Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Can the Chiefs keep their run going?

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The Crusaders have the second best lineout with an 83 winning percentage on their own throw. Photo / Getty Images
The Crusaders have the second best lineout with an 83 winning percentage on their own throw. Photo / Getty Images

Which teams have statistics and history on their side heading into the penultimate round of the Super 15?

CHIEFS v CRUSADERS (Steve Walsh)

The Chiefs have won just five of the 18 matches played between the two sides and technically don't need to win this game as they have already won the New Zealand conference, but will want the points to secure top place on the overall table as they are only four points ahead of the Stormers.

Of the seven games played in Hamilton the Chiefs have won just two, but they did win the Round Three game 24-19 played in Napier which was technically a home game for the Crusaders.

If the Chiefs can win this game they will join the Reds who hold the all-time regular season winning record of 13 matches, set last season. The Chiefs' current 12 wins is a new New Zealand record, passing the Crusaders' 11 wins set in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Key match-ups:

All eyes will be on the match up of the opensiders as the apprentice meets the maestro. Sam Cane has played in 14 games this season, made 142 tackles, conceded seven penalties, and broken through nine tackles on attack, with one try. Richie McCaw has played in six games, made 55 tackles, conceded five penalties, and broken through eight tackles on attack, with two tries to his name.

Andrew Horrell will start in the unfamiliar position of centre for the Chiefs and will be marking Robbie Fruean. In Horrell's 10 appearances this season he has made 29 tackles, four linebreaks, and broken 10 tackles on attack. Fruean has made 64 tackles, 18 linebreaks, broken forty three tackles, and scored six tries in his fourteen games.

The Chiefs have the best lineout of the New Zealand sides winning 86 percent of their throws, with Brodie Retallick (46 takes) and Craig Clarke (38 takes) their key lineout jumpers.

The Crusaders have the second best lineout with an 83 winning percentage on their own throws. Top jumper for them is Sam Whitelock with 41 takes, although he was only used once last week.

When it comes to handling errors resulting in turnover of possession, both sides are averaging just over nine per game. Splitting that down further the Chiefs tend to knock the ball on more (11 more times overall), while the Crusaders make more passing errors (13 more across all games).

The home teams have won just 40 percent of the games Steve Walsh has refereed this season, despite him awarding 106 penalties against the visiting teams and 86 against the home sides.

REDS v HIGHLANDERS (Jonathan Kaplan)

Of the 15 games played the Reds have won just six, but when it comes to playing in Brisbane the Reds have won five of the seven matches including the last time the two sides met which was a 38-36 victory to the home side at Suncorp Stadium in 2010.

For the Highlanders to have even a remote chance of making the playoffs they must win this game with a bonus point try, something they have only managed twice this season. They have a guaranteed four points from the bye next week, but if they lose this will be their final game of Super Rugby in 2012.

Ones to watch:

Dom Shipperley has been starring for the Reds on the wing, with a total of seven tries to date. He's made five linebreaks and broken 25 tackles.

Watch for the abrasive Beau Robinson, playing at openside flanker for the Reds. He has made 89 tackles and won four breakdown turnovers, but more importantly has only conceded three penalties in his twelve appearances this season.

Adam Thomson has continued to lead the way for the Highlanders, having made 170 tackles with five breakdown turnover wins. He is also the top lineout jumper for the Highlanders having won 59, the most of any New Zealand jumper and placing him fifth overall in the competition. However, he is also one of the most penalised players having conceded 15 penalties in 14 games.

Andrew Hore starts again at hooker, and is currently ranked the top forward for pick and goes in the competition with a total of 50. He has broken 12 tackles on attack and made two line breaks, but is also key to the Highlanders' defensive efforts having made 61 tackles and won six breakdown turnovers.

Quade Cooper has only played three games so far this season as he returns from injury, but is already averaging two tackle breaks per game on attack and has created two tries for the Reds.

The Highlanders have conceded the most breakdown penalties of all the New Zealand sides, with 85 percent of their penalties coming at the tackle or ruck. They have also conceded 18 scrum penalties, which makes up a further seven percent of their total penalty tally.

BLUES v FORCE (Andrew Lees)

You could be forgiven for forgetting the Blues were still playing in this competition, as they haven't taken the field for a month now having had the bye last week. There have been six games played between these two sides, and the Blues have won four, plus there has been one draw - last year in Perth.

This is a battle of the basement with the Blues sitting in second to last spot while the Force are just one place ahead of them. Both sides have scored 27 tries this season but on defence the Blues have conceded 49, while the Force have conceded 41.

The Blues have the second worst defence in the competition having conceded 405 points, behind the Rebels who have conceded a whopping 457 points.

If the Blues win this game it will be just their third of the season, with their last win coming back in Round 12 against the bottom placed Lions. The Force haven't won a game since Round Six.

The one area of the game the Blues do lead in is having conceded the least number of penalties of any side in the competition. Just 65 perecent of their total penalties have come at the breakdown, and along with the Crusaders (also 65 percent) they have the lowest rate of breakdown penalties conceded of the New Zealand teams.

Rene Ranger has made 11 linebreaks and 14 offloads in the tackle this season, making him the Blues' most dangerous attacking weapon. He has also been effective on defence with four breakdown turnovers won.

Oreni Ai'i has answered the Blues call after further injuries decimated their already depleted squad. Ai'i last played for the Blues back in 2004, and has played a total of thirty one games for the franchise. He has scored a total of 69 points for the Blues, comprised of six tries, nine conversions and five penalties.

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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