Stats show Lions’ heroism
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Lions loose forwards Warren Whiteley, the
captain, and Warwick Tecklenburg have catapulted up the rankings for tackles
made in Super Rugby 2015 thus far.
It is hardly surprising considering the bloody-minded defensive
tenacity that was the key hallmark of their 13-10 disposal of the Blues in
Albany to get their overseas leg off to a memorable start -- even if the game
itself was significantly less than a classic.
The whole theme of New Zealand media coverage of the game predictably
revolved around under-fire Blues head coach John Kirwan, who now stands at
nought from four in the win column this season and his charges bottom of the
Expect the Lions, who broke their own early-season duck, not
to be perturbed in the least by the description of them in the New Zealand
Herald as “big lumps ... but that’s about it” as the newspaper branded the
Aucklanders’ loss “a stinker” and one of the most disappointing in their
Unjustly less trumpeted was the Lions’ amazing resolve and
industry on defence in a clash where they had only about a quarter of territory
and roughly a third of possession – they also made 178 tackles to the Blues’
What the never-say-die commitment of the Jo’burgers did at
Albany, even in back-pedalling so often, was ensure that they are strongly
represented in the key tackle categories in the competition after four rounds.
The Lions’ tackle success percentage now stands at 88.7,
second only to the unbeaten Hurricanes (91.0) who had a bye in the latest
Next best South African franchise on the closely-contested
list are the improving Bulls (87.0), in seventh overall.
In a reflection of their unexpectedly disappointing start to
the season, with one win from four, the Sharks have the second worst tackle
success percentage in the competition (83.7), only ahead of the Western Force
Individually, No 8 Whiteley and versatile flanker Warwick
Tecklenburg (comfortable both on the open and blindside) have advanced to
second and joint-fourth respectively for tackles made.
The skipper stands on 61 hits, just six behind the
competition leader Lappies Labuschagne of the Bulls (67).
Only non-South African among the top five, Jarrad Butler of
the Brumbies, sports 50 tackles to lies third, whilst Tecklenburg, who
continues to keep out an experienced trooper like Derick Minnie from the Lions starting
XV, shares fourth on 47 with Bulls veteran Victor Matfield.
The Lions move on to Christchurch for a meeting on Saturday
(05:30 SA time) with the seven-time champions but also rather out-of-sorts
Coach Johan Ackermann faces a dilemma over whether to rely
on continuity from the Blues triumph, or tweak his combination considering the peculiarly
energy-sapping nature of their maiden victory this year.
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