The Stats Don't Lie
Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Hands letting NZ teams down

Steven Luatua was in commanding form, making 13 carries for a gain of 100 metres, one linebreak, and 15 tackles with just one miss. Photo / Getty Images
Steven Luatua was in commanding form, making 13 carries for a gain of 100 metres, one linebreak, and 15 tackles with just one miss. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers from the weekend's Super 15 action where the Blues burst back into life with another four-try bonus point.


The Highlanders made it eight straight losses for 2013, and have now lost their last 10 consecutive games having not won a Super 15 match since playing the Blues on May 26 last year.

If it felt like there was a lot of kicking in the first half, that's because there was. Between them the Highlanders and Brumbies put up no less than 32 kicks from hand in general play (so not including kicks for touch from penalties, free kicks, or marks). In total there were 53 kicks in general play during this match.

George Smith had an outstanding game for the Brumbies and was the highest tackler in the match with 22, along with making 65 metres from his 11 ball carries, winning a breakdown turnover, and scoring a try.

Amazingly, despite the Brumbies missing 38 tackles to the 18 by the Highlanders, the Highlanders failed to cross the try line until the 76th minute of the game.

The Highlanders had another bad day at the office with their handling, making 13 knock-ons and throwing a forward pass. Worst offender was captain Hosea Gear who made four knock-ons, including a controversial decision from the TMO who ruled Gear had knocked the ball on in the process of grounding the ball for a try.

More woes for the Highlanders at set piece, losing two of the five first-half lineouts and conceding a penalty from one of their own scrum feeds.

Christian Leali'ifano fell just one point short of being the first player to score 100 points for the season, missing a penalty goal to end up with 12 points from the match and an overall total of 99 points.

CHIEFS v REDS (23-31)

The Chiefs made more linebreaks (11 v eight), more offloads in the tackle (nine v two), and more running metres than the Reds, and also missed less tackles than the Reds (11 v 22), but only led the Reds on the scoreboard once during this game.

The battle of the breakdown was won decisively by the Reds, winning that area by four to one. Liam Gill was outstanding in the breakdown zone, making 16 tackles, winning a turnover, and only conceding one penalty.

In comparison Sam Cane made 11 tackles but conceded four penalties at the breakdown, including three for going off his feet.

Handling errors compounded problems for the Chiefs, with 12 knock-ons, two intercepted passes (one leading to a try), and two forward passes. The Reds made nine handling errors which were all knock-ons, and their first knock-on in the second half didn't occur until the 67th minute.

Patrick Osborne made three linebreaks in his 20 minutes off the bench, and made 126 metres with his four runs.

Gareth Anscombe became the first player to reach 100 points for the season, and got there with his first penalty kick of the game. Anscome landed five from six attempts at goal to finish with a total of 13 points from the match to give him 110 points overall.


The Blues burst back into life and not only scored a four-try bonus point in this game, but also managed to keep the Hurricanes try-less in the process. The Blues have the most bonus points of any team in the competition, having scored a four-try bonus point on four occasions and also picking a bonus point in each of their three losses for being within seven points of their opposition.

Plenty of handling errors by both sides in this match - the Blues had 19 knock-ons and three passing errors, while the Hurricanes had 12 knock-ons and one pass error.

Charles Piutau had a mixed night with three linebreaks, 142 running metres and four offloads in the tackle - but also making five knock-ons and two passing errors.

Steven Luatua was in commanding form, making 13 carries for a gain of 100 metres, one linebreak, and 15 tackles with just one miss.

The Blues were the dominant attacking team making six linebreaks to three and 14 offloads to six, but also had the upper hand on defence winning 4 breakdown turnovers to two and stealing two lineouts off the Hurricanes' throw.

Frank Halai's try puts him first equal with Alfie Mafi (Force) and George Speight (Brumbies) as top tryscorer in the competition with five. Halai made the most running metres in this game with 153, and also made one linebreak.


This loss by the Crusaders leaves them with just a 50 percent winning record against the Force, and means that the Crusaders have now lost four of their seven matches played in 2013. However, much like the Blues they have managed to get a bonus point out of all but one of their losses.

While the number of handling errors in this game weren't as high as the other three games involving New Zealand sides, the Crusaders made a total of 10 which included 6 knock-ons. The Force made just six handling errors, all knock-ons.

Despite winning the breakdown turnovers six to four, the Crusaders were unable to convert their chances into points as the Force defended for long periods without conceding penalties - including an 11 phase effort in their own 22.

The Crusaders did manage to exert some pressure on the Force at the lineout, winning four steals (George Whitelock, Luck Whitelock, Luke Romano, and Sam Whitelock) from their 18 throws.

The Crusaders conceded 10 penalties in this game, with Wyatt Crockett the offender for three of them (one scrum and two ruck penalties).

This was another game that saw a lot of kicking in the first half, with 18 kicks by the Force and 12 by the Crusaders. The second half saw a lot more running play with just 16 kicks in total.

Zac Guildford played his 50th Super Rugby match when he took the field from the bench for the second half of the game.

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