Stormers lock Andries Bekker comes under the microscope as rugby365.com columnist Grant Ball takes a look at the tall tight forward's game.
Bekker has had another season of top showings, but there are still questions marks about his temperament in big home games – like many of his Stormers team-mates.
The Bok incumbent in the No 5 jersey, Victor Matfield outplayed him when it counted when the Bulls visited Newlands in the latter stages of the league competition. Bekker hasn't yet completely shed the tendency to disappear in pressurised situations.
Some have talked him up as a possible partner to Matfield in the Bok second row, but comparing his stats to a tighter lock like Brad Thorn's shows that this wouldn't be a wise move in important Tests, especially in the World Cup.
In comparison to Sam Whitelock and Thorn, Bekker and Reynardt Elstadt effectively cleaned more attacking rucks (28 to 25), but on closer inspection, this still wasn't sufficient to deal with the Saders unit. The Kiwis targeted the breakdown after their wake-up call in the first 40 minutes against the Sharks, and it showed in Cape Town.
The entire Stormers' tight five has been criticised, and while it may be a team policy to send limited numbers to the breakdowns, it backfired on them in the semi-final when they were repeatedly counter-rucked off the ball, or at best secured slow possession.
Stats on their own ball suggest the Stormers locks did hit enough rucks, but when you look at how many Thorn and Whitelock hit while the Stormers were in possession, it shows how the hosts' lock combination (and the rest of their tight forwards) had to clean more if they wanted better quality possession.
Thorn and Whitelock hit 20 rucks on defence, compared to just four between Bekker and Elstadt. Those figures show how the Saders committed more numbers to the breakdown, and how they effectively disrupted the Stormers' quality of possession.
To see all Bekker's stats and a video of his performance, click here: http://www.rugbyxv.co.za/coaches-corner/news/380-player-watch-bekker
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