The Hurricanes announced themselves as the real deal with a statement win in Sydney while their Kiwi counterparts also had doosies. The Lions belted the Kings but should they genuinely worry about going far in the playoffs? Who moved where in this week's Power Rankings?
1. Hurricanes (4)
The most challenged of the Kiwi sides in a contest that felt like a playoff in terms of intensity. Barrett was a huge factor and there's a steely surety about him that keeps on getting harder. Brutal game coming up in Christchurch.
2. Crusaders (2)
Todd Blackadder wanted his side to be ruthless but he probably wasn't expecting a merciless 85 points. That performance will be impossible to replicate again this year and the Rebels didn't want to be in Christchurch; mitigating factors in this ranking.
3. Chiefs (3)
Forty-five point win was their largest ever in 21 years but has to be taken with a grain of salt. Mammoth game in Dunedin on Saturday against a Highlanders side who aren't too dissimilar in methodology.
4. Lions (1)
True judgement has to be reserved until the playoffs start and the Lions get a reality check. Punished the Kings but whoop de doo. A bright spot that has added a lot of intrigue into the next few weeks however.
5. Highlanders (6)
Did the business in Buenos Aires and built momentum going into the hellish next few weeks. Under the roof against the Chiefs on Saturday is going to be something special.
6. Blues (7)
Hugely positive signs from Eden Park in the Blues' most complete game of 2016. Kaino was King and is playing better than ever. Setting a template mould for next year when expectations will jump.
7. Waratahs (5)
Pushed the Canes hard but ultimately don't have the art of finishing. Whilst they can just keep up with the pace, they can't get ahead of it.
8. Stormers (9)
Saw off the Force in soggy Perth and held them tryless. Inconsistent all season but now starting to find some rhythm albeit against two average Aussies.
9. Sharks (11)
Have worked themselves into a pretty handy position to sit in 8th. High possibility of a local quarterfinal and they will cautiously back themselves to tip up and avenge the Lions. Written off by many (including this writer) but could surprise.
10. Brumbies (8)
Laughably one dimensional and the dullest, most arduous watch of a rugby team that got their comeuppance. I will cut them some slack - they are from Canberra after all.
11. Bulls (14)
Racked up 50 on the Sunwolves and got some of their attack back on track courtesy of a bulldozing forward effort. A rebuilding year and you know they'll be stronger next season.
12. Rebels (10)
If they played that game five more times, the carnage would be reduced. One of those days at the office when there’s no toilet paper in the cubicle, you’ve forgotten your lunch and your computer is slow.
13. Jaguares (12)
Another disappointing result. Can make a few friends over this side of the world by upsetting the Lions and they have the goods if they can piece together their game.
14. Reds (13)
Were getting demolished before they were reduced to 13 men in a terrible 0-5 weekend for Australian sides. Hyped up the Tongan Thor but come on, who's doing the dirty work for him to gallivant? This isn't First XV anymore.
15. Cheetahs (15)
Nondescript, non-entity and yet another predictable loss. Next week they play the Bulls. Getting up?
16. Sunwolves (16)
Given another dose of reality and could only manage three points. So did the Force so they stay put.
17. Force (17)
Staring down the corridor (excuse the pun) of another dire season of nothingness. If it wasn't for the leak (excuse the pun) of the news midweek, the Force wouldn't even make the news.
18. Kings (18)
Will end up as a trivia question one day – along the lines of 'what Super Rugby team had more people in its team than fan club?'