Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: February 17 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Hot-or-not-feature-image_(10)

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!

England, England U20, England Women: A clean sweep for all of England's representative sides this weekend, with the U20s and Women's sides bouncing back from opening defeats to thrash Italy in Plymouth (61-0) and at The Stoop (39-7). As for Stuart Lancaster's group, some defensive deficiencies will have dampened their happiness somewhat, but plenty of points have given them a difference of 35 to take them to the top of the Six Nations table after week two. They seem like a young group that can only get better, but are already showing real promise.

Brumbies and Stormers: The form teams in Round One of Super Rugby. The Brumbies simply crushed the Reds, scoring six unanswered tries. Meanwhile, the Stormers – packed with inexperienced faces – became the first visiting team to win at Loftus Versfeld since 2013.

Rebels, Cheetahs and Force: A big part of this weekend's madness in Super Rugby (six away wins from seven games!) stemmed from the fact that these three sides all dramatically surpassed expectations. The Rebels pounced on a scrappy Crusaders outfit, enjoying the presence of a top kicker in Mike Harris, while the Cheetahs with Joe Pietersen excelling at ten and with their dominant scrum handed the Sharks a bruising loss, even if it was close at the end. The Force meanwhile were simply better in every facet of their play than the Waratahs, apart from the scrums, and deserved victory thanks to their unrelenting, physical pressure on both sides of the ball. Top work from all three teams – but can they turn those wins into something more?

Fiji Sevens: Ben Ryan's side cruised to victory over New Zealand in the final of the Las Vegas Sevens tournament. The 35-19 final score does not do justice to their dominance, with Ambrose Curtis' late double making the final scoreline respectable. It's now very tight at the top of the overall standings, with third-placed Fiji just seven points behind leaders South Africa. Hong Kong next month should be fantastic.

Damian McKenzie: While opposite number Ihaia West walked away with a six from six record off the tee, 19-year-old fly-half McKenzie was the better of the two on Saturday. It seems the New Zealand backline conveyor belt is still moving smoothly as McKenzie ticked all the boxes in defence and attack, landing some difficult efforts at goal too. It was pretty much the complete performance. We stress, he is just 19.

Jonathan Joseph and Luca Morisi: 13 it turns out was the magic number this weekend. Joseph and Morisi both ended with two tries each at Twickenham, capping off outstanding displays of attacking verve and skill. Joseph looks to be England's real answer at outside centre – a pacy, sidestepping threat – while Morisi gives Italy hope that one day soon they will have a competitive backline. Both, shining before the kickfest in Dublin, reminded us how much fun rugby can be when the ears are pinned back.

Craig Gilroy: The the 23-year-old marked his 100th game for Ulster with two tries as they were the latest team to dominate Treviso, winning 43-3 winners at Ravenhill.

 


Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

France: The final score in Dublin flattered les Bleus, who were dire for better part of 65 minutes until the introduction of Morgan Parra sparked them into life. Painfully predictable and one dimensional, judging by this display their dismal record on the road under Philippe Saint-André is set to continue.

Bulls: All of the pre-season we were told to expect a new, more expansive, exciting approach from the men from Pretoria. Clearly they were just telling the media what they thought we wanted to hear because Saturday's performance against the Stormers was straight out of the 'old Bulls' manual. To be honest, we shouldn't have expected any less considering the brains trust at Loftus hasn't changed. Someone should tell them that their squad has – time to evolve!

Crusaders: Once again, the Crusaders make a false start to their season. On paper, the Rebels should never have had a chance. The site of Dan Carter being left out on the field to hobble around when he was clearly injured will not have pleased the All Blacks staff.

Lions: Harsh on the Hurricanes, maybe, but the Lions were the architects of their own downfall on Friday as they made the wrong calls and were full of errors in attack. The 'Canes would have had a job losing this game as they picked up a vital away victory at a place that was difficult to win at in 2014. Marnitz Boshoff had one of those days off the kicking tee and he, like the Lions, require a swift response next week in Durban.

James Horwill and Karmichael Hunt: The Reds were woeful and these two summed up a their effort. Horwill copped red for his repeated infringements while Hunt failed to live up to the pre-season hype as the Reds backs fired blanks all night.

Pascal Papé: His yellow card robbed France of momentum at a crucial time. It was dirty and unnecessary. Saint-André has already spoken of changes for Wales, even if he's not suspended, Papé could well be one of those left out.

Ospreys: Yes they were missing a handful of Welsh internationals but with the squad at their disposal it was no surprise that head coach Steve Tandy was an unhappy man at full-time. He highlighted basic errors as being a concern as the region suffered their fourth PRO12 loss this season, which ultimately resulted in top spot being relinquished. Next week they must improve or Glasgow will pounce at Scotstoun.

Marcel Brache: The blooper of the week goes to the Force wing, who butchered a sure try in Sydney. Check out our Facebook page to see the video.

COMMENTS