The Premiership regular season came to an end on Saturday, meaning just four clubs are left in the running to win the title.
Defending champions Exeter Chiefs finished top of the table, giving them home advantage in their semi-final against Newcastle Falcons. In the other tie to decide who will be at Twickenham on May 26, Saracens will welcome Wasps to Allianz Park.
London Irish, meanwhile, suffered relegation, though they will hope their time outside the top flight proves to be brief.
As the dust settles after 22 rounds of action, we’ve picked out some of the notable performers – and remarkable numbers – with the aid of Opta.
Now for the semi-finals… pic.twitter.com/f52WfCyGcJ
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) May 6, 2018
KEEP ON RUNNING
Alex Goode made more ground than any other player in the Premiership. The England international gained 1,808 metres in total, comfortably ahead of nearest rival Olly Woodburn of Exeter as, unsurprisingly, backs dominated the category.
Wasps had three players finish inside the top 10, Willie Le Roux their leading man with 1,110 metres, just nine ahead of club colleague Christian Wade.
South African full-back Le Roux was the Premiership’s assist king too, setting up 21 tries for a team that made more clean breaks (276) than any of their rivals.
However, Sarries were comfortably the top scorers in the English game. They finished with a whopping 731 points – 113 more than Exeter – and ran in 89 tries, their final tallies boosted by a sensational run-in that saw them amass 217 points in April alone following their European Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Leinster.
Exeter lock Jonny Hill was the only player over the season to reach three figures in terms of line-outs won, finishing with 103. Fellow Chief Don Armand also had 80, putting him sixth on the list.
Saracens were the other team to have two representatives in the top 10; Nick Isiekwe (86) was their best performer, though George Kruis’ final total of 59 was impressive considering he made just 14 Premiership appearances.
The duo’s efforts helped the capital club finish with a 92.9 per cent line-out success rate, the best by any club during 2017-18. Newcastle were the masters of the scrum though, the Falcons posting an astonishing 96.7 per cent success rate.
CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
It is not just about what you do when in possession of the ball. Defensive experts may not draw in the crowds like those who score tries or kick for goal, but they play a pivotal part in deciding their team’s fortunes over the course of a gruelling campaign.
This season, no player made more tackles than Sale’s Jono Ross (336). The experienced back-rower, signed in April 2017, impressed in his debut season with his willingness to do the dirty work. Fellow Shark Ross Harrison was one of only three players to top the 300-mark, the other being Lewis Ludlow of Gloucester.
Northampton Saints flanker Jamie Gibson managed 251 tackles and was also a master at stealing possession, finishing in a tie for top spot in turnovers won. His tally of 19 was matched by Dave Ward of Harlequins.
FORD PUTS THE BOOT IN
England star George Ford finished top of the charts when it came to kicks in open play, booting the ball 239 times during his 16 league outings for Leicester Tigers.
No other player managed to break the 200-barrier, Marcus Smith of Quins the next on the list with 194.
Exeter used their kicking game to good effect – Nic White (186) and Gareth Steenson (170) both featured in the top 10 – yet no team had the ball more than the Chiefs. Their average time in possession was 23 minutes and 31 seconds, nearly four minutes more than second-placed Gloucester.
Rob Baxter’s side also had more carries (3,605) and made more metres (11,147) than any of their competitors, underlying just why they ended up on top of the pile.
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