Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Chiefs face Wellington hoodoo

The Chiefs haven't won in Wellington since 2001. Photo / Getty Images
The Chiefs haven't won in Wellington since 2001. Photo / Getty Images

Which teams have history and statistics on their side this week? Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of the latest round of Super 15.

HURRICANES v CHIEFS (Wellington, Referee Lourens van der Merwe)

The Hurricanes have won 11 of the 20 games played against the Chiefs, with the Chiefs winning eight and there being one draw. Last year the Hurricanes won the match in Wellington by 28-25 and have a good record at home against their northern foe, with the Chiefs not having won in Wellington since 2001.

The Hurricanes were last season's top try scoring team but have struggled to get over the chalk at times this season having only scored 28 tries, while the Chiefs are top of the try scoring table with a total of 38 having scored a four-try bonus point in six of their 11 games.

The Chiefs are without their two top try scorers Tim Nanai-Williams (six) and Gareth Anscombe (five) this week, while the Hurricanes will have their two top try scorers in Julian Savea and TJ Perenara (five tries each).

The Chiefs have now managed 150 off-loads in the tackle, which is the best in the competition. Aaron Cruden has made 14 of those off-loads, while Savea has made 12 of the Hurricanes' 102 off-loads.

The Hurricanes have the better lineout having won 85 percent of their own ball, while the Chiefs are currently running at 81 percent on their own throw. Jeremy Thrush is the main man for the Hurricanes with 31 takes, while Brodie Retallick is the Chiefs' best jumper with a total of 30.

The Chiefs are without ace goal kicker Anscombe for a month due to injury, but Cruden's kicking boots are in fine form having kicked at 100 percent last week. The Hurricane's Beauden Barrett kicked five penalties and converted two of their four tries in their win over the Cheetahs last week, and currently has 130 points for the season.

Both teams are conceding an average of 10 penalties per game, although the Hurricanes conceded 13 last week. Ben Franks is their most penalised player with a total of 16, while Liam Messam is the most penalised Chiefs player with 11.

CRUSADERS v BLUES (Christchurch, Referee Glenn Jackson)

There have been 22 games played between these two sides and the Crusaders are just ahead with 12 wins to 10. The Crusaders lost their first game of this season to the Blues 34-15, but the last time the Blues won in Christchurch was back in 2004.

The Crusaders will be relying on their set piece to dominate, with their scrum being the best in the competition with a 99 percent success rate and their is lineout at 85 percent - which is the best of the NZ teams. The Blues scrum is only running at 87 percent, while their lineout is at 81.9 percent.

The Blues' strengths lie in their attacking game, having made 100 clean breaks to the 74 by the Crusaders. Frank Halai is the third best linebreaker in the competition with a total of nine and is the top try scorer with eight.

One battle to watch will be that of the two opensiders who both missed out on the All Blacks' training squad named this week. Matt Todd has made 119 tackles to Luke Braid's 110, while Braid is one of the top off-loaders in the competition having made a total of 18 this season (just one behind his team mate Rene Ranger).

On average this season both sides have conceded nine penalties per match, but last week the Blues conceded 12 which included three scrum penalties.

Goal kicking could be pivotal in this game, and in Dan Carter and Tom Taylor the Crusaders have two excellent options - Carter kicked 100 percent of his attempts at goal against the Brumbies, while Taylor kicked six from seven against the Rebels with his one miss hitting the upright. Last week Chris Noakes kicked six from seven against the Stormers, but a week earlier only managed 50 percent of his kicks.

Andy Ellis will be playing his 100th Super game for the Crusaders. This is his eighth season of Super Rugby, and during that time he has won two Super titles with the Crusaders. He has also scored 99 Super points, which are made up of 18 tries and three drop goals.

BULLS v HIGHLANDERS (Pretoria, Referee Jaco Peyper)

The Highlanders have a pretty good record against the Bulls, having won 10 of the 17 games. The last time they played in Pretoria (2011) they won 35-28, and also won in Dunedin last year.

Expect to see the Bulls use their lineout to good effect - they have the most effective lineout in the competition having won 89 percent of their throws, and against the Hurricanes two weeks ago won five maul penalties that eventually saw a Hurricanes' player yellow carded.

The Highlanders have the better scrum having won 96 percent compared to the Bulls who have won 82 percent. The Highlanders have won eight opposition scrum feeds, while the Bulls have managed just five wins off opposition feeds.

When it comes to try scoring the Bulls have scored 68 percent of their tries in the second half of their matches, with just eight tries scored in the first half of games this year. The Highlanders have a much more even split of 10 first half and 12 second half tries.

Morne Steyn has kicked 33 penalty goals in 2013, the most of any player in the competition. He currently has 148 points, which also includes 18 conversions, two tries, and a drop goal.

Both teams have similar tackling stats, with the Highlanders' success rate being 85 percent and the Bulls' 86 percent. The Highlanders are missing an average of 21 tackles per match, while the Bulls miss 19.

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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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