Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Crusaders have the edge

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The last time the Crusaders won in Hamilton (28-21) was in round robin play last season. Photo . Getty Images
The last time the Crusaders won in Hamilton (28-21) was in round robin play last season. Photo . Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of this weekend's big Super 15 encounters.

CHIEFS v CRUSADERS (Hamilton, Referee Steve Walsh)

The Crusaders have won 14 of the 20 games these two sides have contested, but the Chiefs won the last encounter 20-17 in Hamilton in 2012 - which was a semifinal. The last time the Crusaders won in Hamilton (28-21) was in round robin play last season on July 6th.

When it comes to points scored in encounters over the years the Crusaders have averaged 28.3 points per match while the Chiefs average 19.7. So far in 2013 the Crusaders are averaging 26.9 points per match, and the Chiefs 29.6 points.

The Chiefs have scored 37 tries this season, with their top try scorer being Tim Nanai-Williams with six. The Crusaders have scored eight fewer tries, and their top try scorer is George Whitelock with four (he scored the try credited to Owen Franks against the Blues last weekend).

The lineout battle will be one to watch with Brodie Retallick up against his All Black team mates Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano. Retallick has won 31 lineouts for the Chiefs this season, while Whitelock has won 29 and Romano 19 for the Crusaders.

The Chiefs lineout is currently running at 80 percent, while the Crusaders is at 84 percent. Last week the Chiefs only contested seven out of 21 opposition lineouts last week, while the the Crusaders contested nine out of 15 opposition lineouts.

Aaron Cruden remains a key player for the Chiefs on attack having made seven try assists, 13 linebreak assists, and 18 offloads this season. Dan Carter was an integral part of the Crusaders' defensive effort last week, making 17 tackles.

When it comes to tackles you can't look past the two openside flankers going head to head in this game. Sam Canes has made 156 tackles, while Matt Todd has made 151.

BLUES v BRUMBIES (Auckland, Referee Lourens van der Merwe)

Of the 18 games played, the Blues have won 11 and the Brumbies seven. Last year one of the few wins the Blues got was over the Brumbies in Canberra, with a 30-16 margin. The last time they met in Auckland was back in 2010, when the Blues won 39-34.

The Brumbies have been very much a first half team this season, with 23 of their 32 tries scored before halftime. In comparison the Blues have scored 17 of their 30 tries in the first 40 minutes.

Defensively the Brumbies have a slight edge in points conceded, averaging 18.4 points per game while the Blues are conceding 20.4 points. However, the Blues have a superior tackling success rate with 88.3 percent compared to the Brumbies 85.7 percent.

Luke Braid is the top tackler for the Blues with a total of 135, while Chris Noakes remains the worst tackler in the competition having missed 31 to date. This week the Brumbies are without their top tackler George Smith (144) due to injury.

When it comes to discipline the Blues are averaging 10 penalties conceded per game, with Ali Williams their worst offender with 17 to date. The Brumbies are averaging 11 penalties per game, and their worst offender is Ben Alexander with 18. The Brumbies have also conceded twice as many yellow cards (six v three) than the Blues.

The Brumbies lineout is running at Ben Mowen is the top lineout jumper in the competition having won 64 lineouts.

Despite missing out on a try last week, Frank Halai remains the top try scorer (8) in the competition, and has made nine linebreaks this season.

FORCE v HIGHLANDERS (Perth, Referee Andrew Lees)

It's the race for the competition wooden spoon, and the Force have won four of the six games played against the Highlanders. The last time the two sides met was in Dunedin in 2011, and the Force won that game 21-14.

The Force are the worst attacking side in the competition averaging just 16.4 points per game, while the Highlanders are averaging 20 points. Defensively the Force are better than the Highlanders conceding an average of 23.5 points per game compared to the Highlanders' 29.7 points per game.

It's two of the worst lineouts in the competition going head to head as well, with the Highlanders having won 80 percent of their lineouts while the Force have only won 79 percent. However, Toby Lynn has been a key man for the Force having won 40 lineouts to date, putting him seventh equal in the competition for most lineout wins.

The Highlanders have made good use of the quick throw in this season and have made 17 so far, while the Force have only used the quick throw in on 8 occasions.

Ben Smith has been the pick of the Highlanders all season, and has made 12 linebreaks, 21 offloads, and 989 running metres for his team.

The Highlanders will be looking for an improvement with their discipline this week, having conceded 14 penalties and two yellow cards against the Bulls last weekend.

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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