A heartbreaker in South Africa, a late win in Tokyo, and a cancellation across the ditch.
Round 5 is finito, which means it is time for another set of The Roar’s power rankings for another week.
Last week: 1st
The Crusaders fixture with the Highlanders was cancelled following the horrific mosque massacre in Christchurch.
The right decision, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of the entire rugby community from The Roar when I say we send all our love and well-wishes to our friends over in Christchurch.
Last week: 10th
The Stormers have slowly moved up to a 3-and-1 record, and obliterated a fairly consistent Jaguares side on the weekend. With the second-best record in the competition, this spot is theirs to hold for this week.
I continue to be impressed by the halves pairing of Herschel Jantjies and flyhalf Jean-Luc De Plessis, the latter of whom I see as one of the more underrated playmakers in the entire competition.
His ability to pin the corners when the Jags started the second half brightly kept his side always in control. Siya Kolisi is a phenomenal leader, too.
Last week: 4th
The Hurricanes were inconsistent in a 23-23 draw with the Chiefs, and they would be mighty frustrated not to have beaten their yet-winless Waikato counterparts.
As coach John Plumlee said, the Hurricanes gave themselves a number of good opportunities, played some good field territory, and (had) good momentum – only to throw a poor offload, or turn the ball over instead of setting for another few phases.
The draw leaves the Hurricanes alone in second spot in the New Zealand conference.
Last week: 3rd
Had a bye this weekend – but have looked like one of the best sides in the competition through the first five rounds.
Last week: 8th
The Lions left it as late as possible to beat the Rebels in Jo’burg, but an after the siren penalty secured them the chocolates in round five, 36-33.
If their first half was woeful, their second half was mercurial. They choked the life out of an error-riddled Rebels outfit, and were duly rewarded with the chance to go wide time and time again.
They piled on three tries when the Rebels had Billy Meakes in the bin, too. Taking advantage of a numerical mismatch is basics 101. Brumbies, take note.
Malcolm Marx and Courtnall Skosan continue to impress for last year’s finalists, who seem to have found their attacking mojo after a slow start.
Last week: 5th
Had a bye this weekend.
Last week: 7th
Their fixture against the Crusaders was cancelled following the Christchurch mosque massacre. Bigger and more important things than the game they play in heaven.
Last week: 12th
The Brumbies went back to their strengths against the Waratahs, running out 19-12 victors on the back of a dominant set-piece.
Hooker Folau Fa’ainga had a double from two rolling mauls, and they were able to kill off any thoughts of a Waratahs comeback, with their ability to pin corners, and get repeat scrum and lineout penalties.
With that being said, they still have a number of issues that need fixing if they’re to challenge the top of the Australian conference.
They still look average when they attempt to play with width, and their one out attacking style will not trouble the better teams.
They also struggle to play with numerical advantage, continually kicking the ball away while opposing prop Sekope Kepu was in the sin bin. However, a win is a win, and no Brumbies supporter will be upset with that.
Last week: 6th
The Jaguares were pummelled by the Stormers on the weekend, and despite a decent start to the second half, never really put their South African opponents under much pressure.
They lacked the urgency, and defensive tenacity to match it with a side that looked intent on making a statement in front of their home fans.
It was noted in the comments of this piece last week that perhaps the travel would catch up to them – it certainly seemed the case here.
Last week: 6th
Errors, errors, and more errors.
That was the Waratahs’ entire fifth round matchup against the Brumbies.
Alarmingly, a number of their side seem to be playing themselves out of Wallabies contention with lacklustre, and inconsistent performances.
Bernard Foley has had serious trouble with the boot this tournament, and has had left enough points on the paddock to win both games they have dropped.
Adam Ashley-Cooper looks slow and slightly off the pace, whilst there are (rightly) question marks over the form and fitness of both Kurtley Beale and Sekope Kepu.
As it stands, these Wallabies veterans are being outplayed by almost every other player in their position in the Australian conference – that is a worry.
Last week: 12th
Had a bye this weekend.
Last week: 14th
With half an hour to go – I thought the Reds would be joining the Chiefs as the two winless sides in the competition, and at the base of these power rankings.
However, to credit Brad Thorn and his men, they found something extra to run over the top of the Sunwolves late, 34-31.
Their bench was outstanding, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert and Tate McDermott brought a spark that was lacking in the first half of the contest – and were all rewarded with five pointers for their efforts.
Hamish Stewart was impressive at fullback, and looked like he enjoyed the space at the back.
Their slow start was a concern, however, and the Sunwolves were able to make metres when they went wide, or when they held tight and played one out from the ruck.
The Reds defence will be their Achilles heel for the remainder of the season one feels, but this win may give them confidence in weeks to come. We shall see.
Last week: 13th
The Sunwolves will rue their inability to close the match out against the Reds, having dominated the first 60 minutes of the match.
Their backline is genuinely impressive, and Michael Little and Hayden Parker provide good go forward – and they showed that in abundance in the first half. The latter is also potentially one of the best goalkickers we have ever witnessed.
The Reds simply out-enthused the Sunwolves in the last 30 minutes, and that was the difference between the two sides.
Last week: 15th
It was a much-improved performance against the Hurricanes, but a 23-23 draw is not a win, and they are still zero from five, and rooted to the bottom of both their conference, and the Super Rugby ladder.
They head to South Africa now, with their season on the line, only a month into the competition.