Super 14 Power Rankings: Round Two

Jeff Cheshire@@jeff_cheshireAnalyst IIFebruary 21, 2010

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 20: Bryan Habana of the Stormers breaks past Sosene Anesi of the Waratahs to score his second try during the Super 14 match between Vodacom Stormers and HSBC Waratahs Brumbies from Newlands Rugby Stadium on February 20, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

After two weeks of the 2010 Super 14, it is clear to me that this is going to be one of the most exciting competitions for years.

The rugby being played is fast and free-flowing, which has been what the game has been lacking over the past few years.

However, there still needs to be some thought to go into developing a way that the defending team can still have rights to the ball without getting penalised every time they try. 

The main talking point of this week's games has been the Chiefs' 72-65 win over the Lions. Eighteen tries in one game, that just doesn't happen!

But it did happen, and what a thrilling ride it was as the momentum swung back and forth between the two teams making for 80 minutes of very enjoyable rugby.

So now to rank the teams based on their form so far this year. (Last week's ranking in brackets)

1. The Bulls(1): Last Week: Won vs Brumbies 50-32   Win/Loss: 2-0

The Bulls reclaim their No. 1 spot as they take a convincing home win over the touring Brumbies. Morne Steyn led the way with two tries, five penalties and five conversions landing 10/11 kicks.

After a slow start, The Bulls picked up and finished strongly to rack up their second fifty pointer in as many games.

Positives: The Bulls are averaging 50.5 points per game so far showing how good their attack is.
Negatives: A slow start had the Bulls 15-6 behind at one stage in the first half.

2. The Hurricanes(3): Last Week: Won vs Force 47-22   Win/Loss: 2-0

The Hurricanes looked good on Saturday night as they blew aside the Force in a 47-22 win. Tamati Ellison held the key for the Canes as he set up their first three tries.

They went through a bad patch towards the end of the second half where they let the Force back into the game, but put them away in the second half with an all round strong performance.

Positives: Another good second half saw the Hurricanes beat the Force with ease.
Negatives:  They seemed to go to sleep for a period nearer to the end of the first half where the Force looked to be back in the game after it seemed the Hurricanes would run away with it.

3. The Stormers(6): Last Week: Won vs Waratahs 27-6   Win/Loss: 2-0

The Stormers jump three places in the rankings this week after a 21 point over the Waratahs. The star for the Stormers was none other than their new star signing Bryan Habana who scored two tries which really put the game out of reach from the Waratahs.

Defensively, the Stormers look good this year only conceding 19 points in the first two games which considering the new rulings is a remarkable effort. Just for the record, the next best defensive record is the Hurricanes who have let in 32 points.

Positives:  Defensively the Stormers look outstanding, Bryan Habana looks to be at his try scoring best too.
Negatives:  Not too many negatives for the Stormers although Schalk Burger did leave the game with a hamstring injury but this was said to be simply precautionary.

4. The Chiefs(2): Last Week: Won vs Lions 72-65   Win/Loss: 2-0

In the most exciting match of the round the Chiefs defeated the Lions 72-65, producing nine tries with Richard Kahui picking up three.

The fact that they let in 65 points puts a damper on what was a superb attacking effort. A win is a win though and to be 2-0 after two games in South Africa is a very good effort indeed.

Positives: 72 points.
Negatives:  65 points against.

5. The Reds(9): Last Week: Won vs Crusaders 41-20   Win/Loss: 1-1

The Reds shocked everyone as they destroyed the Crusaders, winning 41-20. The win incidentally was their first in 11 matches.

Quade Cooper scored two tries and landed eight kicks in a very good performance. The Crusaders were left stunned as the Reds run in their first victory over them since 1999.

Positives: The Reds look like they are going to be a serious threat this year after scoring 41 points. 29 points for Quade Cooper is an outstanding individual achievement.
Negatives:  Although the game was won, the Reds gave away their second last minute try in as many weeks which will be a problem in close games as was seen in round one.

6. The Crusaders(4): Last Week: Lost vs Reds 41-20   Win/Loss: 1-1

The Crusaders slip in this weeks rankings after an absolutely dreadful performance against a rampant Reds side. They still looked in touch at half time trailing by only eight but a never looked capable of winning in the second half despite scoring two tries.

With the return of Richie McCaw expected in the next week or so, expect the Crusaders to pick themselves up and thrive once more.

Positives:  Richie McCaw is due back in the coming weeks but nothing much else looked positive from the Crusaders performance.
Where to begin? The Crusaders were simply not their usual brilliant selves and looked poor in every facet of their game.

7. The Brumbies(5): Last Week: Lost vs The Bulls 50-32   Win/Loss: 1-1

The Brumbies may have conceded fifty points in the weekend but the fact that they were playing the Bulls in Pretoria must be taken into account. The Brumbies started well being up 15-6, but let the Bulls back into the game and as Morne Steyn took over the Brumbies had no answer.

Positives:  Despite the loss, they managed to stay competitive with the competitions current leading team at their home ground. 32 points is reasonable also.
50 points in one game points to the fact that the Brumbies need to look at their defence.

8. The Waratahs (7): Last Week: Lost vs The Stormers 27-6   Win/Loss: 1-1

The Waratahs were comprehensively beaten by the Stormers, only managing to score six points. Bryan Habana proved to be too much of a handful for them on defence and they succumbed to a 27-6 loss. After only sneaking home against the Reds it looks as though the Waratahs may struggle in coming weeks.

Positives:  They have a win under their belts and have half of their South African tour out the way which means they will be able to put the loss behind them and focus on winning their games once they get back to Australia.
No tries is worrying. A loss and a lucky escape in round one is hardly comforting. With a match-up with the Bulls next week it looks as though the Waratahs will continue to slide down the rankings.

9. The Blues (11): Last Week: Won vs The Highlanders 19-15   Win/Loss: 1-1

After a win in Dunedin last week the Blues jump two places in the rankings this week however their win was far from convincing. It was a game that they should never have won but their ability to capitalise on chances saw them go past the Highlanders.

The decisive moment came when James Patterson partially charged a Paul Williams kick. The ball flew backwards off Patterson's hand putting all the Blues onside and saw the Highlanders outnumbered and Williams crashed over for his second try of the game.

Positives: Ability to take chances presented to them looks good. Stephen Brett has the goods at first-five but consistency is an issue.
Have looked poor in both games so far this season for periods of time. Their performances do not truly reflect the potential of the side.

10. The Cheetahs(14): Last Week: Won vs The Sharks 25-20   Win/Loss: 1-1

The Cheetahs held off the Sharks in a 25-20 upset win in Durban. The win was their first win away from home since 2007. The key for the Cheetahs now is to ensure they gain momentum by stringing wins together.

They host the winless Highlanders next week which is a game that they must be targeting and must win to gain momentum and pose a threat in this year's competition.

Positives: The Cheetahs only let in one try in the weekend which is a much improved effort after letting in 51 points against the Bulls.
Not too many, only one try though.

11. The Sharks (9): Last Week: Lost vs The Cheetahs 25-20   Win/Loss: 0-2

The Sharks lost a game that they really should have been targeting as one to win in the weekend. It was the second home game that the Sharks have lost which will prove crucial as it is so important for the South African teams to win as many home games as possible as they have such a great advantage playing there.

Admittedly, they were unlucky against the Chiefs but they need to start turning these close losses into wins to get themselves into a position where they can challenge for a top four spot.

Positives:  They only let in one try.
Negatives:  They only scored one try.

12. The Highlanders(10): Last Week: Lost vs The Blues 19-15   Win/Loss: 0-2

On Friday night we saw what seems to have become a standard game for the Highlanders in recent years. They do all the hard work, seem to play better than the opposition, have the chance to win the game, then go and lose it with a poor decision or a basic error.

The number of games the Highlanders should have won in the past few years is starting to look ridiculous and their inability to close out games has really cost them dearly over the last few years and so far this year it doesn't appear to be any different.

Positives:  They looked good on attack and defended well for most of the game. Look like they could cause all the teams some problems.
Turning close losses into wins is essential, Michael Hobbs goal kicking was an issue but the rest of his game was superb.

13. The Lions(12): Last Week: Lost vs The Chiefs 72-65   Win/Loss: 0-2

Scoring 65 points and losing is unheard of in rugby. But that's what happened to the Lions in the weekend. Some may say they deserve to be higher after scoring so many points but the fact that they conceded 72 points makes me wonder if they are low enough.

Positives:  They mounted a furious comeback scoring 40 points in the last 15 minutes.
Negatives:  Letting in 72 is a big no-no in this competition. A home loss is costly.

14. The Force(13): Last Week: Lost vs The Hurricanes   Win/Loss: 0-2

The Force were completely outplayed by the Hurricanes in every area of the game on Saturday night. The Force struggled to keep the Hurricanes out in the second half as they seemed to score try after try. It must be remembered that the Force are a team plagued by injuries and will undoubtedly improve in the coming weeks.

Positives: Finished the first half strong to show they are capable of playing good rugby, they just have to play more of it.
Negatives:  They really were outplayed in every area of the game which means they will have plenty to work on. Their next match against the Chiefs is a crucial one to get them back on track.


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