CRAIG LEWIS rates the 15 teams after 16 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 (10-3-2) – last week’s ranking: 1
The Crusaders slipped to an unexpected defeat against the Chiefs this past weekend, but that’s no reason to see them displaced from top spot in these rankings. They are still nine log points ahead of the next best team.
2. Hurricanes (10-1-3) – last week’s ranking: 2
That next best team is certainly the Canes, who claimed an impressive win over the Sharks on Saturday, and have now in fact won as many games as the Crusaders.
3. Jaguares (9-5) – last week’s ranking: 3
The Jaguares just keep on rolling. Saturday’s good win over the Reds has seen them all but ensure that they will finish top of the SA conference this season.
4. Brumbies (8-6) – last week’s ranking: 4
The Brumbies remain firmly entrenched at the top of the Aussie conference after Saturday’s convincing win over the Sunwolves, with the Canberra-based side having built up some decent momentum in recent weeks.
5. Lions (8-6) – last week’s ranking: 9
With the South African sides continuing to show real inconsistency, it’s the Lions who make a big jump this week after claiming a good win over the Stormers on Saturday that suggests they are peaking at the right time.
6. Sharks (6-1-7) – last week’s ranking: 5
The Durban-based side have been frustratingly out of sorts when playing on their home ground, and it was no different on Saturday as they were outmuscled by the Hurricanes to slip to eighth on the overall standings.
7. Rebels (7-7) – last week’s ranking: 6
The Rebels continue to slip in these rankings. Despite a good opportunity to claim an important win over the Tahs, they ultimately fell to a disappointing defeat that has continued to jeopardise their playoff hopes.
8. Vodacom Bulls (7-1-6) – last week’s ranking: 7
The Bulls will be somewhat grateful to have at least claimed a share of the spoils on Friday, with a late try to Manie Libbok enabling them to grab an important draw. Important games remain against the Highlanders and Lions.
9. Stormers (6-1-7) – last week’s ranking: 8
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck lamented the team’s injury woes following Saturday’s defeat to the Lions, but there is little excuse for the up-and-down form that has blighted the Cape-based side throughout this season.
10. Chiefs (6-2-7) – last week’s ranking: 11
Kudos to the Chiefs, who have got better and better as the season has gone on. Saturday’s rousing comeback win over the Crusaders was one of the games of the tournament, and they deservedly jump another place in these rankings.
11. Highlanders (5-2-7) – last week’s ranking: 10
The Landers had a bye this past weekend, and now dwell down in fourth place in the New Zealand conference, while dropping a place in these power rankings too.
12. Blues (5-1-8) – last week’s ranking: 12
A last-gasp penalty miss denied the Blues a win over the Bulls on Friday, which rather aptly summed up what has been an inconsistent season for the Auckland-based side.
13. Waratahs (6-8) – last week’s ranking: 13
The Waratahs will be satisfied with the win that they managed to salvage against the Rebels in round 16, but it really has been a season to forget for the former champs.
14. Reds (5-9) – last week’s ranking: 14
Despite being at home, the Reds were really no match for the Jaguares on Saturday, and this season really can’t come to an end soon enough for them.
15. Sunwolves (2-12) – last week’s ranking: 15
The Sunwolves’ impending exit from the tournament in 2021 does seem to have affected the spirit of the side from Japan as they fell to another meek defeat in round 16.
Photo: Chris Kotze/BackpagePix