Beaten in rugby's most basic skills, it is little wonder New Zealand teams endured their worst Super 14 season on record.

For the first time since 2004, New Zealand's combined team points tally wasn't the best in the competition, with their teams averaging 32 points each. That pipped South Africa's 31.0 points each but Australia's four sides took the "national" prize with an average of 34.5 points.

With just the Crusaders qualifying for the semifinals, it only takes a fleeting glance at competition statistics to assess where things started going wrong for the other New Zealand teams in particular.

Two of the most basic facets of rugby - goalkicking and throwing to the lineout - saw New Zealand players trail the field by a significant margin.

New Zealand teams averaged a lowly 68.4 per cent of their shots at goal, which compared poorly with the 74.5 per cent from South African teams and 73.5 per cent out of Australia.

Only Highlanders fullback Israel Dagg averaged better than 75 per cent of his shots, and he was bettered by six other players.

The Crusaders were the seventh-most accurate team while the other four finished in the competition bottom five.

Lineout throwing will be another area of major concern for the All Blacks selectors, with New Zealand hookers recording a total of 41 not straight throws, comparing dreadfully with South Africa's 13.

Injured Hurricanes rake Andrew Hore had the most with 10, while Highlander Jason Rutledge, Crusader Ti'i Paulo and Blues veteran Keven Mealamu also found themselves among the "leaders".

As usual, New Zealand players featured highly in the linebreak statistics, reflecting the open style they favour.

However, high error counts and indiscipline were constant hurdles they struggled to overcome against more pragmatic opponents.

Hurricanes second five-eighth Ma'a Nonu was the most penalised player, being stung for 25 straight-arm offences. That was fractionally worse than a host of forwards but, alarmingly, the next-most penalised backs in the competition were pinged just eight times.

Not surprisingly, given their lack of ball, Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer led the season tackle count with 169, although two big-name New Zealand backs were credited with the most missed tackles - Blues first five-eighth Stephen Brett with 34 and Nonu with 31.

Super 14 statistics
Goalkicking:

Country - South Africa 74.5 per cent, Australia 73.5, New Zealand 68.4.

Teams - Sharks 79.3, Stormers 78.0, Waratahs 77.5, Brumbies 77.5, Bulls 75.2, Cheetahs 72.0, Crusaders 70.7, Reds 69.8, Force 69.3, Hurricanes 69.3, Blues 68.4, Highlanders 68.1, Chiefs 67.5, Lions 64.5.

Players (minimum 20 shots) - Matt Giteau (Brumbies) 83.6, Daniel Halangahu (Waratahs) 81.3, Peter Grant (Stormers) 80.8, Ruan Pienaar (Sharks) 78.7, Morne Steyn (Bulls) 76.3, James O'Conner (Force) 75.6, Israel Dagg (Highlanders) 75.6, Joe Pietersen (Stormers) 75.0

Other New Zealanders: Piri Weepu (Hurricanes) 73.7, Willie Ripia (Hurricanes) 72.4, Dan Carter (Crusaders) 71.2, Stephen Donald (Chiefs) 71.2, Stephen Brett (Blues) 68.4, Aaron Cruden (Hurricanes) 57.1.

Lineout throws not straight:

Country - New Zealand 41, Australia 30, South Africa 13

Players - Andrew Hore (Hurricanes) 10, Jason Rutledge (Highlanders) 9, Ti'i Paulo (Crusaders) 7, Pekahou Cowan (Force) 7, Keven Mealamu (Blues) 6, Stephen Moore (Brumbies) 7

- NZPA