Report card: A+ defence has Orange City in box seat for crack at three-peat

YOUNG GUN: Duncan Young has been Orange City's best in the opening eight rounds of the 2014 season. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0517sgrugby6

YOUNG GUN: Duncan Young has been Orange City's best in the opening eight rounds of the 2014 season. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0517sgrugby6

ORANGE City Lions coaches Mick Gray and Steve Hamson have both said the Lions have not reached their potential in the opening eight rounds of the 2014 Blowes Clothing Cup season, and have bucketloads of improvement left in them.

Therein lies the question that will scare all nine other teams - how much better can Orange City get considering they sit second, with seven wins and one loss?

Make no mistake, the nature of Orange City’s wins has been different this season. They have been forced to come from behind on several occasions, and grind out wins on others when they would previously run away with games.

However, the current crop of Lions still exude the winning culture Gray and Hamson instilled in the club over the past two seasons and despite a few stutters, remain one of the competition’s best teams.

They are set to explode in the second half of the season.

ORANGE CITY REPORT CARD:

ATTACK: A-

WHILE potent when on song, the Lions’ back line has rarely been the same in consecutive weeks, which has showed on several occasions.

The Lions have stuttered in attack at times, with the fourth highest points tally, which can be put down to two things - Mesui Lemoto has taken time to settle into the fly-half role, and the Lions’ backs are yet to gel completely.

Orange City’s backs are still forming different combinations but with the Lions’ forwards creating space, even an inconsistent Orange City back line hasn’t exactly struggled to score points.

The loss of hulking centre Tatafu Na’aniumotu will hurt the Lions however, as a back line without him is far less intimidating, and his raw power has been a huge asset in 2014.

DEFENCE: A+

DEFENSIVELY Orange City remains as stoic as ever.

Gray and Hamson forged virtually unstoppable game plans around the Lions’ defence in 2012 and 2013, and the basic system remains in place this season.

Orange City’s forwards pride themselves on the ability to drive their opposition pack into the ground and are doing so week in, week out, while the Lions’ backs have been up to the task, particularly out wide.

The Lions have conceded more than 15 points in just three games this season and are statistically the best defenders in the competition, only letting in 123 points in eight games.

STAR PERFORMER:

Lions breakaway Duncan Young has irrefutably been the Lions’ best in 2014, and keeps improving every week.

Able to capably play anywhere from fullback to second row, he has combined the strength and grit back-rowers pride themselves on with silky skills and a kicking game any fly-half would envy. Young has tranformed from a good top grade player into the ultimate utility this season.

OVERALL: A

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