Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: April 14 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!

Highlanders: A six-match losing streak against the Crusaders was ended on Saturday as the Highlanders won in Christchurch. While the hosts may have been weary following their return from South Africa, that shouldn't take anything away from Jamie Joseph's men as they picked up a win that takes them fifth in the table with a game in hand. Unfortunately the Chiefs and 'Canes are four and seven points ahead of them but in this kind of form, they will be confident of making the playoffs.

Oyonnax and Castres: Who saw that one coming? An 11-10 victory over the mighty Clermont at fortress Marcel Michelin puts Oyonnax in a healthy place with four rounds remaining. They are now three points ahead of seventh-placed Montpellier and host Racing-Métro when the league action resumes in a fortnight. Meanwhile, Castres are now out of the relegation zone after overcoming a free-falling Bordeaux-Bègles side 22-20 at Stade Pierre Antoine. Can they finish the escape job? Next up for them they host Clermont, who could have a European hangover.

Peter Horne: Probably the performance of the weekend as Scotland international Horne was outstanding against Cardiff Blues on Friday, scoring 24 points that saw him cross for a hat-trick. Vern Cotter was in the stands and couldn't not be impressed by the centre's showing.

Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs: It was a great Saturday for this quartet as the Lions continued their impressive run of form with a win over the Sharks while the Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs saw off Australian opposition the Reds, Waratahs and Western Force. Those results have left the South African conference up for grabs as just four points separate the pace-setting Bulls from the Sharks in fourth.

PRO12 top four: It's the business end and the play-off hunters, well, mean business. Respective bonus-point wins for Glasgow, Munster, Ulster and the Ospreys against Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh, Connacht and Treviso sees this battle for a home semi-final continue to absorb the fans. There's now of course a week off due to European action before three pivotal regular-season rounds remain in this ever-so-tight race.

Jordan Taufua, Jesse Kriel and Tomas Francis: We mentioned these three in our World Cup bolter feature last week and they've since gone on to another level. Taufua was all-action again, this time versus the Highlanders, while Kriel starred for the Bulls in victory over the Reds. On Sunday, Francis caused Northampton's scrum all kinds of bother. Hugely promising prospects.


Broken thermostat:

Blues: Not quite hot but a win is a win for Sir John Kirwan's side, who enjoyed their return to Eden Park by seeing off the Brumbies. At least they are now off the foot of the Super Rugby standings ahead of their visit down to Dunedin where the in-form Highlanders await this Saturday.


Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Western Force: Things have gone pear-shaped in Perth after that season-opening victory at the Waratahs. Since then it has been seven-straight defeats, with their latest coming on home soil against a Cheetahs outfit hardly in the greatest of form. Fortunately the Reds have picked up one less bonus-point so Michael Foley's side aren't bottom of the standings but they need to improve before hosting the Stormers.

The Nathan Hughes saga: So the Wasps number eight was cleared at Friday's appeal hearing after initially receiving a three-week suspension. Jeremy Summers (panel chair) said: "The appeal panel considered it appropriate to hear the matter afresh. Having done so and having had the advantage of evidence not before the original panel, it concluded that no act of foul play took place in that the incident occurred accidentally." Wasps will ask why he was banned in the first place, therefore missing their European quarter-final against Toulon.

Northampton: Following up a Champions Cup quarter-final hammering in Clermont by being out-muscled at Sandy Park has made for a tough seven days for the Saints. They came off distinctly second best against Exeter, who steam-rolled the Northampton pack at scrum time, while it was a forgetful day at the office for Stephen Myler at fly-half against Henry Slade. Plenty to work on for Saints before they host Saracens next weekend.

Andre Esterhuizen: With Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel serving suspensions for red card offences, the Durban-based side's discipline was under the magnifying glass when they faced the Lions in Johannesburg. It seems like nobody conveyed this message to Andre Esterhuizen who was yellow carded for a late and high tackle on Ruan Combrinck.

Reds: The Brisbane-based outfit are rooted to the bottom of the Super Rugby table and have only got one win to show from their eight matches played. Richard Graham's side's loss to the Bulls at the weekend was their seventh defeat of the season with their only win of the campaign registered against fellow basement dwellers the Force in Round Two.

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