That’s the question rugby fans from outside of All Blacks territory should be asking themselves right now. Sure, this year’s Super Rugby competition is only six weeks old, but it’s looking increasingly likely New Zealand will again have the teams to beat when it gets to the knockout stages of the Super Rugby competition.
The country widely regarded as being the best in the rugby business has lost a ton of players to Europe and Japan in the last few years, yet they still manage to play rugby on another level, with the Highlanders, Chiefs and Crusaders now well into their stride - and looking ominous.
The Chiefs and Highlanders have lost just once in six matches and lead the way with points earned - 24 and 22 respectively, while the Crusaders, having played a game less, have also only lost once and are on 18 points. The three teams are also try machines, getting 76 between them, with the Chiefs scoring a whopping 34 on their own.
South Africa’s best placed team after six rounds is the Stormers, with four wins from five for 18 points, but they’ve only managed to score 10 tries. The leading try-scorers locally are the Lions with 19, from three wins in five games, but they’ve also conceded 18. The Stormers have only let in five.
In Australia, the early pace-setters, the Brumbies, have properly come a-cropper, losing their last two matches, the last against the Chiefs, at home mind you. They may have scored 21 tries and remain Australia’s best hope at title success this season, but it’s doubtful any of their other teams will come into the reckoning later on.
The once mighty Waratahs are nowhere near the side they were when coached by Michael Cheika. They’ve won just twice, while the Reds, champions not too long ago, are yet to win and have scored only seven tries in five games - a poor return. The Western Force haven’t fared much better, winning once in six outings, and have also only scored seven tries.
It is also interesting to note that with the new bonus points system in place - that for a team to earn one for scoring three more tries than the opposition - the Bulls, Cheetahs and Kings have yet to bag one, while the Stormers, Sharks and Lions have managed to do so only once.
The Chiefs have bagged three try bonus points; the Crusaders and Highlanders one each, and the Hurricanes two. In Australia, only the Brumbies, Rebels and Waratahs have bagged try bonus points - one each.
The Cheetahs, Jaguares and Sunwolves have been the unluckiest teams so far; they’ve each picked up three losing bonus points (for being within seven points of the winners’ score). No other teams have collected as many losing bonus points. - The Star
Original source: Kiwi teams setting the pace, again!