Super Rugby Pacific power rankings
Was the "super" round in Melbourne in fact super? Well, yes and no.
Beat Moana Pasifika 52-29. Table position: 1.
With two bonus point victories, including one against the defending champions in round one, and a +44 points differential, coach Clayton McMillan couldn’t ask for much more (although they did leak four second-half tries to Moana).
Fed up with losing their semifinal to the Crusaders last season, the Chiefs are conducting themselves with all the fury of a scorned little brother (but with far greater accuracy). Damian McKenzie, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Brad Weber, Shaun Stevenson… they’re a formidable outfit when they get it right.
Beat Blues 25-20. Table position 3.
Two matches, two wins (their first was against the Waratahs), a game plan built around an excellent set piece along with pace on the outsides, depth on the bench (Jake White and Noah Lolesio are a heck of a support act for Ryan Lonergan and Jack Debreczeni), and smart players, the Brumbies appear to have it all.
The way they defended and contested the breakdown confounded the Blues, who thrive on a disorganised opposition. They deserved their win and while their obsession with the lineout drive won’t be to everyone’s taste, it remains effective. The Crusaders may have something to say about that, though.
Beat Rebels 39-33. Table position 2.
A rip-roaring, if ill-tempered, match which resulted in a victory for the Hurricanes after Jordie Barrett sealed it with a try in the final two minutes.
There were various blow-ups in the first half which saw Ardie Savea lose his cool and mime a throat-cutting gesture to an opponent as he was sinbinned, for which he may be punished further.
Tevita Mafileo received an upgraded red card for connecting with an opponent’s head in a reckless cleanout.
Not to excuse any of the above, but the Hurricanes are playing with such wildness – in just about every sense - they are a compelling watch.
Beat Highlanders 52-15. Table position: 7
The Rolls Royce forward pack required a push start – the Highlanders put pressure on a couple of early scrums which would have been an uncomfortable way for the Crusaders to end their week of redemption after their towelling by the Chiefs in round one.
But with their defence vastly improved from an eccentric performance in Christchurch, and Richie Mo’unga and David Havili reconnecting their formidable inside-back partnership, the defending champions looked a little more like defending champions.
A suspected Jack Goodhue groin injury is another blow to the All Blacks midfielder.
Lost to Brumbies 20-25. Table position 4.
Ouch, this one will hurt, and it may add to the impression that the Blues can be vulnerable against a highly motivated team with a good set piece. They found that out in last year’s grand final against the Crusaders (a series of horror lineouts) and in round two they were brittle in the face of the Brumbies’ lineout drive.
After thrashing the Highlanders in Dunedin, assistant coach Daniel Halangahu warned against complacency. Was that the problem here? Not sure, but they couldn’t defend the rolling maul, gave up an enormous 17 penalties, and lost two men to the bin in the first quarter. And while they did well to cope with the temporary loss of Caleb Clarke and James Lay, they also bombed the only try-scoring chance either side had in the second half.
Lost to Hurricanes 33-39. Table position 10.
Played their part in this rollicking match and may have won it if not for a Hurricanes steal in the final moments led to Jordie Barrett’s try. Had little answer to Ardie Savea’s running close to the line or off the scrum in the first half, but stuck at it and had their wins in the second half. Plucky.
Beat Fijian Drua 46-17. Table position 5.
Finished strongly against the Drua after being level 10-all at halftime. A good bounce-back victory after a loss in round one. But it’s tough to get excited about a team in the “super” round that elects to take a penalty shot at goal in the 80th minute with the score already 43-17.
Beat Force 71-20. Table position 6.
Lost to the Hurricanes in round one but there’s nothing like running through a series of open doors when one is looking for a new perspective on things. Ruthless against a side playing with 14 men for the last quarter (and 13 men for the final six minutes) due to a red and yellow card.
9. Fijian Drua
Lost to Waratahs 17-46. Table position 8.
Don’t give up on the Drua, one of the competition’s true entertainers will get more wins yet.
10. Moana Pasifika.
Lost to Chiefs 29-52. Table position 11.
After dipping out against the Drua in an extraordinary round one match, nearly everyone’s second favourite team were staring down the barrel against the Chiefs at halftime in round two. But, down 3-38 at halftime, they scored four tries to outscore their in-form opponents 26-14.
Lost to Crusaders 15-52. Table position 12.
Two matches in which they were relatively competitive in the first half have finished in two hidings. The Highlanders play an offloading, free-spirited style but get it wrong and it goes south quickly. Unfortunately, they’re a bit short of quality and depth. It may get worse.
Lost to Reds 20-71. Table position 11.
Managed to beat Rebels in round one, then lose the plot against the Reds when conceding six converted tries in the second half of this one. Former All Black Jeremy Thrush came out of a brief retirement for this. Horror stuff. Nope.