Planet Rugby

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

03rd December 2013 10:05

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Wales Fiji hot not

Scalding hot in Dubai: Fiji

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!

Rachel Crothers: On her Series debut, the 19-year-old took Dubai by storm over the weekend as she scored a hat-trick in an epic final against New Zealand. She was impressive throughout the tournament but it was on the biggest stage that she performed best, helping Australia overturn a 0-22 deficit to eventually win 35-27. Crothers comes from a beach sprinting background. Australian selectors should get back down there.

Cyprus: A week after New Zealand celebrated 14 wins from 14 in 2013, Cyprus recorded an outstanding 21st successive international victory. Winning 22-8 in Paphos, the Moufflons can now add Austria (their second win against them in this excellent run) to Azerbaijan, Monaco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Bulgaria, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia (all also twice), Slovakia and Hungary to the list of defeated teams. Congratulations to them.

Fiji Sevens: Where did that come from? Beating the All Blacks Sevens 44-0 in their semi-final in a quite outstanding performance, Fiji then overcame South Africa 29-17 to lift the Dubai title. Whether Fiji's glory days are about to return is still too early to say but there were several positive signs for new coach Ben Ryan to work with. Samisoni Viriviri and Osea Kolinisau were outstanding while Pio Tuwai set up the try of Dubai, votes decided today.

Barbarians v Fiji: Long live the Barbarians tradition. That was some display at Twickenham as the Baa-baas won 43-19 with some superb tries scored in a game celebrating Fiji's centenary year. Niko Matawalu was outstanding against a world-class team. Although the fact Nateni Talei had to play two matches in 24 hours due to the fixture falling outside the IRB window was ridiculous. Anyway, here's to the next 100 years of flowing Fijian rugby.

Quade Cooper: Right back to his best. We saw the audacious offloads in the first-half, the trademark sidestep in the second against Wales as Cooper stole the show. When playing with that much confidence, he is uncontainable. Wales said they were chasing shadows.

Northampton: Coming into this weekend's Heineken Cup double header against Leinster, the Saints are on a seven-game winning streak. They will also have George North back on the wing. What a contest we have in store at first Franklin's Gardens and then the RDS.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Wales: No win in nine against Australia. No win in 18 against one of the SANZAR teams. If Wales want to win a World Cup, they'll have to be able to beat them. It's still not happening.

Biarritz: French teams pride themselves on having a strong home record so losing 22-15 to Bordeaux-Bègles was another significant blow to morale at Biarritz. Eight points off Oyonnax and Bayonne at the foot of the Top 14 standings going into the Amlin Challenge Cup break, Biarritz will hope to turn things around against England's struggler, Worcester. Expect an air of desperation at Sixways Stadium and Parc des Sports d'Aguilera over this fortnight.

Welsh gambler: Roofing contractor Steve Richards, of Pontypridd, recently won £38,970 (46,937 euros, $63,800) after correctly predicting 12 soccer matches. He then chose to put a large stake on Wales to finally overcome their losing streak against Australia, only keeping £8,000 of his winnings. While insisting he has no regrets, deep down surely that one hurts.

Connacht: The PRO12 side lost 43-10 at Edinburgh last Friday in a dismal showing that leaves them a point off the eleventh placed Zebre and seven behind Treviso. This standing is far cry from the optimism that came when Pat Lam and Craig Clarke arrived in Galway.


Arctic Circle

Worcester Warriors: Oh, Worcester. Sometimes a team is just not hot for so long that we need an inventive way to discuss them. Hence why this week after nine losses from nine matches in the Aviva Premiership, Worcester find themselves in the Arctic Circle. There was hope of a spark when they led 10-9 at half-time against Northampton, before they went on to concede 24 unanswered points and lose once again. Relegation seems unavoidable.

By Adam Kyriacou and Ben Coles
@PlanetRugbyAK and @bencoles_

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