Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Chiefs out to break Bulls hoodoo

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Liam Messam will become the most capped Chiefs player of all time. Photo / Getty Images
Liam Messam will become the most capped Chiefs player of all time. Photo / Getty Images

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of the key Super 15 encounters this week.

CHIEFS v BULLS (Mark Lawrence)

17 matches played between the two teams and it's eight wins each with one draw. The Bulls have won the last four games (which includes the 2009 Super Final), and last won in Hamilton 33-19 in 2010. You need to go back to 2008 to find the last time the Chiefs beat the Bulls in New Zealand.

The Bulls put up 24 kicks in play last week against the Highlanders, but missed 30 tackles. They were also on the wrong end of the turnovers stats, conceding six.

The Chiefs have conceded 84 breakdown penalties so far this season, the most of any New Zealand side.

The Bulls conceded a hefty 14 penalties last week against the Highlanders, mostly for slowing down the ball at the breakdown.

Despite their bye last week, Aaron Cruden remains the competition's second highest points scorer with 152 points, made up of 30 penalties, 26 conversions, and two tries. He has also made seven linebreaks and fourteen offloads in the tackle.

Sona Taumololo has the chance to become the top try scorer in the competition for at least 22 hours if he can cross the chalk in this game. He is currently in first equal place with the Hurricane's Andre Taylor, on eight tries.

Liam Messam will become the most capped Chiefs player of all time, passing Sitiveni Sivivatu's total of 89 games. This season he has made 132 tackles, 89 ball carries and scored three tries.

HURRICANES v REBELS (Jonathon White)

Only one game played between these two, and it was a win to the Rebels 42-25 in Melbourne last year. The Rebels are yet to win a game outside of Australia.

The Hurricanes have struggled to win at home this year, with just one win (against the Blues, Round 11) in the five matches they've played in Wellington, although they did win in New Plymouth against the Sharks at Easter.

The Hurricanes may have scored the most tries in the competition with 40, but they have conceded 32. The Rebels have only scored 24 tries, while conceding 38.

While the Rebels have certainly leaked points this season it has in no way been the fault of their captain and No 8 Gareth Delve, who has made 137 tackles to date.

Andre Taylor is the competition's top linebreaker having made 13, and is also top equal try scorer on eight. However he is facing some competition from teammate TJ Perenara, who may have made just half as many linebreaks but has now scored seven tries following his brace against the Brumbies last week.

Last week the Hurricanes put up 34 kicks against the Brumbies, but they might think better of it this week as Kurtley Beale has made 640 running metres, broken through seventeen opposition tackles, made five linebreaks, and created two tries in just eight matches.

Watch for Victor Vito who has made 87 runs, broken 13 tackles and made five linebreaks this season.

BLUES v HIGHLANDERS (Glen Jackson)

The Highlanders have won at Eden Park just once in eight attempts, with their only win coming in 2002 when they won 20-13. It was one try each that year, but the boot of Tony Brown saw the Highlanders home with five penalty goals.

The Highlanders beat the Blues 30-27 in Round 9 this year, which had been their first win over the Blues since 2006. The Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy is up for grabs again in this match.

Last week the Highlanders beat the then top of the table Bulls with only 46 percent possession, but they made almost twice as many running metres against the big South Africans.

The Blues will be wary of kicking the ball to the Highlanders, with Hosea Gear and Ben Smith placed first and third respectively as the players who gain the most metres per run with ball in hand. Gear has gained over a kilometre, made nine linebreaks and 15 offloads in the tackle, while Smith has run 920 metres, made seven breaks and 18 offloads.

Tamati Ellison's recall to the All Blacks is on the back of 110 runs with ball in hand, six clean linebreaks, 45 opposition tackles broken, and a total of 81 tackles made.

If the Blues were to take a lesson from the Bulls last week, it would be to contest the Highlanders' lineout. The Highlanders won only 62 percent of their own throws last week, their worst lineout stats for season.

Ali Williams has been relegated to the bench this week in what will be his 100th game for the Blues should he take the field.

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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