Fifth-placed Northampton Saints host top-of-the-table Bristol Bears this weekend on home soil at Franklin’s Gardens, and we’ve crunched the numbers ahead of another vital Gallagher Premiership encounter...
With Bristol’s attacking style capturing all the headlines, it’s no surprise that the club is home to some of the Gallagher Prem’s most potent weapons.
In Piers O’Conor (650), Charles Piutau (623) and Ratu Naulago (606), the Bears have three of the league’s top five metre-makers, with O’Conor also ranking highly on the defenders beaten chart (37, =4th).
While Piutau is set to miss out on Sunday afternoon, the likes of Niyi Adeolokun, Henry Purdy and replacement Luke Morahan are all capable of making game breaking contributions, too.
Given the Bears’ lofty perch in the Gallagher Premiership, their launchpad being in excellent working order is a surprise to no one.
Joe Joyce (65 won) is at the head of the most accurate lineout in the league, with Sunday’s visitors having successfully claimed 91% of their own throws.
Meanwhile, on opposition ball, only Gloucester (1.6) steal more lineouts per match than Bristol’s 1.1.
One of the few areas where Bristol have struggled this season is the concession of turnovers when in possession.
Their loss of the ball 15.5 times on average is the most in 2020/21, with Saints sitting right at the opposite end of the scale at 10.9.
That said, it is worth noting that the Bears are in possession of the ball close to 20% longer than Chris Boyd’s men each game (19mins v 16mins).
With both sides known for their potent counter-punch, coughing it up easily could come at a costly price.