CRAIG LEWIS rates the 15 Super Rugby teams based on performances after 18 rounds.
The Super Rugby conference system makes for confusing reading regarding the respective teams’ standings in the tournament. SARugbymag.co.za’s senior writer believes that this is where they should rank on current form.
1. Crusaders (13-2)
Last ranking: 1
The Crusaders clinched the Kiwi conference title with a comprehensive win over the Highlanders last Friday. There is little doubt that they remain favourites to retain the Super Rugby trophy.
2. Hurricanes (11-4)
Last ranking: 2
The Hurricanes bounced back from a loss against the Brumbies by claiming a comfortable victory over the Blues on Saturday. They remain a dangerous side heading towards the playoffs.
3. Chiefs (10-5)
Last ranking: 3
The Chiefs had to see off a brave Brumbies side on Saturday, but a 10th win of the season keeps them firmly entrenched in fifth position on the overall standings (bearing in mind that the top three spots are set aside for the conference leaders).
4. Highlanders (9-6)
Last ranking: 3
The Highlanders did suffer a heavy defeat to the Crusaders on Friday, but this is a team that plays a brand of rugby built for the playoffs, while they should be expected to clinch a win over the Rebels this Saturday, which could do the Sharks a massive favour.
5. Lions (8-7)
Last ranking: 4
The Lions slip down a place after their bye this past weekend. The South African conference leaders will be extremely grateful to the Bulls, who claimed a win over the Jaguares to prevent them from leapfrogging their way to the top of the SA group.
6. Waratahs (9-1-5)
Last ranking: 7
The Waratahs jump a spot after their resounding 77-25 win over a 14-man Sunwolves team on Saturday, which saw them seal the Australian conference.
7. Jaguares (9-6)
Last ranking: 6
The Jaguares saw their seven-match winning streak come to an end when they went down to the Bulls on Saturday. The team from Argentina will now need the Bulls to beat the Lions this weekend, while then aiming to down the Sharks if they hope to move to the top of the SA conference.
8. Rebels (7-8)
Last ranking: 8
The Rebels have lost their way a bit as the competition heads towards the knockout stage. They will need to pull off a shock win over the Highlanders this weekend if they hope to sneak into the playoffs.
9. Sharks (6-1-8)
Last ranking: 9
The Sharks blew a golden opportunity to move into a qualifying position when they suffered a disappointing defeat to the Stormers on Saturday. However, if the Rebels fail to pick up any points against the Highlanders, they can then move into eighth spot with a victory over the Jaguares in the final match of this weekend.
10. Bulls (6-9)
Last ranking: 11
The Bulls sneak up a spot after their stunning comeback win over the high-flying Jaguares on Saturday. They will now be hoping to end their season with a victory over the Lions.
10. Brumbies (6-9)
Last ranking: 11
The Brumbies fall a place after their loss to the Highlanders. It’s set to be a matter of playing for pride when they come against the Waratahs this Saturday.
12. Stormers (6-10)
Last ranking: 12
The Stormers ended their season on a high when they claimed an impressive win over the Sharks on Saturday. However, their failure to reach the playoffs this season is a massive disappointment.
13. Blues (4-11)
Last ranking: 13
The Blues were no match for the Hurricanes this past weekend, and for them, this season can’t come to an end soon enough.
14. Reds (5-10)
Last ranking: 14
The Reds did well to beat the Rebels on Friday, but they can’t move above the Blues in these rankings when one considers they suffered a heavy loss against the Auckland-based side in round 17.
15. Sunwolves (3-12)
Last ranking: 15
The Sunwolves recently claimed a memorable upset win over the Bulls in Singapore, but on Saturday a disappointing red card saw them succumb to a heavy defeat against the Waratahs.
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