TOP BAR - Fixtures

George North, Carl Kirwan, Harry Mallinder, Jamie Shillcock and Matt Garvey top the Opta Ratings

George North was back to his very best even though his Northampton Saints side succumbed to the undefeated Wasps, the Opta stats indicating he was the undisputed star of the weekend.

The 24-year-old 62-time Wales international scored a blistering try in the opening seconds at Franklin’s Gardens, finishing off a fine team move for his second score of the season.

North also beat eight defenders during the game and made five breaks – the most of anyone this week in Aviva Premiership Rugby in either category.

His 122 metres made from 17 carries was also the third highest in both categories, and director of rugby Jim Mallinder singled out the winger for special praise after the defeat.

“When we play well our back three get hold of the ball a lot and I think George North had one of his best games for Saints,” he said.

“I know he’s had some criticism for some of his performances, but (against Wasps) he was tremendous.”

Wasps have now won the last three meetings between these sides, although their best run against Saints was winning five on the bounce between 2004 and 2005 (including play-offs).

Nathan Hughes was immense for Dai Young’s men with 18 carries for 67 metres, while winger Josh Bassett – whose late score ultimately sealed the win – made the second most breaks in the league with three.

After 16 months and 31 games, Maro Itoje’s incredible winning run finally came to an end against Harlequins, who have now won back-to-back home games against Saracens for the first time since 2004.

The Men in Black were restricted to just 10 points in this game – they’ve not scored fewer since November 2012 when they only managed three against Worcester – although Alex Goode fared well with 136 metres made and three successful offloads.

Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks played out the sixth-highest scoring draw in Aviva Premiership history on Saturday, and while Cooper Vuna impressed for the hosts with seven defenders beaten and three offloads, Carl Kirwan’s defensive effort stole the show for the statisticians.

The back-rower made 19 tackles in this game, the most of any player at the weekend, and he is yet to miss one in his 160 minutes of action this season.

Falcons’ win against Gloucester was their first away victory in 24 months in Aviva Premiership Rugby, and their first away to the Cherry and Whites since 2012.

After coming on as a sub, Greig Laidlaw slotted one penalty and is still yet to miss a kick this season (17/17) – and the Scottish scrum-half has not missed a league conversion in the whole of 2016.

It took a performance Leicester Tigers fans would have been proud of to down Bath Rugby, as Richard Cockerill’s men built around a strong display up front.

Peter Betham beat seven defenders on his way to 72 metres made, although Matt Garvey’s contribution for the visitors was impressive as his ten lineouts claimed and three turnovers won were more than anyone else in Aviva Premiership Rugby this weekend.

And finally Exeter Chiefs’ Thomas Waldrom was back to his rampaging best in their win over Bristol Rugby, with his 17 carries yielding two tries.

Rob Baxter’s men gained 571 metres in this game, their most in a match since a tally of 641 against Worcester in April.

 

Tackles

Carl Kirwan (Worcester Warriors) – 19

Jack Lam (Bristol Rugby) – 18

Sam Jones (Wasps) – 17

 

Carries

Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints) – 19

Nathan Hughes (Wasps) – 18

George North (Northampton Saints), Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs) – 17

 

Metres Made

Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors) – 139

Alex Goode (Saracens) – 136

George North (Northampton Saints) – 122

 

Defenders beaten

George North (Northampton Saints) – 8

Cooper Vuna (Worcester Warriors), Alex Goode (Saracens), Peter Betham (Leicester Tigers) – 7

 

Offloads

Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 4

Alex Goode (Saracens), Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints), Lachlan McCaffrey (Leicester Tigers), Cooper Vuna (Worcester Warriors) – 3

 

Lineouts won

Matt Garvey (Bath Rugby) – 10

Mariano Galarza (Gloucester Rugby), Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks), James Horwill (Harlequins) – 7

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