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Super Rugby: Mid Term Report Card

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Lynn McConnell     15 Apr 2019     Getty Images

But yet another example of that claim was seen in the outstanding contest played out between the Chiefs and Blues in Hamilton on Saturday. These were sides who had lost their first four and three games respectively in the competition but who have recovered to get on winning runs – four for the Blues and now three for the Chiefs – yet they contrived to unleash a game that could have been described as demonic in its speed and intensity while the amount of time the ball was in play throughout would have been well over the average. This wasn't airy-fairy rugby, it was as tough and uncompromising as it comes and a great advertisement for rugby at its best.

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At the halfway stage of the season it is no surprise the Crusaders are leading the competition. The tournament statistics show why. They lead in: tries scored 40 (next highest Rebels-33), clean breaks 119 (Chiefs 90), metres carried 3856 (Hurricanes 3804); are second highest in carries 1027 (behind the Blues 1073), offloads 95 (Chiefs 104); third in tackles won 86.5 percent (behind the Bulls 87.3 and the Jaguares 87.1) and third equal with rucks won 96 percent (behind the Stormers and Blues 97 percent each); fourth in defenders beaten 210 (behind the Reds 222, Hurricanes 219 and Blues 218). Of concern is the fact they are second equal in yellow cards with five along with the Sunwolves, and one behind the Rebels who have six. They are 11th equal with scrums won at 89 percent and 10th with lineouts won.

Heading the list of try scorers are: Will Jordan (Crusaders), Jack Maddocks (Rebels) and Rieko Ioane (Blues) who each have eight tries. Hurricanes second five-eighths Ngani Laumape has seven and Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga'a has six. Sharing sixth equal place with five tries each are: Shannon Frizell (Highlanders), Marnus Schoeman (Lions), Tom English (Rebels), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Reece Hodge (Rebels), Matias Orlando (Jaguares), Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves).
On the individual points scoring list, Bulls first five-eighths Handre Pollard is the only player to have passed three figures with 108 points. Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs is second on 81. Quade Cooper of the Rebels has 77 while Hayden Parker of the Sunwolves is on 69. Others are: Robert du Preez (Sharks) 68, Elton Jantjies (Lions) 66, Otere Black (Blues) 62, Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes) 56, Bryce Hegarty (Reds) 55, Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders) 55.

Other individual categories show: Carries – Samu Kerevi (Reds) 108, Daniel du Preez (Sharks) 96, Akira Ioane (Blues) 92, Isi Naisarani (Rebels) 91, Israel Folau (Waratahs) 85; Clean breaks – Rieko Ioane (Blues) 18, Sevu Reece (Crusaders) 16), Folau 15, Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Kerevi, Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves)14 each; Defenders beaten – David Havili (Crusaders) and Kerevi 36 each, Melani Nanai (Blues) 35, Folau 30, Ben Lam (Hurricanes) 29; Lineous won – Guido Petti Pagadizaval (Jaguares) 37, Sam Carter (Brumbies) 32, Rory Arnold (Brumbies) 31, Marvin Orie (Lions 30), Vaea Fifita (28); Metres carried – Nanai 629, Gerhard van den Heever (Sunwolves) 622, Folau 506, Kerevi 488, Lam 471; Offloads – Folau 19, Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs) 18, Pablo Matera (Jaguares), Whetukamokamo Douglas (Crusaders), Andries Coetzee (Lions 12).

Taking a look at the New Zealand conference, the Crusaders are on the top of the ladder with 34 points. The Hurricanes are 11 points adrift in second place on 23 points. The Blues are in third spot on 20 points with the Chiefs closing in on 16 points and the Highlanders in fifth spot on 14 points.

Although the Crusaders have played nine games compared to eight played by the rest of the NZ teams, they still will be extremely hard to catch at the top of the ladder. If the quarterfinals were held today, three New Zealand teams would feature with the Chiefs and Highlanders missing out.

This means there is everything to play for in the second half of the competition with places in the playoffs still wide open.