Who’s hot…and who’s not!

Date published: May 26 2015

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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!

Matt Banahan's Bath: A hat-trick for the wing in a brilliant performance from Bath on Saturday. They simply outclassed Leicester in their semi-final, scoring seven tries at the Recreation Ground to join Saracens in this weekend's Premiership showpiece at Twickenham. In this form and with Banahan finishing like he was against the Tigers, Sarries will have a job stopping this smooth Bath machine. Surely they are favourites.

Jacques Burger and Owen Farrell: A bruising effort from the Namibian flanker on his 100th match for the club. His hefty tackle on Northampton Saints wing Ken Pisi was a statement of intent and helped inspire Saracens to victory at Franklin's Gardens. Meanwhile, England fly-half Owen Farrell showed some of his best form as he also stood out in the semi-final win, returning from injury in a boost for both club and country.

Bismarck du Plessis: A strong performance on his 31st birthday from the Springbok hooker as the Sharks ended a six-game losing streak with a victory over the Reds. Built on a strong forward effort, the outfit from Durban claimed a morale-boosting win in Brisbane that was deserved.

Glasgow: So deserving of a spot in the PRO12 final after an impressive season under the tutelage of Gregor Townsend. Even when they had 20 plus players missing due to international call-ups and injury, they still performed to a high standard and on Friday got the job done against Ulster.

Ross Filipo and Augustine Pulu: He was meant to be doing punditry for the game but instead the veteran lock put in an outstanding performance against the Bulls. Filipo rolled back the years while scrum-half Pulu was a constant threat from the base, scoring two tries in their victory.

Brive and Toulon: Job done. Final day drama in France saw Brive put in an impressive showing to see off Top 14 title hopefuls Stade Français 27-0. Meanwhile, Toulon finished the regular-season on top of the standings once again and now look to seal the European and domestic double.


Broken Thermostat

Ian Keatley: Munster are through to the Pro12 final thanks to a dramatic 21-18 win over a dogged Ospreys side at Thomond Park, but they made very hard work of it as fly-half Keatley managed just two successful kicks from seven shots at goal. Munster were saved by the TMO disallowing an Ospreys try at the death, but if Keatley shows the same inconsistency in the final, Glasgow are sure to be crowned champions.


Someone fetch these guys a warm cuppa soup!

Northampton: Top of the standings for most of the season but Saints bottled it when it counted most. They won't be defending their Premiership title after losing their semi-final at home to Saracens. Did they peak too early or was the loss of George North too great? It is all what ifs now.

Blues: Hammered on home soil in the latest disappointment for a side that is a long way from the glory days of their three Super Rugby titles. With the board in Auckland split over whether Sir John Kirwan should have his contract extended, this season's damage has already spilled into 2016 as recruiting players and retaining others is becoming tricky in such an environment of uncertainty. A bye week comes at the right time.

Will Skelton and Tolu Latu: The Waratahs lock pushed the limits all game against the Crusaders, including this terrible double-team hit on Sam Whitelock. He seemed to have lost his head and was lucky to remain on the field after some questionable tackles. Latu was lucky to only receive a yellow card for his part in that tackle and also for landing a punch on Wyatt Crockett's jaw after some of the Crusaders took exception to the hit on Whitelock.

James O'Connor: O'Connor wins the Howler of the Week Award. A seasoned Wallaby shouldn't make errors like this when looking to clear his lines. To compound this bad day at the office, TV pictures seem to show a heated argument with Reds team-mate and flanker Adam Thomson in the changing room at half-time, with Will Genia playing the peacemaker. Not O'Connor's best day at the office.

Lionel Beauxis: The former Toulouse fly-half's return to Stade Ernst Wallon will give him nightmares for years to come after he missed a last-minute conversion that cost Bordeaux-Bègles victory and a place in Top 14 play-offs. Instead they finished in seventh, a point off the top six.

Bayonne: They scored an impressive seven tries on the final day of the regular season but, unlike so many times in the past, Bayonne could not escape relegation from the Top 14. Once again, ambitious and expensive recruitment has not translated into results for the club. It's a sad day for the Basque country – a proud rugby region – as Bayonne join Biarritz in the second-tier Pro D2. One now wonders who they can keep hold of.

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