Wallabies beat ABs for first time in four years

first_imgHalfback Nic White came off the bench to score a penalty and a converted try which settled a contest which had see-sawed back and forth for the best part of 70 minutes, giving the Wallabies a first win over the All Blacks since they won the final Tri-Nations in 2011.Prop Sekope Kepu and wing Adam Ashley-Cooper also crossed for the Australians, who will win back the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002 if they can beat New Zealand in Auckland next week.The All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder scored two tries on debut and first-five Dan Carter kicked three penalties but it was not enough to prevent the All Blacks falling to only a third defeat since winning the World Cup in 2011.”You don’t just say you’ve won once in quite a long time and you’ve done something special,” Australia coach Michael Cheika said, trying to dampen down expectations.”It’s nice for the lads, but it’s an abridged Rugby Championship so it’s only the three games. We want to test ourselves over more games.”All Blacks captain Richie McCaw suffered only his 15th defeat in the black shirt as he made his 141st appearance for his country, matching Irishman Brian O’Driscoll’s record tally.”I think Australia played exceptionally well tonight and thoroughly deserved the win,” said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.”We’re hurting. It still sucks even if it doesn’t happen that often.”An uncharacteristic All Blacks spill from the kickoff and a good shove in the first scrum gave Australia early hope that it might be their night but they were soon defending their line after a burst from Milner-Skudder.Kepu was sin-binned for killing the ball under his own posts and Carter slotted the ensuing penalty to give the visitors a 3-0 lead in the eighth minute.David Pocock and Michael Hooper got the turnovers Australia coach Michael Cheika wanted from his experimental back row but poor handling and a shocking display of passing from halfback Nick Phipps meant they were unable to exploit them.Matt Giteau did put them on level terms in the 26th minute with his first penalty but Carter restored New Zealand’s lead three minutes later.Both sides would have been unhappy with their first half performances but the smiles were on the Australian faces in the crowd of 73,824 four minutes after the break.A high tackle on winger Adam Ashley-Cooper resulted in a yellow card for the All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith and Australia kicked for touch with the resultant penalty before driving to the New Zealand line.When the rolling maul collapsed, Kepu crashed through the defence for a converted try which put the Wallabies 10-6 up.Carter reduced the deficit with his third penalty before Phipps’s evening went from bad to worse when he was shown a yellow card for dissent in the 54th minute.The All Blacks were back in front a minute later.Fullback Ben Smith somehow managed to get the ball away through a crowd of gold shirts to leave Milner-Skudder with a clear run to the line.Carter missed the conversion and five minutes later Australia hit back when Matt Toomua’s perfectly judged crosskick allowed Ashley-Cooper to touch down in the corner.Giteau converted to give Australia a 17-14 lead but it lasted just three minutes before Milner-Skudder grabbed his second try, barging over the line through three tacklers and getting the ball down at the second attempt.White put Australia a point ahead at 20-19 with a long range penalty after 69 minutes but better was to come from the replacement halfback and he cut through the visiting defence from close range three minutes later to secure the victory.last_img read more

Continue reading

FNRL awaits confirmation on Radradra’s move

first_imgVodafone Fiji Bati assistant coach Josaia Rabele confirmed that they still have the Paramatta Eels’ winger in their list for the May Pacific Test against the Kumuls of Papua New Guinea. “We haven’t heard anything and we will keep his name for the May Test until we get confirmation, then we will have to look for someone else to replace Semi,” Rabele said. The Somosomo, Taveuni man’s agent George Christodolou told Fox Sports Radradra wants to try and claim the mantle as the world’s best winger and playing in the green and gold will provide the international platform to truly showcase his status. Now that he is eligible to switch status after he was given a residential visa by the Australian Government, Radradra’s move to the Kangaroos is expected to give Kangaroos coach and former Canberra Raiders’ centre Mal Meninga a wealth of selection options for the mid-season trans-Tasman Test match. Fox Sports reported that the winger’s agent said a deal is to be penned this week by NRL’s general manager of League Integration and Development Andrew Hill to stipulate the former Fiji 7s rep’s desire to play for the Kangaroos. Rabele, in an earlier interview said the move to be made by Radradra was something they would not be able to put a stop to, considering the player’s future, as the FNRL would not be able to put in the amount to be paid to Radradra should he don the green and gold jumper of the Kangaroos.last_img read more

Continue reading

Awareness on first-ever Digicel Cup school program kicks off

first_imgThe awareness is the first part of the Digicel Cup school program which will be carried out to schools throughout the country.As part of the awareness, each of the 11 Digicel Cup teams will carry out info sessions on the program to schools in their home provinces.Digicel rugby league sponsorship manager Jayleen Morris said the aim of the program is to engage students with the Digicel Cup brand and instill valuable life values in the students.She encouraged the students to participate in the program as it also aims to promote health and well-being among school children.The program will be hosted as a huge workshop during the school holidays.Over 880 registered students from the 44 schools visited nationwide will be invited to participate during the school term holidays starting in term 2 and followed by term 3.Registrations opened today and interested students must register with their physical education teachers from the beginning of the awareness program. Registration closes on Friday, June 17.Only Grade Seven students are eligible to participate this year and 20 students aged 13-14 years old will be selected.A minimum of five girls is required from each school.last_img read more

Continue reading

Kato pushed back Dragons deal, reveals brother

first_imgThe shocking news was revealed yesterday by elder brother, Ahulo Ottio, when he delivered his brother’s eulogy in front of over 2,000 people that flocked in to pay their respects at the Sir John Guise Stadium indoor complex.“He actually had the option to join St George but that contract came with a condition. That condition was to forgo the World Cup and undergo surgery.“He told me about it and I lost count of how many times I practically begged him to take up the offer and forget the World Cup. I even lobbied with mum to talk to him when he came up for a break, but it was all in vain.”Kato wasn’t moved.“I was like ‘my goodness you are young enough to play another 3 World Cups before even thinking of retiring.’”Ahulo said his smaller brother responded with a smile and a giggle.“He said ‘yes bro that may be true but I want to play in front of my people – we don’t know when the World Cup will come back to PNG’.“Seeing him out there with his band of brothers who were able to pull PNG together as one for a short 4 weeks was something nobody can ever put a dollar amount to it and I am proud and happy after all that he did what he did,” said Ahulo.(The Late Ottio evading US defenders during the World Cup)last_img read more

Continue reading

Aru signals Tour ambitions as Froome takes yellow

first_imgFabio Aru claimed his maiden Tour de France win on Wednesday, as defending champion Chris Froome snatched a yellow jersey he intends to wear all the way back to Paris.Italian champion Aru launched a blistering attack in the final stretches of the fifth stage, jumping away from the leading group with 2.3km left of the 5.9km climb at a lung-busting average gradient of 8.5 per cent.On a searing hot day in eastern France, the 2015 Vuelta champion of the Astana team became the third winner at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, where Team Sky’s Froome came to prominence in 2012 and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali prevailed in 2014, the year he won the Tour.“I had seen a video of Nibali’s win and I tried to do the same to see what would happen,” said the 27-year-old Aru.“I wanted to test my rivals, I did not have the stage win in mind but obviously it’s a great day.”Ireland’s Dan Martin took second place on Wednesday, 16 seconds behind, while Froome was 20 seconds off the pace in third, with his rival Richie Porte in his tracks.Another top contender, last year’s runner-up Romain Bardet of France, took fifth place, a further four seconds behind.“When Aru went, I still had team mates (to do the work) so I waited for the others to react. Nobody moved so I thought I had to go to see what I could do,” said Froome, who added he felt fresher than on his previous dominant rides on the Tour.DOMINANT SKYColombian Nairo Quintana, tipped as one of Froome’s main challengers, struggled to finish ninth, 36 seconds back, while Spain’s Alberto Contador limited the damage in eighth place, 26 seconds behind Aru.Froome took the yellow jersey from team mate Geraint Thomas, who could not sustain the pace on the climb’s steepest parts.Overall, three-time champion Froome leads Thomas by 12 seconds with Aru in third a further two seconds behind.Froome believes he can defend his lead until the last day in Paris, although no team has kept the yellow jersey from day one all the way to the finish of the three-week race since Eddy Merckx’s Faemimo-Faema held it throughout.“I’m used to being in that position,” he warned.While Aru emerged as the sharper climber, Porte said that the road to Paris was still very long and that the Italian would have to deal with the pressure of being tipped as a major favourite alongside Froome.“Aru slipped away (a) bit I’m still happy with my ride … he’s going to have more pressure – we saw it last year he exploded in one of the last stages,” the BMC rider said.last_img read more

Continue reading

Everton’s misery compounded by home humiliation

first_imgEverton’s shambolic season hit a new low at Goodison Park on Thursday night with a humiliating 5-1 loss to Italian club Atalanta in the Europa League.The Merseyside club were already out of the competition and made a number of changes to their starting line-up and the Italians ran away with the contest when they scored three late goals in a half-empty stadium.“I asked the players to make it difficult for me to leave them out of the starting team on Sunday and the majority have made it very easy for me,” said caretaker manager David Unsworth.“We just can’t concede the way we have done in the last ten minutes, it is just unacceptable and really disappointing. I’d love to think every single player is hurting the way I am at the moment. If they aren’t, they shouldn’t be here.”Unsworth took interim charge of the team following the sacking of Dutch manager Ronald Koeman on October 23.While the club have been linked with several possible replacements they have been unable to secure a new manager, leaving under-23 coach and former player Unsworth in charge of a team currently in 16th place in the Premier League.Unsworth has made no secret of his desire to secure the job on a permanent basis but the mauling at the hands of the 12th best team in Serie A will have done little to enhance his chances.“It’s an honour for me to be manager … but at the same time you need the players to come with you, you need the players to give everything they’ve got. We’ve had that up until tonight,” added Unsworth.“We’re asking players to run harder, to work harder than they’ve been used to. Some can, and some can’t.”The club, who spent 149 million pounds on new players in the close season, have most recently been linked with Watford’s Portuguese manager Marco Silva.Former England captain Wayne Rooney, who started Thursday’s game, said the defeat was “upsetting”.“There was nothing riding on the game, but it’s our pride. It’s not nice to lose games. It’s very disappointing and upsetting,” he said.Asked about the club’s search for a new manager he said:“That’s down to the board, it’s their decision. Since David Unsworth has come in there’s been a great atmosphere among the players and some positive results. The board have a decision to make and I’m sure they’re working on it.”last_img read more

Continue reading

Bolt happy to have traded perspiration for inspiration

first_imgUsain Bolt sometimes still can’t quite believe what he achieved in his career but back at the Commonwealth Games as a spectator on Thursday, the former sprint champion was happy to avoid the perspiration and just act as an inspiration to others.A relay gold medallist at the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow, the Jamaican said he was busier than ever after last year’s retirement and focused, in the sporting arena at least, entirely on his nascent career as a footballer.The 31-year-old’s jet-set lifestyle left him little time for the post-career blues, Bolt said, but he did still frequently take time to contemplate his extraordinary success.“I sometimes with my best friend say, ‘Can you believe it, what we’ve done?’ because I’m from the rural area of Jamaica, the country, and I used to play football in the streets,” he told a news conference on the Gold Coast.“I kicked around bottles, anything I could get my hands on, I’d run around in bare feet, at no point in time did I think I would be at this level.“So for me it’s just amazing, sometimes I just sit back and be wowed because I’ve done so much.”The eight-times Olympic and 11-times world champion said one of the most satisfying aspects of his career was having spurred on others by his example.“All the time I get messages or people see me, not only track athletes or sports people, but just regular people, who say I’ve inspired them to do well, to work hard, to be a doctor or just do better for themselves,” he added.“For me it’s unbelievable, but I’m just happy to inspire people to be better, it’s just mind-blowing sometimes.”A packed news conference room at an often near-deserted media centre on the Gold Coast told its own tale of Bolt’s enduring appeal but he said he thought it would only be a matter of time before new talents came along to eclipse him.“It’s not always going to be like this, but it’s going to take time,” he said.“I’ve said it to a few athletes, this is your time. The sport definitely needs someone to step up and be that person. It’s a wide open field.“(But) I’m still track and field…”EARLY STAGESBolt long ago traded bare feet for state-of-the-art athletics shoes and he said his newest venture, a series of trials with German soccer club Borussia Dortmund, was still in the early stages.“I’m very serious about playing football, I’m putting in the work, I’m working with Dortmund at the moment,” he added.“They’re really helping me figure out in which direction I need to be going in, where I need to improve, to be better if I’m really going to do this.“I’m not linked to Manchester United, hopefully in the future.”Still very much a fan of the sport which made him a wealthy man, Bolt said he was looking forward to watching the Commonwealth Games 200 metres final, a distance at which he is still world record holder, later on Thursday.Although he only competed once at the quadrennial gathering of mainly former British colonies, Bolt said there had always been a reason for his absences and he viewed it as a “very important” event.He was also looking forward to catching up with former training partner Yohan Blake and ribbing him for failing to win the 100m but he had a succinct answer for one reporter who suggested Bolt would be back on the track at the Tokyo Olympics.“You are very wrong,” he chuckled.last_img read more

Continue reading

Optimism restored, England face first test against Spain

first_imgAfter years of tournament failures and steadily dwindling expectations, England‘s surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals infused the country’s long-suffering fans with optimism.A visit by Spain to Wembley in the Nations League on Saturday will provide an early test of the depth of the feelgood factor emanating from Gareth Southgate’s young squad.Victory against a country still smarting from a chaotic World Cup campaign which ended in a last-16 exit at the hands of hosts Russia in July would offer further proof that Southgate’s quiet revolution remains in full swing.A third consecutive defeat, however, would provide ammunition to the naysayers who insistEngland still get found out when faced with top-class opposition.For all the euphoria about their run in Russia, Southgate’s side lost to Belgium twice and Croatia once and only squeezed past Colombia on penalties.To his credit, even when leading England to their first World Cup semi-final for 28 years, Southgate resisted the urge to start shouting from the rooftops, insisting his side were merely establishing solid foundations for future success.In keeper Jordan Pickford, centre back Harry Maguire and right back Kieran Tripper — three players elevated from fringes to the centre stage during the Russian campaign — Englandcertainly have a freshness that has long been lacking.For once, the pause in the Premier League programme for the early-season international break is not being greeted with sighs but with genuine curiosity.With Euro 2020 on the horizon, Southgate will be anxious to maintain momentum and the fact the 26th meeting between England and Spain takes place in UEFA’s new-fangled Nations League means the fixture, rather than simply a high-profile friendly, is assured a competitive edge.It would be a surprise if his starting 11 did not closely resemble the team that began against Croatia.“We only have 20 matches between now and the European Championships so we don’t want to waste time looking at new things but to embed principles that are going to be with us over a period of time,” he said.While Southgate’s blueprint is already established, Spain are in a state of flux as former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique takes charge of the national team for the first time.They arrived at the World Cup as many people’s favourites but, after sacking coach Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament and putting Fernando Hierro in temporary charge, their challenge spluttered before fizzling out in the last 16.Enrique is likely to take Spain in a different direction, away from the tiki-taka possession football that made them almost unbeatable between 2008 and 2012 but had begun to look a little stale and predictable.He will have to make do without stalwarts Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Gerard Pique, all of whom have retired from international football, while others such as Jordi Alba and Iago Aspas have been left out of Enrique’s first squad.Their absences means chances for the likes of Atletico Madrid midfield duo midfielder Saul and Rodri and Real Madrid attacking midfielder Marco Asensio to stake their claims as Spain begin the task of rebuilding their reputation.last_img read more

Continue reading

Mercedes’ Bottas leads way in practice at China GP

first_imgValtteri Bottas provided Mercedes with hope that they will be able to take the fight to Ferrari this weekend after leading the way in practice at the Chinese Grand Prix.Ferrari held a sizeable advantage over the Silver Arrows at the last round in Bahrain, with emerging star Charles Leclerc cruelly denied a win following a late engine failure.But although Sebastian Vettel topped the time sheets in Friday’s first session at Formula One’s 1,000th race, Bottas put his Mercedes on top in the second running.Lewis Hamilton finished a distant fourth after a scruffy afternoon in which the Mercedes star spun on his first lap. He ended the day seven tenths off his team-mate’s pace.Hamilton has built a fanatical support base in China after winning here five times. A plethora of British flags adorned the main grandstand, but his army of fans did not get to see him dominate the session.Indeed, his spin at the third bend was something of a rarity for the usually error-free world champion.Max Verstappen suggested it could be a three-team battle in Sunday’s 56-lap race after he finished third in his Red Bull, just 0.221 seconds slower than Bottas.Leclerc indicated he could be a title contender in Bahrain, but was behind Vettel in both sessions. He was a quarter-of-a-second down on his team-mate on Friday morning, and finished seventh later in the day.The Monegasque was restricted to only 13 laps, 20 fewer than Vettel, after he suffered a mechanical issue which brought his running to a premature end.Lando Norris delivered McLaren’s best finish in more than a year with his fine drive to sixth last time out, and the British team will be encouraged by their showing here.Norris, the 19-year-old Briton, was eighth, two places behind his McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz.Another of Britain’s rookies, George Russell, endured another testing day in his formative Formula One career.The Englishman, in his woefully uncompetitive Williams, was the slowest driver in both 90-minute sessions, finishing the best part of three seconds behind Bottas.last_img read more

Continue reading

Hamilton, Messi joint winners of Sportsman of the Year at Laureus Awards

first_imgFormula One champion Lewis Hamilton and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi were declared joint winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award in Berlin on Monday night, with the voting tied for the first time in the awards’ 20-year history.Mercedes driver Hamilton won his sixth world championship in 2019, with 11 race wins and 17 podium finishes, while Messi was crowned the world’s best player for a record sixth time when he won the Ballon d’Or.American gymnast Simone Biles, who became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history when she won her 25th medal last year, won her third Sportswoman of the Year gong after winning the award in 2017 and 2019.The South African rugby team, which won the World Cup in Japan last year for the third time in history, were crowned the Team of the Year, beating European football champions Liverpool and women’s World Cup winners United States.German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, who retired last year after a 21-year career in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to basketball.Meanwhile, the Spanish Basketball Federation was recognised with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award after the men’s World Cup triumph last year while the women have won three of the last four EuroBasket titles.German Formula Three driver Sophia Floersch, who fractured her spine in an aerial crash at the Macau Grand Prix in Nov. 2018 that required an 11-hour surgery to fix, made the Comeback of the Year after getting back into the cockpit last year.Former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, the highest run scorer of all time in international cricket, had the support of a cricket-crazy nation to win a fan vote for the award for the best Sporting Moment from the last two decades.In his sixth and final one-day international World Cup in 2011, Tendulkar finally got his hands on the title as India won on home soil and he was carried on his team- mates’ shoulders for a lap of honour.List of winners:Sportsman of the Year: Lewis Hamilton and Lionel MessiSportswoman of the Year: Simone BilesTeam of the Year: South Africa Men’s Rugby TeamBreakthrough of the Year: Egan BernalComeback of the Year: Sophia FloerschSportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Oksana MastersAction Sportsperson of the Year: Chloe KimBest Sporting Moment: ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’ – Sachin TendulkarLifetime Achievement Award: Dirk NowitzkiLaureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award: Spanish Basketball FederationLaureus Sport for Good Award: South Bronx Unitedlast_img read more

Continue reading