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Autumn internationals: Who impressed from the Guinness PRO14

Charlie Peat

14 Nov 2017

The autumn internationals came thundering back last weekend and there were a number of Guinness PRO14 stars who shone brightly across Europe.

In a dramatic round of international tests, a pair of Guinness PRO14 wingers terrorised the Springboks in Dublin, a Glasgow Warrior was too good for Samoa and there was an all-action display from Mattia Bellini.

Dublin demolition

If Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale were dreaming about the perfect outcome to their maiden Ireland starts on home soil; a 38-3 annihilation of South Africa would have been pretty close.

The South African defence simply could not get near the Munster and Ulster wings as they both dotted down with Conway also laying on an assist at the Aviva Stadium.

Conway made 99 metres in total against the Springboks with Stockdale notching up 72 metres in the mauling in the Irish capital.

No player from the Guinness PRO14 made as many metres as Conway as the 26-year-old also contributed three clean breaks for head coach Joe Schmidt’s team.

Elsewhere, Glasgow Warriors centre Huw Jones put in a blistering performance for Scotland as he made 82 metres and crashed over the whitewash once in a thrilling 44-38 victory over Samoa.

Metres made
Andrew Conway (Munster, Ireland) – 99
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – 82
Mattia Bellini (Zebre, Italy) – 77
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster, Ireland) – 72
Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) – 66

Bellini makes an impression

Zebre have enjoyed an impressive campaign to date with winger Mattia Bellini at the forefront of that, showing the form that first got him capped in 2016.

He hadn’t established himself as first choice for the Azzurri, but the Zebre wing was out to prove a point against Fiji in Italy’s opening autumn test and he did just that; making 77 metres and beating five defenders in the 19-10 victory.

Another winger who put in a fine display was Scarlets’ Steff Evans who continued his outstanding form but could not prevent Wales going down to Australia.

If may have been disappointing overall for Evans but the 23-year-old beat an impressive eight defenders, made 16 carries and scored a try.

Defenders beaten
Steff Evans (Scarlets, Wales) – 8
Mattia Bellini (Zebre, Italy) – 5
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster, Ireland) – 4
Leonardo Sarto (Zebre, Italy) – 4

Navidi brave in defeat

Wales fell to a narrow eight-point defeat against Australia but there were still plenty of positives to take from the display.

Despite missing Sam Warburton, his Cardiff Blues teammate Josh Navidi stepped up to the plate as he made a huge 18 tackles – no player from the league produced more during last weekend’s internationals.

Elsewhere, impressive performances from Glasgow’s Jonny Gray and Munster’s CJ Stander certainly caught the eye.

Gray didn’t put a foot wrong for Scotland as he made 16 successful tackles with Stander doing the same for Ireland.

Tackles
Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, Wales) – 18
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – 16
CJ Stander (Munster, Ireland) – 16
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh, Scotland) – 15
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) – 15

Hogg carries Scotland home

It was a 11-try thriller at BT Murrayfield as Scotland held off a late Samoa rally to give them the perfect start to the autumn internationals with world champions New Zealand to come this weekend.

And Scotland can be thankful to Stuart Hogg as the 25-year-old made 14 carries, only beaten by Steff Evans from the Guinness PRO14 representatives on the weekend.

Hogg dotted down after just two minutes and also made 49 metres in an all-action display for the Scots.

Meanwhile, Benetton’s Abraham Steyn helped his country to victory as he made 13 carries against Fiji – the highest of any player in Catania.

Carries
Steff Evans (Scarlets, Wales) – 16
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) – 14
Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, Wales) – 14
Abraham Steyn (Benetton Treviso, Italy) – 13

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