Opta Rankings: Battle to tackle Hastings

Rich Dore
04 October 2018

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Round 6 of the Guinness PRO14 is swiftly approaching but before it arrives we’re taking a look back at some of the stories told by the Opta statistics thus far.

Round 5 saw plenty of drama, with away wins for Leinster Rugby and Ospreys, while Edinburgh and Benetton Rugby played out a cracker in Scotland.

Edinburgh’s Viliame Mata immediately stood out in that match with a whopping 28 carries, but we’ve picked out five other statistical stars to mull over.

THE FLYING SCOTSMAN

If that statistic on Mata stands out to you, it should, as no player has made more carries in a Guinness PRO14 match since Opta began recording the data in 2010/11.

Similarly, Glasgow Warriors fly-half Adam Hastings beat 11 defenders against the Dragons – no other fly-half has beaten more than eight defenders since that 2010/11 season.

That’s an incredible statistic for any player to achieve, yet alone a 21-year-old, and was clearly decisive in helping the Warriors to a 29-13 victory over Dragons.

In the defenders beaten rankings for Round 5, fellow Glasgow man Huw Jones is second with eight, while Hastings’ superbly elusive efforts at the weekend also take him to the top of the charts for the season – with 22.

Most defenders beaten in the first five rounds of the Guinness PRO14

Adam Hastings (Glasgow) – 22

Jordan Larmour (Leinster) – 20

Craig Gilroy (Ulster) – 19

DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow) – 19

KEEP THE BALL ALIVE

In the past some have labelled Italian rugby as a forward-dominated affair but that is no longer the case as Zebre and Benetton Rugby continue to claim impressive scalps with attacking verve.

Both clubs have sets of impressive backs and that’s exemplified by the form of Zebre wing Mattia Bellini, who made four offloads this week to top the charts in that respect.

Zebre may have lost out to Ospreys but Bellini’s will to offload shows the attacking intent his team are willing to play with, keeping their opponents guessing.

Connacht’s Thomas Farrell also made four Round 5 offloads and Benetton’s Jayden Hayward made three – with Bellini, Farrell and Stuart McCloskey all on ten offloads for the season.

Offloads made in Round 5 of the Guinness PRO14

Mattia Bellini (Zebre) – 4

Thomas Farrell (Connacht) – 4

Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 3

Jayden Hayward (Benetton) – 3

Andrew Conway (Munster) – 3

DAY OF THE JACKAL

With Munster and Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony widely acknowledged as one of the best back-row forwards in Europe, it’s no surprise to see him top of our turnovers won rankings this week.

The 29-year-old made an impressive four turnovers in the 64-7 victory over Ulster on Saturday, also getting on the scoresheet with a try.

The Munsterman has perfectly honed his timing at the breakdown over the years and is almost impossible to move once he’s latched on – skills evident against Ulster in Round 5.

Cardiff Blues man Ellis Jenkins and Ospreys’ Owen Watkin both made three turnovers in Round 5 – those two are also top of the rankings in this area for the season, with eight turnovers each.

Turnovers won in Round 5 of the Guinness PRO14

Peter O’Mahony (Munster) – 4

Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) – 3

Owen Watkin (Ospreys) – 3

Michael Willemse (Southern Kings) – 3

EXTRA JUMPER FOR WINTER

There were seven lineout steals across seven matches in the Championship at the weekend, with two of them being awarded to Ospreys man James King.

Throw in one more lineout steal for Ospreys replacement hooker Scott Baldwin and it’s clear the Welsh region severely disrupted Zebre’s set piece in the 22-8 victory.

Head coach Allen Clarke started with Bradley Davies and Adam Beard in the second row, with King alongside Justin Tipuric and Dan Lydiate in the back row – a line-up geared towards dominance in this area.

Looking at lineout steals across the season so far though there are three men leading the way with four each – Dragons skipper Cory Hill, Munster’s Tadhg Beirne and the Toyota Cheetahs’ Junior Pokomela.

Most lineout steals in the first five rounds of the Guinness PRO14

Cory Hill (Dragons) – 4

Junior Pokomela (Cheetahs) – 4

Tadhg Beirne (Munster) – 4

Scott Fardy (Leinster) – 3

Braam Steyn (Benetton) – 3

George Biagi (Zebre) – 3

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) – 3

Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 3

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