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Opta rankings: Prince Charles reigns supreme while Beirne continues to menace

Charlie Talbot-Smith

7 Nov 2017

In an action-packed eighth round of action in the Guinness PRO14, Ulster left it late to claim a dramatic win in South Africa against the Kings, the Glasgow Warriors stayed perfect and Munster got back to winning ways.

There were a number of key individual displays of note in the Opta rankings, but none more so than Charles Piutau in Port Elizabeth.

CHARLES CALLS THE SHOTS

Andrew Trimble might have made a round-high four clean breaks in the 12-try thriller in the Eastern Province.

But it was the former All Black Piutau who really caught the eye.

The full-back beat more defenders (eight) than any other player this weekend and made four offloads – also the highest of the round across the 14 teams.

In addition, he made 155m for his side with ball in hand, second only to Niko Matawalu of the Glasgow Warriors.

Last year’s player of the season, Piutau is now coming into his own again this campaign and after their last-gasp win he now has beaten the third most defenders overall and is second in metres made.

Most defenders beaten this weekend
Charles Piutau – Ulster – 8
Nico Lee – Cheetahs – 8
Willis Halaholo – Cardiff Blues – 8

The top metre maker in the league is Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn – he is the first man to break through 600 for the season as well.

The young full-back scored a try, made 17 carries for 103m and was the key cog as Ospreys were dispatched in Myreside this weekend.

TADGH’S TURNOVERS

Tadgh Beirne was at it again this weekend for the Scarlets as they were made to work hard before eventually downing Benetton Rugby.

Beirne – who is returning to Ireland next season – has now made 17 turnovers for the defending champions, no other player in the league has more than eight.

The top turnover merchant this weekend was Derick Minnie of Zebre who made three in their defeat to the Blues.

But both Nick Williams and Blaine Scully managed two apiece for the Blues in their impressive victory.

TON UP FOR ANIDISA

Olly Cracknell and Lloyd Ashley both made a round-high 23 tackles for the Ospreys in their defeat to a rampant Edinburgh.

But top of the overall charts is Anidisa Ntsila of the Kings who became the first player to break through the century mark for the season in their loss to Ulster.

Meanwhile, his team-mate, Berton Klaasen, scored a brace against Ulster as the exciting centre increased his try-scoring tally in the Guinness PRO14 to three.

Aaron Wainwright of the Dragons also caught the eye this weekend with 21 tackles but they were powerless to prevent Munster from romping to a bonus-point win.

IRISH TYROS TO THE FORE

Max Deegan of Leinster stepped in at No8 this weekend with a number of Ireland internationals absent and made a round-high 18 carries.

Top carriers this weekend
Max Deegan – Leinster – 18
Blair Kinghorn – Edinburgh – 17
Giovanni Licata – Zebre – 17

While Deegan caught the eye up front, in the backline it was Jordan Larmour at full back who impressed.

Larmour – so exciting in the centres against Ulster – made 134m with ball in hand and beat seven defenders but Matawalu (159m) and Nick Grigg (two tries) gave Glasgow an eighth win on the spin.

Meanwhile Alex Wootton may not have managed a try for Munster but he did beat seven defenders and make 107m as the Dragons were brushed aside.

And another young Irishman catching the eye was Thomas Farrell at Connacht, the centre who scored the match winner two weekends ago against Munster.

This time around he made four offloads, taking him to 20 overall in the league this season – a tally bettered by none in the Guinness PRO14, as men from Galway downed the Cheetahs despite Nico Lee’s elusive running (eight defenders beaten).

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