Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: March 10 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!

Handré Pollard: The Bulls were dominant in their victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and while their entire team deserves credit for a fine effort, the 20-year-old delivered a brilliant allround performance. Pollard contributed 29 points in the 39-20 triumph via five penalties, three conversions, a drop goal and deserved try.

Keven Mealamu: A rough night for the Blues at home to the Lions but we doff our caps to the great Keven Mealamu, now the most capped Super Rugby player of all time. Let's hope appearance number 164 goes better than number 163 for the 35-year-old All Black.

Jules Plisson: The young fly-half's last-minute drop goal won the game for Stade Français in dramatic fashion against Bordeaux Bègles, sending a message to France head coach Philippe Saint-André after his omission so far in the Six Nations with his composure to clinch the result.

Stormers scrum: The men from the Cape deserve a mention for topping the Super Rugby table and being unbeaten after four matches but their pack – especially the tight-five – deserve special praise for the way they dismantled the Sharks at the set-piece in Cape Town at the weekend. Apart from pushing their opponents off the ball on several occasions, Allister Coetzee's charges also won three tightheads during the first half.

David Smith: Four tries for the Toulon winger, who is set to be let go at the end of the season. Smith has been a hit with the French giants since arriving from the Western Force, after previous stints with the Hurricanes and Blues. His efforts ensured that Toulon returned to the head of the Top 14 table.

Exeter Chiefs: Although their 74-19 win was registered wracked up at their Sandy Park home against a hapless London Welsh side, who are still winless after 17 Aviva Premiership matches, Rob Baxter's men were truly on fire, running in 10 tries in the process and crucially moving up to second in the table, nine points behind Northampton.

Castres: Massive win with their backs to the wall by the bottom club in the French league. How is it only two years since they were champions? Saturday's win over Lyon was impressive after going down to 14 men on 20 minutes when Yannick Caballero was shown a red card, but the host rallied from 14-0 down to win 23-20 and keep their survival hopes alive.

Welsh regions: Four wins out of four for the Welsh sides this weekend over Irish opposition, with the Dragons upset win over Ulster sealing the record thanks to a fine try by Hallam Amos. The national side will be hoping that's a good omen ahead of this weekend's monster Six Nations clash.


Broken Thermostat

Waratahs: The champions did pick up a win after their bye week but it wasn't pretty at all, with the Waratahs fumbling the ball around and only managing two tries at Suncorp. Their mistakes were out of character – Jacques Potgieter turned the ball over five times – while Israel Folau remains without a try after four games. That said, a win is a win and they trail the Brumbies by six points in the Australian Conference with a game in hand.

Gloucester: More agony for the Cherry and Whites in a season that has threatened at times to be a breakthrough campaign without actually delivering so far. Leading 23-6 after half an hour the home side were heartbroken by Samu Manoa's late converted try to end the game as a draw at 33-33. Another tough lesson for an old club hungry for success.


Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Sir John Kirwan and Richard Graham: We're just four rounds in to the new Super Rugby season but the respective head coaches of the Blues and Reds are already feeling the pressure after their sides' poor starts to the tournament. The Blues are yet to win a match after their new low against the Lions and are languishing at the bottom of the overall standings while the Reds have just one victory and are in 13th spot on the table.

Frans Steyn: As if it wasn't enough that he was coming off second best in his personal duel with fellow Springbok Damian de Alende, the returning Sharks centre made it his mission to take out the Stormers' diminutive full-back Cheslin Kolbe with several late hits. Steyn was living on the edge for most of the match with his kamikaze tackling technique and was eventually yellow carded for his efforts.

The James Lowe yellow card: The Chiefs were stumped after referee Nick Briant's decision and so were we – Lowe was alleged to have lifted Malakai Fekitoa before dropping him to the ground but clearly did no such thing, as he went for Fekitoa's legs in the tackle at the same time as the All Blacks centre jumped. Briant didn't have a bad game, but that was never a yellow card and a poor call.

Bath v Sale: A game that promised plenty – The Rec on a Friday night, two playoff contenders, Bath desperate to end their losing run – was actually a dire advert for the Premiership and an ugly contest. Disappointing.

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