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OPTA rankings: Rennie’s reign built on defence

Rich Dore

12 Sep 2017

It was another entertaining weekend of Guinness PRO14 action with three teams a perfect ten from ten, while a further three are still undefeated.

Among those, Glasgow Warriors have now beaten Connacht in round one, followed by a 31-10 success against the Ospreys on Saturday.

For those Guinness PRO14 fans intrigued about what head coach Dave Rennie would bring to the Warriors, the OPTA statistics are already starting to tell the story of supreme defensive efforts.

GIBBINS UP AND RUNNING

They were able to call on flanker Callum Gibbins for the first time against the Ospreys, and the New Zealander did not disappoint, racking up 21 tackles on debut.

That was three better than teammate Tim Swinson, while another colleague, Adam Ashe, leads the way overall with 38 tackles after making 16 this week.

Astonishingly, there are no less than five Warriors in the top eight tacklers this week, George Turner and Ryan Wilson being the others, whilst Southern Kings Khaya Majola and Luzuko Vulindlu also feature in that list.

Ex-Hurricanes flanker Gibbins was not only involved in defence at Scotstoun, as his offload to substitute Leonardo Sarto was crucial in Glasgow’s second try.

Tackles

Callum Gibbins (Glasgow Warriors) – 21

Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 18

Khaya Majola (Southern Kings) – 17

Luzuko Vulindlu (Southern Kings) – 17

KINGHORN ON SONG

It’s been a strong start for the Scottish sides in the league, with Edinburgh also picking up their second victory, 35-18 at home to the Dragons.

Blair Kinghorn was one of the standout performers, beating seven defenders to take his season tally to a league-leading 11, while he also made 111 metres with ball in hand to lie third for the season.

In the same game, Ashton Hewitt managed a round-topping nine defenders beaten, a cause for optimism for Bernard Jackman’s side despite the loss.

Defenders beaten

Ashton Hewitt (Dragons) – 9

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 7

Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) – 7

Dan Evans (Ospreys) – 7

STOCKDALE BACK WITH A BANG

Ulster are the third team on nine points following their success in Treviso against Benetton Rugby.

One man making his comeback in that game was Jacob Stockdale and he made a big impression, racking up 140 metres with ball in hand.

He also chipped in with a crucial try, but when it comes to Irish wingers, it’s hard to look past Alex Wootton and his four tries in a convincing win over the Cheetahs.

Metres made

Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) – 140

Alex Wootton (Munster) – 124

Maxisole Banda (Southern Kings) – 112

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 111

CRACKNELL’S WORK-RATE

The Ospreys were second-best to Glasgow, and will have to pick things up next week at home to Munster.

But in Olly Cracknell they have a relentless back-rower, the flanker racked up 25 carries at Scotstoun.

That’s enough to put him top of the carry charts after two rounds, one clear of Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey, with Bundee Aki completing the podium, both for the round and the season so far.

Carries

Olly Cracknell (Ospreys) – 25

Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) – 21

Bundee Aki (Connacht) – 18

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