The All Blacks are four from four in this year’s tournament and excluding the two reduced editions that fell in World Cup years (2011, 2015 – Australia winning both) they look set for a sixth straight title. Their triumph in 2016 raised the bar in terms of dominance as they won 6/6 and set records for points and try scoring in the process. If 2016 was impressive then 2017 is looking comprehensive, judging by their current scoring rates they are on target to break the two records they set last year.
Steve Hansen’s men are averaging 6.8 tries and 46.3 points per game this season, while last year’s totals averaged out at 43.7 points and 6.3 tries respectively. Their merciless results in this competition just go to show how impressive the Lions’ performances were earlier in the year, restricting the World Champions to 22 points and 1.7 tries per game as they drew the nail-biting series.
Their tally of 27 tries so far is 10 more than any other side, 14 of these (52%) have come on 1st phase possession showing just how clinical they are. Although they barely give their opposition any breathing space across the entire 80 minutes it is the 2nd quarter of games, leading into half time, that they really turn the screw. They have a points difference of +50 in this 20-minute period across their four games so far, scoring nine tries and 63 points in total, enough to put most teams to bed.
Trying to find trends in their try-scoring is tricky because they are just so dangerous from any scenario. They’ve scored nine tries originating from their own half but also 12 from inside the opposition 22, threatening from distance in the loose and ruthless from close range. They can score from scrums (7), lineouts (9), turnovers (5) and even cheeky tap penalties (2), definitely not a one trick pony.
Individually it is hard to target specific players when defending against the All Blacks, they don’t just have one or two dangerous strike runners but 15 of them on the pitch. Deservedly so, players like Rieko Ioane (4 tries) and Beauden Barrett (3 tries) take a lot of the plaudits but it is their strength in resources that generally win them games not just moments of individual brilliance.
17 different All Blacks have contributed towards their tally of 27 tries so far, six forwards and 11 backs whilst 11 different players have provided the final assist before the dot down. Barrett and Aaron Smith both have six assists, so if you add Barrett’s three tries to that tally he has been directly involved in an impressive 33% of their scores, and surely more if you retrace the build-up further back than the final pass/kick.