One team keeps their stranglehold on the competition, with a few corkers around the grounds. Round 8 is run and done, so let’s see how the Super Rugby pecking order looks after another week.
Last week: 1
Another week, another big Crusaders win.
This team has got to be one of the most professional, consistent outfits in modern day sport.
Each week they play 80 minutes of abrasive, tenacious rugby union – and they have the uncanniest knack of choking the life out of their opponents before they’ve even had a chance to establish themselves in the contest.
This week, it was the Brumbies who were on the receiving end of a masterclass – going down 36-14, despite leading 7-zip at the half.
Sevu Reece and Will Jordan led the Canterbury sides revival – both scoring doubles in the second half as they ran away to win comfortably.
Last week: 4
The Rebels just shade the Hurricanes, with a slightly better win-loss record.
They trounced the Sunwolves 42-15 on Saturday night, and reminded the Melbourne faithful of their immense attacking potential.
Reece Hodge had a triple from fullback, and Tom English impressed from 13, as he became the most capped Rebels player of all time.
Quade Cooper was solid again, scoring a try and setting up two others.
Last week: 5
Beat the Highlanders late, in the game of Round 8 at Forsyth-Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
They went into the game with a dodgy away record against the Highlanders, and looked dead and buried when they went down 12 points with 25 minutes to play.
However, an Ardie Savea rampage led them back from the brink, as he scored a double and ran for metres every time he touched the ball.
Beauden Barrett has been under-par this season, but looks to be on the improve, same with Ben Lam.
They went down a man with five minutes to go, and did well to hang on for a hard-fought, and highly entertaining win.
Last week: 6
An impressive 42-5 demolition job of the Lions was the performance of the round for mine. They were utterly dominant.
Winger Makazole Mapimpi scored two tries, while Jacques Vermeulen, Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit and replacement back Aphelele Fassi all crossed for scores, as the Sharks dominated every aspect of their match up.
Their first win at Ellis Park since 2014.
Last week: 7
Four. On. The. Trot!
The first time in eight years that the Blues have achieved that, and it came courtesy of a 32-29 win over the Waratahs.
Their defence in the dying stages was perhaps the most impressive aspect of the win – from a team that has built a reputation for being patchy at best in defending leads.
Caleb Clarke was super on the right wing in place of the suspended Tenielu Talea’a. Ma’a Nonu had perhaps his best game of the year, while Rieko Ioane is a legitimate jet.
Momentum is everything in this competition, and this team has quite a lot of it.
Last week: 2
A poor, poor game from the Lions who never looked in it against a fired-up Sharks side. I’m willing to write it down as a “we didn’t show up tonight” performance, however.
Sylvian Mahuza scored the consolation points for his side, in the only positive of the entire contest.
Last week: 8
Lost to the Jags 22-20, in a game they could’ve, and probably should’ve, won.
They led 19-10 in the second half, but let it slip late as the Jags bench ran rampant.
Last week’s win over the Sharks seems more impressive now after their demolition of the Lions, so they don’t slip a long way down on this ladder.
Last week: 10
The game of the round, as they lost 31-28 to the Hurricanes.
They would be ruing a couple of late errors, as they couldn’t hold on to a lead that would have iced a really entertaining performance.
Shannon Frizell was huge for the Landers, but couldn’t will his side over the line.
Tom Franklin and Luke Whitelock were excellent, also.
Last week: 8
They were awful against the Reds, going down 24-12 in Brisbane.
After starting the season so brightly, their last few weeks have been nothing short of average. Their finishing ability is poor, belying the talent and speed they have in their outside backs.
Damien De Allende was workmanlike, but his relative lack of ball-playing ability does make spreading the ball wide a difficult proposition.
Their tendency to drop the last pass with overlaps in front of them was their Achilles heel.
Last week: 5
The Waratahs couldn’t sign off Israel Folau’s record breaking night with a win, going down to the Blues 32-29.
The Wallabies back passed Doug Howlett as the all-time leading try scorer in Super Rugby, courtesy of a typical aerial effort – but their final five-minute surge was to no avail as the Blues held on for a gritty win.
Jake Gordon had his game of the year, and scored late to make things interesting – however the NSW side has now lost two straight, with the memory of a win over the Crusaders a few weeks back quickly becoming distant.
Last week: 12
A move up to 11 for the Jags, who left it late to beat the Bulls 22-20.
They looked dead in the water midway through the second stanza, but a sparkling cameo from debutant replacement flyhalf Domingo Miotti ended up being the difference between the two sides, as he scored twice in ten minutes, and kicked a conversion to win it.
A momentum turning win for a Jags side that has been disappointing in recent weeks.
Last week: 11
Had a bye this weekend.
Last week: 15
An ugly, ugly game against the Stormers, but a win nonetheless.
I said in my call that whichever team could limit their errors would win it, as both sides struggle to score in open play.
It turned out to be an accurate call, as both sides turned the ball over with alarming frequency – the game management of veteran Bryce Hegarty, and newbie Tate McDermott the ultimate difference as they held on for a 24-12 win.
Last week: 14
A bright first half, before being run down and pummelled by the Crusaders.
In the first 40, their defensive tenacity surprised many, and they held a 7-0 lead at oranges, but their lack of fitness and game management killed off any chance of a major upset as they faded fast.
Tevita Kuridrani scored an absolute stunner in the late stages for a consolation, but it couldn’t cancel out his sides poor second 40.
They were without Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a and Rory Arnold due to rotation policy.
Last week: 13
Smoked by the Rebels 42-15 in Melbourne, and never looked in the contest.
Semisi Masirewa continued his hot try-scoring form, with a double, but that was about the only bright spot for the visitors who otherwise failed to fire a shot.