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.
The Six Nations dominated the headlines on Saturday and Sunday as England moved to the top of the standings on points difference ahead of France.
Let’s dive in.
They’re on fire!!
Jonathan Joseph: There has been plenty of talk about Elliot Daly coming in to wear the England number thirteen shirt but three tries for Joseph should silence a few doubters. His first was a simple interception before number two and three against Italy secured his hat-trick.
Treviso: Finally, it happened! Treviso picked up their first victory of the season on Saturday when they beat Cardiff Blues 13-7. It didn’t matter how it came as long as it did as a penalty try and the boot of Jayden Hayward saw the Italians to victory. Now to build on it.
12s in Cardiff: Jamie Roberts and Duncan Taylor were superb for Wales and Scotland respectively at the Millennium Stadium. Robert was dominant in defence for the second successive week and crashed over the try-line at a key time in the second-half. Meanwhile Taylor, who had come in for the injured Matt Scott, saved his team-mates with a last-ditch tackle on Tom James and then scored a fine consolation try.
Wasps: The team performance of the weekend without doubt. Wasps went to Allianz Park and did a number on the Premiership leaders, winning 64-23 in an eight-try showing led by a man who didn’t cross the whitewash. George Smith was superb as Charles Piutau (2), Dan Robson (2), Nathan Hughes (2), Thomas Young and Jimmy Gopperth went over. That victory over Sarries pushes Wasps into the top four of the standings.
Todd Clever: Recalled to the USA side after John Mitchell’s appointment as head coach, Clever has certainly warmed himself to the new boss by scoring a hat-trick against Canada in their Americas Rugby Championship clash in Texas on Saturday. His treble saw USA get a 30-22 win.
Callum Black: Playing his 100th match for Ulster on Friday, what a time to cross for your first try. Loosehead prop Black barged his way over the line in a 13-10 victory for the Kingspan Stadium outfit to help them to the top of the PRO12 table. He was pretty happy about it.
Brrrr… someone get these guys a warm cup of soup!
Scotland: Leading at half-time in Cardiff it looked like Scotland’s long run without a win over Wales was about to come to an end. They couldn’t pull it off – and so a long run of no success in Cardiff since 2002 or any victory over Wales since 2008 goes on. After two losses those pre-tournament hopes for Scotland in the Six Nations are starting to look a little naive.
Premiership’s top four: International call-ups tend to upset the order in the Premiership but the league’s top four – Saracens, Exeter, Leicester and Harlequins – all lost in Round 12, the first time that has happened since Round 12 of the 2007/2008 season.
Zebre: Nilled at Leinster in a 52-0 defeat was an awful result for Zebre on Friday. They had arrived in Dublin with four PRO12 wins under their belt and three in the Challenge Cup so it wasn’t expected to be so one-sided. Leinster put them to the sword though with eight tries.
Italy: Eddie Jones called for ‘a good hiding’ and in the end, after only behind by two points at the break, Italy took just that. Much of the good work we saw in Paris carried through to those first 40 minutes as Italy kept England close, but they paid for their ambition with Jonathan Joseph’s interception try and unravelled from there.