It’s time for Planet Rugby’s 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!
England: Grand Slam winners for the first time since 2003, an absurdly long wait given England’s resources is now over. There were clear nerves in Paris and once again a worrying penalty count, but England still did enough to win by ten points. What’s that they say about good teams winning when they play poorly? Eddie Jones has done a great job but you sense this is just the beginning.
Wales: Look what Wales can do when they attack with that much width and intent, as opposed to just crashing the ball up over and over. Some stunning tries, none better than the effort from George North.
Stormers: Putting the Dillyn Leyds try to one side – more on that later – this was an impressive triumph for Robbie Fleck’s side over the strongest side in the competition in the Brumbies. They limited David Pocock’s influence at the breakdown, performed at the set-piece and their tactical kicking was superb.
Nemani Nadolo: The flying Fijian continued where he left off against the Blues in Round Three with another superb performance in the Crusaders’ one-sided victory over the Kings in Christchurch. Nadolo’s pace and power proved a handful for his opponents and he was rewarded with a brace of tries for his efforts.
Exeter: Top of the Premiership again after Saracens’ loss at Welford Road and their own victory over Northampton. The Chiefs’ fairytale continues.
Montpellier: Racing 92 have been for the form side in France all season, so credit has to go to Montpellier for hammering their visitors 60-7 on Saturday in a stunning result, scoring nine tries. The win moves Montpellier in to fourth spot on the table, just four points adrift of Racing who dropped to second after their loss.
Alivereti Raka: Clermont’s new Fijian flyer came up with something very special for his first try on Sunday. Watch and admire.
allez bye , enorme raka pic.twitter.com/k7hWqL7Q6t
— philippe (@philousports) 20 March 2016
Jaguares: Super Rugby’s great entertainers can be incredibly frustrating. They’ll live and die by looking for that magical pass, and it finally clicked for Matías Moroni’s wonder try, but then their defence couldn’t keep the Chiefs out having completed one hell of a comeback. As fun as their energy is, if they’re serious about winning this competition then there needs to be a little more structure at key moments to their game.
So cold they can see their own breath…
Italy: Another thrashing on the road for Italy as Jacques Brunel bows out with a real whimper. It’s true that Italy’s injuries have been an issue but their basic defensive structure has been lacking, and they were easy pickings for Wales. A grim tournament to forget.
Sunwolves: Despite losing their opening matches to the Lions and Cheetahs, the men from Tokyo delivered competitive performances in those matches. That wasn’t the case at the weekend as little went right in their loss 35-9 defeat to the Rebels. Woeful defending and poor forward play was the root cause for that loss and they will have to show considerable improvement, in especially the latter department, when they take on the Bulls in Singapore this weekend.
Alex Dunbar and Jonathan Sexton: Both parties were at fault here. Dunbar should never have flipped Sexton the way he did at the side of the ruck and it cost his side their chance to get back in the game. Equally, Sexton’s reaction milking the incident wasn’t in the spirit of the game.
Dillyn Leyds “try”: By the letter of the law, this is a try, but that seems ridiculous when you consider both the reaction of Leyds and his team-mates. Any contact with the ball is required, but surely this is too little? Judge for yourself.