It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
THEY’RE ON FIRE!!
Stormers and THAT Chiefs try: Brilliant win over the Chiefs on Saturday that will do the Stormers’ confidence the world of good after that pummelling they took last year in the quarter-finals.
Less than a year on the Stormers look fitter and stronger, and by sticking to their attacking philosophy produced spectacular tries in what many have billed one of the best games ever at Newlands – partly because of that absolutely flaming beauty of a try from the Chiefs which will be right up there come the end of the year. This was the Stormers’ day though, and huge credit to Robbie Fleck and his side, and to Dillyn Leyds for that insane offload.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) April 9, 2017
Sunwolves: Huge win over the Bulls for Filo Tiatia and his side after a tough start to the season, and the Sunwolves did it while showing plenty of smart thinking tactically as well as executing out wide. Make no mistake, the Bulls are no leading Super Rugby side, but the reaction in Tokyo was a thrill to watch.
Fiji: Three titles in a row in Hong Kong for the Olympic champions who are coming to life at just the right time, although still with a serious amount of ground to make up with three legs of the Series to go. Knocking off frontrunners South Africa 22-0 in the final however was highly impressive.
Beauden and Jordie Barrett: Far from a perfect win for the Hurricanes over the Waratahs but when these two combine, as for Jordie’s try in the first half, the results tend to be special. Beauden’s red card was a black mark on an otherwise highly impressive performance from the two brothers.
Premiership attendances: Monster weekend for England’s top flight with games at Twickenham (Bath v Leicester) and Wembley (Saracens v Harlequins) and a bumper crowd at the Ricoh Arena for Wasps’ clash with Northampton seeing a total of 180,207 supporters pass through the turnstiles. Highly impressive, and a sign of how much appetite there is for top flight rugby in England.
Bath, Wasps comebacks: Torrid start for Bath on their big occasion at Twickenham but Todd Blackadder’s side certainly rallied, getting Anthony Watson into space thanks to that brilliant play from Matt Banahan for a sensational win. Wasps’ defensive frailities still need addressing but with the pressure on in those closing minutes, it was short-range power that capped their come-from-behind triumph over Northampton.
Sean Cronin and Leinster: A winger trapped in the body of a hooker. Cronin’s speed is no secret, we’ve seen it plenty of times over the years, but what a score from the Ireland international against the Ospreys, rounding Dan Biggar to touch down having started out wide. Quality win for Leinster as well away to the former PRO12 leaders, with the Ospreys now nine points adrift from first place.
Brive and La Rochelle: Huge credit to Brive for winning away at Clermont, which came right out of the blue, and also to La Rochelle whose march towards a Leicester City-esque title continues at a roaring pace. 14 points clear in first with three rounds to go. Who would have ever expected that.
COLD AS ICE
Nollis Marais: The Bulls head coach knows he is under the cosh and at this rate it will be a surprise if he lasts the season. Saturday’s defeat in Tokyo, the Bulls’ sixth of the year, was completely unacceptable and the former U21 coach no doubt faces a testing few days around the facility on the Bulls’ return to Pretoria. This is a young squad of course, but the results have been dire and the game-plan in Japan was predictably dull – which is a waste of talents like Jamba Ulengo.
Grenoble: Mathematically still alive in the Top 14 but given Grenoble are 14 points from safety and 12th place, currently occupied by Toulouse (!), it would seem the great escape has been called off after Saturday’s 54-14 thumping away at Montpellier.
Harlequins: Opened up way too easily by Saracens at Wembley, with the only good news of the weekend being that Northampton’s late defeat at Wasps meant Harlequins retained their spot in the top six. Plenty of talent in that backline – Care, Visser, Roberts, Marchant and Brown – but not enough up front.
Reds: Really poor second half in Canberra having scrapped their way into contention at half-time, serving up a performance that left captain Stephen Moore noticeably bewildered in his post-match interview. Too soft in defence and any hopes of success this season given their recruitment is now long gone.
Treviso: Zebre’s back-to-back wins in the PRO12 have only made Treviso’s 51-5 thrashing from the Scarlets stick it even more after this weekend – a far cry from that shock win over the Ospreys a few weeks ago.