Commonwealth Games: South Africa stun New Zealand for sevens gold
South Africa stunned four-time champions New Zealand with a nail-biting 17-12 final victory to seal Commonwealth rugby sevens gold at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on Sunday (July 27).
Tries from Seabelo Senatla (2) and Cecil Afrika, one converted by Branco du Preez, were enough for the Springboks to inflict a first-ever Commonwealth defeat on the previously all-conquering All Blacks.
New Zealand, who were on a winning streak of 30 Commonwealth matches that stretched back to a Jonah Lomu-inspired side that won gold in the inaugural tournament in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, scored two tries through Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber, Gillies Kaka nailing one conversion.
Crusaders win secures their final spot
The Crusaders’ revenge for the embarrassment of losing to a 14 man Cell C Sharks team a few months ago could not have been sweeter as they handed out an object rugby lesson to the Durbanites en route to a one-sided 38-6 Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final in Christchurch on Saturday. Few gave the Sharks much hope of winning on the other side of the ocean, but skipper Bismarck du Plessis and Coach Jake White were buoyant in the build-up and told the New Zealand commentators that they were ready to follow up their historic win at the same venue in May. That though couldn’t have been further from the truth, with the Sharks simply failing to pitch against a Crusaders team that just blew them away.
There have been question marks over the Sharks’ game-plan all season, but the defenders of their conservative strategy always said that what would decide whether it was the correct way to play or not was how the season turned out. In the end the Sharks did win the South African conference, but there was also no denying that the inaccuracy of their kicking game was one of the aspects that let them down when it really mattered.
Waratahs surge into final
The Waratahs produced a stunning display of disciplined defence and struck when it matters to move into the final of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament with a comprehensive 26-8 win over the Brumbies in Sydney. The victory was the Waratahs ninth in a row and eighth at home which allowed them to host next weekend’s final against the Crusaders.
But on a night where it was expected that the competition’s top attacking team would win through, Michael Cheika’s side needed a disciplined and dominant defensive performance to outgun the Brumbies, before breaking the shackles near the end to run away with the win.
It has to be asked how the Brumbies decided to go into the game without a recognised goal kicker, as they squandered several kicking penalties and Christian Lealiifano missed a few others as well that might have made the game a closer affair. But for the most of the middle part of the game it was all the visitors who pressed hard but got little reward for their efforts as they had the Waratahs on the rack. Yet like a boxer, they couldn’t land the knockout blow, despite dominating both territorial and possession stats, with the Waratahs needing to dig deep on defence to win ugly in the end.
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
SA face spin test to claim No 1 spot
Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Angelo Mathews struck brisk half-centuries to help Sri Lanka set up a thrilling finale to the series-deciding second test against South Africa in Colombo on Sunday.
Sangakkara (72) hit his tenth 50-plus score of the year and Mathews chipped in with an unbeaten 63 as the hosts declared their second innings on 229-8 shortly before close of play to set the visitors an imposing target of 369.
At stumps on a rain-interrupted day four, South Africa were 38-1, needing 331 more runs off a minimum 98 overs to pull off a series-clinching win. Quinton de Kock (21) and Dean Elgar (13) were the not out batsmen at the crease.
The hosts, who posted 421 in their first essay, had bowled out South Africa for 282 in their first innings to gain a 139-run lead. South Africa leads the two-test series 1-0 after winning the opener in Galle by 153 runs. Even a draw in this game will see the Proteas reclaim the world No 1 ranking from Australia. Sangakkara felt the visitors would play for draw rather than go for a win on Monday.
“Even in the first innings I thought they were playing for time (rather) than scoring runs. That allowed us to put pressure on them,” he said after the day’s play. The more negative approach you have, the more defensive shots you play. So, we are just happy to have fielders around and make sure they play as defensively as possible,” he said while hoping the rains would keep away.
‘WE’RE NOT PLAYING NEGATIVE CRICKET’
South Africa’s chase did not start the way they had hoped for as they lost their first wicket with just six runs on the board. Opener Alviro Petersen (zero) failed for the second time in the game when he was caught off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who opened the bowling. Senior South African batsman AB de Villiers was confident his side could pull off a win and clinch their first test series victory on the island in 21 years. “We are not playing negative cricket, we will assess the situation in the morning and if we have wickets, then we will go for a win,” he said. “We are very positive that we can pull this off. It means everything to us to win this series in Sri Lanka, so we will do our best to make it happen.” The Sri Lankan batsmen had started off confidently after rain interrupted play for an hour following the lunch break. Sangakkara unleashed his trademark silken pulls and drives to race to the 50-run mark with a boundary off leg spinner Imran Tahir (2-76).
Just when he was looking good for a bigger score, he edged to wicketkeeper De Kock off Morne Morkel (4-45), bringing an end to his enterprising knock that included eight hits to the fence. Kithuruwan Vithanage (seven) was superbly caught by Faf du Plessis who ran backwards without taking his eyes off the ball and then dived forward to pluck it inches off the ground. Test debutant Niroshan Dickwella top-edged to AB de Villiers off Dale Steyn (2-59), failing to repeat his first innings performance which saw him score 72.
Tahir bowled Dilruwan Perera and Morkel sent back Rangana Herath, prompting skipper Mathews to declare the innings.
Earlier, Sri Lanka added a healthy 97 runs in the first session while losing their openers and the prolific Mahela Jayawardene. Opener Upul Tharanga (30) looked in good nick but he edged behind to the keeper while trying to drive Steyn in the sixth over of the morning. Kaushal Silva welcomed Tahir (1-67) with a neat sweep to the fence in the bowler’s first over, setting the tone for the rest of the session that saw the hosts score at a quick pace. Silva had made 26 when he scooped a drive, offering an easy catch to Vernon Philander at point off Morkel. Jayawardene, who cracked a solid 165 in the first innings, was out for a duck in a bizarre fashion off Tahir. The stylish right-hander played the reverse sweep but the ball popped up and Dean Elgar rushed across from short leg to pouch the ball before crashing into De Kock.
Jayawardene was given out but he sought a review believing that the ball had not touched his glove. However, the decision of the on-field umpire was upheld and the batsman walked away shaking his head in disappointment.
England vs India
Ballance, Cook put England in control
England captain Alastair Cook fell agonisingly short of ending his barren spell without a test hundred as he led from the front against India at Southampton on Sunday. Cook won the toss and then made 95, having been dropped early on, out of England’s 247 for two at stumps on the first day of the third test.
Gary Ballance, who helped his captain put on 158 for the second wicket, succeeded where Cook had failed by reaching three figures to be 104 not out at the close. “I was desperate to score runs,” Cook, who has averaged a modest 26 since scoring the last of his England record 25 test hundreds more than a year ago, told Sky Sports. “It’s been a long time since I have done it. Tonight I feel like I have contributed. The 29-year-old left-handed opener added: “I can’t tell you how much I wanted to score a hundred.
“It’s a step in the right direction. You always back yourself to score when you are under pressure. “To be 247 for two is a great day. We have given ourselves a platform.” Ballance’s innings meant the Zimbabwe-born left-hander, who’d repeatedly come in with England in difficulty, had now scored three hundreds and two fifties in his six tests. An India attack missing injured paceman Ishant Sharma, whose career-best seven for 74 sealed their 95-run win in the second test at Lord’s, was unable to pose much of a physical threat on an even-paced pitch. But if those circumstances were in Cook’s favour, he still needed to stay at the crease.
Several ex-England skippers, the latest being test exile Kevin Pietersen on Saturday, had called for Cook to resign as captain. But the undaunted Cook, despite his run drought and with England 1-0 down in the five-match series, opted to bat first on a green-tinged surface. Cook edged the first ball of the match, from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, just short of the slips.
He then had a huge let-off on 15 when he pushed out to 6ft 6in test debutant Pankaj Singh, Ishant Sharma’s replacement, and got a thick outside edge only for Ravindra Jadeja to drop a seemingly simple catch at third slip. But a first-wicket partnership worth 55 ended when Sam Robson fell in familiar fashion. Mohammed Shami squared up the Australia-born opener and this time Jadeja held the catch. Shami also beat Cook outside off stump. But two cut fours off spinners Rohit Sharma, recalled in place of dropped all-rounder Stuart Binny and Jadeja took Cook to 48 not out at lunch. Cook completed a 98-ball fifty with a pulled two off Shami as the crowd signalled its support with a standing ovation, an unusual accolade for a half-century.
At tea, England were 186 for one, with Cook 82 not out and Ballance 72 not out. But Cook’s near five-hour innings ended when, swiping at a long hop from left-arm spinner Jadeja, he got a bottom edge and was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper and opposing captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Cook received another standing ovation as he walked back having faced 231 balls including nine fours.
England was now 213 for two and were fortunate not to lose Ian Bell (16 not out), for a duck when he survived an lbw appeal after Singh’s out swinger rapped his pads. Singh deserved better than his figures of none for 62 in 20 overs but his was just one of several economical contributions as India’s bowlers kept England to a run-rate of less than three an over. Yorkshire left-hander Ballance late cut Shami for four to complete a 189-ball hundred including 15 boundaries that followed the 24-year-old’s 110 at Lord’s
England made three changes from the side that lost the second test, bringing in debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for the injured Matt Prior while all-rounders Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes replaced fast bowler Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes respectively.
Ricciardo wins dramatic Hungarian GP
Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday while Lewis Hamilton roared from pit lane to podium in another astonishing performance by the Mercedes driver. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second and championship leader Nico Rosberg, who started on pole position for Mercedes, finished fourth and saw his lead over Hamilton cut from 14 points to 11.
Instead of Rosberg and Mercedes running away with the race, the race ran away from Rosberg with his team beaten for only the second time in 11 grand prix. Ricciardo, a revelation in his first year at Red Bull, emptied his lungs in sheer elation after he took the chequered flag 5.2 seconds ahead of the Spaniard for his second win of the season and of his career. “It feels as good as the first win, it really does,” beamed the Australian, who took his first win in Canada, after a rollercoaster of a race with two safety car periods and plenty of incident. “The safety car at first played to our advantage but the second one didn’t really help us, but we got there in the end and I had to do the overtaking at the end which was fun.”
All of the top four had led over the course of a race that started after a brief downpour, was interrupted by two big crashes, continued with the ever-present threat of rain and finished on a knife-edge. Ricciardo, who had led earlier in the race and was on fresher tyres, swept past Hamilton three laps from the end and overtook a determined Alonso to regain the lead for good with two laps to go. “We took a gamble to try to get the victory and we got very close,” said Alonso of his second podium finish of the season.
“We need some crazy races to get a podium and we took our chances today.” Behind them, Rosberg – who had also made three stops to Alonso and Hamilton’s two – was closing in remorselessly and was all over the back of his team mate’s car as they started the final lap. Hamilton hung on, after earlier disregarding calls from the team to let Rosberg pass because the German still had one more pit stop to make, to seize a podium finish that had looked improbable on Saturday. “I was just pushing as hard as I could to see if I could get as high as I could,” said Hamilton, who had won for the last two years in Hungary and finished third in Germany last weekend after starting 20th.
The Briton had to start from the pit lane – and behind Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen whose McLaren was also moved off the grid – after his car caught fire in qualifying before he had completed a lap. He spun at the second corner, skimming the wall without damage, and was 21 seconds down on Rosberg after the first lap with a mountain to climb. By lap seven Hamilton was up to 14th and events played into his hands when the safety car was deployed after Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson crashed his Caterham at turn three. While the top four decided not to pit, in what proved out to be a mistake that turned the race on its head, Hamilton and others did. Ricciardo then took the lead when they came in a lap later.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean kept the safety car out for four more laps when he crashed his Lotus on lap 11 and there was a further interruption on lap 23 when Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez speared into the wall on the pit straight.
1. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull – Renault 1:53:05.058
2. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari +00:05.200
3. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 00:05.800
4. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 00:06.300
5. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 00:29.700
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:31.300
7. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull – Renault 00:40.700
8. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 00:41.000
9. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso – Renault 00:58.100
10. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 01:06.800
11. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber – Ferrari 01:07.600
12. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 01:17.800
13. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus – Renault 01:23.300
14. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso – Renault 1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia – Ferrari 1 lap
16. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia – Ferrari 1 lap
r. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber – Ferrari 37 laps
r. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham – Renault 46 laps
r. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India – Mercedes 56 laps
r. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus – Renault 60 laps
r. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes 48 laps
r. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham – Renault 62 laps
Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg,1:25.724, lap 64.
Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali completes race victory
Vincenzo Nibali won the 101st edition of the Tour de France as he finished the final stage on the Champs-Elysees in Paris safely in the peloton. The Italian is the sixth man to win all three Grand Tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
His winning margin of seven minutes 37 seconds over Jean-Christophe Peraud in second is the biggest since Jan Ullrich won by more than nine minutes in 1997. Germany’s Marcel Kittel won Sunday’s traditional final-stage sprint finish.
The Giant-Shimano rider outsprinted Norway’s Alexander Kristoff to win his fourth stage of this year’s Tour, with Garmin-Sharp’s Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas in third. For Nibali, the 21st and final stage was all about reaching the finish safely because Tour tradition dictates that the leader going into the final stage should not be challenged.
The 29-year-old Astana rider dominated the Tour from the moment he took the race lead on stage two in Sheffield and wore the race leader’s yellow jersey for 18 of the race’s 21 days. He is the first Italian winner of the race since Marco Pantani in 1998.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 89hrs 59mins 06secs
2. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +7mins 37secs
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +8mins 15secs
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +9mins 40secs
5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +11mins 44secs
Pirates sail to Cup victory against Chiefs
Orlando Pirates were crowned Carling Black Label Cup champions after they defeated staunch rivals Kaizer Chiefs 6-5 on penalties after the match ended goalless at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Saturday. After 90 minutes of play, the match went straight into an enthralling penalty shootout. It was midfielder Thabo Matlaba’s spot kick that clinched victory for the Buccaneers after the teams took 18 nail-biting penalty kicks.
Pirates have the edge over their Soweto neighbors in the Cup competition, having won three of the four Cup games. During the match, Chiefs’ midfielder George Maluleka missed a penalty in the 66th minute after it was rightfully awarded by referee Victor Gomes.
Langer wins Senior Open by 13 shots
Bernhard Langer sealed a remarkable record-breaking victory in the Senior British Open on Sunday, winning by 13 shots after leading the event in all four rounds. The twice Masters champion took an eight-shot lead into the final round and still dominated the field, firing a best-of-the-day four-under 67 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales.
The German’s six birdies and two bogeys left second-placed Colin Montgomerie and the rest far behind. It was 56-year-old Langer’s fourth round in the 60s and he posted the largest winning margin in the history of event, eclipsing Bob Charles’s seven-shot victory at Turnberry in 1989.
Montgomerie, recent winner of the Senior US PGA and US Open titles, was alone in second, three shots clear of American Tom Pernice Jnr, England’s Barry Lane and Canadian Rick Gibson, Gibson had been second going into the final round but shot a disappointing four-over-par 75.
SA’s Clark wins Canadian Open
Tim Clark stormed home with five late birdies to overtake Jim Furyk and win the Canadian Open by one stroke in Montreal on Sunday.
South African Clark recovered from a bogey at the opening hole to card five-under-par 65 at Royal Montreal. He finished on 17-under 263, notching just his second victory on the PGA Tour in which he has 12 runner-up placings.
Third round leader Furyk shot 69 for second place on 16-under. He missed a 15-foot birdie putt at the final hole, continuing a frustrating run of near-misses since his 16th and most recent tour victory nearly four years ago.
263 – Tim Clark (RSA) 67-67-64-65
264 – Jim Furyk 67-63-65-69
267 – Justin Hicks 66-67-70-64
269 – Matt Kuchar 69-65-70-65, Michael Putnam 64-70-69-66, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP) 67-67-69-66
270 – Dicky Pride 66-71-70-63, Graham DeLaet (CAN) 69-63-70-68
271 – Kevin Kisner 70-69-68-64, Brad Fritsch (CAN) 72-68-67-64, Graeme McDowell (NIR) 68-65-70-68
272 – Ben Curtis 67-70-70-65, Ernie Els (RSA) 70-67-69-66, Nick Watney 66-68-71-67, Troy Matteson 70-68-67-67, Retief Goosen (RSA) 69-67-69-67, Jamie Lovemark 69-65-67-71, Joe Durant 69-66-67-70, Kyle Stanley 65-67-68-72
273 – Robert Allenby (AUS) 66-69-72-66, Kevin Chappell 72-67-68-66, Andres Romero (ARG) 71-68-67-67, Matt Bettencourt 67-70-68-68, Scott Brown 67-66-69-71
274 – William McGirt 69-70-69-66, Scott Piercy 72-65-71-66, Will Wilcox 68-68-69-69, Brandt Snedeker 69-69-67-69