CRAIG LEWIS rates the 15 teams after nine rounds of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Super Rugby conference system makes for confusing reading regarding the respective team standings in the tournament.
SARugbymag.co.za’s senior writer identifies the form teams as well as the bottom-feeders.
1. Crusaders (7-1-1) – last week’s ranking: 1
The Crusaders had a bye this past weekend, but they still have a healthy lead at the top of the official standings. It’s also going to take a lot for them to be displaced from these rankings, with the defending champs set to face the Lions in Christchurch next.
2. Hurricanes (6-1-2) – last week’s ranking: 4
The Canes had to overturn a significant deficit to battle their way to a win over the Sunwolves in round 10. Somehow, the Hurricanes have made a habit of winning ugly, but the fact remains that they are now just seven log points behind the Saders.
3. Vodacom Bulls (5-3) – last week’s ranking: 2
The Bulls slip a place after being out of action this past weekend. They will now brace themselves to face the Stormers, who are bottom of the SA conference.
4. Rebels (5-4) – last week’s ranking: 3
The Rebels’ promising season continues to face a few setbacks, with the Melbourne-based side slipping to a narrow defeat against the Waratahs on Saturday. However, they still remain top of the Australian conference.
5. Blues (4-5) – last week’s ranking: 5
It’s really tricky to know what to make of the mid-table teams this season, with surprise results shaking up the status quo almost every weekend. The Blues cling on to fifth place in these rankings, but desperately need to rediscover some winning form.
6. Lions (5-4) – last week’s ranking: 8
The Lions jump a couple of places after their stunning win over the Chiefs in New Zealand on Friday. It was a result that has revived their playoff ambitions, while demonstrating the enduring fighting spirit of the team.
7. Waratahs (4-4) – last week’s ranking: 12
The Tahs make a big jump this week, which is based partly on their important win over the Rebels, but also largely due to the poor form of other mid-table teams who suffered shock defeats in round 10.
8. Stormers (4-5) – last week’s ranking: 7
After a couple of steps forwards, the Stormers took a big leap backwards after suffering a disappointing defeat to the Brumbies in an error-riddled display on Saturday.
9. Sharks (4-5) – last week’s ranking: 6
The Sharks drop as many as three places after an inept display against the Reds, which saw them plunge to a second successive defeat at home, while they have now headed off on a challenging overseas tour.
10. Highlanders (3-1-4) – last week’s ranking: 13
The Highlanders make up some ground after an impressive win over the Blues on Saturday, which demonstrated what this team is really capable of.
11. Brumbies (4-5) – last week’s ranking: 11
You have to hand it to the Brumbies. After it appeared as if their season was imploding, they have claimed back-to-back wins over the Lions and Stormers.
12. Jaguares (4-4) – last week’s ranking: 10
The Jaguares had a bye this past weekend, but could make up some ground as they get set to host the Brumbies and Stormers.
13. Reds (4-5) – last week’s ranking: 14
The Reds rise a spot after a good win over the Sharks, but they remain well out of playoff contention.
14. Chiefs (3-1-5) – last week’s ranking: 9
After a mini revival, the Chiefs plunged to a fifth loss of the season as they came up short against the Lions on Friday.
15. Sunwolves (2-7) – last week’s ranking: 15
Once again, the Sunwolves were highly competitive at home against the Hurricanes on Friday, but faded when it mattered most, to ultimately fall to another defeat
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