Planet Rugby

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

21st April 2014 08:47

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Hot or not April 21 2014

On the rise: The Hurricanes....Facing the drop: Perpignan

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!

Hurricanes: The 'Canes are bubbling with confidence after their bonus-point win over the Blues lifted them to seventh in the Super Rugby standings and only one point off the play-off berths. Mark Hammett's team have now won three in a row and lead the stats in tries scored (26), clean breaks, carries, metres gained and defenders beaten.

Glasgow: For the second time in as many weeks, Glasgow were left feeling disappointed not to bag a try bonus point against one of Europe's best. They took Ulster apart at Scotstoun on Friday as they did Munster last weekend, scoring three tries to none and with a game in hand, look favourites to secure a home semi-final and the impetus Scottish rugby badly needs.

Crusaders: Many detractors wrote them off after a slow start, but Todd Blackadder's men showed they are still a force to be reckoned with in this year's Super Rugby tournament after grinding out a win over the defending champions in Hamilton. Already without the services of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, the Crusaders' success was even sweeter as they played most of the match without another big name, in captain Kieran Read, who was forced off the field with concussion in the first half.

Sale: A record victory, 55-12, away from home to boot, over Exeter Chiefs wrapped up a place in next season's Champions Cup for Steve Diamond's men. A startling turnaround from last year's horror-show.

Stormers: It's amazing what is possible when you use the full width of the field. Victory over the Lions means the Stormers climb off the foot of the Super Rugby table. It was hardly a vintage performance but fans in the Cape will be chuffed that their team are finally trying to play with positive intentions.

Harlequins: Having reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals with ease, Quins are on a hot streak domestically too. In recent weeks they've seen off London Irish, then downed Sale Sharks to claim pole position in the race for the playoffs. On Friday, they came back to see off the mighty Leicester Tigers at The Stoop, and keep up Conor O'Shea's hunt for a semi-final spot. It's a tall order with Quins trailing the third-placed Tigers by six points with two games remaining, but the Irishman is determined to fight 'til the end.

Oyonnax and Bayonne: The fight for survival in the Top 14 will go to the very last day as Oyonnax, Bayonne and Perpignan are level on points on the edge of the drop zone with just one round to go. In two drama-filled games, Oyonnax claimed a hard-fought draw at home to Toulouse while Martin Bustos Moyano kicked a last-minute penalty to snatch the draw for Bayonne in Grenoble.

Zebre: Victory over Edinburgh means Zebre are now just four points behind Treviso. Could the boys in the black and white stripes leapfrog their Italian rivals and sneak into the new European Cup?


Broken Thermostat:

The Sharks: It's hard to fault a side that has won 7 out of 8 games and lead the Super Rugby standings, but the Sharks get our vote for the most boring team in the competition (especially now that the Stormers have seen the light). Their game plan revolves around cashing in on opponents' errors, but when those are not forthcoming the scoreboard ticks over very slowly...


Get these guys a cup of warm soup!

Benji Marshall: After all that hype, 'the next SBW' has turned out to be a disappointment in more ways than one. The Blues confirmed on Monday that Marshall is fed up with trying to break into the starting side and is seeking a release from his contract so he can return to rugby league. If you don't have the guts to put in the hard yards and learn the ropes, rugby union doesn't need you.

Robin Copeland and Liam Williams: We're pleased to say referee Ian Davies got this one right on both counts, but less pleased to see a flagship Welsh derby ruined by foul play. Williams killed the ball with Cardiff attacking inside the Scarlets' 22, rightly receiving a second yellow card for his troubles. Then Copeland, who has enjoyed a storming season with the Blues, decided the best way to make sure the full-back moved was stamping on his head. After the TMO had been called in, and the obligatory groans and bayings for blood had echoed round the Millennium Stadium as the incident was replayed on the big screens, Davies had no option.

Perpignan: Favourites to get relegated from the Top 14 after taking the gamble of moving their crunch game against Toulon to Barcelona and losing badly. The Catalans' only hope to avoid the drop is picking up points away to Clermont - who are unbeaten in 76 games at home - on the last day...Good luck.

Lionel Beauxis: The former France fly-half is currently the most unpopular man in both Toulouse and Perpignan after missing a sitter of a penalty in the final minute in Oyonnax. The two championship points lost by Toulouse and gained by the hosts are likely to have significant consequences.

Cheetahs: Stone last with just one win from nine games. The Cheetahs' defensive frailties continue to cost them...

Lions: After beating several teams at the start of the season, the wheels seem to be coming off for the men from Johannesburg, who are currently on a three-match winless streak after defeats to the Crusaders, Sharks and Stormers. They have a bye this weekend, which will be a relief as they suffered injuries to key players in recent weeks, but coach Johan Ackermann must be preparing for their upcoming Australasian tour with a degree of trepidation as they face tricky assignments against the Chiefs, Highlanders, Hurricanes and Western Force.

Exeter: Since winning the LV=Cup a little over a month ago, Exeter have been on the slide, winning just one of their four matches. That win came against bottom side Worcester, and after a blistering start the Chiefs almost fell foul of a Warriors fightback. They were trounced by Leicester, lost at home to Gloucester, and allowed Sale to rack up the points in a record 55-12 win on Saturday. Exeter have shipped an unenviable 19 tries in those four games, and relinquished their grip on the crucial seventh spot in the Premiership.

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Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
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Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
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Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
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LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
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Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
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Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
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Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
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Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
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Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615