Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: April 28 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!

Ma'a Nonu's Hurricanes: Back at the summit of the Super Rugby table, the 'Canes were the only side to win away from home over the weekend, with their bonus-point victory over the Reds making it five consecutive wins on the road. Needless to say it's been an impressive campaign so far with All Black veteran Nonu leading the way.

Northampton: The Premiership league leaders booked a play-off place as Stephen Myler booted them to a 25-20 victory over title rivals Saracens in font of a bumper crowd in Milton Keynes on Saturday. The Saints must be considered favourites to defend their title and should wrap up a home semi-final with five points against London Welsh next week.

Toulouse: The target of a lot of criticism earlier in the season, France's most decorated club is still very much in the hunt for a 20th league title. Friday's victory over Stade Français was Toulouse's fourth Top 14 win on the bounce and takes them to third in the standings. Unlike the two clubs above them, les Rouge et Noir only have one competition to focus on.

Wasps: A vital win over Exeter, 36-29, put Wasps right back in the hunt for the play-offs, with Joe Simpson grabbing all the headlines. As Exeter looked like they might pull off a comeback, Simpson jumped highest for an up-and-under before showing his electric pace to score a dazzling individual try. Now just three points behind Leicester in the race for fourth, Wasps look dangerous, with Nathan Hughes again unstoppable and their scrum also dominant.

Oyonnax: The smallest club in the Top 14 is still running with the big dogs after taking another big scalp – Racing-Métro this time – on Saturday. Against all expectations, a spot in the play-offs is on the cards.

Top 14 middleweights: A crazy round in the Top 14 – which saw the top three clubs at the start of the weekend all lose – has thrown the relegation scrap wide open. Incredibly, the league is so competitive that seventh-placed Montpellier are just four points clear of the relegation zone, as the battle to avoid the drop has turned into an eight-horse race.

David Pocock: Granted, the former Wallaby skipper was given an armchair ride to his hat-trick against the Highlanders by the Brumbies pack, but no one can deny that the flanker is quickly returning to the kind of form that made him one of the best opensides in the world before his horrific run of injuries. With Michael Hooper turning in top-class performances every week, Australia are not short on options for the gold number 7 jumper.

Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Leinster: The Ospreys' victory over Cardiff Blues had dire consequences for Leinster as it meant their reign as Pro12 champions is over. Leinster suffered a defeat to Ulster in Belfast on Friday and needed Cardiff to beat the Ospreys to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Pro12 playoffs. But with two rounds of matches of the league phase of the competition left they've missed the boat as they trail the Ospreys – who are in fourth position on the table – by 13 points. In fact with two games remaining, Leinster need to find form quickly, with Edinburgh and the Scarlets breathing down their next in the race for Europe.

Ian Prior: Stupid tip tackle, late and dangerous, had to be red for the Force scrum-half. Not what the team needed. 

Chris Hala'ufia: Another black dot was added to the London Welsh number eight's already checkered disciplinary history as he copped another red card on Saturday. The Welford Road crowd gave him a cheer as he put in a huge hit on a streaker, but the big Tongan quickly turned into the afternoon's villain when he was dismissed for thumping Leicester's Laurence Pearce with shoulder charge and then shoving the dazed Tiger's head into the ground. Poor form.

Lyon: Despite their big pre-season spending, a heavy defeat at home to Bordeaux-Bègles means LOU are almost certain to be relegated from the Top 14. While Julien Bonnaire is joining next season, their could be some high-profile departures, most notably George Smith.

Jonathan Danty: A red card for the Stade Français centre – after he pounched Toulouse wing Vincent Clerc – cost his team dearly as they not only lost 'le Clasico' to their old rivals but dropped out of the leading trio at the same time. With Jules Plisson ruled out for the season with a dislocated shoulder, it was a disastrous evening for Stade.

Jesse Kriel: The former SA U20 stalwart has made the Bulls' number 15 jersey his own with several fine performances and impressed again in his side's loss to the Stormers at Newlands. But only he will know what went through his mind when, in injury time and his side chasing the game inside their own 22, he kicked the ball down the throat of Stormers counterpart Cheslin Kolbe who promptly booted the ball into the crowd to secure the win for the home side.

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