Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Running rugby returns

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Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes is tackled during his side's defeat to the Blues. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes is tackled during his side's defeat to the Blues. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson looks at the key statistics from the opening round of Super 15 action.

HIGHLANDERS v CHIEFS (27-41)

Plenty of running rugby on display in Dunedin on Friday night, with a total of 24 linebreaks made (11 by the Highlanders and 13 by the Chiefs). Top linebreakers in the game were Kade Poki with three, and Ben Smith and Tim Nanai-Williams each with two.

Nanai-Williams made the most running metres with a total of 150, and topped it off with two tries.

Handling errors were reasonably high for an indoor stadium, with eight from the Highlanders and 11 from the Chiefs.

If this game left viewers feeling a little breathless then spare a thought for the players and officials - midway through the second half the ball remained in play for a total of three minutes from a restart kick-off through to when Nanai-Williams scored his second try of the night.

One contributing factor to the speed of this game was the short duration of set pieces. There were 14 scrums awarded, with only one re-set. Four scrums resulted in direct penalties on the initial engage (three against the Chiefs, one against the Highlanders).

There were 11 breakdown penalties awarded in this match, six conceded by the Highlanders and five by the Chiefs. Breakdown turnovers were fairly even with the Chiefs winning two rucks and a tackle, while the Highlanders managed two ruck turnovers.

Sam Cane was the top tackler on the field with 19 tackles and no misses, while his team mate and debutant midfielder Bundee Aki made 11 tackles with just one miss.

Overall the Chiefs made 87 percent of their tackles, while the Highlanders were slightly less accurate making 80 percent of theirs. Phil Burleigh missed the most tackles making just three of his seven attempts.

HURRICANES v BLUES (20-34)

A very high number of handling errors in this game, with 11 knock-ons by the Hurricanes and 10 by the Blues.

No shortage of linebreaks, with four by the Hurricanes and nine by the Blues. Top linebreakers were Chris Noakes and Frank Halai with two each, while Charles Piutau made the most running metres with 165.

Peter Saili was the top ball carrier in this game with 15 runs for a gain of 55 metres, but it was Steven Luatua who regularly broke the gain line with 9 runs for a gain of 85 metres.

The Blues made 89 percent of their tackles with hooker James Parsons a standout with 18 while Luke Braid made 16, both players missing just one tackle.

The Hurricanes made 84 percent of their tackles, with Karl Lowe their top tackler and also the game's top tackler with 22 and just one miss. The 10/12 corridor was a defensive minefield for the Hurricanes, with Beauden Barrett and Tim Bateman missing five tackles between them.

There were eight breakdown penalties awarded in this game, but only one of them was conceded by the Blues. The Blues only conceded five penalties overall, although one of them resulted in Frank Halai being yellow carded.

Again, as in Dunedin, there was very little time wasted at set piece. In this match there were 14 scrums with just three re-sets required, and three scrum penalties resulting from the initial engage (two against the Hurrianes and one against the Blues).

Patience on attack was a key factor in the Blues' win with 18 phases in the lead up to Piutau's try, and 16 in the lead up to Rene Ranger's.

One of the few highlights for the Hurricanes was their lineout, winning all their 16 throws. Their top jumper was Jeremy Thrush with 11 takes.

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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