Super Rugby Pacific power rankings
A return to form by the defending champions.
Beat Blues 34-28. Record: 2-2. Up 9. Table position: 5.
They’re back on top, although not yet on the table that counts, after a thrilling and bruising victory over the Blues which they could have lost twice in the final 10 minutes if James Tucker and then Hoskins Sotutu had held on to the ball over the line. The Crusaders, led by the outstanding Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Dallas McLeod and Leicester Fainga’anuku (who had a hat-trick of tries in 20 minutes) were occasionally inspired at Eden Park. Are they back to their best? Probably not but they don’t have to be yet.
Beat Rebels 44-25. Record: 4-0. Down 1. Table position: 1.
The competition leaders were down early against the Rebels but responded with three converted tries and two penalties within the space of 21 minutes to take the game away from the visitors. The Chiefs scored another two tries five minutes after the break to assure themselves of a serene second half in Hamilton. They’re cruising.
Beat Moana Pasifika 62-36. Record: 4-0. Down 1. Table position: 2.
The Brumbies were down 36-34 against Moana Pasifika in Canberra with 27 minutes remaining when they suddenly remembered they have one of the best packs in the competition and decided to use it. Still the best of the Aussies by some margin.
Beat Waratahs 34-17. Record: 3-1. Down 1. Table position: 3.
A team which continues to fly under the radar. This victory over the Waratahs, who disappeared in the second half in Wellington, strengthened their position within the top three. Ardie Savea was back after his suspension – he was sidelined from the previous week’s defeat to the Blues – and even that little hiccup may have a silver lining: it’s one All Blacks’ rest week done, after all. They’re also almost assured of five competition points next weekend as they’re playing competition strugglers Moana Pasifika.
Lost to Crusaders 28-34. Record: 2-2. Down 1. Table position: 4.
Played their part in a rip-roaring match but they must be getting sick and tired of playing a supporting act to the Crusaders and this was a game they should have won at the death. The energy Tom Robinson and Bryce Heem brought off the bench may provide Leon MacDonald with a couple of dilemmas. Does he reward them with starting positions against the Force next Sunday? A more pressing issue is his lack of front rowers after James Lay and Alex Hodgman left the field in the first quarter, a double blow which changed the course of the game significantly.
Beat Force 43-35. Record: 1-3. Up 6. Table position: 11.
They got it done at last on a wet afternoon in Invercargill. And the Highlanders won their first match of the season without All Blacks loose forward Shannon Frizell, who injured himself in the warm up. In an odd match in which neither team were particularly accurate, a yellow card for Force back George Poolman (dangerous tackle) in the second half shifted momentum firmly towards the Highlanders, who leaked two tries at the death.
Beat Fijian Drua 27-24. Record: 2-2. Up 2. Table position: 6.
The Reds led 12-3 at halftime and then 27-3 thanks to two converted tries and a penalty, and then promptly fell asleep, allowing the Drua to get to within three points of what would have been another famous victory.
Lost to Reds 24-27. Record: 2-2. Down 7. Table position: 7
Down from their highs of the previous weekend when they shocked the Crusaders in Lautoka, but the Drua remain one of the best teams to watch in the competition for their offloading ability and sheer enthusiasm.
Lost to Hurricanes 17-34. Record: 1-3. Down 1. Table position: 9.
Poor in the second half but may yet make the playoffs if the Drua struggle for depth late in the competition.
Lost to Highlanders 43-35. Record: 1-2. Down 3. Table position: 8
Clueless at times in Invercargill, their first stop on a New Zealand tour which also takes in Auckland and Wellington. They’ve got a tough fortnight ahead.
Lost to Chiefs 25-44. Record: 1-4. Down 5. Table position: 10
Destined to be also-rans once again.
12. Moana Pasifika
Lost to Brumbies 36-62. Record: 0-4. Down 1. Table position: 12
This is getting tough on Moana, who matched it with the Brumbies for three quarters of the match, but they have reason for hope: in a fortnight they will host the Highlanders, probably the second weakest New Zealand-based team.