It’s time for our Monday wrap of who has their name in lights and who’s making the headlines for all the wrong reasons over the past week.
THEY’RE ON FIRE!
Scotland: Many knew they were capable of this kind of performance but after recent showings few expected such a dramatic U-turn from the Scots. England were stunned as Gregor Townsend’s charges showed their quality in droves on Saturday, with the Murrayfield atmosphere also adding to the occasion. Picking out players is tough but Simon Berghan, John Barclay, Finn Russell and Huw Jones take an extra long bow.
— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 25, 2018
Ireland and Wales: Before that game in Scotland, Dublin played host to another absorbing contest between Ireland and Wales. The condition of both these sides has to be applauded as Ireland banged on the door continuously but Wales somehow remained on their feet until the end. Ireland it was though who came out on top as they go three from three in Six Nations 2018. They are now the team to catch this year.
Leinster: They continue to impress in the PRO14 and made it win number 13 out of 16 in the league, hammering the Kings 64-10 despite having a significantly depleted side. Missing so many Irish internationals yet they were deadly in Dublin, again showing the depth of talent they have in the province.
Toulouse: Another side to shine over the weekend was Toulouse, who played some pulsating rugby on Sunday against Brive. Thomas Ramos is relishing his time at 10 and seems to be forming quite a slick partnership with inside centre Zack Holmes, with their dynamic and no fear style a real breath of fresh air. Outside them Yoann Huget enjoyed a strong game too at Stade Ernest Wallon. A recall for France, maybe?
Lions: Made it two wins out of two in Super Rugby and showed they are likely to be challengers for the crown once again in 2018, as they brushed aside the Jaguares in Johannesburg. Seven tries were posted in total with wing Aphiwe Dyantyi grabbing a double on Saturday.
COLD AS ICE!
Saracens: That was as bad as we have seen Saracens for some time. Like England on Saturday, Sarries appeared sluggish from the outset as they were well beaten by Leicester at Allianz Park. It was such an error-strewn performance while they were bullied up front and in the contact area. With injuries also mounting up, one fears for this depleted line-up in their trip to Premiership leaders Exeter this week.
“For the second time in 60 seconds, Nathan Earle has dropped an open goal!”
What a difference this may have made as Sarries fell at home to Leicester. pic.twitter.com/HEYa06KpNn
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) February 25, 2018
Hurricanes: Such a disappointing performance to start the season as the ‘Canes lost out at the Bulls, going down 21-19 at Loftus. Credit must go to the Bulls for how they opened their own campaign, but there’s no escaping the fact this was a major shock. Next up they head west to the Jaguares as they look to bounce back in quick time. Expect a recall to the starting side for All Black star Beauden Barrett.
Clermont: That’s now three home league defeats in a row for Clermont as they lost out 18-12 to Oyonnax. They remain in 10th position and only seven points off 13th placed Brive, which is now a major concern. Next week they host La Rochelle looking to avoid four on the spin.
England: So many of their players were off the boil while as a collective they lost pretty much every battle at Murrayfield. Eddie Jones kept his composure at full-time but one expects the next two weeks before facing France to be brutal for the Six Nations holders. There could also be plenty of changes to the side that takes the field against les Bleus due to those widespread under-par efforts in Scotland.