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Opta Rankings: Kinghorn runs Munster ragged in Semi-Final Qualifiers

Andy Baber
07 May 2018

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Defending champions Scarlets and last season’s runners-up Munster booked their places in the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals with very different victories on Saturday.

Guinness Pro14 rugby semi final playoff Thomond Park Limerick 5/5/2018 Munster vs Edinburgh Edinburgh's Blair Kinghorn Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Having been pipped to top spot in Conference B on points difference by Leinster, Scarlets joined the Irish province in the final four with a comprehensive 43-8 win against Toyota Cheetahs.

Munster also showed their title credentials by edging past Edinburgh in the second Semi-Final Qualifier, holding off Edinburgh to triumph 20-16 at Thomond Park.

Here are some of the eye-catching statistics from the first two games of the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, looking at the players who made a difference for their side.

SCHOEMAN UNABLE TO SHACKLE SCARLETS

It has been a good first season in the Guinness PRO14 for Cheetahs, but despite their best efforts they were unable to contain the scintillating attack of Scarlets.

Paul Schoeman was a tackling machine, topping the stats for most tackles made by a distance with 23, while team-mate Teboho Mohoje was next best with 18.

However, Scarlets still ran in six tries to progress to the final four at the expense of Cheetahs, who will need to improve their form on the road to seriously challenge for the title in future.

Six of the top ten were also made up of Munster players, with Sam Arnold, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray all impressive in the Irish province’s defence.

Most tackles made in Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifiers

Paul Schoeman (Cheetahs) – 23
Teboho Mohoje (Cheetahs) – 18
Sam Arnold (Munster) – 17
Jack O’Donoghue (Munster) – 16
Peter O’Mahony (Munster) – 16
Conor Murray (Munster) – 14
Torsten Van Jaarsveld (Cheetahs) – 13

KINGHORN RUNS RIOT AGAINST MUNSTER

Looking at the metres made by Scottish full-back Blair Kinghorn against Munster at Thomond Park throws the Irish side’s tackling numbers into sharp relief.

He topped the charts with 157 metres as Edinburgh dominated possession and territory, but a lack of killer instinct cost the visitors – shown by their failure to make the most of Kinghorn’s late break.

Clayton Blommetjies was the next best runner, with 104 metres for Cheetahs, as he demonstrated why his signature was so highly sought after against the side he will join next season.

Mark Bennett and Viliame Mata were also riding high in the stats for Edinburgh, while Scott Williams and Steff Evans, who scored a brace for Scarlets, completed the top seven.

Most metres made in Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifiers

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 157
Clayton Blommetjies (Cheetahs) – 104
Mark Bennett (Edinburgh) – 77
Francois Venter (Cheetahs) – 77
Viliame Mata (Edinburgh) – 75
Scot Williams (Scarlets) – 67
Steff Evans (Scarlets) – 67

BEIRNE DOMINATES LINEOUT FOR SCARLETS

Scarlets’ backline may have grabbed all the headlines against Cheetahs, but they owed a debt of gratitude to their forwards for providing the platform for them to shine.

And Tadhg Beirne was arguably the pick of the bunch as he delivered a huge performance in the lineout, winning eight of his side’s own throws –  for which he received a standing ovation.

Ben Toolis was not far behind in the stats with five lineouts won for Edinburgh, including one lineout steal, while Peter O’Mahony won four and stole one.

Most lineouts won in Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifiers

Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets) – 8
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 5
Peter O’Mahony (Munster) – 4
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 3
Jean Kleyn (Munster) – 3
Teboho Mohoje (Cheetahs) – 3
Rynier Bernardo (Cheetahs) – 3

DUHAN LEAVES MUNSTER DEFENDERS CHASING SHADOWS

Once again, if the stats are anything to go by, Edinburgh will feel like they missed a huge opportunity to reach the Guinness PRO14 semi-finals – having reached the knockouts for the first time.

Duhan van der Merwe beat the most defenders during the defeat against Munster, with his final tally of nine just one more than team-mate Blair Kinghorn.

Scott Williams also enjoyed a fruitful afternoon for Scarlets, in his final home match before moving to Ospreys, seeing off seven defenders against Cheetahs.

Unsurprisingly, Scarlets players made up half of the top ten – with Jonathan Evans and Hadleigh Parkes also getting in on the action.

Most defenders beaten in Guinness PRO14 semi-final qualifiers

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh) – 9
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 8
Scott Williams (Scarlets) – 7
Viliame Mata (Edinburgh) – 6
Jonathan Evans (Scarlets) – 3
Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) – 3

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit:
 https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visit: http://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

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