Canterbury crusading on in Super

Friday April 28, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union
Crusader George Bridge bagged a triple treat against the Stormers in round nine last week. 17042713 Crusader George Bridge bagged a triple treat against the Stormers in round nine last week. 17042713

Round nine of Super Rugby was business as usual, as the top teams comfortably accounted for those looking to make a leap into contention.

 

The rugby that lies ahead is, in contrast, going to paint a picture that shapes the battle for the Australian Conference.

The Reds-Tahs clash will spark one team’s finals run while killing the other’s.

The Force could make a significant survival statement should they beat the Lions - who are without question the best team in either African Conference - in front of their home fans.

And the Brumbies risk giving away their conference lead should they fail to beat the Blues on their home deck.

An intriguing round awaits.

A reminder, these rankings are a subjective take based on each team’s form over the course of 2017.

They are based on who each team has beaten, where they’ve beaten them and by how much.

1. Crusaders

Still undefeated and showing no signs of slowing down.

George Bridge nabbed a first half hat-trick in what simply was a devastating 40 minutes of rugby.

The 36-3 lead at the break was always going to be unassailable and the Crusaders settled into cruise control for the second term.

They face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (AEST) and one would expect them to keep their undefeated streak alive.

2. Hurricanes

Looked to be in trouble trailing the Brumbies 21-14 at the break but put 40 minutes of perfect rugby together in the second 40.

The Brumbies were shellshocked and simply could not go with the Beauden Barrett inspired rampage.

Capable of rugby that no team in the competition will be able to stop, just a matter of whether they can play that rugby against the Crusaders and Chiefs.

3. Chiefs

Wasn’t a performance they will be telling their grandchildren about but they did enough to get the job done.

The Force aren’t a great team, though, and they will be looking to thump the Sunwolves to get back into top gear.

4. Lions

A late Elton Jantjies penalty got them home against the Jaguares, who continue to slide after a fast start.

They weren’t at their best but good teams win tough and that’s exactly what they did.

We will find out a little more as to how good they really are in the next three weeks as they face the Force, Rebels and Brumbies in a three week tour of Australia.

5. Highlanders

The only team to make a move in the top ten this week.

Had a tough start to the year and some started to write them off but there were always signs of a title contending team beneath the surface.

They smashed the Sunwolves and have now won four straight ahead of tomorrow night’s clash with the Stormers.

6. Stormers

Looked to be a genuine contender after beating the Chiefs, albeit in South Africa, but the last two weeks have exposed some flaws.

The Lions beat them up before the Crusaders belted them in Christchurch.

A telling clash with the Highlanders awaits.

7. Sharks

Would have fallen on this list if any of the teams behind them did anything worthy of moving up.

The clash with the Rebels was painstaking viewing.

Fumbled their way to a draw and a testing trip to Argentina lies ahead.

8. Brumbies

Again, more a case of the teams below them not doing much rather than the Brumbies justifying this ranking.

Actually didn’t think they were too bad against the Canes.

No team in Super Rugby can stop them when they play like that and there were enough positives in the first 40 minutes for Stephen Larkham to take forward.

Must beat the Blues on Sunday afternoon to keep a break on the Australian Conference.

9. Blues

Had the bye ahead of a big clash with the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.

10. Reds

Also had the bye. We’ll know if they’re Australian Conference contenders or pretenders by 9.30pm on Saturday night.

            - rugby.com.au

 

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