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Stats guru Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers

The Stats Don't Lie: Crusaders take big tackle count into playoff

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Dan Carter made 19 tackles in the Crusaders' win over the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter made 19 tackles in the Crusaders' win over the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images

Tracey Nelson crunches the numbers of the final round of the Super 15 regular season where the Crusaders were forced to make more than 200 tackles in a win over the Hurricanes.

CRUSADERS v HURRICANES (25-17)

The Hurricanes had 54 percent of the possession in this game and a ruck/maul tally of 137 to the Crusaders' 57.

As a result the Crusaders had to make 220 tackles, while the Hurricanes made 85. Matt Todd was the top tackler for the Crusaders with 27, followed by Ryan Crotty (21), Dan Carter (19), and Kieran Read (18).

The Hurricanes' lineout had the better of the Crusaders this time, stealing two throws (Karl Lowe and Jeremy Thrush) and forcing an over-throw to see the Crusaders finish with eight wins from 11 throws. The Hurricanes won all 17 of their lineout throws.

The Crusaders had the edge in scrums however, winning all five of their scrums and taking a tighthead off Hurricanes along with forcing turnover errors on two scrums after the Hurricanes had won the initial hook.

The Hurricanes made 10 clean line-breaks and got away 13 off-loads, with Brad Shields making two. The Crusaders made four clean breaks and seven off-loads.

Beauden Barrett failed to add any points to his season tally in this game missing both his conversion attempts, but finished the regular season as the top New Zealand points scorer with 186 points.

The Hurricanes ended their season with their fifth consecutive loss and their equal second-worst Super placing to finish 11th. Their 10 losses this year is the most losses they have ever had in a Super season, one more than they lost in 2011.

The Crusaders have made it through to their 12th consecutive play-off spot - the 15th time they have done so in 18 seasons of Super Rugby.


REBELS v HIGHLANDERS (38-37)

The Highlanders have made an art form of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and blew a four-try halftime lead of 31-7 by conceding five tries in the second half, including two in the last six minutes of the match.

The Rebels missed 19 tackles in the first half of the match and only had 23 percent possession, but turned that around in the second half to finish the game with 56 percent of the possession overall and a ruck and maul tally of 99 to 70.

There was no shortage of tackling in this game with the Highlanders making 154 tackles and the Rebels 120. TJ Ioane was the top tackler in the game with 23, while Jarrod Saffy was the best of the Rebels with 15.

The breakdown battle was well contested with the Rebels winning the ruck turnovers four to three, but the Highlanders winning two maul turnovers to one.

The Highlanders made eight handling errors, and conceded one ruck by taking longer than five seconds to clear the ball. The Rebels made seven handling errors that resulted in a turnover of possession.

While the Highlanders had the upper hand with scrums on the night, winning all eight of their feeds and shunting one of the Rebels' scrums to win a penalty, the Rebels managed to score two tries to Cooper Vuna from five metre attacking scrums in the second half.

Colin Slade was 100 percent with the boot converting all four tries in the first half plus landing two penalties, while Hayden Parker kicked one penalty when he subbed on for Slade. Slade finished the season with 131 points.

The Highlanders finished this season with their worst ever number of losses (13) and their worst ever points differential (-122), eclipsing their -110 points differential in 1997 when they finished last in the competition. They also failed to win a game outside of New Zealand in 2013.


BLUES v CHIEFS (16-26)

The Blues conceded just the second red card of the competition when referee Chris Pollock deemed Kane Barrett had rucked the head of Craig Clarke. They played with 14 men from the 23rd minute, and with 13 men between the 48th and 58th minutes when Baden Kerr was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-down of the ball.

Remarkably, despite playing three quarters of the game with less than 15 players, the Blues only missed 23 tackles in the match while the Chiefs missed 18.

The Chiefs made seven linebreaks to the Blues' three, and also managed 13 offloads to 10. Frank Halai made the most runs (10) and running metres (116) in the match.

Handling errors cost the Blues when they did have possession, making six knock-ons and five pass errors - including two intercepted passes. The Chiefs made seven knock-ons and one pass error resulting in loss of possession.

The Blues' lineout went into meltdown after Keven Mealamu was subbed off, losing four of their eight second half throws - including one five metre defensive lineout won by Craig Clarke resulting in Ben Tamiefuna's second try of the night.

Tamiefuna's second try was the Chiefs 50th try of the season putting them five tries ahead of the next best team, the Waratahs.

Frank Halai was the top try scorer at the completion of the regular season with a total of 10. He could still be the top try scorer at the end of the competition as the next closest players whose teams have made it through to the play-offs are Henry Speight (Brumbies) with eight and Bundee Aki (Chiefs) with six. Tim Nanai-Williams finished on six tries but is unlikely to play again in the competition due to injury.

It was the Blues' sixth consecutive loss at the business end of the season, but they improved two placings on last year finishing in 10th place and winning two more games than they did in 2012.

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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