Currie Cup

WP: Runaway tackle kings

2014-08-26 23:15
Nizaam Carr (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Western Province may have perked up their offensive play immeasurably this year, which goes a long way to explaining why they currently top the Absa Currie Cup table, but they still make an extraordinary number of tackles.

Industrious and well-organised defence was a key feature of their strong (though trophy-less) showing in Super Rugby as the Stormers for several recent seasons, and little has changed on that front if latest Currie Cup statistics are a yardstick.

The blue-and-white-stripes may be increasingly lethal on the counter-attack and from broken play, but the stats still firmly indicate that they are not a consistently “front-foot” side.

Province players --- including their three first-choice loose forwards thus far – occupy all of the top four berths in the Vodacom-provided stats for most tackles made after three rounds of the domestic competition.

A total of six WP players monopolise spots in the top 10 on that front, with room only for a solitary representative of each of the Pumas, Cheetahs, Sharks and EP Kings to make up the tally.

Head of the pack is in-form No 8 Nizaam Carr (70 tackles), followed by team-mates Siya Kolisi (60), Jean Kleyn (59) and Michael Rhodes (57).

The first non-Province player to get a look-in is Pumas flank Corne Steenkamp (56) in fifth spot, followed by Tienie Burger (Cheetahs, 45), veteran Jacques Botes (Sharks, 44) and Shane Gates (EP Kings, 42).

But there is a final burst of WP representation in ninth and 10th spots with Stephan Coetzee (41) and Alistair Vermaak (40) also showing up well for defensive donkey-work.

Promising, 21-year-old lock Kleyn managed the most personal tackles of round three alone – when Province beat the Golden Lions 27-14 at Newlands – with a phenomenal 28 if the figures are accurate.

While the WP numbers are clearly very impressive, the jury will probably be out on whether such an exhausting tackle count is sustainable until they prove it can be accompanied by trophy success at the end of the competition.

It has often been suggested that the Stormers’ formerly, unashamedly defensive approach in Super Rugby was behind the injury hoodoo that all too often plagued them as they just came up short of scooping the top prize two or three times.

WP coach Allister Coetzee noted after the Lions triumph last weekend that his nationwide top tackler Carr is due a break -- though smart money suggests he will press him into service against fierce old foes the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday and then consider giving him time off when the Kings travel to Cape Town a week later.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    wp  |  currie cup  |  nizaam carr  |  allister coetzee  |  cape town  |  rugby

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