Best teams within each conference a bit harder to pick

The Hurricanes remain unbeaten, but after that, it's harder to pick the best teams in each conference..

The Hurricanes remain unbeaten, but after that, it’s harder to pick the best teams in each conference..

The Roar: After trying to establish which conference was the toughest or strongest last week, eight rounds into the season is probably as good a time as any to extract the best teams within each conference.

If the Super Rugby table was a funny looking beast last week, it’s even uglier this week. Four New Zealand teams occupy the top six places on the table. The fourth-best New Zealand team, the Crusaders, have a record superior in every determining facet than the best South African team, the Bulls.

And the team with the most bonus points is still winless and running last!

#Scrum5 podcast: Most open Super Rugby competition in history

ESPNscrum.com: Australian columnist & feature writer

ESPNscrum.com: Andy Withers, Sam Bruce, and myself review Super Rugby round four, and suggest we’re in for the best Super Rugby competition in history with every team capable of beating each other (with the possible exception of the Blues and the Reds).

The Whiteboard: Chiefs outsmart the lineout kings

The Chiefs' pre-throw shuffling took Victor Matfield out of the contest AND created the space...

The Chiefs’ pre-throw shuffling took Victor Matfield out of the contest AND created the space…

ESPNscrum.com: There’s been plenty written and said in New Zealand in recent weeks about the state of the Chiefs’ lineout, and whether it’s good enough to take them to a third consecutive Super Rugby title.

On the back of a night to forget in Pretoria last weekend, most answers to that rhetorical question have been an emphatic ‘no’. Three lineouts were lost with poor throws, and of the seven they did win on their own throw, several were affected by Bulls’ contests, most notably lineout master, Victor Matfield.

This all said, the Chiefs did put one over the Bulls late in the 34-all draw last weekend, with what would be their penultimate try of the match coming from a lineout set play, and I’ve taken a look at that play on the Whiteboard today on ESPNscrum

Power of patience delivers the unlikely Super Rugby final

Aaron Cruden celebrates the match-winner against the Crusaders. Image: ABC Grandstand

But for a pushed drop goal from Dan Carter, we could this week be talking about something that seemed so highly unlikely last week: the Brumbies hosting the Super Rugby decider in Canberra.

As it stands, we have a final that was considered only slightly less unlikely than the Brumbies playing at home, with the ACT side now heading to Hamilton to play the Chiefs on Saturday night, after having a few days at home beforehand.

The Brumbies ended the Bulls’ unbeaten playoffs run in Pretoria. Image: ABC Grandstand

Read more of my thoughts on how the Chiefs and Brumbies have won through to the Super Rugby Final, over on The Roar: http://www.theroar.com.au/2013/07/30/the-power-of-patience-delivers-the-unlikely-super-rugby-final/