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James Short, Jordan Crane, Elliott Stooke and Brendon O’Connor top the Opta Rankings

Newcastle Falcons are always a tough prospect at Kingston Park but they were caught Short by Exeter Chiefs on Friday night.

According to the Opta stats for Premiership Rugby, Chiefs winger James Short was the round’s top threat across the league with ball in hand.

Not only did the 27-year-old rack up 138 metres but he beat eight defenders – leading Round 8 in both statistics – and also weighed in with 14 carries.

Ollie Devoto also totted up 116 metres and the ever-reliable Thomas Waldrom chipped in with 21 carries, as last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists jumped up to fifth in the table after the 32-19 win.

 

Despite the loss Falcons had a number of players appear high up the charts, with Scott Lawson (19) and Ally Hogg (17) racking up the tackles and Marcus Watson finishing with a joint-best four clean breaks for the round.

Jordan Crane may not be a Bristolian by birth but he gave a performance that any local would have been proud of in the first league West Country derby between Bath Rugby and Bristol Rugby in seven years.

The former Leicester Tigers No.8 got through an astonishing 25 carries, a single-match total only beaten by Waldrom (28) this season.

 

But Bath were to emerge victorious by 16-9 as second-row Elliott Stooke helped repel everything Bristol had to throw at his side with a round-leading 20 tackles.

Gloucester Rugby produced one of the most eye-catching results of the weekend as a late sting in the tail downed Wasps and secured them a first win at Kingsholm in Aviva Premiership Rugby this year.

An in-form Charlie Sharples has now scored in three consecutive league matches for the first time in his career, while Tom Savage became the first player to reach 100 tackles in the league this season following another 13 on the weekend.

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Elsewhere, Northampton Saints’ last three Aviva Premiership Rugby victories have been decided by a margin or three points or fewer as they repelled a comeback by 18-17 away to Worcester Warriors.

And Freddie Burns’ 20-point haul may have stolen the headlines on Sunday in Leicester Tigers’ 25-6 success against Harlequins but Brendon O’Connor was just as vital in defence.

The back-rower created four turnovers, the third time this season any player has recorded as many in a match, as Tigers roared to their biggest win over Harlequins since 2008.

Reigning champions Saracens marched back to the top of the table after their 28-13 victory at Sale Sharks – they are yet to concede more than 17 points in a game this season.

But though Sharks had difficulty breaking the Wolf Pack down, young centre Sam James underlined his talents by making a round-high four offloads.

Tackles
Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby) 20
Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons) 19
Ally Hogg (Newcastle Falcons) 17

Carries
Jordan Crane (Bristol Rugby) 25
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs) 21
Aaron Morris (Harlequins) 19

Metres made
James Short (Exeter Chiefs) 138
Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs) 116
Rob Miller (Wasps) 98

Defenders beaten
James Short (Exeter Chiefs) 8
AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks) 7
Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons) 5

Turnovers
Brendon O’Connor (Leicester Tigers) 4
Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) 3
Jamie Gibson (Northampton Saints), Sinoti Sinoti (Newcastle Falcons), Tommy Taylor (Wasps), Adam Thompstone (Leicester Tigers), Luke Wallace (Harlequins), Will Hurrell (Bristol Rugby), Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby) 2

Breaks
Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons), Dean Hammond (Worcester Warriors) 4
Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Dom Waldouck (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Nutley (Northampton Saints), Christian Wade (Wasps) 3

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