CRAIG LEWIS rates the 15 Super Rugby teams based on performances after nine 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. Hurricanes (6-1)
Last week’s ranking: 1
The Hurricanes reaffirmed their status as early tournament favourites after claiming an important 25-13 win over the Chiefs last Friday. It was a result that took them to the top of the New Zealand and overall standings.
2. Crusaders (5-2)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Although the Crusaders had a bye last weekend, the defending champs remain handily placed, and should secure a big win over the Sunwolves this weekend to strengthen their position.
3. Chiefs (5-2)
Last week’s ranking: 3
The Chiefs only just hang on to third spot after their disappointing loss to the Canes. However, they remain one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, and will be strong favourites against the Reds this Saturday.
4. Lions (5-3)
Last week’s ranking: 4
The Lions also had a bye this past weekend, but the fact remains that they are still sitting pretty in second place on the overall standings. A lot more will be learned about the credentials of the Johannesburg-based side as they now head on a four-week tour to Australasia.
5. Highlanders (4-2)
Last week’s ranking: 6
The Highlanders jump up a spot after their comprehensive win over the Brumbies last Saturday. It was an important result that snapped a three-match losing streak.
6. Waratahs (5-1-1)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Round nine was kind to the Waratahs, with their good win over the Reds – coupled with the Rebels’ loss to the Jaguares – enabling the Melbourne-based side to move to the top of the Australian conference.
7. Rebels (4-3)
Last week’s ranking: 5
The Rebels slipped to a shock defeat to the Jaguares on Saturday, which was their second loss in a row. They now face the significant challenge of travelling to Pretoria to face the in-form Bulls.
8. Bulls (3-4)
Last week’s ranking: 11
The Bulls shoot up to eighth after a highly-impressive 40-10 win over the Sharks on Saturday. Following on from their recent win over the Stormers, they have suddenly moved up to second place in the South African conference.
9. Sharks (2-1-5)
Last week’s ranking: 8
It’s difficult to know what to make of this Sharks side, who seem to struggle when playing with a weight of expectation. As it is, Saturday’s loss to the Bulls at home certainly exposed a number of shortcomings.
10. Stormers (3-5)
Last week’s ranking: 10
The battle-weary Stormers would have been particularly grateful for a bye this past weekend. It might just provide them with the edge in Saturday’s all-important derby against the Sharks.
11. Brumbies (3-4)
Last week’s ranking: 12
The Brumbies did secure a good win over the Reds recently, but they will be disappointed by the manner in which they capitulated against the Highlanders in round nine.
12. Reds (3-4)
Last week’s ranking: 9
The Reds slip to 11th place after their disappointing loss to the Waratahs on Saturday. They have now lost three games in a row.
13. Blues (2-5)
Last week’s ranking: 13
The Blues battled to a hard-fought win over the Sunwolves in round nine, but it’s enough to keep them clinging on to 13th place.
14. Jaguares (3-5)
Last week’s ranking: 14
The Jaguares will be buoyed by their comeback win over the Rebels this past weekend. It was a particularly important result ahead of Sunday’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra.
15. Sunwolves (0-7)
Last week’s ranking: 15
The Sunwolves established a surprise half-time lead against the Blues on Saturday, but ultimately succumbed to a seventh successive defeat.
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