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Guinness PRO12: Aki and Davies among early stat leaders

Paul Eddison

22 Nov 2016

James Davies

The Guinness PRO12 makes its return on Friday after a one-week break and it seems the perfect time to take stock of who have been the top performers so far.

After eight rounds we are now more than a third of the way through the season with Leinster currently leading the way ahead of Munster and the Ospreys.

But when it comes to the individual stats, there are plenty of players from across the league piling up the numbers, including a pair of defending champions.

©INPHO/James Crombie

©INPHO/James Crombie

Bundee Aki probably deserved the freedom of Galway after inspiring Connacht to Guinness PRO12 glory last season, and showed his commitment to the team by signing a new deal in October.

And the tackle-busting centre has shown no signs of slowing down this season as he leads the way both in defenders beaten and number of carries so far in the campaign.

Aki has left 27 defenders trailing in his wake to date, a number matched by Ospreys revelation Ben John – who is enjoying a breakout season at the Liberty Stadium, including five tries.

Just behind them is Edinburgh flanker Magnus Bradbury, whose 26 defenders beaten played a large part in him getting a first Scotland cap last weekend against Argentina.

One man to watch out for in this category, however, is Cardiff Blues centre Willis Halaholo, who racked up a remarkable 11 defenders beaten on debut against Treviso.

©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

Meanwhile when it comes to carries Aki is just one short of a century, and leads a pair of back rowers in Newport Gwent Dragons’ Ed Jackson (94) and Munster skipper CJ Stander (91).

And watch out for a Guinness PRO12 newcomer sitting in fourth, Ulster’s Charles Piutau has made 88 carries since his arrival in Belfast, while he lies second in terms of offloads with 14, one fewer than Cardiff Blues’ Rey Lee-Lo.

Aki might be leading the way in terms of carries and defenders beaten, but it’s teammate Tiernan O’Halloran who is out in front in terms of metres made.

The Ireland full-back – who was so impressive in scoring twice against Canada a fortnight ago – has already run for 634 metres this season, a full 88 more than Ospreys counterpart Dan Evans in second.

Evans also cracks the top five for most clean breaks, sitting in fifth with ten, two behind namesake Steff of the Scarlets, Munster’s Darren Sweetnam and Glasgow Warriors’ Tommy Seymour.

But out in front is Cardiff Blues winger Tom James, who has racked up 13 clean breaks, while also running in five tries – second only to Seymour.

And when it comes to try assists, the Ospreys occupy the top three spots – no surprise given that their 37 tries this season outstrips their closest rivals Glasgow Warriors by ten!

©INPHO/Simon King

©INPHO/Simon King

Sam Davies leads the way with six assists, while a quintet sit behind him in second with Ospreys pair Rhys Webb and Josh Matavesi, as well as Glasgow duo Henry Pyrgos and Stuart Hogg, as well as Munster’s Duncan Williams.

Of course defence is as important as attack, and when it comes to putting his body on the line, no one has made more tackles than Sean Reidy.

The Ulster flanker has already racked up 112 tackles, ten more than closest rival Billy Holland of Munster – who made his international debut against Canada earlier this month.

The Dragons provide the next two on the list, Lewis Evans (96) and Nic Cudd (92), the duo looking to crack the century this weekend at home to Edinburgh.

Just as important defensively is the turnover battle, where an Olympic silver medallist has carried his Rio form back into the Guinness PRO12.

Scarlets openside James Davies was exceptional in the shorter form of the game in Brazil, and he’s done the same so far this season with ten turnovers .

Just behind him are a pair of Irishmen whose Guinness PRO12 form has earned them international call-ups this November.

Leinster flanker Dan Leavy and Munster No.8 Jack O’Donoghue have both managed 9 turnovers so far, catching the eye of Joe Schmidt in the process.

Season leaders in the Guinness PRO12

Metres made
1. Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht) – 634
2. Dan Evans (Ospreys) – 546
3. Tom James (Cardiff Blues) – 500

Defenders beaten
1=. Bundee Aki (Connacht) – 27
1=. Ben John (Ospreys) – 27
3. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 26

1. Bundee Aki (Connacht) – 99
2. Ed Jackson (Newport Gwent Dragons) – 94
3. CJ Stander (Munster) – 91

1. Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) – 15
2=. Charles Piutau (Ulster) – 14
2=. Josh Matavesi (Ospreys) – 14

Clean Breaks
1. Tom James (Cardiff Blues) – 13
2=. Ben John (Ospreys) – 12
2=. Darren Sweetnam (Munster) – 12
2=. Steffan Evans (Scarlets) – 12

Tackles Made
1. Sean Reidy (Ulster) – 112
2. Billy Holland (Munster) – 102
3. Lewis Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons) – 96

Turnovers Won
1. James Davies (Scarlets) – 10
2=. Dan Leavy (Leinster) – 9
2=. Jack O’Donoghue (Munster) – 9

Try Assists
1. Sam Davies (Ospreys) – 6
2=. Rhys Webb (Ospreys) – 4
2=. Josh Matavesi (Ospreys) – 4
2=. Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 4
2=. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 4
2=. Duncan Williams (Munster) – 4

Tries scored
1. Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 7
2=. Ben John (Ospreys) – 5
2=. Tom James (Cardiff Blues) – 5

Points scored
1. Rhys Patchell (Scarlets) – 61
2. Steven Shingler (Cardiff Blues) – 52
3. Sam Davies (Ospreys) – 51

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