Stats review of the June Tests: Guinness PRO14 players impress

Paul Eddison
18 June 2018

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It was a strong weekend for players from the Guinness PRO14 as Italy, Ireland and Wales all claimed victories on their June tours, while Scotland went down by a point in the States.

For Wales and Italy it marked the end of their summer tours, going out on a winning note, while Ireland have set up a decider with Australia next Saturday and the Scots will travel to Argentina to take on Los Pumas.

After looking at the statistical leaders, we have picked out some of the star performers from across the four countries.

HAYWARD SLOTS IN SEAMLESSLY

It’s been a difficult year so far for Italy, but both Zebre and particularly Benetton enjoyed strong Guinness PRO14 campaigns.

And it was a player from the Treviso side who really stood out in the 25-22 win over Japan as Jayden Hayward made a huge impact on his recall to the starting line-up.

Brought in to the full-back jersey, with Zebre’s Matteo Minozzi shifting to wing, Hayward played an important part in setting up the first try, and was the top metre-maker from the Guinness PRO14 with 99. His back-three partner Minozzi was not far behind on 81, while also adding four offloads and five defenders beaten.

Hayward managed a couple of clean breaks, one of which led to the first try, while he also added in a couple of offloads for good measure.

Marcello Violi was another to leave a big impression, the Zebre scrum-half making three clean breaks in the win over the Brave Blossoms, while setting up two tries.

JENKINS THE TACKLING MACHINE

Wales moved up to third in the world after clinching their series victory over Argentina, with co-captain Ellis Jenkins of the Cardiff Blues key to their 30-12 success.

The flanker, playing on the blindside in combination with Scarlets’ James Davies, was a menace at the breakdown, forcing a number of turnover penalties.

And in addition to that, he got through a mountain of work in defence, making 22 tackles and missing none.

That was the best of any player this weekend, with compatriot Elliot Dee, the Dragons hooker, next up with 16 tackles and none missed.

FURLONG MAINTAINS HIS FORM

If a strong scrum is the foundation for a top side, then Leinster have a rock in Tadhg Furlong, who underlined his position as one of the leading tightheads in the 26-21 win against Australia.

As well as his work in the set-piece, it was Furlong’s efforts around the park that were remarkable, as he carried and made inroads in the Wallaby defence.

Only one player managed more than his six defenders beaten from the Guinness PRO14 (more on him later), a remarkable stat for a prop.

Furlong also trucked the ball up on 13 occasions, and made 43 metres with ball in hand, while Leinster teammate Johnny Sexton chipped in with five defenders beaten.

KINGHORN SHINES IN DEFEAT

Blair Kinghorn might have missed a late conversion that would have snatched victory for Scotland in Houston but that should not detract from his performance.

Only Hayward managed more than Kinghorn’s 94 metres with ball in hand, while he also made three clean breaks, the most of any player from the Guinness PRO14.

Add in eight defenders beaten, and it is clear just why Gregor Townsend was so keen to find a spot for him in the team, even though he had to shift to the wing with Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg captaining the side.

Of the other Scots, Ben Toolis was busy all afternoon, racking up 14 tackles, but they fell just short against the Eagles.

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