The Stats Don't Lie

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Can Highlanders end losing streak?

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The Brumbies have won nine of the 17 encounters against the Highlanders who remain winless in 2013. Photo / Getty Images
The Brumbies have won nine of the 17 encounters against the Highlanders who remain winless in 2013. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson looks at the key statistics and which teams have history on their side ahead of this week's Super 15 clashes.

HIGHLANDERS v BRUMBIES (Dunedin, Referee Chris Pollock)

Unlike their Aussie counterparts the Reds, the Brumbies have had no issues winning in Dunedin and won last time they played the Highlanders there in 2009. The Brumbies have won nine of the 17 encounters between these two sides.

The Brumbies have been getting off to a good start in most of their games this season, and have scored all but five of their 18 tries in the first 40 minutes. They also have a good strike rate using planned moves, with nine of their tries coming from set piece while just four have resulted from turnover ball.

The Highlanders' scrum has been one of their better game features having won 98 percent of their own feeds, while last week they achieved two turnovers on the Blues' scrum feed.

Kade Poki is back from injury this week and has the chance to become the top New Zealander try scorer. He is currently sitting on four tries, equal with Frank Halai (Blues), Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs) and Julian Savea (Hurricanes) and leads the competition for linebreaks having made eight.

Brumbies goal kicker Christian Lealiifano is on 87 points so could be the first player to top 100 for the 2013 season. Gareth Anscombe is currently ahead of him sitting on 97 points but the Chiefs don't play until Saturday afternoon.

This will be referee Chris Pollock's 150th first class game.

CHIEFS v REDS (Hamilton, Referee Steve Walsh)

It's close between these two, with the Reds just ahead with nine wins to the Chiefs' eight when it come to the 17 Super Rugby games played. The Reds have won the last two encounters (Brisbane 2012 and Hamilton 2011).

The Reds have won 13 of their 17 clashes against New Zealand sides under coach Ewen McKenzie.

Sam Cane will start at openside again this week, he has made 92 tackles so far in 2013 and is top equal in the competition with Rene Ranger with six tackle turnovers won.

The Chiefs will be looking to tidy up their lineout as they are currently only winning 81 percent of their own throws, while the Reds have an 86 percent success rate on their throws and have stolen 14 lineouts off their opposition.

Gareth Anscombe is just three points short of 100, and should become the first New Zealand player to achieve that total in 2013 - and he may be the first player in the competition to do so should Christiam Leliiafano fail to score 13 points against the Highlanders.

Watch the match up between two of the best play-making five-fives in the competition. Cooper has made 17 tackle offloads to Aaron Cruden's eight, but Cruden has made five try-assists to Cooper's two.

BLUES v HURRICANES (Auckland, Referee Jaco Peyper)

Of the 20 games played the Blues are ahead on 12 wins, and they also won the first New Zealand Super game this season with a 34-20 victory in Wellington.

Back in that game played on 23 February, the Blues conceded just five penalties and won the breakdown eight to five.

The Blues have had some issues with their set piece in the last couple of games, and had four lineouts stolen off their throw by the Highlanders last week as well as losing two scrums.

The Hurricanes are averaging 22 missed tackles per game in 2013, and have the second worst defensive record of all the New Zealand sides (behind the Highlanders).

Beauden Barrett shifts back to fullback this week, possibly due to the 17 tackles he has missed this season - second worst in the competition behind the Waratah's Michael Hooper.

Watch the match ups in the three quarters, with Frank Halai (four tries), Rene Ranger (five linebreaks and 12 tackle offloads) and Charles Piutau (five linebreaks and 620 running metres) up against Julian Savea (five linebreaks, 54 runs) and Alapati Leiua (two intercept tries).

FORCE v CRUSADERS (Perth, Referee Jonathan Kaplan)

The Force have always been a bit of a banana skin team for the Crusaders, having managed one win and one draws from the seven games played. The last time they met (2012) the Crusaders won 38-24 in Christchurch while the last game played in Perth (2011) was a nail biter with the Crusaders scoring two tries in the last eight minutes to win 42-30.

Tyler Bleyendaal will again play at five-five with Dan Carter making the trip to Perth only to twinge his hamstring and return to New Zealand. Bleyendaal has made 29 kicks for an average gain of 36 metres each time in the two games he has played for the Crusaders so far.

Hugh McMeniman has been the Force's go-to man at lineouts having won 29 throws this season. Sam Whitelock has been the Crusaders' top jumper with 18 takes but is being rested this week, while brother George is the next best Crusaders with 10 lineout throws.

Shane Christie will be wearing the number seven jersey this week as Matt Todd gets a rest, and is making his debut for the Crusaders. Todd has been a key defender for his side this season having made 91 tackles to date.

George Whitelock is the top try-scorer for the Crusaders with three, and has made 61 runs with the ball along with 56 tackles in 2013.

Cory Flynn will be playing his 250th first class game, a feat that has only been reached by 50 other players in New Zealand.

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