Super Rugby power rankings: Tour de Force leaves Brumbies whimpering

Folau Fainga'a, top, celebrates a try for the Force against the Brumbies. He had more to say afterwards.

Super Rugby power rankings

Crusaders will be delighted after Brumbies defeat changes playoff picture.

1. Force

Beat Brumbies 34-19. Record: 5-7. Up 4. Table position: 8

After beating Australia’s high-fliers in easily the Force’s result of the season, Force hooker Folau Fainga’a rubbed the Brumbies’ noses in it. Commenting on the decision by Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham to leave out Wallabies James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Len Ikitau and Tom Wright, Fainga’a suggested they were replaced by "little puppies" to allow the "big dogs" to rest at home and get their necks massaged. More of this, please. The win snapped a 14-match losing streak against the Brumbies and lifted the Force to eighth.

2. Blues

Beat Reds 45-26. Record: 8-4. Up 8. Table position: 4

After failing to fire an attacking shot against the Crusaders the previous weekend, the Blues with their chief playmaker Beauden Barrett very much to the fore, fired a great many against the Reds in Brisbane. Assistant coach Daniel Halangahu said during the week the Blues were determined to peak at the right time this season and this performance suggested there may be something in that. However, it was just the Reds so it’s worthwhile keeping some perspective.

3. Chiefs

Beat Hurricanes 23-12. Record: 11-1. Up 5. Table position: 1

The Chiefs, up against a below-strength Hurricanes on a filthy night in Hamilton, did what they had to do – even if they didn’t do it to head coach Clayton McMillan’s complete satisfaction. McMillan’s frown would have been turned upside down by the Force result later that night which effectively killed off the Brumbies’ hopes of overtaking the Chiefs as the competition’s top seeds.

4. Crusaders

Beat Moana Pasifika 41-7. Record: 9-3. Down 3. Table position: 2

A regulation bonus point victory by the Crusaders against a team that will be looking forward to the end of the season which for them consists of two matches. The Crusaders rested many of their All Blacks. It was depressingly predictable.

5. Highlanders

Beat Rebels 20-17. Record 4-8. Up 2. Table position: 9

Sam Gilbert stepped up with the clutch penalty to win the game in the 85th minute. The Highlanders had a bit of luck when their opening try to Connor Garden-Bachop was awarded despite an apparently clear knock-on in the build-up. Amazingly, they’re still in with a chance to make the top eight despite losing twice as many games as they’ve won.

6. Waratahs

Beat Fijian Drua 32-18. Record: 6-6. No change. Table position: 6

The word is that the Waratahs will be missing some of their best players for this Saturday’s match against the Crusaders in Christchurch. It brings to mind a famous match in the city back in 2002 when the Waratahs similarly rested a few of their stars ahead of the playoffs and were beaten 96-19. The next weekend, the shellshocked Waratahs were thrashed by the Brumbies and dumped out of the competition.

Zarn Sullivan on his way to a try for the Blues against the Reds.

7. Hurricanes

Lost to Chiefs 12-23. Record: 8-4. Down 3. Table position: 5

Hampered by the absence of Tyrel Lomax, Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett, the Hurricanes were never in the game after going down 17-0 at Waikato Stadium. It was hardly a surprise. But the conditions meant the game was far tighter than predicted and who knows what may have happened had those three All Blacks played? It was a cynical and potentially short-sighted decision to rest them for this one rather than the previous match against Moana Pasifika. The Canes are now out of the top four.

8. Rebels

Lost to Highlanders 17-20. Record 3-9. Up 1. Table position: 11

Almost without a cause after losing in Dunedin.

9. Reds

Lost to Blues 26-45. Record: 5-7. Down 7. Table position: 7

Had few answers to the Blues in the second half at Suncorp and few teams will mind playing them should they make the play-offs, as expected.

10. Brumbies

Lost to Force 19-34. Record: 9-3. Down 7. Table position: 3

Did the Brumbies make a mistake by resting so many of their players for this match in Perth? Their potential reward is a semifinal in Christchurch against the Crusaders, so possibly, yes

11. Fijian Drua

Lost to Waratahs 18-32. Record: 4-8. No change. Table position: 10

Another disappointing one but the Drua are almost certain to bounce back in Lautoka against Moana Pasifika on Saturday afternoon.

12. Moana Pasifika

Lost to Crusaders 7-41. Record: 12-0. No change. Table position 12

Limping to the finish line while beginning a search for a new head coach after Aaron Mauger’s decision to resign with a year left on his contract.


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