Planet Rugby

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

18th February 2014 10:13

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Hot or not 18 Feb 2014

Hot: Lions - Not: O'Leary

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!

Lions: After a year in the wilderness, the men from Johannesburg made a triumphant Super Rugby return against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Against all odds, Johan Ackermann's charges upset their highly-rated opponents and served a warning to other teams in the competition that they will not go down without a fight during the rest of the campaign.

Sharks: There was much to cheer for the Durban-based outfit's supporters after their side impressed in putting the Bulls to the sword in their season opener. With former Brumbies and Springboks coach Jake White in charge, much is expected from the men in black, and they certainly delivered the goods by thrashing their hapless visitors and clinching a try-scoring bonus-point in the process.

Northampton Saints: Now unbeaten in 11 games, the Premiership leaders look like a hard nut to crack, even without their Six Nations contingent.

London Irish: After upsetting Saracens last week, the Exiles claimed another scalp on the road with victory over Wasps at Adams Park to make it three wins in a row.

Montpellier: Fabien Galthié's side are making a strong run for at least a home Top 14 play-off. After winning in Toulouse the week before, les Héraultais thrashed Perpignan 50-19 last Saturday to climb to second in the standings.

Grenoble: The team from the foot of the Alps have made giant slaying a regular habit in France this season, with league leaders Clermont the latest heavyweights to fall. One of the smallest clubs in the Top 14, Fabrice Landreau's outfit are still on track to sneak into the playoffs!

Marnitz Boshoff: As the Lions' back-up fly-half, Boshoff was under pressure to do well against the Cheetahs as he was only wearing his side's number 10 jersey because Elton Jantjies was out injured. But cometh the hour, cometh the man as Boshoff scored all his side's points in a matchwinning performance which will make it difficult for Jantjies to return to the starting XV.


Broken thermostat

Victor Matfield The jury is still very much out on the former Bok lock's much-talked-about comeback. The 36-year-old's appearance off the bench against the Sharks had a positive impact on his team's performance, especially at line-out time, but he was far from the dominant force we remember. Of course it would be unfair to expect the three-time Super Rugby winner to immediately reproduce the brilliance of the good old days and coach Frans Ludeke expects him to "get better as the competition goes on," but one has to ask the question if too much is being expected of a man who has been out of action for two years.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Deon van Blommenstein: The TMO as the Sharks ran out 31-16 victors over the Bulls in Durban made quite the blunder in awarding Cobus Reinach's opening try for the hosts. Not only did second-row Anton Bresler knock the ball on the build-up, he played opponent Paul Willemse in the air in the process. We're not really sure how van Blommenstein got that one wrong, and while we don't advocate the public flogging of match officials, they should be accountable for their errors. SANZAR have rightly admitted a mistake was made.

Treviso: Ok, Treviso may have been without many of their Italian internationals, but the Ospreys were fielding far from a full-strength side when the pair met on Sunday. There certainly shouldn't have been 70 points between them. Eighty minutes and eleven tries later, though, the scoreboard read 75-7. A total humiliation for the side that are leaving the PRO12 next season.

Tomas O'Leary and Jonathan Thomas: The duo face a spell on the sidelines after their tempers got the better of them last weekend. Exiles scrum-half O'Leary left a blemish on his side's victory over Wasps when he was red-carded for a stamp on James Haskell and Worcester's captain Thomas added to his side's woes when he received his marching orders in their loss to Northampton after punching Sam Dickinson.

Biarritz: After yet another defeat at home (this time to misfiring Toulouse), their sixth consecutive loss, relegation is now surely unavoidable for Serge Blanco's club, who are a massive 21 points adrift of safety with just eight games to play.

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