Three wins from three in Bloemfontein has seen the Toyota Cheetahs emerge as the early pacesetters in their conference, but they leave South African shores on Tuesday to take up their next challenge of three games in Europe where they will face different conditions.
The Free Staters effective attack has earned them a plethora of tries, with Rhyno Smith (fullback) topping the charts with five tries in three rounds, which is one more than his team-mate Joseph Dweba (hooker). Three tries by Anthony Volmink (winger), and two by Junior Pokomela (flanker) has also placed them on the try-scorers list.
Over and above this Toyota Cheetahs captain and scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar, is the leading point scorer in the competition with 38 points, while another South African – Edinburgh’s Jaco van der Walt (flyhalf) – is in third place with 29 points, and the Isuzu Southern Kings’ general, Demetri Catrakilis, is only two behind on 27 points.
Smith (267) and Volmink (262), meanwhile, are second and third respectively in the metres gained category, trailing the Dragons’ Jordan Williams (utility back), while they Free State duo are also at the top of the clean breaks table with nine breaks a piece.
The carries statistics, in turn, also has a South African flavour with Scarlets flanker Uzair Cassiem – a former Toyota Cheetahs star – currently topping the table with 42 carries, while Smith and Isuzu Southern Kings flanker Tienie Burger trailing with 38 carries.
Edinburgh’s Duhan van der Merwe (winger) – the brother of Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe – tops the defenders beaten chart at 19, followed by Williams, Smith (both on 16) and Volmink (15), while Toyota Cheetahs flyhalf Tian Schoeman boasts eight offloads - three more than his closest rival in the Guinness PRO14.
The Isuzu Southern Kings reign supreme in the lineouts, with Robbie Kempson’s side winning 96.15% of their lineouts, while they have also infringed the least in the competition, averaging just seven penalties conceded per game.
They Port Elizabeth team also dominate the possession statistics with the ball in play for an average of 19 minutes per game.