TOP BAR - Fixtures

Sinoti Sinoti, Don Armand, Vereniki Goneva, Tom Varndell and Jason Woodward top the latest Opta Rugby Rankings

Don Armand made the most tackles by an Exeter Chiefs player since November 2015 as he topped this week’s OPTA Rugby Rankings as his side dominated Leicester Tigers 34-15 in Aviva Premiership Rugby Round 17.

That completed a first league double over the Welford Road outfit since 2011-12 – and their second ever – as former Tiger Geoff Parling impressed in the lineout with a round-high three steals at his old stomping ground.

Thomas Waldrom was his usual tireless self in Exeter’s back-row, making 16 carries to finish tied second with Dave Ward, Luke Hamilton and Jordan Crane, but in the overall OPTA charts – for the season to date – he is 67 clear of his nearest competitor, averaging almost 17 carries per game.

No Chief since Dave Ewers against Harlequins in November 2015 has completed as many tackles in a single game as Armand, but Saracens captain Brad Barritt turned in 22 tackles of his own to tie with the Chiefs back-rower.

It was an all Saracens and Exeter top five as Mitch Lees and try-scorer Kai Horstmann pitched in with 17 and 16 respectively, with Marcelo Bosch adding 15 in Saracens’ bonus-point 35-27 win at Kingston Park – their 14th on the bounce against Dean Richards’ outfit.

That moved Barritt clear of Wasps openside Thomas Young into third in the OPTA standings after Round 17.

Saracens’ skipper has now made 185 tackles – leaving him tied with Falcons’ Calum Green on 185, but it is still Newcastle Falcons’ back-row Mark Wilson who leads the way with 191 tackles for the season.

Despite a largely resolute defensive performance from Mark McCall’s side, two outstanding Falcons in Juan Pablo Socino – whose break teed up Dominic Waldouck for a fine score – and Sinoti Sinoti beat a round-high eight defenders a piece.

Teammate and try-scorer Vereniki Goneva pitched in with another 121 metres – matched only by Bristol Rugby’s Tom Varndell – and edging him closer to Semesa Rokoduguni in the overall standings.

Rokoduguni was, by his own immense standards, quiet against Wasps, making just 55 metres in a 24-3 defeat – though he is 272 clear of nearest challenger Goneva in the overall OPTA standings with 1,472 metres this season.

Christian Wade scored Wasps’ crucial first try at The Rec on Saturday as they extended their advantage at the Aviva Premiership Rugby summit, and Dai Young’s flyer beat five defenders in the West Country to close the gap on runaway leader Rokoduguni through 17 rounds.

Man of the match Francois Hougaard helped orchestrate one of Worcester Warriors finest Aviva Premiership Rugby wins.

The Springbok No. 9 made 75 metres, scored a brilliant solo score and helped Worcester to their second highest Aviva Premiership points total and their biggest win since overcoming London Irish by 24 points in 2012.

Bristol’s winger Varndell extended his lead at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby all-time try-scoring charts with a well-read interception, while he also made more breaks than any player in Round 16.

Top performers:

Most tackles:

Don Armand (Exeter Chiefs) 22
Brad Barritt (Saracens) 22
Mitch Lees (Exeter Chiefs) 17
Kai Horstmann (Exeter Chiefs) 16
Marcelo Bosch (Saracens) 16 

Defenders beaten:

Sinoti Sinoti (Newcastle Falcons) 8
Juan Pablo Socino (Newcastle Falcons) 8
Marland Yarde (Harlequins) 7
Dave Ward (Harlequins) 7

Metres made:

Tom Varndell (Bristol Rugby) 121
Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) 121
Christian Wade (Wasps) 99
Ross Chisholm (Harlequins) 92
David Halaifonua (Gloucester Rugby) 87


Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) 17
Juan Pablo Socino (Newcastle Falcons) 17
Kurtley Beale (Wasps) 17
Luke Hamilton (Leicester Tigers) 16
Jordan Crane (Bristol Rugby) 16
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs) 16
Dave Ward (Harlequins) 16


Tom Varndell (Bristol Rugby) 4
David Halaifonua (Gloucester Rugby) 3
Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) 3
Alex Lozowski (Saracens) 3


Jason Woodward (Bristol Rugby) 4
Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons) 3
Telusa Veainu (Leicester Tigers) 3
Dave Ward (Harlequins) 3

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