CRAIG LEWIS selects an overall 18-team Super Rugby log based on performances and opposition faced after eight 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 (7-0)
Last week’s ranking: 3
The Crusaders are now the only unbeaten team in the competition, with last Friday’s emphatic 50-3 thrashing of the Sunwolves adding another winning result to an impressive start to the season.
2. Lions (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Lions produced the performance of their season to secure a first win at Newlands, while condemning the Stormers to their first defeat of the 2017. It was the sort of all-round performance from the Lions that would have served as an ominous warning to opposition sides.
3. Hurricanes (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The erratic Hurricanes weren’t at their best against the Blues on Saturday, and trailed by three points heading into the latter stages of the clash, but again they found a way to win.
4. Stormers (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Stormers’ undefeated start to the season came to an end as they were well and truly outplayed by the Lions on Saturday. Although the Cape-based side certainly won’t be panicking after one loss, it is a result at home that sees them drop three spots in these rankings.
5. Chiefs (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 4
The Chiefs were left stunned when they fell 24-0 behind against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, but the visitors displayed impressive character to battle back and secure a bonus-point win.
6. Sharks (5-2)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Sharks had a bye this past weekend, but will be confident of returning to action with a win over the Rebels this Saturday.
7. Highlanders (4-3)
Last week’s ranking: 7
After three wins in a row, the Highlanders also had a bye this past weekend, but should make it four from four against the Sunwolves this Saturday.
8. Jaguares (4-3)
Last week’s ranking: 8
An encouraging start to the season for the Jaguares has been disrupted by back-to-back defeats in South Africa, which has once again highlighted the Argentinian team’s vulnerability away from home.
9. Blues (3-5)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The Blues actually jump up a spot after this past weekend’s unfortunate loss to the defending champion Hurricanes, where they were once again made to pay for their inability to close out games.
10. Brumbies (3-4)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Brumbies were far from their best against the Rebels on Saturday, and slumped to a surprise loss that sees them drop a spot in these rankings.
11. Force (2-4)
Last week’s ranking: 11
The Force had a bye this past weekend, and remain in 11th spot.
12. Waratahs (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 12
It was also a weekend of inactivity for the Waratahs, who will next take on the Kings in Sydney this Saturday.
13. Cheetahs (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 13
The Cheetahs made a mesmerising start to proceedings against the Chiefs on Saturday, but despite racing into a 24-0 lead, defence again let them down as they slipped to a disappointing loss in the end.
14. Bulls (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 16
The Bulls jump a couple of spots after a gutsy win over the Jaguares on Saturday, which finally saw them restore a bit of pride, while ending a three-match losing streak.
15. Reds (2-6)
Last week’s ranking: 17
The Reds fired in the second half to clinch an important 47-34 win over the Kings on Saturday, and jump two places in these ranking as a result.
16. Rebels (1-5)
Last week’s ranking: 18
Credit to the Rebels for a gutsy performance and finish against the Brumbies, which saw them complete a win over the Australian conference leaders.
17. Kings (1-6)
Last week’s ranking: 15
The Kings slumped to another loss on the road, and despite a relatively competitive performance against the Reds, they ultimately suffered a sixth loss of the season.
18. Sunwolves (1-6)
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Sunwolves plummet to the bottom of the rankings as they were brought back down to earth with a bump in losing 50-3 in Christchurch last Friday.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images