Patrick McKendry ranks the country's biggest movers after the latest round of Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa.
1. Chiefs (No change)
(Beat Crusaders 26-25, record: 4-2)
A victory over the Crusaders to gladden the hearts of most neutrals – although not the Blues or their supporters, who have seen their chances of making the final grow more tenuous. The Chiefs' self-belief has truly returned after their shocking run of defeats and now they've strung together four wins in a row. If momentum is a thing in sports (and opinion is divided), the Chiefs have it.
Biggest mystery: Why skipper Brad Weber felt the need to use his captain's referral to ask the officials to check for foul play after a breakout run by Crusaders fullback Will Jordan. Did he see the interference on a big-screen replay, or was he informed by a support staff member? If either applied it's not what the law experiment was designed for.
Problems on the horizon: Is it too early to ask how the Chiefs and their head coach Clayton McMillan, who has helped turn them around, will cope with the return next year of Warren Gatland, a man who presided over eight defeats in this competition last year? It has all the makings of a very awkward dynamic.
Special mention: Weber; a smart, smart player and a very good halfback. He deserves genuine opportunities with the All Blacks this year and is likely to get them if they play as many tests as the top brass would like (15).
2. Highlanders (Up 3)
(Beat Blues 35-29, record: 3-4)
A thoroughly enjoyable rollercoaster of a victory against the Blues – a running spectacle in the best traditions of Highlanders and Otago rugby.
Biggest mystery: One week they're off, the next they're very much on. The Highlanders have yet to put in two good performances on the trot, so while they have next weekend off due to a bye, it's anyone's guess how they'll go in their final match of the regular season against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Problems on the horizon: Said inconsistency, and the form of the Chiefs. For the Highlanders to make the final, the Chiefs must lose to the Hurricanes this weekend with no bonus point (likewise the Blues must lose to the Crusaders), and then the Blues and Chiefs must draw their final match at Eden Park on May 1. And the Highlanders must beat the Hurricanes, obviously. Their chances aren't great.
Special mention: Kazuki Himeno; the Japanese No8, the new Highlanders folk hero, is picking up exactly where little halfback Fumiaka Tanaka left off.
3. Crusaders (Down 1)
(Lost to Chiefs 25-26, record: 5-2)
The so-called speed wobbles are becoming a little more serious for the Crusaders, who remain in charge of their destiny but are looking more vulnerable by the week and are running out of road. Injuries aren't helping their inconsistency, and losing midfielder Leicester Fainga'anuku, a big threat in every sense, hurt them in Hamilton.
Biggest mystery: Why Richie Mo'unga didn't pull the trigger with a dropped goal attempt in the final moments despite being ideally set up to potentially win the game for the Crusaders. Was it a lack of communication with halfback Bryn Hall?
Problems on the horizon: Every other team looks a lot more threatening now, including the Blues, whom they host next Sunday afternoon. Their famous set piece also appears a bit second hand. An attacking lineout loss late in the game hurt them and their scrum dominance has disappeared.
Special mention: Codie Taylor for initiating a handshake with rival hooker (and fellow replacement) Nathan Harris before their first scrum against each other. It was Harris' first Super Rugby game of the season after returning from a long injury layoff. Nice touch.
4. Blues (No change)
(Lost to Highlanders 29-35, record: 3-3)
A win over the Highlanders would have put them back up to second behind the Crusaders and well in the frame for the final. Instead, they're third and, a bit like the Crusaders, they're looking slightly shop worn. Their discipline was appalling in Dunedin.
Biggest mystery: Where their good decision making has disappeared to.
Problems on the horizon: Given the recent surprises this season after the Blues and Crusaders looked levels above at the start, nothing should be taken for granted now. Maybe the Blues will tip the red and blacks over on Sunday? A loss will put them further back in the pack, though.
Special mention: Jonathan Ruru's intercept of Aaron Smith's pass for a try after five minutes was nothing short of freakish.
5. Hurricanes (Down 2)
(Bye, record: 1-5)
It may come down to the final game of the regular season between the Hurricanes and Highlanders to determine which side wins the wooden spoon. It will almost certainly be the Hurricanes.
Biggest mystery: Whether they'll get TJ Perenara back next season for some much-needed experience and direction in their backline. Perenara's flirtation with the Sydney Roosters will be adding to head coach Jason Holland's angst.
Problems on the horizon: They play the in-form Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.
Special mention: Peter Umaga-Jensen. A hard-running, direct midfielder who perhaps isn't getting the opportunities (or service) he deserves.