Who’s hot and who’s not: Saracens claim massive win, golden point drop-goal and Crusaders lose again

David Skippers
Split with Saracens star Owen Farrell and Crusaders players discussing.

Split with Saracens star Owen Farrell and Crusaders players discussing.

It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after the weekend.


Saracens back in form: After being written off in some quarters due to their indifferent form in previous Premiership rounds, the competition’s defending champions hit their straps as they cruised to an impressive 52-7 triumph against Harlequins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday. It was a special day or Sarries captain Owen Farrell as he was making his 250th appearance for the North London club, and he produced a performance befitting the occasion. Farrell outshone his direct opponent Marcus Smith as he impressed with his playmaking skills and slotted six conversions as Sarries ran in eight tries. Their victory means they have consolidated second position on the Premiership table and narrowed the gap on table-toppers Northampton Saints, who lost to Bristol Bears on Friday.

Sharks finally win: It has been a truly horrible season for the Durban side who have really struggled despite their impressive squad. However, the Sharks eventually found a way to constructively put the pieces together by claiming a crucial 22-12 win over Ulster – just their second victory in 12 league games. There are encouraging signs as the side looks much better with Siya Masuku at pivot. The Sharks will be hoping to back it up against Edinburgh as they seek to give themselves momentum heading into the Challenge Cup, with their play-off against Zebre in two weeks’ time.

14-man Lions: The heart of a lion was seriously on show for the Johannesburg side when they beat Connacht 38-14 despite losing their prop, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, to a red card in the 16th minute. The Lions scored six tries to power them into the United Rugby Championship top eight, keeping them in the play-off picture and giving themselves a chance to qualify for the Champions Cup next season. Every game is crucial for the team, who face Ospreys next weekend before Benetton away in the Challenge Cup knockouts.

First win for Western Force: After losing their four previous matches, the Force moved off the foot of the Super Rugby Pacific standings after notching a 40-31 victory over the Reds in an exciting Australian derby in Perth on Saturday. Simon Cron’s troops were deserved winners as they dominated for long periods and held a 28-5 lead at half-time. In the end, the Force outscored their neighbours by six tries to five in an exciting encounter and they will be hoping to continue their good form when they face Fijian Drua in their next match in Lautoka next week.

Golden point win for Fijian Drua: The Drua were involved in a thrilling encounter against the Waratahs in Lautoka on Saturday and clinched a thrilling victory thanks to a moment of magic from replacement fly-half Kemu Valetini. With the scores deadlocked at 36-36 after full-time, the match went into extra-time with golden point to decide the eventual winners. Eight minutes had been played during that period when Valetini showed his class by landing a brilliant drop goal, which sent the Drua fans into raptures. The victory means they move into the eighth spot on the table and will be chasing another home win when they host the Force at the same venue this weekend.


World Rugby’s law proposals: The newest set of law proposals are a real mixed bag, with the main positives being the correction of the ‘Dupont Law’ loophole in the offside rule after a kick, outlawing the ‘croc roll’ clean out and timers on scrum and line-outs. There are concerns around player safety and the lack of incentive to improve tackle technique if the 20-minute red card is rolled out, with another negative being the removal of a scrum option from free kicks, which could effectively depower the scrum. These changes are set to be voted on when the World Rugby Council meets in May.


Crusaders lose again: The defending Super Rugby Pacific champions’ horrific start to the 2024 season continued when they suffered a 26-6 defeat to the Blues in Auckland on Saturday. Rob Penney’s troops delivered a competitive performance during the first half and went into the interval trailing the Blues 9-6, but they struggled after the interval as their hosts took control of proceedings and clinched their win thanks to tries from Ofa Tu’ungafasi and AJ Lam. The Crusaders have now lost all five of their matches, and with the Force winning against the Reds, the Christchurch-based outfit is now firmly rooted to the foot of the table.

No action for Neil Jenkins comments: The Wales assistant coach hit the headlines last week after he was involved in a heated spat with French referee Mathieu Raynal during Wales’ Six Nations clash with Italy in Cardiff. Jenkins was unhappy when Raynal did not award Wales a penalty for a high tackle and criticised the official when he came onto the pitch as a water carrier. Raynal hit back at Jenkins by telling him: “Your job is to carry to the water,” before Jenkins responded: “And your job is to referee the game.” The former Wales fly-half was slammed on social media for his comments, but strangely, there has been no comment from World Rugby on the matter. Retired Welsh referee Nigel Owens weighed in by saying he feels that appropriate action needs to be taken if coaches transgress. However, it looks like Jenkins will not be sanctioned for his petulance.

Fabien Galthie’s referee comments: In the most ironic statement of the week, the France head coach insisted he would never question a referee’s decision immediately after doing exactly that when their 29-28 defeat to the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals came up. The coach claimed his side was impacted by “very questionable decisions” before taking a dig at Rassie Erasmus’ use of X, formerly Twitter, to criticise referees. Ultimately, the comments go against what Galthie is claiming to protect.

Saracens-Harlequins TMO:  A bizarre incident occurred in Saracens’ win over Harlequins where a player from the Quarters arrived late at a ruck and made contact with Owen Farrell before Sarries scored through Juan Martin Gonzalez. Co-commentator Austin Healey suggested that the incident be reviewed by the TMO, but strangely, Stuart Terheege could hear the commentary from the truck where he was placed and did not want the situation to appear instigated by Healey and opted to ignore the foul play, even instructing the director not to show the collision again. Player welfare is rugby’s number one priority, and in no circumstance should dangerous play be ignored, especially to this extent.

READ MORE: Planet Rugby Readers’ Team of the Six Nations: Champions Ireland dominate but one Englishman steals the show