Week 13 is upon us and one daring punter has placed a $100,000 bet on the Hurricanes to beat the Blues for a sixth consecutive time. Let’s take a look through all the key stats and make educated guesses of our own.

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Blues v Hurricanes

  • The Hurricanes have won their last five games against the Blues, three of those victories coming at Eden Park.
  • The Canes have won their last four games against sides in the New Zealand conference, only once before have they won five such games on the bounce (W5 in 2015).
  • The Blues are winless in 15 games against New Zealand-based opposition (D1, L14), although 10 of their defeats in that run have come by single figure margins.
  • The Blues enjoy 17 minutes and 27 seconds of time in possession per game this season, more than any other squad in the competition.
  • Beauden Barrett has provided three try assists via kicks this season, more than any other player in the competition.

My pick: Hurricanes. It’s going to get even worse before things get better at the Blues.

Sunwolves v Reds

  • This will be just the second meeting between these sides and their first in Japan; the Reds won 35-25 at Suncorp Stadium in their previous clash.
  • The Sunwolves are yet to win against Australian opposition (L8), they’re the only nation they’re yet to beat in Super Rugby.
  • The Reds have lost 20 of their last 22 games outside Australia (W2), although one of their two victories in that run came earlier this season (v Jaguares).
  • The Sunwolves (8.7) and Reds (9.4) have conceded fewer penalties and free kicks per game than any other teams so far this campaign.
  • Filipo Daugunu has crossed for a try in three of his last four games away from home for the Reds.

My pick: Reds. I am ever hopeful that the Sunwolves will start to show the sort of promise we’re now seeing from the Jaguares, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen this weekend.

Crusaders v Waratahs

  • The Crusaders have won 13 of their last 15 games against the Waratahs (L2), including eight wins in a row at home to the NSW outfit.
  • The Crusaders have won 19 of their last 20 home games, including their last 13 in a row, their best run since winning 14 on the bounce from 2009 to 2011.
  • The Crusaders’ last four home defeats have all come against New Zealand opposition; they’ve lost just two of their last 69 at home against clubs from outside New Zealand (W66, D1).
  • The Waratahs continue to boast the best goal-kicking accuracy in the competition, piloting 87% of attempts through the uprights.
  • Taqele Naiyaravoro has scored three tries in his previous two encounters with the Crusaders.

My pick: Crusaders. That incredible losing record against NZ sides is only going to be extended here.

Highlanders v Lions

  • The Highlanders have won five of their six home games against the Lions including their last two in a row; their solitary defeat came in 2011 at Carisbrook.
  • The Highlanders have won their last 10 in a row at home, only once before have they gone on a longer such run (W13, 2000-2002).
  • The Lions have lost their last two games, the last time they lost more was a three-game drought to open the 2015 campaign.
  • Only the Crusaders (15) have scored more tries in the final quarter of games this campaign than the Lions (14); the Highlanders have scored just seven tries in this period.
  • Ash Dixon has a throw success rate of 92% this campaign, the second best of any player to have made at least 30 throws this season.

My pick: Highlanders. I expect the Highlanders to bounce back from the Shark mauling they suffered last time out and will do enough to get the win at home under the roof at Forsyth Barr.

Brumbies v Rebels

  • The Rebels have won three of the last five meetings between these sides, more than they’d managed in their previous nine (W2, L7).
  • The Brumbies have won five of their six home games against the Melbourne side (L1), those five wins coming by an average margin of 25 points.
  • The Rebels’ last six Australian derbies have all been won by the home side on the day (Rebels W2, L4).
  • The Rebels have missed the most tackles (26) and conceded the most penalties and free kicks (13) per game of any team this campaign.
  • Henry Speight has scored four tries in his last four games against the Rebels, gaining in excess of 100m in a game twice in that time.

My pick: Brumbies or Rebels. Care factor at an all time low when considering this fixture. The only people watching this game will be the Fox Sports commentary team who are still paid to turn up even though they sound like they haven’t seen a real game of rugby in years.

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Stormers v Chiefs

  • The Chiefs have won five of the last seven games between these sides (L2), twice overturning a halftime deficit in that run.
  • The Chiefs have lost just four of their last 27 games against South African opposition (W21, D2); the Stormers were responsible for two of those defeats.
  • The Cape Town side have won nine of their last 11 regular season games when hosting New Zealand opposition, although those nine wins have come by an average margin of just eight points.
  • The Stormers have booted 18 penalty goals this season, the equal most of any team in the competition.
  • Damian McKenzie has made 15 break passes this season, more than any other player in the competition and six more than Stormers’ best Damian Willemse (9) and SP Marais (9).

My pick: Chiefs. The Stormers are going ok at home but I’m expecting the embarrassment of being the first NZ side to lose to the Jaguares last weekend will be strong motivation for the Chiefs to bounce back in style.

Bulls v Sharks

  • The Bulls are unbeaten in their last six games against the Sharks (W5, D1), restricting the Durban side to fewer than 20 points in five of those matches.
  • The Sharks are winless in their last five trips to Loftus Versfeld (D1, L4), although each of those defeats have come by eight points or fewer.
  • The Bulls have finished six of their last eight games with a 100% goal kicking accuracy, missing just three of 29 attempts at the sticks in that time.
  • The Bulls (164) have scored more first-half points this season than any other team in the competition.
  • Robert du Preez has made eight try assists this campaign, the equal most of any player in the competition; the Sharks’ flyhalf also leads the competition in total points scored (132).

My pick: Sharks. I haven’t  seen the Bulls play for years and the numbers suggest they will be tough to beat at home, but I actually saw the Sharks play last week and they looked very impressive.

Thanks to Opta for all the sweet stats.

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