Weekend in Stats: Ratuva Express and the Leinster Locomotive

Rich Dore
02 December 2019

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From Edinburgh’s historical win away at Munster on Friday to Zebre becoming the highest points scorers of the round – away from home no less! – plenty of eye-catching stats jumped out of Round 7.

Who needs to watch the game-tape of all seven matches when we can formulate our opinions purely based on numbers? Here’s the tale the statistics tell…

On the road again

Think predicting the Guinness PRO14 is easy? Think again. Many had Munster, Benetton, Dragons and Glasgow down to win at home – they did not.

Five away wins across the round in total, the last time that happened was in 2017, as pointed out on Twitter by statistician Stu Farmer.

That 18-16 win at Irish Independent Park for Edinburgh, secured by Eroni Sau’s second-half score, was the Scots’s first in Cork since 2004 and first time Munster have lost there in over three years.

But surely the kings of the round this week are Zebre, who had endured a run of 20 consecutive Championship losses before uncorking the bottle in style with their biggest ever win in the Guinness PRO14, 39-12 at Dragons.

Benetton’s back of the week

Despite playing some wonderful stuff at home to Cardiff Blues, Monty Ioane’s try a thing of beauty, somehow Benetton managed to lose right at the death – they also hold our back of the weekend in their ranks.

Step forward Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, who steamed down the touchline to score towards the end of the first half in a period where it looked the hosts wouldn’t lose.

All in all Tavuyara claimed 140 metres, almost double that of next-best Craig Gilroy (84) and was also joint-highest for clean breaks with four, beating six defenders – only Dan Evans topped this with seven.

Interesting to see Zebre and Italy back row Maxime Mbanda sneak into joint-fifth for metres gained, with his breakaway late try for Michael Bradley’s men a runaway success.

No surprise to see Leinster also topping a few statistics categories with their seventh win in seven, fly-half Ross Byrne grabbed the most points of the round but there was clearly a lot of play off No.9 – Jamison Gibson-Park making the most passes in Round 7 (82).

Biggest tackler of the round? 23-year-old flanker Will Connors, who made 25 hits in a crunching Leinster defensive display away at Glasgow Warriors after Cian Kelleher’s double.

Bundee Brilliance

We’ll finish off this week with Opta’s celebration of one of the Guinness PRO14’s best players, and probably Europe’s, in the shape of Connacht centre Bundee Aki, who last week signed a contract extension in Galway.

How did he celebrate? With the game’s first try after just 12 minutes of course, in a good game at the Sportsground with the Kings showing plenty of fight in the 24-12 defeat.

Australian wing John Porch showed he has more pace than a Mitchell Starc beamer with his electrifying double, four clean breaks and 83 metres claimed, but lets just leave the last word to Bundee…

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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