Stats give Lions the edge in final

Date published: October 24 2014

WP may have home ground advantage but the Lions hold the upper hand in the statistics ahead of the Currie Cup Final in Cape Town.

Western Province may enjoy home-ground advantage but the Golden Lions hold the upper hand in the statistics ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup Final in Cape Town.

The two finalists’ collated statistics from the season make for some interesting reading.

While the teams are neck-in-neck in some categories, the Lions dominate carries, clean breaks, defenders beaten, and metres run.

Two players from either side dominate many of the individual categories this season and proved invaluable to their respective campaigns.

It is therefore no wonder Golden Lions flanker Jaco Kriel and Province’s Cheslin Kolbe dominated debates amongst supporters this season.

The two teams’ ball-in-hand approach is what separated them from the rest of the sides which paid rich dividends for them this season making it into the final.

The Golden Lions scored the most tries before the play-offs with their 44 while Western Province scored the second most by crossing the whitewash 40 times.

Kriel contributed a whopping nine to the Lions’ tally making him the leading try-scorer in the competition.

Province captain Juan de Jongh is in the fourth place along with Lions wing Ruan Combrinck with the six five-pointers they scored.

The Johannesburg-based side made 1126 carries compared to the 861 by the Capetonians, while the Lions also beat 35 more defenders than the weekend’s hosts.

The Lions made 93 clean breaks to the 62 of Western Province and Kriel contributed richly in this category with the 13 he made.

Kriel also rules the roost in the defenders beaten category with 16, while flanker Michael Rhodes is the highest Province player on the list, getting past nine defenders.

Kolbe demonstrated this season that he is dangerous not only as a try-scorer but also with the try assists, a category he dominates with six.

While the Lions (10,481m) ran almost 2000 metres more than Western Province (8,526m), Kolbe tops the individual bracket with the 966m he covered this season, while Combrinck boasts the second most (905m) metres run.

Finals are often tight affairs but with the two expansive-minded teams going up against each other a thrilling encounter should be on the cards.

Western Province have not only made more tackles (1913) than the Lions (1247) but has also had more lapses in defence with their 316 missed tackles compared to the 193 of the Johannesburg side.

The Vodacom Rugby Stats App, one of the most comprehensive stats Apps in the world, indicates that the Lions have a higher propensity for running with the ball in hand and will test the Province defence.

However, Province has standout number eight Nizaam Carr in their ranks, who made the most tackles this season.

Carr executed a monstrous 181 tackles this season and could form a strong defensive barrier with Rhodes, who made the second most (163).

While the Stats may highlight certain key areas, the Currie Cup Final is more than a numbers game and the passion to win the coveted trophy often determining the champions.

Western Province v Golden Lions comparisons:

Carries: 861 v 1126
Clean Breaks: 62-93
Conversions: 38-39
Defenders Beaten: 73-108
Handling Errors: 197-189
Kicks Caught: 70-48
Kicks from Hand: 252-189
Knock-ons: 93-87
Lineouts Stolen: 9-9
Lineouts won on own throw: 89-97
Loose ball collected: 60-46
Metres Run: 8526-10481
Missed Conversions: 5-11
Missed Penalty Goals: 2-5
Missed Tackles: 316-193
Offloads: 76-150
Passes: 1339-1611
Penalties Conceded: 122-120
Penalty Goals: 24-26
Points: 366-417
Tackles: 1913-1247
Tries: 43-50
Turnovers Won: 21-29

Statistics courtesy of Vodacom Stats App