It's time for our weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment…and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
It is time for our weekly wrap 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!
Saracens: Will Greenwood's description of Saracens being “tough to love” following their victory over Ulster struck a chord with many who took in Saturday's quarter-final from Twickenham. After Clermont had thrilled hours earlier by running Montpellier into the ground, Saracens instead bruised and battered Ulster into submission, dominating the line-out and holding firm in defence until Iain Henderson's consolation score late on. Their style of play is many things – clinical, committed, physical – and yet also somewhat hollow. If it brings them a Heineken Cup title however, nobody will care.
Savea brothers: Both siblings were outstanding in the Hurricanes' win over the Waratahs with Julian crossing the advantage line at will, and scoring a brace of tries while Ardie, who was making his Super Rugby debut, got the better of Michael Hooper in their duel for the loose ball.
Paul O'Connell: Merely hours after the final whistle had rung out at the The Stoop, O'Connell's performance for Munster was already being described as one of the greatest in the tournament's history. Conor O'Shea described it as “majestic”, and perhaps there is no greater tribute than that. O'Connell banged down the door that had previously kept him out of discussions for the Lions tour, instantly becoming the bookies favourite to captain the touring side. That's after three senior games back from injury.
Cheetahs, Sharks and Kings: The Cheetahs won five consecutive Super Rugby matches for the first time when they snatched a dramatic 26-24 victory over the Stormers, the Sharks beat the Crusaders for the third time in fifteen years and the Kings fought back to claim three points thanks to a draw on the road against the Brumbies with four tries sweetening the deal.
Sitiveni Sivivatu: The top metre-maker in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals was the inspiration behind Clermont's second-half demolition of Montpellier at the Stade Marcel Michelin – winding back the years and proving that years away from the All Blacks have not diminished his talent. The combinations between Sivivatu and Wesley Fofana or AurÃ©lien Rougerie were divine at times – one of the reasons why Clermont are favourites to win their first Heineken Cup title.
Jonny Wilkinson: A vintage Wilkinson performance was always going to be necessary for Toulon to see off Leicester at the Stade Felix Mayol – the wily veteran duly delivering with throwback innings. Six penalties and a drop goal were complimented by a typical Wilkinson showing in defence. It means a return to HQ for one of Twickenham's favourite sons, with hopes of adding to a surprisingly bare trophy cabinet a step closer to being fulfilled.
Get these guys a cup of warm soup!
Harlequins: Right in the midst of a worrying slump, the English champions picked up their fourth successive defeat since winning the LV= Cup against Munster last weekend. 9-3 up at one stage, Quins saw their second-half lead slip away as they struggled for control at the set-piece and at the breakdown, outmatched physically by a ferocious Munster side. It leaves their sole focus on retaining the Premiership title over the next few weeks, a difficult task considering the form of Saracens at the top.
English clubs in Europe: Harlequins it transpired were one of five English sides to drop out of European competition this weekend, with Leicester also narrowly beaten down in Toulon to knock them out of the Heineken Cup and Bath, Wasps and Gloucester all knocked out of the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Only Saracens remain in either competition.
Ma'a Nonu: Was lucky not to receive a straight red card for a late shoulder charge on Piri Weepu in the Highlanders' loss to the Blues. While spending time in the sin-bin, for that indiscretion, the Aucklanders scored twelve unanswered points which played a big part in condemning the Highlanders to their sixth straight defeat.
Jerome Fillol: Spitting in another person's face is simply an unforgivable act, and for that Stade FranÃ§ais scrum-half Jerome Fillol finds himself right at the top of our Nots section. Credit to Peter Stringer for not losing his temper, but with figures from fans to players to the head of the IRB Brett Gosper condemning the incident on social media, Fillol can expect a lengthy and severe punishment to come his way over the coming weeks.
Elton Jantjies: The Stormers pivot seems to have lost the form which won him Springbok colours last year. Gave another lacklustre display against the Cheetahs which led to his substitution in the second-half of that game.