Super Rugby Power Rankings: Week 13

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Australian Conference fought back in round 12.

The Force's win in Argentina was filled with heart.

Add that to the thriller at AAMI Park and you could see signs of life in the rugby being played by three of the four Australian teams in action.

The Brumbies were the victim of some poor refereeing but had the same old problems in attack, offsetting their exceptional defensive work.

Here is how the Power Rankings look heading into round 13.

1. Crusaders

Richie Mo'unga and the Crusaders are flying. Photo: Getty ImagesPassed their biggest test yet with flying colours.

The clash with the Hurricanes had the intensity of a Test match. 

Both teams were playing at full tilt but the Crusaders ground the Canes into the turf to eek out their 11th straight win.

Another big test awaits when they meet the Chiefs in Suva tomorrow night.

2. Hurricanes

Saturday evening was heavy going for the Hurricanes. Photo: Getty ImagesThought they were a touch exposed against the Crusaders.

They can win playing pretty rugby but they had to grind it out in Christchurch and the ladder leaders did a better job of that.

Looked a touch nervous and were dropping passes that normally stick.

Their only two losses this year have been to the Chiefs and Crusaders - the two teams they must beat at the end of the year if they are to win the title.

3. Chiefs

Had the bye and not convinced the Canes were bad enough to move down a spot.

4. Lions

Three from three in Australia is no mean feat, no matter how weak the opposition may be.

A lesser side would have folded against a Brumbies team that makes you earn it.

As always, the biggest query remains how they will go against the cream of the New Zealand crop.

We won't find out until finals football rolls around.

5. Highlanders

A muddy Malakai Fekitoa streaks away for the Highlanders. Photo: Getty ImagesThat's now seven wins on the trot for the Highlanders.

For those that haven't seen their clash with the Bulls, it's probably best not to bother.

The muddy field looked like something out of the 1980s and there was no shortage of drop ball as a result.

Not even a Waisake Naholo red card could stop the Highlanders, though the one man advantage was quickly eradicated.

Malakai Fekitoa lifted in the final minutes to score a superb match winner.

Can they make it eight straight against the Force?

6. Blues

The Blues keep scaling this ladder, proving just how good the New Zealand Conference really is.

They are beating teams they should be beating but have come unstuck against teams with a touch more class.

Still, they flexed their attacking firepower against the Cheetahs.

7. Sharks

If you want to be a Super Rugby title contender, losing to the Kings isn't a good way to show your worth.

A really bad loss, even if the Kings are an improved outfit.

8. Stormers

Had a much needed week off.

9. Jaguares

Tough loss to the Force but probably shows what has been suspected all along - as this column forecasted last week.

They are good enough to beat average to poor sides at home but when teams arrive in Buenos Aires on top of their game, they are very beatable.

Have lost their mojo with ball in hand.

10. Force

Curtis Rona and the Force were at the top of their game in Buenos Aires. Photo: AFPThe Jaguares may not be a good side but for a team with as little road success as the Force, this was an enormous win.

It puts them on three wins alongside the Brumbies, Reds and Waratahs and they are every chance of playing finals football if they continue to play that brand of rugby in the run home.

11. Reds

Speaking of big wins... Queensland's bonus point win against the Rebels wasn't against great opposition but it was the kind of game they have already lost twice this year.

Now have the bye before launching into two crucial - and winnable - matches before the June break - Force (H) and Blues (A).

12. Waratahs

Had the bye and slipped behind the two Australian winners at the weekend.

13. Brumbies

Another week, another tough loss for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesBig slide for the Australian Conference leaders, who are arguably in the worst knick of any side in the country bar the Rebels.

Still haven't figured out any fluency in attack, which is offsetting their strong defensive work.

14. Kings

Big, big win against the Sharks and it's extraordinary to see them notch four wins in a season.

Their best win yet.

15. Bulls

Muddy conditions reduced the Highlanders to the kind of rugby the Bulls love to play and they nearly pinched a win as a result.

Yet to put together an inspiring performance this year.

16. Cheetahs

Played some quality rugby against the Blues but the class difference told in the end.

17. Rebels

A really strong second half against the Reds and we know they are capable of some high quality rugby at AAMI Park.

That's all good and well but they have still won just one game this year.

18. Sunwolves

Had the bye.