An action-packed weekend saw Crusaders strengthen grip on Super Rugby Aotearoa while Brumbies remain undefeated in Australia after victory over closest rivals the Reds...
Super Rugby Aotearoa
Round #8 saw the two strongest teams in the competition win away from home. The Crusaders finished strongly in Hamilton to beat the luckless Chiefs to sit two points clear at the top of the table. The Blues, who have a bye in Round #9, beat the Highlanders in Dunedin to keep the pressure on the Crusaders but a win in Round #9 over the Highlanders in Christchurch will see the Crusaders win the title.
Opta ran the stats and the Player of the Week was Blues' scrum-half Finlay Christie who was in white hot form against the Highlanders scoring a brace of tries and creating others. He is followed by Crusaders' fullback Will Jordan who makes it into the top three yet again, as does Blues' wing Caleb Clarke who like Jordan scored a try and was a real threat with ball in hand all day.
Super Rugby AU
Round #5, the halfway stage before the finals, saw the Brumbies establish a seven-point lead over second placed Reds who they edged in Canberra 22-20 after replacement fly-half Mack Hansen kicked a penalty after the final whistle. They have control of the competition at present while the Rebels are in third just a point behind the Reds after a Super Point victory over the Force. It took an Isi Naisarani try in extra-time to see off the gutsy Force in Sydney.
The statistics threw up some interesting data this week but the Player of the Week is impressive Reds No.8 Harry Wilson who was POTW in RD#2 also. Close on his heels this week is Force lock Fergus Lee-Warner who betters his third place last week. The hard-working forward is starting to turn heads with his consistent performances. In third place is Brumbies centre Irae Simone who had an impressive all-round match against the Reds.
The Opta Index allows genuine opportunities to compare and contrast both player and team strengths and weaknesses across Super Rugby, providing real insights pre-game as follows: After every match Opta completes a video analysis of every touch of the ball. Each action in the match is awarded a points value depending on the relative importance of the action. So for example, a try scores more points than a tackle, but a player loses points for a missed tackle. The player is then given a score for the match by adding up all his actions while he was on the field. The total match score is then weighted to take account of the strength of the opposition so that performances across many matches can be judged fairly.