Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: February 24 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!

Hurricanes: Two wins from two for the 'Canes and to pick them up on the road in South Africa deserves extra praise. Following up the win over the Lions, the men from Wellington overcame the Bulls 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld with another assured performance. TJ Perenara stood out at the base while their scrum was dominant in Pretoria. Ma'a Nonu also deserves praise on his comeback appearance after seven months out.

Exeter and Sale: The race for the play-off spots became much tighter this past weekend after the Chiefs outclassed Harlequins while the Sharks got the better of Saracens. Henry Slade and Jack Nowell were impressive at the Stoop in their 32-21 win as they continue to put pressure on England head coach Stuart Lancaster to pick them. Meanwhile, Sale took another step in their progression as a team as their win, a 14-10 result, put them just a point behind their third-placed opponents in the standings. The race for second place is now very much on.

Bayonne: What a result for the Top 14 strugglers as a 23-6 bonus-point victory over Stade Français saw them climb out of the bottom two places and up to tenth. Tries from Marvin O'Connor, Joe Rokocoko and Jean Monribot saw them to five points while there was also critical wins for Grenoble, Bordeaux-Bègles and Oyonnax, who defeated Montpellier, Toulon and Castres respectively. That top six race is fascinating.

Northampton: Saints took a huge step towards the regular-season title and with it a home semi-final after their 21-13 victory at the Rec. Bath were stunned by Northampton's comeback from 0-10 down as tries from James Wilson and Mike Haywood helped push Jim Mallinder's side nine points clear at the summit. This week they host an out-of-sorts Harlequins while Bath travel to Exeter so the gap could widen further.

Marcell Coetzee and the wet weather Sharks: Conditions were awful at Kings Park in Durban but the hosts played them perfectly against the Lions. Pat Lambie kicked well out of hand while tries for Odwa Ndungane, Cobus Reinach and two from Coetzee at the tail of the driving maul saw them pick up a bonus-point win. The result was much-needed after last week's loss and to score four in that rain deserves applause.

XV du Petit Prince: We take our fantasy league pretty seriously, so it's with mixed feelings we report that – in his rookie Super Rugby fantasy season – PR's resident Top 14 expert Paul Eddison is leading the world rankings. Needless to say, the lads in our southern hemisphere offices are feeling a little sour that a guy in France is leading the way but kudos to him.


Broken thermostat

Reds: A tough week for Richard Graham's side as news broke on Friday morning (local time) that Karmichael Hunt had been stood down after he received a notice to appear in court over a drugs sting. They then lost James O'Connor to a knee injury during the warm-up to their clash with the Force, but fortunately for the fans who turned out following the severe weather, their side picked up a morale-boosting win.


Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Edinburgh: Fell to their seventh loss of the PRO12 season but will have been left wondering how they let Ulster escape with the win. Stuart McCloskey was shown a red card in the 58th minute when Edinburgh were just four points adrift of their visitors. Yet they could not find the extra gear to see off the Northern Irish side, who in fact ended the match with thirteen men after Franco van der Merwe's yellow.

Western Force: A shadow of the team that beat the Waratahs in Round One. Their drive and intensity close to the ruck in attack and in solidity in defence was absent in Brisbane as they went down to a Reds side who had been taught a lesson by the Brumbies in their opener. It looked like the Perth side were fatigued from the outset whilst it was puzzling to see Sias Ebersohn's kicks-off going right down the throat of the likes of Will Genia and Nick Frisby, who had all the time in the world to clear their lines. Much to work on before facing the 'Canes.

Cardiff Blues: A weekend to forget for the Blues as just hours before their kick-off against Treviso in Italy, reports suggested that director of rugby Mark Hammett was to leave the region on Monday. What followed on the field was a disaster as missed tackles in the first-half saw Treviso cruise into a 15-0 lead after twelve minutes. In total they missed 24 attempted tackles in the match, which left them with an impossible task as they eventually lost 40-24. Cardiff have now lost ten of their fifteen games and must regroup before hosting Edinburgh.

Hayden Triggs: Cost his side any chance of winning at Newlands on Saturday after being red carded in the 24th minute for a punch on Duane Vermeulen. The Blues second-row had an altercation with the Stormers number eight but what followed was inexcusable as he floored the Springbok, with the officials decided to give him his marching orders. At 8-6 down, his Blues team-mates did well to keep the loss to 27-16.

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