JON CARDINELLI selects an overall 18-team Super Rugby log based on performances and opposition faced after nine rounds.
The confusing Super Rugby conference system makes it difficult to see just where teams stand in the competition, but SARugbymag.co.za's chief writer believes this is where they would rank in a 1-18 format.
1. Crusaders (8-0)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The unbeaten Crusaders have accumulated 36 out of a possible 40 log points to date. They recently put eight tries past the Stormers in what was a resounding 57-24 victory over the Cape side in Christchurch.
2. Hurricanes (7-1)
Last week's ranking: 3
The Brumbies fought hard to remain in the contest in Wellington. The Hurricanes moved up a gear in the closing stages, though, and recorded an emphatic 56-21 win.
3. Chiefs (7-1)
Last week's ranking: 5
The Chiefs scored just one try in their 16-7 win over the Force in Perth. Nevertheless, it was a well-earned win on the back-end of a three-game overseas tour. The result sees the Chiefs drawing level with the Hurricanes on 33 log points.
4. Lions (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 2
The Lions needed a late try and penalty goal to claim a 24-21 win against the Jaguares in Johannesburg. While it wasn't the Lions' best performance, they remain at the top of the South African group.
5. Stormers (6-2)
Last week's ranking: 5
The Stormers began their three-game tour of New Zealand in the worst way imaginable. The Cape side missed 31 tackles in what was a record defeat to the Crusaders.
6. Sharks (5-1-2)
Last week's ranking: 6
The match between the Sharks and Rebels in Durban may well be remembered as the worst of 2017. The Sharks looked to be en route to an ugly win until Reece Hodge kicked a penalty in the 80th minute to snatch a draw for the visitors.
7. Highlanders (5-3)
Last week’s ranking: 7
The Highlanders thumped the Sunwolves 40-15. They will be favourites to down the Stormers in Dunedin this Friday.
8. Jaguares (4-4)
Last week’s ranking: 8
The Jaguares so nearly scored an upset win at Ellis Park in round nine. They've lost three in a row, though, and will be under pressure to beat the Sharks in Buenos Aires this Saturday.
9. Blues (3-5)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The fifth-placed Kiwi side had a bye in round nine, but have retained their place thanks to the Brumbies' big loss to the Hurricanes. The Blues will be looking to climb the ladder via a big win against the Brumbies in round 10.
10. Brumbies (3-5)
Last week's ranking: 10
The Brumbies slumped to a big defeat in Wellington. While they remain at the top of the Australian conference and have the same number of log points as the Blues (17), they have an inferior points difference.
11. Bulls (3-5)
Last week's ranking: 14
The Bulls recorded their second-consecutive win when they beat the Cheetahs 20-14 in Pretoria. They still have a lot to do if they're going to qualify for the playoffs, though.
12: Kings (2-6)
Last week's ranking: 17
The Eastern Cape franchise jumps five ranking places, following the historic win against the Waratahs in Sydney. They will continue to rise if they beat the Rebels in Port Elizabeth in round 10.
13. Cheetahs (2-6)
Last week's ranking: 13
While the Cheetahs have not moved in the rankings, they are now the worst-placed South African side in the tournament. The Cheetahs have the same number of log points as the Kings (10), but an inferior points difference.
14. Reds (2-6)
Last week's ranking: 15
The Reds have moved up a place, despite enjoying a bye in round nine. This is due to the Force and Waratahs dropping a few spots in the wake of their respective losses.
15. Force (2-5)
Last week's ranking: 11
The Force battled hard, but failed to obtain so much as a losing bonus point from their game against the Chiefs. It won't get any easier for them when they host the Lions in round 10.
16. Waratahs (2-6)
Last week's ranking: 12
The Waratahs plummet four places, following their first-ever defeat to the Kings. They will be playing for pride when they travel to Brisbane to face the Reds this week.
17. Rebels (1-1-5)
Last week's ranking: 16
The Rebels had their chances to beat the Sharks in Durban, who were forced to play 63 minutes of the contest with 14 men. In the end, the Rebels were fortunate that the Sharks made a mistake in the final play and allowed Hodge the opportunity to secure a 9-9 draw.
18. Sunwolves (1-6)
Last week’s ranking: 18
After losing 50-3 to the Crusaders in Christchurch, the Sunwolves went down 40-15 to the Highlanders in Dunedin. Some might say there's been an improvement, but the Japanese side has failed to add any log points to its tally and remains rooted to the foot of the overall log.
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