It is time for our weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment…and who's making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
It is time for our weekly wrap 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!
Blues: Where did that come from? A shocking away record this season meant few were backing the Blues to win at the 'Force Field'. Well, they did just that and how with eighteen superb first-half minutes seeing Ihaia West, Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia and Ma'a Nonu cross the line. Luke Braid and Pita Ahki went over in the second-half for a 40-14 win that keeps alive their hopes of making the play-offs. Next up, the Crusaders.
Fiji: The islanders will join England, Australia and Wales in Pool A at next year's Rugby World Cup after they beat the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka on Saturday. Nemani Nadolo was once again a stand-out performer for Fiji as he crossed three times and with Timoci Nagusa, Matuisela Talebula, Niko Matawalu, Napolioni Nalaga, Asaeli Tikoriotuma and Sireli Bobo in the backline, the Pool of Death suddenly became more difficult to escape.
New Zealand conference: Things are heating up here as the Crusaders 42, Highlanders, 42, Hurricanes 41, Blues 36 and Chiefs 36 are all still mathematically in with a shout of winning the conference. Last week's results saw the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Blues keep the pressure on Todd Blackadder's side as huge games approach in the coming fortnight, none more so than a final day clash between the Crusaders and Highlanders.
South Africa: Weary and weakened the opposition may have been, but there's an old adage about playing what's in front of you. The Boks certainly did that and more, scoring eight tries to leave Scotland in tatters at the end of their tour. Lood de Jager and HandrÃ© Pollard shone.
Kenya and Zimbabwe: Kenya took a big step towards a first-ever World Cup with a 29-22 victory over Namibia in the opening round of the Confederation Africaine de Rugby Division 1A. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's ambitions remain on track after they beat Madagascar 57-22. Two rounds remain with the winner joining New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia in Pool C, while the runner-up will take on Russia for a place in the Repechage Final.
Too much?: The consensus at Planet Rugby is that having to take a mid-tournament break in Super Rugby is proof there is too much rugby being played. With most players having started pre-season very late last year or in early January, some are then expected to play internationals during June before coming back for key showdowns for their respective franchise. Is it just coincidence there were several serious injuries over the weekend?
Get these guys a cup of warm soup!
Rebels: The Melbourne side are in a poor spell of form – losing five of their last six games – and their most recent performance against the Reds was simply not good enough. Against a visiting team missing Will Genia and Quade Cooper, this was a perfect time to turn things around but they were beaten by half-time as they went into the break 22-3 despite having the wind behind them. One slim consolation was that the Rebels did win the second-half.
Scotland's tour schedule: The ridiculous globe-trotting Vern Cotter's depleted side were tasked with set up a brutal encounter with the Boks in Port Elizabeth, and meant that the hammering the home team dished out was always on the cards. There was only one team in this as the Scots failed to cross the line in their final game of a tour that saw them start in Houston before stops in Toronto, Cordoba and finally Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Western Force: The 'Sea of Blue' went home from Saturday's match shell-shocked after the Blues blew their side away with an early blitz. While they missed talisman Nick Cummins, the Force did have Ben McCalman and Alby Mathewson back among others so there are few excuses for how they were dominated so much. Another home game awaits this week, against the Reds, and we expect a response otherwise their play-off hopes evaporate.