Geoff Lemon

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Nov 20

Examples of Steve Smith and Joe Root point to less Ashes antagonism | Geoff Lemon

Starting with their leaders, Australia and England look like teams that have realised they’re better suited to another wayThey look like a couple of nice boys. Wheatfield hair, slightly awkward smiles. Helpful at charity days, polite at press conferenc…

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Nov 17

Fear of an Ashes loss gets Australia’s selectors spooked | Geoff Lemon

The squad for the first two Tests has prompted criticism but the problem isn’t decisions made. It’s the spurious justifications givenOne of sport’s great passions is raging at selectors. It’s not a job that wins praise. But something is more deeply awr…

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Nov 08

Spectre of batting potential haunts Australia before Ashes selection is finalised | Geoff Lemon

It is the mark of a domestic system where batsmen no longer dominate that a dozen hopefuls are vying for one remaining spot No cricket team is ever truly stable. As Ferris Bueller noted, life moves pretty fast. Compared to recent years, though, Austral…

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Nov 04

Australia beat Japan in rugby union spring tour opener – as it happened

Wallabies post 63-30 victory in YokohamaLate fightback leads to Japan’s highest score against AustraliaRelive the action with our liveblog in Japanese 8.03am GMT Related: Wallabies brush aside Japan before departing for European tour 7.50am GMT That …

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Oct 09

No Ben Stokes, no contest for confident Australia in one-sided Ashes

With a settled top five and their powerful pace attack on bouncy pitches, Steve Smith’s men will fancy their chances against a weakened England teamIt wouldn’t be the Ashes without hype in the lead-up. This time, we’re away early. Two weeks to go befor…

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Jul 30

Crows draw Magpies after siren, Australia makes swimming finals, and more: sportwatch – as it happened

10.44am BST

There it was. A brilliant day for the Southern Footer style of play, with Essendon and Footscray of Old playing out a classic. It was ridiculous how the game swung back and forth with blurring speed, each team piling on goals. The scoreline suggests it wasn’t close, but all those Bulldog goals came in the last couple of minutes. That was the speed of play. Essendon didn’t quit all day.

Then the same kind of style for Adelaide and Collingwood, though a much bigger comeback from the Crows. Down by 50, then ending level. A genuine classic. The third game was on another planet comparatively, but you can’t have everything.

10.27am BST

They weren’t necessarily as bad as the scoreline suggests, the Lions, they did try hard most of the day. But they’re at the bottom of the ladder and trying to put their club back together, so it was clinically done by the Eagles. Kennedy ended with six goals, getting one more from a free kick in the pocket. That does help the Eagles’ percentage, they’re up to 105.9, and while Essendon still has a better number, the Bombers are now a win behind that 8th spot on the ladder, level on points with St Kilda. What a difference a couple of weeks make – the Saints were pushing for the top 4 that recently, and then losing to a last-second goal this round has crashed them all the way down to 11. No room for error this season.

10.07am BST

AFL – Kennedy’s having a fun day, adding a couple more to take his goal tally to five. West Coast is having a good day, adding much-needed percentage to aid their tussle for ladder position. They’ll take eighth spot with this win, the Bulldogs ninth, Essendon tenth. I think.

10.05am BST

Swimming – Australia misses the men’s 4×100 medley final by 0.08 of a second. A disappointing way to go out, so close. The USA, Japan, Russia, Great Britain, Brazil, Hungary, China, Belarus are the eight finalists. Australia definitely had the strongest heat, finishing 6th in Heat 3 but finishing 9th overall. The Russians won Heat 2 but only qualified third overall. As so often in recent years, it’s down to Australia’s female swimmers to carry the team.

9.49am BST

AFL – meanwhile, as Subiaco – which is how no literary paragraph has ever begun – it’s three-quarter time. And as you’d expect, the rather good Weagles are being a lot better than the not-so-good Loins. The latter have been girded, as far as scoring capacity goes, and it’s 79-38. Josh Kennedy has another lazy three goals for West Coast.

9.46am BST

I’ll have the men’s results through as soon as they’re done. One heat down over there.

9.41am BST

Now that the other heat has wrapped up, I can give you the unsurprising news that the USA, Russia and China have all blazed it in, faster than Australia’s time. The Yanks are leading the pack with 3:55:95. Italy, Sweden, and Great Britain round out the top eight.

9.37am BST

Australia’s women’s team qualifies for the final, coming second in their heat for the 4×100 medley relay. The total time was 3:58:74, well behind the Canadians with 3:57:17, but a good distance ahead of the other nations that all registered 4 minutes plus. Why waste all your energy now?

9.29am BST

There’ll be plenty of local interest in those two finals. The meet is being held in Hungary, not necessarily historically known as a swimming superpower, but Katinka Hosszu is one of the sport’s absolute superstars, having won more medals than North Korea’s generals combined. She’s qualified in top spot for the final of the 400m IM, unsurprisingly, while hometown boy David Verraszto has qualified third in the men’s. Chase Kalisz from the States is the top-ranked finalist there.

9.23am BST

Swimming – back at the World Championships, Kaylee Rochelle McKeown finished 16th out of 27 competitors across the heats of the 400m individual medley. She clocked 4:43:61.

Clyde Lewis has finished 21st out of 37 across four heats in the men’s, at 4:20:34.

9.12am BST

AFL – just starting the second half, the West Coast Eagles are comfortably up by 35 points over Brisbane.

9.11am BST

NRL – while we were busy there, Wests Tigers kicked on with tries to Lawrence and Woods, while Jarryd Hayne got at least something out of the day for the Titans. The scoreline ends up at 4-26 to Wests.

The Hayne Plane launches!#NRLTitansTigers 4-14 after 54 minutes. #NRL

9.01am BST

Yet another draw, in a season that is tighter than a new pair of jeans. What a game. The Magpies blew the visitors off the park in the first half, and were 50 points up shortly after half time. Then the Crows comeback began. Inexorable, relentless, knocking off goal after goal.

At that point, it actually looked like the Magpies were cooked. They were fumbling and panicking. But they pulled themselves together in the last quarter, and put another string of goals together themselves, then watched Adelaide start to reel it back in again.

8.59am BST

Well, Jenkins was done for holding the ball on the goal line with 30 seconds to go. The ball was cleared, outside 50, but marked by Adelaide. The short pass hit up Kelly, running out of the 50. But he’s not a long kick, so he was desperate to dish it off. There were 7 seconds on the clock as Kelly kicked to full forward. The ball hung in the air a long time. It didn’t look like there would be enough time for a mark before the siren, but there was by a second. McGovern attacked it amongst a pack of what looked like 20 players. He leapt high, and it was enough to bring the ball down with him. The siren went immediately. His face was a picture. But the umpire said, “You’ve got as long as you want,” and so he took his time, composed himself, and put it through.

8.56am BST

HE’S KICKED IT! It’s a draw!

8.55am BST

McGovern marks on the siren! 20 out straight in front!

8.54am BST

A mark from McKay at half forward. Looks for Jenkins, but he can’t mark against three in the pocket. A minute to play. If Adelaide kick a goal, they’ll draw.

8.53am BST

Elliott gives away a free kick on the wing, but Adelaide turn it over at half forward. Pies are nearly out on the far side, but can’t decide whether to ram home the attack or play cautiously with two minutes left. They go halfway between, chipping up the wing before a longer kick to a forward contest. The ball is punched out of bounds. Stoppages suit Collingwood just fine.

8.49am BST

Wells and Elliott combining for Collingwood in the centre square. Wells gets it back a few seconds later, and his vision is perfect on this occasion. He spots up Moore with a perfect pass inside 50 to a good lead, but Moore can’t kick a relatively regulation one, from a half angle in the pocket and maybe 40 out. Another forward thrust is punched over. The margin is exactly a goal, but there are still 4 minutes left. Enough time for several scores. 103-97.

8.47am BST

Dangerous here. Fasolo misses a shot wide of the behind post, snapping while deep in the pocket. That gives Adelaide possession. Can they hurt Collingwood again? Not this time, the ball spills on the wing. Pushes back to the Magpies’ defensive 50. Howe keeps his head under pressure. Combines with Dunn. Takes a few seconds, goes long to the wing, and Moore sees it out of bounds. A few precious seconds to take a few breaths.

8.45am BST

It’s hard to keep up with this ball, flying from one end to the other. Ben Reid hits the base of the goal post with a flying shot. The Crows are so good at transitioning from defence, and they do it again. Talia important in that sequence, straight through the centre square, and they find Otten in the pocket. He kicks another. It’s 101-97 at the MCG.

8.43am BST

It’s back to 9 points again. The Crows quickly out of the centre, a few handballs traded at half forward, then Brodie Smith receives on the run. Takes the flying shot from 48 metres and it sails sweetly through. There’s still nearly 10 minutes to go!

8.42am BST

Crows won’t go away though. They win the ball in defence and come up the wing. A long pass into the pocket where Jenkins marks strongly. He plays on, having lost his opponent, draws another, and handballs over the top to Andy Otten on his own. 100-84.

8.40am BST

Make that 21 points. Three in about two minutes for the Pies. It’s Elliott at the 50 who creates the chance with a chaos ball, hit hard and flat along the ground into the 50. It bounces around, confusing everyone, and puts the Crows defenders under pressure. No one can deal with it cleanly, and somehow a handball fires out of the pack to Wells, waiting on the outside, who uses his 30th disposal to kick his third goal. Not bad. 99 to 78.

8.37am BST

And again! Darcy Moore out of the centre, scrambles it to half forward. There’s a real scrap for the ball on Collingwood’s 50-metre arc. Finally, it’s Blair who breaks out of traffic. Running shot from the pocket and drills it! And it’s back to 15 points.

8.36am BST

Finally, Collingwood get a chance. Some good forward movement, and Reid charges out to take a chest mark despite a lot of close attention. So much anxiety riding on this kick. From the MCC pocket, city end, he starts it well right of the goal post, but somehow it works its way back and through! It’s 87-78.

8.32am BST

Cameron misses the snap, but the Crows score from the kick-in! Collingwood can’t clear their area, Cameron charges down the ball and smothers, and Jenkins is there to gather the rebound and snap yet another one. Good lord, this is a dominant comeback. It’s 3 points the difference! 81 plays 78.

8.30am BST

AFL – restarting at the MCG. Collingwood desperately need one early. Won’t get it! It’s a mark to Riley Knight inside 50 instead, and he kicks it. That makes eight of the last nine goals, and Collingwood’s lead is slashed to 10 points. They need someone to stand up. Wells tries to spark them with a kick to space in the middle, but McKay puts in a chasing tackle that stops the game being broken open. Ball swings back the other way, but Cameron misses the snap.

8.28am BST

The forensic lens on all of Tedesco’s bits of sleight of hand (and foot).

Vision of the @WestsTigers Try decision in the 43rd minute of #NRLTitansTigers.#NRL

8.28am BST

NRL – the second half has started in more lively fashion. A couple of quick ones for Wests Tigers, the usual suspects in Tedesco and Zelezniak. Both bits of individual brilliance, Tedesco opportunistic and Zelezniak fed in after a brilliant break from Brooks.

Two tries in as many minutes!#NRLTitansTigers #NRL

8.21am BST

Goal! To Adelaide. Another, and it’s 23 points. Intense pressure, locking the ball in their forward line. Then the ball up, the quick handball out, and McKay snaps from just inside 50. It takes a hell of a kick to score around the body from there, but it keeps curling, and keeps soaring, and clears the line. But they’re not done yet, Adelaide. Rebound from half back, the Collingwood defence starting to panic, and there’s plenty of space behind the ball. Jenkins finds some, backing into the pocket, and the long kick across the face from outside 50 finds him perfectly. He lines up for the set shot, then plays on quickly and slots it from the pocket on the Southern Stand side, city end. The siren sounds, and with one quarter to play, a 50-point lead has become 17.

8.17am BST

The Brisbane Lions another underdog that has started alright. It’s quarter time in the West, and Eagles are only leading 25-20.

8.11am BST

AFL – A fair old effort from Adelaide to go coast to coast. Seedsman had the ball hard up next to the behind line. Had to hook it back over his shoulder with a kick as hard as he could to avoid the risk of being pinged for a rushed behind. Luckily for him, the tallest man on the ground was under the rainmaker, and Jacobs marked it 40 out from his defensive goal. Then a beautiful string of possessions through the middle, weaving holes through the Pies’ defence. Finally, a little chip kick from Riley Knight to Charlie Cameron, and he kicks it. So it’s 28 points the difference with a quarter and change to go.

8.07am BST

NRL – At half time, the Titans-Tigers tussle is still 4-0 to Wests. Still waters run deep.

8.06am BST

Ah ha. Collingwood keep their nerve. Moving the ball forward themselves and finding a target. Wells this time, and he kicks his second from the set shot.

8.05am BST

Tell you what, maybe this could be a comeback. McGovern again, running hard to make space, and marks in the pocket. Lines up for this third of the quarter and gets it. Now it’s 27 points…

8.04am BST

AFL – This could be getting interesting. Josh Jenkins lines up and thumps a goal for Adelaide from outside 50. That’s their third in a row, after two from Mitch McGovern. Not Mitch McConnell. Collingwood kicked the first two of the quarter, through Moore and Treloar. Working in rhyme. The margin was 50 at this stage. Now, halfway through the quarter, it’s back to 33.

7.36am BST

NRL – Slow start up at the famed CBUS Stadium, and what a name that is. CBUS, talk about bus, would have been the motto of BBC mainstay Henry Blofeld. We’re nearly 20 minutes gone there, and still just the 3rd-minute try from Marsters.

Through the hands = Try time for Marsters!#NRLTitansTigers #NRL

7.34am BST

Half time, and the Pies are up 60 to 22. They’ve jumped Adelaide right from the start. “The Crows are running like they’ve got concrete in their boots,” was the take from Leigh Matthews, which once again brings to mind a certain Mr. Scaramucci. I guess everyone out there is wearing a new jersey.

7.22am BST

The plot thickens! Jamie Elliott could be running a t-shirt factory, he’s got that much bleach and ink on his body. But instead he’s running down the wing. Taking a bounce. Another. Three. Into the forward pocket, and slots a running goal before going down on his haunches to gasp for air. It’s 59-22 now, and the ladder leaders are being blown away by a team well outside the 8.

7.14am BST

AFL – Collingwood, where have you come from? Adams kicks his third, playing on, out on the boundary on the far side of the ground. Well struck. Then from a counter-attack, there’s an acre of space in the forward line, and Wells puts in the long sprint from midfield to be a target there when the Magpies win possession. The MCG is sounding hostile now, this crowd is hard to fight when the Magpie faithful are up and about. It’s 53 plays 22 as the second quarter wears on.

7.12am BST

Cameron Smith played his 350th game today, which is one of those milestones that is objectively impressive but doesn’t actually sound that great because 300 sounds way better. Anyway, here’s an interview with the Storm / Australia captain. First person to tell me how many times it features the word mate wins a prize.*

Hear from the man of the moment (and the MOM!) at FT in Melbourne.#NRLStormManly #NRL

7.04am BST

AFL – Curiously, the Magpies are leading against the Crows in the Battle of the Loud Black Birds. It’s the second quarter, halfway through, and Collingwood up 34 to 20. Thomas marks inside 50, and lines up to kick another from the pocket. Doubled Adelaide’s score. Which means a lot when your opponent has 50, and much less when it’s 20.

6.55am BST

The perfect ball to @WJChambers4 from the milestone man!#NRLStormManly 30-6 with 10 minutes remaining.#NRL

“It had to be @camsmith9 to Cronk on a day like this!” #NRLStormManly#NRL

Can’t catch him! One more for good measure.#NRLStormManly 40-6 right on FT.#NRL

6.52am BST

In even more dramatic fashion, this game blew out late. Will Chambers scored with 10 minutes to go, then Cronk went over a couple of minutes later after Smith set up a kick off the outside of the boot, and Addo-Carr finished off a decent day with a brilliant length-of-the-field celebratory try in the last minute. Smith converted the first two and missed the kick that was the final action of the day. Manly some risk of missing the finals after being hammered two weeks in a row, while Melbourne are in supreme working order. It was notable how consistent the Storm was after a few mistakes early – all day they just drew further and further ahead, and once the opposition were finished, broke them open late.

6.48am BST

It blows open right at the end. Johanissen running forward again, into space, and marks in the pocket before running in to kick his fourth. Then Toby McLean gets a free kick from Brendon Goddard, and finishes a good day himself with a goal.

It was impressive stuff from Essendon, they really fought that game out hard for three and a half quarters, and it was the late rolling of the dice that went against them. Crucially, too, their accuracy, if you look at the two scorelines above. 32 scoring shots each, but one side won by five goals.

6.41am BST

Caleb Daniel seals it. Again, Bontompelli involved, this time at the bottom of a pack in the forward pocket. Winning the ball out to the little fellow running by, who screws the kick back across his body and arches the low snap through the goal. It’s 115-97.

6.39am BST

Oh, and that could be the game, in anticlimactic fashion. Daniher marks at full back to thwart a forward thrust, but McKenna has gone with an arm over the shoulder to try to stop Bontompelli contesting for a mark. The ball is overturned, and Bont from 35 out under the Docklands roof is not likely to miss. It’s 109-97.

6.37am BST

And finally the pressure tells! Orazio Fantasia incredible in that play. He wins the ball out of half back and pumps it forward. He gets to the contest as the two teams fight at half forward, forcing the ball out again. Then after a couple of teammates run into traffic, Fantasia is on the end of it a third time, receiving a handball 40 out, and kicks under pressure to make the difference a single goal. Three and a half minutes left…

6.35am BST

AFL – Guess who? Daniher! This game that was so open and high-scoring has now gone the other way in the last quarter. Only one goal scored, and we’re down to 6 minutes left on the clock. But it was Daniher who kicked that one, with his sixth for the night. Essendon kicked three points before that, Footscray kicked three after it. Daniher nearly gets another as the ball bobbles on the goal line from an attempted rushed behind, but his desperate lunge can’t quite connect with the leather. An inch the difference on the replay. The margin is 12 points. Five minutes to go. Essendon attacking, Dogs on the back foot.

6.30am BST

Now it’s Kenny Bromwich’s turn. Smith claimed at dummy half. Cronk on the last play of the set pops up a tricky kick. Plenty of players contesting it, and Kelly can’t collect it cleanly. It bounces around the in-goal before Bromwich and his beard descend on it. Grounds the ball well inside the dead-ball line. It’s 24-6 and game over.

Vision of the @storm Try Decision in the 56th minute of #NRLStormManly.#NRL

6.16am BST

NRL – Just after half time, and Melbourne are over again. Cronk hasn’t gone off after that hit earlier, and he wins a repeat set thanks to a good kick. Stimson receives the quick ball and cannons into Cherry-Evans, maybe 8 metres out. Bowls DCE over backwards with that momentum, and keeps going. Trbojevic lays the tackle behind the try line, very nearly holds Stimson up, but the video ref says they can’t tell whether the ball was grounded or not, so they go with the umpire’s original call of try. Even the ABC Grandstand commentators can’t agree about whether that ball got grounded or not. Smith converts this time, and it’s blown out to 18-6.

6.12am BST

That hurts. Shortly before three-quarter time, Roughead gets high contact and has a set shot from the forward pocket. Wouldn’t always trust a ruckman to kick these, but he nails it. The siren sounds soon after, and the Dogs now lead by 19 going into the last change. Really tough for Essendon after being within one point on multiple occasions that quarter.

6.06am BST

The Bulldogs are swarming! Essendon should have been out on the near wing, but some intense pressure forces the turnover. It comes sideways into the centre square. Dahlhaus is under pressure from a charging Jobe Watson awaiting the handball, but keeps his cool and sprints away from the potential challenge. Kicks to the pocket where Wallis flies, brings it to ground, knocks up the little handball, the centred ball goes to the goalsquare, and the Bont is on hand to soccer it over from a pack. Phew. It’s 94-81, can the Bombers respond again?

6.03am BST

Bontompelli into the middle. Immediately gets the clearance, sideways to Caleb Daniel running hard. The ball goes forward, out in the pocket. A throw-in. Bellchambers tapping but Merrett has left Liberatore with too much space. The Prince of Footscray snaps another. It’s raining goals, hallelujah. 88-81.

6.01am BST

This game will not go away! Out of the centre quickly for Essendon, and out wider for Cale Hooker. He spins and nails the bouncing, spearing snap to bring the margin back to a point! We’ve got 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

6.00am BST

The ball rebounds again, it’s on elastic here. Johannisen has been here, there, and everywhere today, in defence, taking kick-ins, rebounding out, then running hard forward. He does that again, Bob Murphy spots him up with a genius 50-metre pass across the face of goal under pressure, and JJ makes 48 out, then nails the set shot. 82-75.

5.58am BST

AFL – two in a minute for the Bombers! Fantasia and Colyer, two of the speed fleet, get the Bombers back within two points. It’s 76-74. A couple of attempted forward entries by the Bulldogs are misdirected and cut off. The ball flies down the other end. One on one, Stewart and Cordy, and the bouncing ball comes off the defender’s head and over for a point. It very nearly clipped Stewart’s heel as he fell over, and could have been an accidental goal.

5.54am BST

NRL – another one to the Storm, as Vunivalu flexes some muscle. Well, you see silky skills sometimes, but that was just brute force. Picked up the ball after a tackle a couple of metres out, and just shoved his way past a couple of defenders like a cinema monster pushing open a door held shut by high-school students. Half time arrives just after Cam Smith misses the kick. It’s 12-6 to the Storm.

Vision of the @storm Try Decision in the 39th minute of #NRLStormManly.#NRL

5.48am BST

… make that 15! Murphy drifts forward on a coast-to-coast counter, finds space, the pass finds him, and his set shot from 35 is elegant struck through. Finals chances on the line for both these teams.

5.46am BST

AFL – this Aussie Rules game is a cracker as well. Joe Daniher nails his fifth just after half-time – will this be one of those famous games with a huge bag? His team up by a point. The Dogs answer with the next two, and get ahead by 10. There’s a free kick on the wing against Bob Murphy, then someone else who I didn’t have time to ID runs into shot and over the mark, giving up a 50 to the Bombers, but they can’t cash in. Then another flying shot for a point. The Dogs by 9…

5.42am BST

NRL – two more points to the Storm, after Cooper Cronk gets bashed in the face. Smith adds the goal. But minutes later, a cut-out from Turbo gets some elevation, lands with Wright drifting out wide, and he’s able to cut in behind the defence and score. But he can’t follow up his own work with the boot, missing the conversion. It’s 8-6 to Melbourne at AAMI Park.

5.38am BST

Swimming – hopefully we’ll overlap time-wise with some of the qualifiers from the Swimming Champs, though we’ll be done on this blog by the time the finals are faced later tonight. There are a few more qualifiers to go, for the 400m individual medley and the 4×100 relays. Kaylee Rochelle McKeown for the individual women, Clyde Lewis for the men, and national teams in both relays.

In the finals later, Jessica Leigh Hansen is the reserve for the 50 breaststroke, Bronte Campbell in the 50 free, and Mack Horton in the 1500 free. No Chinese rivals for him to fire up in that contest.

5.26am BST

NRL – try to Jahrome Hughes! Third try in three games, as that phase started 16 metres out from the Manly line. Smith in possession, went one way, faked, then flicked out the tiny pass to Hughes from dummy half, charging through on the other diagonal from the centre of the line, and over he goes. Smith adds the extras without fuss.

5.22am BST

In the World Swimming Championships in Hungary, Australia finally ended a gold-medal drought thanks to the C-Bomb.

Related: Emily Seebohm takes gold at world swimming championships

5.19am BST

NRL – A bright start here between Manly and Melbourne as well. Some back and forth, and eventually the first score comes after Melbourne is penalised 12 metres out. Matt Wright kicks the easy goal. But a couple of poor handling mistakes from the Storm in Manly territory let some of the air out of this game. Addo-Carr goes up for what looks a brilliant catch from the clearing kick, but fumbles it on landing. Then a shocker of a pass that really gives Cam Smith no way to avoid knocking on.

5.15am BST

AFL – It’s been a seesawing contest between the Doggies and the… Bombies? Yeah, nah. Essendon slammed on four of the first five goals, then Westendon put on five of six. Bombers hit back, Dogs hit back again. Joe Daniher has been huge already, he always is. Has kicked four goals and it’s only just hit half time. Currently it’s 57-52, the Dogs up by five.

5.12am BST

Geoff will be here. Or I’ll be here, for I am he. No Scaramucci third-person shenanigans here, I’m just the Communications Director for Australia sport. Plenty of that on Sportwatch today, especially in the football codes, which is where we’ll begin. Can ya hear me? Hope so. I’m not just doing this to pleasure myself.

7.04am BST

Geoff will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s how things went down yesterday:

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 22

Swans win AFL Pride Game, Storm lose Slater and Smith, and more: sportwatch – as it happened

  • NRL: Storm stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith injured in tough win
  • AFL: Swans surge toward top four with Pride Game win over Saints
  • AFL: Demons beat Power, Hawks beat Dockers, Bulldogs beat Suns, Bombers beat Roos
  • NRL: Panthers beat Titans, Cowboys beat Warriors, Storm beat Raiders

1.26pm BST

Mostly comfortable wins today, Essendon taking care of North despite Ben Brown’s good work, Melbourne in a tough game over Port, the Bulldogs easily doing over Gold Coast despite playing in Queensland, Sydney boshing St Kilda in Pride Round, and Hawthorn taking care of Freo.

In league, much closer contests even though the final scores all had a little bit of oxygen in them. Penrith got over Gold Coast, the Storm handled the Raiders despite having backs against the wall, and the Cowboys stayed ahead of the Warriors.

1.20pm BST

AFL – two teams playing today started the season looking like they were finished, and are now have momentum behind them. Sydney have surged to 5th, though Richmond could knock them back to 6th by beating GWS tomorrow. Tough ask, because GWS can get second spot back from Geelong if they win. West Coast could also push Essendon back out of 8th spot by beating Collingwood. Finally, the Demons have consolidated their spot in 6th, level on points with the Swans and Power above them, so a top-four spot is still possible for the red and the blue. Keep your eye on ‘em.

NRL – The Storm get a bugger at the top, but at the cost of two of their star trio of players. The Cowboys go up to 5th, but Manly could push them back to 6th by beating the Dragons tomorrow. That would suit Penrith, currently in 9th but level on points with the Dragons.

1.10pm BST

Ben McEvoy with a late goal, and Hawthorn raise the ton at the last gasp. A comprehensive display over a fairly limited team. Alastair Clarkson’s 300th game as coach is a happy one.

1.06pm BST

Over in Perth, the margin grows – Hawthorn slam on four in a row before Cam McCarthy gets one back for Fremantle. It’s now 48-94.

1.03pm BST

And that remains the score at the final siren. Callum Sinclair a little nervous being interviewed on TV, probably hasn’t happened before, and you can hear the frog in his throat. But he digs deep and rolls out the perfect cliches about being lucky to get on the end of a few from the midfield, and all the forwards working for each other. Kicked five today, he can be pleased with his work.

The context adds a whole extra layer to this match, of course, and more important than the result might well be this message.

Everyone is welcome! #PrideGame #ProudlySydney

12.56pm BST

Well, scrap that idea. Giving away two 50-metre penalties in a row doesn’t help. Rohan kicks the gift. Luke Dunstan gets one back, the set shot just creeping over the line, then the comeback kid McVeigh snaps one more for the Swans. 101-59.

12.44pm BST

St Kilda not quite going away. Gresham marks 48 out after a good attack on the ball from Bruce won a 50-50 contest. Gresham hands it off to Newnes running past, and with momentum from 50, the ball goes soaring through. It’s 88-53. Saints would love to get a couple more back and limit any percentage damage.

12.43pm BST

Back to the Swans, it’s Franklin. Another monster. A set shot, this one, but still such a huge kick. Goes so high. Grazes the underside of a passing comet. From well outside 50. Nails it, and has 50 for the season so far. This after Bruce kicked his third for the night for the Saints. It’s 88-47 to Sydney.

Q4 | @Buddy_Franklin doing what he does best by launching this one from outside 50! His 50th goal for 2017. #AFLSwansSaints #PrideGame

12.39pm BST

Swan Lake.

12.35pm BST

Ricky Henderson wins a free kick for a challenge that wasn’t facing the ball, and slots a tough kick from the pocket. At the last change it’s 35-63. Long way back for Fremantle in the circumstances.

12.27pm BST

AFL – scrappy sort of game between Hawthorn and Freo, with the Hawks still 23 points up as we get towards the end of the third quarter. Not a huge lead but neither team has found it easy to score tonight, so it could already be enough. Fremantle need to find a way to open things up through this congested style of play. A long series of possessions for the purple mob, Ballantyne marks on 50, and finds Kersten with a chip. Very accurate shot at goal, Shane Kersten, but this time he laser-guides it onto the right-hand post. 35-57 to the visiting Hawks.

12.24pm BST

NRL – a comfortable lead in the end for the NQ team, or at least it looks comfortable, as Javid Bowen goes over in the last minute and Lowe makes no mistake with the conversion this time. In fact the game wasn’t that comfortable at all, it was close throughout.

12.20pm BST

Callum Sinclair with his fifth, just before three-quarter time. He came in for Sam Reid tonight as an injury replacement, and has more than compensated for the loss of a senior player. He’s taken eight marks tonight, seven of them contested. At 3QT, it’s 34-80. St Kilda cannot afford a blowout, percentage will be vital in this year’s finals race.

12.12pm BST

Sums up the night for the Saints – Jack Billings gets a free, downfield after Savage was dumped. 30 out, slight angle, and Billings isn’t even close. He’s missed a lot of goals this year. Billy Longer hits the post with a snap a minute later, and Montagna is coming off with a hamstring injury. Signs suddenly bad, very bad, worse. In all that mayhem, the ball rebounds, Dean Towers marks inside 50, and kicks another. 71-34 now. With the emphasis on the “ow”.

Dean Towers and Blake Acres leading tonight’s list of players who sound more like real estate listings.

12.08pm BST

BUDDY! There’s a reason why they paid 10 million bucks for him. All St Kilda’s work for naught. Sinclair marks again outside 50, a chain of possessions follows, Franklin gets a second handball receive in that chain. He’s at least 55 out, running lateral to the goal face, towards the boundary line, with his left side further from goal. Somehow he just sizes up the scenario, thunks across his body, and pulls the ball back while also finding the power to send it through the goals halfway up the post. What a player. It’s 65-32.

12.03pm BST

A fierce couple of minutes from the Saints, trying to charge back into the contest. Running players down, holding the ball decisions, shovelling the ball forward. Sydney’s defence outstanding, a couple of times it looked like the loose ball would make its way to a Saints player in the clear, but the Swans keep shutting those options down, smothering kicks, forcing the ball back out. 59-32.

12.00pm BST

NRL – Ethan Lowe doing it all himself up in Townsville. Scores a try to make it 18-12 over New Zealand, but then the solo job becomes too much and he misses the conversion.

11.58am BST

And straight back for the Saints! Quick entry, puts the defence under pressure, and despite the protestations there was a clear hand in the middle of Josh Bruce’s lower back as he led toward the ball. Free kick, and he slots it. 59-32, the margin is back to 27.

11.57am BST

Straight back for the Swans though. And it’s Sinclair making up for his earlier miss. Steams out on the lead to a clearance and clunks the mark. He’s looked very good tonight. Played 57 games, this is his best. Four goals so far. 59-26.

11.55am BST

AFL – Goal for the Saints! They’ve had some let-offs already this half, geez. The Swans have missed a couple of easy ones. The latest of those a dribbled shot from Sinclair that runs across the face. The kick-in goes coast to coast, there’s no one forward for St Kilda, and so Riewoldt has a paddock to run into as the long ball forward goes toward goal. He gathers it and pops it through from 15 metres. 53-26.

11.47am BST

NRL – Ethan Lowe pops over a penalty goal, and the Cowboys lead the Warriors 14-12.

“Stop! In the name of love!”

11.45am BST

AFL – Hawthorn leading by 21 after ambushing Fremantle out west. Conor Glass, an Irish international rookie on debut, has made a couple of impressive runs for the Hawks out of defence. A couple of minutes to half time, and it’s intense in the Hawks’ back 50. Fremantle locking it in, but can’t find a way through. James Sicily cops the worst falcon I’ve ever seen, bending to pick up the ball as it was kicked off the ground, and it slams straight into his face. Sicily is down for a good few seconds, then once he recovers he gives the umpire a gobful for not calling kicking in danger, even though the foot wasn’t that close to his head. Taylor Duryea tells Sicily to focus on the ball, and Sicily bakes his own teammate into the bargain. It’s 22-42 going into the long break.

11.40am BST

NRL – it’s a cracker over in the Cowboys-Warriors game in Townsville, though I’m loath to endorse anything at a stadium named after a phone number. Trading tries, all converted, and the teams are 12-12 just after the half.

11.32am BST

Half time at the SCG. A couple of let-offs for St Kilda, with Hannebery missing a snap and Franklin fading a set shot that he’d normally get, left foot on the boundary side just the way he likes it. But no dice. Saints still just in touch, five goals down, but they’ll need an end-of-the-rainbow kind of performance to take the Pride Game this year.

11.26am BST

Awff, horrible tackle from Heeney. He has a rugby league background, but he’d be doing weeks in the NRL with that speak tackle. Lifts up Jarryn Geary in the tackle and rams him into the ground. Geary managed to twist a touch, get half an arm down that partly broke his fall, otherwise that could have been really ugly. A free kick, but the tribunal should be looking at that – holding a player up mid-air and then driving him into the ground, almost headfirst. No control from either player in that situation.

11.23am BST

The Saints do claw back. Sensational bit of work by Nick Riewoldt! The ball coming in towards 50, he works his man under the drop, doubles back, sees it spilling free in front. Casually as eating a handful of Maltesers, he reaches out a foot, flicks the bobbling ball up into his hands, dishes off the handpass, and Shane Savage snaps the goal. Ex-Hawks trading goals for opposing teams. It’s 48-20.

11.16am BST

Danger signs flashing red, sirens blaring for St Kilda. Sinclair is in form, he takes a relatively simple grab and kicks goal number three. Then he’s steaming out from full forward a minute later, on track to mark again, but Josh Kennedy doesn’t know and is backing into the path of that ball. Sinclair’s teammate takes the mark and kicks that goal, as Sinclair narrowly avoids crashing straight through him like a derailed train. It’s 46-14, and the Saints have to claw back.

11.11am BST

Great commitment to a contest from Lewis Melican, who attacks the ball in the centre and rushes it past about four players for a long kick inside 50. There’s the Franklin effect – Buddy makes defenders nervous, so even though he’s two-on-one and probably covered, they crowd him too much and give away a free for a hold. He and Tony Locket are the only two players to kick 250+ goals for two different clubs, apparently, and Franklin adds another.

Other end of the ground, Josh Bruce makes great contact with a 60-metre roost and sends it through, a big thump as the ball hit the boot, audible round the ground. But in traffic a few moments later, Heeney quickly snaps in traffic and kicks another for the Swans. 34-14.

10.53am BST

Not much change by quarter time, it’s 22-8.

10.50am BST

Swans working their ascendancy now, moving players around until they can find marks inside 50. George Hewett gets one, Sinclair gets his second, and throws haymakers at thin air in celebration. It’s 22-7 Down the other end, Dylan Roberton runs down a player inside 50, has a free kick and strikes it horribly. Hits the point post on the full. Big missed opportunity.

10.41am BST

AFL – Swans dominated the inside 50s, but the Saints are staying with them a bit more than halfway through the first quarter. Goals to Callum Sinclair and Koby Stevens, and it’s 8-6 in favour of the Swans.

Great to see @sydneyswans playing so well Tonight, Me & Mahi are proudly supporting equality for all #PrideGame #ProudlySydney

10.40am BST

The Pride Game is played between Sydney and St Kilda, starting last year, as a way to promote the idea that football should be a safe and welcoming place for LGBTIQ people. Which it certainly hasn’t always been.

These two clubs have been outspoken about it, so they’ve got involved with the symbolism. The Swans have rainbow stripes on their socks, St Kilda rainbow numbers on their backs, and there are plenty of scarves with rainbow swatches on display, as well as other signage around the SCG.

10.28am BST

A hugely significant win for Melbourne, doing it after losing Smith and Slater to injury. “We had to dig deep there, eh,” gasps Will Chambers, still puffed. “It was a very tough ask. but to the boys’ credit, they all bought in to what we needed to do.”

But also perhaps a Pyrrhic victory, if those two are gone for an extended period. Smith with a pectoral strain, Slater knocked out in a tackle. There’ll be plenty more reporting on both, no doubt.

10.22am BST

Cronk kicks, Sezer gets it, passes, a kick downfield… and the ball goes dead. That, at last, is the game.

10.21am BST

NRL – all the Raiders stars combining to try to find a score. Sezer, Croker, Wighton, Cotric. Still can’t get through. A depleted Storm holding firm. Finally Croker gets a break, gets within 11 metres, and they’re penalised for a double tackle. Munster in the sin bin. Won’t matter, less than a minute to play. The tap is taken, Soliola is taken in the tackle too. Baptiste trying. Blake Austin gets a kick away, and Sezer scores a late one. Leaping on the ball. Five seconds left, so it won’t be enough for even the faintest hope of a win. Or is there? They elect not to kick for goal, the Raiders, in favour of a kick-off. Hmmmmmm for a third time… It’s 14-20.

10.16am BST

AFL – Smashed, in the end. Picken kicked 6 goals. The last quarter, goals to Redpath, Murphy, Liberatore, Wallis, the whole Doggies cast of favourites. Added 41 points in the last quarter. Gold Coast are nowhere, after years of being nowhere. The Suns must look at the Giants, an even newer team about 11 times better, and vomit with envy.

10.09am BST

10-20. Then suddenly Melbourne gets away again. A knock-on from Junior Paulo, ball bobbles around, and Storm forward Finucane lands on the ball to score his second try. Munster lands the kick.

Finucane has a double!#NRLRaidersStorm 10-20 with 9 minutes to go. #NRL

10.05am BST

Try! Canberra back in the game, as Cotric gets over on this attempt. He forced the repeat set with that previous play, then this time, Soliola was hanging out wide, there was space to the left, and Cotric comes through for the wide try. Conversion kick from the sideline, Croker dropping it back a bit to try to open up his angle. Doesn’t get good purchase, it sprays away. “You wouldn’t like to be standing next to him at the urinal,” is the pithy radio comment. Suggestions of a forward pass in the lead-up though. 10-14, Raiders within touch.

10.00am BST

Then an equally near thing at the other end – a good break, Cotric kicked the ball through into the in-goal and went after it, Munster sprinting back got a toe to it before Cotric could get a finger. Munster has been immense since the big names went off.

9.59am BST

A repeat set for Melbourne here, a line drop-out after Wighton is caught in the in-goal after Munster’s little kick through. Melbourne battling hard minus their stars, Cronk the last one left tonight.

Try? There was a play-the-ball, Canberra player pushed Vunivalu into the contest, then he picked up the loose ball and got over. The referee likes it, but the video ref says Canberra players were being blocked by Kaufusi who was offside. So, overruled. No try.

Vision of the @storm No Try Decision in the 62nd minute of #NRLRaidersStorm.#NRL

9.54am BST

A couple of penalties to the Raiders, but they can’t force a repeat set. Storm get it back five metres from their line, then Munster gets them some ground. Some backchat from Storm players, and “Not copping that,” says the referee on the background microphone. Raiders push forward again, a few metres from the line. Hodson brought down even close to the line. To Boyd, who stands up in the tackle. Hodson again, Sezer, Wighton, but he’s caught. Tries again. Sezer to Hodson again, Soliola passes, but eventually it’s turned over to Cronk. Defensive clearing effort from the Storm, trying to get to halfway. Stimson brought down, Bromwich to Bromwich, played back to Bromwich. To Bromwich. What day is it? I’m confused. It becomes a Canberra ball around halfway.

9.48am BST

Soliola comes across to pat Slater on the shoulder as he’s loaded onto the medical golf cart. Eventually the referee comes across, and Soliola is put on report. But not sent off. “Is that enough?” asks Cooper Cronk. Slater is talking to the trainers as the cart leaves the field. Munster kicks the penalty goal for right in front, but there will be questions about what constitutes a send-off in rugby league if that wasn’t one. The last send-off was in 2015 for a headbutt, says ABC radio. Another hmm. The score is 6-14.

9.43am BST

Billy Slater is knocked out. Shocking scenes here. Cameron Smith already off with an arm injury. Now Slater is waiting for a stretcher. He’s moving his hands and arms, but being put into a brace. It was Iosia Soliola who collected him – Slater was falling in a tackle, so was a bit low, but Soliola came in late and with a swinging arm. The arm has smashed Slater in the head, probably not deliberate but easily defined as reckless, and his night could well be over too. No decision on that as yet, as we wait for Slater to be taken off by the medical staff. Slater conscious and communicating as he’s loaded onto the stretcher.

9.38am BST

NRL – back to Canberra, and the Raiders have been stretching the Storm, working them hard, pulling their lines awry, but just can’t get through for that final score. And then, as can happen so easily, a team as good as Melbourne can punish you if you haven’t punished them first. Will Chambers over for four points, though the kick hits the upright and squanders the conversion. Smith off the field, which could be costly. The gap is now 6-12 in favour of the visitors.

The @storm extend their lead!#NRLRaidersStorm 6-12 after 49 minutes. #NRL

9.35am BST

It swings, it surges. Small forwards the order of the day, Bulldogs with the breeze, and Picken nails his fifth, then Dale his third. Suddenly at three quarter time the Doggies are up by 14.

9.19am BST

AFL – another good contest brewing in the other code. With the third quarter, the Gold Coast Suns have the wind at their backs, and have figured out how to use it. Dahlhaus has kicked one for the Dogs, but the Suns have nailed four goals. They’ve carved that deficit back to three points with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Hmm.

9.13am BST

Smith kicks it. Of course he does. And that’s the break.

9.12am BST

Smith kicks downfield, the Raiders charge back. Hodson, through Tapine, then Sezer brought down only a couple of metres out from the try line. Really pushing for this. But at the end, the ball goes dead in the in-goal. Restart 20 metres out from the Storm’s line. Bromwich pushing towards halfway for Melbourne. Smith and Slater combine, Slater almost through but not quite. Involved in the next play, but brought down short of the line. Then a penalty for lying on the tackled player. Melbourne will have a shot from straight in front.

9.08am BST

Storm get the ball back, but Cronk kicks early again. Raiders pushing hard. Hodson, Austin, but caught 30 out. Eventually Austin kicks across field, Sezer kicks a high ball and Josh Addo-Carr is pushed back into his own in-goal.

9.05am BST

Another knock-on from the Storm, Raiders get the scrum feed 30 metres out, but again can’t take advantage. Cameron Smith seems to be struggling a bit. Not moving very well. Still able to lay some tackles though. Cronk has to kick very close to his defensive line, just to clear some territory. Wighton reloads from the halfway line, good position.

9.00am BST

Raiders get a penalty just out from their own line, but don’t find touch with the kick. Slater and Smith bringing it back up, then Munster, but they’re repelled again. Dead ball in-goal from Smith in the end, though Slater was threatening to catch up with it. Jack Wighton needing some medical help as play goes on. Last tackle of the set, but Austin loses the ball forward from Sezer’s pass for the Raiders. But the Storm produce another error, a knock-on from the play-the-ball. Scrum feed. The arm wrestle continues in midfield.

8.53am BST

Oof! A fumble from Cronk, as Slater passed back, and there’s a scrum feed for Canberra. Blake Austin on a good run, 10 metres out from the Storm line. Whiteman can’t quite get over. Baptiste very nearly does. Sezer trying to set up Rapana for the corner, but again the defence stands firm. Storm besieged, but hold. Raiders really let an opportunity slip there.

8.50am BST

NRL – alright, let’s switch our attention to the Melbourne Storm for a minute. They’re in Canberra, trying to put themselves two points clear at the top of the ladder with a win over the Raiders.

They’re off to the right start, Finucane over after just four minutes, and Cameron Smith as ever converting. But after a few more minutes, the Raiders strike back through Aidan Sezer. Sezer, sees a ball, seize a ball, seize the moment. Almost loses it as he goes over, but just maintains control. “The players maintains control between his left hand and forearm,” says the video ref. Who, amusingly, is Brian Norrie, who was a solid if somewhat stolid servant for the Storm until 2014 as a prop. Rules against them here. Croker pops over the goal.

Vision of the @RaidersCanberra Try Decision in the 15th minute of #NRLRaidersStorm.#NRL

8.42am BST

Things continue as we mentioned below – no one can really spot up a target with accuracy, so there’s a long scoreless period. Bailey Dale breaks it shortly before the break, picking up on the wing, running to 50, and while there are passing options inside 50, perhaps the safest option is to launch for the biggest target – the goalface. He does so, and the storm does the rest, carrying the goal home.

It’s 48-28 to the Dogs at half time.

8.29am BST

The wind in Cairns is amazing. If Ben Gale was still playing, there’d be two of them out there. Kicks going one way have to be low and compact and drilled. Going the other way, they soar. It’s not always an advantage, the Dogs are finding it hard to hit targets sometimes as the ball zooms away to an opponent. Nonetheless, Liam Picken and Bailey Dale float a couple of kite-goals through, while Jack Martin burrows one under the breeze at the other end. Good open game of football here so far. 40 plays 28.

8.12am BST

AFL – from one crappy underperforming Gold Coast team to another, the variant of sport’s Bermuda Triangle in the Aussie Rules code is hanging in the contest at quarter time. Largely thanks to a ferocious breeze blowing directly away from the Bulldogs’ goals. Marcus Bontompelli marks about 35 out just before the quarter-time siren, gives it everything he has, strikes the line just right, and the ball still holds up and then drops short, pushed back into play by the elements. The margin is 28-20 at Cazaly’s Stadium, in what is nominally a Bulldogs home game. Need those dollars.

8.03am BST

NRL: The Panthers seal their win, despite a late try and conversion from Gold Coast. Draw level with the 8th-placed Raiders on points. Interesting little tussle there.

The @GCTitans aren’t done with yet!#NRLPanthersTitans 24-16 with 4 minutes to go. #NRL

7.58am BST

Speaking of Essendon… up into 8th spot with that win. St Kilda or West Coast could level them on points by winning a game in hand, but the Bombers would likely still be up on percentage.

7.57am BST

Scrappy sort of thing really, but Melbourne will take those wins. Trying to build that sort of pragmatism and ruthlessness as they challenge for a top-four finish. Who’d have thought we’d be writing that… ever again. They’ve been so much fun this year, the Dees.

Huge notes for them: Jack Trengove finally getting back to football after what seems like about a dozen consecutive injury layoffs, and Jesse Hogan kicking three goals today as his development and recovery continues. Melksham three as well, and 36 stats for Michael Hibberd, the ex-Essendon pair starring in their new environment. Clayton Oliver had 30 after a controversial few weeks for him, and laid 10 tackles. Big game.

7.47am BST

“A bit industrial”, is the pithy line on commentary, as Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn crashes into an opponent in Melbourne’s forward 50. He plays a similar wrecking-ball role in the centre square a moment later, flying through before landing in a heap, like a giraffe fired out of a novelty cannon.

7.44am BST

Goal again, for Petracca, who marks for Melbourne just inside 50 on the other side of the ground, taking advantage of an errant kick-in. He runs around the mark a bit and thumps it high through the sticks. But then straight down the other end, and Westhoff gets one back. Also an error from a clearing kick from fullback, which is punched back in, the Port forward picks it up near the boundary, and produces a hell of a finish on the run. 88-65.

7.41am BST

Goal! My Melksham brings all the boys to the yard. What a kick from Jake, the Essendon refugee who sought a fresh start at the Dees. Not many times in the last 20 years when you could say that was a great choice, but it’s looking good in 2017. A scrambled kick for territory, Melksham somehow marks the rainmaker just inside 50 by the boundary line, and decides to take a set shot. It looks like he just wants to bleed the maximum time off the clock, but then he strikes it beautifully and sails it through on the angle. It was indeed better than yours. He could teach you… Game over. 82-59.

7.38am BST

AFL – again it was Impey who was nearly out. Sprinting down the wing, loose ball to gather just on 50. It was ex-Hawk Jordan Lewis who stopped him, showing real desperation. Sprawled on the ground, he saw Impey trying to pick up the loose ball and grabbed at it himself. Couldn’t drag it under his body or he’d be penalised, so he held on with his fingertips. They squabbled over it for several seconds, and it was long enough for Melbourne to get a couple of fellow defenders back. By the time Impey got the ball away, he had to snap hurriedly from 40 out, and missed. It’s still 16 points, 75 to 59, with 6 minutes left on the clock.

7.35am BST

NRL – the Titans threatened to close the gap for a second, with a try to make it 14-10, but miss the conversion, and Penrith quickly adds another two tries via Moylan and Zelezniak.

7.33am BST

Real scrappy affair this now, both sides out on their feet. Struggling for metres rather than looking to find targets. Very little clean disposal, lots of quick kicks down the line, tackles, throw-ins, ball-ups. Melbourne don’t mind, it suits them. Five inclusions this week, so they might be struggling a bit more for match fitness. No score at either end for 10 minutes.

7.28am BST

Jarman Impey for Port comes flying down the ground, three bounces, then four, runs into traffic just inside 50, handballs sideways to Dixon, but the big forward’s attempted chip for a mark inside 50 is a shocker. Turns it straight over. Ball locked back in midfield. Neither side can break through.

7.27am BST

Some daring defensive work from Jeff Garlett running the ball out. Jack Watts competing desperately through the midfield and up forward. But Melbourne can’t get clean delivery into their forward line. Port swarming. This is a great contest.

7.24am BST

AFL – another game that is still in the balance is Melbourne v Port at the MCG. It’s only 17 points the difference now, after Port Adelaide have kicked the first couple of goals in the last quarter. Dixon and Boak got them. About 9 minutes gone.

7.21am BST

AFL – but the Bombers aren’t too worried. North wins the individual battle with Brown and Hurley, but not too many others. Zaharakis snaps another poacher’s goal, as he has so many times, then James Stewart (not the guy from Rear Window) marks in the pocket but misses. 126 plays 98.

7.19am BST

AFL – The game’s all but gone for North, but Ben Brown is still competing hard. Takes a mark in the forward pocket, but misses on the tight angle. Nearly clunks another in the opposite pocket a minute later, then contests hard at full forward on the 50, and finally it comes back through the centre and he marks it 25 out straight in front. Up against Michael Hurley, one of the best defenders in the land, and Brown slots his sixth for the day from the set shot. Equals Buddy Franklin for top spot on the Coleman Medal tally. He has a 32-step run-up, and on that first shot from the pocket, had to cut it short because the fence was right behind him. “Would have had to start in the car park,” comes the classic line from the TV crew. 119 plays 98.

Meantime, this photo of him lining up is incredible. How’s this for Tracey Nearmy getting close to the action?

7.11am BST

Right, let’s get into some ball sports. In the NRL, the Panthers are up by 8 over the Titans in the second half. In the AFL, Essendon leading North Melbourne by 22, Melbourne 28 points over Port in the third, and Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs is about to fire off the first siren.

7.08am BST

Yes, I will be he shortly. Am here shortly. Am not even here shortly, because I’m already here. And don’t call me Shortly.

Good morning, afternoon, or evening, depending where you are around the world, but let’s assume that it’s mostly afternoon in the wide brown and sometimes other mottled colours land that is Australia.

Moonlighting on writing about AFL football from next to this London canal at 6:45am. No, I don’t know what’s going on either.

4.17am BST

Geoff will be here shortly.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 08

Saints ascendant in Maddie’s Match, Eels shock Storm, and more: Australia sportwatch – as it happened

1.34pm BST

And that, as they say when they’re being very obvious, is that. We started the day with the Hawks, scrambling a draw with Greater Western Sydney after trailing by 13 points with a few minutes to go. Unlikely, fun, silly really. That drawing goal was one of the dodgiest, most unlikely, accidental scores ever. But there it stood. Two draws in two weeks for GWS, after last week’s with Geelong, something no club has done since Carlton in 1921.

That was as close as things would get over the day in the AFL. Essendon prevailed comfortably over Collingwood, Sydney smashed the Gold Coast, St Kilda smashed Richmond, Geelong smashed the Lions.

1.18pm BST

Geelong reached the biggest score of the season with that last goal, and would have enjoyed the hit-out. A bit like Gold Coast with Sydney, the Lions hung in there for the first quarter but couldn’t keep up once the foot went down.

Hawkins kicked 4, while Parsons, Blicavs, and Danger all kicked 3. Mitch Duncan also had 38 stats, and would have had 3 Brownlow votes had his teammate not stolen the limelight. Lachie Henderson had 27 rebounding out of defence.

1.15pm BST

Goals for Dangerfield! Yes, plural. He jags two in the last two minutes, to end the night with three to his name. Runs forward to mark from Buzza’s pass, then runs back to mark in the square from Mackie’s. Kicks them both. The goals, not the teammates.

38 disposals, 23 of them contested, 9 marks and kicked 3.2.

1.05pm BST

Back at the MCG, the two Riewoldt cousins are being interviewed post-game. They both speak well about the size of the crowd that came down, the people they’re trying to help, and what it means to them.

“Hopefully we’ll smash that barrier we were aiming for tonight,” says Nick Riewoldt of the fundraising effort, “and judging by the size of the crowd I reckon we’ll go pretty close.”

1.01pm BST

The best thing to happen in the Brisbane game is that their forward Eric Hipwood just played 10 minutes with one boot on. It was half coming off near a contest, so he kicked it off and ran away to go after the ball. Play went over the far side of the ground, so he stayed with it. Chasing on one sock. Took them an age to get him back to the bench and get reunited with his wardrobe. He seemed comfortable enough out there. Benefits of Brisbane weather.

The second best thing was that Daniel Motlop almost scored a goal by accident. Got a handball into his boot in the goal square, and it was on track to ricochet through. He followed up to make sure of it with a toe-poke. 78 plays 151.

12.50pm BST

The Richmond comeback isn’t quite on. Three goals in a row to start the last quarter, with Dustin Martin starting it off as he so often does. Butler and Lloyd follow. But the remaining 71 points of the deficit prove too daunting for Richmond in the final 15 minutes, and the Saints bag a couple of goals back. It’s 135 to 58.

12.47pm BST

El-e-va-tion! Whoo. Wylie Buzza, the cartoon character, does a bit of levitating. Gets a huge leap at the ball. He was trying to use Daniel Rich as a stepladder, but Rich slipped over at the crucial moment. Lucky not to get kneed in the head. So Buzza was left hanging, literally, but did still get some serious hangtime. Got hands to the ball mid-air but couldn’t hold on. Doesn’t matter, becaues Parfitt is waiting down as the ball spills free, and snaps the goal. It’s 76 to 137.

12.45pm BST

I don’t want to make it sound like he’s the only player out there, but Dangerfield is the only player out there. In this last quarter especially. Takes a mark inside 50 but misses. Nearly marks another huge tumbling high ball. Then reels in a casual one-hander in the centre square and hits up Selwood, who finds Parfitt. Who misses. Then Dangerfield again, almost snapping one from the pocket but running out of space. The 35 jersey is literally everywhere. But no one can hit a shot at goal. Tired legs out there.

12.41pm BST

Dangerfield still looking to spark action even in the last quarter of a won game. Charges out of the centre square with advantage from a ruck free kick, but Hawkins doesn’t shoot from the pocket and tries to pass. Messes it up. As does Motlop after Dangerfield wins it back and sends it back forward, Motlop trying to cleverly pass sideways but the move was too clever. The Lions end up with a couple of shots at the other end and miss them. Lonergan is still doing excellent work, worrying forwards out of the ball. Zorko keeps bobbing up for the Lions, he kicked a couple of long bomb goals in the first quarter and has had 32 touches to this stage.

12.35pm BST

Three-quarter time is 55 points to Geelong over Brisbane, and 89 points to St Kilda over Richmond. I suppose we’ve had our close game for the day. And so many for the season. Perhaps we were due a couple of blowouts.

12.22pm BST

AFL: Riewoldt. Nick, that is. As he does. As he has done, so many times before. Back with the flight, taking no care for his safety. Taking the mark. Kicking the goal.

12.21pm BST

NRL: A late try to Clinton Gutherson, and the Parramatta Eels score an upset over the top-placed Storm. Hell of a performance at AAMI Stadium. Between the Storm and Maddie, there are two purple games going on tonight. The Saints are certainly the happier team in the colour.

He just looks dangerous every time he gets the ball!@ClintGutherson.#NRLStormEels#NRL

12.18pm BST

Turning into a handy percentage booster for Saint Kilda. They need one, they’re still hovering under 100 at this stage of the season. And they still want this so much. The commitment: they’re hunting in the midfield, the number of holding-the-ball frees won has been exceptional. There are five Tigers in the forward pocket yet somehow two Saints outhustle them until a handball finds Bruce in the clear to slot Saint Kilda’s 18th goal of the night.

12.14pm BST

Another miss for Richmond, as Tyson Stengle lines up after a fairly soft free kick for over the shoulder. It was easy shot. Richmond tonight, just dire. Three goals, nine behinds. The Saints? Seventeen goals, eight behinds. The score is 27 plays 110.

12.12pm BST

An interesting discussion going on in the comments about violence in the game, related to the suspensions handed out to Tom Bugg, Bachar Houli and Ali Fahour for knocking out opponents.

The key point being this idea: “they all received support from other adult men, with standing in the community, who should know better. Whilst of course they were not condoning the behaviour they were saying these are usually good blokes. That is exactly how we as a society have come to rationalise male violence – an aberrant, out of character act that we should simply forgive: move on.”

12.01pm BST

AFL: Stop the clocks. Let the hour be marked forever. Build a monument. Richmond have kicked a goal. Josh Caddy makes up for his earlier miss with a hit. They’re inspired, a minute later Shaun Grigg gets on the board as well. It’s a mere 80-point deficit now. I can’t believe we’re going to see the greatest comeback of all time.

11.47am BST

NRL: The Storm finally got on the board just before the half, via this break. It’s still 6-16, any chance of a comeback?

Vunivalu breaks down the right.

Delivers for Hughes.


11.37am BST

They’re trading goals. Hugh McCluggage, who sounds like a fake name you’d use while prank calling Moe’s Tavern, gets one against the run of play, running onto a loose ball. Down the other end, Zac Smith is too big and too strong, and muscles his way through for a reply. Dangerfield is supposed to be resting deep in the forward line, but keeps having a lot of work to do. He gets a heavy knock to the head while on hands and knees fighting for the ball. Collected by the hip of the arriving Brisbane player. Murdoch gets the spill, but had to snap almost over his own head under pressure, and hit the post. But it doesn’t last long, the reprieve. Parsons adds his third, Hawkins his third. It’s 42 plays 96 as the half-time siren goes.

If you think the floodgates are open here, it’s 92-10 in the St Kilda game.

11.30am BST

It’s a Rhys-off. It’s a Rhys-off!

Rhys Mathieson hits a long-range running goal for the Lions, but Rhys Stanley replies from a set shot for the Cats. They go forward again in waves, the returning captain Selwood finding the talisman Dangerfield with a long ball, but the mark is ruled touched. Dangerfield shovels it out while being tackled by three players, and the loose ball comes to Murdoch. Goal. It’s suddenly 36 plays 77.

11.25am BST

Well worth mentioning, when discussing the Cats, this man. Nearly died a decade ago when he lost a kidney after being smashed in a marking contest, very early in his career. It certainly seemed like that career would be over. So to come back from there, and reach 200 games, is testament to courage. Tom Lonergan.

Our hero. Our inspiration. Our 200 gamer. #AFLLionsCats

11.22am BST

St Kilda inside 50 again, Gresham centring the ball, but the Tigers draw a free kick for tunnelling the legs, and get out. Go forward. Almost get inside their own 50, miracle of miracles, but then it comes undone again. Back down to the wing, Cotchin shrugs a tackle but Gilbert comes out of nowhere and blindsides him with the second. Holding the ball, from which point it’s pumped into the pocket, knocked over the back, Gresham hits the pack at pace and grabs the crumb to sprint his little legs into an open goal.

The other game is opening up too, the Cats up 30-58 at the Gabba. I’ll switch over and give you some detail from there shortly.

11.17am BST

Saints are leading the inside-50 count by 30 to 10. And they’re having one of those nights, everything is coming off. Jack Steven is under huge pressure in a contest inside 50, and he somehow still takes a mark one-handed. Then when his shot fades across the face, Bruce marks it in the pocket. He misses his shot, which is the first thing that’s gone wrong.

11.14am BST

I thought the umpire was just really friendly, but he was saying “high”. Richmond get out of defence for a brief moment thanks to the free kick in the back pocket.

11.13am BST

AFL: Thanks for the Membrey. The Tigers are getting utterly smashed, and Tim Membrey adds the most recent bit to the pile. A set shot from 50 that sails through, moments after Jack Riewoldt missed one for Richmond from 40. Everybody’s lining up for goals for the Saints. Nick Riewoldt has one, because of course he does. Billings has one. Billy Longer has one. Koby has one. It’s 10 goals to 1, 65 points to 10. And we’re only halfway through the second quarter.

11.04am BST

NRL: Melbourne Storm are getting smashed at AAMI Park. Three tries, two converted, and it’s suddenly 0-16 to the Eels without even half an hour gone.

10.57am BST

Cats up by 9 points over the Lions as they near quarter time. Motlop goes on a burning run out of defence but runs into trouble, his kick misses the target and the ball is locked up in midfield. The last minute ticks away. It’s 23-32 at the Gabba in favour of the visitors.

10.54am BST

With a minute left in the term, the Tiges show patience to work a string of passes by foot through the midfield, then back and forth across the face until an opportunity opens up. Josh Caddy marks in the forward pocket, but has a horror and kicks it into the point post on the full. Three set shots in this quarter, two missed and one out on the full.

10.52am BST

AFL: The Saints out there with a deep purple instead of their traditional red, purple being the colour of the charity they’re supporting. Some good work on the arc gives a clear delivery to Gresham near the goalsquare, and he makes no mistake from the set shot. The Saints have swarmed the Tigers early, it’s 33 points to 9.

10.50am BST

Very good areas.

Read and Warburton to both try and throw a kettle over a pub?

10.42am BST

Right then. What’s next? St Kilda up 3 goals to 0, Geelong up 3 goals to 2, and Parra up 0-4 over the Storm. Let’s do it.

“There goes my expectation that other top teams would be sweating on the GWS/Geelong result in the final round – not to mention the two teams involved,” writes Winnie in the comments. “At least Geelong doesn’t have to sweat on percentage now. Then again, given this year, them drawing with Brisbane tonight is not so ridiculous a concept.” More draws, please. Never enough draws.

10.40am BST

True observation. They were exceptional in that regard a number of times.

Daly Cherry-Evans says the team can be proud of its goal line defensive effort. It is a positive to take out of the game.

10.36am BST

The Lions tie with the All Blacks, and the series finishes 1-1. What an underdog triumph for the best players from four different countries to tie with a team from an island with about 40 people. There’ll be a million bits of analysis and reaction on this site in 3… 2… 1…


10.24am BST

Rugby: If you’re into that sort of thing, scores are level with three minutes remaining. Y’know. No biggie.

10.24am BST


You’ll never walk alone, Maddie. @MaddiesVision #FightLikeMaddie

10.22am BST

AFL: the focus tonight for the evening round will be St Kilda versus Richmond. This is because it’s the game in honour of Madeleine Riewoldt, sister of Nick from St Kilda and cousin of Jack from Richmond. She died of bone marrow cancer, so this game raises money for Maddie’s Vision, the charity raising money to fight that disease.

Tonight is for Maddie | #FightLikeMaddie | #AFLSaintsTigers

10.17am BST

NRL: Lots of late attacking from the Eagles, they did their best to bring pressure to bear, but the Panthers were able to absorb it. A late series of runs involving Turbo and Cherry-Evans is impressive, but it’s too late. Uate and Walker can’t get it to the line, and the final whistle goes.

10.12am BST

Rugby: scores were level for a little while in the Lions game, but the All Blacks win a penalty from a scrum right in front of their goal, and kick out to 15-12.

10.11am BST

A very deflated and deflating match in the end. Gold Coast charged in the first quarter, nailed the last two goals of it and hit the front. Then didn’t kick another until deep in the final term. Didn’t even score for about an hour. Their defence was non-existent, they had no intensity around the ball, and Sydney marked inside 50 at will. A very ordinary contest, but an important one. The Swans flap up to 6th on the ladder, though any of Melbourne, West Coast or St Kilda could go back past them with a game in hand.

10.07am BST

NRL: Lucky for the Panthers that Cleary has his kicking boots on! Another penalty, another score. Eight points the difference now. Finally a bit of breathing space. 12 minutes to go. The score is 16-8.

10.06am BST

Cricket: the plot thickens. And thickens. And thickens. It’s like poutine gravy.

England won’t turn up for Ashes if no MOU signed in time. Great get @GeorgeDobell1

10.05am BST

AFL: Finally, the Cold Goats get a goal. Callum Ah Chee the rainmaker, the droughtbreaker, the firestarter. Just kidding, it’s all over. The air is out of this match completely. So much so that Wright adds another for GC. It’s 117-51.

9.56am BST

NRL: Try disallowed for the Panthers! And no one is happy about that overturn from the review official. Ruling is that there was a knock-on. Didn’t seem to be true, it looked more like the tackler had knocked the ball. And the on-field call was a try. But somehow there has supposedly been enough evidence to overturn it. Doesn’t appear right. That would have changed the Manly script hugely. But now they’re still in it. It remains 14-8.

9.53am BST

I assume he’s talking about Gandalf here?

Refreshing change watching a sport and listening to a Sir Ian who’s actually informative #Lions2017

9.52am BST

NRL: Oh, these could be important points. A penalty to the Panthers, and Nathan Cleary takes the margin out to 6 points with an accurate kick.

Over at Eden Park, it’s still 12-9, with the Lions pushing. That could be a cracker of a finish.

9.48am BST

Has Sydney really scored 17 times since Gold Coast last scored?! #AFLSwansSuns

Make that 19. Oh my… #AFLSwansSuns

9.42am BST

This has nothing to do with anything, unless being amazing is a sport.


9.41am BST

NRL: Well, they’re a second half side, Manly. Tend to run over the top of teams. And here they come, a backhander from Trbojevic letting Lane in. The conversion goes begging again though. Those points becoming important, with the gap 12-8 to the home Panthers.

The Lane train and Turbo combine for a @SeaEagles cracker!#NRLPanthersManly#NRL

9.37am BST

Rugby: It’s 12-6 to the All Blacks as they start the second half against the Lions. The Brits with the ball after an early penalty is called. Trying for a long-range goal. Slots it. Now it’s 12-9. A few AB mistakes keeping the Russell Crowe Loins in this game. Lawrence with the detail.

Related: New Zealand v Lions: third Test and series decider – live!

Another knock on from the All Blacks. They’ve got hands like Phil Tufnell today #LionsNZ2017

9.33am BST

Joel Selwood is back from concussion for Geelong.

So good to have the skip back! #AFLLionsCats

9.32am BST

AFL: It’s become a procession in the Swans-Suns game. Gary Rohan kicks his fifth. Towers adds another one. Some rubbish defending from another long kick into 50, clears a pack, then an errant defensive handball, and Zak Jones kicks another. Gold Coast still haven’t kicked a goal since just before quarter time, and there’s a minute until three-quarter time. Sydney in that period have kicked 10.

The clock ticks down to the final interval. Siren sounds. It’s 94 plays 36 and Rodney Eade is grimacing and groaning in the coach’s box.

9.13am BST

NRL: Try! Finally, the Panthers find a way through the Manly wall. A high kick, two players charging back, and Zelezniak reels it in. Only just – the video ref takes a long look, working out whether the ball has come loose before it’s grounded. But the on-field call was for a try, and the video is just borderline enough for the call to stay.

They knock the conversion over and it’s 12-4.

The @PenrithPanthers snatch a Try late in the first half!#NRLPanthersManly#NRL

9.09am BST

AFL: Update your list, Imogen. A third goal to Lance Franklin to start the third quarter. Simple chest mark on the lead, simple conversion.

9.07am BST

Rusty’s area of expertise.

That bloke on the Tele had “Loins” written on his head …#AllBlacksvBIL

9.04am BST

Panthers start a fresh set 20 metres from the try line. Great defence from Manly, stopping several forays within a couple of metres from the line.

8.58am BST

NRL: Forward pass from Shaun Lane trying to find Walker on the sixth tackle. Couldn’t land the miracle handover. 30 out, possession lost.

8.55am BST

Cricket: If you want the latest in the Australian pay saga, this is all that matters.

Shane Watson rocking the “dreamy new calc teacher on One Tree Hill, with a tortured past” look

8.54am BST

AFL: Sydney 10.5.65 to Gold Coast 5.6.36 at half time. The Suns didn’t kick a goal in the second quarter. Sydney didn’t either after Gary Rohan’s fourth, but by that stage they already had six for the term.

8.52am BST

Rugby: first try in the All Blacks game. The Lions did brilliantly with some one-on-one defence a moment ago to stop a score from a breakaway that looked all but inevitable. But can’t stop a straightforward charge from closer to home, over in the corner. Converted. 7-0.

Spine-tingling stuff from the #AllBlacks as they perform the Haka with incredible passion.
The final test is LIVE on SS1 & @DStv Now.

8.50am BST

Trent Merritt overplays his hand, and a Penrith pass is intercepted. But Manly give away a penalty by deciding to keep bashing the ball-carrier well after a tackle is done.

8.48am BST

NRL: At last we’re underway in the other side of the football world. It’s a spicy one at Pepper Stadium. Panthers love pepper. Ask David Attenborough. So it’s Penrith up against the Manly Sea Eagles. Manly could go third with a win, Penrith need one to stay in touch with the eight. And it’s the Panthers who start best early, Tamou wrestling his way over under the posts with his back to the tryline.

Tamou is in!

What a start for the @PenrithPanthers.#NRLPanthersManly#NRL

Isn’t @Dwalkz3 having a year!

Sharp pass selection from DCE as well.#NRLPanthersManly#NRL

8.36am BST

Across the office come the distinctive sounds of the New Zealand national anthem. It’s a good ‘un. If you want the full details of the All Blacks game against the British and Irish Lions, get on over to join Lawrence on his dedicated blog.

Related: New Zealand v Lions: third Test and series decider – live!

8.33am BST

Too easy again – on Franklin’s chest as he leads. Misses the shot though. Dean Towers doesn’t, receiving the handball from a midfield breakaway and slotting it. Then it’s Gary again! Not Ablett. Rohan will rise. His fourth goal as he finds it easy to find just a yard of space, take a tumbling mark on his chest from another forward entry, and convert the attempt. It’s 63-34, and Gold Coast are certainly not Goal Coast. Haven’t kicked one in this term.

8.27am BST

And another for Hewett and the Swans. Naismith was tackled in the goalsquare, and then… I think he threw that out? He held the ball up and just dropped it. Surely that’s not correct disposal? Unless he somehow got a bit of shoe on it as it fell. Anyway. He was lying on the ground, got the ball out, and Hewett is passing by to toe it over the line.

Then comes Gary Rohan again, sprinting back toward goal, then double back up the ground to mark an incoming ball. Kicks his third. It’s suddenly way too easy for Sydney, they’re finding targets every time they come inside 50. Their score is outside 50, because it’s 51. Gold Coast 34.

8.23am BST

Budgie Franklin is currently off the field with a sore wing. Had the doctors examining his wrist, and appeared to be in some discomfort.

8.22am BST

Sydney coming hard to start the second term. George Hewett gets their first after some good zigzag leading in an almost empty forward 50. Turnover in midfield, the quick kick comes back in and he’s good enough to have made space. The Suns repel several more forays in the next minute or two, but not the one that tall Sam Reid stretches up and marks in front of goal. Suddenly it’s 39-34 in favour of the Swandogs.

8.12am BST

Coasters hit the front! Seconds before quarter time, as Lynch gets two in a couple of minutes. He has three for the term. That last one, not really doing anything too wild, waiting outside a pack that was squabbling over the ball outside 50, and received a handball through heavy congestion from Jesse Longeran. It was a fair kick though, spinning around to face goal, near the boundary line about 40 metres around from home. Kicked off a step and sailed it through. The Suns are up 27-32.

8.06am BST

This has nothing to do with sport in Australia, but it’s pretty good, eh? That’s my criteria for including anything in anything: pretty good, eh?

Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka the first pair to partner in 200+ stands in consecutive ODIs #SLvZIM

8.05am BST

Lance Franklin with his second. Update that table once again. It’s 27-20 in Sydney’s favour.

8.04am BST

Language warning: Kagiso Rabada, block your tender ears. A salty but perhaps not unreasonable take from a Collingwood supporter about her team. There has been a lot of cult-like “playing for Bucks” nonsense this year. It can’t possibly be a motivator every week, and it has dragged on for a long time.

For a bunch of blokes who are playing for the coach they sure do look like they couldn’t give a fuck half the time when they’re out there.

8.00am BST

The Riders of Gary Rohan. Galloping to the fore. First he gallops himself down the forward flank, receives the ball, surges into the pocket with a burst of speed away from his pursuers and pumps the low drop punt through. A minute later he marks in the goal square tumbling back with the flight, and kicks the simple shot. Sydney up by six, but then Andrew Swallow at the other end pounces on a loose ball, and it’s 3.2.20 apiece at the SCG.

7.51am BST

But Jack Martin and Tom Lynch add the next two for the Suns. Important for Gold Coast that two of their biggest names are involved early. Gary Ablett Jr. isn’t playing today, incidentally, a slight niggle forcing him to defer Game 301.

7.50am BST

Swans get away with the first of the game against Gold Coast, via Lance Franklin. Moving well. Ascending into rare air.

.@sydneyswans with perfect 7-0 record against the Suns. Have now kicked the first goal in all 8 games. (Buddy 3 times) #AFLSwansSuns

828 #buddygoalwatch

Lance Franklin made the Suns pay early. #AFLSwansSuns

7.47am BST

Roco is free to be as one-eyed as he wants about his Bombers now, having departed The Age a few days ago. Hope he’s loving life.

Can’t make up my mind about Dons this year Best really good but still prone to lapses Reduce those & chance of finals at least #aflpiesdons

7.44am BST

Macca is first to get one away in the comments section. “Weird, if the Swans miss the finals then both Premiers from last year will not play finals and when is the last time a team played in a drawn game 2 weeks in a row?” Grand finalists, I assume you mean, but yes, point taken. That would be most unusual. The stats are out there telling us this is the most even season for a long, long time. As for two draws in a row, I’m sure the stattos will be all over searching precedents for that.

7.38am BST

To be fair GWS did say before the season they were looking forward to a good draw.

Essendon is up by 37 points at the MCG, in a result that will at least slightly soothe the savage burn of supporting the red and black. Fantasia has kicked five goals and nine thousand enchanted broomsticks. Joe Daniher has three. That pair could be making their club’s faithful happy for a long time to come.

7.31am BST

An absolutely bonkers ending to that game. The Giants are second on the ladder – two draws are a win, as the old saying doesn’t go. Adelaide remain top. Sydney’s a game out of the eight but could go back in with a win today. Gold Coast would be a win outside the eight if they won. Essendon will be a win outside the eight given they’re well up on Collingwood in the last quarter.

7.27am BST

And somehow, the Hawks nearly win. 10 seconds left when the centre bounce takes place. They rush it forward, just trying to get a behind so they can get ahead. The Hawks are able to punch it through via Henderson, trying to rush a point in their own forward line, but after a score review the umpires rule that the punch came after the siren sounded. A matter of split seconds for the Hawks, who nearly steal a win, and the Giants indeed draw twice in a fortnight. What an amazing, bizarre, incredibly even season this continues to be in Aussie Roooooolz.

7.23am BST

Yes they can! Will Langford in more traffic than Punt Road after the grand final! 40 out, scrubs a snap. It bounces on its point, clears Heath Shaw on the line with a huge bounce, and goes through! “Curtly Ambrose couldn’t get one to rise like that,” says Dermott Brereton.

7.20am BST

A couple of chances for the Hawks, but the Giants defence is keeping calm. The forward entries keep coming. A minute left. A goal the difference. Could GWS have two draws in two weeks?

7.17am BST

… but misses. A relatively simple shot from straight in front. The clock has 3:30 remaining. A goal the gap.

7.16am BST

A chance for Hawthorn – twice they surge forward thanks to a couple of good marks from Roughead and Schoenmakers coming out of defensive 50, but the first time a tackle takes down Isaac Smith in the centre square, and the second Henderson pumps the running shot out on the full from 50. Finally, after all of that, Sicily taps to Schoenmakers again on the flank, he finds Breust up forward, and on the J-curve set shot of Steve Johnson he adds a goal. That makes back the one the Giants just kicked, it’s 7 points the difference.

And Breust marks again on the burst out of the centre bounce…

7.10am BST

AFL: In terms of what’s happening already, the Hot Pink Hawks are within a kick of the Red Hot Giants down at Not Very Warm At All Stadium in Launceston. It’s 84 plays 89 in favour of the sherberts… make that five point margin into six as Kelly hits the post running into an open goal.

7.07am BST

Hello world, and as HG Nelson irresistibly had it, welcome to another afternoon where too much sport is barely enough. Geoff Lemon with you for another Sportwatch episode, cataloguing all things athletic in the broad brown land of the stolen pavlova. Looking forward to your company for the Swans and the Suns, the Panthers and the Seagles, a little dalliance with the All Blacks and the Lions of the Isles, back via AFL for some big cats and some small ones (Lions and Tigers and Cats, oh what?) plus the Saints for good measure, and in league the drenching Storm versus the slippery Eels. If there’s anything else I should be keeping an eye on and a television channel open to, please do let me know, either by formal correspondence using, or using the idiot machine on Twooterville using @GeoffLemonSport. Let’s get going, as some may say, with no further hairdo. I certainly haven’t brushed mine.

6.30am BST

Geoff will be with you shortly. In the meantime, check out the latest on Jeff Horn’s likely rematch against Manny Pacquiao.

Related: Horn-Pacquiao result to be reviewed but WBO rules out stripping title

Continue reading…

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Jul 01

Australian cricket on hold as pay dispute drags on and legal challenges loom | Geoff Lemon

The disagreement between Cricket Australia and its players – which could at worst affect this year’s Ashes series – has now degenerated into a full-blown fight

So that’s it. The cliff has been gone over. For months, the precipice of 30 June has been looming in the decreasing distance – the deadline for resolving the pay dispute between those who administrate cricket in Australia and those who play it professionally.

For the last few months, that deadline has been used as an admonishing finger by both sides of the disagreement. That both sides must get this sorted before the expiry of the current memorandum of understanding, by which player contracts are drawn up. But at this stage, the disagreement has degenerated into a full-blown fight.

Related: Deadline passes in pay dispute leaving 230 Australian cricketers unemployed

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 01

Giants, Cats in post-siren draw, Tigers beat Port, Sharks smash Roosters: sportwatch – as it happened

  • AFL: Greater Western Sydney drew with Geelong 68-68
  • NRL: Manly beat NZ, Cowboys beat Raiders, Sharks beat Roosters
  • AFL: Gary Ablett Jr celebrated 300 games as Suns beat Kangaroos
  • AFL: Tigers beat Port, Eagles beat Bulldogs, Crows beat Blues

1.37pm BST

It’ll be disappointment for Tom Hawkins, but a draw can be as good as a win in the logjam for finals. And he knows the elation of the after-the-siren win, so perhaps it’s only fair if he gets to find out what it’s like when you miss. If he ever needs cheering up, he can always watch this a few more times.

1.36pm BST

A pulsating game between Geelong and GWS – it promised it right from the start. Not the highest scoring, but high intensity throughout. And plenty of errors on a greasy night in western Sydney, but that also added to the tension and closeness of the teams.

As for GWS – premiership contender? People have said that, but one of the things that defines those teams is their ability to get things done when times are tough. The Giants did that tonight, trailing for much of the game, restricted for much of it, but in the end gathering the momentum through that last quarter to hit the front. The way they were playing, it ended up being Geelong who were the luckier side to get away with a draw. Though had Hawkins landed the kick, you couldn’t have begrudged the win to the side that dictated so much of the game.

1.26pm BST

Finally they get there. A win for the Tigers, who have let a few games slip this season, based on producing their best in the second half after the game had nearly got away. Alex Rance struggled with a hard tag to curb his defensive rebound, but came back in the second half as well. Sam Powell-Pepper gets a late goal for Port, but it matters not. Relief more than elation for all those Tigers wan and weary.

1.11pm BST

More confident now! Jayden Short runs onto the ball at half forward, skirts around one, and launches from 60 metres. Darcy Byrne-Jones is pleading with the goal umpire to believe that he got a fist on the ball diving towards the line, but they award it a goal. 57 plays 76.

1.09pm BST

A quick shift over to Adelaide Oval, where Richmond leads by 13 with 3:30 to go. Tigers fans will still not be remotely confident.

1.02pm BST

Hawkins kicks a point! Well, good lord. It’s true that he was fairly deep in the pocket but it wasn’t an impossible shot. And he was reasonably close, kicking from about 30. Would have fancied it, but he stabbed a bit at the kick, perhaps distracted by the siren sounding as he came in for the shot. The shot from the right pocket slid to the right side, and Hawkins is still shaking his head in dismay even minutes after the kick. It’s a draw! A fair result, perhaps, from two teams who gave it everything.

1.01pm BST

Hawkins marks in the pocket! 28 seconds left! Heath Shaw has the clearing kick, which is just about out on the full on the flank but even so, is deliberately out of bounds. Tuohy takes the reply, spears it into the pocket, and Hawkins, who has also had a dirty night under close defensive attention, finally gets a grab almost uncontested – somehow with 36 players in the forward 50, he was still able to find a lick of space.

1.00pm BST

Players fighting at every stoppage with grim intensity. But it’s stoppage after stoppage. Time ticking. GWS keep locking the ball in or finding the boundary. The 60-second mark approaches.

12.59pm BST

Under two minutes to play, GWS by a point…

12.57pm BST

So nearly could have been the game for Geelong. A fast burst out of defence, no one in the forward half. Aaron Black is running onto the loose ball with plenty of space and a full head of steam. On its third bounce, the ball lobs up over his head as he approaches, and falls to the favour of GWS. The cruelty of the Sherrin’s shape.

12.56pm BST

A rushed behind with four minutes left. GWS lead.

12.54pm BST

Geelong responding, Aaron Black running hard to get behind the defence, from the forward flank, drills the long ball to Parsons in the goal square but the GWS gang defence spoils the near mark. Whooshka. What a game. Ball out of bounds on the wing now.

12.52pm BST

Patton! Huge grab late in the game! Under close scrutiny near the goal line, the long ball in, and he clunks a ripper. Vice-like. Then has the composure to kick around the corner, on the left, and level the scores. And roars to the crowd. The goes to the bench. What for? Last few minutes and he’s eight-foot-ten. The score is 67-67.

12.50pm BST

Richmond in front by eight points. Martin and then Butler with goals. GWS have locked the ball in their forward line for the last few minutes. Pressure building.

12.48pm BST

Alright. Not bad.

Get out of Danger’s way! #AFLGiantsCats

12.47pm BST

Great pressure from GWS on the wing. Menegola, Simpson, Motlop, all trading handballs by the boundary line, but every time they think they’re out, they run into a dead end. Giants win the ball back, Scully sprints back into 50, and wins a free kick for high contact as the ball comes in. Well played to that point, but he misses the shot from directly in front 40 out. The ball tracks to the other end via Dangerfield, who takes off on a grass-burning run through midfield. He loses it on the third bounce, butters up to Lonergan, the inside 50 is loose but GWS kick it out on the full. Buzza gets the free kick but his shot is smothered! Plenty of errors out there but it’s exciting stuff. The ball flying around, down to the other end. Combat inside 50, lots of players fighting for it, and finally, Whitfield snaps from the pocket! Goal! It’s six points the difference, the Cats are flat, the Giants are growing. What next? 61 plays 67.

12.42pm BST

Rory Lobb – can he drag GWS back into it? There’s a feeling of momentum shifting. And it’s mostly down to one man. He’s had a shocker of a night to this point, but he’s given room to run and jump at the ball and marks deep in the pocket. Lines up and slots the goal. Then Geelong are under pressure in defensive fifty, Tuohy tries to clear and kicks it to Lobb again. This shot is easier but he misses! A moment later he’s there again, a huge mark to cut off a clearing kick to the wing. But he kicks it out on the full. Zach Guthrie gets the ball, and kicks it out on the full in return. A few errors in the Cats’ game – can they keep their composure? It’s 54 plays 67, a margin of 13.

12.34pm BST

AFL – big call early in the quarter, as Lachie Whitfield got right into the back of Patrick Dangerfield while falling to the ground, but managed to pull his own weight away and avoid falling onto the other player. Might have done enough to avoid conceding the free? But it’s paid, and it’s in the forward pocket, and Dangerfield slots it home. The lead is 19 points. 47 plays 66.

Robbie Gray goaled for Port to kick clear, but now Rioli and Stengle nail goals for the Tigers. It’s a four-point game! We’ll switch focus there once this once finishes.

12.30pm BST

NRL – the wash-up on the ladder is that the Sharks are solidly in second place, the Eagles in third, and the Roosters have dipped to fourth. The Cowboys are in sixth, but only one win behind second. Tight races in both the rugby league and the Aussie rules comps.

12.27pm BST

The Cats have shut down GWS’ transition play today, they’re not letting the Giants run through midfield as they like to do. But Geelong haven’t entirely hurt their opponent as much as they should have. Rhys Stanley does get a goal to take the Cats to 60 points and a three-goal lead, but GWS get a late one back. It’s a bit of brilliance for Dangerfield during a tackle, getting a foot free to toe the ball into space, and Hawkins kicks it further into space to run on. But Aidan Corr is faster running back, gets to the ball on the ground, and Hawkins is clumsy in tackling him, brushing him high. From the free, the Giants do find their transition play and send it down the other end. Jeremy Cameron has had a very quiet night for a gun forward, but not so quiet that he’s going to miss an uncontested chest mark or a shot at goal from 20 metres out.

At three-quarter time, it’s 47-60. A tight final term coming up.

12.27pm BST

Tigers captain Trent Cotchin has the first goal of the third quarter, keeping Richmond in touch at 43-33. From there, it’s been all behinds, as both sides slip back into their first-quarter mode.

12.14pm BST

AFL – Geelong’s lead out to 12 points, 41 to 53, after Menegola parts the heavy traffic in the forward 50 to mark, and goes back to kick one. He’s been super impressive since establishing himself this year – he was a fringe player at Geelong, and before that at Fremantle and Hawthorn, but has played 10 games this year.

12.12pm BST

Well, scrap that comeback. Another blazing run from Morgan, who could have had his third try just about, but went safety first and dished it to Te Maire Martin while being tackled close to the line. The score is converted, and with only a few minutes left, the Cowboys will bring it home given the scores are 18 to 31.

12.09pm BST

NRL – what a try from Nick Cotric! Remarkable stuff, receives the ball in his own half and is on the move. Gets past one… two… three, four and five tackles, slapping off one, evading others. He bursts through the defensive line, gets onto open highway, and outruns everybody pursuing to ground the ball under the crossbar.

Render unto Sezer that which is Sezer’s: in this case, it’s an easy conversion goal. The gap narrows to 18-25, and that was the play of the day.

12.03pm BST

AFL – underway in the clash involving the north end of the ladder, the western edge of Sydney, and the city south of Melbourne. Geelong defender Taylor is pinged for a deliberate out of bounds, a bit harsh there, and Callan Ward kicks a goal to narrow it to two points. Geelong bounce back quickly though, Wylie Buzza attacking the ball with great energy in the forward fifty to mark Tuohy’s pass with a juggling effort that takes the ball away from two defenders. He lines up and drills the shot. It’s 40 plays 47 to the visiting Cats.

11.57am BST

Jack Wighton brought down six metres from the line with one tackle in the set. Canberra can’t break through.

11.54am BST

And again! Michael Morgan kicks through to himself, gathers, gets over the line. But has he lost control of the ball? Opinion is divided, but the opinion that matters is the video review official, who eventually deems it a try. North Queensland go to 23 points as Ethan Lowe wanders up for another kick, and pops that over as well with a minimum of fuss. 25 plays 12, and this is getting out of control for Canberra.

11.51am BST

NRL – the Cowboys pull clear again, this time thanks to Morgan. Nothing sophisticated about that try, it was the old-fashioned ball receive five metres from the line, then hurling the entire body at the defenders to bash through. The ball is planted. Lowe knocks over the penalty from a friendly angle. The visiting Cowboys lead 19 to 12 over Canberra.

Jarrod Croker is off the field with concussion.

11.49am BST

A little bit more quality coming into the Power-Tigers game (TIGERPOWER is a great name for an energy drink). Butler nails the goal below for the Tiges, then back come Port Adelaide with the next two. Suddenly it kicks out to a 15-point deficit at half time. Port is ahead at home 41 to 26.

No ifs, Butlers or maybes – this was a cracking goal from Dan Butler! #AFLPowerTigers

11.46am BST

The Raiders could just about draw level if they can get this conversion. Joseph Tapine gets over for the try to make it 10-13. Stand by. Yep. Sezer seizes the moment.

The @raiderscanberra start the 2nd Half in style!#NRLRaidersCowboys 10-13 after 46 minutes. #NRL

11.39am BST

Half time too in the NRL, 6 to the Raiders and 13 to the Cowboys after Coote popped over a field goal.

11.37am BST

Half time in Geelong v GWS, and this is already a cracker. Jordan Murdoch, the fast left-footer, gets clear for Geelong and nails a goal to take the lead out to 14 points. But then with under a minute ago, the Giants deliver inside 50 and Patton turns neatly to wrongfoot Harry Taylor. Not many forwards have done that since the Cats defender made his surprise entrance to the AFL all those years ago. Patton marks, kicks from 40 metres in the pocket, and his kicking action right now is perfection as it yields him his 100th career goal. Then with 30 seconds on the clock he makes sure not to concede anything before half time, dropping back into defence to mark the ball as Cam Guthrie stormed out of the centre and pumped it forward.

It’s 33 plays 41, and the second half to come.

11.24am BST

“Welcome to the big time, Wylie Buzza!” is the call, as the pass from Mackie thuds onto the debutant’s chest. He takes the shot from outside 50, runs in a wide arc and gives it a mighty thump with the left boot. It sails through, flat but travelling with pace. Strong kick. It’s 26-33 in favour of Geelong.

The other game continues to be disastrous, 1 goal 6 behinds to Port, 1 goal 4 to Richmond. But as I type, Sam Lloyd finally puts a goal through for the Tigers, and for all of humanity.

This is why he’s all the buzz! First AFL goal for Wylie Buzza. #AFLGiantsCats

11.21am BST

AFL – An utterly Harlem Globetrotters string of possessions takes Geelong down the wing, Menegola flicking a ball back that was about to go out, Guthrie involved and Simpson. But eventually the chain is cut off at full forward. GWS force through a behind that could have attracted the umpire’s attention, but they get away with it. At least, as far as the scoreboard goes. There’s a knee injury for GWS, twisted in the tackle that got the ball to the line – Jeremy Finlayson, who has been impressive to this stage. The ball comes back, and Duncan misses a snap from the pocket. The Cats could well rue not converting this period of dominance on the scoreboard. So much talent in the Giants team. Finlayson is getting ice strapped to the knee, so his night is done. Hopefully not his season.

11.13am BST

NRL – Antonio Winterstein over for a try, but the conversion goes begging. The Cowboys are up 12-6.

That tap back from Cooper! #NRLRaidersCowboys #NRL

11.10am BST

Johnson gets the chance to immediately atone, hunting down a tackle in the forward pocket to have Zach Tuohy pinged for holding the ball. Then Johnson, the originator of the J-curve kick from the set shot, instead kicks a straight drop punt from the right forward pocket, and drills it. Back to 25 apiece.

1 goal 6 plays 1 goal 4 in the other game. Sloppy Joe.

11.07am BST

“Keep your hands to yourself please,” scolds umpire Razor Ray Chamberlain at Spotless Stadium as the players squabble. Good advice for life in general. Shane Mumford, the giant GWS ruckman, gives away a free kick with a late hit in the midfield, which is paid downfield in Geelong’s forward line. Then Johnson gives away another fifty-metre penalty as Aaron Black kicks. Black actually missed the shot at goal, so Johnson’s indiscipline ensures the shot is retaken and kicked. Johnson was going after Dangerfield, trying to whack him about. A bit shaken perhaps, Johnson was cleaned up late in the last quarter in a heavy collision. 19-25.

11.04am BST

AFL – quarter time, it’s 3.1 apiece in the GWS-Geelong game. Meanwhile, Richmond and Port Adelaide have got underway with a fairly scrappy start. 8 points plays 10 in favour of the Power.

11.03am BST

Lowe pops over a penalty goal for the Cowboys, and they’re up 8 points to 6.

10.58am BST

NRL – an early try for Elliot Whitehead, a reply from Te Maire Martin, both converted, and the Raiders-Cowboys game is 6-all early in the match.

Te Maire Martin scores in his @nthqldcowboys debut! #NRLRaidersCowboys 6-all after 14 minutes. #NRL

Whitehead with the opening Try of the game!#NRLRaidersCowboys #NRL

10.53am BST

A family affair – now Zac Guthrie messes up a relatively simple shot on the run. Two chances, two brothers, two misses as it lobs into the pocket.

10.52am BST

Cracker of a contest! The Giants looked good again, another long ball inside 50, but Harry Taylor read it perfectly. The defender marked, then had his area infringed upon thus winning a fifty-metre penalty. So instead of wandering up the field he sprinted out of defence, caught the Giants napping, handed the ball off at the back of the centre square, and the inside 50 found Blicavs whose tumbling snap went through at the height of the post. Guthrie should have kicked another a minute later running back towards goal but his dribbling shot goes the wrong side of the post under pressure. He was trying to keep it under a potential smother. The first behind of the match, and it’s 18-19 to the Cats.

10.49am BST

The Cats have three or four promising entries, but some calm defending under pressure from the Giants is enough to thwart them all. Then the ball heads down the other end, where Patton clunks a strong mark just outside fifty, then makes a beautiful connection with the kick. He’s in touch. 18-12.

10.43am BST

All Geelong’s debutants have had a touch of the footy early. Sam Simpson’s first kick isn’t good though, trying to pass to Dangerfield on 50 even though the champ had three to beat. Couldn’t mark, GWS flow down on the counter, but Geelong win the ball back at half-back, and Parsons gets around a couple sprinting back down the field to lob a clunky swirling kick home for a goal from the arc. 12-12.

A little shake and bake from Parsons, who’s squared the ledger for the Cats. #AFLGiantsCats

10.40am BST

Revenge is sweet for Steve Johnson, the Geelong premiership player who was ultimately discarded. He wins a free kick on the forward flank, picks up the smart handball to Wilson, and Wilson kicks beautifully from outside 50. It’s 12-6 so far.

10.38am BST

In other footy news, well worth reading Russ on the Bachar Houli affair and the problems with the AFL tribunal.

Related: Biggest hit worn in Bachar Houli episode has been to credibility of AFL | Russell Jackson

10.35am BST

An early goal for Tom Hawkins, a nice long set shot after he was scragged off the ball. Jon Patton replies in quick time. The big full forwards for each team on the board immediately. Early signs of a classic?

The game is at Spotless Stadium.

10.32am BST

AFL – next game up is the big one, currently second versus third on the ladder. Geelong versus Greater Western Sydney. The Giants were top at the start of this round, but Adelaide’s win earlier today has sneaked the Crows to the top. Thus, if the Cats win today they’ll join those other two teams on 40 points though with a lower percentage, or if the Giants win they’ll go straight back on top.

A couple of huge outs for Geelong though – captain Joel Selwood hasn’t come up from his concussion last week, and dynamic forward Daniel Menzel twinged something in the warm-up. So two debutants come in: Scott Simpson was the one already scheduled, but now Wylie Buzza has come in from the emergency list. “One of the great names,” says some unidentifiable male voice on the telly. Then there’s the third debutant, Zach Guthrie, brother of current Geelong midfielder Cam.

10.22am BST

There could have been an equaliser with seconds to go, but the big run down the ground was neutralised, bundled into touch. Passing options on the inside were ignored. In short, the Warriors blew it. They’ve never won in Perth from nine attempts, and despite a big lead early today, they managed to sustain that run.

10.19am BST

Rugby – it’s a cracker. It’s 21-21 between the All Blacks and the Lions with four minutes to play. Get on over to our live blog of that game.

10.18am BST

A comfortable win in the end that will keep Gold Coast just one game out of the eight, and a dominant display really by the Suns. The Kangas will remain 17th, having lost so many games this year by under a goal.

Ablett? A lazy 37 disposals, 14 contested. 10 clearances, 6 from the centre. He’s still flying.

10.14am BST

Aaron Mullet, business in the backline, party at the front line. On the counter, he received a handball over the top on the wing, runs into an empty spot, and lobs the long kick home from outside 50 thanks to Daw’s shepherd. A late consolation goal, and nearly another for the same player 30 seconds later, but this time his kick fades.

10.11am BST

Certainly won’t now! Ablett starts off a chain of handballs from just outside 50, then there’s a long ball in, a classic spill and crumb, and Touk Miller snaps the sealer for the Gold Coast Suns. Then out of the centre square, Ablett again with a brilliant clearance, sells the dummy to get out of traffic, and the wobbly inside-50 eventually results in a goal to Swallow. Ablett was in the vicinity too, to receive that handball, but the symbolic moment was missed. He goes back to the centre square for the bounce and wins that clearance as well. Still just so, so good.

10.07am BST

AFL – Fourth quarter at Metricon, the Roos have closed the gap. Lynch kicked his fifth but the Victorian side has kicked four of the last five. Brown gets his third, Majak Daw gets the most recent. The margin is still 14 points though, and only a couple of minutes left. Won’t quite be enough time.

Yep, he’s back! Five goals to Tom Lynch! #AFLSunsRoos

10.05am BST

Roach nearly gets through the line for the Warriors, but his hamstring goes ping. There’s never a good time to do one, but that is really inopportune. He comes off, and seconds later there’s a grubber kick from through into the in-goal. Thompson misses it, Wright tries to clear it, did any attackers get there? The ruling is that it was knocked on by the Warriors and went dead. No try.

10.01am BST

Game really on! Dylan Walker goes over for another Manly try, and it looks like they might be starting to run away with it even though they miss the kick. But finally the Warriors end a run of 26 points against, as Nicoll-Klokstad gets over and Johnston converts. It’s 26-22 in favour of the ‘home’ side in Perth.

9.43am BST

NRL – Tom Trbojevic over again! Manly in front, and the conversion is kicked. It’s 22-16 to Manly now. It wasn’t a very exciting try though, I’ll be honest, so let’s look at that brilliant break from Cherry-Evans right on half time.

What a half of footy!

The final ball from DCE #NRLManlyWarriors#NRL

9.35am BST

Three-quarter time and it’s 84 plays 61 in favour of the Suns. Ablett a cheeky 24 stats, Lyons leading with 32.

9.31am BST

AFL – North Melbourne string a couple of goals together, like a drunkard finally sequencing a couple of recognisable words. Ben Brown gets one, then Waite marks strongly in the pocket and delivers with the kick. Long to the square, Brown very nearly the pack-crashing mark for a third. But not quite.

9.30am BST

Rugby – hello, I thought Sonny Bill Williams had just been sent off. A red card for the All Blacks. But it was a replay of earlier. Then I thought it was a replay from another game, but it was today. There’s a reason that I’m not doing the rugby blog. I did cover the 2011 World Cup, and watched the final out of my brain on painkillers after breaking my shoulder a couple of days earlier. My match report… let’s say it was a work of impressionist literary exploration.

9.19am BST

AFL – the Roos did manage to clamp down on the Suns for the start of this second half, but eventually Gold Coast found a way through. Sexton his second, Lynch his fourth – the big gun is firing today. It’s 46 plays 84 in favour of the Coasters.

9.15am BST

Two minutes to half time, but too slow from the Warriors! Too easy, too many options. Cherry-Evans has the vision, with 30 seconds left on the clock, and he took the defence away to open the field up before finding Akuila Uate on the wing. Uate has no shortage of pace, and tore over the line to draw level. Here comes the kick… it misses. Wright has two from three, and scores are level at the break.

9.12am BST

Hello, we’ve got a game here. Brian Kelly scores for Manly, and Matthew Wright nails the kick. It’s suddenly back to 12-16 in bucketing rain in Perth. Two minutes to half time.

The @SeaEagles have woken up and they are turning it on now!#NRLManlyWarriors#NRL

8.58am BST

NRL – Finally, the Sea Eagles open their account. Shaky defence from the Warriors, and some sharp work from Tom Trbojevic to get over. The conversion comes through as well. Much needed after the Warrior’s third try via Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. In Wellington, the All Blacks have slotted a penalty against the Lions to break that 0-0 deadlock.

Up the middle goes @ApiKoroisau.

Over goes Turbo!#NRLManlyWarriors#NRL

8.53am BST

Rugby – It’s quite funny, I’m writing this from the Guardian office and every time something happens in the All Blacks game, there are groans and cries from various people around the place who are all watching along on their screens.

Let’s see if the coaches hug and make up later today.

Related: All Blacks’ Steve Hansen wins pre-match battle but predicts tougher fight on pitch

8.49am BST

NRL – Manly off to a bad start against the NZ Warriors, the latter crossing twice within 10 minutes. Shaun Johnson misses the second conversion. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad followed on from Bodene Thompson in scoring the tries.


Real fast.#NRLManlyWarriors#NRL

Bodene Thompson storms over!#NRLManlyWarriors#NRL

8.44am BST

The Glod Clots, if I may call them that, are stomping the Kangaroos right now. Ainsworth gets his third, Swallow gobbles another, then Sexton poetically scripts a third. Corey Wagner has a couple of goes at getting one back for the Roos but muffs both of them. Suddenly it’s 71 plays 32 as half time nears. But with 21 seconds to go, there’s a throw-in near the goal and Waite is able to crumb a handball out of the pack to soccer one through.

Speaking of the soccering form of football, you should probably read David Squires’ cartoon from this week. As you should every week. Timmy ‘Organic’ Cahill features prominently.

Related: David Squires on … Australia’s exit from the Confederations Cup and Tim Cahill’s 100th cap

8.29am BST

Here we are, for you unionists – the Lions versus All Blacks blog is up and running, and apparently it is absolutely pelting with rain in Wellington. Luckily they invented those boots. Gerard Meagher has the action for us from that game, as the fireworks go off and the players run onto the field. Ok, fine, I’m watching it too.

Related: New Zealand v Lions: second Test – live!

8.25am BST

Gary Ablett is already the leading disposal-winner on the ground, because of course he is. Not far into the second stanza and he’s had the ball 13 times. Hasn’t kicked a goal yet, which Jack Martin does after a very clever juggling mark on the boundary line that managed to keep the ball in, then an equally clever kick from deep in the pocket. A minute later, May marks strongly in defence, starting a coast-to-Gold-Coast run of possession that sees the ball spill loose in the goal square at the other end, leaving Lynch free to run on and thump it off the ground for his third. It’s 51-29 now, and suddenly the Sunshiners look like thunderclouds. Ominous.

8.09am BST

Quarter time in that game, and the Suns are back in front. Ainsworth gets his second, then Lynch slams a couple in a minute. It goes to the break at 39-29 in favour of Gold Coast.

8.07am BST

“Any chance of any vision of Gary Ablett heading out for his 300th?” asks Winnie. “As a Geelong fan I’d love to see this, but it’s not FTA in Melbourne.”

Better than that, Geelong fans should want to see him back in the hoops. Could happen at the end of the season, if fairytales do come true. I can’t find any video, but I did find this terrible Photoshop if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to combine a chuckle and a cringe.

Gary Junior’s 300th is about to begin! #AFLSunsNorth
Tune into it here:

7.57am BST

AFL – a fast start to the Gold Coast versus Roos game, three goals each with a fair chunk of the first quarter still to go. Brown and Atley for the Roos, then Wright, Martin and Ainsworth get them back for the Suns, before Hrovat draws it level. As I type, Jarrod Waite gets rid of his opponent and slots the Roos’ fourth. Ablett wins a free kick after being slammed to the ground, but makes a rare kicking error in trying to go inside 50. Almost makes up for it with a contest once they trap the ball in, but the Little Master misses the snap at goal. It’s Gold Coast 20, North 27.

7.50am BST

Riley Knight puts the game beyond doubt with a couple of minutes to go, so even though Levi Casboult scrambles a final goal from a loose ball in the goal square, it doesn’t make for a grandstand finish. The Crows hop over the Giants to the top of the ladder, although GWS can take that back if they win against Geelong tonight. The Cats, of course, are third. Should be a tasty clash to close out our blog in the evening, Australian time.

7.42am BST

Leutele scores again! Once again with Wade Graham involved, and Sosaia Feki with a sensational pass inside. With only 40 seconds to go, that’s a bonus.

The @cronulla_sharks finish the game in style!#NRLRoostersSharks #NRL

7.38am BST

NRL – scrum feed for Cronulla only 10 metres out. The Sharks are showing serious discipline – they’re well home but still smashing away. Fifita gets through a tackle but is eventually put down.

The Warriors play the Sea Eagles next, in Perth for whatever weird reason that is, where apparently it’s freezing and pissing down rain. Advisability of selling that home game: currently questionable.

7.36am BST

AFL – another close one as the Blues and Crows get near the finish line. It was only just over a goal the difference, but Jenkins kicks his third as I type to extend Adelaide’s lead. There’s a rushed behind for Carlton in their reply, that won’t be enough. The difference is 13 points but there’s a decent four or five minutes of clock time remaining.

7.34am BST

But Bird makes up for it, getting back to force a dead ball. Goal line drop-out to follow.

7.33am BST

Jack Bird gives away a late penalty with an equally late shove, and the Roosters kick for touch. First tackle is 20 out from goal.

7.32am BST

NRL – in the meantime, the Sharks have turned a lead over the Roosters into a flogging with 10 minutes to go. Beale has gone over, then Luke Lewis, and Maloney keeps his perfect kicking record for the day intact after each try.

Deja vu for @LukeLewis1983 #NRLRoostersSharks #NRL

7.28am BST

A nice little pre-game interview with Gary Ablett Junior, as he prepares to play his 300th game. He always speaks well, the Son of God. The Gold Coast Suns are about to tackle North Melbourne at Metricon up in Queensland.

7.26am BST

The Eagles led at every change today, and held on at the last. They’re up to 7 on the ladder, though there are plenty of games to go this round. We’ll have a fair few of them on the blog today.

7.25am BST

Nathan Vardy beautifully laconic in his post-match interview. “Everyone says enjoy your footy, but it’s easier to enjoy it when you’re actually playing it.”

Then to Cameron Mooney about the winning goal, “Oh, mate, you know what it’s like when you get on the end of one.”

7.23am BST

A rare away win for the Eagles, getting the victory at Docklands stadium. 42 disposals from Andrew Gaff to help get them there. They lost a close game at the last gasp during the last round, but managed to hang on today. Gaff is giving Vardy a rev-up: “We try to grow as individuals each game, and it’s great to see Vards step up.”

The Dogs are now percentage and a game out of the top eight.

7.20am BST

And again! Lovely spot-up from Bob Murphy out of defence, a straight roll through the middle for the Dogs, but once again it’s Vardy with the defensive mark almost in the opposing goal square.

7.19am BST

Another turnover, and another entry. McGovern takes a mark for the Eagles, then Vardy takes another. Standing up under pressure.

7.19am BST

The Dogs pushing forward, but Drew Petrie takes the relieving mark at centre half back. The Eagles pushed their big forward into defence immediately after the last goal.

7.17am BST

And Vardy kicks the goal! The least likely perhaps from the stoppage, the eight-foot-whatever lank-a-thon that is Nathan Vardy picks up the loose ball after it spills free and rams it over his left shoulder. He’s played every game this year for West Coast after struggling with injury and opportunity to a handful of games at Geelong the last few seasons. Three minutes left, 80 plays 87.

7.16am BST

Ball-up in the Eagles goal square…

7.15am BST

AFL – goal to Jake Stringer, and it’s a one-point ball game! The Western Bulldogs are now trailing 81-80, after Stringer charged down a kick-in following a behind, with Mitchell trailing too far off to apply the tackle. Mitchell has a mass of tape and padding wrapped around his face to try to stop that bleeding, you can’t exactly strap the inside of a player’s mouth. So they’ve gone with as much as possible.

7.12am BST

Maloney with the sideline kick, 25 metres out, and he clips the upright but gets the ball over. He’s hit five out of five today, looked like it was carrying wide but eventually the breeze just pushed it through. 26-12, the Sharks 14 points up.

7.10am BST

Try! Hit back they do, some lovely work from Graham again, cutting out his full-back, and then Ricky Leutele gets on the outside of the tackler and charges over the line. Lots of acceleration from Leutele, lots of awareness from the Sharks going down the left. They lead 24-12 with the kick to come.

7.09am BST

They’re back at it again, Wade Graham flattening Maloney near the try line. Beale eventually catches the ball in the in-goal, and once again the Sharks defence stands up under serious pressure. Now they’re aiming to hit back.

7.05am BST

… but some great aquatic defending keeps the poultry out.

7.04am BST

NRL – the Chooks are besieging the Cronulla line. Three tackles now within 10 metres of a try…

7.03am BST

AFL – Sam Mitchell off the field with blood coming from a split lip. He doesn’t want to come off, but the blood rule applies. And Mitchell is trickling as slowly off the field himself to buy his teammates a bit of a breather. They’re under the pump, the Eagles.

7.03am BST

AFL – Adelaide kicks clear again via Tex Walker, back to a nine point lead. In the meantime, the Dogs looked done but have mounted yet another push back, with goals to Hunter and Wallis, but then misses from the Bont and Bob Murphy. Not good when your two spiritual leaders can’t nail the goal to get you right back in the contest… but what’s this? Some tough work in the forward 50 and Roughead scrambles the snap home! It’s now West Coast 81, Western Bulldogs 73. They’ve come from five goals down with half of the last quarter remaining.

6.58am BST

Half time at the Roosters v Sharks game is coming to an end, the Roosters with the kick-off as we get going again, the score still 20-12 in favour of the Sharks.

6.51am BST

AFL – scores are level! It was Gibbs again with the delivery inside 50, and Liam Sumner marks 20 out and gets flattened as he takes it. Gets the 50 metre penalty and quickly plays on to kick the goal, as there was a bit of a melee starting to break out. Smart play, wanted to defuse things and avoid any risk of getting the ball turned over. It’s 50 plays 50.

6.48am BST

AFL – goal to Bryce Gibbs after a good centring ball, and the Blues have pushed back to 44-50. They’re not ready to go away. Still more than half the third quarter ahead of us.

6.47am BST

NRL – It’s the Roosters and the Sharks today in the main game. The Roosters had scored a try to push the scores back to 12-14, thanks to Ryan Matterson and Gordon’s conversion, but the Sharks have pushed back ahead thanks to Sosaia Feki and a subsequent Maloney goal. It’s 12-20 to the Fish.

The @sydneyroosters hit back through Matterson!#NRLRoostersSharks 12-14 after 30 minutes. #NRL

6.43am BST

AFL – in the other game, Carlton versus Adelaide, Josh Jenkins has just been put through into an open goal for a vital score. It’s a low-scoring game, this one, it was locked at 37 plays 44 for a very long time to start the final quarter, but now Jenkins has pushed Adelaide’s score up to 50. It’ll take something special from the improving Blues to dig deep and make up this difference.

6.32am BST

AFL – Western Bulldogs try to get something going. They’re level on the ladder with West Coast on points, and have had a pretty average season to date in nominally defending their breakthrough premiership. They’ve conceded a couple of goals in the third quarter against the Eagles, but have hit back with the last goal to Toby McLean and now a long point after a good mark to Tom Campbell. They’re 17 points down, 49 to 66, and trying to get some momentum.

6.23am BST

Now, I don’t want to be accused of being a big-sport shill in a Sydney or Melbourne ivory tower, but it does seem like the majority of the sport being played professionally around Australia today is either in the AFL or NRL. If you’re a rugby fan, the Lions are indeed taking on the All Blacks, which will have its own dedicated live blog on the Guardian later, I’ll link to that. There are the Marble Bar races of course, which no one in their right mind would forget. But if there are other sporting events that I’ve missed, big or small, send them through to, or tweet them to @GeoffLemonSport.

6.08am BST

Good afternoon, sports devourers of the southern continent, and welcome to another welcome edition of Sportswatch, where we do exactly the thing that the title implies. It’s a wintry and miserable day in Perth, cold but sunny towards the eastern coast in Melbourne, Hobart and Canberra, decidedly pleasant in Adelaide and Sydney, and damnably near 30 degrees in Darwin. Ah, Darwin. You maverick renegade. Wherever you are, let’s keep an eye on the ball-scrambling pursuits around our country together.

4.57am BST

Geoff will be here shortly. In the meantime, take the opportunity to read this excellent interview, about a top footballer’s struggles with mental illness, gambling and drink.

Related: Steven Caulker: ‘I’ve sat here for years hating myself … This year was almost the end’

Continue reading…

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Jun 11

India beat South Africa: ICC Champions Trophy – as it happened

The champions India thrashed a pitiful South Africa by eight wickets to breeze into the semi-finals

4.53pm BST

That was probably the performance of the tournament so far from India. The Sri Lanka game has been expunged from memory, and they will qualify as group winners. It’ll take a very good team to beat them. Thanks for your company, goodnight!

4.49pm BST

38 overs: India 193-2 (Kohli 76, Yuvraj 17) Yuvraj finishes it in style, hoicking Duminy for six! India breeze into the semi-finals, where they will play Bangladesh. They played superbly; South Africa could barely have played worse.

4.46pm BST

36th over: India 183-2 (Kohli 75, Yuvraj 12) Kohli gets four more with a fast-handed pull through midwicket off Tahir. That was another tremendous shot. India need nine to win from 72 balls. Meanwhile, this is a good point from the Godfather of the OBO.

So we’ll have three Asian teams in the semi-finals. Don’t imagine anyone predicted that.

4.43pm BST

36th over: India 176-2 (Kohli 70, Yuvraj 12) This match is taking place at the Oval, and thus we’re contractually obliged to link to the scorecard of a game here in 1993 that shows it’s never over until it’s over. Except it kind of is.

Shem. Things have gone so badly for South Africa that if they were the team chasing this at this point, they’d find a way to cock it up.

4.40pm BST

35th over: India 173-2 (Kohli 69, Yuvraj 10) Kohli drives Tahir through wide mid-on for a superb boundary. He hasn’t always looked at his best in this tournament – yet he’s still averaging 150. Yuvraj survives an LBW appeal – and then a review – because of a late inside edge.

4.35pm BST

34th over: India 166-2 (Kohli 64, Yuvraj 8) Replays show that delivery from Tahir did indeed pitch just outside leg stump. JP Duminy comes on after the drinks break. He took a hat-trick against Sri Lanka in the World Cup quarter-final two years ago; even that wouldn’t be enough here.

4.31pm BST

33rd over: India 162-2 (Kohli 62, Yuvraj 6) Yuvraj survives a huge LBW appeal when Tahir skids one into the pad. That looked out, yet South Africa haven’t bothered to review. Maybe it pitched outside leg. I can’t see any other reason why it wasn’t out.

4.27pm BST

32nd over: India 156-2 (Kohli 61, Yuvraj 1) It won’t be officially confirmed until tomorrow, but India will play Bangladesh in the second semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday.

“Hi Rob,” says L’ Gopika Murthy. “Do you miss seeing Dravid and Ganguly play, no matter how good the current team is?”

4.23pm BST

31st over: India 154-2 (Kohli 59, Yuvraj 1) “Why don’t you Tweet?” says Andrew Benton. “Do you have special dispensation from the Guardian Towers powers to avoid this most addictive and pointless of pastimes?”

May I reverse the question? It’s hard enough fighting the internal narcissist without giving him an endless platform to detail my quirky breakfast habits and to flag up when I’m having an afternoon nap.

4.20pm BST

You know things are bad when Imran Tahir doesn’t celebrate a wicket. Dhawan sliced a googly towards long off, where du Plessis took a very good running catch. Tahir settled for a modest high five rather than the usual lap of honour.

4.19pm BST

30th over: India 151-1 (Dhawan 78, Kohli 57) This match will be done in the next half hour or so – India need 41 from 120 overs.

4.17pm BST

29th over: India 148-1 (Dhawan 77, Kohli 55) Kohli drives Rabada supremely through extra cover for three. This has become a victory parade during the match for India.

“GSCE,” says Steve Ditchburn. “Almost as hilarious as writingIndia need 74 from 25 balls’.”

4.10pm BST

28th over: India 142-1 (Dhawan 75, Kohli 51) Kohli reaches an imperfect but increasingly dominant fifty from 71 balls. Dhawan then belts Morris for two leg-side boundaries; he has the chance of yet another century in an ICC tournament. His record is remarkable, which is why I’ve just remarked upon it.

“How many Yorkshire players do you think Root will select in his first Test team?” says Tom Van der Gucht. “Do you think Ballance, based on his county format, and Rashid may sneak in alongside YJB?”

4.05pm BST

27th over: India 130-1 (Dhawan 66, Kohli 48) Dhawan gloves a pull for four off Rabada. If South Africa had the option of throwing in a towel they would surely do so; this is all pretty miserable for them.

“Not too sure I agree that Boycott would be in the kitchen at the party,” says Matt Dony. “I get the impression he has some strong opinions on who should be in the kitchen, and it’s not him. He would corner you in the living room, straining to talk at you over the music, regaling you with long stories you never asked to hear.”

I didn’t, I got 48 runs.

4.02pm BST

26th over: India 125-1 (Dhawan 61, Kohli 48) Dhawan hoicks Morris’s slower ball over midwicket for four to bring up an increasingly rampant hundred partnership.

“I am all in for Kohli v Wood battle in the final,” says Kumar Pushparaj. “Wood has been the biggest impact player in this tournament.”

3.57pm BST

25th over: India 118-1 (Dhawan 55, Kohli 47) Rabada returns, just in case there’s a miracle to be found on a good length. There isn’t. India need 74 from 25 balls. Overs, I meant overs. 25 overs.

“Exam choke,” says Sam in Romania. “GSCE maths, 1993. Lad next to me turns up with a TV remote control instead of his calculator. Claims they were both on the arm of the chair, turned off the TV to come to the exam and picked up the wrong one. Fail.”

3.53pm BST

24th over: India 115-1 (Dhawan 54, Kohli 47) Dhawan dumps Morris over mid-on for four to reach the usual half-century, his third of the tournament and his sixth in eight Champions Trophy innings. He’s now the leading runscorer in this tournament as well. He gets an adoring reception from the India supporters, who could be a significant factor if they play England here in the final next Sunday.

3.50pm BST

23rd over: India 110-1 (Dhawan 49, Kohli 47) Kohli flicks Morkel through midwicket for four, a touch of considerable class, and drives another boundary through extra cover. Beautiful.

“I’m here, got nowhere to go when you are down with the flu,” says Pratik Dubey. “Glad it’s a match day. Expected more from today’s match though. Looks like we will have the perfect final. Defending Champions Vs Strongest Contenders. True championship match. Only if we could have some pre-match smack talk!”

3.45pm BST

22nd over: India 102-1 (Dhawan 49, Kohli 39) “You think there’ll be an India/Pakistan final in this tournament?” says Abhishek Chopra.

No, although it would be the most Pakistan thing ever for them to start the competition with a pitiful defeat to India and end it by beating them in the final. I suspect both semi-finals will be won easily by England and India.

3.42pm BST

21st over: India 100-1 (Dhawan 47, Kohli 38) Morkel replaces Tahir and is struck for consecutive boundaries by Kohli, a loose drive over point followed by a deliberate steer between slip and gully. This match is all over including the shouting.

“How can you be lonely with all those stats in your head to keep you company?” says Ian Copestake. “It must be like being at a party you can never leave hosted by W.G. Grace. Boycott will be in the kitchen, so there’s no escape there.”

3.35pm BST

20th over: India 90-1 (Dhawan 47, Kohli 29) “Who will England play?” asks Martin Lloyd. They will play in Cardiff on Wednesday against the winner of tomorrow’s match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, unless something utterly ridiculous happens to the net run-rate.

3.32pm BST

19th over: India 84-1 (Dhawan 43, Kohli 27) Dhawan pulls and back cuts Tahir for consecutive boundaries. That’s excellent, authoritative batting against the last known threat to India’s victory chances.

“You can say what you like about South Africa’s performance today,” says Sam. “They’re still doing better than I am at revising for my land law exam tomorrow.”

3.29pm BST

18th over: India 76-1 (Dhawan 35, Kohli 27) Phehlukwayo bowls the first over after the break; one from it.

3.24pm BST

Drinks break Send your emails to Please, I’m getting lonely.

3.21pm BST

17th over: India 75-1 (Dhawan 35, Kohli 25) Imran Tahir comes into the attack. Dhawan sweeps him for four to bring up the fifty partnership and increase the party atmosphere at the Oval. Tahir slips a googly past the outside edge, prompting Aleem Dar to check the stumping with the third umpire. Dhawan’s back foot was in the crease.

3.17pm BST

16th over: India 70-1 (Dhawan 31, Kohli 25) Kohlis is dropped off Phehlukwayo! He edged a big drive towards slip, where Amla couldn’t hang on to a very difficult low chance to his right. Kohli continues to look a bit vulnerable outside off stump, which will interest England if they play India in the final.

3.13pm BST

15th over: India 65-1 (Dhawan 30, Kohli 21) Kohli takes Morris from outside off stump, rolling the wrists to ping the ball to the long-on boundary. India are cruising to victory after a sluggish takes Morris from outside off stump, rolling the wrists to ping the ball to the long-on boundary. India are cruising to victory after a sluggish start.

3.11pm BST

14th over: India 58-1 (Dhawan 28, Kohli 16) Kohli has had enough of being bowled at by South Africa: he blasts Phehlukwayo for a majestic six down the ground to signal the start of phase two of his innings.

“Hi,” says Damian Clarke. “It’s started drizzling here on the sunny south coast, which has curtailed a very exciting afternoon Hammeriting (other exterior paints are available) my drainpipes. So I’ll start on the snifters and stay with you.”

3.04pm BST

13th over: India 50-1 (Dhawan 28, Kohli 9) Chris Morris replaces Rabada (6-2-21-0) and continues the excellent line to Kohli. It’s Kohli who blinks first with a swivel-pull that bounces this far short of Morkel, diving forward at fine leg. This is a superb effort from South Africa’s bowlers; if only they had a score of even 270 to defend.

2.59pm BST

12th over: India 47-1 (Dhawan 28, Kohli 6) Andile Phehlukwayo replaces Morne Morkel. Dhawan pushes his first ball towards point, where a misfield from Miller turns one run into three. Kohli charges the next delivery, which snakes back through the gate and just past the stumps. That was beautifully bowled. Kohli hasn’t really got going and has six from 19 balls.

2.55pm BST

11th over: India 41-1 (Dhawan 25, Kohli 3) Rabada continues into a sixth over. There’s no point saving his overs. This is the game and the tournament, right here. He has bowled very well to Kohli in particular, but hasn’t been able to bother his outside edge. India are comfortable; it might be time for Tahir.

2.45pm BST

10th over: India 37-1 (Dhawan 22, Kohli 2) Dhawan brings the crowd back to life with consecutive boundaries off Morkel, a push through mid-off followed by a drive through the covers. Morkel bowls a front-foot no-ball and Dhawan clouts the free hit over point for a couple. Eleven from the over. I’d probably type ‘Shackles. Broken’ if I had a liking for that mildly irritating device of putting a full stop in the middle of a sentence in an attempt to achieve emphasis.

2.44pm BST

9th over: India 26-1 (Dhawan 12, Kohli 2) Anyone out there?

2.41pm BST

8th over: India 24-1 (Dhawan 11, Kohli 1) This is excellent, proud bowling in the face of almost certain defeat from Rabada and Morkel, who makes it consecutive maidens and beats Dhawan with the final delivery of the over.

2.37pm BST

7th over: India 24-1 (Dhawan 11, Kohli 1) Rabada has two slips and a gully for Kohli and hits a decent line just outside off stum. Kohli defends or leaves everything, so it’s a maiden.

2.33pm BST

6th over: India 24-1 (Dhawan 11, Kohli 1) If South Africa are to have any chance of a miracle, they need to get Kohli early. That was such an extravagant shot from Rohit in the circumstances; Morkel saw him making room and followed him with a very good delivery.

2.31pm BST

One down, nine to go. Rohit makes room to launch Morkel over the off side and snicks through to the diving de Kock. Good bowling from Morkel, who has had an excellent tournament.

2.29pm BST

5th over: India 23-0 (Rohit 12, Dhawan 11) Dhawan paddle-pulls Rabada towards long leg, where Phehlukwayo runs straight past the ball and allows it to go for four. This could turn into total humiliation for South Africa.

2.25pm BST

4th over: India 18-0 (Rohit 11, Dhawan 7) Dhawan snaps his wrists to flick Morkel for an extraordinary six over square leg. What a shot! This is going to a long afternoon of the soul for South Africa’s cricketers, compounded by the noise of the Indian fans at the Oval. There are some all-time greats in that team, and you have to feel for them in particular.

2.21pm BST

3rd over: India 12-0 (Rohit 11, Dhawan 1) After a careful start – one from 13 balls – Rohit comes to life with four and six off consecutive deliveries from Rabada. A classy straight drive was followed by a storming pull stroke over the rope.

2.17pm BST

2nd over: India 2-0 (Rohit 1, Dhawan 1) Morne Morkel is promoted to take the new ball, a reflection of South Africa’s urgent need for wickets. They should have had one, too. Dhawan took a suicidal single into the covers and was miles short of his ground when Miller’s throw missed the stumps. Having been run-out earlier, he’s just put salt in his own wounds.

“An England v Bangladesh final would be best – and hopefully taken right down to the very last ball…” says Andrew Benton.

2.13pm BST

1st over: India 0-0 (Rohit 0, Dhawan 0) Kagiso Rabada takes the opening over. South Africa should turn this into a Test match, like Australia did so successfully for a time yesterday. That’s what Rabada does, with two slips and an excellent fifth-stump line. Rohit is beaten by a good delivery and plays out the rest of the over cautiously. A maiden.

“So, let’s get it out of the way,” says John Beaven. “Was that the chokiest choke since the last time serial chokers South Africa choked?”

2.08pm BST

South Africa are in a huddle, but their body language isn’t exactly threatening to break the positivityometer. Seven Nation Army, the Michael van Gerwen anthem, plays on the tannoy. I suspect that, in the post-match interviews, the message coming from AB de Villiers’ eyes will say: leave it alone. He doesn’t deserve this.

2.06pm BST

Thanks Geoff. South Africa, so much to answer for. They spent the two years between the World Cup and the Champions Trophy ascending to No1 in the world, and the whole goddamn enterprise unravelled in just six deliveries. That’s how long it took for AB de Villiers and David Miller to be run out in a manner that brought all South Africa’s old demons rushing to the surface.

They lost their last eight wickets for 51 – and, just for good measure, finished the innings with a third ridiculous run-out. It was pretty hard to watch, and it was no surprise that #chokers was doing plenty of business on Twitter. Not even Malcolm Tucker could put a positive spin on it, though he could probably come up with an alternative C-word for their performance.

1.46pm BST

I’ve said it 30 times before, and I’ll say it just once more: disaster. Holy hand grenades. South Africa have a great batting line-up on paper, but like most things on paper it appears relatively easy to put holes in it.

Those batsmen have been dismissed in 44.3 overs, the exact same number of overs that Bangladesh were dismissed for on this ground by Australia earlier in the week. India, though, will not be thwarted in their chase by weather.The sky remains relatively clear, the clouds of the friendly persuasion.

1.43pm BST

It’s all over, and the men in green will not get 200. I’m not talking about leprachauns, either. There’s been little in the way of luck for them today. India have been supreme. Duminy flicks Bhuvi out to midwicket and goes for a run. He desperately wants the second, as it’s only the third ball of the over. But then they realise it’s not on. Or decide it’s not on. Tahir turns back and tries to regain his crease. The dive again, not as grand as AB’s, but pretty good in the circumstances. Again Dhoni’s hands are too fast. None of you will know AFL football, but there’s a player whose name we like to use at times like this: Max Gawn.

1.39pm BST

44th over: South Africa 190-9 (Duminy 19, Tahir 1)

The crowd goes up as Tahir lashes Bumrah to cover, and Rohit Sharma pretends to claim a catch off the bump ball. It’s all fun and games now. It’s Connect 4 night in a Laotian backpacker joint. Drink specials till midnight, free DJ till dawn. Tahir survives the over, SA benefit by a wide.

We did it better

1.36pm BST

43rd over: South Africa 189-9 (Duminy 19, Tahir 1)

If you were every going to bowl for a hat-trick in your career, you’d want to be bowling to Imran Tahir. But the hat-trick is denied in a flurry of limbs and protective equipment, as a ball that could have hit the stumps is deflected away, and the edge goes to ground through the slips for a run. Duminy then positions his own pads correctly and benefits by four leg byes. Can South Africa get 200?

1.31pm BST

The Golden Globe goes to… Morne Morkel! Best Guest Appearance in a Dramatic Comedy. He gets a fullish ball but it’s not that full. Essays a big drive. Gets a big edge. Kohli has brought himself into slip for just that contingency, and Bhuvi is on a hat-trick.

1.29pm BST

What a delivery. They are bowling beautifully today. Bhuvi hits the perfect length, the perfect seam position. Rabada doesn’t know whether to come forward. He hangs back a touch, prods. The ball seams across the left-hander, takes his edge, simple for Dhoni.

1.27pm BST

42nd over: South Africa 184-7 (Duminy 19, Rabada 5)

Ashwin is bowling nicely, Duminy still struggling. A strike rate of barely 50, as he twice finds point with short balls. Ashwin beats him into the pad another time, but the appeal isn’t successful. Only two singles come from the over with South Africa limping towards 200.

1.23pm BST

41st over: South Africa 182-7 (Duminy 18, Rabada 4)

Bumrah generating some serious pace now with his bouncers, but Rabada picks on one of them and smashes the pull for four. Great shot. Another left-hander out in the middle, South Africa have a parade of them.

1.22pm BST

Gone on review. Everything going right for India. Beautiful bowling from Bumrah. Fast, full, swinging away from the left-hander but it starts outside leg stump and hits his pad on the line of leg, around the ankle. I have no earthly idea how that was given not out initially, but India challenge after a chat with Dhoni, and are proven correct. Smashing the stumps.

1.18pm BST

40th over: South Africa 178-6 (Duminy 18, Phehlukwayo 4)

Just the three runs from the over as Kumar comes back. Very straight, and he seems to be getting the ball to shift a little bit off the pitch.

1.17pm BST

39th over: South Africa 175-6 (Duminy 17, Phehlukwayo 2)

Finally, something goes right for SA. A big cut from Duminy, a big edge, and Ashwin concedes a boundary through fine third man. The first for a long time. There’s just been very little chance for South Africa to get anything away. The revelation for India of late is just how good their bowling can be. We’re used to them having great batsmen, and the occasional great spinner, but historically that class bowler has been somewhat outnumbered by colleagues who aren’t at his level.

1.13pm BST

38th over: South Africa 169-6 (Duminy 12, Phehlukwayo 1)

Pandya drying them up. They miss the rains down in Africa. Two runs from the over. Like Bruce Willis across most of his films, this is just getting uglier scene by scene.

1.07pm BST

37th over: South Africa 167-6 (Duminy 11, Phehlukwayo 0)

Duminy is trying, but he’s not in the groove. Before the Morris dismissal he misses a pie down leg side that could have been a simple glance for four. After Morris goes, Duminy laces a cut shot, but straight to backward point on the bounce for a dot ball. Bumrah is bowling at a good clip.

1.03pm BST

There’s the pressure of that low run rate. The ball isn’t even that short, but Morris tries to go cross-bat across the line. It doesn’t work for him – a high top edge lobs to square leg inside the circle, and Bhuvi Kumar steadies under it to take a simple one.

1.01pm BST

36th over: South Africa 165-5 (Duminy 10, Morris 4)

India’s bowlers still choking South Africa up. Pandya on a good line on off stump, or shorter attacking the body. The batsmen can only manage three singles. Where are the runs going to come from, as this match goes on?

12.56pm BST

35th over: South Africa 162-5 (Duminy 8, Morris 3)

Jadeja finishes his day’s work with 1-39 from 10 overs. Nearly runs out Morris at the non-striker’s end too, after Duminy drives back to him. Just the three singles. India have played the spin aspect of this match to perfection so far.

12.54pm BST

34th over: South Africa 159-5 (Duminy 6, Morris 2)

Du Plessis leaves the ground, Morris emerges. Look at the shoulders of that trudging figure. Sometime captain, sometime not. Hounded in Australia. Tortured in England. Responsible, perhaps, for the demise of his teammates, then the demise of himself.

12.49pm BST

And finally the pain is over, with a last searing burst. Du Plessis sees a nice wide ball and decides to smash it through cover. Except it’s an off-cutter, Pandya running his fingers down the seam, and it grips a bit in the pitch. The stroke mistimed. The bottom edge of the angled bat directing it into the stumps. The flashing red bails detonate, and the shimmering blue crowd does the same.

12.47pm BST

33rd over: South Africa 156-4 (du Plessis 36, Duminy 5)

Jaedja rattles through another four singles from an over. He has one over left, and has gone for 36 runs.

12.44pm BST

32nd over: South Africa 152-4 (du Plessis 34, Duminy 3)

Du Plessis is trying to get his run-tapping groove back, but if we could do a pictorial analogy of his state of mind right now, it would be a man on his knees yelling “Mendooozaaaaa” into an unforgiving sky. Pandya bowls a wide bouncer and gives up three singles. The earth spins remorselessly on its way.

12.38pm BST

31st over: South Africa 148-4 (du Plessis 32, Duminy 2)

Duminy given out! But he reviews. Jadeja the bowler, hit him in line as he swept. But Duminy has got a faint bottom edge on that ball, which the audio technology shows up in graph form. A handful of singles from the Jadeja over. What has happened to this innings? India swarming. The crowd is utterly deafening. I know we carry on about this, but sitting in the middle of it is a truly visceral experience.

12.35pm BST

30th over: South Africa 145-4 (du Plessis 30, Duminy 1)

Well, three singles from the over but disaster from the first ball. I do keep using that word, I’m aware, but there isn’t currently a better one. Run-outs always seem so self inflicted. Surely the pros know how long it takes to reach the other end, and when to take that on?

That moment when you look up and see your batting partner next to you at the same end #INDvSA #CT17

12.33pm BST

To lose one wicket to a run out might be seen as misfortune… What a shambles. What a disaster. The Embarro-meter is off the charts. How to even describe that. Du Plessis squirts it into the leg side, and both batsmen start. It goes straight to the field, again, so du Plessis turns back. Miller keeps going. In the end it’s a race to see who gets safely into the batsman’s ground at the same end. The other ends stands empty, and Kohli trots in to tap off the bails. So the umpires have to check on the replay which batsman is out. Miller loses by a short half head.

That was not pretty.

12.29pm BST

29th over: South Africa 142-3 (du Plessis 27, Miller 1)

The run-out early in the over helps Jadeja keep it to three singles thereafter as David Miller tries to settle in at the crease. That will have to rattle du Plessis as well, it was really him calling that summoned AB through, where probably de Villiers should have regarded it as his own call and said no.

12.28pm BST

Disaster for South Africa. Both these two looked in such good touch, but they’ve made a mess of it. Faf du Plessis cut to backward point, and it was fielded inside the circle. There wasn’t a run there but they both took off with the stroke. AB de Villiers was coming to the danger end and knew there was strife. He dived full length, mid air, bat extended. And the athleticism of the dive nearly got him home. But the thow was perfect, right over the stumps, and Dhoni was able to glove the bails off with minimal movement.

12.25pm BST

28th over: South Africa 139-2 (du Plessis 27, de Villiers 15)

Bumrah back, and they handle him with ease. Singles, twos, seven from the over.

Both wickets to spinners, may not be a bad idea to bring in Yuvraj to bowl a few instead of persist with Pandya. #INDvSA

12.23pm BST

27th over: South Africa 132-2 (du Plessis 25, de Villiers 10)

Except Jadeja slows them up immediately, pinning down du Plessis after de Villiers escapes strike from the first ball. Faf finds the field a couple of times, then gives a genuine edge, then decides to block.

Very nice comeback from Jadeja.

12.19pm BST

26th over: South Africa 131-2 (du Plessis 25, de Villiers 9)

There’s been talk of AB being out of form, but he’s starting well here. Full and wide from Pandya, de Villiers uses lots of bottom hand to slap that cover drive for four. Gets a run to third man, then du Plessis glances another four. He walks at Pandya next ball and cuts uppishly, but it lands safely in the deep in front of the sweeper. AB follows his lead after a wide, also walking at the bowler to put him off, making a shortish ball very short, but managing to lean his body far enough to the leg side of the ball that he finds the room to slap it through point. A lot going on in that stroke for one run. Not all singles are equal. A dozen of the best from the over. South Africa will want a stack more of those if they’re going to restrain India under sunshine this afternoon.

12.14pm BST

25th over: South Africa 119-2 (du Plessis 20, de Villiers 3)

Surely the biggest cheer of the day for a non-Indian participant, as the otherwise highly partisan crowd at The Oval decide to offer praise to AB de Villiers. They do love him so; some of the noise for him at the World T20 last year even at neutral games was utterly insane. He gets away immediately by driving two through covers, then a single the same way.

12.11pm BST

Horrible shot really. Quinton went for a reverse sweep the ball before and missed. Went conventional the next ball and missed that too. Unfortunately for him that ball was in line with the stumps and went straight through him.

12.09pm BST

24th over: South Africa 116-1 (de Kock 53, du Plessis 20)

Six more from Pandya’s over, as de Kock raises his fifty with a single.

12.08pm BST

23rd over: South Africa 110-1 (de Kock 49, du Plessis 18)

This is a different game since du Plessis came to the crease. He’s finding runs where he wants, in multiples. Slashes three through cover, runs hard. Singles too. Another six from the Jadeja over.

12.00pm BST

22nd over: South Africa 104-1 (de Kock 47, du Plessis 14)

Psychological games? Wanting to deny South Africa the satisfaction of raising their team hundred with a crisp single, Pandya bowls down leg side for a wide. Faf hasn’t faced any seam yet, but he’s comfortably running his second ball down to third man in time-honoured style. Quinton de Kock nearly splits the fieldsmen at deep midwicket and deep backward square with a stylish flick, but it’s saved on therope. Pandya stays a little too straight to the leftie, and another single goes in a similar direction.

11.56am BST

21st over: South Africa 99-1 (de Kock 44, du Plessis 13)

The harvest continues. Five singles from the Jadeja over. Suddenly they’re doing it with ease. If all this excitement is too much for you, check out the award-winning Will Macpherson’s work over on the country cricket round-up.

Related: County Championship round-up: Ryan ten Doeschate leads Essex fightback

11.53am BST

20th over: South Africa 94-1 (de Kock 42, du Plessis 10)

Loving this, there’s a real urgency to du Plessis. He nicks a single to the on side from Ashwin’s first ball, and the right/left changeover does for Ashwin, who slides too far to leg and de Kock picks him off with a lovely drive through midwicket. Then a single, then Faf gauges a second run beautifully after he flicks behind square. Sprints back for the second. Ashwin is rattled, bowls a wide, then there’s another single to Faf to keep the strike, and they’ve turned Ashwin upside down and shaked out his pockets for 10 runs. This is exceptional one-day batting.

11.50am BST

19th over: South Africa 84-1 (de Kock 37, du Plessis 6)

Faf in, and immediately things start to get moving. He slashes two runs from Jadeja’s fifth ball, out behind point, and they get a single from every other delivery. Seven from the over with little effort aside from all the running. Which considering I nearly died after four flights of stairs to the Edgbaston press box the other day, shouldn’t be underestimated.

11.48am BST

18th over: South Africa 77-1 (de Kock 35, du Plessis 1)

Francois du Plessis is next to the crease. Amla had struck a sweet boundary down the ground a couple of balls before his wicket, but that was that. Ashwin has 1 for 22 from 5 overs. I’m going to call that a good selection.

11.42am BST

There it is! Ashwin strikes, the pressure tells. A quicker ball speared through outside off, Amla saw the length and tried to cut but it came on faster than he thought. Mistimed shot, takes the edge and Dhoni snares it standing up to the stumps with a very good take. The pressure compounds as a wicket goes down with the run rate struggling.

11.40am BST

17th over: South Africa 71-0 (de Kock 35, Amla 31)

Better get my typing fingers on here. Ravindra Jadeja on from the other end, the left-armer to Ashwin’s right, spin in either direction, the bowling pair that underwrote India’s ascent to Test supremacy and became the top two ranked bowlers in that format in the world. What can they do in partnership here? You do get the feeling that South Africa would rather be facing pace, and that their downfall against Pakistan’s spinners may have informed India’s approach today.

11.37am BST

16th over: South Africa 67-0 (de Kock 33, Amla 29)

Ashwin rattles through another over, he’s a Gatling gun. Much better for SA though, they get five singles from it. That’s the mark you want to be setting against the oposition’s premier spinner.

11.34am BST

15th over: South Africa 62-0 (de Kock 30, Amla 27)

Has the spell broken? Pandya was on top, Amla was struggling. And then: click. Amla has had enough, breaks the emergency glass, and punches the button. He walks across outside his off stump, gets a full toss as well, and flicks the ball high and long over square leg towards the Gasometer. Six runs. That was huge but graceful, like a whale shark in the London sky. No, I’m fine. Has anyone read China Miéville’s story about the icebergs floating over England? Like that. Then Pandya lands one, but Amla does the same move, coming across and flicking it, this time with more inside edge and it goes through fine leg for four. Could be the turning point.

11.29am BST

14th over: South Africa 52-0 (de Kock 30, Amla 17)

Ashwin delivers another very tidy over, just the two singles from it. Accurate, at the stumps, good lengths, hard to get away.

11.28am BST

13th over: South Africa 50-0 (de Kock 29, Amla 16)

Oh, another near dismissal. They’ve run more garbage than a New York trash collector, this pair. This time it’s de Kock who sets off with a shot straight to mid-off, and should be out by a yard except that Kohli misses the throw while running in with a dive. That came after Pandya had built the pressure with four tight deliveries, forcing the mistake. And another one is missed next ball, as Amla chips back to the bowler who shells the chance. Did all of the work, Pandya, but two possible wickets go begging.

11.23am BST

12th over: South Africa 48-0 (de Kock 28, Amla 15)

Amla trying to sweep Ashwin, but not timing it well. Aside from that one gorgeous shot he hasn’t looked the goods today. Trying to find the rhythm we know he has, the South African opener. Ashwin bowls another tight one, until the last ball. Then he slips it down leg side, and QDK is easily able to help it along behind square for four.

54.6 – @ashwinravi99 averages 54.6 v @OfficialCSA with the ball, his poorest rate vs any side he has faced more than once. Intro. #CT17

11.20am BST

11th over: South Africa 41-0 (de Kock 23, Amla 13)

Another bowling change for India, with the all-round seamer Hardik Pandya from the Pavilion End. They work him around a bit more easily. Six runs from the over seems like a release of pressure given how hard the work has been for South Africa through the first 10 overs. Powerplay run rate of 3.5! Geoff Marsh would have liked it, but sheesh.

India would have preferred a wicket or two but this is a good start. South Africa looking like they are itching to get a move on

11.18am BST

10th over: South Africa 35-0 (de Kock 20, Amla 11)

Spin City. It’s time for Ashwin, Lord of the Carrom Ball, King of the Finger Flick. He’s on the money immediately, hard to get away. QDK flicks a single, and Ashwin slips in a wide, but that’s it for the over.

Turned alright, Ashwin. And then two balls later it goes the other way. Classy Ashwin.#IndvSA #ct2017

11.12am BST

9th over: South Africa 33-0 (de Kock 19, Amla 11)

Another beauty from Kumar, he’s putting together an artist’s spell here. Amla is such a class batsman, but Bhuvi hits the perfect length to get the batsman stuck, feet not moving, then the ball decks in off the seam and so narrowly misses cleaning up the stumps. Or making a mess of them. How are those two contradictory phrases used to mean the same thing? Someone dial up Linguistics, stat. The batsmen get three singles from the over.

Almost definitely, yes.

11.07am BST

8th over: South Africa 30-0 (de Kock 17, Amla 10)

The bhangra drums fire up again as Bumrah bowls another good over, with Amla circumspect and de Kock chastened. The South Africans are trying to maintain patience and composure – we’ve seen in this tournament how often it has been difficult early for batsmen, then got far easier into the middle overs.

11.05am BST

7th over: South Africa 28-0 (de Kock 17, Amla 9)

Suddenly de Kock has lost it. He gets on strike with four balls left in Kumar’s over, and starts attempting to wallop. Twists the bat in his hand the first ball, then misses completely the next two. Ugly swats. The last ball of the over is a beauty, right in the channel, and Quinton is Calais, stranded on the far side.

“Not so much supping in the last chance saloon as binge-drinking the final dregs of hope” – the @bbctms view on South Africa #INDvSA

10.59am BST

6th over: South Africa 26-0 (de Kock 16, Amla 8)

Bumrah, wide outside off and de Kock laces the cut, but straight to the field. Gets stuck the next few balls with a tighter line before shovelling a drive on the leg side for one. Then Amla arrives. Gorgeous. Dreamy. What a shot. It’s not a bad ball, just back of a length, just outside off. He doesn’t chop it behind point. Or cut it. Or force it. Or glide it. He stands up on his toes, weight on his back foot, and drives, genuinely drives with a vertical bat, but with the bat-face open and flowing through with elbow, in a square drive through backward point for four. That should be impossible. But I saw it. It was real.

10.53am BST

5th over: South Africa 21-0 (de Kock 15, Amla 4)

Another early boundary to the left-handed de Kock, as Bhuvneshwar strays down leg side and this time the batsman gets a touch on it and sends it to the fine leg fence. Similar line is glanced for a single, then Bhuvi tightens up the line to the right-handed Amla. He’s definitely finding that side of the wicket easier thus far. This niche enthusiasm from the first over will have waned.

Get in, Bhuvi. #CT17

10.50am BST

4th over: South Africa 16-0 (de Kock 10, Amla 4)

Four. First ball of the over, Bumrah goes full, and de Kock plays a straight drive past him to the fence. No trouble there. There is trouble when Amla swats across the line, edges into his body, and the ball pops up in the air. He doesn’t know where it is, so he sort of leans over his wicket with his upper body in case the rebounding ball falls nearby.

10.48am BST

3rd over: South Africa 9-0 (de Kock 4, Amla 3)

Nearly a run out! Amla pushes Bhuvneshwar down to mid off and starts running. Why? We’ll never know. He realises within two steps that he’s in trouble, but it would be slower to send de Kock back. So Amla sprints down the middle of the pitch like Forrest Gump down a highway line, and if mid-off’s tumbling throw had hit, it would have been gone. But Rohit is Nohit, and Amla survives.

Nice to see some Aussies still in #CT17

10.42am BST

2nd over: South Africa 4-0 (de Kock 1, Amla 2)

Jasprit Bumrah from the other end, and it’s a very good start from him. I’m a big fan of this young bowler, he was so impressive in his debut international season in Australia a couple of summers back. Full of energy, full of intent. He’s not at top pace yet, topping out at about 85 miles per hour, but he’s on line from the start and South Africa can only harvest a single to Amla, as de Kock is tangled up a few times.

10.37am BST

1st over: South Africa 3-0 (de Kock 1, Amla 1)

Here we go, here we go, here we here we here we go. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will open the bowling from the Pavilion End, searching for swing. There ain’t any, as he lollops a wide down the leg side. De Kock squirts a single next ball, then after some defensive strokes Amla edges one along the ground wide of slip. Groans from the crowd.

Related: Usain Bolt’s final race in Jamaica: a five-hour outpouring of love and exaltation

10.29am BST

Ah yes, and the people’s anthem once again. “I’m gonna fight ‘em off. A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back.” Doo do do do do doo doo.

10.27am BST

In a marked departure from how things go in my native Australia, literally every person in sight is standing for the national anthems except for me. I’m on one of the outside desks in the grandstand at The Oval, and feeling very surrounded. It’s hard to type and stand up at the same time. Clearly I don’t feel self-conscious about it. Not at all.

10.25am BST

There is a particular drama to the ICC entrance music. It’s cinematic. It’s Once Upon a Time in America. It’s a convoy of tall ships pulling into harbour through the mist and rain. It’s Jean Valjean lifting up stones on the chain gang. It’s a Fiddler on the Roof lament, a dark and brooding tune that flowers into brass and drums. Oh, drama. How we respond to thee.

10.20am BST

As you’d expect, the atmosphere down at the ground in intense. I’ve been staying across the road from The Oval, and from about 8:45 this morning the calls of “Indiaaaaaa, India!” have been echoing over Kennington’s streets. The ground isn’t totally packed out yet, but it’s well on the way. There are ticket touts swarming out the front, so presumably tickets are at least scarce if not non-existent. This was the scene outside the ground earlier, thanks to our comrade Adam Collins.

Dance off behind the pavilion with the Indian fans. Glorious day at the People’s Ground for the #SAvIND quasi-quarter final. #CT17

10.13am BST

There we are, back to the preferred chasing method for Kohli and co., after being done in by Sri Lanka batting first.

Re the teams, the big news is that Ravichandran Ashwin is back in the side. The premier Test off-spinner hasn’t been first choice in the ODI side, but with The Oval track more conducive for tweak, he’s come in for Umesh Yadav.

10.07am BST

If you’d like to enjoy a little more flavour around Australia being knocked out, some of the crowd work from the Hollies Stand at Edgbaston yesterday in partnership with Aaron Finch was outstanding. Priming for the Ashes in 2019.

@AaronFinch5 Did you enjoy your day yesterday? You’re a top man, fair play to you for dealing with this all day!

10.02am BST

Good morning all. As your newly elected leader, I pledge to govern this minority OBO in a strong and stable fashion. I’m sorry to those OBO members who’ve lost their keyboards, but our friends and allies in the Democratic Union of Rob Smyth will assist us in OBOing for all readers, and managing a stable and secure OBOrexit at the end of the match.

The sun has finally deigned to shine on this Champions Trophy. It’s a glorious morning here at The Oval, with blue skies and high cloud interspersed in equal measure. Two top teams will go head to head, with only the winner proceeding to a semi-final against surprise entrant Bangladesh, after the Australians were knocked out yesterday by a jubilant England.

12.52am BST

Hello. Geoff will be here shortly. Until then, here’s Ali Martin on England’s win over Australia yesterday.

Ben Stokes left Edgbaston with praise from both captains ringing in his ears following the destructive unbeaten 102 that sees England head into their Champions Trophy semi-final on Wednesday glowing with confidence and Australia on the next plane home.

Stokes, in registering his third one-day hundred, continued a rich run of form that has carried through from his time in the Indian Premier League. The Rising Pune Supergiants made him the tournament’s most expensive overseas player with a £1.7m deal but for his national team captain, the all-rounder is priceless.

Continue reading…

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Jun 01

Australia look to exorcise demons of four years ago with Champions Trophy win | Geoff Lemon

Australia’s exciting bowling attack gives Steve Smith’s side a chance to make up for the disappointment of 2013 – and deflect attention from an ugly pay dispute

Whatever happens in this year’s Champions Trophy, the Australian one-day team is doomed to a double existence. The current robust industrial dispute between administrators and players is as much about the philosophy of employment as the terms, but either way it will be seen to spill into the playing arena.

Any underperformance will be blamed on distraction by political conflict, while any brilliant innings or bag of wickets will be taken as a symbol of defiance, a marker laid down about the worth of players.

Related: ‘We couldn’t sit on our hands’: James Sutherland opens up on player pay dispute

Related: Champions Trophy: team-by-team guide to the tournament | Simon Burnton

Continue reading…

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May 20

Australia sportwatch: Magpies comeback thriller, Raiders beat Eels and more – as it happened

  • Updates from Australian sport on Saturday 20 May
  • Collingwood beat Hawthorn in AFL while Raiders and Sea Eagles post NRL wins

2.11pm BST

NRL: Titans lost to Manly 10-30; Eels lost to Raiders 16-22
AFL: Swans lost to Saints 68-118; Giants beat Tigers 78-75; Lions lost to Crows 60-140; Magpies beat Hawks 90-72
Super Netball: Lightning beat Swifts 63-49; Fever lost to Magpies 42-49
Super Rugby: Force lost to Highlanders 6-55

1.50pm BST

Thanks for joining us for the first attempt at our new multi-sport blog on the Guardian. Like anything, we’ll be refining it as we go along, so if you have suggestions for improvements then fire them in our general direction. We’ll be back for all of Sunday’s Australian sport action with Adam Collins tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, I’ve been Geoff Lemon, you’ve been tremendous, and we’re all being wished a good night.

1.48pm BST

This one, of course, for Richmond.

1.48pm BST

Re the NRL, lots of claims that Daly Cherry-Evans might have laid claims to an Origin spot to replace Johnathan Thurston. There’ll be plenty more speculation about that squad right down to the final seconds before it comes out. Nate Myles won’t play for Queensland after hurting his knee tonight.

1.45pm BST

A few good observations from the end of the day’s AFL.

1. With the random punching late in the game, yes.

Hodge has the look of a player who has gone one year too long and knows it.

This will ease the pain @camtherose #gotiges #AFLGiantsTigers

In terms of who can win the premiership, at this point of the season, I’ve ruled out 18 teams.

1.42pm BST

NRL: Titans lost to Manly 10-30; Eels lost to Raiders 16-22
AFL: Swans lost to Saints 68-118; Giants beat Tigers 78-75; Lions lost to Crows 60-140; Magpies beat Hawks 90-72
Super Netball: Lightning beat Swifts 63-49; Fever lost to Magpies 42-49
Super Rugby: Force lost to Highlanders 6-55

1.24pm BST

Interesting point from Brad Johnson on the telly re that Richmond game. When Dustin Martin had that attempted long shot late in the game, Jeremy Cameron smothered it. But he’d managed to stooge the umpire and get several metres over the mark, by coming up to replace the man who was on the mark originally. Tom Scully crept back up near the line of the mark as well, and with the umpire’s eyes on him perhaps, Cameron came in from the side and smothered the ball almost as Martin kicked it. Even if the kick hadn’t been a goal, the umpire should have given 50 metres for breaching the mark. And that would have taken Martin to the goal line. Hmmmm indeed.

1.20pm BST

I stopped talking about the Brisbane-Adelaide game in the end to spare us all the embarrassment. Cameron kicked four, Greenwood kicked three – a couple of young kids. They didn’t even need their stars. Well, ok, Betts and Walker and Lynch all kicked three as well. But you get what I mean. Not much for Brisbane, a couple each for Barrett and Zorko. It was 60-140 in the end.

1.14pm BST

How quickly things change. Exhaustion kicks in during the last couple of minutes: the Fever give up a couple of fouls, a couple of missed passes, and the (netball) Magpies kick out to a seven-goal win, 42-49 over in the west. It’s a double Magpie night.

1.07pm BST

It’s 42-44 in the netball, the Fever won’t give up. They’ve trailed most of the game, they were level for a brief moment, then it went back to five goals, now they’re back to two against the Magpies. Four minutes left.

1.06pm BST

Well, Buckley could have had “Embattled” added by deed poll before “Nathan” this season. But he crafts his first win over Hawthorn in a substantial career, and a massive comeback is sealed. It was 43 points in favour of Hawthorn midway through the second quarter, and still 40 near the end of it. But Collingwood dragged back a couple of goals just before half time, then five unanswered in the third term. Breust got the first in the last, but it was to be Hawthorn’s only goal for the half, as the Magpies eventually scrambled four more, most of them late in the term.

1.01pm BST

Pies win it, and Hodge loses it. A tight contest in Collingwood’s forward pocket. Taylor Adams gave Hodge a whack, Hodge charged back into the pick and drove him into the ground. Pendlebury pulled Hodge up, and Hodge gave him a left jab to the jaw. Will miss a week or two there. In the meantime, the ball was knocked clear, Josh Smith ran onto it, and snapped the winner. It’s 90 plays 72 with a minute and a half left.

12.55pm BST

Ooof, should have been a 50-metre penalty there. Free kick to Hawthorn at half-forward, Goldsack kicked the ball well over the player’s head. The umpire is kind, says that it was close enough to the player. It is a tough rule – a simple skill error and a player could concede a key goal. Instead the forward entry is repelled by Collingwood.

12.53pm BST

Collingwood out to 13 points. The ball loose inside 50, Sidebottom snaps from the pocket and sedns through a magnificent one. Alistair Clarkson is looking grim in the coach’s box. It’s 84-71 to the Pies now, after haing been 43 points down in the first half.

12.50pm BST

Pendlebury again at the MCG. What a couple of minutes. And he was just strolling there. Roved a pack at the 50, had so much time that he just jogged a little wider to 40, took his time, sized up the goals and sailed it. 78-71 Collingwood. In Perth, the Fever miss a chance to take the lead, and the Magpies in that game get a couple of quick ones. 33-35 to them.

12.48pm BST

Scores level in the netball as well. The Fever goal to make it 32-32. Magpies are in tight games all over the country.

12.47pm BST

Pies back in front. A ball to the teeth of goal is punched down its throat for a rushed behind. Ball comes out again, turns around, goes back. Clears a contest on the bounce and Pendlebury is waiting out the back. Slips a sideways handball to Elliott, who loves a snap under pressure. Gets it. It’s 72-71 to Collingwood over Hawthorn with 10 minutes left in the last quarter.


12.43pm BST

The Brisbane Loins, as my dad calls them, are not being very fruitful. Their deficit is out to 85 points now as the Crows will take top of the ladder back from the Giants, in a very brief stay, with a big percentage boost. It’s 45 plays 130 at the Gabba.

12.40pm BST

The other Magpies are in front, over in the Super Netball, and they need the win. It’s 25-29 to the Pies against the West Coast Fever midway through the third quarter.

12.37pm BST

Goal for Hawthorn! Collingwood nearly scramble out of defence, but after a lot of frazzled play the ball comes back one too many times. Hodge’s long ball in, Breust reads the crumb, and the Hawks are back in front by si.

12.28pm BST

The carnage ends at 6-55 for the Western Force in Perth, and when you’re playing like that, you can be forgiven for wondering why anyone is fighting to retain a rugby team over there.

Very apt time to read Bret Harris’ take on Australian rugby teams being so regularly punished by those from New Zealand.

Related: Australian rugby currently languishing about 10 years behind New Zealand | Bret Harris

12.27pm BST

Make that scores level. Wells again running out to meet the ball on the half volley on the 50. Handballs out to Elliott, who finds Crisp. His set shot gives the ball a ride, and it just clears the goal line from out near the Southern Stand boundary to tie things up. Wellity wellity well. Hawthorn scored one point to begin the last quarter, then didn’t score again as Collingwood kicked five goals in a row. Settle in for a fai finish.

12.24pm BST

One goal the difference at the MCG! Darcy Moore runs into an open goal after a sensational bit of play and narrows the deficit to six. Daniel Wells in the middle had a long ball out of defence land in front of him. He punched it about 40 metres forward with a mighty swipe, and with most of Hawthorn’s players down the other end, Moore ran hardest to finish off the counterattack.

12.21pm BST

In the meantime, Adelaide are blitzing Brisbane in the AFL. They haven’t just put the foot down, they’ve fired the solid-fuel boosters and are reaching low-earth orbit. Currently 6.5 this quarter, versus 1.0 for Brisbane. Charlie Cameron has kicked 3.1. The score is 42-104.

12.18pm BST

Last set of six for Parra with 90 seconds on the clock. Some brilliant runs, some incisions. For a second it looks like they’re through. Then the Raiders apply some brutal team defence, smashing the ball loose and winning a scrum. They’re just running the clock down, picking and driving straight into tackles to whittle off the last seconds, and that is it. Couple of losses in a row for the Eels.

12.14pm BST

It’s funereal on Victorian radio about the Tigers in the AFL, I’ll tell you what. Losses by three points tot he Giants this week two points to Fremantle, last week, and five points to the Dogs the week before. Apparently only about a dozen teams in the last century or so have lost three in a row by under a goal. To play devil’s avocado, if you’re losing by less than a goal then you’re not playing that badly, are you?

12.09pm BST

Try! The Raiders go ahead. Austin to Jack Wighton, slides it wide to Jordan Rapana, and he reaches out his left arm to plant the ball in the corner. Croker gets the important sideline kick, it’s 16-22 in Canberra’s favour.

12.07pm BST

Also – hello. A couple of goals to Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore, and the AFL’s Magpies are coming back as well…

12.05pm BST

It’s neck and neck in the NRL, and those are some impressive necks. Siosaia Vave went over for Parra eight minutes into the half, then Blake Austin responded, at last, for the Raiders. Now it’s 16-all with 10 minutes to play. Another close finish shaping up, it’s been Squeaky Saturday.

12.03pm BST

Super Rugby: Highlanders denied another try after a high ball is ruled knocked-on in the in-goal. But then Rob Thompson receives a clever pass over the top, almost a fadeaway jump shot, and gets in for an unequivocal score. Marty Banks lines up from the sideline and drills the kick. It’s 6-38 in favour of the visitors over in Perth, with the Force mired in fourth spot in the Australian conference.

11.46am BST

Speaking of the west, I’ve been neglecting the Western Force. Sadly, they’ve been neglecting themselves as well. They’re 24-6 behind the Highlanders as some dense and unusual rain comes down in Perth at the start of the second half, and they’ve just lost the ball after having won a scrum feed near their try-line. Not much going right for them tonight.

11.44am BST

A fumble for the Swifts at the end, a full-court pass for Caitlin Bassett, and she’s robbed by the buzzer of her 50th goal. So she has tied the Lightning score single-handedly. Mind you, Sam Wallace got… 39? 40? of those Swifts goals. A margin reflective of the dominance, really, the Lightning were too good throughout. The Fever and the Magpies is the next Super Netball game tonight, coming over from the west.

11.40am BST

At half time, the Brisbane Lions slip to 65-35 behind the Crows, while Collingwood chipped away with four goals in the second quarter to be 64-30 behind the Hawks.

11.37am BST

The Lightning have punched out to a 61-46 lead, and the Swifts call a timeout with four minutes left. “We can do this, we’re good enough to pull this back,” is the punching message within the circle. The clock is back on. But it doesn’t do the job, as the Lightning score first before Wallace nails another Swifts long-ranger.

11.32am BST

Here comes the comeback, and Ricky Stuart won’t be happy. Parra score twice in the last six minutes, first Manu Ma’u capitalising on a Raiders error near the line for his first try of the season, grabbing a loose ball, before some brilliant dancing from Semi freed up Jennings to go over. They convert the second try, and it’s 10-all at the half.

#NRLparcan Semi to Jennings! That teamwork. #NRLEelsRaiders #NRL From NRL

11.25am BST

Hello, Brisbane. Jake Barrett closes the gap to two points, and some ferocious tackling then gives Brisbane the chance to hit the front, but they muff it. The ball streams down the other end, and basketballer Hugh Greenwood runs off the back of a pack to crumb his first goal on debut. There’s a theme tonight, and this one won’t be taken back by the umpire. From the centre bounce, Jacobs gets a great tap for the Crows, there’s a kick to 50, and Greenwood does exactly the same thing to rove that pack, runs inside 50 and slots another from 40 out! That’s how quick the punishment can be against good teams. It’s suddenly 47-33 in favour of the Crows.

11.16am BST

Swifts get a penalty and convert it, but mess up the follow-up. Then another forward attempt. Three times this quarter they’ve given Wallace far too much to do up forward, trying to lob the ball over her opponents or pass when she’s outnumbered. Even at 193cm, there’s only so much she can do. The Lightning keep scoring on the counter, and their buffer remains roughly where it has been since before half time, at nine goals. It’s 46-37 as they call another time-out.

11.10am BST

Finally a goal for the Magpies (that’s AFL, not netball), with Brayden Maynard gets their first, but Luke Breust answers immediately with Hawthorn’s seventh. It’s 44 plays 7 at the MCG. Looks pretty full but not completely packed. Adelaide goes past Brisbane, normal service resumed, then Eddie Betts dribbles a miracle goal from the pocket, normal service also resumed. Eddie’s miracles are other people’s multigrain toast. It’s 34-24 to the Crows in that game, second quarter.

11.07am BST

Somerville bombs a long goal, Wallace nearly does the splits to take another ball that she then converts. The Swifts are scoring in more spectacular fashion, but the Lightning tend to score on the counter with comparative ease. The gap is 38-31 in favour of the Sunny Coast.

11.02am BST

Parramatta besiege the Canberra try-line for a good while, but can’t break through. Some heavy hits already in this game too.

11.02am BST

I haven’t looked, but I’m quietly confident that the salty responses to this tweet will now have swelled into a mighty inland sea.

Kingy on Pies: They only have to play at 60% to win tonight on the Pies. They were great last week and should’ve won that game #CrunchTime

10.58am BST

Leilua adds another Canberra try to Cotric’s dive that squeezed one in right in the corner, and this time Croker nails the kick. The Raiders lead by 10 against the Eels.

The Lions in the AFL are the surprise of the round so far, not just nine points up on the Crows but they’ve kicked 3.6 so far. Nine shots to five. Hawthorn, meanwhile, are smashing the Magpies, who kicked only a point to quarter time.

10.52am BST

Super Netball: Sunshine Coast Lightning are streaking ahead of the NSW Swifts in the second quarter, currently at 31-23 though the Lightning have taken a time-out in order to plan for being even more gooderer. Their passing game has been off tap this quarter, although the Swifts have hauled them back a touch in the last few minutes. Sam Wallace, the Trinidadian import, has been knocking down goals at every opportunity.

Last time these teams played it was a five-goal margin. But this is a tough team to beat. They’re the most accurate shooters in the league, firing at 89%, which is ridiculous. Caitlin Basset is the most accurate shooter in the comp bar none, at 94%. The Swifts are second for accuracy, but the Lightning have best defence really, top for rebounds and intercepts.

10.42am BST

The Hurricanes out of Wellington absolutely destroyed the Cheetahs earlier, 61-7. But Australian attention will be on the Force game which is about to get underway, the Perth team taking on the Highlanders.

Two more AFL games have started, with Brisbane-Adelaide and Collingwood-Hawthorn, plus in the NRL the Canberra Raiders have an early try against Parra. But for now let’s have a look at the Super Netball…

10.21am BST

Full time at the Titans-Manly game as well. Dylan Walker, despite being the match’s Long John Silver, gets over for an emphasis try to cap off the win, and Manly have done it 10-30 in the end. The Storm must be even more annoyed at having coughed up that high-scoring loss to Gold Coast last weekend. Was a good game, but not for Melbourne.

On one leg.

No problems for @Dwalkz3!#NRLTitansManly#NRL

10.12am BST

“I just thought I’d throw it on the boot and hopefully it’d go through and luckily enough it did.” Jeremy Cameron with his analysis of the last goal, as Cameron Mooney asks the hard questions on the telly. Hmmm.

“Euphoria, mate. I enjoyed last week, I don’t know if this one’s better, but bloody hell it was good.” A bit more fun from Toby Greene.

10.08am BST

One last surge forward, Riewoldt surrounded on the 50. The ball comes to ground. GWS clear the defensive zone. Steve Johnson is running into space on the wing. Picks it up. Keeps his head. Calls Cameron to lead to him. Chips the pass and Cameron marks 70 out. With only 15 seconds left on the clock, it’s enough. Twice in two weeks, the Tigers have lost one at the death. And twice in two weeks, Johnson has been the key cameo appearance at the death to help the Giants snatch a win. What a game. Giants win by three.

10.05am BST

Shai Bolton with the winner! Surely, must be. Would you believe that. Free kick at half forward, the long ball to Riewoldt who stays down when four Giants go up. Gets the ball. His snap smothered. Bolton, in his first game, so quickly gets it onto boot and snaps the goal. But it’s been touched! Score review rules the GWS defenders got a touch as it was kicked. Three points up. Ball goes down the other end. Cameron picks up the loose ball and goals! Giants in front with a minute to play.

10.02am BST

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick spoke light-heartedly before the game about setting up better in close games in the last two minutes. Well, he’s got an immediate chance to come good on those words.

10.01am BST

Fast and furious, this game now. The Giants put together a string of circus-level possessions on the wing, trick-shots ahoy. But the final kick is smothered going forward. Martin marks 60 out and pumps it into the man on the mark. Cleans up his own spillage but can’t find a target by foot while being tackled. Two minutes left, two points the difference.

10.00am BST

Uncork it.

This tweet has aged like a barrel of Grange

9.59am BST

Remember how I said the AFL game wasn’t over yet? Well, the Giants have kicked four in the last quarter. Greene to start. Reid with his second. Taranto with his first. Then Heath Shaw sprints down the wing to put one on the chest of Matt de Boer. Remember him? The former Fremantle player who came in today? He makes the margin one point with six minutes left.

9.54am BST

Given there’s no football happening today, you should at least read David Squires’ cartoon. Which, as always, is very good.

Related: David Squires on … the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying campaign

9.51am BST

Another one for Manly! The lock Jake Trbojevic crashes over next to the left post, and the conversion is notched. Out to 6-24. This despite the fact that Walker can’t do the thing his name suggests, with his knee still sore from that big collision earlier.

Gold Coast Police have apparently just dispatched a search party looking for any sign of Jarryd Hayne. -M#NRLTitansManly

9.33am BST

NRL: Manly and Gold Coast come back just after half time with the scores still at that point of 6-18 in favour of the Seagles. The flurry of activity in the first half has settled again. Walker is smashed hard while looking for Uate out wide and can’t get the final pass away that might have opened up the Titans.

9.29am BST

Giants and Tigers, but no bears. Oh my. Daniel Rioli pulls out a beautifully slick move to backhand the ball behind himself when it’s about to go out of bounds on centre wing, then run onto the rebound. Just runs out of space and gets caught. But it was sliiiiiiiick. Tyres squealing. Richmond have been masters of cocking things up at times, they’ve had many more shots but they’re only 20 points up.

Then Menadue gets his second, after coming into the team today, before Riewoldt makes space with a clever double-back lead and kicks two for himself. The lead gets out to 31 points, but some fast linking play gets Zac Williams free in front of the Giants’ goal and he snaps truly. With seconds to go in the third quarter, Riewoldt has his bell run by a late spoil from Shane Mumford that clatters him in the head. He’s shaken, but more irritated than anything after Houli marks from the play-on advantage and slides his shot from 50 wide after the siren.

9.18am BST

Forgive a self-indulgent moment, but… this seems unsettlingly accurate.

Journalists drink too much, are bad at managing emotions and operate at a lower level than average

9.02am BST

Trading tries on the Gold Coast, as Akuila Uate goes over and Matthew Wright nails the conversion. Then there’s… let’s be honest, a hilarious score. Manly pushing forward, there’s a bullet pass straight into a teammate’s head, and Ash Taylor grabs the rebound, bolts into the corner for a try, and slots the resulting goal from the sideline.

Brilliant stuff, but Manly atone with two tries in four minutes to Dylan Walker and Apisai Koroisau, both converted. It’s suddenly 6-18.

What reflexes from Taylor!#NRLTitansManly#NRL

End this roberts fullback experiment please. Hayne can’t defend at centre and Roberts can’t defend at fullback. #NRLTitansManly

8.46am BST

Women’s AFL star Daisy Pearce was very direct in her Fairfax column today, talking about male athletes using each other’s families as the basis for sledging attacks.

The crux of her take: “the dismissal of incidents like these, regardless of how often they occur or how few of them there are, and the ongoing tone of objectification and sexualisation when it comes to commentary about player’s partners continues to hold us back from making true progress in this area. The wives and partners of players are often referred to like possessions or accessories and still depicted as disruptive and shallow; gold-diggers who are seeking fame and the “problem” when players want to return to their home state.”

8.38am BST

Rugby. Rugbies? We’ve got league, we’ve got union. Call it rugby legion. Manly and the Gold Coast are seven minutes deep in the NRL, and the Hurricanes and Cheetahs have just started in the Super comp. Both games are yet to see a score.

8.32am BST

Of course he did. Probably restored a priceless vase or something at stumps as well.

Kumar Sangakkara celebrated the unveiling of his portrait in the Lord’s Pavilion with a hundred at Lord’s

8.26am BST

Meantime, the Tigers are finding space inside 50 very easily against the Giants. 10 marks in that region so far. But they’ve missed half a dozen shots at goal to keep the scores at 42-20 in favour of the Victorian visitors.

Richmond’s defensive structure is spot on. Almost every panicked GWS kick out from defence goes straight to a Tiger #AFLGIANTSTigers

8.15am BST

If you want a more in-depth take on the Force’s chances of keeping rugby in Perth, check out Matt Cleary’s take from yesterday.

Related: Super Rugby cull: Western Force not dead yet with Rebels feeling heat

8.09am BST

If dance is more your thing, you may enjoy this. I’ve never been so stylish at a press conference.

I am mesmerized by these two writers putting their bags on in unison after LeBron’s presser

8.05am BST

Rugby union: The Melbourne Rebels aren’t playing today (they take on the Waratahs tomorrow), but they’re playing shots off the field as the ARU continues to faff about deciding who should be cut from the league. This was the latest release from the Melbourne team’s management.

“The Melbourne Rebels wish to reiterate its clear legal position that the ARU has no legal right to “cut” them as a team in the Super Rugby competition. The ARU must come out and publicly put an end to the speculation. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, neither the Melbourne Rebels nor its owners will engage with the ARU in relation to the sale or cancellation of its Super Rugby licence.”

7.49am BST

Meantime, the Tigers had a goal after nine seconds to Trent Cotchin, after a perfect centre clearance. Then another one within two minutes to Grigg (who is also a handy middle-order bat, I can testify after seeing him turn out once in Endeavour Hills), and Jack Riewoldt has just added a third after marking at point-blank range. Jez Cameron has kicked one for the Giants. Lively fast stuff so far.

Is it just me, or is this a great season? The Cats flying, then crashing, then getting airborne again last night. The Hawks and Swans getting dire, then coming back up. Adelaide ascendant, then brought down by North. Richmond, Melbourne, St Kilda all turning in some really impressive games but still being flawed. Not to mention the reigning premiers floating around. No one has really got the measure of the rest of the competition.

7.43am BST

I mentioned Franklin’s late burst against the Saints. Check out this 55-metre left-foot snap. Hero off a half step, turtle power.

Lance Franklin had a purple patch in the last quarter against the Saints. #AFLSaintsSwans

7.37am BST

So it’s Richmond heading up to Spotless to take on GWS. The Giants have been flying high, the Tigers had a crushing loss after the siren last week against Fremantle.

Himmelberg, Coniglio and Smith are out for the Giants, Greene, Perryman and de Boer are in. Note that de Boer is a former Docker, maybe to psyche out Richmond before the bounce?

7.24am BST

Full time at Docklands under blue Melbourne skies with the stadium’s roof open wide. The Saints hung in there for a fair while, but once the Swans got a run on they weren’t to be stopped. Franklin kicked 4, there were 2 for Cunningham, Papley and Hannebery, and there were more single than a Tinder binge. For the Saints, Riewoldt did his usual hard work for 3, Gresham and Membrey got a couple, and Acres, McCartin and Roberton got the ones.

7.11am BST

Some AFL first, because nothing else has started yet. Those wily foxes. The Swans have got their act together after a shocking start. They’ve been too fast and too direct for St Kilda, who have tried to play a high-precision game kicking to unmanned players, but haven’t had the foot skill to pull it off. The Swans have been full of pressure, as is their trademark when they’re going well.

Also apparently some of the St Kilda fans have been booing Lance Frankland whenever he gets the ball, which is not a great look. Especially from a club that didn’t win a lot of admiration last week, with a sustained sledging attack on Carlton’s Marc Murphy using his wife as the subject matter. All class.

I mean I guess I can understand the Saints fans booing Buddy. I too would be embarrassed if one player had more premierships than my club.

6.17am BST

Hello world, and as the great HG Nelson would once have said on a Sunday afternoon, welcome to another show where too much sport is barely enough. Welcome also to the Guardian’s new live blog style, we hope you like it. All the codes, all the action, and hopefully plenty of interaction on top of that.

To take the new ball up the hill into the wind, my name’s Geoff Lemon, and it’s nice to have your company. Make your presence felt – you can get in touch about anything good, bad, or otherwise, on the blog, in the wolrd, or in the games. Get me on Twitter at @GeoffLemonSport, or use the hashtage #sportwatch. Email me at Or comments will be open below the line on this page, so leave something there and I’ll try to brave the battleground when I work up the courage.

6.10am BST

Geoff will be here shortly. In the meantime, why not have a look at our most-read piece of the past seven days: Paul Connolly’s excellent review of the state of football in Australia.

It seems reasonable to suggest that despite its compelling finale, the A-League season failed to live up to its early promise. It wasn’t just that a stellar Sydney won the premiership by the length of the straight, which took away a good deal of suspense and, arguably, gave to the second half of the season the same clock-slowing feel of a long layover in an airport transit lounge. Outside of this there was also an undercurrent of discontent that lapped at the game’s ankles and now seems to be heading towards its knees.

Related: Football in Australia: as big as it’s going to get? | Paul Connolly

Continue reading…

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Apr 29

Australia’s Olympics-sized brawl: a tale of prestige, power and big money

After 27 years in charge of the AOC, John Coates faces a leadership challenge which lays bare a struggle for control over the movement’s future direction

When comedian John Clarke died this month, the most frequent tribute clips came from his ABC television series The Games. In the lead-up to Sydney’s 2000 Olympics, Clarke parodied the organisers with vicious precision. It worked because the likes of John Coates and Kevan Gosper were so readily mocked, with their propensity to public gaffes and the often amateurish appearance of their organisations. For Olympics previous, Australian authorities seemingly only had to arrange a stack of bad tracksuits and clip-on koalas. Now they were building the biggest show on earth. It felt like asking Rooty Hill RSL to run the Opera House.

Skip to the present day, and the scenes could have fuelled Clarke for another season. At the centre remains Coates, as he has since 1990, but a vote for the Australian Olympic Committee presidency this Wednesday could see challenger Danielle Roche bring him down. The contest has become intense. At first it brings to mind that Henry Kissinger misattribution about the bitterness of fights for no real power: congratulations, you’re the lord of slalom canoe events in all the land. But at stake is prestige, authority and very real money.

Related: Australian Olympic Committee calls crisis meeting after allegations of threats

Related: The Joy of Six: great Australian athletes who missed out on Olympic gold

Related: AOC’s annual report details $40,000 pay rise for John Coates

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Mar 28

Australia’s Indian disappointment tempered by strides forward | Geoff Lemon

The four-Test tour ended in disappointment, but Steve Smith’s side developed enough to suggest they could be an ongoing force

In the end, Australian cricket’s trip to the Himalayas finished with the luxury of disappointment. A more complex emotional mountainscape than the victorious Indians: some flicker of chastisement perhaps for the hosts after battling in a series they expected to boss, but mostly satisfaction at finding a way back whenever pushed.

For the visitors though – how to regard letting a golden thing slip when you’ve only fleetingly become aware there was a chance to possess it? The backstory to this campaign has been pre-chewed enough times: the team that South Africa broke in Hobart, the pieces reassembled with a precision that would have left Humpty Dumpty a gentle Easter green with envy.

Related: Virat Kohli says he is no longer friends with Australian opponents

Related: The Spin | Isn’t it about time cricket consigned ‘chinaman’ to the past?

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Mar 29

Pumped West Indies turn back the clock to make Aussies suffer

A newly unified West Indies relish an unlikely victory as Australia pay the price for pre-match verbals from James Faulkner Australias joyous months of cricket are very close to ending. Caribbean joy may soon commence. Its taken 20 years, but last nigh…

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