Planet Rugby

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

11th March 2014 10:42

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Hot Not March 11 2014

Cooking: Dublin - Frozen: Wellington

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!

Ireland: Joe Schmidt's team are just one step away from Six Nations glory. Few can deny that Ireland have been the outstanding team in the Championship this year and probably deserve the title having racked up a massive lead in the points-difference column thanks to big wins over the defending champions and Italy. Winning in Paris is never easy, but on current form, it's hard to bet against the men in green.

Exeter and Northampton: After the Chiefs' win at Bath and the Saints' victory at home against Saracens, these two Premiership sides face off in the LV= Cup Final at Sandy Park on Saturday. Exeter will fancy their chances as thanks to the luck of the draw - which was made before the start of the tournament - they will be playing in their own backyard. The Saints could argue that they are the favourites though as they are the form team in England at the moment. Exeter will watch George Pisi closely after he scored a second-half hat-trick against Sarries.

Brian O'Driscoll: Even the man himself couldn't have asked for a better send-off at the Aviva Stadium. Man-of-the-match after a creative performance that saw him help set up three tries on the day - two of those going to Jonathan Sexton - O'Driscoll received plenty of cheers when on the big screen and also a standing ovation at the end. Ireland must now regroup and get their feet back on the ground ahead of facing France.

Mike Brown: Full-back is possibly the strongest position in world rugby in terms of quality at the moment. There is Israel Folau tearing it up in Super Rugby with Willie le Roux and Charlie Piutau also playing good rugby, Leigh Halfpenny and Rob Kearney performing strongly while Brice Dulin and Stuart Hogg are also of a high class. But is there a more consistent 15 than Brown, who has shone for both Harlequins and England for a long time now? Faultless under the high ball and solid with his returns (145 metres on Saturday), he has nailed down this jersey.

Frans Steyn: Sharks fans would have been a touch worried when the news broke that Pat Lambie had to withdraw from last Saturday's clash against the in-form Lions after contracting tick-bite fever, but Mr Cannon Boot stepped up and produced his best game for yonks, smashing over penalties from his own half and directing traffic as if fly-half was his regular position. The Springbok coaching staff would have already pencilled his name in as an option at 12, but the Sharks centre's versatility just made his case for place in the national side even stronger.

Chris Feauai-Sautia: The Reds centre was one of the stars of Super Rugby Round Four, as he got his side's game against the Cheetahs off to a great start when he crossed the whitewash as early as the second minute. His try went down as a 'penalty try' since Rayno Benjamin kicked the ball from his grasp but that didn't deter the 20-year-old, who dusted himself off and scored two tries in the Reds' victory in Brisbane.


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Hurricanes: The only team without a win this season, the 'Canes find themselves propping up the Super Rugby table. To be fair, starting the campaign with two games in South Africa was a tough call, but they were completely outplayed by the Brumbies on their return to Wellington. As was the case on tour, keeping hold of the ball was the problem - the Hurricanes had just 39 percent of the possession and spent most of the game in their own half due to handling errors. Back-line coach Alama Ieremia called it "embarrassing" and "the most disappointing performance since I've been coach." Expect some stern words from head coach Mark Hammett this week.

IRB World Rankings: Performances mean very little in the current ranking system, it has more to do with who you beat and with Ireland only defeating fourteenth-ranked Italy and France edging Scotland (tenth place), les Bleus are the team on the rise, jumping above Wales and Ireland into fifth. If you watched Round Four's action over the weekend then you will, like us, be shaking your head at the global ladder. Saturday in Paris will settle it.

Scotland: France were absolutely woeful at Murrayfield and yet Scotland still couldn't get the job done. It's difficult to take Scotland seriously when chances such as this one are passed up. Long-term ambitions are fine but watching them inevitably concede a late penalty was so frustrating.

Italy: So much for spoiling O'Driscoll's party, as stand-in skipper Marco Bortolami had threatened to do in the build-up to Saturday's match. Italy leaked 46 points, including seven tries, and made it quite obvious why they had decided to rest Sergio Parisse. For every step forward (the performance against Wales) there is another step back.

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Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
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Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
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Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
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