Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Blues face tough trip

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Steven Luatua of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Steven Luatua of the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

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

HURRICANES v STORMERS (Palmerston North, Referee Steve Walsh)

The last time these two sides met was in the first round last year in Newlands, and it was a win to the Stormers by 39-26. Overall the Stormers are ahead 8 wins to 6 from the 14 games played between the two sides.

The Stormers have the second best defensive record (behind the Sharks) at the moment having conceded just 153 points, but it's not helping them win games as they also have the second worst attack in the competition.

Joe Pietersen is 11 points short of 100 for the season, and has landed 23 penalties and 10 conversions. He is yet to score a try in 2013.

Beauden Barrett is just 4 points short of 100, and has kicked 22 penalties, 15 conversions and like Pietersen is also yet to score a try this year. Barrett returns to the more familiar position of 1st 5 this week.

Expect a good battle in the lineouts, with neither side above 85 percent on their own throw at the moment. The Stormers have utlised the quick throw in option the least this season, having only made 4.

De Kock Steenkamp and Andries Bekker have won 66 lineouts between them so far this season, but were severely disrupted by the Crusaders a few weeks ago. Jeremy Thrush has been the key man for the Hurricanes having taken 27 throws.

The Stormers missed 34 tackles against the Sharks in Round 9 (they had the bye last week), while the Hurricanes have average almost 23 missed tackles per match in the last couple of weeks.

REDS v BLUES (Brisbane, Referee Craig Joubert)

Of the 18 games played between these two the Reds have won 9, the Blues 8, and there has been one draw. When it comes to games played in Brisbane the Blues have only won 3 out of 10 matches.

These are two teams who like to run the ball but whereas the Blues have managed a 4-try bonus point in 4 out of their 7 games, the Reds have only managed to to score 4 tries in 2 out of the 9 games they have played.

Frank Halai is still sitting in 1st equal as top try scorer with 5 tries alongside George Speight and Alfie Mafi. Ben Tapuai has scored 3 tries for the Reds this season and is their top try scorer.

Reds blindside flanker Ed Quirk is the third highest tackler in the competition having made 126 tackles to date, while Liam Gill is hot on his heels with 103. For the Blues, Luke Braid is their top tackler having made 98.

When it comes to offloads in the tackle there is none better than Quade Cooper this season, having made 20 to date. Rene Ranger is the best for the Blues having made 13.

The Reds only conceded 6 penalties against the Brumbies last week, while the Blues conceded 13 in their last match (against the Hurricanes).

Both these sides are good at scoring from set piece, with the Blues scoring 11 tries 55 percent of their total tries) and the Reds 14 tries (60 percent of their total tries) so far in 2013.

CHIEFS v SHARKS (Hamilton, Referee Chris Pollock)

This is a replay of last year's Super Final, but despite that being a one-sided affair (37-6)in the 18 games played the two teams stand at 9 wins each.

Both teams are currently on the two-match losing streak, with the Chiefs having the better attack (currently top equal with the Brumbies for points scored on 240) while the Sharks have the best defence in the compeition having conceded just 127 points.

The Chiefs have been on the wrong end of the penalty count in their last few games averaging just over 10 per game in their last 3 outings, while the Sharks have conceded just under 8 per game in their last 3 matches.

The Sharks are struggling to score tries this year with just 13 so far compared with the Chiefs' tally of 25. The Chiefs are still scoring the majority of their tries (17) in the second half of games.

The Chiefs average tackling rate is sitting at 87 percent going in to this game, while the Sharks are at 86 percent. The Chiefs top tackler is Sam Cane with 102, while for the Sharks Marcell Coetzee is their main tackler with 86.

Richard Kahui starts at 2nd 5 again this week and he has made 5 clean linebreaks this season, while Tim Nanai-Williams at centre has made 414 running metres and scored 4 tries.

If the Chiefs can beat the Sharks it will be their 5th consecutive win over the men from Durban.

CRUSADERS v REBELS (Christchurch, Referee Nick Briant)

The Rebels currently have the bragging rights as they won the only game played thus far between these two sides, upsetting the Crusaders 28-19 in Melbourne last year.

The Crusaders may only be sitting on a 50 percent winning record this season, but when it comes to games played in Christchurch they have a 100 percent winning record and have racked up 127 points in those three games while conceding just 47.

Ryan Crotty moves to centre this week, so far in 2013 he has made 3 linebreak assists to put his team mates into space plus made 10 offloads in the tackle.

Dan Carter is back on the bench this week after a lengthy lay off with fatherhood and a hamstring injury. He is currently sitting on 55 points for the season.

Wyatt Crockett moves to the bench this week, with the dubious honour of being the competition's most penalised player with a total of 20. The Rebel's Scott Fuglistaller is their worst individual offender with a total of 8.

The Crusaders lineout has become a powerful weapon when it comes to contesting possession on the opposition's throw, last week they stole 4 lineouts off the Highlanders and are averaging just under 4 steals per game this season.

When it comes to Australian opposition the Crusaders have won 43 (65 percent) of the 66 games played.

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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