Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Crusaders have slight edge

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The Crusaders and Blues have played 21 times, with the Crusaders ahead on 12 wins. Photo / Getty Images
The Crusaders and Blues have played 21 times, with the Crusaders ahead on 12 wins. Photo / Getty Images

History is on the Crusaders' side, slightly, as they take on the Blues tonight. Which stats are in their favour? Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of the week three action of the Super 15.

BLUES v CRUSADERS (Eden Park)

Will the classic rivalry between these two sides resume in 2013? Last year the Crusaders beat the Blues twice, a close 19-18 win on Eden Park followed by the humiliating 59-12 victory in Christchurch. Overall these teams have played 21 times, with the Crusaders ahead on 12 wins. There has never been a draw.

The Crusaders may not have played a game yet this season, but enter this match with no less than 10 past or present All Blacks in their starting lineup, compared to just four in the Blues' starting XV.

When it comes to the first game of the season, the Crusaders have won 10 from 17.

In the past decade when the Blues have won their opening game of the season, they have won their second round game 66 percent of the time.

Last season the Crusaders had the best scrum in the competition winning 94 percent of their scrums, while their lineout ran at 83 percent on their own throws.

The Blues have already improved on their lineout stats from last season (73 percent success rate on their own throw in 2012) with a 90 percent success rate last week against the Hurricanes. Their scrum went pretty well too, winning all eight of their feeds although two of those scrums needed to be re-set.

In 2012 the Blues only managed to score a bonus point try in two games, so their four-try win last week against the Hurricanes was an excellent start to the season. But equally impressive was their defence, with just 16 missed tackles in the match.

Chris Noakes was the surprise player on attack for the Blues last week, making two clean linebreaks and 80 running metres. Defensively he made seven tackles and missed three, misses he won't want to make against Dan Carter this week.

REDS v HURRICANES (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)

Overall these two sides have met 16 times with the Hurricanes ahead with 11 wins. They are also slightly ahead when it comes to matches played in Brisbane, with four wins and three losses.

These teams didn't meet last year, with the last game being in Round 11 in the 2011 season. The Hurricanes won that encounter 28-26, and have won every game against the Reds since 2002 with the exception of a loss in Brisbane in 2007.

Both teams had a few issues on defence last week with the Hurricanes making just 84 percent of their tackles, while the Reds made 82 percent.

The Hurricanes won 100 percent of their own lineout throws against the Blues, but come up against a stronger defensive lineout in the Reds who managed to steal two lineouts off the Waratahs last week.

The irrepressible Quade Cooper only ran six times last week, and made no linebreaks. He did, however, make five tackles and missed only one.

Beauden Barrett had a very quiet game against the Blues, kicking the ball eight times and making just seven runs. However, he was 100 percent with the boot converting both of the Hurricanes' tries and landing two penalties.

CHIEFS v CHEETAHS (Hamilton)
There have been two draws in the six matches between these two teams, with the Chiefs winning three games and the Cheetahs just the one. They last met in Bloemfontein last year, where the Chiefs won 39-33.

The Cheetahs have picked up from where they left off last year, playing a high-octane game with plenty of off-loads (11 against the Sharks last weekend).

The Chiefs managed 13 offloads against the Highlanders, and also made 650 running metres - 112 more than the Cheetahs despite both teams having around 50 percent of the possession.

Not much in it when it came to missed tackles last week, with 19 by the Chiefs and 18 by the Cheetahs.

The Cheetahs kicked the ball 21 times against the Sharks last week, compared to the 13 kicks the Chiefs made against the Highlanders.

Watch for Cheetahs hooker Adrian Strauss who has continued his ball running form from last season, making six ball carries for 20 metres as well as 7 tackles against the Sharks.

For the Chiefs Tim Nanai-Williams will be looking to score more tries this week following his brace against the Highlanders - he made 153 metres in his five runs, along with two linebreaks and one offload.

Tracey Nelson

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

Tracey Nelson is a rugby statistician who looks closely at the numbers of every Super 15 and All Blacks test to give a concise answer to which players and teams are leading the way on the field.

Read more by Tracey Nelson

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