The Stats Don't Lie

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

Stats Don't Lie: Highlanders face big ask

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The Chiefs have won 13 of the 20 encounters against the Highlanders including a 41-27 earlier this season. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs have won 13 of the 20 encounters against the Highlanders including a 41-27 earlier this season. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of the key Super 15 match-ups this week.

CHIEFS v HIGHLANDERS (Hamilton, Referee Jonathon White)

These two met just four weeks ago in Dunedin in what was the season-opening round for the New Zealand sides, with the Chiefs victorious 41-27. That win took the Chiefs to 13 wins in the 20 games played against the Highlanders.

Sam Cane excelled in that Dunedin match, making 19 tackles without a miss, and carrying the ball 10 times for a gain of 55 metres. So far this season he has made 68 tackles and missed just four.

The battle of the halfbacks will be keenly watched. Tawera Kerr-Barlow has run with the ball more than Aaron Smith this season, with 16 carries for 28 metres gained compared to seven carries for 14 metres. Smith has tended to pass the ball more this season than last, with 190 passes compared to Kerr-Barlow's 169.

Chris King will play his 100th Super match against the Chiefs this weekend.

It will be his 84th game for the Highlanders, having played 16 for the Crusaders. King made his Super Rugby debut in 2003, the same game that Dan Carter also made his debut.

Gareth Anscombe remains the top New Zealand points scorer with 67, and his goal kicking average so far this season is sitting at 87 percent - missed just four of his 31 kicks for goal.

The Chiefs are just 11 points shy of having scored 500 points against the Highlanders, having averaged 24.5 points per game in the 20 matches played to date.

The Highlanders are the only side to yet record a win in 2013.

CRUSADERS v SOUTHERN KINGS (Christchurch, Referee Rohan Hoffman)

The Crusaders have won their last 31 home games against South African opposition, so it will take a huge effort from the Kings to topple them in Christchurch. It is the first time these two sides have met.

Last week the Crusaders missed just five tackles against the Bulls, while the Kings missed 24 against the Chiefs.

Winger Tom Marshall was outstanding against the Bulls making 168 running metres, two linebreaks, one offload, and scoring a try.

The Kings are averaging just 8 penalties per match so far this season compared to the Crusaders' 10, and are averaging 15 turnovers per game - which is two less than the Crusaders.

The Kings lost just two of their 14 lineouts against the Chiefs last week, while the Crusaders were 10 from 12 against the Bulls. Both sides are averaging 87 percent on their own throw this year.

But when it comes to scrums the Crusaders are ahead having won 100 percent of their own feeds, while the Kings have won 93 percent of theirs.

WARATAHS v BLUES (Sydney, Referee Francisco Pastrama)

These two teams haven't met since the 2011 play-offs, but of the 17 games played the Blues are ahead with 10 wins.

The last time they met in Sydney ended in a victory to the Waratahs 39-32 in 2010.

Neither of these two sides have conceded many penalties in 2013, the Waratahs are averaging 8 while the Blues are averaging just seven per game.

Of the 11 tries the Blues have scored this year, five have originated in their own half. They have managed to score 8 of those 11 tries from set piece, one of the best strike rates of any side in the competition.

The Waratahs have struggled with their defence averaging 22 missed tackles per game in 2013, while the Blues have missed an average of 13 tackles per game.

Charles Piutau has been a potent attacking weapon for the Blues from fullback averaging nine metres every time he gets the ball in hand. On average he beats six defenders and makes six linebreaks per game.

Michael Dennis has been the Waratahs' go-to man when it comes to lineouts, having won 18.

Michael Hooper has had a big work rate on defence for the Waratahs having made 51 tackles, while Luke Braid has made 35.

The Blues may have the edge when it comes to scrums, having won 92 percent of their own feed this season. The Waratahs are sitting on 85 percent on their own feed, and have conceded three penalties on opposition feeds of the scrum.

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