Planet Rugby

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

14th July 2014 10:01

Share:

Waratahs Cheetahs hot or not feature

Hot! Waratahs. Not? Cheetahs

It's time for Planet Rugby's 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!

Waratahs: Impressive once again, this time with a big win in Brisbane, the 'Tahs must be considered the outstanding favourites for the Super Rugby title. Yet another full haul of points means the Michael Cheika's team finish the regular season seven clear of the Crusaders at the top of the standings having secured no less than nine try-scoring bonus points in 16 games. Spectacular.

Crusaders: Having come in for a lot of criticism is the early part of the season, Todd Blackadder's troops have been on an upward curve ever since their successful tour of South Africa jump-started their campaign. With nine wins from their last eleven games, a weekend off coming up and Richie McCaw returning for a home semi-final in Christchurch, the seven-time champs look on course for their eleventh final.

Sharks: We've been vocal critics of the Sharks' no-frills approach but credit where credit is due. Jake White's team have the best defensive record in Super Rugby in 2014, conceding just 22 tries all year. Having inflicted the Stormers' heaviest defeat at Newlands in seven years over the weekend, they take plenty of momentum into the play-offs.

Chiefs: The defending champs are still alive! They become the first team to win at Eden Park this year to sneak into the play-off via the back door. They're famous for their counter-attacking, but let's not forget that the Chiefs have the best tackling stats of any team in the competition this year.

Lions: Hands up if you didn't write the season the Lions off before the start of the season...Kudos to Johan Ackermann and his troops for defying the odds in their best-ever season, which saw them finish above the 2011 champions and just one point behind the Stormers. Scoring 60 points at Ellis Park on the last day should help boost attendance number next year.

Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and Bernard Foley: No wonder the 'Tahs have had a phenomenal season. These three dominate the attacking stats for the regular season. Beale and Foley were first and second for most carries with the fly-half also scoring the most points. Folau scored the most tries, made the most clean breaks and the most offloads.

Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith: Fekitoa is the find of the year, surely. The Highlanders youngster topped the charts for defenders beaten this term. A whopping 61 tacklers failed to stop the 22-year-old. A megastar of future. Meanwhile, his skipper made more metres with ball in hand than any other player, no less than 1182!

Stephan Lewies: In his debut Super Rugby season, the new Springbok was the competition's top line-out catcher with 77 clean takes. Only Victor Matfield even came close.

Matt Hodgson: The season's top tackler with 234 hits, the Force loose forward worked his tail off.


Broken Thermostat

Super Rugby Play-offs: It was with a hint of irony that Sharks boss Jake White questioned the logic behind the play-offs after Saturday's win in Cape Town.

"If we have a situation where the top two team consistently play each other in the final we have to look if we should just scrap the play-offs," he said.

"[Home field advantage and the travel involved in the play-offs] mean the teams coming first or second have a 90 percent chance of winning the competition, so why play these matches at all?

"From the point of view of player welfare, preparation for Test matches, the cost...all those things must come into account. If one plays two every year anyway, then we're wasting everybody's time."


Get these guys a warm cup of soup!

SA Conference: It's been a very poor year for South African sides in general with only one out of five franchises finishing in the top half of the overall standings. Super Rugby is designed to reward positive endeavour via the bonus-point system. SA teams produced just 12 try bonus points in 2014 compared to 26 in the Kiwi Conference and 21 in Australia. Time for a change in mentality?

Reds: The biggest disappointment of the year? The Queenslanders finished third-last, a massive 30 points beyond their rivals from New South Wales. The 2011 champions looked stale and suffered horribly in Quade Cooper's injury-enforced absence. Time for some fresh faces and fresh ideas.

Bulls: The stats paint a dire picture: The men from Pretoria are at the bottom of the charts in terms of tries scored, clean breaks, metres gained, defenders beaten, offloads and ruck success. Enough said.

Cheetahs: How things can change in a year. After coming breathtakingly close to the semi-finals last year, the Cheetahs finished their 2014 campaign with whimper in Jo'burg, a result which condemned them to last in the SA Conference. Always sure to entertain, it was the age-old problem of a fragile defence that came back to haunt Naka Drotske's team as they conceded an average of 33 points per game. 11 yellow cards didn't help. Ouch.

Rebels: Stone last - for the second time in four years - with the worst points difference in Super Rugby. Does Australia have the depth to field five competitive franchises?

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs Wasps15:00
London Irish vs Bath15:00
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs Northampton13:00
London Welsh vs Leicester Tigers15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South Africa15:00
Scotland vs Tonga14:30
Ireland vs Australia16:30
Wales vs New Zealand17:30
England vs Samoa19:00
France vs Argentina21:00
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs Leinster14:30
Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720