JON CARDINELLI rates the 15 Super Rugby teams based on performances after 15 rounds.
The Super Rugby conference system makes for confusing reading regarding the respective teams’ standings in the tournament. SARugbymag.co.za’s chief writer believes that this is where they should rank on current form.
1. Crusaders (11-2)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The Crusaders made a statement when they beat the Hurricanes in Christchurch this past Saturday. What’s more, they’ve stretched their lead at the top of the Kiwi conference to five points. Even without a host of All Blacks, they will be favourites to beat the Chiefs in Hamilton next week.
2. Hurricanes (10-2)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The loss in Christchurch brought an end to the Hurricanes’ 10-game winning streak. They remain on track for a home playoff, but may miss out on the New Zealand conference title, unless the Crusaders stumble. They have to beat the Highlanders in their next fixture to keep the heat on the log leaders.
3. Lions (8-6)
Last week’s ranking: 3
The jury is out on the Lions in terms of their ability to win the overall title. Swys de Bruin’s charges were good enough to beat the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday, though, and strengthen their position at the top of the South African conference.
4. Chiefs (8-4)
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Chiefs beat the Waratahs this past Saturday, and Damian McKenzie’s injury-time score ensured that the side came away from the clash with five log points. A win against the Crusaders in their next game would certainly help them in the quest to secure a home playoff.
5. Highlanders (8-4)
Last week’s ranking: 4
The Highlanders have failed to impress in recent rounds, but are still right up there in terms of the log standings. They beat the Reds in Brisbane recently but could make a real statement of intent with a victory over the Hurricanes in Dunedin in round 16.
6. Jaguares (8-5)
Last week’s ranking: 7
The Jaguares continue to climb the overall log as well as these rankings. The Argentinians made history when they beat the Sharks in Buenos Aires last Friday, and will go into the June break in a qualifying position. One would expect them to beat the sorry Stormers in their first fixture – in Argentina – after the break.
7. Waratahs (6-1-5)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Waratahs went down to the Chiefs in Hamilton, despite leading 14-0 at one stage. A potential banana peel against the Reds looms. They can’t afford to lose a game and allow the Rebels to overtake them at the top of the Australian conference log.
8. Rebels (6-6)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Rebels thumped the Sunwolves in Melbourne to put some pressure on the Waratahs at the top of the Australian conference. If the Waratahs lose to the Reds and the Rebels beat the Blues in round 16, Dave Wessels’ side will move to the top of the local standings.
9. Sharks (5-1-7)
Last week’s ranking: 8
The Sharks were poor in their first-ever loss to the Jaguares. They may need a few favours from teams in other conferences to qualify from here.
10. Reds (4-8)
Last week’s ranking: 11
The Reds pushed the Highlanders close in Brisbane this past weekend. A win against the Waratahs next week would certainly help the Rebels and Brumbies.
11. Bulls (5-8)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Bulls went down to the battling Brumbies and, as a result, finished the round at the bottom of the South African conference. They have played one game fewer than the Stormers, though, and could still work their way up the local ladder.
12. Brumbies (4-8)
Last week’s ranking: 15
The Brumbies hit back late in the contest to score a big win over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld. A bonus-point victory against the Sunwolves in the next fixture could threaten the Rebels and even the Waratahs’ chances of a playoff position.
13. Stormers (5-9)
Last week’s ranking: 12
The Stormers continue their slide down the rankings after a narrow loss to the Lions. They’re highly unlikely to qualify for the playoffs and are, at this stage, favourites for the South African wooden spoon.
14. Blues (3-9)
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Blues maintain their lowly ranking after having a bye in round 15. They could move up the ladder after they host the Rebels in the coming week. This statement is based on the fact that the Australian sides have won just one match against Kiwi opposition in 2018, and that they don’t do well in New Zealand.
15. Sunwolves (2-10)
Last week’s ranking: 13
The Sunwolves’ winless run away from home continues. Jamie Joseph’s side went down to the Rebels in Melbourne this past weekend. A victory against the Brumbies in the next round could alter a few perceptions and boost the Sunwolves up the rankings.
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