Super Rugby power rankings: How Fijian Drua humbled the champs

The Fijian Drua players celebrate their upset of the Crusaders in front of a passionate crowd in Lautoka.

Super Rugby Pacific power rankings

Featuring an upset to warm the hearts of all those who dislike the Crusaders.

1. Fijian Drua

Beat Crusaders 25-24. Record: 2-1. Last ranking: 9. Table position: 5.

Rise and shine. In their second year in the competition, and their first game of the season at home in Lautoka, the Drua have beaten the defending champions in front of a wildly supportive crowd. How? They were perhaps more used to the very hot conditions and were definitely facing a relatively lightweight backline, but it was their defensive grit and determination that got them home. The final-seconds penalty in front of the posts awarded by Brendon Pickerall which clinched it seemed debatable – a Crusaders defender appeared to be on his feet when contesting possession – but there was little doubt this result at the end of a thrilling match was fully deserved.

2. Chiefs

Beat Highlanders 28-7. Record: 3-0. Last ranking: 1. Table position: 1.

There was a routine feel to this victory over the Highlanders that appeared ominous for the rest of the competition. The Chiefs did what they had to do against a team who already appear unlikely to make the bloated playoffs (top eight teams qualify) without having to go through the gears. They were efficient and deadly; outside backs Shaun Stevenson and Etene Nanai-Seturo ruthless outside the sharp Damian McKenzie. After beating the Crusaders in round one, it all bodes well for a home semifinal.

3. Brumbies

Beat Reds 23-17. Record: 3-0. Last ranking: 2. Table position: 2.

Clearly the best of the Aussies, the Brumbies were outscored in the second half by the Reds but already appear set for a good finals run. They’re well coached and have depth – as we know, the latter is relatively rare for an Australian team. A truer test will come when they have to play across the ditch.

4. Blues

Beat Hurricanes 25-19. Record: 2-1. Last ranking: 5. Table position: 3.

Righted the ship after an upset a week earlier against the Brumbies in Melbourne when they were metaphorically punched in the nose by the Canberra side’s lineout drive. No such issues this week. Loose forward Hoskins Sotutu shone and wing Caleb Clarke looks sharp. Plaudits should go to Dalton Papali’i for helping to win a crucial last ruck 5m from the Blues’ line after the final hooter.

5. Hurricanes

Lost to Blues 19-25. Record: 2-1. Last ranking: 3. Table position: 4.

This defeat came when the Hurricanes were without their most important player Ardie Savea, who was serving a one-week ban for his throat-slitting gesture - and it has dropped them a couple of places but they haven’t moved far here or on the (real) points table. They weren’t far off against one of the favourites (three tries each) and had a more efficient set piece – they won all five of their scrums and lost only one lineout. The Blues lost two scrums and four lineouts.

Blues loose forward Hoskins Sotutu charges into a tackle against the Hurricanes.

6. Rebels

Beat Waratahs 34-27. Record: 1-2. Last ranking: 6. Table position: 10.

Up 17-6 at halftime, the Rebels had to withstand a comeback from the Waratahs – the Sydneysiders scoring two converted tries in the space of 11 minutes. The home side with perhaps the least support in the competition did it in style.

7. Force

Beat Moana Pasifika 21-18. Record: 2-1. Last ranking: 12. Table position: 6.

The Force leaked 10 tries to the Reds the weekend before and coughed one up to Moana Pasifika after only 28 seconds in this one - Fine Inisi the recipient. Back came the Force against an opponent who struggled to hold on to the ball. Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger said: “We've got to be better in those moments. We couldn't execute our basics. It's hard to play when you're not catching the ball.” Damning stuff.

8. Waratahs

Lost to Rebels 27-34. Record: 1-2. Last ranking: 7. Table position: 7.

The Waratahs scored a converted try in the final seconds to earn themselves a losing bonus point and a little credibility. Poor.

9. Reds

Lost to Brumbies 17-23. Record: 1-2. Last ranking: 8. Table position: 9

Another Aussie team struggling for consistency. A week earlier the Reds put 70 points on the Force.

10. Crusaders

Lost to Drua 24-25. Record: 1-2. Last ranking: 4. Table position: 8

The big fallers this week. Scott Robertson took a big gamble in leaving out Richie Mo’unga and Leicester Fainga’anuku from this game because the Crusaders played like a team prepared to leave out their stars against a team prepared for the biggest match of their Super Rugby careers. The Crusaders’ lightweight backline - after David Havili’s departure with injury they finished the game with an inside back combination of rookie halfback Noah Lotham (who dropped a crucial re-start after the Crusaders had re-taken the lead), first five Fergus Burke and second five Dallas McLeod – lacked direction. Needless to say, the gamble was costly.

11. Moana Pasifika

Lost to Force 18-21. Record: 0-3. Last ranking: 10. Table position: 11

The agony continues. After dipping out to the Drua in round one, Moana contrived to lose to a 13-man Force in Perth via a late penalty. Last week Power Rankings suggested Drua’s time would come soon enough… that may not apply to Moana Pasifika unfortunately.

12. Highlanders

Lost to Chiefs 7-28. Record: 0-3. Last ranking: 11. Table position: 12

The southerners, light on talent and depth, are struggling, but hope is on the horizon. After playing three Kiwi teams in the first three weeks, the Highlanders will host the Force next weekend.


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