Who’s hot and who’s not: Glasgow Warriors, Santiago Carreras and Stormers shine while Leicester Tigers and Bulls struggle

Who's hot and who's not image 2 January 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy
Who's hot and who's not image 2 January 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

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.

THEY’RE ON FIRE!

Glasgow Warriors: Franco Smith’s charges are in a rich vein of form which has seen them being rewarded with the 1872 Cup for the 2022/23 season following back-to-back victories over Edinburgh. Glasgow sealed a 16-10 win in the first leg at Scotstoun before beating their arch rivals 32-25 at Murrayfield on Friday night to clinch a 48-35 aggregate win and lift the coveted trophy for the first time since the 2020/21 campaign. That result means Glasgow have now won five matches in a row in all competitions as apart from those triumphs against Edinburgh, they have also defeated Bath, Perpignan and Zebre Parma.

New era at Bordeaux: Things are changing rapidly at the southwestern Top 14 club following the departure of Christophe Urios. Although the side went winless in the opening two rounds of the Champions Cup, they claimed two major victories, one off the pitch and one on it, to close out 2022. The club announced the signing of France winger Damian Penaud, who will arrive at the Stade Chaban-Delmas after the 2023 Rugby World Cup. In the same week announcing the capture of one of the best wingers in the game, Bordeaux crushed defending Top 14 champions Montpellier 40-10, sending them into a play-off spot on the standings.

Santiago Carreras: Gloucester had to dig deep to clinch a victory over London Irish in their Premiership encounter at Kingsholm on Saturday and it was the Argentina international who proved to be the match-winner in the end. The Cherry and Whites fly-half showed that he is the man for the big occasion as he held his nerve to slot a 45-metre penalty to seal a 8-6 victory for his team. Carreras’ effort was not an easy one and what made his achievement so remarkable was that it was the final act of a hard-fought match. The result was significant as it extends Gloucester’s winning run against the Exiles, who have only won twice at Kingsholm in the Premiership, with their last victory at the venue registered in 2013. The Kingsholm faithful were in full voice to show their appreciation of the Argentine.

Stormers’ unbeaten run at Cape Town Stadium: The men from the Cape are in sublime form in the United Rugby Championship (URC) at the moment and particularly at their DHL Stadium base in Cape Town. John Dobson’s charges have proved to be competitive in most of their matches in the URC, whether that is at home or away, but teams have found it particularly difficult to beat them in their own backyard where they have won all their matches for over a year now. The Lions were the last team to beat the Stormers in Cape Town and that was more than a year ago in December 2021. The men from Johannesburg returned to the venue on Saturday but it was a very different outcome as the home side cruised to an emphatic 40-8 triumph – their 17th successive home win.

Josh Adams’ scoring spree: December was a profitable month for the Wales wing, who scored four tries in three successive matches, and he doesn’t look as if he is slowing down in 2023 after grabbing a try in Cardiff‘s narrow 22-19 loss to the Ospreys in their URC derby. The 27-year-old has been a regular for Wales since debuting in 2018. Warren Gatland will be pleased with the British and Irish Lions speedster’s form ahead of the upcoming Six Nations, particularly with Louis Rees-Zammit in doubt for the Championship. 

Bath: A victory over Newcastle capped off a brilliant week for Johann van Graan’s side that followed up the news of Finn Russell’s signing and the confirmation of a host of re-signings, including captain Ben Spencer, flanker Sam Underhill and centre Cameron Redpath. The quality of players committing to the club is an indication that the West Country side are heading in the right direction under Van Graan, but we will have to wait and see if that translates to results on the pitch. Tough tests await the Blue, Black and Whites in the Challenge Cup with a home game against Toulon and an away clash with Glasgow Warriors.

COLD AS ICE!

Tigers declawed at the AJ Bell: 2022 saw Leicester Tigers win their first Premiership title in almost a decade, but the defending champions ended the year on a low, suffering a 40-5 defeat at the hands of high-riding Sale Sharks. A host of injuries in the second half thwarted any chance of a comeback from Leicester, who trailed 16-0 at half-time. The result is a crushing blow following a 28-13 win over Gloucester in their first post-Steve Borthwick era match. Interim head coach Richard Wigglesworth will hope his fortunes turn in the new year with a challenging run of fixtures looming on the horizon, including Newcastle and Clermont away, before welcoming Ospreys to Welford Road.

Joe Marler: The England and Harlequins prop was not a popular figure last week after his comments towards Bristol Bears flanker Jake Heenan earned him a six-week suspension, four of which were suspended. Marler has previous bans for similar incidents, including a two-week suspension for referring to Samson Lee as ‘gypsy boy’. While Marler did apologise to Heenan for his comments towards the Bristol player’s mother, who is ill in hospital, his suspension was accompanied by a strongly worded statement from disciplinary panel chair Gareth Graham which included the following: “The insulting and offensive comments made by the player were wholly inappropriate; such comments should form no part of the modern game.”

Louis Rees-Zammit injury: Wales are set to be without the services of their star wing when they kick off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in Cardiff next month, after he sustained an ankle injury while on duty for Gloucester during a Premiership match against Leicester Tigers recently. Cherry and Whites head coach George Skivington confirmed that Rees-Zammit’s injury is unlikely to require surgery but said his ankle is currently in a boot and there is still uncertainty about the length of time the 21-year-old will spend on the sidelines.

Racing 92’s run: The Top 14 giants limped out of 2022, winning just one of their five matches in December. The Parisian outfit defeated Toulon 31-14 at the beginning of the month but would lose their next two matches, in the Champions Cup to Leinster and Harlequins, before suffering a 48-10 loss to local rivals Stade Francais on Christmas Eve. In their final game of the year, they let a 13-point lead slip in the final half hour of their Top 14 clash with Castres as the match finished level 26-26. Head coach Laurent Travers will hope that 2023 brings a change in results for his charges, with an away trip to Montpellier awaiting them before Champions Cup clashes with Quins and Leinster.  

Bulls: After a fine start in the URC, things have gone pear-shaped for the men from Pretoria, who are on a three-match losing streak in all competitions at the moment. Their director of rugby, Jake White, opted to field understrength teams in their Champions Cup matches against Lyon and Exeter and although they secured a home win against the former, they suffered a 44-14 loss against the former at Sandy Park. White recalled his first choice players for the URC derby with the Stormers but they still lost that game (37-27) in Cape Town and there was more humiliation against the Sharks in Durban at the weekend as they were comprehensively outplayed en route to a 47-20 defeat. That means they have conceded 128 points in those three matches, conceding an average of 42.6 points per game. Lots of homework to do.

Bad week for Harlequins: It wasn’t just Marler causing strife for Harlequins this past week as two defeats meant it was far from a season of cheer for their supporters. A Boxing Day loss at home to Bristol Bears was followed by a heavy 46-17 negative away to Northampton Saints on Sunday, bringing to an end a dismal few days for the side. Next on the club’s schedule is a daunting clash with the in-form Sale Sharks on Sunday at the Stoop and if they do not improve significantly they could well relinquish their third place spot on the Premiership standings.

READ MORE: Sunday Social: New Year’s celebrations, retirements and memorable tackles

The article Who’s hot and who’s not: Glasgow Warriors, Santiago Carreras and Stormers shine while Leicester Tigers and Bulls struggle appeared first on Planetrugby.com.