Movers, shakers and upsets galore. Round 2 of Super Rugby for 2019 had it all.
Here’s edition two of the weekly Power Rankings.
Last week – fifth
The defending champs are a scary proposition. They had three of their best resting against the Hurricanes on Saturday and still ran away 16-point winners.
Their control of the pace of the game is breathtaking and their ability to suffocate their opponents out of a contest is the reason they’ve been the standard in this competition for three seasons in a row.
Last week – sixth
The Sharks made light work of the Blues. Robert du Preez has been great through the first two rounds, and Curwin Bosch provides plenty on the edge. Their defence is starchy in the middle, too – teams will find it difficult to post points against them.
Last week – third
The Highlanders have had two close contests, and were lucky to pinch Friday’s win from the Reds. The 36-31 scoreline was befitting of an entertaining, fast-paced match. Shannon Frizell was immense for the home side, nabbing a double, with Dillon Hunt scoring the match-winner in the dying stages.
Still, for their flawless record, their tendency to turn the ball over and make mistakes is cause for concern. However, elite teams find a way to win when they aren’t playing all that well. File the Highlanders in that category for the time being.
Last week – 12th
This week’s big movers. The Brumbies were average in the first week of the competition, and not even the most astute of observers could have predicted their demolition job on Saturday.
A 54-17 embarrassment of the Chiefs was underlined by the standout performance of fullback Tom Banks, while Tevita Kuridrani and Chance Peni also had doubles. Importantly, their forwards looked like they’d shaken off the slow start.
Last week – second
The Lions lost 19-17 in a thriller to the Stormers, following up from a good away win over the Jaguares. I’m keeping them above the Stormers, because they had to travel mid-week, and still looked OK in this contest.
They had a comfy halftime lead, and can mark their second-half down as a blip.
Last week – seventh
The Canes pinched a win late against the Waratahs in Round 1, before being soundly defeated by the Crusaders.
They were playing a composite 1st-2nd XV though, and would have been satisfied with the performances of a couple of their reserves.
Last week – 14th
The Stormers bounced back from their first-week pummelling to steal a late win over the Lions. Siya Kolisi was inspirational and Herschel Jantjies’ try in the 84th minute was a nice example of patient rugby union.
Last week – first
The Bulls were disappointing against the Jaguares after their first-round stunner against the Stormers. They were out-enthused up front, and looked static in attack. They now have a model of how best to play, and how best not to play!
Last week – 11th
The Jags notched up their first win of the season in Round 2, controlling things nicely against the visiting Bulls in a 27-12 win.
The Argies weren’t put under any pressure through 80 minutes.
Last week – tenth
The Waratahs plain stunk against the Sunwolves on Saturday, and were lucky to win their first game of 2019. Turnovers and ill-discipline in the forwards was a constant problem, and while they found attacking easy, defence is also 50 per cent of the game – a fact that was lost on the majority of the 23 for 80 minutes in Tokyo.
Karmichael Hunt was good again and Israel Folau is the best ball-in-hand attacker in the country. Many questions to be answered however in the coming weeks.
Last week – 15th
I can’t put them higher because they haven’t won a game yet, but boy do I want to! They were exciting against the Highlanders, playing with passion, grit and pace – but lost in the dying stages. Izack Rodda was one of the players of the round, following the mid-week death of his father.
The forward pack was tight, and their backs were willing to throw the ball from edge to edge. Scoring 31 points is a big plus, conceding 36 points the big minus.
Last week – 14th
The Sunwolves are zero from two through the first couple of rounds, but were impressive in their defeat to the Waratahs. Their counter-attacking skill is elite, with their defensive woes the constant thorn in the side.
Hayden Parker should kick for goal whenever the Sunwolves are in their opponents’ half – it will keep them scoring points and ticking things over when the ball is not sticking.
Last week – fourth
Had the bye.
Last week – ninth
The Blues failed to fire a shot against the Sharks. Their second half was significantly better than their first, however their lack of forward depth will make this a long season for them.
Last week – eighth
Their loss to the Brumbies was plain ugly. Damian McKenzie has been poor in the first two rounds, and it’s amazing how a team can lose their way when their attacking spark is taking its time to work into the season.
The Brumbies exposed them down the edges, with plenty of work to be done in defence and up the middle in future weeks.