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Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Reliable Chiefs' lineout exposed

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The Chiefs' reliable lineout was anything but during their loss to the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs' reliable lineout was anything but during their loss to the Crusaders. Photo / Getty Images

The Chiefs suffered just their third loss of the season, while the Blues had their third victory. Meanwhile the Highlanders bow out of Super Rugby 2012, losing their final game of the season to the Reds.

CHIEFS v CRUSADERS (21-28)
This game came down to the wire but will probably be remembered as the one where New Zealand's best lineout came to grief, with the Chiefs previous average of 86 percent on their own ball chopped down to just 50 percent of their throws won.

Of their 14 throws to their lineout the Chiefs had three overthrows from Mahonri Schwalger, while Luke Romano stole two throws off Brodie Retallick and one off Liam Messam. Hika Elliot came off the bench and chimed in with one not straight throw.

The pace of the opening quarter of this game was such that the first lineout of the game did not occur until almost the 12th minute of play.

Kieran Read proved why he is such an important player for the Crusaders making 48 metres with his eight ball carries, and one linebreak for his try. His opposite, Alex Bradley, didn't have the greatest night with his hands, knocking the ball on three times. His six ball carries only yielded 20 metres.

Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock were the top tacklers in the match with 23 each, followed by George Whitelock with 18. Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Luke Romano and Richie McCaw all made 16 tackles.

Sonny Bill Williams made six runs for 50 metres including one linebreak, but his off-load game was effectively shut down by the Crusaders. It was Zac Guildford, with three, who was the top off-loader in this game.

Aaron Cruden topped 200 points for the season with his first penalty goal of the night, and is now the top points scorer for the season with a total of 209 - just one point ahead of Morne Steyn.

Dan Carter brought up 50 points for the season with his 13 points from the boot, and is now on 58. He also landed his second drop goal of the season, which was the 11th drop goal of the 2012 competition.

The Crusaders conceded 12 penalties to the Chiefs' six, with seven coming at the breakdown and two at the scrum. However, they still have the lowest percentage of penalties conceded at the breakdown (66 percent) and total scrum penalties (13) of any of the New Zealand sides.

The win by the Crusaders lifts the percentage of games the away team has won with Steve Walsh refereeing to 64 percent this season.

REDS v HIGHLANDERS (19-13)
The Highlanders' season is over (they have the bye next week) and they finish in ninth place, one position lower than in 2011. Overall they won nine games and lost seven, which is one more win than they had last year.

The Highlanders conceded 10 penalties in this game, which was their average for the season. Overall they conceded 152 penalties with 70 percent of them coming at the breakdown. Jamie MacIntosh was the most penalised Highlander this season, conceding 16. Adam Thomson was the next most penalised with 15, although notably he did not concede a penalty in this last game.

The tackle zone stats for the season show how effective the Highlanders were at getting numbers to the breakdown on their own ball, with just 11 penalties conceded by the tackled player this season compared to the current average of 18 across the other four New Zealand teams.

James Haskell finished his season with the Highlanders as top tackler in this match with a total of 17, while Adam Thomson and Nasi Manu made 12 each. Thomson ended up being the top tackler for the Highlanders, with a season tally of 184.

Hosea Gear made 47 metres with ball in hand in this match and was the Highlanders' top runner with a total of 1581 metres for the season, ahead of all other players in the competition to date. He was also their top linebreaker with a total of 12.

Ben Smith made 93 running metres against the Reds , and overall made 1275 metres with the ball this season. Smith also made two linebreaks in this game, and finished the season with a total of eight.

Adam Thomson was their top lineout jumper this season, taking a total of 63. Overall the Highlanders won 80 percent of their lineouts this season, with their worst lineout stats coming against the Bulls in Round 13 when they won just 62 percent of their throws.

Top points scorer for the Highlanders this season was Chris Noakes with 86, while Mike Delany scored 59. Their top try scorer was Adam Thomson with six, followed by Hosea Gear with five.

BLUES v FORCE (32-9)
The Blues got just their third win of the season, and their first four-try bonus point win. Their other four-try bonus point came in the loss to the Chiefs in Round 15.

Ma'a Nonu's try in the 58th minute was his 100th in first class rugby, and his second for the Blues this season. He made eight runs with the ball for a total of 108 metres, the most of any player in this game.

Charles Piutau shone on debut with a try, two linebreaks, two offloads, and nine runs for a total of 97 metres.

Handling errors were still on the high side for the Blues, with a total of eight knock-ons and three passing errors. Rene Ranger topped this list with three knock-ons.

The Blues conceded 11 penalties, higher than their season average of just under eight per match. The Blues front rowers were the main offenders conceding a total of five penalties, with Tevita Mailau penalised twice for illegal scrum binding and hands in the ruck.

Luke Braid led his troops with the highest number of tackles (13), 16 ball carries for 97 metres, two offloads in the tackle, and one breakdown turnover won.

Chris Lowrey made an impact off the bench, taking three lineout throws and making two strong runs for a gain of 15 metres.

Lachie Munro landed four from six kicks at goal to finish on 84 percent for the night, down from his success rate of 88 percent going into this match.

Orene Ai'i had just a cameo appearance off the bench towards the end of the game but made six metres with his one run, and also won a breakdown turnover.

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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