Opta Rankings: Wingers Stockdale and Evans flourishing

Andrew Lawton
10 October 2017

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Round 6 provided teams in the Guinness PRO14 their final chance to pick up important points before the two-week break for European competition.

And there was no lack of drama as Edinburgh edged out Zebre by a point while Toyota Cheetahs suffered their first loss in South Africa against Glasgow Warriors.

Leinster Rugby got the better of Munster 23-17 at the Aviva Stadium and Benetton Rugby saw off the challenge of the Southern Kings 31-3.

In Wales, Cardiff Blues came from behind to record a 43-29 victory over the Dragons, with the Scarlets edging out the Ospreys 19-18.

Here we look at some of the best individual performances this weekend and the standout performers from the season so far.

Benetton turnover Kings

Marco Fuser and Braam Steyn were top of the turnover charts this weekend after both earned possession for their Benetton side three times at Stadio Monigo.

The Italians had nearly 60 percent possession with Angelo Esposito beating five defenders, only Sam Johnson of Glasgow Warriors managed more this weekend, on his way to two tries.

Such was Benetton’s control that the Southern Kings saw three of their players in the top five for this weekend’s tackle according to Opta stats.

Jurie van Vuuren (18), Bobby de Wee and Andisa Ntsila (both 17) were monstrous in defence with only Tommy O’Donnell at Munster making more tackles with 19.

Tackles made in Round 6

Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) – 19

Jurie van Vuuren (Benetton) – 18

Bobby de Wee, Andisa Ntsila (Benetton) and James Benjamin (Dragons) – 17

Stockdale lights up the Kingspan

Winger Jacob Stockdale put in an all-round performance, including Ulster’s only try, as the Irish province beat Connacht in their interpro derby in Round 6.

Stockdale made 134 metres, the most of any player this week, ahead of Cardiff Blues’ Tom James (121) and Ruaridh Jackson (108) of Glasgow Warriors.

The 21-year-old further underlined his blossoming talent with 13 carries, four defenders beaten and a trio of clean breaks .

Stockdale has made 348 metres and nine clean breaks while Steffan Evans leads the way on metres made with 494 so far in this Guinness PRO14 campaign.

Metres made in Round 6

Jacob Stockdale (Ulster) – 134

Tom James (Cardiff Blues) – 121

Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) – 108

Evans leads the way for Scarlets

It has been quite some start to the Guinness PRO14 campaign for Steff Evans and his influence was once again keenly felt in Scarlets’ win over Ospreys.

Evans stepped through a congested Ospreys defensive line before finding Gareth Davies for the first of his two tries and his Opta stats remain top of the class.

The Scarlets winger is top of four categories after the opening six rounds including defenders beaten (30), offloads (20), breaks (11) and metres made (494).

Scarlets’ team-mate Johnny McNicholl also has 11 breaks after the opening six matches but in the three other areas, Evans stands alone as the leading light.

Defenders beaten to Round 6

Steffan Evans (Scarlets) – 30

Jeff Hassler (Ospreys) – 23

Masixole Banda (Kings) – 20

Offloads to Round 6

Steffan Evans (Scarlets) – 20

Thomas Farrell (Connacht) – 14

Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) – 13

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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