Who's hot…and who's not!

Date published: May 20 2014

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It's 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.

It's time for Planet Rugby's 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!

Saracens and Toulon: Top of their respective leagues, through their semi-finals unscathed, it's pretty obvious why Saracens and Toulon are due to face off next week in Cardiff to take Europe's biggest prize. Saracens slowly took apart Harlequins before blowing them away in the final quarter, while Toulon held Racing Métro at arm's length throughout their semi-final on Friday. The prospect of a double is on the cards for both sides, who based on this week will physically hammer each other until one gives in. Clash of the titans indeed.

Glasgow: A fantastic Friday night at Scotstoun as Glasgow deservedly reached the PRO12 final; the first time any Scottish side has made it this far. They're on a record-breaking nine-game winning streak, boast depth across the board – British and Irish Lions full-back Stuart Hogg played no part in the semi-final victory over Munster – and are playing some cracking rugby. If they are to take the title, they'll have to do it the hard way by beating Leinster in Dublin, but Gregor Townsend would be right to fancy his chances.

Castres: No one would have bet on Castres defending their Top 14 crown, but they now face Toulon in a rematch of last year's final. It took a Seremaia Bai drop-goal in extra time to edge Montpellier in the knockout stages for third time in as many years. CO are not playing flash rugby by any stretch of the imagination but their style certainly is effective in crunch clashes.

Northampton: In the best Premiership semi-final for some time, possibly ever, Saints fought back from 6-17 down to conquer their old nemesis Leicester at Franklin's Gardens. It was a victory built on emotion as the stadium more or less erupted with Tom Wood's 78th-minute try. They will head to Twickenham looking for closure after last year's loss in the final, but first comes the Challenge Cup Final this Friday against Bath.

Sharks: Jake White's troops became the first South African team to beat the in-form Crusaders in New Zealand since 2001, and they did it with 14 men! We've given them a fair share of stick for their one-dimensional rugby and conservative game-plan but, after three unconvincing displays, the Sharks underlined their title credentials by consolidating their place at the summit of the standings. Frans Steyn's offload to create S'bura Sithole's try was brilliant.

NZ Women's Sevens: Just as their male counterparts did at Twickenham, the Kiwi women's sevens team clinched both the Amsterdam title and the overall Series trophy on Saturday, once again beating off an Australian side who are showing real signs of promise with Emilee Cherry winning the IRB Women's Sevens Player of the Year. The Blacks' Portia Woodman has been inspirational.


Broken Thermostat:

Stormers: Are we asking too much? The Stormers thrashed the Force but couldn't get a bonus point that was there for the taking despite having half an hour to get the fourth try. To be fair, the well-organised Force must be credited for defending bravely but it speaks volumes of the Stormers' attack that they could only touch down once in the first quarter having enjoyed 88 percent of the possession and 94 percent of the territory . Why kick at goal when you're dominating possession and leading by 21 points with 20 minutes left?


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Fabien Galthi̩: We add the Montpellier coach to the Not Hots with a heavy heart because his side have played some wonderful rugby this year. But we join the French press corps in wondering why he told his players to kick for touch in the dying minutes of extra time in the semi-final against Castres when the scoring-leveling penalty was well within Fran̤ois Trinh-Duc's range. As it turned out, Mickael Ivaldi's line-out throw was stolen РMontpellier's fifth lost line-out of the afternoon. In the aftermath, Galthi̩ admitted to not knowing the rules of what would happen at full-time if the scores were level and feared his team might lose because they had kicked one less penalty during regulation time. Surely if you're a professional coach, you do your homework before the biggest game of the season?

Tigers: Leicester will not feature in the Premiership Final for the first time in 10 years after blowing a solid lead against 14 men in their semi-final in Northampton. Tigers boss Richard Cockerill admitted that his team's discipline let them down as three yellow cards allowed Saints to stay in the game when the visitors should have been able to shut them out.

Salesi Ma'afu: The Saints prop gets full marks for boxing technique with his one-two to the chest and then to Tom Youngs' jaw…but losing your temper and getting sent off in a semi-final = not hot!

Jean Deysel: The Sharks flanker's red card for a stamp on Jordan Taufua's head was fully merited. It was out of character, but despicable nonetheless. No doubt a hefty suspension awaits.

Chris Ashton: Despite scoring a try in Sarries' semi-final win on Saturday, the England winger finds himself at the wrong end of the thermostat thanks to his crass attempt to put off Harlequins goal-kicker Nick Evans. He was heard shouting “miss it!” as he attempted to charge down Evans' conversion of Mike Brown's try on the stroke of half-time. The result was an angry exchange in the tunnel with a handful of incensed Quins. The RFU are said to be investigating the incident but it should not be difficult to find the Rugby League convert guilty of poor sportsmanship.

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