Super Rugby Power Rankings: Week Six

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Australian Conference continues to labour as its South African and New Zealand counterparts forge ahead.

Round six shapes as a true litmus test of the standard of the Australian Conference, as the Rebels, Force, Reds and Waratahs all face Kiwi opponents.

With just two wins separating the top of the Australian Conference from the bottom, success against opposition from across the ditch is worth its weight in gold.

The big movers of the week are the Jaguares.

While they were not at their best against the Reds, winning form is good form and they've proved Buenous Aires is as tough a road trip as any in Super Rugby.The latest Power Rankings Top 10.A reminder, the Power Rankings are a subjective take on the teams in the best form over the last few weeks, based on who they have played, beaten and by how much.

1. Chiefs

Out of action last week and the Crusaders took the chance to slip ahead of them in the New Zealand Conference but make no mistake, this is the best team in Super Rugby right now.

2. Hurricanes

Also had the bye last week. Will be looking to surge ahead when they take on the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

3. Crusaders

Your new Super Rugby ladder leaders.

The Force gave them a bit of heat in the first 40 minutes but there was an evident gulf in class when push came to shove.Digby Ioane and the Crusaders are flying. Photo: Getty ImagesStill undefeated, still the comeback kings, still the best rolling maul unit in Super Rugby.

Can they mix it with the Canes and Chiefs?

We won't know until round 12 and 13, respectively.

The telling number: 93.3 percent lineout success. Second best in Super Rugby and the basis for their rolling maul attack.

4. Lions

Another week, another average team dispatched by South Africa's best outfit.

The Kings were never going to challenge the Lions.

They lost to the Jaguares with their top dogs out but have otherwise been untouchable.

It is going to take a high powered outfit 

The real test will come when they hit the road but without a single NZ opponent all year, we might not know how good this team is until finals roll around.

The telling number: 2664 metres carried. The most in Super Rugby.

5. Highlanders

The Highlanders mowed the Brumbies down in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesWinners in a game the Brumbies could have, should have, would have won on another night.

The Otago side are yet to register a truly convincing win which put them in the same conversation as the four teams above them.

That is in part due to injuries, though they are starting to welcome some cattle back now.

The telling number: 7 missed tackles out of 102 attempted against the Brumbies. What's that saying about defence winning premierships?

6. Sharks

A dominant second-half display against the hapless Cheetahs was enough to get them over the line.

Curwin Bosch continues to impress in place of Pat Lambie.

A solid win, though they are up in the rankings more based off the Stormers' ugly win over the Sunwolves.

The telling number: 87.1 percent tackles completed. Second best in Super Rugby. Again, what was that saying about defence winning premierships?

7. Stormers

Robert Du Preez takes the ball to the line. Photo: Getty ImagesThe latest team to take the Sunwolves lightly and nearly pay the price.

The Japanese side played all the rugby, scoring tries from all over the place, but the Stormers played better conventional rugby and eventually overwhelmed the winless cellar dwellers.

We are yet to decipher how good this team is.

It may take until round nine, when they touch down in Christchurch, before we know.

The telling number: 74 percent territory against the Sunwolves. Strangled the Japanese out of the game with territorial pressure.

8. Blues

If the Blues can play 80 minutes at the level they produced in the final 25 minutes of their win over the Bulls, they will shoot up these rankings quick smart.

A grinding, gritty affair turned into a highlight reel late in the game.

Whether that was due to the Bulls tiring in their first match outside of South Africa for the year or the Blues finding another gear remains to be seen.

The telling number: 18 line breaks against the Bulls. Blistering stuff in the second term.

9. Brumbies

It was another heartbreaker for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty iamgesThird heartbreaking loss, third losing bonus point in three losses.

One would have to think the tide will turn in these tight losses eventually, though it is now becoming somewhat of a monkey on the Canberrians' back.

It's not a high bar to clear but on exposed form, still the best team in the Australian Conference.

The telling number: 14 points - the combined losing margin in their three losses.

10. Jaguares

Jeronimo De La Fuente was instrumental in the Jaguares win over the Reds. Photo: AFPWelcome to the top 10, Argentina.

Their arrival is perhaps a week too late but as with all teams in the African Conferences, we won't know how good they are until they leave their comfy surrounds.

They would be the first to admit they were not at their best against the woeful Reds on Sunday morning but given the standard of rugby they played last season, their 4-1 record speaks for itself.

Reward for throwing the ball around as much as any other team in the competition.

The telling number: 97 percent ruck success - best mark in Super Rugby. Consistent clean ball.

11. Waratahs

Ned Hanigan was a happy man after the win in Melbourne. Photo: Getty imagesA two spot jump for the Tahs after their exhilarating win over the Rebels.

When Bernard Foley is fit, the Tahs are the best team in Australia.

Granted, that's not saying much at the moment but Foley is far and away the best playmaker in the country right now.

Here's hoping he can get an extended crack at it in 2017.

The telling number(s): 23 runs, 140 metres, six defenders beaten, two line breaks, two offloads and a try assist vs the Rebels. Bernard Foley, ladies and gentlemen.

12. Reds

There really isn't much more to be said about their performance against the Jaguares.

Referee Mike Fraser had a shocker but so did the Queenslanders.

Botched tries, shoddy first half defence and ill-discipline continues to plague their game.

It would be the upset of the season if they could somehow shock the Canes on Saturday.

The telling number: 14 missed tackles in the first half. Several of those off Tuttle box kicks. Not up to scratch.

13. Force

Chance Peni and the Force came up short against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty ImagesThey were in the Crusaders game at half-time if you were just checking the scores on your phone but there was never any real threat to the undefeated Christchurch side.

The Force's defensive line speed allowed the home side to dominate and Dave Wessels said as much post match.

They play New Zealand's weakest team in the Blues on Saturday and have a wave of players back.

Their best chance for a win in NZ.

What a statement that would be.

The telling number: 23 line breaks in 2017. Easily the worst in Super Rugby.

14. Rebels

They didn't win but their performance was well worth a jump in the rankings.

They look a different team to the one that rolled over in two thrashings in the first two rounds.

The trip to Forsyth Barr Stadium is not an enviable one, though, so they don't appear to be much closer to their first win of 2017.

The telling number: 6 tries in 2017. Worst mark in Super Rugby.

15. Bulls

They made ugly work of the Blues game before folding late.

Doubt things will look much better after the Chiefs are done with them on Saturday.

The telling number: 396 carries, second least in Super Rugby. Very risk averse.

16. Cheetahs

There just isn't a great deal to say about this team.

They try to play exciting rugby and should be commended for that but the skill level is not there.

Their two wins have come against the Bulls and the Sunwolves.

The telling number: 20 turnovers conceded vs Sharks. Error prone.

17. Kings

The Kings were never going to have the firepower to match it with the Lions.

They may not be cut for political reasons but should South Africa chop two teams, surely they are first cab off the rank.

The telling number: 28 missed tackles vs Lions.

18. Sunwolves

Another week, another admirable performance by the Sunwolves.

They played all the rugby against the Stormers but yet again, struggle to match it when their opposition settle into conventional rugby.

Need to keep the game as unstructured as possible if they are to register a win this year.

The telling number: 32 missed tackles vs Stormers.