The Brumbies are in freefall, the Waratahs are on the rise and the Rebels are hanging around, heading into a critical phase of the Super Rugby season.
After an erratic start to the season, the Waratahs are within striking distance of the Australian conference lead following a dramatic 32-30 win over the Stormers in Cape Town.
Captain Michael Hooper’s crucial late try helped them post successive victories for the first time this season and put them in a good position to run down the two teams above them, after being in catch up mode for most of the campaign.
NSW (21 points) have a game in hand over the Brumbies (21) and The Rebels (23), both of who lost in New Zealand.
The Brumbies suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, but have lost four of their last six after being beaten 23-10 by the Chiefs in Invercargill.
There was at least some good off-field news for the Brumbies, with the club reaching a settlement with chief executive Michael Jones after months of turmoil.
Melbourne lost 36-30 away to the Blues, who are running last in the New Zealand conference, but have suffered fewer losses than the top three Australian teams.
Fullback turned centre Israel Folau scored his sixth try of the season for NSW, who had a numerical advantage for the last 28 minutes after the Stormers’ winger Leolin Zas was sent off for making contact in the air with Tahs’ five-eighth Bernard Foley.
NSW now have successive home games against two other South African sides, the Cheetahs and Bulls.
The Cheetahs have lost seven out of nine matches and went down 30-17 to the improving Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Bulls have to play the Brumbies in Canberra next week and have lost just one of eight games and beat the Force 42-20 in Perth on Friday.
The Rebels have a bye next week and then host the Brumbies, who have a bye the following week.
NZ side the Chiefs lead their national conference and the overall ladder with a 24-22 win over the Sharks in New Plymouth, where they were outscored three tries to two.
Wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane both scored two tries as the Hurricanes smashed the Lions 50-17 in Johannesburg.
Argentina’s Jaguares ended a six-match losing skid in style with a 73-27 thrashing of the Kings in Buenos Aires.
They scored 11 tries, with back-rower Leonardo Senatore bagging a hat-trick and five-eighth Nicholas Sanchez adding 23 points.
Having a bye were the Crusaders and Sunwolves, who host the Force next week in a wooden spoon battle between two of the four teams on one win.
Force, who finished bottom last year, have lost seven straight.
Two tries to halfback Nick Frisby helped The Reds post their second win of the season despite having two players being sin-binned, but strike centre Samu Kerevi suffered broken hand.