Key stats reveal why Crusaders are Super Rugby champions
Cape Town - Post-season statistics reveal that the Crusaders were worthy champions in a Super Rugby season that on average yielded more tries per game that the previous season.
According to SANZAAR’s official website, the 2018 competition saw an increase in the average number of tries scored per match from 6.89 to 7.28 tries per match.
The Crusaders, who claimed their ninth title by beating the Lions 37-18 in last Saturday’s final in Christchurch, led the competition for average points scored per match (34.2), with the Waratahs (34.1) and Lions (32.7) not far behind them.
The Crusaders’ win in the final was built on a staunch defensive effort - they made 203 tackles compared to the Lions’ 135 - and it was in this aspect where they stood out all season.
The statistics reveal that the men from Christchurch conceded just 17.6 points per match, nearly five points less than the competition’s second-best defensive side, the Hurricanes (22.4).
With games spanning across four continents, away wins were hard to come by. The Crusaders lost their first two away games, but then won their next six games away from Christchurch. Winning away from home proved difficult for a few other semi-finalist teams as well, the Lions and Hurricanes each winning just three of their eight away games.
The Sunwolves, Bulls and Stormers were the only teams who failed to win any away games.
Interestingly, there was also strong correlation between tries scored in the first quarter of the match and final position on the standings. Three of the top four teams on the overall log were the most potent in attack in the first 20 minutes of the match (Crusaders 24 tries, Hurricanes 20 tries, Lions 18 tries).
Elsewhere, the statistics reveal that the Sharks and Chiefs missed the fewest tackles on average (20.6).
The Lions won the most turnovers (8.6) but were the most ill-disciplined side, conceding an average of 13 penalties per match. This resulted in the men from Johannesburg conceding the most penalty goals (28) while kicking only 11 goals themselves, the fewest in the competition.
The Lions’ final defeat was their third in a row, having lost 20-3 to the Hurricanes in Wellington in 2016 and 25-17 to the Crusaders in Johannesburg in 2017.