
The Scarlets have plenty of players who can be a total menace at the breakdown – James Davies, Tadhg Beirne and John Barclay in particular are likely to be a pain in the proverbial. The number of turnovers they win is unlikely to be huge (relative to the total number of rucka) but each one has a double value in denying Glasgow possession to profit from while simultaneously allowing the Scarlets their own shot at creating a points scoring situation.
The ability to just slow the speed of the attacking ball and allow time for the defence to reset (a Barclay speciality) will also be crucial to hindering the Warriors’ attacking effectiveness.
94.7% (3rd) Scrum success (own ball) 90.5% (12th)
7.7% (9th) Scrum success (opposition ball) 12.2% (1st)
86.9% (11th) Lineout success (own ball) 90.7% (3rd)
13.2% (5th) Lineout success (opposition ball) 7.4% (13th)
The scrum numbers might surprise some who feel the Warriors’ setpiece has suffered this season. They’ve been effective at getting their own ball in and out though. The Scarlets’ numbers on the opposition put-in demonstrate that they view the scrum as much more of an opportunity to contest the ball and win penalties / free kicks. The two sides’ previous meeting this season suggests that Dave Rennie and his coaching staff will have to have come up with some kind of plan to contain the Scarlets’ scrum.
10.2 (10th) Penalties conceded 7.2 (1st)
9.7 (6th=) Penalties won 9.9 (5th)
5 (2nd=) Total yellow cards 1 (1st)
Scarlets’ level of discipline is quite frankly otherwordly. To concede the fewest penalties in a league containing Munster and Leinster is a remarkable achievement! Glasgow may need to accept that there won’t be many easy opportunities to kick their way into the visitors’ 22 – they’re going to need to work for every yard.
The keys to the game then for Glasgow:
- Turnover count as close to single figures as possible
- 90%+ tackle completion
- Stay clinical at the breakdown
- Avoid mauls!
- Parity in the scrum
- Try and match (or better) the Scarlets penalty count
Ultimately all these points come down to the simple goal of maximising the opportunities for Glasgow to get their potent attack into the game – while stifling the visitors’ flair. Hopefully a cracker of a game then and the right result in the end.