Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Poor hands letting down NZ teams

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Israel Dagg passes the ball while being tackled by Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Dagg passes the ball while being tackled by Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson looks at the key statistics from the weekend's Super 15 action where the New Zealand teams coughed up too much ball.

HURRICANES v CRUSADERS (29-28)

The Hurricanes made it consecutive one point wins over the Crusaders, having won the last encounter between the two sides 23-22 in Christchurch last year.

Despite winning more turnovers at the breakdown (five to one) in this game, the Crusaders ended up on the wrong side of the referee's whistle particularly in the first half where they conceded eight of their total 11 penalties.

The Hurricanes showed much better discipline conceding just three penalties in 80 minutes, two in the first half and just the one in the second. Only one of those penalties was conceded at the breakdown, Conrad Smith being penalised as the tackler for not releasing - that was the first penalty of the night against the Hurricanes, and it took 23 minutes of play for it to come.

Beauden Barrett took full advantage of the Crusaders' indiscretions and banged over five penalties, and along with two successful conversions he was 100 percent with the boot in this game.

His counterpart Dan Carter was 100 percent with his four conversion attempts (the Crusaders never had a penalty shot at goal in this game), but missed a drop goal attempt that may have won the game for the Crusaders.

The handling error rate in this game was very high, with 14 knock-ons and a forward pass by Crusaders while the Hurricanes did their bit with 11 knock-ons and a forward pass.

HIGHLANDERS v CHEETAHS (19-36)

This was the Cheetahs' first ever win over the Highlanders, and their second win on New Zealand soil - having beaten the Hurricanes in Wellington last year.

Cheetahs won the battle of the breakdown, winning four turnovers plus twice holding the Highlanders up in maul situations.

Lima Sopoaga had a night he'd probably like to forget, throwing two passes that resulted in tries to the Cheetahs, along with putting two restarts out on the full.

Handling errors were a major problem for the Highlanders, not only knocking the ball on nine times during the game but also making five pass errors that resulted in a loss of possession.

The Highlanders made seven linebreaks to three, with Kade Poki scoring a hat-trick on the night. But despite scoring three tries to two, it was Johan Goosen's boot that was the difference landing 5 penalties and 3 conversions for a 100 percent kicking record.

Pieter Labuschagne was a colossus for the Cheetahs, making six ball carries for a gain of 50 metres as well as making 26 tackles. Team mate and reserve prop Conrad Oosthuizen also stood out with two tackle turnovers won.

The nippy Cheetahs' halfback Sarel Pretorious has lost none of last season's form, and made an impressive 118 running metres in this game as well as scoring two tries.

STORMERS v CHIEFS (36-34)

This match featured a lot of counter-attacking because although there were six knock-ons in the first half, the first scrum of the game wasn't set until the 28th minute. There were only eight scrums in total during this game.

Stormers' lock De Kock Steenkamp was combative when it came to the Chiefs' lineout throws, winning three steals in total - including the first two lineouts the Chiefs had.

The Chiefs discipline let them down in this game, with 12 penalties and two yellow cards conceded. They struggled with containing rolling mauls by the Stormers, conceding two penalties for either collapsing the maul or entering the maul incorrectly.

Sam Cane was the top tackler in this game with 22, but missed three tackles - as did Asaeli Tikoirotuma on the left wing. In total the Chiefs missed 22 tackles, while the Stormers missed just 12.

There was plenty of kicking in this game, with 19 kicks from hand by the Stormers and 20 by the Chiefs. The Chiefs used their kicking game to good effect, with two grubber kicks put through by Aaron Cruden resulting in tries to Charlie Ngatai.

Like the Crusaders, the Chiefs scored four tries yet still lost the game due to the number of kickable penalties they conceded. Joe Pietersen landed five penalties and three conversions for a 100 percent kicking record in this match.

This was just the second time in 52 games that the Stormers have conceded four tries in a match (last time was against the Reds in February 2009).

BLUES v BULLS (21-28)

It may have taken 17 years, but the Bulls have finally beaten the Blues on New Zealand soil. It was also their first win over the Blues since 2009.

Too many handling errors on a fine, dry afternoon cost the Blues dearly with 11 knock-ons and two passing errors all giving possession back to the Bulls. The Bulls only made six handling errors in this game, with five knock-ons and one forward pass.

The Blues kept the kicking to a minimum in this game, with just 13 kicks from hand, compared to the 22 made by the Bulls.

The Bulls are usually known more for their 10-man style of game, but they made seven linebreaks while the Blues could only muster four this week.

Despite missing 25 tackles (more than twice that of the Blues), the Bulls managed to scramble on defence and force the errors from the Blues to regain possession and clear their line.

Rene Ranger stood out again this week with two clean linebreaks, 105 running metres, and a tackle turnover won.

The Blues conceded eight penalties this week, with three of them conceded by Liaki Moli all in the first half of the match.

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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