Planet Rugby

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

22nd October 2013 13:41

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Hot or not october 22 2013

Hot: Winning at Wembley - Not: Drunk at work

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!

Toulouse: Six other teams have tried, and failed, to beat Saracens this season. Many thought that Guy Novès would have settled for a losing bonus-point at Wembley but the four-time champions showed they are very much still amongst the top teams in Europe as a massive performance from the rouge et noir bench secured a victory that could change the shape of the competition. Nine points from their first two games = hot.

Western Province and Sharks: It's the Currie Cup Final we all expected. WP are yet to lose this season and will back themselves to retain the title at Newlands in a rematch of last year's title decider on Saturday. The Sharks will contest their fourth consecutive final and will have revenge on their minds after the loss in Durban twelve months ago.

Ulster: When Toulon travelled to Montpellier they were lucky to snatch a draw. Toulouse were thrashed 25-0 there. Clermont were dealt a 40-point whipping. So for Ulster to get four Heineken Cup pool points from their visit to Stade Yves-du-Manoir is a significant result. Next up? Treviso at Ravenhill.

Wellington and Canterbury: The duo got past Counties Manukau and Auckland in their respective semi-finals to set up a mouth-watering final. Wellington have lost just once this campaign - in the last round of the regular season against Hawkes' Bay - so deserve their place in this week's clash while Canterbury seem to be peaking at just the right time ahead of their sixth straight final. We back the Lions to triumph though, with the back-row battle already whetting the appetite.

Cardiff Blues: Talk about enjoying a season-changing performance. The Blues lifted their efforts and played like their lives depended on it over last weekend as they beat Heineken Cup champions Toulon at the Arms Park. There were tears from director of rugby Phil Davies in the changing room after the result and who can blame him as critics were answered. Furthermore, it was also Davies' 50th birthday - we think the victory topped the present pile.

Gio Aplon: They say dynamite comes in small packages and Aplon illustrated this point perfectly when he scored a memorable individual try in Western Province's semi-final win over the Lions in Cape Town. With plenty of skill, and pace to burn, Aplon is a rare species in South Africa and he has given Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer a timely reminder of his match-changing ability ahead of the Boks' end-of-year tour to Europe.

Courtney Lawes: Alongside fellow star man Christian Day, Lawes was superb for Northampton against the Ospreys on Sunday. Looking to push his way into the England starting line-up this November, the 24-year-old made fourteen tackles in the game - most of those driving back Ospreys players - while his work around the field was impressive. Afterwards director of rugby Jim Mallinder said his performance was "sensational" ... we'd go along with that.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Mike Phillips, Dwayne Haare and Stephen Brett: We await the verdict from Bayonne but we wouldn't be surprised if Mike Phillips is fired. Most rugby players enjoy a few beers after a win, which is all very well, but once again Phillips has overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable for a professional sportsman.

Footloose Bismarck du Plessis: How on earth Advocate André Oosthuizen found that BdP's contact with Cheetahs flank Lappies Labuschagne was "accidental" is a mystery to us. You can only wonder what Oosthuizen's finding might have been had the hearing not been a few days before the Currie Cup Final. Judge for yourself here.

Zebre:Thrashed at home to Connacht, it looks like the team disguised as lion food are set for another winless campaign. It's becoming harder and harder to justify their place in the top tier of European competition.

Griquas: They may have claimed a narrow win over the Pumas in last Friday's Currie-Cup promotion/relegation showdown but tactics from the home side in Kimberley were pretty poor. Turning down five kickable penalties in the first half of a play-off is suicidal. A two-point head-start in this week's return fixture in Nelspruit might not be enough...

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