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Stats review: Guinness PRO14 clubs rule in Europe

Andrew Lawton
15 May 2018

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It was a glorious weekend for the Guinness PRO14 as Leinster and Cardiff Blues won their respective European finals in Bilbao.

The San Mamés Stadium first saw the Blues win an enthralling Challenge Cup final against Gloucester on Friday before Leinster ground out a win over Racing 92 in the Champions Cup final and were crowned kings of Europe for a record-equalling fourth time.

There was a stark contrast between the two games, one high-scoring and action-packed, the other a tense affair, characterised by kicking, both from the hand and from the tee.

But in both matches, it was Guinness PRO14 players and teams who came out on top.

LEAVY TACKLING MASTERCLASS

Leinster’s Dan Leavy made more successful tackles than anyone in either final as the Ireland flanker continued his fine form for his province this season.

Along with teammates James Ryan and Devin Toner, he was a tireless rock in defence who helped Leinster ultimately edge to victory.

For the Blues, it was replacement Olly Robinson who put in the best tackling performance.

The English flanker came on after seven minutes to replace Wales international Josh Navidi, who was forced off with a shoulder injury.

Most tackles made in the European finals

Dan Leavy (Leinster) – 20
Olly Robinson (Cardiff Blues) – 16
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) – 15
Devin Toner (Leinster) – 14
Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues) – 14

ANSCOMBE AND EVANS KICK CARDIFF TO VICTORY

Gareth Anscombe’s nerve-jangling penalty late on decided the game, but it was his teammate Jarrod Evans’ kicking that really gave them the points they needed.

Both Anscombe and Evans set up tries with excellent kicks through for Tomos Williams and Garyn Smith.

Evans kicked 13 points in the match, while Anscombe’s final three were crucial in the outcome of the match.

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton went into the final with an 88 per cent conversion rate and 11 from 11 in the knockout stages, but two missed attempts and groin strain led the fly-half to hand kicking duties to Isa Nacewa.

The Leinster captain struck two penalties through the posts to secure the win for Leinster.

KEARNEY SHOWS OFF HIS RUNNING GAME

Leinster’s Rob Kearney topped the stats charts for the most metres made over both finals, the veteran full-back showing that he can still do it on the biggest stage.

Kearney’s efforts were head and shoulders above the rest, but Garyn Smith also impressed for the Blues in their win.

Most metres made in the European finals

Rob Kearney (Leinster) – 81
Garyn Smith (Cardiff Blues) – 67
Isa Nacewa (Leinster) – 49
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) – 49
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) – 40

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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