SuperRugby Aotearoa

And the first Super Rugby Aotearoa Champions are crowned.

As we approach the 10th and final round of the incredibly exciting Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, we can only appreciate how well the champions, the Crusaders, have played. From their first match, they put their foot on the gas and never took it off. When digging into the stats you don’t have too look too far to see how well they have done this season.

We are going to explore what the stats from last weekend’s games reveal about the penultimate round and the teams that were in action.

Hurricanes 31 – 18 Chiefs

The win was never really in doubt for the Hurricanes. They came on ready to fire from the get-go with their first try of the match being scored in the 7th minute. The Chiefs came back after half-time and scored a try but it was not enough as the Hurricanes stepped up and scored again soon after. And they didn’t let the Chiefs get close to them on the scoreboard again.

How does this match compare to their last match?

In this encounter, the Hurricanes were able to achieve victory with a more comfortable margin than their first which ended 25-18. With the Chiefs ending this season without a win, there is no doubt that Warren Gatland will have to go back to the drawing board to make some changes and hopefully help his side out next season. The Chiefs got their set pieces 100% correct this week but still had a lower tackle success rate than their opponents, providing them with way too many opportunities. They also had better disciple in both matches, conceding less penalties than the Hurricanes, but on neither occasion used this to their advantage. On the other hand, the Hurricanes took full advantage of their higher percentage of ball possession by again achieving more line breaks than the Chiefs, and being able to outscore them in try counts in both matches. They were definitely the more clinical side when on the attack.

The Hurricanes did their best to try stay on course with the table toppers, the Crusaders, and although they were the only team to beat the Crusaders in the competition it did not turn out to be and they were unable to prevent the champs from being crowned before the last round.

Crusaders 32 -22 Highlanders

The Crusaders went into this match knowing that they just needed a win to be crowned champions of Super Rugby Aotearoa. The Highlanders, however, did not make that easy. They scored early on after taking advantage of errors made by the Crusaders, and they stayed in the lead for most of the match, only succumbing after the 60-minute mark. The Crusaders have regularly proven to be most effective in the last 20 minutes of the match and that occurred yet again. As soon they passed 60-minutes they scored 2 tries in the space of 3 minutes to take the lead and then finish with 1 more try before the hooter blew.

Did the Crusaders dominate both matches against the Highlanders?

Although the Highlanders had better discipline in the second match, it was just not good enough as their penalty count was still too high. The Crusaders had more possession on both occasions and made the most of it, securing victory in the first by 40 points to only 20. The Highlanders were able to turnover that possession more often than their opponents could, but they failed to capitalize on these turnovers and just couldn’t score as many tries as the Crusaders in either of the two matches. The Crusaders, on the other hand, always looked dangerous on offence, breaking their opponent’s defensives lines 21 times in the 2nd match and 17 times in the 1st. They made sure they used their time with the ball wisely and if given any space with ball in hand, they attacked aggressively and were nearly always successful in gaining metres or breaking through entirely.

Unfortunately the Crusaders’ last match has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, but you’ll still be able to enjoy one last Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

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.