Au­tumn de­brief: Fale­tau rep­u­ta­tion and Amos is

Western Mail - - SPORT -

STA­TIS­TICS tell you only so much, but ev­ery rugby coach uses them and War­ren Gat­land will be no dif­fer­ent as he pores over the facts and fig­ures be­fore putting plans in place for the Six Na­tions.

Who were Wales’s best and worst per­form­ers dur­ing the au­tumn se­ries that has just fin­ished?

And what do the de­tails tell us with se­lec­tion for the Six Na­tions opener against Scot­land in mind?

MARK OR­DERS spent a morn­ing num­ber-crunch­ing to see which play­ers re­turned big num­bers in the cat­e­gories that counted.

CLEAN BREAKS

HAV­ING Liam Wil­liams avail­able for just two matches did Wales no favours dur­ing Novem­ber.

In 2016-17, Wil­liams con­firmed him­self as Wales’s go-to break man by mak­ing 13 clean busts for the na­tional team, more than any­one else.

He will surely come back into the mix for the Six Na­tions opener against Scot­land, with Wales at­tempt­ing to master the more ex­pan­sive game they played this au­tumn.

Hal­lam Amos un­der­lined his claim for a spot in that match by cut­ting the op­po­si­tion de­fen­sive line twice as many times as any­one else over the past month. Hal­lam Amos 8 St­eff Evans 4 Gareth Davies 3 Taulupe Fale­tau 3 Josh Na­vidi 3 Hadleigh Parkes 3 Scott Wil­liams 3

DE­FEND­ERS BEATEN

ST­EFF Evans had a mixed cam­paign, but he did beat de­fend­ers, eight of them against Aus­tralia and 10 in to­tal over his three out­ings.

De­spite play­ing only twice, Liam Wil­liams left eight would-be tack­lers clutch­ing thin air, while Amos also per­formed strongly. A nod to Leigh Half­penny, too. He may not have man­aged a clean break dur­ing the cam­paign but he did find his way past seven de­fend­ers.

And Josh Na­vidi also showed up well when chal­leng­ing the op­po­si­tion de­fence. St­eff Evans 10 Liam Wil­liams 8 Hal­lam Amos 7 Leigh Half­penny 7 Josh Na­vidi 7 Rhys Webb 6

OFFLOADS

Wales are try­ing to play with con­ti­nu­ity and a key part of that de­pends on play­ers hav­ing the skill and aware­ness to keep the ball alive.

Amos is again a star per­former, top­ping the chart with Aaron Shin­gler, who im­proved as the cam­paign went on.

It was a no­table ef­fort from Rob Evans.

He may not have been any­where near his best against South Africa, af­ter pick­ing up a bump against New Zealand, but he has the han­dling skills of a back and he was to the fore in his pre­vi­ous two out­ings. Hal­lam Amos 6 Aaron Shin­gler 6 Dan Big­gar 4 Rob Evans 4 Taulupe Fale­tau 4 Cory Hill 4

TACK­LES

A stand-out show from Josh Na­vidi saw him per­form con­sis­tently strongly in de­fence.

There were dou­ble-fig­ure tackle hauls from him in ev­ery game, even off the bench against Ge­or­gia (12).

In the other three matches, Na­vidi made 16 tack­les or up­wards ev­ery time he took the field.

Of course, the break­down mat­ters hugely and it will not have es­caped Gat­land’s at­ten­tion that Wales had a tough af­ter­noon there against South Africa, where Mal­colm Marx ruled supreme. But Na­vidi had a fine cam­paign over­all and it will be an in­ter­est­ing call be­tween him and Justin Tipuric for the Scot­land game.

Else­where, Dan Ly­di­ate makes the top-six per­form­ers for Wales de­spite play­ing only a game and a bit.

A trade­mark show against Ge­or­gia pro­pelled the Osprey into the mix, with Ly­di­ate mak­ing 27 tack­les, the best de­fen­sive dis­play of the cam­paign. Josh Na­vidi 63 Taulupe Fale­tau 43 Cory Hill 42 Alun Wyn Jones 39 Aaron Shin­gler 34 Dan Ly­di­ate 28 Kris­tian Dacey 28

MISSED TACK­LES

A bad day in de­fence against New Zealand saw St­eff Evans miss seven tack­les.

That grue­some stat helped push him to the top of the leader­board in this sec­tion.

Rob Evans’s tally went up dur­ing an off-key dis­play against South Africa. St­eff Evans 10 Rob Evans 5 Scott Wil­liams 5 Kris­tian Dacey 3 Aled Davies 3 Aaron Shin­gler 3

NO TACK­LES MISSED

SOME great work from those who ap­pear in this sec­tion, es­pe­cially the ones who played more than the odd game. SO let’s hear it for Taulupe Fale­tau, who made 43 tack­les and nailed ev­ery one.

When the go­ing got tough in the fi­nal stages against South Africa, the cel­e­brated Test Lion stepped for­ward, help­ing to hold the Welsh de­fen­sive line to­gether and fin­ish­ing with a 15-0 de­fen­sive show. Jake Ball Adam Beard Leon Brown Alex Cuth­bert Taulupe Fale­tau To­mas Fran­cis Wyn Jones Jamie Roberts Nicky Smith Justin Tipuric Owen Watkin

KICKS OUT OF HAND

NOTH­ING too much to see here.

Wales used Dan Big­gar as their main tac­ti­cal kicker and he did the job par­tic­u­larly well against South Africa, tor­ment­ing an in­ept de­fence.

As sec­ond play­maker, Owen Wil­liams made just three kicks out of hand. Dan Big­gar 31 Gareth Davies 9 Aled Davies 9 Rhys Pri­est­land 8 Rhys Patchell 7 St­eff Evans 6

> Taulupe Fale­tau

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