Tracey Nelson

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The stats don't lie: Super 15 round two

Adam Thomson stole no less than six clean turnovers for the Highlanders against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
Adam Thomson stole no less than six clean turnovers for the Highlanders against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Due to the devastation of Tuesday's earthquake in Christchurch, the feature match of round two between the Hurricanes and Crusaders was called off, and the competition points shared between the two sides as a mark of respect to those who have perished.

As a resident of Christchurch, please know that we appreciate all the kind thoughts, help and support received from our fellow New Zealanders and the rest of the world over the past few days.

HIGHLANDERS v CHIEFS

The standout feature of this match was the work at the breakdown by Highlander's blindside flanker Adam Thomson, who stole no less than six clean turnovers in this game and is the leading New Zealand loose forward for turnovers after two rounds.

Thomson probably deserved the man of the match award for he also took three lineout takes as part of a very efficient Highlanders lineout that finished the match with 10 wins from 11 throws, although three of those were quick throw ins.

In comparison, the Chiefs did not fare as well at the breakdown, conceding six clean steals to the two turnovers they managed to win. They were also counter-rucked and lost possession on four occasions - a favour they did not manage to return all game.

The Highlanders just won the possession stats with 53 percent of the ball, and shaded the Chiefs nine to six with linebreaks during the game. Ben Smith and Kade Poki shared the honours with two linebreaks each, although Robbie Robinson's break out his own half was probably the best of the match with Ádam Thomson's bombing of the final pass the only blight on his game.

The one bright spark for the Chiefs was first-five Mike Delany, who landed two early penalties and converted his first half try. Delany scored all of the Chiefs' points, with Stephen Donald unsuccessful with a sole penalty chance late in the second half that could have given his side a bonus point.

Delany's converted try in the 25th minute of the game was the closing statement for the Chiefs, with the Highlanders defence seeing them home in the second half as they went on to score two tries in their 17 unanswered points to win the game 23-13.

The Chiefs conceded 13 penalties, eight of which were at the breakdown, and also conceded a yellow card to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow in the 58th minute of the game. The Highlanders conceded just nine penalties, of which five were at the breakdown.

SHARKS v BLUES

The Blues hadn't beaten the Sharks since 2006, and that losing streak has now stretched to seven games as they went down 12-26 in Durban, without scoring a single try.

Handling errors were to the fore as the Blues coughed the ball up no less than 14 times, along with conceding four ruck turnovers and a tight head. Their sole breakdown turnover was won by Jerome Kaino.

Although they made seven clean linebreaks in the game, including three by Isaia Toeava and two by Joe Rokocoko, their failure to convert any into tries was indicative of the number of errors in their execution throught the match.

Set piece was an area the Blues struggled in, despite winning 13/16 of their lineouts the ball was mostly messy rather than clean takes. The scrum was likewise under pressure, with the Sharks winning the only tighthead of the game.

The Blues only conceded eight penalties in this game - with just two given away at the breakdown this week they are the least penalised NZ side averaging just 32 percent of their penalties at the breakdown.

TOP NZ STATS - through two weeks

Goal kickers: McAlister 100%, Delany and Robinson 75%, Cruden 60%, Brett, Carter and Donald 50%, Sopoaga 44%.

Top locks: Whitelock, Thorn, Broadhurst and Eaton 100%, Williams 80%, Boric 71%.

Most breakdown turnovers won: Thomson 6, Read 2

Most linebreaks: Mulaina, Nanai-Williams, Payne and Poki 3; Fruean, Rangers, Rokocoko, B Smith, Sivivatu 2.

Penalties conceded per game: Blues 9, Chiefs 11, Hurricanes 13, Crusaders 9, Highlanders 11.

Yellow cards conceded (total to date): Chiefs 2, Hurricanes 2, Highlanders 1.

- NZ Herald

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