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Defense wins matches
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Defense wins matches

The All Blacks 2017 record on tries conceded...

The 2017 season was a difficult one for the All Blacks, with 2 losses and 1 draw producing the worst result since 2009. There was a recognition that the team were rebuilding, following the loss of many players after 2015. The 2016 results - with just 1 loss - didn't represent the impact of the loss of players such as Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Daniel Carter and Conrad Smith. Many new leaders were developed, and the team managed to successfully fill in key positions.
However, the 2017 season saw some of this vulnerability reappear following a poor run with injuries. Players that were part of the leadership group - such as Ben Smith, Brodie Retallick and Dane Coles were missed for large periods of the season.
The NZ Rugby World magazine go into this issue in some detail in their latest edition.
So cracks started to appear. And most criticism related to the regular defensive lapses in many tests. So do the season's results reflect a decline in defensive standards?
Avg Tries Conceded:
2016 1.29 tries per test
2017 1.93 tries per test
And as per the chart, the 2017 season provides a very real anomaly for Steve Hansen's team in terms of tries conceded. This trend is also reflected in the Average Points Conceded - which shows that the side conceded, on average, an additional 2 points per test match compared to 2016, and again, the worst record of Hansen's tenure.
Interestingly, the extra half-a-try per match and 2 points per test would indicate that, despite concerns about the team's discipline, that did not cost them significantly in terms of additional points conceded from penalties.
The Hansen regime knows all this, but appears to be treating some of the 2017 deficiencies as an anomaly - putting it down to the improvement of other teams, and the absence of key players. One of those factors should be eliminated next year - so can the trend be reversed...?
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