Vodacom Super 14

Doppies will be a marked man

2010-03-16 22:35
Doppies la Grange (Gallo Images)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – The enormous responsibility that the Lions place on the shoulders of inside centre Doppies la Grange every week leaves no doubt who the Crusaders need to mark in Saturday’s Super 14 match in Christchurch.

La Grange, 28, has been the Lions’ outstanding backline player just about every week and is the man that can get them over the advantage line on attack.

In each of the Lions’ five games this year, La Grange carried the ball more times than any other player on the field, including the opponents.

According to rugby statistics website ruggastats.com, La Grange carried the ball 24 times in last Friday’s record defeat of 12-73 against the Waratahs in Sydney.

Among the Waratahs, wing Drew Mitchell and lock Dean Mumm were the most frequent carriers with 10 each.

La Grange was also the major ball-carrier in the previous Lions games against the Brumbies (20 times), Hurricanes (16 times), Chiefs (16 times) and Stormers (16 times).

In some games he has the ball twice as many times as any of his team-mates.

By now the Lions’ opponents should have a good idea of where the ball is going when it is moved down the backline.

However, La Grange’s power enables him to shake off tacklers, even if they know what is coming their way.

Flanker and captain Cobus Grobbelaar made the most tackles in three of the Lions’ five games this year.

However, as a team the Lions have missed more than 20 tackles in each of their last four games.

It appears as if the Lions struggle to re-align their defence when they lose possession.

They had almost 60% of the possession against the Waratahs, but lost 12-73.

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