GREENWICH, CT – Last weekend’s matches both came down to the final minutes of the game to be decided. Sacramento got its third win of the season and San Francisco pushed Denver to the very edge before the Stampede came back to win. Let’s break down the matches by the numbers, but first check out our handy-dandy PRO Rugby Stats Glossary:
- Average Penalty Points (APP) – Number of times points are scored off of penalties in the attacking half of the field divided by total penalties awarded in attacking side
- Defensive Hold Average (DHA) – Number of times a team repels its opponent within it’s own 22 meter divided by the number of times opponent enters within 22 meter line.
- Red Zone Point Average (RPA) – Number of times a team gets points when it goes inside the 22 meter line divided by the number of time that team is inside the 22 meter line.
- Attacking Plays – Offloads plus line breaks plus runs >20 meters plus plays of >50 meters
- Penalty Difference – Penalties awarded divided by penalties conceded
- Turnovers – Times the ball changes possession not including penalties. Ex. counter ruck, interception, stolen lineout, etc.
Sacramento lit up the stat board this weekend. Despite losing he penalty difference by -5, it made the most of San Diego‘s penalties by having a very impressive 50% APP and offensively it had 23 attacking plays and a killer 75% RPA. This sort of pressure wrecked havoc on San Diego’s defense and ultimately it had no chance against that sort of efficiency. On the defensive side of the ball the Express had a 44% DHA suffocated the Breakers with possession of the ball for 62% of the match. The Italian Stallion Mirco Bergamasco was also deadly with his foot and sniped 3 of his 4 kicks at goal.
The Breakers had an opportunity to possibly get ahead of Sacramento midway through the second half when it scored sties in the 56′, 60′, and 67′ minutes but ultimately the Express stopped the Breakers right in its tracks. The bookends of the match saw Sand Diego struggle at times. What three stats really hurt it was its -5 turnover differential, 25% DHA, and only 8 attacking plays. While the Breakers posted good numbers for the other categories it had major errors in its play. Those three stats show that San Diego 1. struggled to hold onto the ball and as a result only had possession for 38% of the match. 2. Couldn’t hold back the Express’s attack. 3. Was not dangerous or explosive with the ball in hand. At the end of the 80 minutes the Express chugged on past 35-27.
In San Francisco the Rush got out to an early lead and went into the half on top of Denver. Interestingly, despite its efficient RPA of 40%, it only had a 10% APP. It makes more sense when you notice that 2 of the Rush’s 4 tries were on runs of >20 meters which boosts its performance in the red zone. However, San Francisco did not help itself by having a -7 penalty differential and scoring on very few of the opportunities that Denver gave it. Defensively it played a strong match until the second half where Denver was able to bash through its defensive wall. Its 64% DHA looked much higher in the first half. On top of losing the penalty differential, the Rush also had a -3 turnover differential and as I’ve mentioned previously, the team with the positive number at the end of the match has almost always won this year.
After a scare in the first half, the Stampede came back in the second half to regain the lead. I was impressed by how much Denver utilized the offload of which it had 10 this match. This allowed opened up longer runs for the Stampede which is shown in its 20 attacking plays. Power runners Hanco Germishuys and Pedrie Wannenburg stood out on the day. What made the difference in the match was Denver’s defensive in the final minutes when it repelled the Rush’s attack in the red zone multiple times and that effort is shown in its 60% DHA. All of Denver’s tries were from runs of <20 meters. Denver’s game plan as usual was to utilize its forwards and smash the ball into the defense and that worked as seen with its 43% RPA. Utilizing the forwards also allowed it to maintain the ball longer than the Rush as it had possession for 57% of the match. The final score was 59-13.
Next week all eyes will be on the matchup of the Aviators versus the Stampede with the winner being crowned the inaugural Pro Rugby Champions. Both teams have been hot recently but coming off a strong win I think that Denver will continue its momentum. San Francisco will travel to Sacramento to wrap up their seasons. Based off the was San Francisco has been playing recently including its well fought loss to the Stampede, I’m calling that the Rush will win.
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Luke Bienstock, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @Ronan Nelson, @Zack Stryfeller, @Brian C Cole, @Garrett Harper, @James Harrington and @Declan Yeats.