Glasgow Warriors and Leinster are the top teams in the league for tries; points scored; metres run; defenders beaten; and percentage of rucks won. They are the very best in the PRO14 but they go about their business in different ways. On Top Of The Moon compares and contrasts some of the key stats.
90 Tries scored 97
Of these two teams Glasgow’s tries have been more evenly spread throughout their matches this season. They picked up 15 try bonus points from 21 regular season games – as well as notching 7 scores in their semi-final against Ulster. Leinster have managed 4+ tries on 12 occasions in the current campaign but racked up really big numbers more frequently than the Warriors.
There is some variation in the source of the tries between the clubs. 44% of Leinster’s scores come from their forwards. For Glasgow that figure is much lower at 31%. It means head to head the Irish side’s pack have outscored their Scottish counterparts 43 – 28. In the backlines that advantage is reversed and the Warriors have bagged more tries, 62 – 54.
One particular area of difference is at hooker. The Leinster number 2s have combined for 16 tries in the PRO14 this season which is more than twice the number scored by their peers at Glasgow who have 7. This maybe gives an indication as to the relative levels of success the two teams have with their short-range work and the power of their respective packs.
1.54 Passes per ruck 1.41
This is an area where Glasgow and Leinster have shifted from last year – with both teams trending downwards in the number of passes and playing more directly (Glasgow from 1.71 passes per ruck and Leinster from 1.52 passes per ruck). For Glasgow there’s been a definite change in their approach with more abrasiveness from the pack being key. They’ve been able to have success more consistently from pick and goes and one out passes with players like Matt Fagerson combining great footwork and aggressive carrying to get over the gainline.
For the visitors they’ve taken an already oppressive physicality and cranked up the dial even more during 2018/19. Only Edinburgh made less passes per ruck than Leinster during the current season. If they can get into the right areas of the pitch Leo Cullen’s men will quite happily go through 20, 30, even 40 phases where the ball is only passed occasionally. They’ve had so much success with this approach that any time Glasgow can stop one of these opportunities it will feel almost as good as scoring a try!
104 Attacking rucks per game 124
Any team taking on Leinster have to know that they will be in for a physical battle and they will be facing up to lots of defensive contacts. The Irish side forced their opponents to attempt an average of 220 tackles per game during the regular season (the equivalent figure for Glasgow was 185). Even with all those breakdowns they are also the most efficient in the league at securing their own ruck ball. There are few risks taken.
This does mean that it takes them a lot more graft to break their opponent’s line though. Glasgow average a clean break for every 10 rucks while for Leinster it takes them 40% more breakdowns for each line break. This is where Glasgow will be looking to take advantage in attack. Clean, quick ball will give the likes of Ali Price and Adam Hastings a multitude of options to take and stress even a top tier defence like Leinster’s.
51% Average territory 57%
The way Leinster play the game allows them to dominate the territorial battle like no other team in the league. With the control exercised through their kicking game and stifling defensive line speed they can comfortably contain sides in their own half. When they win possession in an attacking position they will go through huge numbers of phases to wear down their opponents. The pay-off is either a score at the time or more groundwork laid to fatigue the opposition so that they can be opened up later.
Glasgow have tried to play smarter in this facet of the game during the current season. Intelligent kicking and decision-making has upped their average territory from 48% in 2017/18 to 51% in this campaign. Playing against Leinster will be a real test of whether the Warriors can maintain the discipline and focus necessary to get sufficient territory and possession to win the final.
49 Setpieces lost (own ball) 35
There are fine margins in operation all over the pitch in these sorts of games and often a lost scrum or lineout can have big a impact. With the sides only averaging 2.2 and 1.6 occasions in a match where they turn over their own throw-in or put-in both teams will want to take maximum advantage of any that do go astray.
Glasgow have been able to set off their own errors by winning opposition ball 49 times during the PRO14 campaign. Leinster had a positive return in this area and ended up stealing possession 13 more times than they conceded it at the setpiece. The Dubliners are likely to be aggressive when the Warriors are putting in but more controlled, just looking for a stable platform to attack from, when it’s their turn at scrum and lineout.
5 Total yellow cards 7
Both teams have also had 1 red card each. Glasgow’s discipline in this respect has been particularly good in the second half of the season. During 2019, a period covering 13 games in all competitions, they have only received a single yellow card – Niko Matawalu’s late sin bin against the Ospreys back at the end of January.
Leinster by contrast have picked up a yellow in each of their last 5 games (3 in the PRO14 and 2 in the Champions Cup). 10 minutes with a man advantage is not always the scoring bonanza it’s made out to be (the average is around 3 points) but there’s also the impact of the extra work on the remaining players. There’s no question either of these sides would welcome a spell on the power play and the Warriors will be hoping they can maintain their exemplary record in this area.
The keys to the game then for Glasgow:
- Efficiency at the ruck and quick ball for the half backs
- Get ready to graft to contain the visitors
- Deny Leinster opportunities to get into Glasgow’s half (minimal penalties)
- No lost setpieces
- No cards
For last week’s head to heads with Ulster and even more Glasgow team stats click here.