Super Rugby Power Rankings: Week 12

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips


That's the Brumbies' points differential and as Australian Conference leaders, it's the number which best describes the relative chance an Australian team appears to have of contending for the Super Rugby title this year.

It would take a brave fan to argue any of the five Australian sides have performed above preseason expectations.

Given that the records range from 3-6 (Brumbies) and 1-7-1 (Rebels), it is remarkable that each team is still a chance of playing finals footy in 2017.

The fact that a team without a positive win-loss record will play finals is a conversation for another day but round 11 was a stark reminder that the Australian Conference is still lagging behind all bar Africa 1.

There were hopes for each Australian side - as there seems to be every week - but none delivered.

Here's how the Power Rankings look heading into round 12.

1. Crusaders

Seta Tamanivalu is in scintillating form. Photo: Getty ImagesWill they ever lose?

Two from two in South Africa suggests this is a very, very good rugby team - not that anyone was doubting that prior to this road trip.

History shows that only the very best teams can go to South Africa and claim 10 competition points.

An ominous performance, albeit against the Bulls.

Saturday's clash with the Hurricanes shapes as the match of the season to date.

2. Hurricanes

The Hurricanes clicked into gear against the Stormers. Photo: Getty ImagesHardly had it all their own way against the Stormers, who were back near their best after two sub par performances against other Kiwi opponents.

As forecast, a genuine blockbuster against the Crusaders awaits.

Breaking their streak of 10 straight wins would be a colossal show of just how good the defending champs really are.

3. Chiefs

Turned a fumbling first 40 minutes into a devastating second half.

Though that may have been more due to another Reds fadeaway than the Chiefs' form.

The second half was the kind of rugby they will need to keep playing to contend with the two teams above them on this list and they get a week off now before launching into their run to the finals.

4. Lions

The Lions are a happy bunch in 2017. Photo: Getty ImagesLooks like the only thing holding this team back against the Force was jet lag.

The Rebels are hardly tough opposition but the Lions made light work of them on Saturday afternoon.

Hot chance of completing a rare Australian clean sweep against the Brumbies tomorrow night.

5. Highlanders

Only a New Zealand side in hot form could complete the kind of comeback they pulled off on Saturday morning.

Three tries in the last five minutes of the match is unheard of but the question must be asked - how did they get into such a bad spot against the woeful Cheetahs in the first place?

Think they still remain a class below the top three Kiwi sides.

6. Sharks

The Force were no match for a Sharks side that look to have worked into some better form again.

Not completely convinced they can contend and we won't know anymore about that after this weekend, as they face the Kings.

7. Blues

Sonny Bill Williams and the Blues have inflicted plenty of pain on Australian sides this year. Photo: Getty ImagesTwo wins against the two best Australian teams in the past fortnight makes it tough to argue that the worst team in New Zealand isn't better than the best Australian side.

That is hard to comprehend but it is the facts that have been laid bare after the Blues beat the Tahs.

Tana Umaga said it best when he admitted Kiwi teams were "taking advantage" of the current lull in Aussie form.

8. Stormers

The Stormers were mowed down by the Canes on Friday. Photo: Getty ImagesHave been exposed as a faux contender since leaving South Africa but they were better against the Canes than they were against the Crusaders and Highlanders.

Have the fortunate fate of playing in Africa 1, where the next best outfit is the 3-6 Bulls.

Need the week off to reset.

9. Jaguares

Needed the four points against the Sunwolves after four straight losses.

Their five wins are against the Kings, Lions (without their stars), Cheetahs, Reds and Sunwolves - which says it all.

10. Brumbies

Had the bye and slid a spot as a result.

11. Waratahs

David Horwitz's Waratahs battled against the Blues. Photo: Getty ImagesWould have dropped if any of the teams below on them this list did anything of note at the weekend.

Inconsistency has been the theme of the last couple of Tahs seasons and that held true against the Blues.

Now have the week off to lick their wounds.

12. Reds

Scott Higginbotham's Reds were well below par against the Chiefs. Photo: Getty ImagesThe loss to the Chiefs was eerily similar to the beating at the hands of the Brumbies.

Good first half, woeful second half.

Win against the Rebels and they will stay alive - as extraordinary as that may seem with their record perched at 2-8 - as they have a fairly comfortable run home.

13. Kings

Had the bye and none of the teams below them did enough to convince they should shift up.

14. Force

Never really looked like threatening the Sharks.

The Jaguares present a similar challenge on Sunday morning.

15. Bulls

At least the Bulls fans are enjoying themselves. Photo: Getty ImagesFlogged by a Crusaders team that is flying.

Things don't get much easier when the Highlanders come to town on Saturday night.

16. Cheetahs

Deserve credit for going within five minutes of beating the Highlanders, who have been in great form over the past month.

That's enough to move up two spots when we are this far down the list.

17. Sunwolves

Pushed the Jaguares in very unusual surrounds and also deserve credit for doing so.

18. Rebels

There isn't a team playing worse rugby than the Rebels right now and that's why they find themselves last in the rankings.

Not getting the basics right and need to turn their season around with a win against the Reds.