Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: May 5 2015

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It is time for our weekly round up of who has their name in lights at the moment…and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're on fire!

Toulon: Three European titles in a row. Has any team dominated quite like this before? After barely touching the ball in the first ten minutes of the final, they took control from then on and were well worth their victory. Now they turn their attention to retaining their Top 14 title. It's difficult to see who can stop them.

Hurricanes: And can anyone stop the 'Canes in 2015? Now the clear favourites for the title, they put on a another top-class performance in their bonus-point win over the Crusaders for ninth win from ten games this year. Wonderful tries were scored throughout that game in Wellington, with Blade Thomson's the pick of the bunch.

Gloucester: It's been an underwhelming season for Gloucester, who have been very up and down in the Premiership. They completed a perfect Challenge Cup campaign however, with a 19-13 win over Edinburgh at the Stoop on Friday. Even after Bill Meakes' late red card, they were able to hold on for their second European title. In doing so they booked their place in the play-offs for next season's Champions Cup, where they may well face Edinburgh.

Bulls: Back on top in the South African conference, the three-time Super Rugby champions responded well from defeat in Cape Town a week earlier to claim a bonus-point win over the in-form Lions. Most pleasing in the 35-33 win was the way the Bulls approached the game, as they put on an exciting show for their fans.

Toulon wingers: Bernard Laporte has repeatedly pointed out this season how the best players show up in the big games. On Saturday his wingers were outstanding. Drew Mitchell's stunning solo try will live long in the memory, while Jon Davies will remember a huge second-half hit that knocked him backwards. Bryan Habana was more discreet but produced a key tackle in the opening minutes to stop a rampaging Napolioni Nalaga. Then, as Jamie Roberts pointed out on Twitter, he was decisive at the death: "(Camille) Lopez looked up, saw the kick was on – by the time he'd kicked it, @BryanHabana had covered 20m in defence. Chapeau."

Akira Ioane: Another star is born in New Zealand. What a try that was from the Blues blindside flanker, who was selected ahead of Steven Luatua against the Force on Saturday. Sir John Kirwan's decision was the correct one as Ioane's speed saw him ease past Wallaby wing Nick Cummins en route to a 40-metre try in Auckland. Pencil him in alongside Jordan Taufua as a decent back-up, Steve Hansen.

Broken Thermostat

Nick Abendanon: After ten minutes it looked like Abendanon was about to make a mockery of his likely exclusion from England's World Cup squad. He almost set up Nalaga for a try with his first touch and looked unstoppable. As the game went on, he became less incisive, and it was his erroneous kick that saw Clermont throw away their lead just before the break. A second-half wonder try made up for it to some extent, but he probably didn't do enough in a mixed performance to convince Stuart Lancaster that he has to return to Twickenham in September.

Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Clermont: Add another final defeat to the list. After ten losing French finals, this was their second negative on Europe's biggest stage. While two years ago they were arguably the better team in defeat in Dublin, on this occasion Toulon deservedly beat them. Untouchable for ten minutes, they eventually buckled under the power of the Toulon's charges, while making costly basic mistakes. From their inability to claim restarts, to the loose kick with time up in the first-half which led to Mathieu Bastareaud's try to the missed touch at the death, they were too naive to beat Toulon. The last two seasons have seen them fall apart after European losses. Will they be able to bounce back in the Top 14?

Sharks: This season is beginning to look like an absolute disaster for the Sharks, who were embarrassed in Dunedin on Friday. It's easy to see where it went wrong for them, as they missed a barely believable 29 tackles. The chief culprit was Andre Esteruizen who missed eight all on his own. He's still only 21 so it would be wrong to give up on him, but he'll need to tighten up that part of his game. He passing – or lack of it – wasn't great either.

Kurt Coleman: The Stormers fly-half came off the bench to miss four penalties in the second-half of their loss to the Cheetahs. His poor form from the tee is especially enraging for Stormers fans because the man he replaced, Demetri Catrakilis, has slotted 27 consecutive shots at goal.

Noa Nakaitaci: Twickenham doesn't seem to bring out the best of the France winger, after he nearly fluffed his lines scoring against England back in March. Last Saturday, Nakaitaci threw the ball away to gift Toulon and Leigh Halfpenny another penalty. A complete lack of composure in a Cup final – with his coach Franck Azema commenting that it was "stupid and that’s not acceptable at this level."

Ross Moriarty: Bill Meakes' rash challenge which ended in a red card put Gloucester right under pressure, but Moriarity's mindless knee to the back of Fraser McKenzie in Friday's Challenge Cup Final was just as bad. The young flanker saw yellow as Gloucester did their best to throw away the final, but it arguably should have been more.

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