Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Can NZ teams bounce back against Aussies?

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The Waratahs have won 10 of the 17 games against the Chiefs and up until last year had not lost them since 2008. Photo / Getty Images
The Waratahs have won 10 of the 17 games against the Chiefs and up until last year had not lost them since 2008. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson previews this week's Super 15 action and whether or not the Hurricanes and Chiefs and make up for New Zealand's poor showing against Australian franchises last week.

HURRICANES v FORCE (Wellington, Referee Nick Briant)
The Hurricanes have a very good record over the Force, having lost just once (2007) in seven encounters. Last year they beat the Force 46-19 in Perth, and the last time they met in Wellington the score was 47-22 to the Hurricanes.

Jeremy Thrush returns from injury and will be a welcome addition to the Hurricanes pack. Thrush has been their top lineout jumper this season, with 21 takes to date. The Hurricanes have won 86 percent of their lineouts when Thrush has played this year, while without Thrush that drops to 75 percent.

The Hurricanes have only scored a four-try bonus point on two occasions this season, with just 17 tries scored in their seven games played. Of those tries, nine have come from set piece and just four from turnover ball.

The Force haven't set the world on fire with their try scoring as they are yet to score four tries in a game this year. Despite that they do have the competition's top-equal try scorer in Alfie Mafi (tied with Frank Halai) with five tries, but he will play off the bench this week.

The Force have landed the most drop goals this year with two potted by Sias Ebershon. There have only been six successful drop goals so far in 2013, with two of them coming last week to the Hurricanes' Tusi Pisi and the Kings' Dimitri Catrakilis.

Julian Savea had a quiet game last week but so far this season has made 66 runs for an average gain of 10 metres per carry, six linebreaks, 11 offloads in the tackle, and scored 4 tries.

WARATAHS v CHIEFS (Sydney, Referee Craig Joubert)

The Waratahs have won 10 of the 17 games played between these two and up until last year had not lost the Chiefs since 2008. Of the eight games played in the Sydney, the Chiefs have only won twice and their last win there was 2007.

Last week the Chiefs' game was riddled with errors particularly when it came to turnovers due to ball handling (16). They are also conceding an average of 11 penalties per game, the large majority coming from incorrect entry and going off their feet at rucks. The Waratahs are only conceding an average of eight penalties per game in 2013.

Watch for the match-up of the two openside flankers Michael Hooper and Sam Cane. Both are in the top 10 tacklers in the competition with Hooper having made 104 tackles while Cane has made 100, but when it come to the breakdown Cane is ahead with six tackle turnovers won while Hooper has made three.

Another key match up is the number 10s with both Bernard Foley having made seven linebreaks this season, while Aaron Cruden has been the master when it comes to unleashing his backline setting up 11 linebreaks for his side as well as making 10 offloads in the tackle.

When it comes to try scoring the Chiefs have the upper hand having scored 23 tries to 14, with 12 coming from set piece and eight off first phase play. The Chiefs have scored 15 of their 23 tries in the second half.

CRUSADERS v HIGHLANDERS (Christchurch, Referee Garratt Williamson)

Of the 22 games played the Crusaders have won 15 of them, and beat the Highlanders 51-18 in their last encounter in Christchurch in 2012. Of the 11 games played in Christchurch the Highlanders have only won two of them.

The Highlanders have yet to register a win in 2013 with seven consecutive losses, but still have a way to go to equal the worst losing record in the history of Super Rugby which is held by the 2002 Bulls team who didn't manage a single win that year.

Only the Rebels and the Kings have conceded more points than the Highlanders, but the Highlanders are the worst attacking side in the competition having only scored 142 points.

It's a shame that rain is likely to play a part in procedings on Saturday night, as there is no shortage of running talent in both backlines. Hosea Gear and Tom Marshall have both clocked up in excess of 550 running metres so far, with Gear having made eight linebreaks while Marshall has made six.

The Crusaders will be backing their lineout jumpers against the Highlanders' throw, having stolen 20 throws off their oppostion this year. When it comes to their own lineout the Crusaders have plenty of jumping options, although Sam and George Whitelock have been their key jumpers with 18 and 13 takes respectively.

Sam Whitelock will be playing his 50th Super Rugby match for the Crusaders.

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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