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Thomas Waldrom, Sam Jeffries, Mike Haley, Vereniki Goneva and Louis Picamoles top the OPTA Rugby Rankings

Thomas Waldrom proved to be Exeter Chiefs’ match-winner in scoring two tries in their dramatic 38-34 victory over Bristol Rugby in Round 19 of Aviva Premiership Rugby – setting a new record along the way too.

The powerful No.8 made 30 carries during the match at Sandy Park, the most by any player since OPTA began recording this data in 2008/09, and has now made 312 in total this season.

Although Bristol saw Waldrom’s second try of the match deny them a win at the death, they do make up the entire top three for most tackles over the weekend, with Sam Jeffries’ 28, putting him ahead of team-mates Mark Sorenson (27) and Nick Fenton-Wells (24).

Fenton-Wells also won the most turnovers, with four, as Bristol lost an Aviva Premiership Rugby match despite scoring more than 30 points for the first time since September 2002, when they were defeated 38-35 by Wasps.

Anthony Watson’s two tries in ‘The Clash’ at Twickenham gave Bath Rugby a vital 27-21 victory over play-off rivals Leicester Tigers and the full-back made the most clean breaks of the weekend with four.

It was also the joint-most made by a Bath player this season, while Perry Humphreys of Worcester Warriors was the only player to match Watson during his side’s 36-26 defeat at Sale Sharks.

Mike Haley made more ground than anyone else during the round, as he gained 151 metres, which partly enabled him to score Sale’s third try of the match.

That helped Sale claim the victory, although Sharks prop Halani Aulika gave away six penalties to take his season count up to 27, the fourth highest in the division and five behind Leicester Tigers’ Ellis Genge.

Vereniki Goneva was a force of nature for Newcastle Falcons as they defeated Gloucester 16-14 at Kingston Park, with his 140 metres gained the third-highest of the weekend.

The Fijian winger easily topped the list for most defenders beaten with 12, the joint-most since OPTA started recording this data, becoming the first player to achieve this twice, having previously done so with Leicester in November 2015.

Michael Rhodes scored Saracens’ third try in their 40-19 victory against Harlequins at Wembley, while the flanker was heavily involved throughout in making 21 tackles and winning six line-outs.

The latter was just one behind Harlequins lock James Horwill, while Alex Goode was involved in more tries than anyone else this weekend in scoring one and setting up two more.

Louis Picamoles gave another storming performance for Northampton Saints on Sunday, even though it was in a losing effort against Wasps, who ran out 32-30 winners.

But this was yet another round where Picamoles topped the chart for most offloads with seven, ahead of Goneva (5).

It also kept the Frenchman way out in front on the leaderboard of the season, as his 37 put him 11 clear of his nearest challenger, Sale’s Sam James.

Tackles

Sam Jeffries (Bristol) – 28

Mark Sorenson (Bristol) – 27

Nick Fenton-Wells (Bristol) – 24

Carries

Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs) – 30

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs) – 21

Kyle Cooper (Newcastle Falcons), Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) – 19

Metres

Mike Haley (Sale Sharks) – 151

Jason Woodward (Bristol) – 150

Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) – 140

Defenders beaten

Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) – 12

Perry Humphreys (Worcester Warriors) – 9

Olly Woodburn (Exeter Chiefs) – 8

Off-loads

Louis Picamoles (Northampton Saints) – 7

Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons) – 5

Mike Brown (Harlequins), AJ MacGinty (Sale Sharks) – 4

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.

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