OPTA have released their statistical rankings for the opening weekend of the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership, with Luke Morahan, Nathan Hughes and Sam Skinner among the big winners.


Morahan led the competition with 108 metres with ball in hand and was one of just two players to break into triple figures, with Worcester Warriors’ Chris Pennell notching 100m exactly. Worcester’s Josh Adams (99), Exeter Chiefs’ Phil Dollman (95) and Sale Sharks’ Marland Yarde (94) made up the rest of the top five.

Morahan, who enjoyed a lively Premiership debut in Bristol’s 17-10 win over Bath, also topped the defenders beaten table with eight. Hughes was hot on heels with seven defenders beaten, whilst Adams, Ben Tapuai, Sam Simmonds and Santiago Cordero all managed to beat six defenders.

In addition to beating seven defenders, Wasps’ Hughes also stood out with his work rate, making 26 carries and falling just outside of the top five metre makers with 90m to his name. Exeter’s trio of Ian Whitten, Ollie Devoto (both 19) and Simmonds (18) all ranked highly for carries, as did, surprisingly, a fly-half, in the form of Wasps’ Billy Searle.

Will Welch topped the tackle charts with 19 and was closely followed by club teammate Callum Chick, who had 17, as Newcastle Falcons dealt with the possession-heavy threat of Saracens. Darren Barry, Sione Kalamafoni and Michael Fitzgerald completed the top five, with 16 tackles apiece.

Devoto and Francois Venter shared the offloading crown for the week with four apiece, whilst Whitten and Cordero, both with three, showed that there’s much more to Exeter this season than route one rugby and efficient recycling.


At the lineout, another Exeter player was busy ruling the roost, with Skinner accounting for nine takes, a significant margin over his closest competitors Jono Ross and Courtney Lawes, both of whom snared six throws. Dave Attwood and Calum Green popped up with five takes.

A number of players, including Green, Lawes and Maro Itoje showed up with a lineout steal, but Matt Symons was the standout defensive lineout threat, nabbing two steals and showing that the Harlequins lineout is not going to be the ineffectual unit it was last season.

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David Strettle was the king of the clean breaks with four, ahead of a host of backs with three, including Morahan, Whitten, Tapuai, Yarde and Olly Woodburn. Forwards Simmonds and Jamie George also accounted for three clean breaks.

Among the negative statistics, Heinrich Brüssow was in a league of his own with six penalties conceded, double the amount of any other player in the competition. Symons, Alec Hepburn, Ryan Mills, Dan Cole and Ben Franks all conceded three on the opening weekend.

In the missed tackle charts, Kalamafoni came out on top with seven, whilst Sam James, Matt Toomua and George Ford all showed up prominently with five missed tackles apiece.

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