Planet Rugby

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

11th December 2012 13:23

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Hot: Baker - Not: Farrell

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 on fire!

Ulster: Extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 matches with a convincing 25-6 away win against Northampton in the Heineken Cup. This gives them a six-point lead at the top of Pool Four.

New Zealand Sevens: Gordon Tietjens' side made history when they won the Port Elizabeth leg of the Sevens World Series to become the first side to win the same leg of the competition for a fourth consecutive time. No other team has achieved this feat since the tournament started in 1999.

Clermont: Extended their unbeaten home record to 51 matches with a narrow victory over defending champions Leinster. What made their win extra special is that it also ended Leinster's 17-match unbeaten record in the Heineken Cup.

Kurt Baker: Made his return to the Sevens circuit - after an absence of nearly three years - in fine style by leading New Zealand's charge at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Baker scored eight tries in Port Elizabeth, including two hat-tricks on finals day.

Jared Payne: Put in a top-class display in Ulster's win over Northampton. Payne was at the heart of Ulster's attacking play and apart from scoring a try he also set one up for Tommy Bowe.

Harlequins: Scored eight tries in their 57-14 Heineken Cup victory over Zebre which has taken them six points clear of their nearest rivals at the top of Pool 3.

Connacht: The Irish province claimed the biggest upset of the weekend when they beat Biarritz 22-14 in their Heineken Cup tie. The victory moves them into second spot, behind Quins, in their pool.

Someone turn on the heater...!

Owen Farrell: The Saracens stalwart had a shocker from the kicking tee in his side's 15-9 Heineken Cup loss to Munster. Farrell missed four out of seven shots at goal which proved the difference between winning and losing in the end.

Northampton: Although Ulster delivered a superb performance, more was expected from the Saints who were playing at Franklin's Gardens. They hardly put up a fight and suffered an ignominious defeat in front of their home crowd.

England Sevens: Ben Ryan's team are usually amongst the frontrunners on the international Sevens circuit but they have been far from impressive this season. They are currently languishing in 13th position in the point standings behind minnows like the United States, Canada and Portugal.

Dan Carter: He might have won the IRB's Player of the Year award but DC is not hot in his homeland. This after he failed to make the shortlist for the New Zealand Rugby Union's Kel Tremain Memorial Player of the Year award.

Dylan Hartley: The Northampton and England hooker is in trouble after he was cited for allegedly striking Ulster's Rory Best in their Heineken Cup tie. Hartley is no stranger to disciplinary hearings and was banned for eight weeks after being cited for biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris during a Six Nations match earlier this year.

Sevens World Series organisers: The system being used for allocating teams places the top three teams from the previous tournament into pools A, B and C with the rest of the teams selected randomly from tiered bands. The results of this saw New Zealand being drawn in the same pool as traditional rivals Fiji and England in the Port Elizabeth tournament while hosts South Africa had Australia, Samoa and France to contend with. We have to agree with Tietjens who believes a seeding system using the current rankings as a barometer would be a fairer option.

By David Skippers

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