Tracey Nelson 's Opinion

Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Recent history on Chiefs' side

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The Crusaders have won 14 of the 21 games played against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images
The Crusaders have won 14 of the 21 games played against the Chiefs. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers ahead of the latest round of Super 15 action.

CRUSADERS v CHIEFS (Christchurch, Referee Jonathon White)

The Crusaders have won 14 of the 21 games played between these two sides, but the Chiefs have had the upper hand in recent times having won the last two matches played (this year's round 15 game, and the play-off game last year). These two teams haven't played in Christchurch since 2009, when the Crusaders won a close one 19-13.

With great match-ups right across the park it's hard to pick just one, but you can't go past the battle between the master and his apprentice at first-five. Dan Carter finally scorched into life last week with a 100 percent goal kicking game along with a try, a try-assist, and two linebreaks. Aaron Cruden has run his team magnificently this season with 19 offloads and eight try-assists.

The Chiefs are averaging nine clean breaks and 12 offloads per game this season while the Crusaders average is 6.7 clean breaks and 9.5 offloads per game.

The Chiefs have the better attack averaging 29.8 points per game and having scored four or more tries in seven of their 14 games, while the Crusaders are averaging 27 points per game and have only scored four or more tries on four occasions. The Crusaders have the better defence conceding 19.6 points per game, while the Chiefs concede an average of 21.7 points.

There's not much difference in set piece between the teams with the Crusaders having won 83 percent of their lineouts and 91 percent of their scrum feeds, while the Chiefs have won 79 percent of their lineouts and 94 percent of their scrum feeds.

The lineout battle should be a hot one with Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano up against Brodie Retallick and Craig Clarke. Whitelock and Retallick have been the main jumpers for their respective sides with 34 takes each, while Romano has 25 and Clarke 15. The Crusaders tend to contest the majority of their opposition's throws, while the Chiefs are averaging less than 50 percent contested on their opposition's ball.

Some big tacklers amongst the flankers on the field with Matt Todd having made 177 tackles, Liam Messam 171, Sam Cane 169, and George Whitelock 142.

The Chiefs are yet to lose a game they have led at halftime in 2013, while the Crusaders have not lost in Christchurch this season.

HURRICANES v HIGHLANDERS (Wellington, Referee Mike Fraser)

Of the 20 games played the Hurricanes have 12 wins and the Highlanders have eight. While the Hurricanes beat the Highlanders in Dunedin back in Round five this year, last year the Highlanders won the clash in Wellington 19-17.

No shortage of attacking talent out wide in both these teams, with Ben Smith having made 17 linebreaks, Hosea Gear 14, and Alapati Leiua nine.

The Highlanders have made more clean breaks (103) than the Hurricanes (89) this season, and have beaten 366 defenders while the Hurricanes have beaten 267.

This should also be a game full of off-loads in the tackle, with Ben Smith (26 to date), Beauden Barrett (19), Hosea Gear (16) and Julian Savea (15) ones to watch.

The Highlanders have got around a slightly shaky lineout by employing the quick throw-in this season. So far they have used it 22 times while the Hurricanes have made 14 quick throw ins.

Despite the Highlanders' issues around discipline (they have now conceded nine yellow cards and one red), they are averaging one less penalty per game than the Hurricanes (nine v 10). Ben Franks is the most penalised player out of the two teams having conceded 20 this season.

Beauden Barrett is now the top New Zealand points scorer having overtaken Gareth Anscombe's 163 points last weekend. Barrett's 167 points see him behind Morne Steyn (212) and Christian Leali'ifano (17) as the top points scorers in 2013.

CHEETAHS v BLUES (Bloemfontein, Referee Jaco Peyper)

There have only been six games played between these two sides, the Blues have four wins, the Cheetahs one, and there has been one draw. They tend to be high scoring affairs for the Blues who average 36 points per game when playing the Cheetahs. However, the last time they met in Bloemfontein (2010) the Cheetahs won 36-32.

A win to the Blues could see them back into play-off contention as they would pass the Cheetahs on the table and push them out of sixth place. A win for the Cheetahs will guarantee them a play-off spot as it would put them six points ahead of the Waratahs who are in seventh place going into the final round.

Discipline cost the Blues last week with 13 penalties conceded, and with the same referee they will need to be on their game. Ali Williams' three penalties last week took him to 23 for the season.

Despite their attacking prowess, both sides have very good tackle success rates with the Blues on 88.5 percent and the Cheetahs on 87.8 percent. Pieter Labuschagne is the top tackler in the competition with 230, while Luke Braid is the top tackler for the Blues with 155.

The Cheetahs have the better set piece with a 91 percent success rate for the scrum and 86 percent for the lineout. The Blues have an 86 percent success rate for their scrum and 81 percent for their lineout.

The Cheetahs have scored 17 of their 35 tries from set piece. They score slightly more second half tries than first half tries with a 15:20 split. The Blues have the better strike power from turnover ball having scored 12 tries in this manner. They have an even split of 19 first half and 19 second half tries for the season.

Frank Halai has the chance to stretch his lead as top try scorer in the competition - he currently has 10 which is two ahead of Henry Speight (Brumbies) and Israel Folau (Waratahs) who have just one game left to add to their tallies.

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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