Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Highlanders don't have advantage at home

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The Highlanders don't have a great record against the Hurricanes when it comes to playing in Dunedin. Photo / Getty Images
The Highlanders don't have a great record against the Hurricanes when it comes to playing in Dunedin. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson looks at the key statistics ahead of this week's Super 15 clashes.

HIGHLANDERS v HURRICANES (Dunedin, Referee Francisco Pastrana)

These two sides have played 19 times, with the Hurricanes having been the winning team on 11 occasions. Last season it was one win each in the two matches played.

The Highlanders don't have a great record against the Hurricanes when it comes to playing in Dunedin, having lost 5 of the 9 matches there.

Defence was a key feature of the Hurricanes' win over the Crusaders last week, with Karl Lowe making a massive 47 tackles.

Discipline at the breakdown has been problem for the Highlanders in their first couple of games, having conceded 63 percent of their 19 penalties there so far. By comparison the Hurricanes have conceded 59 percent of their penalties at the breakdown - but last week against the Crusaders were penalised just once at the breakdown.

Jeremy Thrush has been the Hurricanes' go-to man in the lineout so far this season, having won 19 of his side's 39 throws. The Hurricanes lineout is running at 90 percent, while the Highlanders are sitting at 75 percent on their own throw.

Surprisingly, the Highlanders have scored 6 tries in 2 games this season while the Hurricanes (last season's top try scoring side) have only managed a total of 4 tries from their 3 games.

Beauden Barrett is the second highest NZ points scorer with 41, and last week was 100 percent with the boot with a personal tally of 19 points.

Francisco Pastrana from Argentina is making his Super Rugby refereeing debut.

KINGS v CHIEFS (Port Elizabeth, Referee Stuart Berry)

This is the first time these two sides will have met, and so far this season the Kings are sitting 3rd in the South African conference having had a win over the Force in their first ever Super game.

The Chiefs will be smarting after their loss in Cape Town, but go into this game knowing they can score tries having bagged a 4-try bonus point from all 3 matches they have played so far.

Scoring from first phase is something the Chiefs have been good at this season, having scored 5 of their 14 tries this way. They are also good finishers, having scored 10 of those 14 tries in the second half.

Both sides have been at the wrong end of the whistle this season, conceding an average of 12 penalties per game. Last week the Chiefs conceded 2 yellow cards as well, something the Kings have yet to do.

While the Kings may not be the greatest try scorers (2 so far) they can certainly defend, averaging 151 tackles and missing just 9 per game.

The Chiefs' lineout has been a little less than convincing this season, averaging 79 percent on their own throw. Last week Brodie Retallick had two throws stolen off him, while captain Craig Clarke lost one.

CRUSADERS v BULLS (Christchurch, Referee Chris Pollock)

These two sides have met 20 times, which includes 5 playoff matches (the most recent last year when the Crusaders won 28-13 in Christchurch). The Crusaders have won 13 of those 20 games and have never lost to the Bulls when playing at home in Christchurch, being 8 from 8 on that count.

The Crusaders are 0-2 so far this season, and have only ever once before lost their first 3 games on the trot - that was back in 1996, the first year of Super rugby, when they managed just 2 wins in 11 games.

The Bulls showed some attacking flair against the Blues last week, and have scored 8 tries in their 3 games to date. The Crusaders have scored 4 tries in 2 games, but were kept try-less against the Blues.

Two of the world's best No 8s go head to head in this game, with Kieran Read up against Pierre Spies. Spies is ahead in metres gained per carry this season, averaging 5 metres per carry to Read's 2 metres.

The Crusaders have the edge in scrums, having won 100 percent of their own feed while the Bulls are sitting on 89 percent.

Lineouts are fairly even with both sides having won 89 percent of their own ball, but the Bulls have the edge on opposition lineout steals having won 9 against the throw to 6 stolen 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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