The stat Steve Borthwick simply cannot ignore ahead of the World Cup
By Rugby Onslaught

The stat Steve Borthwick simply cannot ignore ahead of the World Cup

If Sale Sharks are going to beat reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester Tigers on Sunday in the semi-final, or even win the final, it will likely be down to their defence.

Alex Sanderson’s side lead the league in basically every defensive stat, and that is why they finished the season in second place and booked a home semi-final.

Performance analyst Ross Hamilton joined BT Sport this week to show why Sale’s defence is so strong. One stat in particular that he highlighted was that in the list of the players who have made the most dominant tackles this season, seven of the top ten are from the Sharks, with Jono Ross leading the pack.

What is also interesting for any England fans is that four of the top ten are Englishmen (Olly Cracknell also qualifies for England but has played for Wales under-20). That may not come as a surprise, but it may be surprising that two of the four have not played for England this season. Those two are Leicester Tigers’ George Martin, who is second on the list, and London Irish’s Tom Pearson in third.

The reason why they are so high on the list might be because they haven’t been playing Test rugby this season, nevertheless, these are stats that Steve Borthwick will be keeping a keen eye on, particularly after England’s worst ever defensive display in the Six Nations.

The one-cap Martin was drafted into the England squad ahead of the final match of the Championship but did not play. That does show that he is on Borthwick’s radar. And unless the England head coach is willing to show new signs of bloody mindedness, Pearson will probably be in and around the England camp this summer before the World Cup.

With England’s defence looking so desperate at times during the Six Nations, these two additions might come in handy.

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