Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Blues out to end Stormers' run

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Frank Halai is sitting third equal for number of tries scored with a tally of five. Photo / Getty Images
Frank Halai is sitting third equal for number of tries scored with a tally of five. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson looks the key statistics ahead of this week's Super 15 fixtures as the Blues look to end a losing run against the Stormers.

BLUES v STORMERS (North Harbour Stadium, Referee Glen Jackson)
While the Blues are ahead overall with nine wins to seven in all encounters between these two sides, the Stormers have had the upper hand in recent years and have won the last three games played. The last time the Blues beat the Stormers was in 2009 in Cape Town, and their last home win was five years ago on Eden Park in 2008.

The Blues are making just over 87 percent of their tackles this season, while the Stormers are a little lower with an 82 percent success rate.

Last week the Stormers showed excellent discipline at the breakdown with just one ruck penalty out of the six they conceded in their game against the Hurricanes. The Blues were not so disciplined with six breakdown penalties in their total of nine conceded against the Reds.

The Blues are averaging 519 attacking metres per game to the Stormers' 380, and also manage to beat 23 defenders per match to 17 by the Stormers.

Frank Halai is sitting third equal for number of tries scored with a tally of five. So far this season he has made 502 running metres making him 10th best for metres gained in the competition, plus has made 11 linebreaks.

Joe Pieterson is three points short of 100 for the season, and has converted 11 of the 15 tries scored by the Stormers this season.

REBELS v CHIEFS (Melbourne, Referee Garrett Williamson)
Last year the Chiefs won this inaugural game 38-10 in Hamilton, with this weekend being the first time the two sides have met in Melbourne.

Rebels' captain and No 8 Scott Higginbotham had a huge game against the Crusaders last week, making 12 tackles, eight ball carries, one linebreak, three kicks, and scoring a try.

The battle of the two first-five will be one to watch, James O'Connor is averaging 5.6 metres per run and has beaten 27 defenders this year along with making five linebreaks. Aaron Cruden is averaging 5.7 metres per run and has beaten 17 defenders along with nine linebreaks.

O'Connor is just two points away from 100 for the season, and has kicked 15 conversions and 21 penalties to date.

Gareth Anscombe has converted all but two of the Chiefs' 29 tries and remains the top points scorer in the competition with a total of 139.

The Rebels tend to use the quick throw in option quite a bit having made 10 so far in 2013, while their lineout is currently at 80 percent on their own throw. The Chiefs lineout is sitting at 83 percent.

HIGHLANDERS v SHARKS (Dunedin, Referee Steve Walsh)
Of the 16 games played the Sharks have won 10, and history is in their favour having won the last 6 matches played - including last year when they won 18-16. The last time the Highlanders beat the Sharks was 2005 in Durban, and their last win in Dunedin was way back in 2002.

Ben Smith remains a shining light in a poor performing team having made 627 running metres, seven clean linebreaks and 11 offloads in the tackle.

The Highlanders are another team that utilises the quick thrown in with 10 so far this season, while the Sharks have only made three.

The Sharks are making 85 percent of their tackles and averaging 15 missed tackles per game in 2013, while the Highlanders are making 83 percent of their tackles and averaging 20 missed tackles per game.

The Highlanders might have the upper hand when it comes to scrums, having won 97 percent of their feeds to the Sharks' 88 percent.

Brad Thorn will be playing his 100th Super Rugby match this weekend, having played 92 games for the Crusaders before this season with the Highlanders.

BULLS v HURRICANES (Pretoria, Referee Lourens van der Merwe)
It's eight wins all in matches played between these two sides, although the Bulls have won the last three games played. The last time the Hurricanes won in Pretoria was in 2008, with an emphatic 50-22 victory.

Morne Steyn has made the most kicks (111) and most kicking metres (4623) of any player in the competition. His goal kicking has also been on song, having kicked 31 penalty goals to date - which is a warning to sides playing at altitude in Pretoria. Last week he scored 25 points against the Waratahs by kicking six penalties and converting his own try.

The Hurricanes' lineout has been working well with an 89 percent win rate on their own throw, and they have also won 23 of their opposition's throws. However, they have not coped well when it comes to stopping opposition rolling mauls and last week conceded three penalties and a yellow card for collapsing mauls close to their goal line.

Half of the Hurricane's 22 tries have come from set piece this season, compared to just eight of the Bulls' 19 tries.

Julian Savea is the Hurricanes' best attacker having made six linebreaks and 660 running metres. Fellow winger Alapatai Leiua isn't far behind with 568 metres.

The Bulls have had four consecutive victories at home now, while the Hurricanes have only had one win from their three away games this season.

BRUMBIES v CRUSADERS (Canberra, Referee Craig Joubert)
The Crusaders have won 11 of the 19 games played between the two sides, and the last time they met in 2011 they beat the Brumbies 52-10.

George Smith has made a magnificent return to Super Rugby, sitting second on the table for the most breakdown steals with six. He has also made 90 tackles and 73 ball carries.

Up against him is Matt Todd, who has made 115 tackles, making him 9th highest tackler in the competition and second best of the New Zealand players behind Sam Cane.

Ben Mowen is the top lineout jumper in the competition with 53 takes, while Sam Whitelock is the best New Zealand lock with 30 takes this season.

Mowen is also the second most penalised player in the competition with 18, while Wyatt Crockett remains the most penalised with 21 - although he did not concede a penalty last week when he came off the bench against the Rebels.

The Crusaders scrum is the best in the competition with a 98 percent success rate, while the Brumbies is running at 89 percent.

The Brumbies are conceding an average of 12 penalties per match in 2013, compared to the nine by 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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