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We’re slightly over halfway in the 2016-17 season.
But unfortunately for most Sale fans, we’re already dreaming of next season.
In the Premiership, Sale sit a disappointing 10th with only three wins in thirteen games. Whilst a drop-off from last season’s impressive sixth-place finish was expected given the losses of club stalwarts Danny Cipriani, Tommy Taylor and Vadim Cobilas along with some, ahem, underwhelming recruitment that the club’s summer ownership takeover came far too late to influence, to have endured such a miserable first 13/22th of the season and be firmly mired in a relegation battle means there is little domestic solace to be had. It is the Championship rather than the Champions Cup that currently looks a more feasible proposition for next season.
Speaking of European rugby, despite last weekend’s 25-23 victory over Scarlets – Sale’s first in the Champions Cup since October 2012 - the Sharks unsurprisingly finished dead last in Pool 3 behind continental heavyweights Saracens and Toulon as well as a plucky Scarlets team, again re-affirming that this is a team that requires serious investment before consistent top-six finishes and respectable European pool stage showings can be expected.
To compound matters further, Sale are also currently bottom of their Anglo-Welsh Cup pool; however all four sides in said pool (Ospreys, Exeter and Worcester the others) have all won one and lost one of their first two fixtures in the tournament and the Sharks are bottom by virtue of their lack of a four-try bonus-point in their solitary win. Also nobody cares about the Anglo-Welsh Cup anyway (unless Sale thrash Cardiff on Friday and go on to win their first piece of silverware since 2006).
However rather than conduct an autopsy on a season which by all means is already dead-in-the-water and in which simply remaining in the Premiership for next season and maybe signing Ben Spencer would be considered a magnanimous achievement, let’s adopt a statistical outlook and take an objective view of the positives and negatives of Sale’s season thus far. Given that, unlike the United Kingdom (yet), Sale are out of Europe and statistics aren’t publicly available for the Anglo-Welsh Cup, all statistics listed are in relation to the Aviva Premiership.
Also, would you the reader please bear in mind that as I neither work for BT Sport or Premiership Rugby and cannot afford the £2000+ annual subscription cost to Opta Sports (although if you’re looking for a justification to donate to The Shark Tank’s Patreon page, there you go), the stats listed are what I have been able to find publicly and may not be as comprehensive as any of us would prefer. Instead most statistics come from the excellent ukrugbystats.co.uk and rugby.statbunker.com
Disciple has been a major issue in Sale’s performances this season with the team enduring a torrid run in recent weeks of being unable to see out a full eighty minutes with a full contingent of players.
It is not surprising therefore that Sale lead the Premiership in cards accumulated with nine yellow cards in thirteen fixtures thus far (no reds).
Sale’s lacklustre discipline meanwhile is slightly worse at home than it is away with five yellow cards being awarded at the AJ Bell and four at opposition grounds.
The club also appear to be struggling to abide by the rules as the game progresses having been awarded six second-half yellow cards compared to three in the first forty.
Those who have been carded in the line of duty this season is as follows:
Halani Aulika x2
Tries Scored / Conceded
Erstwhile, a comprehensive rundown of Sale’s point scoring and conceding thus far this season is as follows:
Eleven tries in six games, an average of 1.83 per game.
Fifteen tries conceded in six games, an average of 2.5 tries per game
Nineteen tries in seven games, an average of 2.71 per game
Twenty-one tries conceded in seven games, an average of 3 per game
(11+19) = 30 total tries scored.
Sale are 7th in the Premiership for tries scored behind Wasps, Chiefs, Gloucester, Saracens, Bath and Harlequins.
Sale are averaging 2.3 tries scored per game
(14+22) = 36 total tries conceded.
Sale have conceded the 5th most tries in the Premiership this season ahead of Bristol, Worcester, Newcastle and Harlequins.
Sale are averaging 2.77 tries conceded per game
21-40: 13 (!)
Top Try Scorers
Despite having only three Premiership games under his belt (and a Champions Cup fixture), mid-season signing Denny Solomona has already leaped to the top of Sale’s individual try-scoring charts, with all four of his touchdowns in a Sale shirt coming in the domestic league:
Denny Solomona – 4
Byron McGuigan – 3
Johnny Leota – 3
Will Addison – 2
Halani Aulika – 2
Paolo Odogwu – 2
Bryn Evans – 2
Mike Haley - 2
David Seymour – 1
Sam James – 1
Cameron Neild – 1
Neil Briggs – 1
Mike Phillips – 1
Eifon Lewis-Roberts – 1
Tom Curry – 1
Josh Beaumont – 1
Penalty Try - 1
(An average of 10.66 points)
(An average of 6.5 points)
(An average of 7.2 points)
(An average of 12.71)
Points Scored from Tee
AJ MacGInty – 35
Will Addison – 31
Dan Mugford – 20
AJ MacGinty – 7
Will Addison – 5
Dan Mugford - 4
AJ MacGinty – 7
Will Addison – 7
Dan Mugford - 4
AJ MacGinty – 82.35% (14/17) – 6th in the Premiership
Will Addison – 75% (12/16) – 16th in the Premiership
Dan Mugford – 72.73% (8/11) – 18th in the Premiership
Most Appearances (Starts)
Josh Beaumont – 13 (12)
Mike Phillips - 13 (8)
Neil Briggs – 13 (8)
Halani Aulika – 13 (7)
Bryn Evans – 12 (12)
Thomas Waldrom - 226
Cameron Neild – 163
Ben Morgan – 144
Louis Picamoles - 26
Sam James – 22
Billy Vunipola – 17
Josh Beaumont – 77
Graham Kitchener – 65
James Horwill – 62
Most Points in a Match
14- AJ MacGinty – Worcester Warriors (24/09)
14- Dan Mugford – Harlequins (9/09)
14- Will Addison – Leicester Tigers (1/10)
Most Tries in a Match
2 – Will Addison – Worcester Warriors (24/09)
2 – Denny Solomona – Harlequins (7/01)
2 – Bryn Evans – Wasps (27/11)
Most Team Tries
5 – Bristol (30/10)
4 – Leicester Tigers (1/10)
4 – Worcester Warriors (24/09)
Most Team Points
34 – Worcester (24/09)
34 – Leicester Tigers (1/10)
31 – Bristol (30/10)
Least Team Points
3 – Exeter Chiefs (2/12)
3 – Bath (7/10)
5 – Northampton Saints (23/12)
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