Following the sixth round of Vodacom Super Rugby, SA Rugby magazine throws out the conference standings and ranks the 15 teams on form, strength and results.
The Sharks can do no wrong at the moment. It would appear that everything they touch turns to gold. Rightly, they now sit on top of both these power rankings and the overall Super Rugby table.
The Durban franchise now prepare for an early-season blockbuster when the Stormers, fresh off a bye, come to Kings Park. It’s often said that when two South African franchises square off, form and history should be forgotten with all three results very much in play.
The Stormers arrive as previous conference leaders with plenty to prove after stumbling rather than soaring after their early promise. Coach John Dobson must now figure out a way to a) negate the threat of one of his former players, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, and b) find a spark to reignite his side’s campaign. A home win in this encounter could all but confirm that the power in the South African conference has shifted permanently.
A win for the Jaguares, who host bottom NZ side the Highlanders, coupled with a Sharks win could throw the conference wide open with the Stormers travelling to Argentina next week.
Elsewhere, the Vodacom Bulls start their overseas tour against the Reds, who pushed the Crusaders to the line last week. It’s a battle between the 11th-ranked team and the one in 12th spot. The Pretoria side will now hope to allay their fans’ fears that their dominant second-half showing against the Highlanders was not a once-off display.
The Lions have tumbled down the power rankings into 14th place and face a trip to play the Blues, who continue to improve after a slow start. A big win for the home side will help them keep the pressure on the race to finish top of the New Zealand conference.