Both Scotland and Italy are coming off matches which they will have considered successes. Scotland of course waltzed away from England in surprisingly dominant fashion and Italy had to settle for a draw after a controversial penalty kick with the clock dead. However, neither team will be judging their performances based purely on the scoreboard.

It will frustrate the purists, but no elite team judges their performances purely from the scoreboard. The scoreboard can mislead, especially for single games where luck plays an enormous part and leads to the ‘wrong’ team winning. Instead, teams will have KPIs for each game. They might be a certain number of 22 entries, a number of penalties conceded, or turnovers won for example. When teams talk about their process, they’re usually referring to their game plan to hit these KPIs. It might not be a romantic view of the game, but coaches can’t afford to judge their team’s performances purely based on results. With that in mind, what should both Gregor Townsend and Gonzalo Quesada take from their last matches and why might they not be happy?

A classic example of scoreboard analysis is to look at the final moments of a game; where the result may have been decided, and apply far more significance to those periods than ones earlier in the match. Italy’s draw against France is a perfect example. Paolo Garbisi’s missed kick could have won them the game and so it’s received huge attention. Helped as well by it being controversial. However, the key moment in the game was the entire first half where France relentlessly entered Italy’s 22 but had almost nothing to show for it.

It was undeniably great Italian defence. Phase after phase they chopped the French carriers. It looked like they couldn’t carry on in the second half but they didn’t need to. Jonathan Danty’s red card and improving Italian confidence meant that the second half was far less one sided than the first. If you are looking for reasons to be cheerful from an Italian perspective, I’m afraid you won’t find them. Three times so far this Six Nations, Italy have conceded nine or more 22 entries. In fact, they have been out-scored 31-13 in 22 entry stakes. Against both France and England they actually averaged more points per 22 entry, but this is covering for some worrying signs.

READ MORE: Scotland make three changes to team to face Italy

As a general rule, the number of 22 entries, and specifically the difference between your 22 entries and those your opponent makes, are far more important than your average 22 entry points allowed and conceded. Points scored and conceded tend to float within a small margin of one another even when comparing the best and worst teams in a league. 22 Entry Difference on the other hand is enormously significant. That’s an area where Italy are weak. As impressive as it was to see them limit France to 0.7pts per 22 entry in the last match, that’s a figure they are very unlikely to see again.

I expect Scotland to approach their match against Italy with confidence and wariness. Wariness that comes whenever you face a team who pushed France as close as Italy did. But confidence thanks to those 22 entry numbers. Townsend’s men will feel they can get a much better return on their 22 entries than France did.

Scotland’s statistical concerns come from their turnovers. In each of their three matches, Scotland’s opponents have lost more turnovers than Scotland have, but in none of those matches have Scotland won more turnovers than their opponents. Let’s just break that down as I know this can cause confusion. Turnovers lost and turnovers won are very unlikely to equal one another. A turnover can be lost for example if you drop a high ball. Your opponents haven’t ‘won’ that turnover but you have lost it.

If your opponent are giving you turnovers but you aren’t winning the turnover battle, it can mean a few things. One thing is that you are responsible for those turnovers your opponent is losing. Maybe you’re not jacakaling for the ball but you might be pressuring opponent’s passes and forcing them into mistakes. Something Scottish fans would say they were doing last week. The other thing it can mean is that you are getting lucky. For some reason, outside of your control, your opponents are exceptionally loose with the ball when they’re playing you.

Scotland could’ve been said to have ridden their luck against England thanks to England’s willingness to cough the ball up. In that match, England handed possession over to Scotland 22 times. That was an astonishing amount of great quality attacking ball that Scotland weren’t necessarily producing themselves. Scotland won just six turnovers.

Their challenge this weekend will be to prove that they can be masters of their own fate and actually win those turnovers themselves. That is easier said than done though. England managed just four turnovers against Italy in the opening game, Ireland just two in their dominant victory, and France only four. Italy may not have taken home a victory, but they have been very stout against opposition jackal threats.

It’s very tempting to look at the recent scoreboard successes and assume that says everything about the story of the match. However, if we take a closer look we can find the areas that the coaches will be paying extra attention to this week