CRAIG LEWIS selects an overall 18-team Super Rugby log based on performances and opposition faced after the first seven rounds.
The confusing Super Rugby conference system makes it difficult to see just where teams stand in the competition, but SARugbymag.co.za's senior writer believes this is where they would rank in a 1-18 format.
1. Stormers (6-0)
Last week’s ranking: 4
There may have been some doubts over the Stormers’ title credentials before this past weekend, but the Cape-based side’s emphatic 80-minute performance against the Chiefs was one of the wins of the season. Having secured six wins from six, the Stormers deserve the No 1 ranking at this stage.
2. Hurricanes (5-1)
Last week’s ranking: 3
The Hurricanes weren’t at their best against the Waratahs on Friday, but they never really looked likely to suffer a defeat. Instead, a fifth win of the season took them to second spot in the Kiwi conference.
3. Crusaders (6-0)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The Crusaders had a bye this past weekend, and are leapfrogged by the Hurricanes. Nevertheless, they remain one of just two unbeaten teams in the competition.
4. Chiefs (5-1)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Chiefs drop three places after their loss to the Stormers, but they won’t be too down on themselves after just coming up short in what was an enthralling contest. They are also likely to bounce back against the Cheetahs this weekend.
The Lions stay fifth after a bye, with the Johannesburg-based side now set to face a considerable test against the Stormers at Newlands this Saturday. A win away from home would certainly put them in line to make a jump up the rankings.
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Sharks battled their way to a five-point win over the Jaguares on Saturday, but the importance of the result should not be underestimated. As it is, the four log points attained took them to second in the Africa 2 conference, while closing to within one point of the Lions.
The Highlanders have resurrected their campaign in recent weeks, with Saturday’s win over the Blues representing their third victory in a row, and ensuring they remain in seventh place in these rankings.
8. Jaguares (4-2)
Last week’s ranking: 8
The Jaguares remain in eighth spot after slipping to a second defeat of the season against the Sharks. The team from Argentina were competitive in Durban, and launched a late surge that brought them back in with a good chance of causing an upset at Kings Park, but ultimately they failed to breach a determined Sharks defence.
9. Brumbies (3-3)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Brumbies scored six tries to claim a 43-10 bonus-point win over the Reds in Canberra, while strengthening their position at the top of the Aussie conference.
10. Blues (3-4)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Blues drop a spot after slipping to a disappointing defeat to the Highlanders, with the Auckland-based side failing to build on a strong start in Dunedin.
11. Force (2-4)
Last week’s ranking: 15
The Force make a big jump here based predominantly on the under-performance of the teams around them. However, in securing an important win over the Kings, they managed to move into second spot in the Aussie conference.
12. Waratahs (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 12
The Waratahs were relatively competitive against the Hurricanes this past weekend, but remain a shadow of the side that won the competition back in 2014.
The Cheetahs remain in 13th after a bye, while in light of the fact that they look set to be cut from Super Rugby, they will have a real point to prove against the Chiefs this Saturday.
Last week’s ranking: 17
Let’s give credit where it’s due. As awful as the Bulls were on Saturday, no one really gave the Sunwolves any real hope of emerging victorious. Nevertheless, they played without fear in front of their home crowd and came away with a historic result
15. Kings (1-5)
Last week’s ranking: 16
The Kings were unlucky to not come away with a win over the Force in Perth. In a highly entertaining clash, where the lead changed hands several times, the Port Elizabeth-based side again demonstrated the improvements they have made this season.
The Bulls drop five places after their hapless showing against the Sunwolves in Tokyo. There is no getting away from the fact that the Pretoria-based side is in a world of trouble after suffering a fifth defeat of the season. The only ray of hope for them is that they are now set to play a sequence of games at Loftus.
17. Reds (1-6)
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Reds slide down the rankings after suffering a sixth loss of the season this past weekend, with the Brumbies having inflected a heavy defeat on the Brisbane-based side.
18. Rebels (0-5)
Last week’s ranking: 18
The winless Rebels remain in bottom place after a bye.
Photo: Rodger Bosch/Getty Images