The Stats Don't Lie

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: History not in the Blues' favour

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The Reds won both the pool game and the semi-final against the Blues last year, with the Blues last win over the Reds being in Brisbane, 2010. Photo / Getty Images
The Reds won both the pool game and the semi-final against the Blues last year, with the Blues last win over the Reds being in Brisbane, 2010. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of round 10 of the Super 15.

BLUES v REDS (Referee: Craig Joubert)

Head to head these teams are even, with eight wins and one draw each in the 17 matches played. Even the points scored are extremely close, with the Blues having scored 452 to the Reds' 450.

The Reds won both the pool game and the semi-final against the Blues last year, with the Blues last win over the Reds being in Brisbane, 2010.

There were signs of improvement in the Blues' game last week, particularly their ball retention with just eight handling errors leading to turnover of possession.

Scott Higginbottom has won 26 lineouts, made four linebreaks and scored three tries for the Reds this season, while their winger Dom Shipperely has made five linebreaks and broken eighteen tackles for his four tries.

The Blues will need to watch their body positioning at the breakdown, with referee Craig Joubert dishing out six penalties for players leaving their feet in the Hurricanes v Crusaders game last weekend. The Blues conceded three penalties for this offence against the Highlanders.

Benson Stanley will play his 50th Super game if he comes off the bench in this match.

It will also be Digby Ioane's 50th Super Rugby game as he returns from a five week suspension for a dangerous tackle.

CHIEFS v HURRICANES (Referee: Jonathon White)

The Hurricanes have won 10 of the 18 games played between these two, with one draw which occurred in June last year. Earlier in the 2010 Super season the Hurricanes won 29-26. The last time the Chiefs beat the Hurricanes was in 2009.

The Chiefs have proven to be good returning travellers, losing their first home game back in New Zealand just once (2010) in the last six years. However, they have only won two of the last nine games against the Hurricanes.

Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett will be battling it out to see who is New Zealand's top points scorer at the end of this match, with Cruden having crept passed Barrett last weekend to sit six points ahead on 108 for the season.

The Chiefs have the best lineout of the New Zealand sides running at 87 percent on their own ball, with Brodie Retallick having taken 31 of their 76 throw-ins.

While the Hurricanes are good at scoring tries (28 to date), they are also good at leaking them having conceded 22.

Top try-scorer honours are on the line, with Andre Taylor and Sona Taumololo both sitting on six - and with the Bulls having the bye they have the chance to leapfrog Bjorn Basson who shares first place with them.

Craig Clarke is set to play his 50th game for the Chiefs, having played three games for the Crusaders and 14 for the Hurricanes before joining the Chiefs in 2009.

CHEETAHS v HIGHLANDERS (Referee: Marius Jonker)

Of the six games played the Highlanders have won them all. Last year they won a close one 24-21 in Dunedin, while the last time they played in Bloemfontein it was a 31-24 victory to the Highlanders.

The Cheetahs play an attacking brand of rugby that has seen them score 19 tries this season, but they come up against a Highlanders side that has only conceded 12 tries and have the third best defence in the competition.

The Cheetahs are coming off the bye but pushed the Chiefs hard in their last game, particularly at the breakdown where they won eight turnovers. Their defensive charge is led by Heinrich Brussow who has made 123 tackles.

The Highlanders have won 42 percent of turnovers off their opposition at the breakdown particularly with their counter-rucking, and are only conceding 50 percent of their penalties at the collision zone.

Adam Thomson remains the first choice jumper in the lineout, having now won 40 of the Highlanders' 100 lineout throws this season.

Hosea Gear has been in great form this season, making nine linebreaks and breaking through 24 tackles on attack. He's no slouch on defence either, having completed nineteen tackles.

WARATAHS v CRUSADERS (Referee: Jonathan Kaplan)

The Crusaders have won 14 of the 18 matches and have been victorious in the last nine games these two have played. The last time the Waratahs beat the Crusaders was in 2004 in Christchurch and their last win in Sydney was 2003, with the Crusaders having won the last three matches played there.

Richie McCaw is set to make his first appearance of the year, having been named on the bench. He has an 80 percent winning record again the Waratahs and has scored two tries against them.

The Crusaders have the fifth best defence in the competition, and a large chunk of that is due to the efforts of Matt Todd who is the leading tackler with 136. He is well supported by fellow loosies George Whitelock with 105 tackles, and Kieran Read with 102.

But it's not just defence getting the Crusaders back on track, with plenty of linebreakers in their backline in the form of Israel Dagg (7), Zac Guildford (6) and Robbie Fruean (5). Dagg and Fruean have both scored four tries this season.

The Waratahs may be hesitant about playing Dean Mumm who has the dubious honour of having conceded the most penalties (14) by an individual so far this season.

Tom Taylor will continue the goal kicking duties for the Crusaders, and is running at just over 86 percent with his accuracy having clocked up 72 points with the boot in six games.

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