Having covered the first three rounds of the competition we now, of course, regard ourselves as tag experts and we are going to have a go at predicting the results for the Week 4 Matches.
Thanks to the teams for updating us on their progress so far; you can listen to their thoughts on the IRFU Volkswagen Mixed Tag competition below.
Friesian Taggers v Tag My Pitch Up (Pitch 1 @18:45)
The Friesians are defending champions and they go into the game as joint leading points scorers after the qualifying stages. The points have come from their strong women’s game with Joanne Orr (36 pts), Zarah Bonnar (24 pts) and Katherine Boyd (21 pts) accounting for almost three quarters of their 112 points scored to date. The Friesians set the standard with 71% of tries scored three pointers.
Tag My Pitch Up have posted the third highest points total so far with 83 points from the qualifying stages and they have the tightest defence. They have slightly more individual scorers than the Friesians but they haven’t maximised their three pointers with only Hazel Jordan (24 pts) and Katie Fry (12 pts) getting into double figures giving TMPU a 56% conversion rate.
The Friesians go into the game as favourites but if TMPU can cut the supply to the Friesians prolific trio, and get a few more of their women players over the try line, they have a fair chance of causing an upset.
Sheep Taggers v HashTags (Pitch 2 @ 20:45)
The HashTags go into this stage of the competition as equal top points scorers and they have the second tightest defence. They have been utilising their women players well with Suzie Rodgers (33 pts), Hannah Lewis (21 pts), Ali Rodgers (18 pts) and Fern Wilson (18pts) all well up in the try scoring table giving the HashTags a 67% conversion rate.
The Sheep Taggers pushed TMPU all the way in their group recording the same points total, though they have conceded the most tries of the top 4, but only just. Kerry McIlwaine leads the way with 30 points and experienced Malone duo Alexis Grudgings and Jill Stevens are just off the front page of the tries leaderboard with 15 points each giving the Sheep Taggers a 51% conversion rate.
The Sheep Taggers will need to up their defensive game if they are going to take this one against the free scoring HashTags.
Galacticos v Space Cadets (Pitch 2 @18:45)
On the face of it this looks like a close one between two teams with fairly similar records to date.
The Space Cadets have score a few more points but they have conceded more leaving the Galacticos marginally ahead on points difference.
However, the Cadets have a much better conversion rate for turning their tries into three pointers converting 57% of their tries compared to 33% for the Galacticos and in a tight game that might make all the difference.
Carlingford Knights v Taggers Bay (Pitch 1 @19:45)
The only real difference in the stats between these two sides is Carlingford’s better defensive record. Taggers Bay have scored more points but Carlingfords defence edges them ahead on points difference, but only just.
Both have a similar record on converting tries to three pointers with Taggers Bay showing a 42% conversion compared to 44% for the Knights.
Whichever team can increase their utilisation of their women players and chase back more often in defence will take this one. Who wants it more?
Derryvolgie Halss v Flatliners (Pitch 2 @19:45)
Again, the restructuring kicks up what is expected to be another tight contest; the main difference between these two sides being Derryvolgie’s poor defensive record, having shipped the most points, of any side, to date.
However, it’s something this new side can work on and both teams need to work on bringing their women players into the game. The men have been hogging the ball for Derryvolgie with a measly 12% of tries counting as three pointers and it’s not much better for the Flatliners who sit at a 17% conversion.
Derryvolgie have given us some of our best images with their individual plays but it might just be the teamwork of Flatliners that edges this one.
Tag Heures v Runaways (Pitch 1 @20:45)
I don’t know if it was by accident or design that the Tag Heures ended up in the Conference, but their stats mark them out as clear favourites to not only win tonight but to romp through the rest of this competition.
All is not lost for Runaways who can get something out of this game if they work on improving their attack and, in particular, work hard to get their women players involved. Improve these two areas and it will stand them in good stead for the next two games.