SuperRugby Aotearoa

As we head into the home straight this competition storms on and continues to provide exciting rugby and could be looking at an awesome finish with just two points in it at the top of the table. The Crusaders bounced back from their first loss of the competition to put one hand on the Super Rugby Aoteroa trophy on Saturday with a convincing victory over the Chiefs. While the Blues kept their hopes of lifting it alive with a fantastic display of all round rugby giving them a bonus point win over the Highlanders on Sunday.

Crusaders 32 – 19 Chiefs

A tense opening 40 minutes saw the Crusaders go into half-time leading by 7 points this weekend. Even though the Chiefs brought it as close as 1 point after the break, 12 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes sealed the deal and left the Chiefs winless yet again. The first time these two met in the competition, the last 20 minutes belonged to the Chiefs who scored unanswered but not enough to conquer the unassailable lead they had allowed the Crusaders, going down 18-13.

But was it a better game?

The standout stat for this game was the try and line break counts. The Crusaders, who only broke cleanly through the Chief’s defenses 4 times and scored twice the first time around, launched an attack with 14 line breaks and 5 tries this time. In contrast, the Chiefs only crossed the try line once in each game, although their attacking game did improve from just 3 line breaks to 8. The first game was the Chief’s to take with a dominant 57% possession, but they just could not capitalize, and the re-run was slightly further out of reach with the only thing really keeping them in the game being the Crusader’s lack of discipline. 13 penalties were conceded to them, with 4 being scored off, while only 8 penalties were conceded by the them, and uncharacteristically wayward kicking off the tee by the Crusaders resulted in only 1 passing through the poles. In all other aspects the Crusaders outplayed the Chiefs as could be expected in a clash of between the top of the log with only 1 loss, and the bottom of the log yet to win a game.

Highlanders 21 – 32 Blues

Before this away win, the Blues had won 2 of their last 3 Super Rugby games against the Highlanders including a 27-24 win when they last met in Round 3 of Super Rugby Aoteroa, but had not won in Dunedin since 2011.

What got that Blues hand closer to the trophy?

The first encounter between these two teams was a closer affair with only 3 points in it. In that match the Blues scored 4 tries to the Highlanders 3 and had 7 line breaks to 4. The Blues lacked discipline, however, conceding 11 penalties to the Highlanders 6. They also missed a couple of conversion attempts and had lower numbers in terms of lineout and tackle efficiency, yet still came out on top in a game that seesawed in terms of score. In this outing, despite defending more than half the game, the Blues dominated with 5 tries and broke the Highlander’s defenses a crazy 17 times despite facing a 95% tackle efficiency. They also interrupted the Highlanders superior possession with 8 turnovers and an unfailing scrum, leaving the home side trailing from the get go. The Highlanders had better discipline, better kicking success, fewer handling errors and better lineout execution, but were unable to utilize and of it and only led on the scoreboard for 90s.

Read more on our breakdown of the Super Rugby Aotearoa matches? 

About the Author
Gregory Gordon.
Gregory Gordon is currently a Senior Video Analyst at VS Sports, who is highly involved in the analytics process by performing the analysis as well as managing the video analysts in the company. Gregory is in charge of training the video analysts in all the sports which are offered at VS Sports as well as ensuring that the quality of the analysis is being maintained consistently. He is passionate about sport conditioning and assisting athletes in optimising their sporting abilities. Gregory has obtained his Master’s degree in Sports Science (MPhil) through the University of Johannesburg as well as acquiring a Higher Certificate in Exercise Science through the HFPA. He previously has worked at Orlando Pirates FC for an internship where many different skills were learned and developed through the process.