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!
Charlie Ngatai: Everything the Chiefs midfielder seemed to try on attack came off in his side’s triumph over the Force and he was rewarded with a four-try haul for his efforts. His achievement equals the record for the most tries in a match by a Chief, which was also achieved by Sitiveni Sivivatu and Asaeli Tikoirotuma, and sends a timely reminder to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen he is Test quality.
Toulouse and Clermont: Toulouse were in a rampant mood, claiming a deserved 36-3 bonus-point victory over Stade Français. They delivered a clinical performance and dominated from start to finish and the result moves them in to fifth place on the table. Clermont had to dig deep to consolidate their position at the top of the Top 14 standings when they fought back from a 19-point deficit to beat Bordeaux-Bègles 24-19.
Saracens: That was an impressive performance. Knowing that a win would take them above Exeter at the Premiership summit, Saracens put in an excellent showing as they ran in five tries, with their returning England contingent showing no signs of a Six Nations hangover. When playing like this it’s tough to see anyone stopping Mark McCall’s men, whose regular-season run-in looks more favourable to Exeter.
Connacht: It might not have been a classic but a win against their nearest challenger in the PRO12 was all that mattered for the story of the season, Connacht. Now sitting four points clear at the summit, Pat Lam’s outfit continued a remarkable campaign with their thirteenth win ahead of a trip to Ulster before Munster come to the Sportsground. Those derby games already whet the appetite in Galway.
Danny Cipriani and Owen Farrell: Set up one try and scored another, Cipriani was man-of-the-match for Sale in their win against Leicester. His running and passing game was excellent while he played the conditions very well, a day after Farrell had starred for his Saracens side. Straight into the team after his Six Nations success, Farrell also scored and directed the ship superbly against Exeter.
So cold they can see their own breath…
Jaguares: There was plenty of hype around their inclusion in Super Rugby with some enthusiasts even tipping the Argentine side to win this year’s tournament. Judging from their campaign’s start that won’t happen as a narrow win over the Cheetahs in their opener was followed up with successive defeats against the Sharks, Chiefs and Stormers. The Jaguares’ discipline has also let them down badly and they’ve already received five yellow cards from their four matches played so far. They were just not at the races against the Stormers.
Italian club rugby: Hot on the heels of five successive defeats in the Six Nations for Italy, the country’s two PRO12 teams were handed heft defeats on Friday. Treviso and Zebre conceded a combined 103 points to Cardiff Blues and Munster respectively as things are worryingly going backwards at both sides. It could be a tough end to the campaign for both, who are falling away in games far too often.
Western Force: 31-14 followed by 41-6 followed by 53-10; it’s been a disappointing recent three rounds for the Perth outfit, who currently sit in ninth place in the Australasian Super Rugby group. Once again they fell away in the second-half over this past weekend, with the Chiefs tearing them to pieces as they ran in seven tries to go with a couple in the opening 40 minutes. The Force were nowhere.
Ospreys: Another team enduring a tough spell is the Ospreys, whose home loss to Scarlets means they are now the third-ranked team from Wales in the PRO12 standings. Cardiff Blues have leap-frogged them after three straight defeats sees the Liberty Stadium side slide.
Sunwolves line-out: Not sure what the men from Tokyo’s forwards were trying at this set-piece, against the Bulls, but one thing is clear: They weren’t all on the same page.