Who’s hot and who’s not!

Date published: October 17 2016

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It’s time for Planet Rugby’s wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They’re on fire!!

Saracens: The first side to defeat Toulon on their doorstep in the Champions Cup. How’s that for an accolade? What’s more, the rugby they played in the first half in particular was exquisite. Owen Farrell was excellent in his first game since June. Sean Maitland did brilliantly to finish in the corner while tackled by Ma’a Nonu and Leigh Halfpenny. And then despite an enormous wobble in the second half as Toulon inevitably came back, they showed great guts to hang on. Saracens were favourites to top Pool 3 beforehand. Now they certainly are.

Connacht: Another magical night in Galway for Pat Lam’s band of merry men, toppling four-time champions Toulouse with one hell of a comeback, capped off by Bundee Aki’s try and an outstanding conversion by Craig Ronaldson. Their tough start to the season suggested a slump but Connacht have now won their last three matches, including against Ulster and Toulouse. That’s some return to form.

Clermont: Sunday’s enormous 35-8 win at Sandy Park proved that after last season’s qualification nightmare on the final day of action in the group stages, this time around there will be fewer mistakes. Wesley Fofana was at his best as les Jaunards picked up an almightily crucial bonus-point win. They look like the team to beat in Pool 5, and next host UBB.

Glasgow Warriors: Down 10-3 after 20 minutes, Glasgow flicked a big switch at Scotstoun and tore Leicester apart. Leonardo Sarto was brilliant, so too Zander Ferguson, the young tighthead coming on leaps and bounds who excelled up against Marcos Ayerza and Logo Mulipola. After last season’s disappointments from the PRO12 sides, hopefully Glasgow can alter the script this time around.

Joey Carbery: No Sexton? No problem. The Auckland-born 20-year-old was excellent in Leinster’s win at home to Castres. Three of the province’s tries might have come off the power of their front row, including a double for Sean Cronin, but the way Carbery cut through the Castres defence and made few mistakes in the biggest game of his career to date was noteworthy. He beat 11 defenders on 14 runs for close to 100 metres. That’s impressive.

Scott Williams: In that quality backline a number of players could stick their hands up, and this week is what Scott Williams. How about that for an offload.


Free State Cheetahs: Thrashed the Golden Lions to advance to the Currie Cup final in style, winning 55-17 with Sergeal Petersen scoring a hat-trick – for those who didn’t know, he has serious wheels. After a rough Super Rugby campaign, seeing the Cheetahs go well in the Currie Cup is a plus. They now head to the first final since 2009, having not lifted the famous trophy since 2007.

RC Enisei: Forget that Worcester sent a weakened, young side – a win for the Russian team is worth noting. David Kacharava’s early try set the tone and Iurii Kushnarev deserves credit for keeping the scoreboard ticking over with his boot.

Stuck inside an igloo…

Ulster: Ahead in a tight game at the Stade Chaban Delmas only to then not just come away with no points whatsoever to their name, but capitulate completely to the extent that UBB finished with a bonus-point win with the final play of the match. How vital might that point prove to be come the end of the group stages?

Matt Toomua’s tackle: There are better ways to make your debut. Leicester’s new star signing received a yellow card for the below, but should it have been red? Tell us in the comments.


Zebre: What a shambles. No team should be losing by this margin, at this level. Zebre gave up 12 tries on their trip to face Wasps in Coventry and you sense they won’t be rushing back anytime soon. Results like this prove that the PRO12 qualification system doesn’t work. Embarrassing.

Julian Redelinghuys’ serious injury: News coming out of Bloemfontein late on Saturday that the Springbok tighthead had suffered a neck dislocation was naturally a shock to everybody. Redelinghuys is coming off an outstanding Super Rugby season with the Lions and the seriousness of his injury rightfully was a big concern. Thankfully, Redelinghuys had a successful operation on Sunday and he is expected to make a full recovery.

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