Planet Rugby

Who's hot...and who's not!

30th May 2012 14:07

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Harlequins celebrates Premiership title Twickenham

Hot, hot, hot!: Harlequins

It is time for our weekly wrap up of who has their name in lights at the moment...and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're smoooooookin'!

Ospreys and Shane Williams: The victory seemed to be getting away from the Ospreys when Heineken Cup champions Leinster took a 30-21 lead after Isa Nacewa's second try. But the Welsh outfit bounced back superbly to stun the RDS crowd with a 10-point spurt in the final 10 minutes. Add to that Wales legend Williams scoring two tries - his second being a late winner - and the Ospreys had achieved a remarkable comeback. Credit also to Steve Tandy.

Harlequins: Who could argue that Conor O'Shea's outfit deserved to get their hands on the Aviva Premiership trophy over the weekend? Top since Round Three and having played some excellent rugby throughout the season, Harlequins finished it all off with a 30-23 victory over Leicester at Twickenham.

Matt Giteau: Okay so Jonny Wilkinson isn't kicking well, who can we get to fill in? That Matt Giteau ain't bad. Wilkinson was one from four when former Wallaby fly-half Giteau took over the responsibilities and from there, Toulon never looked back as the Australian's nine points along with flank Steffon Armitage's try booked the star-studded Toulon into a semi-final clash against Clermont. Bernard Laporte will hope for better in Toulouse this Saturday.

Chris Ashton: Mike Catt said in the aftermath that one of the most pleasing aspects of England's 57-26 victory over the Barbarians was watching Chris Ashton getting over the whitewash once again. In all the now Saracens winger crossed three times at Twickenham as his roaming style paid dividends, popping up on the shoulder of several runners throughout the game. England will need Ashton in top form in June's three-Test series in South Africa.

Sharks and Chiefs: What can you say about these two franchises at the moment? The Sharks possess arguably the best back-row options in Super Rugby and have Fred Michalak and Pat Lambie controlling their play from behind. Meanwhile, the Chiefs continue to record victories as time begins to run out for the Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes in the New Zealand conference. A favourable run-in for the Sharks adds weight to this being a possible final.

'Canes back-three: Seven tries were picked up between Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua and Julian Savea on Saturday as a struggling Rebels outfit could not cope with the clinical trio. Taylor has not let his All Blacks snub get to him while Savea seems to be going from strength to strength ahead of June.


Bbbrrrr... Someone turn up the heater!

Pre-tour injuries: Rugby in June will miss the impact of Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris while England will be without versatile prop Matt Stevens (much to the pleasure of some of our readers). But it's not just the northern hemisphere nations being hit by injuries as teams from the south also battle to keep their players fit. Fingers are crossed no more fall before June 9.

Lions: Still under that thick cloud of next season (will they or won't they be in Super Rugby) the Lions continue to struggle in 2012's competition as they fell to the Force. The Currie Cup triumph must seem like an age away now as John Mitchell also contends with the loss of injured back Jaco Taute.

CJ van der Linde: Upon writing this, the Springbok prop's hearing has been adjourned to an as yet unknown date. However, those who saw the footage of Saturday's incident involving Toby Lynn might have already made their own mind up. Judging from New Zealand referee Garratt Williamson's reaction to seeing the forearm of the Force lock, one feels Van der Linde could be set for a significant spell on the sidelines. He had been playing well too.

Montpellier: Friday's play-off in Toulouse was one to forget for Montpol. They didn't even manage to get out of second gear and in a knockout clash to progress to the Top 14 semi-finals, we expected better from Fabien Galthiť's side. Players like Mamuka Gorgodze didn't repeat the form that terrorised Leinster in the Heineken Cup Pools while their classy back-three barely earned a mention from the match commentators. Poor end to the year.

Munster retirements: Coincidence or is there cause for concern at Thomond Park? Darragh Hurley became the fourth Munster player to call time on his career last week, joining Denis Leamy, Jerry Flannery and David Wallace in hanging up his boots. Good luck to the quartet in their respective futures.

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