Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Hurricanes look to turn around shaky start

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Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes passes during the round three Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images.
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes passes during the round three Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images.

Rugby stats guru Tracey Nelson breaks down the numbers ahead of the fourth round of the Super 15.

HURRICANES v CRUSADERS (Wellington, Referee Andrew Lees)

Of the 23 games played the Crusaders have 15 wins while the Hurricanes have won just 5 - there have been 2 draws, along with the abandoned game in February 2011.

When it comes to the 9 games played in Wellington, the Crusaders have won 5 and the Hurricanes have won 2, with one draw in 2010.

The Hurricanes have never lost three consecutive games at the start of a Super competition, while the last time the Crusaders lost their opening two matches was back in 2004. Hard to know where to put your money!

Neither side managed a try last week - the last time the Crusaders failed to score a try was in May last year against the Reds, while the Hurricanes had scored at least one try in every game they played in 2012 and were last kept try-less by the Crusaders in the final round of the 2011 competition.

Victor Vito and Dane Coles will both run out for their 50th Super Rugby game this Friday night. Last week Dane Coles was the top tackler in the match against the Reds with 18, while Vito made 15 tackles.

HIGHLANDERS v CHEETAHS (Invercargill, Referee Nick Briant)

The Highlanders are 7 from 7 against the Cheetahs, although last year's win was a close one, ending up 36-33.

Invercargill is a fairly happy hunting ground for the Highlanders, they have won 10 of their 16 games played there along with one draw. They haven't lost there since 2009 (v Chiefs) and beat the Cheetahs there in 2007.

While they lost their opening game to the Chiefs, the Highlanders did score some good tries and will be looking to open up the Cheetahs defence out wide - Kade Poki and Hosea Gear both crossed the chalk in Dunedin, with Poki making 3 linebreaks.

One thing the Cheetahs do well is the set piece plays. They have won 94 percent of their scrums and lost just 4 of their 28 lineouts.

Andrew Hore will make his first start of the season after completing his IRB suspension, while Brad Thorn will have his first game as a Highlander having played 92 games for the Crusaders.

New Zealand referee Nick Briant will be making his Super Rugby debut in this game.

STORMERS v CHIEFS (Capetown, Referee Jaco Peyper)

There have been 14 games played and the Stormers have 8 wins to the Chiefs's 6. These two sides didn't meet last year, but the Chiefs won the 2011 encounter by 30-23.

The Stormers won all their home games last season, until it came to the semi-final when they lost to the Sharks.

The Stormers haven't had the best start to 2013 having lost both games to date and are again struggling to score tries, having scored 2 in their opening round loss to the Bulls but kept try-less last week against the Sharks. Meanwhile the Chiefs have already rattled up 10 tries, 6 of which have come from set piece.

The Chiefs will be looking to continue their dominance at the breakdown, last week winning 8 turnovers against the Cheetahs.

Gareth Anscombe is currently the top New Zealand points scorer with 41, having scored 1 try, and kicked 9 conversions and 6 penalties. Anscombe has missed just one kick at goal this year.

BLUES v BULLS (Auckland, Referee Garratt Williamson)

The Blues have won 9 of the 16 games played between these two sides, and this match was one of the few the Blues won in 2012.

Traditionally these games have been high scoring, with the Blues averaging 30 points per match against the Bulls. With the way the Blues have been scoring tries so far in 2012 it's likely this afternoon encounter will be a try fest.

If the Bulls are going to beat the Blues then they will probably look to set piece as the key - the Blues have only won 77 percent of their own throws so far in 2012, while the Bulls have stolen 8 of their opposition's lineouts.

Goal kicking may also be a factor - Morne Steyn is currently kicking at 87 percent, while both Piri Weepu and Chris Noakes are sitting on just 50 percent. However, the Bulls will probably need to score tries to get kicks at goal as the Blues have conceded an average of just 6 penalties per game this season.

Speaking of kicking, last weekend the Bulls kicked the ball 26 times in play and the week before it was 30 times. They may want to adjust that game plan if Charles Piutau is likely to receive the ball, having made 4 linebreaks, cleanly beaten 10 defenders, and made almost 300 running metres in his two games so far.

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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