It is time for our weekly wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment…and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
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!
Wales: It wasn’t pretty but Warren Gatland and his troops deserve a mention as their win over the Springboks broke their six-year losing streak against the Southern Hemisphere’s big three – New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. It was also their first victory over the two-time world champions since ’99 as they shed a weight from around their shoulders. Confidence booster.
Ben Morgan: While the English were struggling during early November, Morgan was one of the few players to receive praise. He since went on to take over the number eight role from Billy Vunipola and hasn’t looked back, scoring two tries against Australia, as his form for England has been outstanding. Surely he has done enough to run out as a starter for England’s Six Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium.
Gareth Steenson and Exeter: Steenson was in excellent goal-kicking form as he equalled the Aviva Premiership record by kicking nine penalties in his side’s victory over Saracens. The fly-half was flawless off the kicking tee, landing all the Chiefs’ points in the 27-19 victory. The triumph is Exeter’s fourth in a row and keeps them in the top three places on the table.
Danny Cipriani and Sale: While George Ford and Owen Farrell are England’s preferred fly-halves at the moment, Cipriani gave Stuart Lancaster a timely reminder of his abilities with a good all-round display in Sale’s win over Newcastle at Kingston Park. Cipriani was the architect of Jonny Leota’s match-winning try as the Sharks claimed a third successive win.
Francois Hougaard: The Springbok won the try of the year award for his effort in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand but on Saturday he delivered a dismal performance against Wales in his cameo. Cobus Reinach meanwhile heads home proud of his efforts.
Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!
Springboks: Losses to Ireland and Wales won’t have gone down well with the South African public. They were out-thought by the former while Wales deserved their win. It was looking so rosy after the victory over the All Blacks but when the Boks get back together there will be plenty to work on before their next outing. Willie le Roux’s late fumble summed it up perfectly.
London Welsh: Nine games gone now in the Aviva Premiership and still London Welsh are without a victory. Their latest defeat came against Northampton as they went down to a 43-14 negative as their points conceded column rises to 412 points going into their European Challenge Cup break. Speaking of which that might have brought some relief but a trip to Edinburgh – a side on the warpath (see below) – isn’t exactly the easiest of challenges.
Wallabies: Sugar-coat it all you like but three straight losses is going to be tough to reflect on for the Wallabies. They went down to France, Ireland and England in recent weeks as they could not back up their tour-opening win over Wales in Paris, Dublin and London. Michael Cheika insists he is staying positive and while glimpses of quality were evident, once again question marks are going to be raised about their scrum. It’s back to Super Rugby now as they look to build on-field relationships during the early part of the Rugby World Cup year.
Edinburgh: The Scots will be disappointed they could not follow up last week’s victory over Cardiff Blues as they went down to Zebre. Their 18-10 loss saw Zebre overturn a seven-point deficit which won’t have pleased Alan Solomons, with his side missing the chance to keep in touch with the play-off hunters as they instead find the Blues hot on their heels in eighth spot.