Planet Rugby

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

02nd April 2013 16:10

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Hot: Cheetahs - Not: Northampton

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

They're on fire!

Manu Tuilagi: Back to his bruising best against Northampton, Tuilagi's contribution turned the East Midlands derby into a rout. Leicester benefited with two tries from England's outside centre to secure second spot in the Premiership as the play-off race hots up. If he continues that kind of form, then Leicester's title chances will increase - on Saturday at times he looked unstoppable.

Cheetahs: It was wet and miserable in Bloemfontein, but the conditions didn't bother the Cheetahs as they secured their fourth win on the trot when they crushed the Rebels 34-16. It was only the second time in the Cheetahs' existence as a franchise that they won four matches consecutively, and they did it in style.

Sale Sharks: Bidding to become the first side to avoid relegation from the Aviva Premiership despite being bottom at Christmas, Sale have turned their season round. The eight-point cushion between the Manchester side and London Welsh should be enough to see them survive - an impressive feat considering the road to disaster they were on in 2012. Their defence needs work but the Sharks have momentum.

BlitzBokke: Paul Treu's troops were crowned Tokyo Sevens champions after coming from 12-0 down at half-time to beat Series leaders New Zealand 24-19 in the Cup final. It was a repeat of the Las Vegas final and the win moved South Africa onto 100 World Series points, up to second spot on the log, 32 points behind New Zealand and two ahead of third-placed Fiji.

Glasgow: A rampant 51-24 victory for the Scottish side over Munster confirmed their place at the summit of the RaboDirect Pro12 ahead of Irish sides Ulster and Leinster. 22 points for Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson and six tries from six different scorers make the Warriors serious title contenders heading into the play-offs.

Reds: Recorded a maiden win over the Highlanders on New Zealand soil since the inception of Super Rugby in 1996 - a fitting way to recognise director of coaching Ewen McKenzie becoming the most capped Super Rugby coach in history (121 games). The Reds also bagged their first four-try bonus point victory of the season.

Japan: Well, it has to be. Why else would four Kiwis (Boric, May, Donald and Masaga) sign up to play over there in the last week?


Bbbrrr....someone turn the heater up!

Blues, Bulls: After a strong start to the tournament, both sides have now suffered a hat-trick of defeats which has seen them slide down the Super Rugby ladder to eighth (Blues) and tenth (Bulls).

WRU & Scarlets: Steadily brewing over the weekend was the spat between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions over the future of George North. The star wing is expected to leave the Scarlets at the end of the season, with the WRU doing their best to keep him in Wales with a potential move to the Blues, and the Scarlets preferring to cash in on a talent they can no longer afford. It is just the latest chapter in the long-running saga of the regions being unable to afford their top stars, but the public battle of statements was an ugly mark on an important weekend for Welsh rugby as 37,000 watched the four regions do battle at the Millennium Stadium.

Highlanders: Played five, lost five... enough said.

Northampton: Steadily building momentum in recent weeks, Saturday's 34-8 loss against Leicester saw Saints hit a bump. Matches with Leicester always hold a certain level of respite, meaning a defeat that heavy will bruise for some time. It leaves Northampton clinging on to fourth place by points difference over Gloucester and two behind third-placed Harlequins, but confidence is another matter. Jim Mallinder and Dorian West have work to do.

Ref decision in Canberra: The Bulls did brilliantly to hold the Brumbies to what they thought was a deserved draw in Canberra ... until referee Jonathon White awarded a dubious penalty to the hosts. Pierre Spies was pinged for not releasing the ball in a ruck, but Brumbies scrum-half Nic White was lying over the ball to indicate that the visitors should have been awarded the penalty instead - something which left Bulls coach Frans Ludeke seething at the post-match press conference.

Connacht: Gunning for a fourth straight victory in the league for the first time since 2002 against Munster last weekend, Connacht fell flat. A 0-22 defeat on Paul O'Connell's return from injury stunted their progress in the league, as their winless run away at Munster continues, dating back to 1986.

Stormers line-out: One of the main reasons for the Stormers' downfall in their defeat to the Crusaders was their poor showing in the line-outs. Hooker Deon Fourie (wayward throw-ins) and lock Andries Bekker (questionable calls), in particular, came under fire after the match for their efforts at the set-piece.

Rebels: After starting the season on a high - with a victory over the Western Force - the Rebels have gone on a five-match losing streak after defeats to the Brumbies, Waratahs, Reds, Sharks and Cheetahs.

By Ben Coles, Dave Morris and David Skippers

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