Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Dynamic Chiefs and Blues sparkle

It may be early in the Super 15 season but already there are enough statistics for fans to debate the merits, or otherwise, of their team.

Blues winger Frank Halai celebrates a try against the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images
Blues winger Frank Halai celebrates a try against the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images

The Chiefs and Blues have been the most potent New Zealand sides in the early stages of the Super 15.

If the Chiefs maintain their attack and improve some of their lineout and tackle work they should reverse last week's form to snuff out the new Kings side in Port Elizabeth on Saturday and the Blues are guaranteed four points for their bye this weekend.

But they are all chasing the Brumbies who are unbeaten at the head of the points table although that lead is inflated because they have claimed points for a bye.

This week, they are on the road and tangle with the Sharks who, along with the Bulls, are the only other undefeated sides in this year's series.

Tailend Charlies are the Highlanders who have been beaten in both their outings yet sit on four points because of a bye.

Some statistics do not make much sense but there are enough trends for coaches and rugby observers to soak up or begin robust discussions.

Why have the Chiefs and Blues got the jump in the New Zealand section?

They are more dynamic, streeting their rivals with all the evidence about the energy of their attack.

The Chiefs have scored the most tries in the series, with the Blues next. They swap those positions with their number of clean breaks and the Blues then stay near the lead for the rest of the attack categories.

Charles Piutau is prominent as the leading linebreaker with teammate Rene Ranger, while the young fullback is the most dangerous player in the competition for carries, metres made and tackles he has broken.

Hurricanes wing Julian Savea hovers in third place for the most metres made on attack after his latest storming effort against the Crusaders.

The Blues and Chiefs are strong figures on the attack side of the ledger but some of their other work will be troubling their coaches.

They have the lowest lineout success rate of the five New Zealand sides and the Blues are the lowest rated scrum team in New Zealand.

Individuals are showing out though, with Chiefs flanker Sam Cane the top individual tackler in the competition and the Chiefs' interplay is reflected in their offload work, where Aaron Cruden rates highly.

The Chiefs and Crusaders have secured all their scrum feeds, while the Crusaders have high tackle and lineout success ratings.

However their attack does not carry the same sting although their statistics have accrued over only two matches, unlike the three games the Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes have played.

The Highlanders have played only two games as well and there are signs of an improved attack but the low tackle and lineout percentages should be worrying Jamie Joseph and his coaching crew.

The Hurricanes have mixed stats with their most pleasing being their set piece work with Jeremy Thrush the top lineout target.

- NZ Herald

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