South African players dominated a number of statistics after round four of the PRO14 Rugby Championship this past week.
While things didn’t go the way of the two South African sides in the competition, there were plenty of notable performances that underlined the impact that local players are having on the competition as a whole.
Springbok flanker Marcell Coetzee, who missed out on a Rugby World Cup place because of injury, continued his impressive return for Irish side Ulster, carrying the ball up 21 times – the most of any player in round four of the championship.
Coetzee also put in an impressive 15 tackles in his side’s 23-14 win over the Cardiff Blues on the weekend and also grabbed two turnovers to cap an impressive performance.
But Coetzee wasn’t alone in impressing as Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe, brother of Springbok hooker Akker, had an excellent run with a hat-trick of tries in his side’s 46-7 win over Scarletts, making no less than six clean breaks in the process. Van der Merwe’s 95 metres run was the third highest of the weekend as his team romped home in style.
Uzair Cassiem’s form at Scarletts has been something that has not gone unnoticed, with the former Springbok making 17 carries for his team and stealing a lineout even though his side were on the receiving end of the scoreline. Cassiem tops the overall carries list after four rounds as well.
The Cheetahs weren’t to be outdone in the stats either, as Jasper Wiese and Sintu Manjezi topped the tackle count with 21 and 20 respectively in their narrow loss to Connacht. Wiese added 19 carries to his tally, just behind Coetzee as he looked impressive in his new role at No.8.
Uzair Cassiem’s form at Scarletts has been something that has not gone unnoticed, with the former Springbok making 17 carries for his team and stealing a lineout as he continued his impressive run this season. Cassiem tops the overall competition stat for carries at 59, 12 more than the second placed Southern Kings flanker Tienie Burger. The Cheetahs’ Rhyno Smith is third with 46.
Speaking of overall competition stats, it’s an all-South African affair at the top of the clean breaks chart, with Van der Merwe ahead with 11, followed closely by the Cheetahs duo of Smith (11) and Anthony Volminck (10). Smith (327), Volminck (289) and Van der Merwe (286) fill positions two to four on the metres made chart, with Dragons’ Jordan Williams topping with 342 metres made.
The Cheetahs duo of Manjezi and Walt Steenkamp are second and third on the lineout steals stat, behind Gavin Thornbury of Connacht, who leads the stat.