Scotty Stevenson pays tribute to the dominant Chiefs and delivers a stinging rebuke to a sledger in the latest KFC Super Rugby power rankings.
Rd 6: 48-23 v Brumbies
Last week: 1 (N/C)
As the Chiefs tore the Brumbies a new one in Canberra on Saturday night, I received the following message: “Lucky you changed your number one team to the Chiefs last week.” This made me think some people may not truly grasp the whole concept of the power rankings, in much the same way that some people do not grasp the concept of great succession planning. Just two full seasons have passed since the Chiefs won their last title yet look at the team that beat up the Brumbies on Saturday and compare that with the team that beat up the Brumbies in the 2013 decider. Just three players: Hika Elliot, Aaron Cruden, and Charlie Ngatai featured in both starting teams. The Chiefs have the best squad management in Super Rugby. And Damian McKenzie.
Rd 6: 32-20 v Force
Last week: 2 (N/C)
Not since the Gulf War have there been so many friendly fire casualties. In between knocking out team mates, the Highlanders and the Force managed to play some rugby – so much rugby, in fact, that this game threatened to continue into the next day. The Highlanders eventually wore the Force down courtesy of a backline that combined for 450 metres (20 more than the entire Force team combined) and a defensive effort that produced 138 tackles (2 more than their already comp-high 136 per game) at 90%. Also, as a standard rule, the Highlanders get more out of every minute in possession than any other team in the competition.
Rd 6: 43-37 v Lions
Last week: 4 (up 1)
The Crusaders climb to their highest spot this season on the Power Rankings by virtue of the fact they capitalised on a host of Lions’ deficiencies and indiscretions in the match at Johannesburg, and because their nearest rivals on the rankings did nothing to stop them. The Lions should have done enough to stop them: the Crusaders spent just 8% of the match in possession inside the Lions half, and missed 29 tackles, while the Lions dominated the scrum and camped in the Crusaders half. The Crusaders are good, but the Lions made them look better.
Rd 6: BYE
Last week: 3 (down 1)
The Hurricanes had a week off and so everyone could turn their attention to bagging the Blues for winning ugly instead. Just another thing Auckland does for Wellington. The Hurricanes don’t deserve to drop out of the top five – they are crushing the run metre stats, still have a top-four offensive record and will have had coaches Boyd, Plumtree and Watt winding them up all week after battling away against the Kings.
Rd 6: 23-48 v Chiefs
Last week: 5
I don’t think you can be too hard on the Brumbies. The fact is they gave the Chiefs 18 turnovers and therefore got crushed by a team that is hotter than Hansel right now. Still, considering the record the Brumbies have put together in Canberra against the Chiefs (played 12, won 9, drawn 1) this was a punch in the guts. On a more positive note, no judiciary in the world would dare suspend David Pocock, so even though he tried to unscrew a dude’s head, nothing will come of it. This was a hiccup result. I think.
Rd 6: 37-43 v Crusaders
Last week: 6
I hope the Lions don’t lose their nerve after losing against the Crusaders. They probably should have won the game if they had been a little more careful with the ball.
Rd 6: BYE
Last week: 7 (N/C)
Last week I told you the Stormers were a tough watch, but now that I have gone through a weekend in which they weren’t playing, I kinda miss them. They have taken me hostage and I have grown to love them. The Stormers have effectively given me Helsinki Syndrome*.
Rd 6: 21-17 v Waratahs
Last week: 12 (up 4)
Last week I lamented the Rebels performance. This week I doff my cap to the Melbourne side, who managed to claim a first-ever win against the Waratahs in Sydney. Is this is a good Rebels side or is that a terrible Waratahs side? This is a beef or the pork kind of dilemma. The Rebels also cost almost everyone their multi-bet, though as flanker Adam Thomson tweeted: “I have no sympathy for anyone who defies the rebellion”. Then he used emojis, which killed me.
Rd 6: 23-18 v Cheetahs
Last week: 8 (down 1)
Those pink uniforms are terrible, and… nope, that’s about what I took out of this week.
Rd 6: 24-16 v Jaguares
Last week: 11 (up 1)
You have to feel for the Blues. They are the only side in Super Rugby who can genuinely claim to have a bogey home ground. The Curse of QBE Stadium almost struck again against a Jaguares side purportedly down on experience (but lacking nothing in terms of enthusiasm) which made the home side work for every point. The Blues are like a lot like Million Dollar Baby – lots to enjoy, totally awful finish.
Rd 6: BYE
Last week: 10 (down 1)
The Sharks would have spent the week cooling off in the surf in places with exotic Zulu names, like Umhlanga Rocks and Amamzintoti. Or at least they should have been.
Rd 6: 15-13 v Reds
Last week: 9 (down 3)
The Waratahs once sacked Ewen McKenzie as head coach and he got them to the final, so poor old Daryl Gibson must be dreading the phone ringing. Not that the Waratahs should sack the coach. Instead they should just figure out a way to play some rugby in the first half. What is it with Australian teams playing badly under New Zealand head coaches, by the way?
Rd 5: 8-13 v Blues
Last week: 13 (N/C)
The Jaguares (Haa-Waa-Rez – you’re welcome) have now lost four straight and still have the Hurricanes and the Crusaders to contend with on their first New Zealand tour. I’ll go out on a substantial limb here and say they will have lost six straight by the time their journey through Aotearoa is over. Only the Force and the Reds are scoring less points and tries per game, and only the Kings have a worse tackle percentage.
Rd 6: BYE
Last week: 14 (N/C)
The Reds didn’t play this weekend and no one’s life was worse for that fact. With just one draw and four loses this season, The Reds probably needed a break. Unfortunately they next host the Highlanders, before heading to South Africa to play the Bulls and the Stormers. Things are not going to get any easier for the Reds.
Rd 6: 18-23 v Bulls
Last week: 15 (N/C)
Last week I told the Cheetahs to give the ball to Sergeal Petersen, which they did this week, but not enough. Petersen still managed to score a try which was nice of him. The Cheetahs spanked the Bulls at Loftus in the last round last year, but they just couldn’t control enough ball to make their mad cap game sing this time around.
Rd 6: 33-28 v Sunwolves
Last week: 18 (up 1)
The Kings made a round-high 158 tackles against the Sunwolves which is bloody impressive in its own right. But even with just 35% of the ball, they still managed to make 24 turnovers in attack, which is probably why they had to make 158 tackles. This will be the only game the Kings win this year. I’ll let them enjoy the moment.
Rd 6: 20-32 v Highlanders
Last week: 17 (N/C)
It says everything about the Force season that they couldn’t even hang on to a bonus point in the dying stages of Friday night’s match. Playing the Highlanders for 75 minutes is folly, as is kicking them the ball 34 times. I don’t care which team you are, that is just asking for trouble. The Highlanders duly returned those kicks with runs, or with better kicks. The Force don’t lack for heart, but they could do with some more running from Peter Grant.
Rd 6: 28-33 v Kings
Last week: 15
There is so much right about the Sunwolves that I feel cruel ranking them last. They love to run, the love to pass, their ruck percentage is as good as anyone’s in the competition, and yet they keep finding ways to blow games that are there for the taking. This Sunwolves team is breaking my heart. Don’t go breaking my heart, Sunwolves. Don’t go breaking my heart.
*Apologies for the Die Hard allusion.