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European Opta Rankings: Lowe shines on debut and Piutau impresses

Andrew Lawton
16 January 2018

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With one round of Champions Cup fixtures still to play, unbeaten Leinster have already secured their place in the knockout stages.

Round Six, this weekend, will see Munster, Scarlets, Ospreys and Ulster try to join them with plenty of positive indicators suggesting a strong Guinness PRO14 contingent in the quarter-finals.

We’ve had a look over the Opta stats to see at who’s at the top of their game ahead of the crucial final round of pool stage matches.

LOWE AND BEHOLD

Leinster ran in an incredible seven tries against Glasgow Warriors at the weekend with James Lowe amongst the scorers on his European debut.

Lowe also made 78 metres, more than any other Leinster player, in the game though Jonathan Sexton and Luke McGrath both surpassed 50 metres made.

Josh van der Flier was his usual aggressive self in defence making 14 tackles and was well supported by the pack as Jack Conan (10) and Scott Fardy (10) also made plenty of hits.

Conan is fifth in the carries chart for the whole of the Champions Cup with 64 with Ulster’s Charles Piutau (72) and Munster’s CJ Stander (78) both ahead of him.

PIUTAU LEADS ULSTER CHARGE

Victory for Ulster this weekend will see them into the quarter-finals after their 20-13 victory over La Rochelle this weekend.

As well as Piutau being third in the overall carries chart, he’s top of the metres made with an incredible 50 metres gained in just five matches – including 48 on Saturday.

Jacob Stockdale made 43 metres against the French side and is third on the Champions Cup list with 383, while Nemani Nadolo splits the two Ulstermen on 451.

Stockdale is top of the clean breaks tally though with 13 made in his five matches in the competition to date while Ospreys’ Dan Evans has made ten.

BIGGAR ON TARGET FOR OSPREYS

Victory for the Ospreys would see them overhaul Clermont Auvergne in Pool 1, if they can deny the French side a losing bonus point at home.

They’ll be up against Morgan Parra, the competitions leading point scorer, but have Evans on their side who is the Champions Cup’s most lethal finisher with six tries.

Nadolo also has six but the Ospreys also have the most successful kicker in Europe with Dan Biggar who has made all 14 of his attempts at goal in the competition this year.

Biggar kicked all five penalties on offer at the Liberty Stadium at the weekend as the Ospreys managed a 15-15 draw with two-time European Champions Saracens.

DEAN GUIDES EDINBURGH THROUGH

In the Challenge Cup, Chris Dean leads the way in clean breaks with ten, joint with Gloucester’s Henry Purdy, with Blair Kinghorn just one behind.

Dean is also second, behind Newcastle Falcons’ Adam Radwan, on defenders beaten in the Challenge Cup with 23 opponents passed.

Edinburgh, already through to the quarter-finals, dominate the defenders beaten charts with Blair Kinghorn and Damien Hoyland joint third with 22.

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 can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

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