RugbyHeaven Aus ignores the Super 14 ladder and ranks the teams on how they are really travelling. The pool is still murky and there is only one round of form to make a judgment on.
1. Sharks – Current ladder position: 7
The Sharks were RugbyHeaven’s favourites at the start of the year and an away win against the Stormers only confirms their status.
2. Crusaders – Current ladder position: 6
Undoubtedly not the same side of recent years. But how far have they fallen? The jury is still out.
3. NSW Waratahs – Current ladder position: 4
Question marks remain after the win against the Hurricanes, but a bonus-point win away from home against a top-four favourite, plus a friendly draw, sets them up nicely.
4. Blues – Current ladder position: 2
Another strong performance. Injury hit and down at half-time, the Blues showed class to secure maximum points away from home.
5. ACT Brumbies – Current ladder position: 5
Came back from a 19-0 deficit against the Highlanders to notch up a bonus-point win. A good result even though the performance was patchy.
6. Bulls – Current ladder position: 1
They are on top of the ladder but had one of the easiest assignments in round one. Definitely a better team than they were last year.
7. Stormers – Current ladder position: 10
There is no shame to losing to the Sharks. The men from the Cape are still RugbyHeaven’s smokies for the finals.
8. Chiefs – Current ladder position: 13
Notoriously poor starters to the Super 14, but a narrow loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch is not a bad result.
9. Hurricanes – Current ladder position: 9
The loss against the Waratahs was not a disaster but nor is it the result that many pundits expected. Their credibility as title challengers was seriously dented but good news awaits with the return of Piri Weepu and Conrad Smith.
10. Highlanders – Current ladder position: 8
Blew a 19-0 lead last week to lose by just two points. The two bonus points is, well, a bonus but the injury to All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan is anything but.
11. Force – Current ladder position: 12
Not only continued their bad habit of losing games at Subiaco Oval, but blew a handy half-time lead as well. Coach John Mitchell has rung the changes for the Cheetahs clash.
12. Lions – Current ladder position: 3
They won on the high veldt last week but only narrowly beat the lowly Cheetahs. A sterner tests awaits in Durban on Saturday night.
13. Reds – Current ladder position: 14
The only team not score a bonus point in round one. Losing by the 13 points to the Bulls was substantially better than the last time they visited Pretoria, but silly mistakes still cost them dearly.
14. Cheetahs – Current ladder position: 11
Continued their bad habit of losing games by narrow margins. Such profligacy cost them dearly in 2008 and they seem almost certain to finish among the cellar dwellers.