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

01st Sep 2014, 11:07

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Off the mark at last: La Rochelle - Troubling times: Wellington

Off the mark at last: La Rochelle - Troubling times: Wellington

It's 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.

It's 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 ON FIRE!

Hawke's Bay: The Magpies took a team packed with Super Rugby experience, as well as Israel Dagg, to Counties Manukau for their Ranfurly Shield challenge. In the end though it was the only player in their backline without Super Rugby caps, former league player Ryan Tongia, who scored the decisive try a quarter of an hour from time. Their first defence will come in a fortnight against Otago who should provide a stern challenge.

Western Province: Four wins from four and a three-point lead atop the Currie Cup table, it's been the perfect start to the campaign for WP. Their devastating young back three of Seabelo Senatla, Cheslin Kolbe and Kobus van Wyk, are wreaking havoc with another great display to knock off the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, and on this form Province look a cut above the rest of the competition.

La Rochelle: Pointless after two heavy away defeats, La Rochelle needed to turn things around for their first home game at the Stade Marcel Deflandre. Toulouse were in town, but that did not bother the Rochelais, who produced a stunning second-half performance to run out 37-25 winners. Alofa Alofa scored twice but it was a great team effort with the intensity up several notches from the previous games. More of the same please!

Welsh peace: It's been a long time coming and sparked more debate than Wales' last three Grand Slams combined, but an agreement finally seems to have been found between the WRU and RRW. We'll have to wait and see how long it lasts and whether the dual-contracts can bring back the top Welsh players, but anything that gets us talking about the rugby in the Principality has got to be a good thing.

Alipate Ratini: He made his name by intercepting Jonny Wilkinson to hand Toulon a shock home defeat in January, but Ratini is proving that he is more than a passing talent. An electric hat-trick against Bordeaux sent him to the top of the Top 14 scoring charts, and came hot on the heels of him comfortably getting the better of Rene Ranger. With pace to burn and great vision of the game, expect him to follow in the footsteps of Metuisela Talebula to finish as the league's top try-scorer.

Francois Trinh-Duc's Montpellier: Fulgence Ouedraogo might be captain again, but this is Trinh-Duc's team, and he stepped up in style on Friday night. With Benoit Paillaugue struggling, the talented fly-half took on the kicking duties, making everything from tricky angles to keep his side in touch. Then, when his pack had earned a shot to win it with just over a minute left, Trinh-Duc held his nerve from 45 metres out for a famous win at the Marcel Michelin. On this form even Philippe Saint-André can't ignore him. Can he?




BROKEN THERMOSTAT

Pro12 launch in London: We understand that title sponsors Guinness wanted to show off their fancy Diageo headquarters but is London really the ideal place for the launch of a Celtic and Italian league? We'd have thought that heading to one of the countries involved in the league might have made more sense, although the acid test for the rebranded competition will come this week when the action kicks off. Let's hope the new incentives with regards to European qualification and the increased television coverage, lead to a more competitive league.

Comedy duo of Mourad Boudjellal and Jacky Lorenzetti: The presidents of Toulon and Racing are certainly two of the game's characters, with the former never missing an opportunity to speak out about something. However there has been something rather childish about their latest spat in the build-up to Saturday's Top 14 clash. Surely they have better things to do with their time than take pot shots at each other in the press?




.....BRRR! GET THESE GUYS A CUP OF WARM SOUP

Wellington: Missing several key players who are either injured, with the All Blacks or left for pastures new, Wellington have found life extremely tough in the opening three games of the ITM Cup season. Losses to Waikato and Northland have been compounded by a second defeat to a Championship side as they went down to Manawatu at Westpac Stadium. This week they are at Auckland...a fourth loss seems likely.

Brive indiscipline: Yellow cards are part and parcel of the Top 14, with some referees handing out an average of nearly three cards a game, but even by those standards, Brive lost the plot on Saturday. On their way to a heavy defeat at promoted Lyon, Brive managed to pick up four yellow cards in the space of 21 minutes as the game descended into farce.

Bay of Plenty: The worst team in New Zealand? BoP have conceded an average of 43.6 points over their three games so far in the ITM Cup. Bleak viewing for their fans.