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OPTA rankings: Dixon packs a punch for the Dragons

Daniel Barnes

19 Sep 2017

Round Three of the 2017-18 Guinness PRO14 season is done and dusted and typically, there was high drama at every turn.

We’ve taken a look at the OPTA statistics from the weekend and crunched the numbers to reveal the round’s top performers.

JACK STANDS IN THE WAY

The Dragons claimed their first win of the season in Round Three and their defensive solidarity was typified by young centre Jack Dixon.

The 22-year-old helped contributed to his team’s 21-8 victory against Connacht by making a whopping 23 tackles, seven more than anybody else.

Scarlets’ Rhys Patchell and Dixon’s teammate Elliot Dee were nearest behind as they both made 16 to aid their respective teams’ efforts.

Tackles

Jack Dixon (Dragons) – 23

Rhys Patchell (Ulster) – 16

Elliot Dee (Dragons) – 16

THE RUNNING MAN

Connacht may have been bested at the Dragons but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t show hatfuls of intent with the ball in hand.

Kiwi centre Bundee Aki was a constant threat throughout the Irish side’s visit to Rodney Parade and he tops the round’s stats for carries by a significant margin.

His 27 carries against the Dragons also places him at the top of the pile for the season so far – the former Chiefs man has pulled off 59, six more than Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey, who also racked up a significant number in Round Three.

Carries

Bundee Aki (Connacht) – 27

Louis Ludik (Ulster) – 18

Eoghan Masterson (Connacht) – 17

Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) – 17

LOUIS GOES THE DISTANCE

Ulster are one of four teams across the Guinness PRO14 that have opened up their 2017-18 campaigns with three wins from three games.

Les Kiss’ troops battled their way to a 27-20 win success over Scarlets and Louis Ludik was in the thick of the action, making 135 metres to top the charts for Round Three.

The 30-year-old South African was however given a run for his money by young Irish back three flyer Ciaran Gaffney, who recorded just a metre fewer in Zebre’s high-scoring 54-39 loss at the Toyota Cheetahs.

Metres made

Louis Ludik (Ulster) – 135

Ciaran Gaffney (Zebre) – 134

Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues) – 104

Noel Reid (Leinster) – 88

WATCH OUT FOR WILLIAMS

One of the most dangerous men to take to the field in Round Three was Cardiff Blues’ Rhun Williams, who beat more defenders than anyone else.

At just 20 years old, the full-back went past seven opposition defenders but his purposeful running wasn’t enough to prevent his team from succumbing to a stirring Glasgow comeback, the Scots eventually prevailing 20-19.

Williams, who was also rated third in terms of metres made for the round, has some work to do if he’s to match Steffan Evans’ season tally of 14 but it was a fine display nonetheless from the Blues starlet.

Defenders beaten

Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues) – 7

Anidisa Ntsila (Southern Kings) – 5

Paul Schoeman (Toyota Cheetahs) – 5

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