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Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: How the ABs have remained unbeaten

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Cory Jane leads the All Blacks with six tries this year. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Cory Jane leads the All Blacks with six tries this year. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The All Blacks' draw against the Wallabies on Saturday means that they fell one game short of equalling their record of 17 consecutive wins, set between 1965 and 1970.

However, the class of 2012 still have the chance to extend their longest unbeaten streak of 23 games that was set between 1987 and 1990. Coincidentally there was a 19-19 draw with Australia (1988) during that stint.

The current unbeaten streak started back with last year's Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks coming into that competition after a loss to Australia in the final game of the Tri-Nations on the 27th of August 2011. The All Blacks won all seven of their World Cup games to claim the Webb Ellis Trophy, beating France twice in the process.

In those seven World Cup games they scored 301 points and conceded just 72, with a total of 40 tries for and eight against. The backs scored 27 of those 40 tries - Israel Dagg was the top try scorer with five, with four tries each to Richard Kahui, Jerome Kaino, Ma'a Nonu and Zac Guildford.

In 2012 the All Blacks have so far played 10 tests, scoring a total of 324 points and conceding 113. They have scored 33 tries and conceded just eight. This year the backs have scored all but five of their tries - Sam Whitelock is the only forward to have scored a try during the Rugby Championship, with the other four forward tries having come during the series against Ireland in June.

Cory Jane is this year's top try scorer with six, Julian Savea has five, while Israel Dagg and Aaron Smith are both sitting on four tries. Sam Cane is the leading try scorer for the forwards with the brace he scored against Ireland in Hamilton.

There's a slight difference whether the All Blacks are playing at home or away - in the 13 home games of this unbeaten run they averaged 38 points for and nine against, while in their four away games they averaged 33 for and 17 against.

One key to the All Blacks' 16 successsive wins has been their set piece. At the World Cup their lineout ran at just under 90 percent and they lost just one of their 58 scrums. This season the lineout has been running at 91 percent, while they have lost five of their 79 scrums.

The All Blacks didn't lose a single one of their lineout throws against Ireland this year, and they didn't lose their first lineout until the second Rugby Championship game against Australia in Auckland. This weekend's draw against Australia was the first time in those 17 matches they have dropped below 85 percent on their own throw.

Sam Whitelock was running at 100 percent on his lineout ball until the draw against Australia, when he lost all three of his throws. In 2012 he is the All Blacks' top lineout jumper having won 33 of the 36 balls thrown to him. Brodie Retallick is yet to lose a lineout winning all 16 of his throws, while Luke Romano has lost just one of his 19 throws, and Kieran Read has lost just two from 20.

Discipline has been a key feature of the All Blacks' last 17 games, concededing an average of 9.5 penalties per test. The average over the 10 games played in 2012 is up marginally to 10.3 compared to the 8.4 average at the World Cup. Of the penalties they have conceded, 59 percent came at the breakdown.

The pace the All Blacks like to play the game at comes with risks, but overall their errors due to handling are pretty good - averaging just over 10 per match. Their worst game for errors in this current run was against Australia at Eden Park this year, when they made 18 handling errors resulting in turnover of possession. Their best handling was seen in three games where they made just five errors with those being the World Cup final against France, South Africa in Dunedin in September and Argentina in La Plata a week later.

The All Blacks have made 103 offloads in the tackle in the 10 games played this year, with 40 of them coming against Ireland. In the three tests against Australia they made 36, while in the two tests against Argentina they managed 20. South Africa are so far the only side in 2012 that has managed to restrict the All Blacks' offload game, with just seven coming in the two tests between them.

Defensively they're no slouches either, missing just an average of just over eight tackles per game in 2012. Not surprisingly, the All Blacks' worst game for missed tackles this year was 14 in the draw against Australia.

Of the 17 games in this unbeaten stint, 14 tests have been against top 10 nations in the IRB rankings (Australia, South Africa, France, Ireland and Argentina).

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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