Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Handling errors cost Blues dearly

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The Blues commited 15 handling errors in their 29-14 loss to the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
The Blues commited 15 handling errors in their 29-14 loss to the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Handling errors continued to be a problem for the Blues while the staunch Hurricanes defence set up their late win. Stats guru Tracey Nelson analyses how the New Zealand franchises fared in week two.

Round two of the Super 15 saw the Blues join the Rebels, Force, Sharks and Cheetahs as teams not to have won a game yet - although the Rebels have only played one game to date, having had the bye in Round one.

CHIEFS v BLUES (29-14)

The Chiefs scored the first bonus point win of the 2012 Super 15, notching up their fourth try before half time. It took the Blues almost 78 minutes to score their only try of the game, and although they did manage to keep the Chiefs scoreless in the second half the damage had already been done in the first.

Despite the Blues having slightly more possession and territory than the Chiefs, they were unable to make anything of it due to their high error rate.

They made a total of 15 handling errors in this game, four more than in their first round loss to the Crusaders.

The Chiefs' lineout functioned well, winning all but two of their 12 throws with one overthrow and one stolen by Ali Williams.

The Blues' lineout was again erratic at times, losing their first two throws of the the game. Things steadied up after that until the end of the match, when Brodie Retallick stole a throw off Ali Williams and Anthony Boric knocked one on.

Breakdown turnovers won were fairly even, with the Chiefs just edging the Blues four to three in this contest. Tanerau Latimer won two turnovers.

The Chiefs made six clean linebreaks, with three by halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow who also deservedly scored a try for his efforts on the night. Robbie Robinson made a total of 94 running metres in this game, including a run of 32 metres from inside his own half to set up Aseli Tikoirotuma for the Chiefs' second try of the night.

There were 19 penalties awarded in this game, with 14 conceded by the Chiefs and just five by the Blues.

All but two of the Chiefs' penalties came at the breakdown and they conceded five penalties for the tackler sealing off the ball - including twice in their own 22 by Tim Nanai-Williams. All five of the Blues' penalties were conceded at the breakdown, three of which were for the tackler not releasing the tackled player.


LIONS v HURRICANES (28-30)

A much improved performance on the discipline front by the Hurricanes this week, conceding just six penalties in this game. Not that it was a perfect display of discipline, with prop Tristan Moran white carded for an alleged late shoulder charge.

Just one of the Hurricanes six penalties came at the breakdown, with their main problem this week being off-side in general play with three penalties conceded. The scrum was also better with just one penalty conceded for a slipped bind.

The Hurricanes improved discipline was evident when they defended 15 phases in their own 22 just before half time, and held out the Lions' attack without conceding a penalty. Overall this match, they made an impressive 96 percent of their tackles.

Patience was also on display, as they strung together 19 phases from a scrum in their own half to move into the Lions 22, earning a penalty in the 77th minute that won the game for them.

The Hurricanes won five breakdown turnovers to the Lions' three, the most important one coming in the 79th minute of the game when Cory Jane made the tackle and won the turnover in his own 22 as the Lions launched a last desperate attack.

Handling errors were reasonably high by Hurricanes, with 10 of the 11 made being knock-ons. Halfback Chris Eaton was the worst offender with four knock-ons.

Beauden Barrett only managed a 64 percent goal kicking rate this week, missing all three conversions but landing five penalties including the winning penalty kick late in the game.


HIGHLANDERS v CRUSADERS (27-24)

A game that could have gone either way in the end, including some farcical moments in the final minutes that saw the Highlanders mistakenly kick the ball into touch to end the game twice believing that the ground clock was showing the referee's time.

The benefits of a covered stadium for night rugby were on display with just four knock-ons made by each side. The Crusaders also threw two forward passes.

The Highlanders made five clean linebreaks, including two by openside flanker John Hardie. The Crusaders made four linebreaks, with their openside flanker Matt Todd making the first from a perfectly worked set-piece move off their second lineout of the game to put Israel Dagg in for the first try of the game.

Two very good lineouts on display with the Crusaders running at 100 percent, and just a John Hardie knock on marring the Highlanders' efforts to give them 90 percent for the game.

The Highlanders proved that tries from long phases of play can still be scored in the modern game, with 13 phases leading up to Phil Burleigh's try just before half time and nine phases in the build up to Hosea Gear's try in the second half.

There were 17 penalties awarded by South African referee Jaco Peyper, 10 against the Highlanders and seven against the Crusaders.

The Highlanders conceded six breakdown penalties all at the ruck, and three scrum penalties for binding offences. The Crusaders conceded four breakdown penalties, and also incurred a white card against Owen Franks for an alleged punch thrown at Andrew Hore.

As expected, the battle at the breakdown was keenly fought with the Highlanders just shading the Crusaders with five turnovers to four won. Andrew Hore was the standout here with two wins.

Lima Sopoaga kicked five from seven attempts at goal for a 71 percent success rate, while Tyler Bleyendaal kicked five from eight for a 63 percent goal kicking rate but missed with a drop goal in the 78th minute that could have won the game for the Crusaders.

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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