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KFC Super Rugby power rankings: Ugly wins and even uglier jerseys

Big wins for the Highlanders and Chiefs, heartbreaking losses for the Blues and Sunwolves, and the Brumbies juggernaut just keeps on rolling. Scotty Stevenson assesses all the movers and shakers after round 3 of Super Rugby.

The Southern Kings' horrible argyle jersey. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Southern Kings’ horrible argyle jersey. (Photo: Getty Images)

1. The Brumbies

Rd 2: 31-14 v Force

Last week: 1 (N/C)

David Pocock played for ten minutes of the match against the Force at halfback. That’s just plain funny. Funnier still, the Brumbies didn’t miss a beat. There is a reason the Brumbies are the favourites to win this whole thing. I bet you can’t wait to book your grand final boys’ trip to Canberra.

2. The Highlanders

Rd 3: 34-15 v Lions

Last week: 5 (up 3)

The Highlanders and Michael Jackson are the only two things that can change complexion this rapidly. In the case of the Highlanders, it was a typically ballsy and unorthodox ten minute burst that turned the game and blew the Lions away under the roof at Forsyth Barr. There is no team in this competition that scraps as hard as the Highlanders. Only the Waratahs have made more tackles per game, and no team has played with such scarcity of ball. Even though they post a competition-low 11.46 minutes per game in possession, and the second fewest carries per game, they still rank in the top 8 for average metres run. Team motto: we do more with less.

3. The Sharks

Rd 3: 18-13 v Stormers

Last week: 8 (up 5)

In terms of statements, the Sharks’ victory in Cape Town was arguably the biggest of the weekend. This is a team that has a misfiring lineout but one that is just efficient enough in every other facet of the game to get the victories. They won on the percentages last week against the Jaguares and this week they won on straight up belligerent defence, making a shoulder-aching 164 tackles at 91%.  They also got the benefit of a high-level dubious penalty try call.

4. The Hurricanes

Rd 3: 23-19 v Blues

Last week: 10 (up 6)

I don’t mind ugly wins. Ugly wins are worth the same amount of points as pretty wins. The Hurricanes have been trying to be pretty but let’s face it: they looked even better being ugly.

5. The Crusaders

Rd 3: BYE

Last week: 5 (N/C)

I’m just going to leave the Crusaders where they were last week. There are two reasons for this: one, there was nothing that went down in round three to suggest the Crusaders deserve to be overtaken on the rankings and two, the Crusaders have the best post-bye record of any of the New Zealand teams, winning 78% of their games after a break. That percentage will increase this week when they host the Kings.

6. The Chiefs

Rd 3: 58-24 v Kings

Last week: 9 (up 3)

Back to winning ways and back to the top of the average points per match table for the Chiefs, who played a Kings side that rolled out in jerseys uncannily similar to the Chiefs’ original Super Rugby strip, which was a bad jersey even for its time, and should now be regarded as a criminal act. The Chiefs were always going to be too good for the Kings, but their rise up the table hits the ‘you let the Kings score 24 points?’ glass ceiling.

Walter Little in the 1997 Waikato Chiefs uniform. (Photo: Getty Images)

Walter Little in the 1997 Waikato Chiefs uniform. (Photo: Getty Images)

7. The Bulls

Rd 3: BYE

Last week: 6 (down 1)

There are some people who would love to take a pot shot at the Bulls by suggesting they play more rugby on a bye than in any other competition week. I am not one of those people.

8. The Lions

Rd 3: 15-34 v Highlanders

Last week: 2 (down 6)

Blame it on the travel, blame it on the superior transition offence of the Highlanders, or blame it on the boogie if you wish, but you have to concede the Lions’ efforts in the percentages ultimately cost them the match. The Lions made 150 carries to the Highlanders’ 70, and made 60 tackles to the Highlanders’ 150. Problem is, the Highlanders made a full 4 metres per carry more than the Lions, and the Lions missed a full 20% of their tackles. But for a sloppy ten minutes from the visitors, this match would have been much closer.

9. The Waratahs

Rd 3: BYE

Last week: 10 (up 1)

The Waratahs would have enjoyed a week off, during which they would have no doubt realised that rugby is a tough sport to play when you are making a competition-high 142 tackles per game, and conceding a competition-high 15.5 penalties per game, and allowing a competition-high 179 passes per game. The ‘Tahs will be better for a week off.

10. The Blues

Rd 2: 19-23 v Hurricanes

Last week: 11 (up 1)

The Blues do so many things well that it is tempting to say they have merely forgotten how to win the close ones. So tempting is it, in fact, that I will say exactly that. There was an extraordinary lack of finishing ability from the team this week, considering they spent a full quarter of the match inside the Hurricanes red zone. Anyway, it wouldn’t be the Blues without a soul destroying result, and they go up a spot on improvement.

11. The Rebels

Rd 3: 25-23 v Reds

Last week: 12 (up 1)

Captain Sean McMahon may have struggled to say the word ‘gutsy’ in his post-match interview, but that was only because he was almost dead. McMahon is as franchise as they come – he made a team high 12 tackles in the win against the Reds and ran for more metres than anyone else bar winger Tom English. If the Rebels can keep building a team around him they will continue to improve.

12. The Stormers

Rd 2: 13-18 v Sharks

Last week: 3 (down 9)

On the face of it, the Stormers are almost as hard done by on their massive fall down the KFC Power Rankings as they were by the massively brutal TMO penalty try decision against them. But hard-done-by or otherwise, this was a team that still couldn’t get the win despite being camped inside the Sharks’ half for the majority of the game. A one-try dividend on all that ball is Zuma’s presidential palace-level poor return on investment.

13. The Jaguares

Rd 3: BYE

Last week: 14 (up 1)

Went home, ate meat, got all excited about their first home game. Climb one place on account of those three things.

14. The Cheetahs

Rd 3: 32-31 v Sunwolves

Last week: 15 (up 2)

What on earth was going on in this game? Give the Cheetahs some credit for the comeback here, but really? This team is a slapstick skit every week, albeit a hellishly entertaining one. There is a point in every Cheetahs match at which you just know they have absolutely no idea what they are going to do next. I guess that keeps it fresh for everyone.

15. The Force

Rd 3: 14-31 v Brumbies

Last week: 15 (N/C)

Skipper Matt Hodgson made 21 tackles. Matt Hodgson is 34 years old. Stop making Matt Hodgson do everything.

Sunwolves hattrick hero Akihito Yamada executes one of the best swan-dives Singapore has ever seen.  (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images for Japan Sunwolves)

Sunwolves hattrick hero Akihito Yamada executes one of the best swan-dives Singapore has ever seen. (Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images)

16. The Sunwolves

Rd 3: 31-32 v Cheetahs

Last week: 16 (N/C)

Scored 31 points. Yes! Conceded 32 points. Noooooooooooooo! According to a Spinoff Sports quick fire flash snap opinion poll last week, this was the Sunwolves’ best chance at a win this year. Will they ever again in 2016 race out to a 31-13 lead only to clock off and allow three unanswered second half tries? Probably not. This was an absolute punisher for fans of sentimentality.

17. The Reds

Rd 3: 23-25 v Rebels

Last week: 18 (up 1)

Sack coach: check. Play better: check. Still lose: Check.

18. The Kings

Rd 3: 24-58 v Chiefs

Last week: 17 (down 1)

The Kings’ jerseys really are criminally bad.


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