Lions limp into Stats XV

The heartache of another runners-up medal for the Lions may be soothed by the inclusion of eight of their heroes in the Stats XV!

15 – Andries Coetzee (Lions)
Attack: 14 carries, 134 metres run, good passes 7/8, 2 linebreaks, 1 tackle break
Defence: 2 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 67% completion
Kicks: 0 kicks from hand
Errors: 1 handling error

14 – Ruan Combrinck (Lions)
Attack: 1 carry, 9 metres run, good passes 1/1
Defence: 5 tackles, 3 missed tackle, 63% completion, 1 turnover won
Kicks: 7 kicks, 230 kicking metres

9 – Ross Cronje (Lions)
Attack: 4 carries, 6 metres run, good passes 60/61, 1 tackle break
Defence: 4 tackles, 1 tackle missed, 80% completion
Kicks: 1 kick, 40 kicking metres
Errors: 1 handling error

8 – Ruan Ackermann (Lions)
Attack: 8 carries, 52 metres run, 2 linebreaks, 2 tackle breaks
Defence: 7 tackles made, 1 tackle missed, 88% completion
First Phase: 2 lineouts won

6 – Jaco Kriel (Lions)
Attack: 16 carries, 72 metres run, good passes 5/7, 1 offload, 1 tackle break, 1 turnover conceded
Defence: 15 tackles made, 100% completion, 1 turnover won
Errors: 3 handling errors
First Phase: 1 lineout won

5 – Franco Mostert (Lions)
Attack: 12 carries, 66 metres run, good passes 5/7, 1 linebreak, 1 offload, 1 tackle break, 1 turnover conceded
Defence: 5 tackles made, 1 tackle missed, 83% completion, 1 dominant tackle
Errors: 1 handling error, 1 penalty conceded
First Phase: 4 lineouts won, 1 lineout stolen

2 – Malcolm Marx (Lions)
Attack: 1 try, 6 carries, 56 metres run, good passes 1/1, 1 linebreak, 1 tackle break, 1 turnover conceded
Defence: 6 tackles made, 100% completion, 1 dominant tackle, 1 turnover won
Kicks: 1 kick, 19 kicking metres
Errors: 1 handling error, 1 scrum penalty

1 – Jacques van Rooyen (Lions)
Attack: 8 carries, 39 metres run
Defence: 5 tackles made, 3 tackles missed, 63% completion
Errors: 3 handling errors

Okay, maybe not. Losing a final must hurt; losing two in a row… ouch! And whatever feel-good factor usually goes along with a call-up to such an illustrious team – automatically selected according to a statistics algorithm – is noticeably missing this week.

Yes, Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronje, Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Malcolm Marx and Jacques van Rooyen did get in ahead of their the Crusaders counterparts, but their numbers failed to wow.

Let’s start with Coetzee. The Lions and Springbok fullback did lovely things on attack – 14 carries for 134 metres run and two linebreaks. But he missed one of three tackle attempts and, unbelievably, did not kick the ball. Not even once.

Once is how many times Combrinck carried the ball in the final. Crusaders coach Razor Robertson credited defence for winning the championship, and limiting the Lions’ best runner to one carry was a defensive masterstroke.

Combrinck did gobble up 230 metres with seven kicks while Cronje hit the runner in stride with 6o of 61 passes, but the Lions halfback only put boot to ball once, and made all of six metres on four runs.

Ackermann and Kriel put up respectable stats lines. The No 8 made two linebreaks and two tackle breaks on eight carries, while Kriel didn’t miss any of 15 tackle attempts, though only one was dominant. The back-row tandem combined for three lineout takes.

Mostert mitted four lineout targets and poached one off the Crusaders, but he was on duty when the Kiwis intercepted two Lions feeds in the red zone.

Marx was the man who launched those throw-ins and he mixed the good with the bad in general play – completing all of his tackles and winning a turnover, he also surrendered a turnover on one of six runs, conceded a scrum penalty and dropped the ball.

And Van Rooyen missed three of eight tackle attempts, and committed three handling errors, but carried the ball eight times for 34 metres.

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer