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Wallabies ‘ready for the fight’ to restore morale – Cheika

June 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Coach Michael Cheika has vowed the Wallabies will lift the spirits of the Australian game amid a demoralising Super Rugby campaign in this week’s start to the international Test season.

Wallabies

Australian rugby is in the doldrums with its five franchises struggling and one, as yet unnamed, facing the axe when Super Rugby reverts to 15 teams next season form the current 18.

New Zealand teams are currently unbeaten in their 23 Super Rugby matches against Australian opposition this year.

Cheika said Sunday the Wallabies’ first five Tests of 2017 were going to be “like Everest for us”, but added that the players were ready for the fight.

Super Rugby takes a back seat for the next three weeks as the Wallabies take on Fiji, Scotland and Italy at home.

Also ahead in August is the Bledisloe Cup, which Australia has not been able to win back from the All Blacks since 2002.

“These first five games of our season, the three June Tests and the two Bledisloe Cup matches, are going to be like an Everest for us,” Cheika said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Offsiders programme.

“We’ve got to be fully prepared and we’ve got to enjoy the challenge as well… and get stuck into it.

“I’m a strong and passionate believer in rugby in this country. Yeah, there’s some tough times on and off the field but it’s what you get from those and how you respond.”

Cheika added that Australian rugby fans were looking to the Wallabies to put things right on the field.

“We’ve got to play with a certain attitude that says we’re here for the fight,” he said.

“The Australian team will be playing with no fear and having been well prepared to go out there and have that positive mindset.”

While Cheika believed that Australia had “punched above our weight so far… even to be where we are now — third in the world”, he wanted to set the team’s sights even higher ahead of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

“But maybe we’ve been satisfied at that level instead of going to the next step. You got to start believing and dreaming that.

“For the next generation of players, that’s the mindset we want to put in their head.”

The Wallabies kick off their 2017 international campaign against Fiji in Melbourne on Saturday, followed by Tests against Scotland in Sydney on June 17 and Italy in Brisbane on June 24.

Two-goal Ronaldo keeps Madrid kings of Europe

June 5, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid crushed Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff on Saturday to become the first team to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era.

Ronaldo

The Portugal superstar’s opener was cancelled out by an astonishing Mario Mandzukic strike, but goals from Casemiro, Ronaldo and Marco Asensio secured Madrid’s third Champions League triumph in four years and 12th in total.

Now a four-time Champions League winner, Ronaldo finished as the competition’s top scorer for the fifth season running, substantially enhancing his chances of matching fierce rival Lionel Messi’s tally of five Ballon d’Or crowns.

“We’re very happy to be the first team to win the Champions League in two consecutive years,” said Ronaldo, who has now scored exactly 600 goals for club and country in his extraordinary career.

“I finished the season very well. It is another record, a record that these players deserve and we are delighted.”

Zinedine Zidane, a head coach for only 17 months, became the first boss to oversee back-to-back European Cup successes since Arrigo Sacchi’s fabled AC Milan team won the tournament in 1989 and 1990.

“It’s a tremendous joy for the players and for this immense club,” Zidane told beIN Sports Spain.

“I am happy because it is not easy to win things like La Liga and the Champions League, and this year we did it with hard work and desire.”

Victory crowned a glorious season for Madrid, who have pulled off a La Liga and European Cup double for the first time since 1958, having also won the Club World Cup and European Super Cup.

Zidane’s joy was his former club Juve’s despair, Massimiliano Allegri’s side crashing to a fifth successive defeat in Champions League finals and seventh in total, extending their own desperately unwanted record.

The first Champions League final to be played beneath a closed roof saw Juve hit their heads against a familiar ceiling as they missed out on a chance to complete the first Treble in their history.

The Italian champions had substitute Juan Cuadrado sent off after he was shown a second yellow card for a gentle push on Sergio Ramos that drew a lamentable overreaction from the Madrid skipper.

“We thought we had enough to win the game. I cannot explain why we played like we did in the second half,” said Juve captain Gianluigi Buffon, now a three-time beaten finalist.

“Real Madrid deserved to win in the second half. They showed their class and the attitude needed to play in this kind of game.”

Following an elaborate pre-match ceremony involving American pop act Black Eyed Peas at the Principality Stadium, Juve settled first.

Gonzalo Higuain worked Keylor Navas twice, while Miralem Pjanic’s snappy half-volley forced the Madrid goalkeeper into a smart one-handed save.

Madrid drew first blood in the 20th minute when Ronaldo flicked the ball wide to Dani Carvajal before artfully sweeping the Spaniard’s return pass into the bottom-left corner via a nick off Leonardo Bonucci.

It was a fine strike, and it made Ronaldo the first player to have scored in three finals in the post-1992 Champions League age, but it was quickly cancelled out by Mandzukic’s masterpiece.

Bonucci’s flighted pass from deep was volleyed into the box by Alex Sandro and Higuain chested the ball down before teeing it up for Mandzukic.

The Croatian forward took a touch with his chest and then, as he fell, hooked a sublime volley over Navas’s despairing dive and beneath the crossbar.

But after the break, it was Zidane’s men who set the tempo and in the 61st minute Casemiro put them ahead.

The Brazilian midfielder unleashed a shot from 25 yards that flicked off the heels of Madrid old boy Sami Khedira before spinning past the helpless Buffon.

Three minutes later it was game over as Ronaldo netted his 12th goal in this season’s tournament, moving him a goal clear of Messi, and 105th overall.

Luka Modric sped to the byline on the right and crossed as Ronaldo darted ahead of Bonucci at the near post to guide a shot past Buffon.

Cardiff native Gareth Bale made an appearance as a late replacement for Karim Benzema, having been out since April 23 with a calf injury.

Sandro headed wide from a Dani Alves free-kick, but Juve’s fire went out when Cuadrado was given his marching orders and substitute Asensio added to their misery with a late tap-in from Marcelo’s cut-back.

Cavs vow more aggressive, decisive play against Warriors

June 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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LeBron James and his Cleveland teammates will need quicker decisions and more aggressive play in Sunday’s second game of the NBA Finals after the Cavaliers were routed by Golden State in the opener.

Cavaliers

The Warriors ripped defending NBA champion Cleveland 113-91 on Thursday behind 38 points from star forward Kevin Durant, many of them on slam dunks, and 28 by guard Stephen Curry, who sank six 3-pointers as the best-of-seven championship series began.

“I know we’ll play better come Sunday,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “But we have to take away the easy baskets. We did a poor job of taking care of the basketball and they were able to get out in transition and get easy baskets.”

Lue won’t make any changes in the starting lineup after watching a horror show game film, but he does want to see quicker decision making, saying hesitation led to turnovers, and more assertive moves.

“We have to just do a better job of being direct with what we want to do,” Lue said. “We can’t be caught in between. That’s when turnovers happen. We have to be aggressive getting to the basket or making the right passes and right play. We can’t play in between.”

The Cavaliers committed 20 turnovers, eight of them by playmaker James on a night where he had 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Golden State had only four giveaways, matching a finals record low.

“Take away those easy baskets and them having 20 more shots than we did, it’s a different ball game,” Lue said.

Warriors acting coach Mike Brown expects a better showing Sunday from the Cavaliers.

“Definitely somebody will have to do a better job at stopping the dribble drive,” Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said.

“We all knew and saw that they were very concerned with the three-point shooters, and Kevin Durant (was) able to drive to the rim with uncontested dunks.”

There is a chance Warriors coach Steve Kerr, out since game three of the playoffs with complications after 2015 back surgery, could return Sunday. But Brown is calling the shots for now.

“They’re a good team. They’re going to make adjustments,” Brown said. “We expect them to play better. They’re going to be more focused in terms of what they want to accomplish on both ends of the floor.

“Having film to go back and watch, make adjustments from, get used to the tempo and so on, will allow them to come in feeling better about their game plan.”

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love says execution, not effort, is what must improve.

“Defensively our schemes were there. We just need to execute them,” Love said. “That’s ultimately what showed up on the tape and what Ty continues to preach to us.

“Guys just need to settle in. Now that certain guys have gotten a taste of it, I think you’ll see a lot better showing in game two. It’s not for lack of effort. Guys are competing very hard. It’s just us focusing that much more on the game plan and knowing how we have to play.”

Cleveland’s renewed focus on stopping Durant should open opportunities for Curry and Klay Thompson.

“We’re going to have to help him out as far as knocking shots down from the perimeter,” Thompson said. “We have to have the mindset of a must win, because (Thursday’s) great game almost means nothing if we lose on Sunday.”

Thompson said he expects a more physical game from Cleveland on Sunday and Love said the Cavs will try to be more forceful in hopes of creating more turnovers.

“Just make them feel us. At certain points we did that, but we have to do that throughout,” Love said. “The onus is definitely on us. That’s a mindset. We need to be super assertive, super aggressive on the defensive end.”

And they can’t commit 20 turnovers.

“We can’t turn the ball over,” Lue said. “We have to take good shots. We have to get the matchups we like and take advantage. It’s just a lot of things that we can correct and we will correct them going into game two.”

Nadal merciless as Djokovic toils in Paris

June 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal lost just one game in a ruthless display to reach the French Open last 16 on Friday, but title-holder Novak Djokovic needed five sets to survive.

Nadal

Nadal demonstrated why he is once more considered the overwhelming favourite at Roland Garros with a brutal demolition of Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The Spaniard romped to a 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 win, narrowly missing out on becoming just the sixth man in the Open era to record a “triple bagel”.

“Perfection? I don’t know about that,” said Nadal, who plans to celebrate his 31st birthday on Saturday by watching Real Madrid take on Juventus in the Champions League final.

“I think I played very well today. The most important thing is to be through and I played my best match in a while.”

Nadal will meet compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Reigning champion Djokovic escaped trouble against Diego Schwartzman, the second seed rallying from two sets to one down to prevail 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.

The 12-time major winner was embroiled in a bitter spat with umpire Carlos Ramos in the fourth set as Djokovic was warned for unsportsmanlike conduct after an earlier time violation.

But Djokovic eventually proved too strong for Schwartzman, playing in the last 32 of a Slam for the first time, and goes on to face Spanish 19th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in round four.

“I expected a tough match, there were lots of exchanges from the baseline and the conditions were heavy,” said Djokovic.

“I congratulate Diego on a great battle. He played very, very well.”

Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic advanced to the last 16 when Guillermo Garcia-Lopez retired with a thigh injury in the second set.

Raonic, a quarter-finalist in Paris in 2014, led 6-1, 1-0 before the veteran Spaniard, ranked 153, quit after just 28 minutes.

He will play Spanish 20th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who dumped out Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

Dominic Thiem, a semi-finalist last year and the only player to beat Nadal on clay this season, brushed past American 25th seed Steve Johnson 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

Belgian 10th seed David Goffin suffered a nasty ankle injury when he got caught up in court covers, forcing him to abandon his third-round tie with Horacio Zeballos of Argentina.

Goffin was leading 5-4 when he chased down the ball towards the back of the Suzanne Lenglen court.

However, his right foot got horribly jammed beneath the rolled-up tarpaulin before he tumbled into the wall and a linesman’s chair.

The 26-year-old was helped from the court by two officials and retired in the locker room.

An MRI scan revealed that the Belgian had not suffered a break.

Reigning women’s champion Garbine Muguruza gained further momentum in the defence of her title with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Kazakh 27th seed Yulia Putintseva.

The Spaniard closed out victory with an ace in a match that featured 11 breaks of serve in 20 games played.

“I think the more matches I play and the toughest victories I think gives you self-confidence, successful feeling out there,” said Muguruza.

“I think it’s important with all the three matches that I played that are not easy at all.”

Muguruza plays French 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic, who rallied from 5-2 down in the third set to beat American Shelby Rogers, for a place in the last eight.

Venus Williams cruised past Belgium’s Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-1, while 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova overcame China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5.

Australian 23rd seed Samantha Stosur, the 2010 runner-up, breezed into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-2 rout of American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Ons Jabeur’s historic run ended as the lucky loser from Tunisia, the first Arab woman to reach the last 32 at a major, lost 6-2, 6-2 to Swiss 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky, a 2015 semi-finalist.

Hunt the hero as Crusaders escape in nail-biter

June 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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A sensational 45-metre Mitchell Hunt drop goal three minutes into injury time gave the Canterbury Crusaders a 25-22 win over the Otago Highlanders on Saturday in a Super Rugby clash that may have repercussions for the All Blacks.

Crusaders

It was the second heart-break finish for the Highlanders against the only unbeaten side in the competition after the Crusaders produced a stunning fightback to turn a 6-27 deficit into a 30-27 victory when they met in round two.

This time the Highlanders were up 22-19 with four minutes to go after a pair of Waisake Naholo tries early in the second half lifted them from a 19-10 deficit at the turn.

But in the fallout from the frenetic, physical battle, key All Blacks Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty were injured and unable to play out the game.

Three weeks out from the first Test against the British and Irish Lions, Highlanders fullback Ben Smith failed a concussion test and influential centre Ryan Crotty of Crusaders left the field with rib damage.

As they watched on from the sideline, the Highlanders looked to have laid their early season meltdown to rest until Crusaders replacement fly-half Hunt took the field.

With four minutes remaining he landed one penalty to tie the scores. When he missed a another shot the referee said there were only 10 seconds remaining.

Crusaders forwards fielded the restart and drove their way up field, making a metre at a time for nearly three minutes after the final hooter until Hunt banked over the match-winning drop goal.

Hunt said the tiring pack really gave him no choice.

“Wyatt Crockett turned around and said ‘do something with it’ and there’s wasn’t anything else I could do,” he said, admitting he was surprised the kick went over.

“For a short player I can hardly punt it that far so I was pretty lucky with that kick.”

It was the Crusaders’ 14th consecutive victory, breaking the previous Super Rugby record of 13 set by the 2002 edition of the Crusaders.

The Highlanders, with their nine-match winning streak coming to an end, now almost certainly face a lengthy journey to South Africa.

The Crusaders started at a relentless pace, with the first try on the board after three minutes by Mitchell Drummond before Crotty put Seta Tamanivalu away for the second for a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes.

But when Crusaders flanker Heiden Bedwell Curtis was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate foul, the Highlanders bounced back with a try to Richard Buckman and a conversion and penalty by Marty Banks while they had a one-man advantage.

Bedwell-Curtis marked his return to the field with a try for the Crusaders to hold a 19-10 at half-time.

The game turned in the space of five minutes after the resumption with Naholo’s double and the game became an arm wrestle until Hunt’s heroics at the close.

Winless Froome confident for Dauphine

June 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Chris Froome heads into the start of the week-long Criterium du Dauphine on Sunday with uncertainty surrounding his form and fitness.

Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain (R), race leader's yellow jersey, cycles along the Tourmalet pass during the 188-km (116.8 miles) 11th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Pau to Cauterets in the French Pyrenees mountains, France, July 15, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The 32-year-old Briton is aiming for a record fourth Dauphine victory and third in a row after also succeeding in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

And each time he has previously won the main warm-up race for the Tour de France, he has gone on to be crowned at the Grand Boucle too a month later.

Yet contrary to his recent years of successes, Froome comes into this year’s Dauphine without a single win in 2017.

But the Team Sky leader seems relaxed.

“I’m happy with where my form is right now. Everything is looking good and I’m looking forward to putting all the training into practice,” he said.

“I think the line-up of riders at the Dauphine is particularly impressive this year in terms of GC (overall) contenders and other Tour rivals, so it should be a big test and a real challenge.

“I’m going there hoping to win, but I’m fully conscious that I’m going up against some very strong competition — probably stronger competition than I’ve had at previous editions of the Dauphine — so I’m certainly not taking anything for granted.”

And well he shouldn’t. In 2013 he arrived at the Dauphine having already won the tours of Romandie and Oman, the Criterium International and finished second at Tirreno-Adriatico.

His best result so far this year was sixth at the lightly-regarded Herald Sun Tour, won by the unheralded Australian Damien Howson.

Froome was also knocked off his bike by a car while training in France last month, although he emerged unscathed.

And he seems unconcerned by his lack of results.

“This time of the year it always feels like it’s really getting towards the business part of my season. I’m coming off the back of two great blocks of training with the guys up in Tenerife, which has got me in great shape and ready for the challenges ahead.”

Former lieutenant Richie Porte will be amongst his chief rivals, with the Australian having enjoyed a strong start to the season, winning the tours of Romandie and Down Under, while also claiming a stage at Paris-Nice.

Romain Bardet, second to Froome at last year’s Tour de France, should also push the Brit close, although he too has had little to cheer this season, a 10th-placed finish at the Tour of Catalonia his best result.

Ireland’s Dan Martin and Spanish veteran Alberto Contador, as well as Colombia’s Esteban Chaves could have their say.

The race begins with a hilly 170km stage around Saint Etienne with eight categorised climbs, before ending a week later with an hors category ascent to Plateau de Solaison.

Juventus bar Zidane’s path to history with Madrid

June 3, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Only Zinedine Zidane’s former club Juventus stand between the Real Madrid coach and football history in Saturday’s star-studded Champions League final in Cardiff.

Real Madrid

A head coach for only 17 months, the former France playmaker can become the first manager to win back-to-back European Cups since AC Milan’s Arrigo Sacchi in 1989 and 1990 and the first in the Champions League era.

Zidane had a hand in Madrid’s ninth, 10th and 11th European triumphs — as a player, assistant coach and head coach — and the quest for the ‘Duodecima’ (12th) brings him up against an old flame.

“If you’d said I was going to live all this when I was a child, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Zidane told Friday’s pre-game press conference at the Principality Stadium.

“But I’m living it and I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying what’s happening to all of us. I’m just the coach.

“It’s really beautiful to be able to play the final again, like we did in Milan (in 2016). We’re ready to play.”

Victorious against city rivals Atletico Madrid in the 2014 and 2016 finals, Real are chasing a third success in four seasons.

It would allow them to proclaim European dominance with a conviction they last possessed during Alfredo Di Stefano’s five consecutive wins of the late 1950s.

Zidane, 44, has already led his team to glory in La Liga, ending a five-year league title drought, as well as the Club World Cup and European Super Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, can claim a fourth European crown, which would only enhance his chances of matching fierce rival Lionel Messi’s haul of five Ballon d’Or successes.

The 32-year-old Portuguese has exploded reports of his demise with stunning hat-tricks against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and Atletico in the last four.

With 10 goals to his name, he needs one more to equal Messi’s tally in this season’s competition and become a Champions League top scorer for the fifth season running.

The final could prove a glorious homecoming for Madrid’s Cardiff native Gareth Bale, although the Wales star is expected to start on the bench due to a calf injury, with the in-form Isco due to continue in his place.

While Zidane, Ronaldo and Bale hope their good fortune in the competition continues, Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is praying for a turning of the tide.

A beaten finalist in 2003 and 2015, the 39-year-old Italy great dreams of adding the ultimate club honour to the World Cup winner’s medal he collected in 2006.

“Real Madrid are used to winning finals,” Buffon said.

“We’ve lost a number of finals. So maybe it’s a good match in that sense. We’re going to try and overturn our record in history.”

Juve must shed their status of perennial Champions League bridesmaids, having finished runners-up on a record six occasions and lost their last four finals.

Italian champions for the sixth year running and Coppa Italia winners, the Turin giants are also aiming to become only the eighth club to complete the European Treble.

They were pursuing the same milestone in 2015, when they lost 3-1 to Barcelona in Berlin, but coach Massimiliano Allegri says his streetwise side are now ready to take the final step.

“In 2015 we got to the final and deserved it, but we perhaps were not strongly motivated,” he told reporters on Friday.

“We didn’t feel confident enough because we’d had struggles in the Champions League for a number of years.

“We didn’t get to the final by chance, but we didn’t expect to win. This year it’s completely different. We’ve been growing gradually. Juventus have improved a lot.”

While Madrid possess the competition’s sharpest attack, Juve boast its meanest defence, having successively shut down the sparkling attacks of Barcelona and Monaco en route to Cardiff.

Beneath a closed roof at the Principality Stadium — a first for a Champions League final — a classic contest beckons.

Murray struggled for focus after reaching top

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Andy Murray admits he struggled to stay motivated after a scintillating surge in form that propelled him to the top of the world rankings only a few months ago.

Andy Murray

The Briton usurped Novak Djokovic to become world number one for the first time at the end of last year, but approaches the French Open next week on a poor run.

Murray turned 30 last week but there has been little to celebrate on the court, with his latest defeat coming at the Rome Masters when he lost his second-round match to local favourite Fabio Fognini.

Rafael Nadal’s red-hot form makes him the favourite at Roland Garros when the French Open begins on Sunday and Murray told AFP in Paris: “Maintaining your motivation, your focus and concentration for a very long period is difficult.

“At the end of last year I put in a lot of effort, focus and I achieved a very big goal.

“I had a similar period after I won my first Grand Slam tournament at the US Open and also after I won Wimbledon for the first time, especially Wimbledon because I felt like there was nothing… That’s why I was playing tennis, to win Wimbledon.

“I was the first British player to win Wimbledon for such a long time. When I was done, I was like, ‘Thank God’.

“You have to reset your goals. That’s something I need to do now to look to the future and to keep myself motivated for the big events.”

Murray is renowned for his hard work on the training court and said there is no magic ingredient if he is to win Roland Garros for the first time, having reached last year’s final only to lose to Djokovic in four sets.

“Maybe at the beginning of the year, like in January and February, I was maybe still recovering a little bit from the last year. But the last two months, I just haven’t played well,” Murray said, speaking at an event in the French capital by his sponsor Under Armour.

“I had a small issue with my ankle, you know so practising and stuff with it may be not as good as it needed to be.

“I spoke to my team about that, I wanted to get back to work. To do that, I have been training very hard, spending a lot of time practising and working on my game.

“That’s the best way to get your confidence back.”

After crashing out in the third round of the Madrid Masters earlier this month to unheralded Borna Coric, Murray acknowledged his slump in form was a cause for concern.

He also suffered a shock fourth-round exit at the Australian Open to Mischa Zverev in January and told AFP that it was a tough balancing act between missing tournaments to recover while also trying to retain his prized top ranking.

“If you miss a lot of tournaments your ranking drops and people say, ‘He’s only ranked number seven in the world, he’s not that good.’

“But to get the balance of playing enough to stay at the ranking you maybe deserve or the level you feel you’re playing at, and to take enough rest so you’re able to maintain your best level for long enough, is always a challenge.”

La Liga win is bigger than World Cup for Zidane

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Zinedine Zidane claimed winning La Liga as Real Madrid coach on Sunday surpasses his stellar achievements as a player and even lifting the Champions League in his debut season as coach last year.

Real Madrid

Madrid claimed the Spanish title for a 33rd time as Cristiano Ronaldo struck his 40th goal of the season and Karim Benzema slotted home early in the second-half to secure a 2-0 win at Malaga.

“It is the happiest day of my professional life by a distance,” Zidane said after landing Madrid’s first title in five years.

“Right now I would like to stand up here and dance,” he added in a press conference interrupted by Marcelo, Danilo, Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez and Alvaro Morata drowning their boss in champagne.

Zidane won the World Cup, European Championships and Champions League as one of the greatest players of his generation, but said the extra responsibility that comes with being coach made his achievements all the greater.

“As coach of Real Madrid you know what the expectations are,” he added.

“I have experienced it as a player and that is why I say it is the happiest day of my professional life because being a coach changes everything.

“I have won everything with this club, this shirt but to win La Liga is the best of all.

“I live what I am doing with passion and what I have enjoyed the most is today because after nine or 10 months we have won La Liga.”

Zidane’s role in restoring Madrid to the top of Spanish football was hailed by Ronaldo as the Portuguese claimed just his second league winners’ medal in eight seasons since joining the Spanish giants.

“He has managed things very intelligently along with his assistants,” said Ronaldo.

“The proof is there, we have won a very difficult league against one of the best teams in the world in Barca and for me Zidane has done a phenomenal job.”

Madrid could go onto complete a first La Liga and Champions League double for 59 years when they face Juventus in the Champions League final on June 3.

And Real’s run to the title was most certainly a squad effort with Ronaldo sidelined or rested for nine games — all of which they won.

“On a collective level I think it is my best season at Real Madrid,” added Ronaldo.

“Everyone has played minutes and all the squad have contributed.”

Madrid edged out reigning champions Barcelona by just three points after the Catalans came from 2-0 down to beat Eibar 4-2 on Sunday.

And Zidane highlighted his side’s response from losing a thrilling El Clasico 3-2 to Barca with the last kick of the ball last month by winning their last six league games as the key to the title.

“The last six games, but for sure the last three have been key,” added the Frenchman.

“To win 4-1 at home (against Sevilla), 4-1 away (at Celta) and then 2-0 today is spectacular.”

Irving, James lead the way as Cavs down Celtics

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Kyrie Irving and LeBron James combined for 76 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers battled to a 112-99 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday to move within one game of a place in the NBA Finals.

Celtics

The win gives Cleveland a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and leaves them firmly on track for a third consecutive NBA Finals showdown against the Golden State Warriors.

Cleveland, stunned by Boston in Game 3 after romping two blowout wins in the opening two games of the Eastern Conference series, looked to be heading for another shock as the Celtics dominated the first half.

Boston powered into a 29-19 first quarter lead and maintained their 10-point cushion through to half-time, leading 57-47 at the break.

But as tension among Cleveland’s home fans mounted at the Quicken Loans Arena, it was left to Irving to ride to the rescue with a sensational, momentum-changing display in the third quarter.

Irving piled on 21 points in the third period as Cleveland turned their 10-point half-time deficit into an 87-80 lead at the end of the third quarter. Irving eventually finished with 42 points.

“Coming out at half-time, I just wanted to be aggressive and lead my guys and leave it all out there on the floor,” Irving said.

“We understand the goal out here and we want to accomplish something bigger than ourselves. It’s going to take a full 48-minute game to do it.”

James, determined to bounce back after a poor 11-point haul in Game 3, then steadied the Cleveland nerves in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cavaliers home for the win as Boston’s brave effort came up short.

James, who finished with 34 points, was joined in double figures by Kevin Love, who scored 17 points with 17 rebounds and five assists.

James, Irving and Love were the only three Cavs players to make double digits.

But it was Irving who was the undeniable star of the show for his spellbinding third quarter masterpiece that transformed the game.

“The kid is special,” James said. “He was just waiting for an opportunity to blossom. I’m just happy and blessed that when I decided to come back that I was able to help him blossom.

“I’m just happy to be able to sit back, with four fouls, and see him do what he’s always been built to do. He was born for these moments.”

Love meanwhile revealed that the Cavaliers had not panicked at half-time when they trailed by 10.

“We’ve been in that position before,” Love said. “It’s just an effort all around. We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of playoff minutes who’ve been in situations like that before.

“But while I can sit here and say that, Kyrie Irving was very special tonight.”

Boston, missing the injured Isaiah Thomas, had four players in double figures, with Avery Bradley scoring a leading 19 points.

Game 5 takes place in Boston on Thursday.

Irving said Cleveland would benefit from having been put under pressure by Boston in Game 4.

“We need to hit adversity in order to grow,” Irving said. “The only thing that matters now is to get a win back in Boston.”

Asked to give a reason for Boston’s second half problems, Celtics coach Brad Stevens had a simple answer: “Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. That’s the answer. Kyrie Irving was incredible.

“We played as well as we’d played in the entire playoffs in the first half and then for various reasons that didn’t happen in the second half. But they deserve credit. They were incredible.”

Unbeaten Crusaders block out title talk

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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The unbeaten Canterbury Crusaders have shut out Super Rugby title talk as they grapple with an arduous schedule that has them playing in their fourth country in as many weeks on Saturday.

Crusaders

The competition leaders are in Melbourne to play the struggling Rebels at the end of a month that has taken them from South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji and now Australia.

With an 11-point lead in the tough New Zealand conference, only three games left in the regular season and the impending return from injury of All Black Israel Dagg, the Crusaders have reason to feel confident.

Victory over the Rebels, who have lost all but one game this year, would be win number 13, equalling the record held by the 2002 Crusaders — who featured current coach Scott Robertson.

But despite dominating the competition, the seven-time champions insist they are not yet thinking about the play-offs.

“If we are already in them, tell me where and when. Who are we playing?” assistant coach Brad Mooar said, when it was suggested the Crusaders will cruise into the knock-out phase.

“There is a lot more footy to go yet. We are totally focused on the Rebels this week.”

The Crusaders’ focus may be owing to the fact that they still have to play the Otago Highlanders and the Wellington Hurricanes again, while their nearest rivals for the coveted top spot, the Golden Lions, have an easier run-in.

The top South African side, only three points behind the Crusaders, have the Southern Kings this weekend followed by the Sunwolves and Coastal Sharks.

The Crusaders are on 54 points and the Lions 51 while the Hurricanes and Chiefs, both with a game in hand, remain within striking distance on 43.

In the much-criticised competition format, which guarantees the four conference winners fill the top four places with home advantage in the play-offs, the Western Stormers (30 points) and ACT Brumbies (23) are ranked third and fourth with the Hurricanes and Waikato Chiefs fifth and sixth.

On Friday, the Chiefs travel to the neighbouring Auckland Blues whose loss to the Stormers last week saw their play-off hopes replaced by the role of potential spoilers.

The Blues have not beaten the Chiefs since June 2011, but apart from the notable exception of Jerome Kaino, they will be at near full-strength and with Sonny Bill Williams needing to impress All Blacks selectors before the squad to play the British and Irish Lions next month is finalised.

South Africa’s Golden Lions, with captain Warren Whiteley appointed this week as the new Springboks leader, play the Kings in a rare Sunday match for South African teams.

“It’s not ideal,” said coach Johan Ackermann whose Lions are looking to extend an 11-match winning streak at their Ellis Park fortress in Johannesburg.

“The reality is we’re in an era of professional sport and if the competition dictates that we play on a Sunday then we will do so.”

The Hurricanes, still without Dane Coles who continues to battle concussion symptoms, are in South Africa to play the Northern Bulls.

Africa 1 conference leaders, the Stormers, play the Coastal Sharks while the Brumbies are in Argentina to face the Jaguares.

Vettel looks to end Ferrari’s 16-year Monaco wait

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Championship leader Sebastian Vettel will this weekend seek to increase his advantage and inflict a demoralising blow to his rivals by securing Ferrari’s first win at the Monaco Grand Prix since 2001.

Formula One - Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 20/03/16 - Ferrari F1 driver Sebastian Vettel drives during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. REUTERS/JASON REED

The four-time champion leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by six points after five of this season’s 20 races, but heads into the classic 78-lap contest on the unforgiving streets of the Mediterranean principality knowing a victory could prove decisive in their tight title fight.

He knows also that there is some concern at Mercedes that their car, with a much longer wheel-base, could struggle to match Ferrari’s agility on the famous tight and twisting track where Hamilton, who loves the challenge, won last year.

The three-time champion will be seeking his third Monaco win after triumphing also in 2008 while Vettel, who won for Red Bull in 2011, is chasing his second win and, learning of Mercedes’ worries, will fancy his chances.

“At the moment, Ferrari has certain advantages there,” said Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda.

“We will have our problems with our longest wheel-base through the tight corners. It will be even worse than in Singapore.”

Despite winning every race in Monte Carlo since 2013, Mercedes appear to be truly afraid that they will start with a disadvantage.

Valtteri Bottas, who has replaced retired world champion Nico Rosberg as Hamilton’s team-mate, warned: “A car with the longest wheelbase on a track with so many slow corners — we could be slower than them.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who lost a near-certain victory last year due to a Red Bull tactical bungle, will also be a threat to the leaders in what is expected to be an intriguing scrap in qualifying and the race.

“Last year was disappointing for me as I felt a win was on the cards,” said Ricciardo.

“But I am old enough and mature enough now to put that behind me and look forward and take back what I lost last year.”

Hamilton, however, will be certain to mount a fierce challenge for victory after winning in Spain two weeks ago and knows that he cannot afford to allow Vettel any chance to build up momentum.

The race will be billed as the 64th running of the Monaco Grand Prix as part of the world championship — though it is the 75th race since 1929 — and will see back-from-retirement former winner Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, replacing two-time champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren.

Alonso will instead be at the Indianapolis 500 while Button, making his 306th F1 start, hopes Honda’s package of upgrades can enable him to make an impressive return for Monaco’s historically most successful team.

State funds vital for the growth of rugby – Asanga Seneviratne

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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By Yohan Bhasura

President of Sri Lanka Rugby (SLR) Asanga Seneviratne believes that state funds are an essential part if the sport is to reach its peak at international level in the near future.

SLR President Asanga Seneviratne addresses the gathering. (Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi)

He made these observations to the Daily Mirror soon after Sri Lanka ended their campaign in the Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament worked off in Malaysia recently.

“We started this tournament as Asia’s fourth ranked team but we cannot think of moving further up in the rankings without the backing of the Sports Ministry.”

“The three top Asian teams, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea have allocated a sum of US $ 4 to 10 million towards their senior team alone,” explained Seneviratne.

“We should initiate a proper structure if we are to compete well against top ranked teams like Japan and other countries. First we should take care of the Under-16, 18, 19 and 20 teams. For this, we need funds”

“We have already handed over our long term plan to the Ministry of Sports. We need Rs. 100 to 150 million to develop the senior team,” added Seneviratne.

“Our juniors should also compete against the best in Asia if we are to make any further progress in the game. Playing against the best at the age of 25 is not going to help our cause at all.”

“If we take cricket, we had only the senior team playing in the beginning. But now we have teams competing at the highest level from the age group of Under-15,” emphasized Seneviratne.

“We should be able to get these funds and have a good 4 to 8 year long term plan and develop the junior teams if we are to beat the three top teams which are above us in the Asian rankings.”

“We had only a sponsorship of Rs. 6.5 million when we took over SLR in 2012. But now the sponsorship has increased to Rs. 100 million. We were able to bring professionalism into the game within these five years. Now we need to take this game into the next level,” commented Seneviratne.

“We have presented our eight year plan to the Ministry of Sports. The prime idea behind this plan is to collect the needed funds along with the Ministry of Sports to sustain the game and to develop the junior rugby teams in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association.”

Seneviratne also made his observations on the rest of the teams which participated in the Asian Rugby Championship Division One Tournament in Malaysia.

“Although these teams are ranked below us they are pretty strong and take for an instance the Philippines, all 15 players are competing in Australia.”

“There are five Fijians representing the Malaysia team. The Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates are all developed countries. We have a history of over 100 years in rugby. But we are still a developing nation,” observed Seneviratne.

The President of SLR also revealed the difficulties and the obstacles they are currently facing.

“We received quite a number of sponsorships when players in the calibre of Namal Rajapaksa and Yoshitha Rajapaksa were representing the country in 2009 and 2010.”

“But we are not lacking in sponsorships just because the government changed a couple of years ago. Minister Malik Samarawickrema and Harin Fernando have continuously supported us,” added Seneviratne.

“We do not have a proper location for our headquarters. Our office and the 24 perch land which we owned were taken over by the previous government.”

“The current location is not sufficient to conduct our activities. We have requested for a suitable office from the authorities,” said Seneviratne.

“We have requested from the government to hand over us the ownership and the management of the Old Race Course. We have also requested for a suitable place to put up our headquarters at this venue.”

“I think almost 90 percent of our requirements would be fulfilled if the government could provide us with residential facilities for the National Team and a playground for training.”

“We are currently spending millions to provide these facilities for the players. I think the government should take care of these facilities. I hope the Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekera will support us,” concluded Seneviratne.

Pogba sends grieving Man Utd to emotional Europa triumph

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Paul Pogba dedicated victory to the victims of this week’s Manchester terror attack after propelling Manchester United towards a 2-0 victory over Ajax in Wednesday’s Europa League final.

Manchester United

A night that began with a moment of silence, then applause, in memory of the 22 people who died at Manchester Arena on Monday ended with United completing their trophy collection through goals from Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Reminders of the attack were everywhere at Stockholm’s Friends Arena, from United’s black armbands to the chants of “Manchester!” from their fans, while Pogba, too, was grieving, following the recent death of his father.

“We played for the people who died,” Pogba told BT Sport.

“These things are terrible all over the world, in London and in Paris. We went out focused to win and we won for Manchester and the country.”

Victory enabled United manager Jose Mourinho, who said prior to the game that he and his players were struggling not to think about the tragedy, to bring his maiden Old Trafford season to a successful conclusion.

He had already guided United to glory in the League Cup and despite a sixth-place finish in the Premier League, success in the Europa League means his side will return to the Champions League next season.

“It is the end of a very difficult season. But a very very good season,” Mourinho said.

“There are lots of poets in football, but poets don’t win many titles. We knew where we were better than them and we exploited their weaknesses.”

United became only the fifth club — after Juventus, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Chelsea — to have won the Champions League, the Europa League and the now defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Mourinho, a UEFA Cup winner with Porto in 2003 and two-time European champion, has now won all four of the major European finals he has contested.

Ajax were appearing in their first continental showpiece match since the 1996 Champions League decider and fielded a team with an average age of 22 years and 282 days — the youngest to have ever started a major European final.

Peter Bosz’s effervescent team caused United some uncomfortable moments, but without ever threatening to pull off an upset.

“Obviously both sides were affected (by the attack in Manchester), but once you play the final, for that moment you forget it,” said Bosz.

“I’m disappointed because you play finals to win them. We didn’t. I haven’t see the Ajax that I’m used to, which means good football, high pressing and being dominant.

“High pressing was difficult because Man United only played long balls and didn’t take any risks in the build-up. I think it was a boring game.”

Denied a glorious homecoming by a serious knee injury, United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was present instead as a spectator to see his current side take on the team where he made his name.

Pogba put a volley fractionally wide in the first minute and in the 18th minute he found the target, albeit with a helping hand.

From Marouane Fellaini’s lay-off, the French midfielder let fly with a left-foot shot that flicked off Davinson Sanchez’s left foot and looped past Ajax’s helplessly wrong-footed goalkeeper Andre Onana.

It was the biggest return yet on United’s world-record £89.3 million ($115.8 million, 103.2 million euros) investment in Pogba, who celebrated by pointing to the sky.

Moments later, Antonio Valencia stung Onana’s palms after a raid down the United right.

The English side then took their foot off the pedal, enabling Ajax to start finding space in dangerous areas, but within three minutes of kick-off in the second half they had tightened their grip on the game.

Juan Mata’s corner from the right was headed down by Chris Smalling and with his back to goal, Mkhitaryan held off Joel Veltman to flick the bouncing ball past Onana and claim his sixth goal in the competition.

Onana was called upon to field a header from Fellaini and United goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved from substitute Donny van de Beek.

But there was little to worry United’s fans, who continued to defiantly chant the name of their grief-stricken city as the final whistle neared.

Review: Royal secures League and Bradby first-leg in style

May 25, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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By Chris Dhambarage

Royal College are the new Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament champions for the 2017 season.

Royal win league title

The team from Reid Avenue delivered the final blow on Saturday to regain the coveted title by overcoming the traditional rivals Trinity College 22-17 at Pallekele in Kandy.

Royal’s success had a great amount of significance as they also cleared their first hurdle in their attempt to win the prestigious Bradby Shield.

Royal will now carry a five point advantage over their rivals when they clash once again in the second-leg of the 73rd annual encounter on June 3 at the Royal College Sports Complex.

The manner in which Royal performed in this last Cup Segment fixture of the league tournament was really outstanding as they were under tremendous pressure even before the kick-off.

But they lived upto expectations as a true champion outfit while folding up twice from an early setback before recording a memorable and historic victory away from home.

Royal suffered an early setback and they were trailing 0-5 shortly after the kick-off and once again they were up against it when the home side snatched a 12-10 lead few minutes after the interval.

However, Royal seems to have made it a habit of turning things around in their favour in the second half as once again they showed their prowess by producing some exhilarating rugby during the latter stages of the game.

They scored two back-to-back tries midway in the second half through Hamza Reeza to build up a commanding lead and then held on determinedly and deprived the home side of scoring with some superb cover defence.

In fact the current season turned out to be a memorable one for Reeza who emerged as the most successful try scorer with 14 tries to his credit in the league tournament.

Isipathana vs Wesley

Isipathana College produced a splendid second half rally to beat Wesley College 28-0 in their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament final Cup Championship fixture played at Havelock Park.

This victory also ensured Isipathana the runners-up position in the league points table as they concluded the proceedings in the league tournament on a high note.

Even then, Isipathana probably expected a tough challenge from their opponents in this vital game but quite surprisingly they had things almost to their liking especially in the second half.

In fact, Wesley never looked the same team as they had performed in the earlier matches as they surrendered to their opponents quite meekly in their final outing.

The Wesleyites of course managed to apply some pressure to their opponents in the first half as Isipathana struggled initially and took a slender 8-0 lead at the break.

However, once they got their act together well and settled down, the home side really went on the rampage and added four more tries to their tally in the second half which helped them to complete a rousing victory in the end.

St. Peter’s vs S. Thomas’

S. Thomas’ College came from behind with a tremendous performance to force a thrilling 25-25 draw to their Singer Inter-Schools Under-20 League Rugby Tournament second-round fixture against St. Peter’s College worked off at Bambalapitiya.

This was no doubt a major setback for the Peterites considering the fact they started the match as favourites following some impressive performances in their earlier matches.

But the Thomians who were trailing 12-15 at half time came back strongly in the second half and went on to share the honours with their rivals while collecting their points from two goals, one try and two penalties.

The Peterites of course made a promising start as they took the initiative and set the pace for a convincing victory at one stage but had to settle for a draw in the end with their points coming through two goals, one try and two penalties.

Even then, S. Thomas’ had the satisfaction of retaining the Archibald Perera Memorial Trophy by virtue of their victory in last year’s encounter.

The Thomians could have even snatched the game from the jaws of defeat as their reliable place kicker Dion Dias fluffed an easy under the post penalty during the latter stages of the game.

St. Joseph’s vs Zahira

St. Joseph’s College had the satisfaction of concluding the league fixtures on a high note as they powered their way to a resounding 38-14 victory over Zahira College in their match played at Welisara.

The Josephians collected their points from one goal, five tries and two penalties while Zahira responded with two goals.

The Joes of course got off to a splendid start as they built up a commanding 18-0 lead at half time while scoring three superb tries and also fired across a penalty during a dominant performance.

However, Zahira hit back in the second half and surprised their opponents as they managed to touch down on two occasions and also converted both tries to keep their hopes alive.

But St. Joseph’s added the finishing touches in style as they went on to plant three more tries in the second half and also fired across a penalty to increase the lead to put the issue beyond doubt.

Navodya wins bronze in Thailand

May 23, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Sri Lanka’s Navodya Sankalpa won the Bronze Medal in the Boys’ 400 metres hurdles on the final day of the Second Asian Youth Athletic Championship which concluded at the National Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday.

The schoolboy from Mahinda College clocked 53:86 seconds to finish behind the winner Halomoan Edwin Bisar (51.96 seconds) of Indonesia and Ting Hsuan Huang of China who returned a time of 52:49 seconds.

This was Sri Lanka’s second medal at the meet after Harsha Karunaratne won the Silver Medal in the Boys’ 800 metres event on Sunday (21).

Sri Lanka finished 17th in the overall medals tally with China taking the top spot with 16 Gold Medals.

Meanwhile, Santhush Weerasinghe had to be satisfied with the fourth place in the Boys’ 200 metres event with a personal best time of 21:92 seconds.

In addition, Ashmika Herath was not allowed to compete in the Girls’ 2,000 metres steeplechase event after having violated championship rules.

Mourinho says Manchester attack victims in United’s ‘minds and hearts’

May 23, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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Jose Mourinho said the victims of a deadly bomb attack in Manchester were in the “minds and hearts” of his squad as Man United prepared for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm.

Manchester United players and staff stand for a minute of silence during training honouring the people killed and wounded in an explosion at Manchester Arena

Britain’s deadliest attack for 12 years saw 22 people killed, including children, and 59 injured when a bomb went off at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena on Monday.

“We’re all very sad about the tragic events last night; we can’t take out of our minds & hearts the victims & their families,” said Mourinho in comments posted on United’s Twitter feed on Tuesday.

“We have a job to do & will fly to Sweden to do that job. It’s a pity we cannot fly with the happiness we always have before a big game.”

Mourinho, who only joined United last year, added: “I know, even during my short time here, that the people of Manchester will pull together as one.”

The Portuguese boss’s Twitter comments were set to be his only public statement of the day after United had earlier announced they were cancelling Tuesday’s scheduled pre-match press conference in Stockholm.

“Due to the tragic events in Manchester last night and the effect that this has had on everyone here at our club and within our city, we have decided to cancel this evening’s pre-match press conference in Stockholm,” United said in a statement.

“We are sure that, in the circumstances, you will all understand our position on this matter.

“Our thoughts are with the victims at this terribly difficult time.”

Moyes resigns after Sunderland relegation

May 23, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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David Moyes has resigned as Sunderland manager following their relegation from the Premier League, the club announced on Monday.

Moyes

The 54-year-old Scot succeeded Sam Allardyce last July and oversaw a desperate season that saw Sunderland finish 16 points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.

“I would like to thank (chairman) Ellis Short and the board for giving me the opportunity to manage Sunderland and the fans for always being so passionately supportive of their club,” Moyes said in a statement.

“I wish the players and my successor well in their efforts towards promotion back to the Premier League.”

Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship after 10 years in the top flight was confirmed following a 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth last month.

Moyes informed Sunderland officials of his decision to leave at a meeting in London on Monday.

His departure completes a sorry few weeks for the former Everton manager, who has been charged by the Football Association after jokily threatening to “slap” a female reporter.

It is his third successive short-lived stint at a club, following previous disappointments at Manchester United, where he lasted just 10 months, and Real Sociedad.

“I pursued the services of David Moyes for a considerable period prior to his appointment last summer, which makes the announcement of his departure difficult for everyone concerned,” said Sunderland chairman Ellis Short.

“Having worked tirelessly throughout the campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League, David has chosen to leave the club without compensation, which is testament to his character.

“In the days ahead we will take some time for reflection and then focus on recruitment and pre-season as we prepare for our Championship campaign. We wish David well in the future.”

Moyes was dissatisfied with Sunderland’s close-season transfer dealings and set the tone for their campaign early in the season when he said he was preparing for a relegation battle.

Sunderland sank into the bottom three in September and did not move off the foot of the table from January onwards, finishing the campaign with only six wins to their name.

An incident involving Moyes and BBC radio reporter Vicki Sparks occurred after a 0-0 draw against Burnley on March 18, but only came to light last month.

After taking exception to a question, Moyes waited until the interview had ended before telling Sparks: “It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, so just watch yourself.

“You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in.”

He subsequently apologised, but was charged by the FA on April 26.

Live updates: Under 20 Schools rugby league tournament – St. Peter’s College vs S. Thomas’ College; Isipathana College vs Wesley College

May 20, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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18:13 – At full time. Isipathana College 28. Wesley College 0.

18:08 – At full time. St. Peter’s College 25. S. Thomas’ College 25.

17:53 – Dias puts over a penalty for S. Thomas’ College to level the scores again. 25-25.

17:52 – Isipathana College scores their fifth try to extend the lead. 28-0.

17:51 – Dassanayake puts over a penalty for St. Peter’s College to take the lead. 25-22.

17:47 – Isipathana College score their fourth try to extend the lead. 23-0.

17:42 – Dion Dias puts over a penalty for S. Thomas’ College to level the scores. 22-22.

17:40 – Fernando scores for Isipathana once again to extend the lead to 18-0.

17:33 – Chamod Fernando scores for Isipathana College to further extend the lead. 13-0.

17:31 – Shenuk Perera scores for S. Thomas’ College to reduce the lead. 19-22.

17:24 – Suhail Fernando scores for St. Peter’s College early in the second half to extend lead 22-12.

17:22 – At half time. Isipathana College 8. Wesley College 0.

17:20 – Rankothge scores the first try for Isipathana College to extend lead. 8-0.

17:14 – At half time. St. Peter’s College 15. S. Thomas’ College 12.

17:12 – Jayawardena scores for S. Thomas’ College to reduce the margin. 12-15.

17:09 – Fernando breaks the deadlock with a penalty for Isipathana College to lead 3-0.

17:06 – Raveen Fernando scores for St. Peter’s College to increase the lead. 15-7.

17:00 – Mark Assauw puts St. Peter’s College in front with a converted try. 10-7.

16:53 – Avishka Lee misses a penalty for Wesley College.

16:42 – After 10 minutes of play. Isipathana 0. Wesley 0.

16:37 – Diyath Fernando puts over a penalty for St. Peter’s College to reduce the deficit 3-7.

16:35 – Naveen Heenakankanamge open scoring for S. Thomas’ College to take an early lead. 7-0.

16:32 – Match between Isipathana vs Wesley kicks at Havelock Park kicks off

16:28 – Match between St. Peter’s and S. Thomas at Bambalapitiya kicks off

Matches kicks off shortly.

Live updates: 73rd Bradby Shield encounter – First Leg

May 20, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

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