Toyota Cheetahs and Munster were the only clubs to grab away victories in Round 13, as they won at Zebre and Connacht respectively.
Victory for the Irish side means they move up to first place in Conference A, surpassing Glasgow, while Leinster solidified their lead in Conference B with a comfortable 40-7 win over Ulster.
The Guinness PRO14 now enters a two-week hiatus for the final two rounds of European action, but there will be several players looking to keep an eye out for in Europe after their statistical dominance in Round 13.
FLEET FOOTED FLYERS TROUBLE DEFENCES
It was the usual suspects totting up the statistics as Edinburgh’s Duhan van der Merwe and Cheetah’s Rabz Maxwane had another successful weekend on the wing in the Guinness PRO14.
The South African pair have been incisive throughout the competition and have the lead in several statistical categories so far – including tries, metres gained, clean breaks and defenders beaten.
Both are masters of rushing their team upfield with an incisive break.
Maxwane had four clean breaks and 106 metres gained in Round 13 as he helped his side to victory away at Zebre.
He still tops the race to finish with the most tries in the division with eight so far, as he powered over to help himself to another at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi this weekend.
🔶🔷 @duhanvdmerwe was immense for Edinburgh’s 1st try last night
✅ 5 points
✅ Still unbeaten at Murrayfield
✅ 2nd in the Guinness @PRO14Official Conference B
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) January 6, 2019
Van der Merwe, who has six tries so far this season, the third highest in the Guinness PRO14, showed his appetite for a devastating break again last weekend.
He had just three carries but made 140 metres in Edinburgh’s 38-0 victory at home to Isuzu Southern Kings.
The winger will undoubtedly be the envy of many coaches in the league, as his 50 defenders beaten and 19 clean breaks are comfortably the most of any player in both areas.
BRAAM AND BUDD BRILLIANCE FOR BENETTON
Both the Italian internationals were stand out stars as Benetton moved up to third in Conference B, as the race between the chasing pack behind Leinster hots up in Conference B.
No. 8 Braam Steyn showed up in both phases of the game as he beat five defenders, the fourth most in the league in Round 13, as well as making 23 tackles – second to only Dragons’ Matthew Screech who grabbed 25.
He was a force carrying the ball as he made 47 metres on nine carries to help guide his side to victory over Scottish outfit.
Steyn’s teammate Dean Budd grabbed the headlines with his two first-half scores but contributed around the field as well as on the score sheet.
🦁 Sempre più in alto #Leoni! 💥
— Benetton Rugby 🦁 (@BenettonRugby) January 7, 2019
The lock had 16 tackles and six carries, as he helped Benetton to their third consecutive victory as the Italian side started 2019 on a high.
Elsewhere the entire back line for Keiran Crowley’s side put their hand up with all but two players running for 20 metres or more.
Jayden Hayward led the way with 42 metres made but Tommaso Allan (39m), Luca Morisi (35m), Angelo Esposito (24m) and Tommaso Benvenuti (20m) all made telling contributions with the ball in hand for Crowley’s side.
STELLAR SET PIECE SETS UP MUNSTER
Hooker Niall Scannell was perfect when it came to the line-out as he successfully completed all 14 throws he put into the set-piece.
The front-rower was also fearsome in the loose as he racked up 15 tackles and seven carries for 21 metres.
It was more of the same in the line-out when replacement Kevin O’Byrne came on after 66 minutes, as he completed four out of four.
A perfect day at the scrum was spoiled with one turnover from three, but the forwards in general can be happy their set-piece dominance set up victory for Johann van Graan’s men.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) January 5, 2019
It was also a successful afternoon at the Sportsground for fly-half Joey Carbery, as his haul of a try, four conversions and a penalty saw him score 16 points – the most of any player in Round 13.