Rugby is back but so is high penalty counts and errors. Tracey Nelson looks at the key stats from the opening round of the Super 15.
BLUES v CRUSADERS (18-19)
- Plenty of penalties in the opening game, with the Crusaders conceding 12 (two in their own 22) and the Blues nine (just one in their own 22).
- Of those 12 penalties conceded by the Crusaders, eight came at the breakdown but they also won eight turnovers.
- The Blues conceded just four breakdown penalties, and won four turnovers.
- Matt Todd was the top fetcher in the game, winning five breakdown turnovers but also conceded the most penalties with four.
- Daniel Braid was the Blues' most effective player at the breakdown, with two turnovers won and no penalties conceded.
- A high number handling errors by both teams, with the Blues making 11 to the Crusaders' nine.
- Both sides made four linebreaks, Rudi Wulf and Robbie Fruean made two apiece.
- The Blues had 20 lineout throws and lost four of them (one overthrow and three steals).
- The Crusaders had just nine lineout throws and lost three (one not straight and two handling errors).
- Tyler Bleyendaal had a 71 percent kicking success rate, while Michael Hobbs had a 60 percent success rate.
- The Crusaders have now won 11 of the 20 games played between these two sides.
CHIEFS v HIGHLANDERS (19-23)
- This game also had a high number of handling errors with nine by the Chiefs and 11 by the Highlanders.
- The Highlanders conceded 14 penalties in this game, with all but two coming at the breakdown.
- The Chiefs conceded nine penalties, seven at the breakdown and two for off-side play.
- The Highlanders won 10 turnovers, including three effective counter-rucks. Their top ball stealer was Nasi Manu with two breakdown turnovers won.
- The Chiefs won seven turnovers, with their midfield pairing of Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui securing two each.
- There were plenty off offloads in the tackle, five by the Chiefs and two by the Highlanders. Sonny Bill Williams and Aaron Cruden each made two.
- The Highlanders made the most linebreaks with four, two coming from Tamati Ellison.
- The Highlanders had 12 lineout throws and all but one were thrown to Adam Thomson. He missed just one of those eleven throws, knocking the ball on.
- The Chiefs' injury curse continues, with four major injuries striking the team which eventually led to Golden Oldie scrums for the last six minutes of the game. Before that occurred however, the Highlanders won the only scrum turnover of the match.
- Aaron Cruden and Chris Noakes both kicked at 100 percent, each landing five attempts at goal.
STORMERS v HURRICANES (39-26)
- This was the only game where the scores were greater than seven points apart this weekend, meaning the Hurricanes are the only team not to secure any competition points in the first round.
- Discipline remains a perennial problem for the Hurricanes as they earned three yellow cards (Tristan Moran, Ben May and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen), plus received the first white card of the competition for investigation of a foot trip.
- The Hurricanes conceded a hefty 20 penalties to the Stormers' nine, with Ben May leading his team with four individual penalties including a yellow card for taking out a player's legs in a maul.
- Of their 20 penalties, nine came at the breakdown while they also conceded three scrum penalties, three maul penalties (resulting in two of the yellow cards), and a penalty try.
- The Hurricanes' lineout was also malfunctioning as they won just five of their nine throws, while the Stormers won fifteen of their seventeen throws.
- The eight knock-ons by the Hurricanes was double the number of handling errors that came from the Stormers.
- Beauden Barrett was the third New Zealand goal kicker to have a 100 percent success rate, landing all six of his attempts at goal. He also scored an intercept try, to be the leading New Zealand scorer with 21 points.
For more stats go to haka.co.nz