Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Young no.10s shine in error-ridden round

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Aaron Cruden kicked 100 percent, made 13 tackles, three offloads in the tackle, and scored a try. Photo / Getty Images
Aaron Cruden kicked 100 percent, made 13 tackles, three offloads in the tackle, and scored a try. Photo / Getty Images

Young number 10s Aaron Cruden and Tom Taylor produce perfect performances with the boot, the Blues continue their imperfect trend at lineout time and with ball in hand while the Crusaders and Reds need a lesson in discipline.

HURRICANES v BLUES (35-19)

This game had remarkably few penalties, with only nine awarded in total. Just like the round five match, once again the Blues only conceded three penalties - in the Eden Park clash all three were while they were in possession of the ball, and this time two of the three were conceded by the tackled player.

Handling errors aplenty by the Blues, with a total of 11 knock-ons. George Moala, Rene Ranger and Chris Lowrey all contributed two each.

Good variation by the Hurricanes in their lineout, with Jason Eaton and Jeremy Thrush used three times and Victor Vito four. They had just one miss in their 11 throws, an overthrown ball by Dan Coles that was ruled not straight.

In contrast the Blues lineout continued to be the nightmare it has been all season, winning just five of their eight throws.

The one shining light for the Blues was their scrum and they won the only tighthead of the game.

Conrad Smith scored the final try of the game in round five and this time scored the opening try to take his season tally to four.

Andre Taylor is now the outright top try scorer in the competition after scoring his eighth of the season from a Cory Jane linebreak started by TJ Perenara in the Hurricanes' own 22.

The Hurricanes made eight linebreaks, led by TJ Perenara and Cory Jane both with two. The Blues made just four, with Rene Ranger contributing with two.

It is the fifth time this season the Hurricanes have gained a four-try bonus point and the second time they have done it against the Blues.

CHIEFS v LIONS (34-21)

In an exemplary display of lineout throwing and jumping, both teams won 100 percent of their own lineout throws (Chiefs 6/6 and Lions 13/13).

The Lions may have lost the match but they became the first team to score the three tries against the Chiefs this season, who up until this game had been conceding an average of just 1.33 tries per match.

Aaron Cruden had another excellent game in the No 10 jersey, kicking 100 percent of his goals, making 13 tackles, three offloads in the tackle, and scoring a try.

The Chiefs gave away 14 penalties in this game, half of which came in the tackle situation. They continue to be the most penalised team in the competition, and concede almost 70 percent of their penalties at the breakdown.

Michael Fitzgerald, in his first start at lock this season, and Sam Cane both conceded three penalties. Cane was the top tackler for his side with 21 and also won two breakdown turnovers.

Hika Elliot played his 50th game for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs have now matched their best ever season with their current record of nine wins and still have at least six games to increase that winning stat.

SHARKS v HIGHLANDERS (28-16)

It was testimony to the Sharks' defence that despite missing 29 tackles they made almost 200 in this game and shut down the Highlanders' ability to play with front foot ball.

In the 10 minutes Jacques Botes was in the sin bin just before halftime, the Sharks managed to maintain their defensive line and conceded just three points (for the original Botes penalty).

The Highlanders only kicked the ball 16 times in this game and were often guilty of trying to play too much rugby near their own 22 metre line, particularly in the first 18 minutes when they conceded four kickable penalties.

With a total of 21 missed tackles by the Highlanders, their No 8 Nasi Manu stood out by making 12 (twice as many as any other Highlander) and missing none.

Jamie MacIntosh had a game he'd rather forget, conceding three penalties, knocking the ball on twice, and missing three tackles before he was subbed after 60 minutes.

Ben Smith made two linebreaks in this game to take his season tally to eight, and made a total of 127 running metres.

Patrick Lambie scored all of the Sharks' points and now sits on 108 points. He became the sixth player to score 100 points this season, with the Brumbies' Christian Lealiifano also reaching 109 the night before.

CRUSADERS v REDS (15-11)

The Crusaders were made to work hard to avenge their two losses in Brisbane last year, and despite making five clean linebreaks never quite managed to breach the Reds' try line. It is the first game this season that the Crusaders have been kept try-less.

The Reds conceded 17 penalties to the Crusaders' seven, including eight ruck penalties for either off-side entry or going off their feet. They also conceded four scrum penalties, three on their own feed.

Despite the game being played in the afternoon with no dew present the Crusaders were uncharacteristically error-ridden with their hands, making 11 handling errors including eight knock-ons. Worst offenders were Andy Ellis and Zac Guildford, who made two each.

Wyatt Crockett earned his second yellow card of the season for a clumsy attempt on Will Genia that was deemed to be no use of the arms, but like the Sharks the Crusaders only conceded the initial three points from the penalty kick during the period they were down to 14 men.

Dan Carter showed glimpses that his form is returning, making six runs for a total of 67 metres gain. He also made three long kicks, a good sign that his injury is starting to come right.

Richie McCaw played 36 minutes this week, made six ball carries, and was instrumental in one tackle turnover resulting in a kickable penalty to the Crusaders.

Tom Taylor kicked five penalty goals to see him reach 109 points, the third New Zealand player and the seventh overall to reach 100 points this season. It was also the second time this year that Taylor has scored all of the Crusaders' points.

For more stats visit haka.co.nz

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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