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Opta rankings: Masterson inspires Connacht

Charlie Bennett
13 February 2018

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It was a hectic week of action in the Guinness PRO14, with six home sides claiming victory in Round 14.

Benetton Rugby upset reigning champions Scarlets, Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors were held to a draw by the Dragons and Ulster got the Jono Gibbes era off to a fine start against the Southern Kings.

Here we take a look at the OPTA numbers to uncover the top statistical performances behind the key results.

Connacht crunchers

Connacht Rugby’s defence stubbornly resisted the remorseless first-half possession held by Ospreys, as Allen Clarke’s first Guinness PRO14 game in charge ended in 26-15 defeat.

The relentless work-rate of the home side’s back row at the Sportsground formed the spine of the win that saw the Galway side to a win in Conference A.

Eoghan Masterson made a round-high 21 challenges and he was matched by his partners at the back of the scrum.

Naulia Dawai made 20 tackles and James Cannon 14 in a team total of 209.

Irresistible Ulster

Ulster Rugby’s convincing nine-try win against Southern Kings saw their backs run riot and clock up some impressive running numbers.

No-one made more metres in Round 14 of the Guinness PRO14 than left winger Rob Lyttle, who ran in a second-half double.

But Craig Gilroy played the starring hand with a well-taken treble.

The Belfast-born winger made the most breaks (4) and beat the most defenders (9) of anyone, lock Alan O’Connor also a statistical leader having taken ten lineouts cleanly.

Ulster are struggling for consistency this year but have a good platform for the run-in, eight points behind joint leaders Leinster Rugby and Scarlets in Conference B.

Battle-hardy Warriors

Glasgow Warriors were bitterly frustrated by the Dragons in their 15-15 Friday night stalemate, just the second time this season they have failed to win in Guinness PRO14.

The Scotstoun side were held to a scoreless second-half by Dragons, who moved onto 16 points in Conference B.

Glasgow made 179 runs, beat 28 defences and on 12 occasion they made clean breaks but they only crossed the whitewash twice.

Ruaridh Jackson, Nick Grigg and Brandon Thomson did their bit, making 13 runs apiece, fly-half Adam Hastings taking matters into his own hands with 15 breaks at the Dragons defence.

No.8 Adam Ashe made the most of anyone in the entire round, running 18 times with ball in hand.

Williams lifts Blues

Former Wales international Lloyd Williams put in an excellent all-round display at scrum-half to help Cardiff Blues to a tight 25-20 win over the Cheetahs.

Williams made 48 metres across eight runs, making two clean breaks and beating three defenders along the way.

He didn’t neglect his duties at the base of the ruck, popping off 56 passes, and even found time to make seven tackles.

It was an important win for the Welsh side – preventing a third successive defeat and keeping them firmly in mid-table of Conference A.#

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 ww.ticketmaster.ie

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