CRAIG LEWIS selects an overall 18-team Super Rugby log, based on performances and opposition faced after 14 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. Crusaders (13-0)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Crusaders march on and on towards what might well be an eighth title in their Super Rugby history. This past weekend, the Saders scored six tries as they cruised to a bonus-point win over the Rebels, and they will now be determined to maintain their unbeaten record as they get set for a tricky fixture against the Highlanders this Saturday.
2. Lions (12-1)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The Lions played nearly 50 minutes of Sunday’s game against the Kings with 14 men, and yet they still managed to romp to a 54-10 win. With the South African sides now done with duty ahead of the June international break, the Lions have unequivocally established themselves as the best of the local bunch.
3. Hurricanes (10-2)
Last week's ranking: 3
The Hurricanes were far from their best against the Bulls this past weekend, but were ultimately still far too good for the team from Pretoria. The Canes should comfortably overcome the Force this Saturday and head into the June break in a position of strength.
4. Highlanders (10-3)
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Highlanders scored five second-half tries to overcome the Waratahs 44-28 in Dunedin on Saturday. It was an important end result, but they are now set to face their toughest test of the season against the Crusaders this weekend.
5. Chiefs (9-1-2)
Last week's ranking: 4
The Chiefs were rather fortunate to salvage a draw against the Blues this past weekend, with the result also seeing them drop to fourth in the highly competitive Kiwi conference.
Last week’s ranking: 6
7. Stormers (7-5)
Last week's ranking: 8
The Stormers beat the Blues to snap a four-game losing streak last weekend, but aspects of their performance against the Sharks on Saturday were labelled as ‘stupid’ by coach Robbie Fleck as they suffered a 22-10 defeat. The Cape-based side is assured of the Africa 1 conference title, but their performances in recent weeks will have seriously dented their playoff confidence.
8. Blues (6-1-6)
Last week’s ranking: 7
The Blues led 13-3 before half-time, and then 16-11 towards the end of the game against the Chiefs, and yet they ended up having to settle for a draw. Coupled with last weekend’s loss to the Stormers, it’s an outcome that looks certain to condemn the Blues to last place in the New Zealand conference.
9. Brumbies (5-7)
Last week's ranking: 10
The Brumbies produced an impressive six-try performance to overcome the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday, which served to entrench their position as the leading Australian team.
10 Jaguares (5-6)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Jaguares' once promising campaign has imploded in recent weeks, with Saturday’s seventh loss of the season ending any hopes they might have had of catching the Sharks in the Africa 2 conference.
11: Kings (4-8)
Last week's ranking: 11
The Kings cling to 11th place in the rankings, despite their limp display against the Lions. With a couple of key players missing due to injury, though, the Kings could never have been expected to put up much of a fight against the high-flying Lions.
12. Waratahs (4-8)
Last week's ranking: 12
The Waratahs succumbed to a predictable defeat against the Highlanders, but the Sydney-based side did secure a surprising lead at half-time. Ultimately, though, they allowed the Brumbies to open up a potentially unassailable lead at the top of the Aussie conference.
13. Force (4-8)
Last week's ranking: 15
The Force jump up a couple spots after securing an impressive 40-26 win over the Reds. It’s a result that enabled the Perth-based side to leapfrog into third spot in the Aussie conference, now just two points behind the Waratahs.
Last week's ranking: 14
15. Reds (3-9)
Last week's ranking: 13
The Reds succumbed to a meek defeat against the Force on Friday, with the 2011 champs continuing to endure another season to forget.
Last week's ranking: 16
17. Rebels (1-1-10)
Last week's ranking: 17
The Rebels were predictably no match for the Crusaders this past weekend, and while the Melbourne-based side continues to fight to retain its place in Super Rugby, they probably just want this season to come to an end.
18. Sunwolves (1-11)
Last week’s ranking: 18
The Sunwolves may have fancied their chances of causing an upset against the Cheetahs last Saturday, and yet the home team ended up producing one of their weaker performances of the season to ultimately slip to a resounding 47-7 loss.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images