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 this past week.
THEY’RE ON FIRE!!
Emiliano Boffelli and Argentina: Two massive penalties from the wing that never looked like missing helped a much-improved Argentina to a 19-15 lead on 43 minutes. Yes, they fell away in the closing stages but this was better from the Pumas. They rarely take a hiding off the All Blacks – despite never having beaten them – and it was good to see them play to their strengths, with Boffelli’s big boot another plus.
Newcastle, Bath and Wasps: The only sides to go two wins out of two in the Premiership after the opening rounds, they beat Sale, Saracens and Worcester respectively over the weekend. Newcastle ground out a 12-11 win while Bath stunned last week’s form side Sarries at the Rec, with Semesa Rokoduguni sparkling for them with two tries. Wasps meanwhile were made to work by Worcester but got the job done in the end, winning 24-10.
Alex Wootton: The English-born 23-year-old will never forget the day he faced the Cheetahs. Wootton finished with four tries to his name for Munster. He made 12 carries for 124 metres and is definitely taking his early season chance while the Ireland internationals are away.
Vaea Fifita: What a performance from the man making his first New Zealand start. In the six jersey and with a huge chance to nail it down ahead of Jerome Kaino and Liam Squire, the Hurricanes speedster was outstanding against Argentina. An incredible try that saw him beat a few backs to the line was bolstered by what was almost a great assist for Damian McKenzie. He finished with a huge 113 metres with ball in hand.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) September 9, 2017
Alex Dunbar: A man-of-the-match performance from the Scotland international as Dave Rennie’s side picked up an impressive bonus-point win over the Ospreys at Scotstoun. Dunbar was at his physical best with his carries, claiming a brace for a Warriors side that looks a threat.
Montpellier: What a start to Vern Cotter’s tenure in charge of Montpellier. They are the only side in the Top 14 to have won all three of their games, with the latest coming at Castres, which is not an easy place to get a result. Ruan Pienaar’s kicking proved key in the win.
Fletcher Smith: The Otago full-back finished with 34 points to his name after claiming a hat-trick of tries to go with his goal-kicking in their victory over Hawke’s Bay. That’s the biggest points haul ever from in an NPC game and quite comical seeing as he was a late call-up.
— 1 NEWS – Sport (@1NewsSportNZ) September 10, 2017
COLD AS ICE
Clermont: That is two defeats from three to start the season for the Top 14 champions, their latest being a 51-20 loss at the hands of La Rochelle. To leak seven tries shows they are struggling defensively but a home game with Brive next week is an ideal clash to bounce back.
Beauden Barrett: Three missed kicks in the first half to go with two undercooked restarts made it a forgetful opening 40 minutes from the All Blacks fly-half. This has been an Achilles heel for a good while now for Barrett and with brother Jordie currently ruled out, it might be an idea for Steve Hansen to look to Damian McKenzie as his goal-kicker. We’ve said it before, Barrett’s kicking will soon cost New Zealand. Also spent some time in the sin bin for a cynical foul on defence – something which is becoming a regular occurrence for World Rugby’s current Player of the Year.
Leicester: That’s two losses from two for the Tigers as they followed up last week’s home defeat to Bath with a disappointing negative at Northampton in the East Midlands derby. Next week’s home clash with Gloucester is therefore massive if they’re to kick start their season.
PRO14 new-boys: Back-to-back appearances for the South African outfits unfortunately in our not section after both the Cheetahs and Kings were brushed aside, this time by Munster and Connacht. They sit bottom of their respective conferences in what has been a tough start to life in the PRO14. Next week the Cheetahs have a chance to break their duck against Zebre but for the Kings they host an in-form Leinster.