It’s time for Planet Rugby’s wrap of who has their name in lights at the moment… and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!!
Anton Lienert-Brown: Very special performance from the young All Black, still just 21, who finished his night in Buenos Aires with three assists to go with his early try. Good power to bust through the tackle on his way to opening New Zealand’s account, and the offload for Ryan Crotty’s score was superb.
All Blacks: So good in the first half in Buenos Aires, going into the break ahead 29-3, that they could afford to be sloppy in the final stages. Kieran Read got his hands on the silverware and the All Blacks even with rotation looked as menacing as ever. Don’t expect them to lose motivation though – the chance to finish the Rugby Championship with an unbeaten record is on the cards in Durban.
Adriaan Strauss: It wasn’t a Springbok win for the ages by any stretch. But Strauss, much maligned throughout this year’s Rugby Championship, was truly outstanding. Effective at the breakdown, Strauss was a huge running threat and rose to the occasion.
Wasps: Phenomenal yet again in the Premiership, this time after running seven tries past Harlequins for another big, big win. Wasps have churned through the first five fixtures of the new season scoring an average 39 points per game. Next up? Saracens away. We will certainly be watching.
Ulster: The only unbeaten side left in the PRO12 after an ugly old win over the Ospreys. Don’t expect the 9-7 win to be replayed too many times but Ulster got the job done, and after the Blues’ loss to Leinster, hold a slender lead at the top of the league. They travel to Connacht next.
Alex Lozowski: The Saracens fly-half had a pretty good week, called up by England to their EPS squad on Friday before impressing in Saracens’ one-way win over Bristol at Ashton Gate, scoring his second try for the club. Even he can’t have thought his start at his new club would go so well.
Toulon: It looks like last season’s Top 14 finalists have turned the corner, posting a hugely significant win over Montpellier, 28-6 the final score. The early-season slump looks as Toulon begin to make ground on the top four.
Colddddddd as ice.
Wallabies: Fairly damning to see Australia beaten by a Springboks’ outfit whose attack went missing in action. The Wallabies made more line breaks and beat close to double the number of defenders while bossing possession and territory. The problem? Looking after the ball at the breakdown, where the Springboks thwarted key attack after key attack. Neither side came out of this one covered in glory. But losing it is even worse.
Gloucester: Back-to-back defeats at Kingsholm now for Gloucester, to Newcastle and Bath, in which they have scored a combined 19 points. Bigger questions are going to start being asked of David Humphreys and Laurie Fisher over the coming weeks if this rot continues.
Grenoble: Two major concerns: first, Grenoble are seven points adrift at the bottom of the table already. Second, the manner of Saturday’s 31-3 loss to Toulouse wasn’t anything new this season either. Injuries haven’t been kind to Bernard Jackman’s side, but equally the performances need to pick up.
Bristol: Problems keep mounting for Andy Robinson and his squad, after being shut out 39-0 at home on Friday. Newcastle are next up in what feels like a must-win game. Like Grenoble they sit seven points of safety.
Zebre and Treviso: Bad weekend for the two Italian franchises, outscored 71-11 in their respective losses to the Scarlets and Munster.