Vodacom Super 14

Lions defence "half-hearted"

2010-03-23 23:15
Earl Rose (Gallo Images)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg – The Highlanders may be a team that the Lions have targeted for a Super 14 victory, but the reality is that the New Zealanders will be looking at Friday’s match in Dunedin as an opportunity to pick up five log points.

No rugby team will be particularly concerned when examining the Lions’ defensive record in 2010.

The Lions were better against the Crusaders than they were against the Waratahs, but their half-hearted defence again came back to haunt them.

It appears as if the organisation of their defence is a major problem and one can only wonder how much of that is due to the departure of Jaque Fourie. The Springbok centre, who left the Lions to move to Cape Town, is one of the shining lights in the Stormers’ watertight defensive system.

There are also individuals that are playing particularly badly at the Lions.

It is no surprise that fullback Earl Rose holds the unwanted record of being the Lions player that has slipped the most tackles this year. He is not cutting it at Super 14 level and the time has come for someone else to get an opportunity in his place.

Ruggastats.com states that Rose has made 17 successful tackles this year and missed 14, which gives him a success ratio of 55%.

Wing Wandile Mjekevu (12) has missed the second most tackles.

As a fullback in a losing team, Rose is probably exposed to more difficult defensive situations, yet someone who can defend is required in the position, lest the other backline players being put under added pressure.

Outside centre Walter Venter, who made 40 tackles in four games, has missed only four.

The 74 tackles that captain and flanker Cobus Grobbelaar has made is the most among the Lions players. Of course flankers make more tackles, but Grobbelaar has only missed eight.

The Lions have called up experienced lock Nico Luus who will fill in for the injured George Earle, and are expected to name their team to face the Highlanders on Wednesday.


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