Stat Wrap: Haley comes good while Ryan rules in Europe

Charlie Talbot-Smith
25 November 2019

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After the thrills of round one, it was a rather more difficult second round of games from teams in the Guinness PRO14, but Leinster and Ulster continue to lead the way.

Those two, along with Munster, are still unbeaten in the Champions Cup, while Edinburgh and the Dragons are also yet to taste defeat in the Challenge Cup.

LEINSTER OFF TO A FLIER

And in Josh van der Flier, Leinster had perhaps the star man of the weekend as the Ireland flanker played a huge role in their 13-6 win in Lyon.

Johnny Sexton may have been named man of the match, but it was Van der Flier’s chargedown that set up the only Leinster try, while he also made 20 tackles, the most of any player over the course of the weekend, and added three clean breaks for good measure.

Max Deegan, who scored the Leinster try, was not far behind in the tackle stakes, making 16 in a remarkable rearguard effort that held the French leaders scoreless despite long periods in the Leinster 22.

A word also for James Ryan. His 79 metres made were not among the leaders for the weekend, but he was miles out in front in terms of the second rows. With two clean breaks and 11 tackles, he more than played his part in the success.

FORMER TEAMMATES ON FIRE

Ulster and Munster are also still unbeaten in Europe, but they managed that in very different manners. Ulster got the better of French giants Clermont in Belfast on Friday night, while Munster hung on for a draw against more Top 14 opposition in the shape of Racing 92.

Both teams were grateful to players signed from the Sale Sharks last season. Mike Haley and Will Addison have both thrived since crossing the Irish Sea, and they were at their best this weekend.

Haley had the slight edge in terms of metres made, 119 to Addison’s 111, and he also beat eight defenders, with Addison managing a very respectable six.

Where Addison did have the edge though, was that his contribution came in a winning cause, while Munster could only draw 21-21.

YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE DUHAN

Like Munster, Edinburgh were held to a draw at home, Matthieu Jalibert’s late penalty securing a 16-16 draw for Bordeaux.

But that was not for the lack of trying by Duhan van der Merwe, the Edinburgh winger, who was exceptional once again.

Van der Merwe matched Addison with 111 metres made – a mark also recorded by Scarlets’ Johnny McNicholl on a good weekend for Nelson – while his four clean breaks were the most of any Guinness PRO14 player.

Add in seven defenders beaten and it was a reminder of just why Van der Merwe has been so devastating since joining Richard Cockerill’s side.

DRAGONS HAVE SOME FUN

The only Guinness PRO14 team in the Challenge Cup with two wins from two is the Dragons, who followed up last week’s win over Castres with a thumping success in Russia against Enisei.

It was a battle for a half, with the teams going in level at the break, but the Dragons were able to pull away for a 49-22 success.

Jordan Williams has made more metres than anyone else in the Guinness PRO14 this season, and he was clearly not affected by the cold in Krasnodar as he racked up 155 metres with ball in hand.

Young teammate Will Talbot-Davies also thrived against the Russians, with three clean breaks while both were among the Dragons’ seven try-scorers.


Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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