It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
THEY’RE ON FIRE!!
Manie Libbok: A hat-trick from the Blue Bulls full-back as he inspired his side in their 44-42 victory over Griquas on Friday. He was such a threat with ball in hand as he ghosted past defenders at will. This fine performance has put some pressure on regular 15 Warrick Gelant.
Jonathan Taumateine: Speaking of strong individual showings, Counties scrum-half Taumateine was brilliant for the Steelers in their defeat to Taranaki on Saturday. Behind Augustine Pulu in the pecking order, a rare start displayed his talents as he marshalled well, showed a lot of skills and was a threat throughout. It’s another promising back off the conveyer belt, who we may see a lot more of in Super Rugby 2018.
Schalk Brits and Saracens: What a wonderful performance from Brits. He was at his hot-stepping best against Northampton as Saracens romped to victory, sending a message to their Premiership rivals that they are serious challengers once again. Brits was excellent and had a hand in plenty of their tries, with wing Sean Maitland grabbing three in the first-half. We sometimes forget that hooker Brits is 36 years old. Play on, Schalk.
Sharks and Canterbury: The men from Durban lost their first game of the season to the Free State Cheetahs but have responded by winning their next six to top the Currie Cup standings. Their latest win came against the Bloemfontein outfit, a 45-15 victory, which showed just how far they have come. In New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup meanwhile, Canterbury once again showed their class as they brushed aside Hawke’s Bay, winning 53-10 on Friday.
Dan Robson: Four tries from the Wasps scrum-half in arguably the individual performance of the weekend. The bar has been set pretty high.
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) September 2, 2017
COLD AS ICE
Ricky Januarie and Anthony Tuitavake: The former Springbok scrum-half could be in hot water with the disciplinary panel after he used his boot on Racing 92 wing Juan Imhoff on Saturday. Footage appeared to show the Agen scrum-half stamp on Imhoff’s shoulder off the ball, and while the referee went to his TMO for clarification, the decision to only show him a yellow card instead of red went against the law. Poor from player and officials on that one but they were right with Tuitavake, who received a red card for a clear tip tackle that cost Racing.
Worcester: Credit to Newcastle for their impressive victory but there were few positives for Worcester to take from their loss at Kingston Park. With London Irish carding a first-up win, one feels that could be an initial blow landed to the Warriors in their fight for survival.
Brive and Racing 92: That is two defeats from two from Brive as their latest came on the road at Lyon, who in contrast have started very well. Brive look like possible relegation scrappers from the opening rounds while Racing were disappointing at Agen. While Agen deserve a lot of credit for their win, Dan Carter and co. were off colour with errors and a sluggishness hindering them. These two clash next week.
Auckland: A 57-10 defeat to North Harbour was another blow to an already disappointing start to the season for Auckland. Blessed with good quality in their side, they appear to be lacking in ideas with ball in hand while to ship so many points to the newly-promoted Harbour will give their coach Nick White cause for concern. That’s three defeats from their opening four Mitre 10 Cup matches, with Taranaki next up at home.
Harlequins: All credit to Premiership new-boys London Irish for getting the win but that was poor from Harlequins. Their discipline was an issue as Demetri Catrakilis and Mike Brown spent time in the sin-bin and as a team they must improve or face an uphill struggle in 2017/18.
PRO14 new boys: Harsh maybe after a lack of preparation time, but the Cheetahs and Kings sneak into our Not column after suffering heavy losses to Ulster and the Scarlets respectively. While they showed plenty of promise with ball in hand, their defence, like in Super Rugby, is a concern. Between them they shipped 91 points and must improve if they are to avoid further losses.