Match of the weekend for round nine is the all-New Zealand derby between the Chiefs and Crusaders, to be played at Mt Maunganui.
In other games the Highlanders travel to Melbourne to play the Force, the Blues host the Waratahs in Auckland, while the Hurricanes kick off their tour of South Africa taking on the Cheetahs.
MATCH OF THE WEEKEND: STATS AT A GLANCE
- The Crusaders have won 11 of the 15 matches played between the two sides, and prevailed 26-19 last year.
- The average score in games between these two teams is 29-19 in favour of the Crusaders.
- Richie McCaw will make his first Super Rugby appearance of the season off the bench this weekend.
- Sonny Bill Williams is the top offloader of the competition with 29 to date, 14 ahead of the next best player Luke Burgess of the Waratahs. This week he will go head to head with his mentor, Tana Umaga.
- Both teams have lineouts running at a 75 percent success rate on their own ball, but the Chiefs have had 77 lineout throws to the Crusaders' 56.
- The Chiefs remain the least penalised NZ side at the breakdown with 55 percent of their penalties conceded at the ruck or tackle, while the Crusaders concede 66 percent. But the Crusaders' loosies are the dominant force in the contact zone having won 15 clean steals.
- Chiefs' opensider Scott Waldrom will have his work cut out against Matt Todd who has won 8 turnovers this season, while Waldrom has only two.
- The Chiefs' scrum has conceded 14 penalties this season, including a yellow card for prop Nathan White. The heat will be on again this weekend as they take on a Crusaders' pack that dominated the Bulls last week.
- Mike Delany's goal kicking success rate is 60 percent, while Matt Berquist is only at 50 percent.
- The Rebels may have the worst points differential in the competition, but have slowly grown in confidence as the competition goes on. Both the Rebels and Highlanders are sitting third in their conferences, and both will be looking for their third consecutive win.
- The Blues have a slight advantage over the Waratahs having eight wins to the Waratahs' seven in all Super Rugby matches played between the two sides. The Waratahs won 39-32 last year.
- The Blues backline have made 33 clean linebreaks this season, Isaia Toeava tops the list with nine. The Waratahs'Drew Mitchell has made six clean breaks and scored five tries.
- Luke McAlister is running at a 76 percent success rate with his goal kicking.
- The Hurricanes backs may be making plenty of clean linebreaks (25) but have the worst conversion rate of linebreaks into points by any of the NZ teams.
Footnote: Thank you to Kate Lorimer at Foxsports who correctly pointed out from the Round 8 Review that the last time the Bulls were held scoreless it was actually by another New Zealand side, when the Highlanders beat them 23-0 in Dunedin in 2005.
- HERALD ONLINE