Before last years final we asked the trainspotters at Ruckin' Good Stats to crunch some numbers.
Since their numbers were pretty close to how the game played out we thought we'd get them to provide a few key stats based on how the Chiefs and the Brumbies have been playing this season.
So they have put on their best anoraks, took the protective screen off their calculators and come up with these stats to give a little insight to how the teams might play, where they will want to improve on and where they might want to hammer home their advantage.
They have been providing snippets all week but here is a bigger version.
THE KICKING GAME
When Craig Joubert signals time on if the Brumbies are taking the kick off expect them to kick it long into the Chiefs 22. They kick long and into the oppositions 22 about 59 percent of the situations (kickoff, restarts and 22 drop-outs). They do this hoping that the opposition will kick the ball out and they have a line out feed as they back their set pieces.
The Brumbies only kick short (within 15 meters of the halfway or 22) a very small 6 percent of the time. When the Brumbies do give a medium distance to their kickoff it appears to be just outside the opposition's 22.
If the Chiefs are kicking off then expect them to long as well, or 58 percent of the time. However they do opt to kick short 27 percent of the time. This means they will compete for the ball at the kickoff/restart.
Of course both teams could be reading this and change their kickoff game plan. It's happened before.
One of the surprising stats for the Chiefs is how little time they spend in possession. They are averaging 47.2 percent for the season, the lowest in the competition.
What is more surprising is only in three games have they had over 50 percent possession - Reds, Waratahs and Force.
The Brumbies too have average of slightly less than 50 percent possession for the season, or 49.7 percent.
The Brumbies possession varied throughout the season. It was as high as 62 percent playing the Kings and as low as 37 percent for the return match against the Reds. Astute readers will note these two games were both draws.
The Chiefs season and road to the final also hasn't relied on a territory advantage. They are averaging 48.6 percent for their 2013 territory stats.
Only in four games have the Chiefs had more than 50 percent territory - Reds, Waratahs and Force with the Blues first game being the fourth.
As Dave Rennie said in the media early in the week that the Brumbies play the territory and the stats show this. The Brumbies averaged a 53 percent territory for the season. This is largely due to a kicking game which is covered a little later on.
TIME IN OPPOSITION
Stats on spending time in the opposition's 22 has thrown up a little interesting quirk. The Brumbies are averaging 16.9 percent of the game inside their opposition's 22, and the Chiefs are allowing teams to spend, on average 16.8 percent of the game inside the Chiefs 22.
The Chiefs are spending on average 17.8 percent of the game inside opposition's 22.
Spending time in the oppositions 22 counts for nothing if there are not converted into points. Both of these teams do make the trip inside the oppositions 22 count, with the Chiefs being better at doing so.
The Chiefs are turning 45.1 percent of trips into their opposition's 22 into points (i.e., tries or successful penalty kicks). This 10 percent higher than the Brumbies who covert 40.3 percent of their trips into opposition's 22 into points.
The challenge for the Chiefs inside the Brumbies 22 is to reduce their errors, 31.5 percent of the time their attack inside the opposition's 22 ends due to a Chiefs error.
USE OF THE BOOT
Use of the boot shows the Brumbies make a tactical kick from the hand more on average. The Brumbies will do so every 41 seconds they are in possession. This is shorter than the Chiefs who opt to kick every 48 seconds. It might sound like only seven seconds, or a 17 percent difference, but it adds up over a game.
The Brumbies made the same amount of kicks as the Bulls in the semi final who known as a kicking team.
When the Chiefs kick they are twice as likely to kick and gather/retain their own kick than the Brumbies. The Chiefs will re-gather 14.1 percent of the kicks they make which is higher than the 6.6 percent that the Brumbies re-gather. This fits in the Brumbies strategy to kick for territory.
Opting to kick the ball for touch is similar for these teams with the Chiefs kicking and finding touch from 23.8 percent of their kicks. For the Brumbies this figure is 25.1 percent.
The Brumbies are making errors on 6.4 percent of their kicks, higher than the Chiefs who make an error in 4.1 percent of their kicks.
Both teams do kick for purpose. In kicking duels with their 2013 oppositions, both teams have the same stat for net gain territory from kicks, 88 percent of the time. This means against previous opposition both the Brumbies and Chiefs end up further down the field or a positive net gain as a result of a kicking duel.
The teams are also similar in getting over the gain line in contact situations. The Chiefs are getting over the contact gain line 85 percent of the time and the Brumbies 83 percent of the time.
One of the key features of the semi final win against the Crusaders was the decrease in second half lost possession/errors/turnovers committed by the Chiefs.
In the first half the Chiefs had committed 14 and a team like the Crusaders feed off these.
In the second half the Chiefs only committed four, given a total of 18 for the match. It was only when the Chiefs were ahead 20-9 did the Chiefs make three of the four lost possession/errors/turnovers in the second half.
In the final the Chiefs are going to have to display the same discipline as they did in the second half against the Crusaders. This is especially so when they enter the Brumbies 22.
The Brumbies make commit fewer mistakes, making a lost possession/errors/turnovers every 56 seconds on average. The Chiefs are averaging one every 48.2 seconds.
One of the errors appearing is lineout ball being called not straight. It has been consistently happening, one in each of the last four games, seven times from the last nine games.
The Chiefs are missing 1 tackle out of every 5.7 tackle attempts. This is not too different from the Brumbies who are missing a tackle in every 5.9 tackle attempts. Putting time around this the Chiefs are missing a tackle every 54.6 seconds in defence, the Brumbies are missing a tackle every 58.3 seconds.
Expect the Chiefs to offload more in the tackle than the Brumbies. The Chiefs are averaging 10.2 offloads a game. This is a lot higher than the 6.4 offload average of the Brumbies.
SET PIECE v RECYLED BALL
Another interesting quirk is that the 1st 5/8th take very similar options as first receiver from set piece or recycled ball.
Cruden opts to kick 27 percent of the time, runs 15 percent of the time and passes 58 percent of the time.
This is similar to Toomua who kicks 27 percent of the time, runs 16 percent and passes 57 percent of the time.
Both teams have a variety of options for first receiver from set piece and recycled ball. This means Cruden & Toomua are used only 13.9 percent and 17 percent respectively in this role.
THE REF FACTOR
Stats for the game can't be truly mentioned unless the ref is also included. Joubert has had the Chiefs in Round 10 against the Waratahs. He had the Brumbies last weekend, but also in Round 12 against the Crusaders. Both teams in the final lost their round robin matches under Joubert.
In 2012 Joubert was averaging 21.9 penalties a game and that was a lot. This year this has dropped to an average of 17.8 per game. This is quite good as the Chiefs are averaging only 9.2 penalties and the Brumbies higher at 10.6 penalties per game.
Over a game Joubert averages three scrum resets and also three scrum penalties. This means it is a 50/50 of what he will do when he needs to get involved in a scrum.
So how will it end up? Like last year we said the team that is allowed to play their game plan and make fewer errors should be ahead on the scoreboard at halftime/fulltime.
Of course this analysis excluded other factors such as the 'cowbell effect' that we are currently exploring...
- © Fairfax NZ News
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