Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: September 29 2015

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It's time for Planet Rugby's 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!

Dan Biggar and Lloyd Williams: All of the Welsh side who stunned Twickenham deserve recognition but these two players were a cut above. Biggar’s 23-point haul confirmed his status as a world-class goalkicker, the seventh from just inside England’s half winning the match, as he delivered the best performance of his Test career.

Williams on the other hand produced the remarkable – a scrum-half out on the wing due to Wales’ growing number of injuries, his infield kick was a beauty to set up Gareth Davies for that all-important tying try. When there’s a will with Wales, there really is a way.

Jean de Villiers and his Boks: A week is a long time in international rugby. Seven days after whole of South Africa was up in arms, the Boks bounced back in impressive style by thrashing Samoa. JDV had been at the top of the fans' hit list after the shock defeat against Japan but he hardly put a foot wrong in Birmingham and showed just committed he was to the cause by returning to the field – with a fractured jaw – when Jesse Kriel needed attention from the medics. That injury has forced the Bok skipper to retire, but his last Test was a memorable occasion. 

Romania’s Florian Surugiu: The Oaks gave it a spirited effort in their 44-10 loss to Ireland but the headlines were snatched by their replacement scrum-half, who following their lap of honour proposed to his girlfriend out on the Wembley Stadium pitch. Luckily she said yes! One moment you’ll be reliving in Rugby World Cup quizzes for years to come.

DTH van der Merwe: After impressing against Ireland with the second most metres, clean breaks and offloads in the match, Van der Merwe backed that up with a man-of-the-match performance against Italy. At Elland Road he topped the former two categories and also scored a superb try in another tireless effort. Scarlets have got themselves a fine signing for after the World Cup pool stages. Glasgow's loss is their gain.

Argentina: Cannot be written off at this World Cup as after pushing New Zealand close in their opener, they took Georgia to pieces with seven tries ran in. The manner of their 54-9 win was not expected and shows the Pumas have the threats to punish any side that stands in their way. Players who stood out were Juan Imhoff, Santiago Cordero and Tomas Lavanini. Ireland and France will not have an easy ride if they top Pool D.

Golden Lions: The stand-out team in this year's Currie Cup continued with a 73-31 thrashing of the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein seeing them make it eight wins from eight. They are now nine points clear at the summit with Jaco Kriel and Courtnall Skosan scoring two each.

Nehe Milner-Skudder: His drop one metre out from the line in his RWC debut against Argentina will have given Milner-Skudder a sleepless night or two but he'll be feeling much better after that showing against Namibia. Two tries, 104 metres and five clean breaks; he was excellent.


Broken Thermostat:

Italy: Jacques Brunel’s time in charge of the Azzurri won’t be ending in the World Cup knockout stages based on Saturday’s edgy win over Canada. Italy still have Sergio Parisse to come back but on the back of their first two matches it’s difficult to see them having enough talent to worry Ireland, having been thrashed by France in week one.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

England: Having led for so long at Twickenham, England looked at 22-12 destined to finish on top having controlled most of the contest against Wales. Then it all went wrong – Wales realised they could exploit Brad Barritt out wide and began to move the ball, finding clean breaks and space, and as England’s replacements proved ineffective and their discipline disappeared, they broke apart. Wales showed incredible spirit, no question, but England shot themselves in the foot with a lack of composure. As for Chris Robshaw’s call, it’s hard to lay into him knowing that if England had scored he'd be finding himself in the warmer section above, but those are the breaks and their lineout from the kick to the corner was sadly predictable.

Alesana Tuilagi's Samoa: More was expected from Samoa than a 46-6 loss to the Springboks in Birmingham. Stephen Betham’s had a long enough turnaround from their win over the USA but selecting Tusi Pisi on the bench and then being defensively soft on a number of occasions was frustrating to watch, because this side certainly have talent. The low point of a disappointing performance was 117kg wing Tuilagi going down like a ballerina after being brushed by JP Pietersen's arm. Rugby has enough drama, we don't need that kind of theatre. 

Quade Cooper: Only 5/11 off the tee, a pointless yellow card and his usual mix of brilliance combined with poor decision-making – is there such a thing anymore as a perfect Quade Cooper performance anymore? His mixed bag against Uruguay won’t inspire confidence ahead of next weekend’s huge game with England.

Fiji: The Islanders were talking a big game pre-tournament, but Pool A has been as tough as most expected for Fiji. Zero pool points from their opening two games means they won't be in the quarter-finals. 

USA: We might be a little harsh on the Eagles because they gave Scotland a good run for their money at first, but their second-half collapse in Leeds means they too are out of the running for the play-offs. Having led at half-time, they'll be disappointed to have let a their chance of an upset slip. 

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