Category Archive: Rugby League

Rugby League News

Jul 24

Losing control: outrage at non-send off highlights core problem with NRL referees | Nick Tedeschi

As long as there have been referees, there have been complaints about them but it is apparent the head official no longer controls on-field action

To label the standard of current NRL refereeing a crisis would be to undersell through cliché just how damaging poor officiating has been to rugby league – the standard at which officials are operating is having a more negative impact than nearly anything else in the sport.

Getting universal agreement on any matter in rugby league is about as likely as spotting the Loch Ness monster in Sydney Harbour but almost to a man there was agreement that Sia Soliola should have been sent off for his tackle that was both late and high, and left Billy Slater splayed motionless on the Canberra Stadium turf.

Related: ‘It’s the feeling of Origin’: clamour for women’s State of Origin intensifies | Joe Gorman

Referees today are crippled by a combination of fear of creating imbalance and a misguided sense of superiority

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Jul 24

Wakefield scheme for new 10,000-seater stadium backed by parliament

• Club hope to become anchor tenants at ground in nearby Newmarket
• Planning approval initially granted in 2012 but project has been stalled

Wakefield Trinity have received parliamentary support in their battle for a new stadium in the city as the deadline for them to inform the Rugby Football League of their plans for next season and beyond approaches.

Trinity are hoping to become anchor tenants in a proposed 10,000 all-seater stadium in nearby Newmarket, which was initially given planning approval in 2012 but has since been stalled by a number of delays.

Related: Castleford in Super League driving seat before start of Super 8s

Related: Rejuvenated Wakefield prepared for their finest Super League moment

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Jul 23

Castleford in Super League driving seat before start of Super 8s

• Daryl Powell’s side assured of place in playoffs with 10-point lead
• Salford grab fourth place after Wakefield’s 41-16 loss to St Helens

The final day of the Super League regular season sprung a late shock when Salford sneaked into fourth place despite winning only one of their last seven games. A heavy home defeat by St Helens sent Wakefield out of the top four and opened the door to the Red Devils.

There have been surprising results throughout Super League’s 20th season and, after a roller-coaster 23 rounds, nobody is sure what the Super 8s will deliver in these final seven weeks.

Related: Castleford move closer to title thanks to Jy Hitchcox against Catalans

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Jul 23

NSW win women’s Interstate Challenge, Pies upset Eagles and more – Australian Sportwatch, as it happened

9.16am BST


That’s all from me here after an early start to Australian Sportwatch. To begin the day, I live blogged all the action from the women’s Interstate Challenge between New South Wales and Queensland. It was a big day for women’s rugby league, with the game televised and sponsored for the first time, and many women paid for the first time also. The Blues put on a show for their home crowd, with debutant Jess Sergies scoring a hattrick for her home state as her team won 22-6. Player of the match went to her teammate Kezie Apps, who was instrumental in setting up several of their tries. The game ended in some carnage for existing and prospective Jillaroos – the most high-profile of those being NSW fullback Sam Bremner with an ankle. I hope she’s OK and back out there soon. Tough day at the office for the Maroons – if you read my preview pieces on the game, you’ll know how much this loss will sting.

FIELD GOAL for @TheParraEels! #NRLTigersEels 16-17 77′ #9WWOS

9.01am BST

HUGE loss for the Eagles – they were up by 24 points up in the final quarter, vying for a spot in the top eight and let it slip. That said, the Pies showed plenty of heart, especially without skipper Pendlebury, and during the game, Moore and Varcoe, to win it from that far behind. That’s what their supporters have been waiting for.

Adam Treloar is emotional after the game in his interview with Daisy Pearce – it seems the season and the scrutiny has taken a toll on the players as much as coach Buckley. He finished with 34 disposals – including 12 contested possessions and 5 clearances (still, his efficiency let him down at 59%). Best on ground for the Pies was ruckman Grundy. He had 19 disposals, but 42 hitouts, 8 contested possessions, and 3 marks. He dominated Petrie in the ruck. Jordan de Goey was also huge, especially in the second half, with 4 goals as a makeshift forward.

8.53am BST

AFL Q4 00:40 remaining Collingwood 13.15 (93) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Fasolo kicks it – think they’ve won it from here. Pies in a big upset.

8.52am BST

AFL Q4 00:56 remaining Collingwood 12.15 (87) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Treloar wins the clearance, and it’s held up inside the Pies’ 50. Treloar again, gets it inside 50, the Eagles try to clear and Fasolo gets a holding the ball after he chases down an Eagles’ defender.

8.50am BST

AFL Q4 02:06 remaining Collingwood 12.15 (87) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Huge tackle by de Goey, who has had an enormous second half. He wins the free for holding the ball, and hits up Jamie Elliot in the 50. I sense multiple clubs behind Collingwood (aka those vying for a spot in the 8).

8.48am BST

AFL Q4 03:52 remaining Collingwood 11.15 (81) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Collingwood are running all over the top of the Eagles here- all the momentum is going their way with the crowd behind them. An upset is on the cards.

8.46am BST

AFL Q4 05:46 remaining Collingwood 11.15 (81) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Free kick to de Goey for a hold from Will Schofield. He kicks his fourth – for 4.2 for the afternoon. Only 4 points in it. Exciting stuff from the Pies – who have so had so many more shots on goal. This is a crucial match that will shape finals – the Eagles can’t afford to drop it.

8.45am BST

AFL Q4 06:19 remaining Collingwood 10.15 (75) v West Coast 13.7 (85)

Brayden Maynard was unlucky not to get 50m, after he was held up after taking the mark. He tried to bomb the ball in long – but hit the man on the mark. Down the other end, Elliot Yeo has the chance to kick the sealer – and hits the post.

8.41am BST

AFL Q4 10:07 remaining Collingwood 9.15 (69) v West Coast 13.6 (84)

Guess who – Josh Kennedy is lining up for his sixth. This one uncharacteristically goes out on the full.

8.38am BST

AFL Q4 11:10 remaining Collingwood 9.15 (69) v West Coast 13.6 (84)

Almost a massive goal from Treloar, who burst through the middle and hit the post from outside 50m. They’ve kicked 15 points now – and would rue their lack of accuracy.

Q4 | It’s Jordan De Goey providing the once again. @CollingwoodFC is not done with yet. #AFLPiesEagles

8.36am BST

AFL Q4 12:43 remaining Collingwood 9.14 (68) v West Coast 13.6 (84)

Leigh Matthews says the difference between the two sides is the presence of the two key forwards in Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling. We all know how highly-publicised the Pies’ woes up forward are. It hasn’t helped that Darcy Moore has been off for most of the game, but they have had good return from de Goey and Reid.

8.34am BST

AFL Q4 14:11 remaining Collingwood 9.13 (67) v West Coast 13.6 (84)

Ben Reid can’t convert – that’s a big miss in the context of the game. That would have given him three for the day, and taken the Pies within a couple of goals.

8.31am BST

AFL Q4 16:20 remaining Collingwood 9.12 (66) v West Coast 13.5 (83)

Another goal to de Goey! That’s his third – he simply threw his boot at that one, after it floated awkwardly into the 50 – he’s at his opportunistic best today.

8.26am BST

AFL Q4 19:12 remaining Collingwood 8.11 (59) v West Coast 13.5 (83)

First goal of the quarter goes to Jack Darling (2 goals) after he was gifted a 50m for a push in the back after he marked. Undisciplined from Collingwood.

8.25am BST

AFL Q2 15:57 remaining Brisbane 8.2 (50) v Carlton 1.4 (10)

Over at the Gabba, the home side are well on top of Carlton. Dayne Zorko has 13 disposals, with 6 contested possessions and 2 goals. Meanwhile, for the Blues, captain Marc Murphy leads the way with 9 disposals (3 clearances).

8.21am BST

NRL H2 48:54 Wests Tigers 8-10 Parramatta Eels

Here’s the Semi Radafara try in the 31st minute which put the Eels in front. Scores remain as they did then – with the Eels 2 points ahead. Gutherson missed the resultant conversion.

The Semi Trailer at full speed!#NRLTigersEels 8-10 after 32 minutes.#NRL

8.18am BST

AFL three-quarter-time Collingwood 8.11 (59) v West Coast 12.5 (77)

Yeo runs into an open goal to stretch the lead back out to three goals- that’s a killer for the Pies (and Buckley) as it came with only three seconds to go after a much-improved Collingwood quarter. The Eagles had plenty of overlap out the back and made them pay for the turnover.

8.14am BST

AFL Q3 02:54 remaining Collingwood 8.10 (58) v West Coast 11.5 (71)

A panic kick from Treloar just outside 50 falls to Hurn, who takes a high tackle from Sidebottom. He passes off to Shuey about 10m closer to goal – a strange decision given how far Hurn can kick. Shuey, however, rewards the decision and kicks straight. That’s two back for the Eagles after a Collingwood onslaught.

8.09am BST

AFL Q3 06:10 remaining Collingwood 8.9 (57) v West Coast 10.4 (64)

Travis Varcoe hasn’t returned for the Pies – they might be two down for the rest of the match at this rate. Jordan de Goey had a golden opportunity to put the Pies in front with his third goal in a row, but hit the post. That’s scores level.

8.03am BST

AFL Q3 09:08 remaining Collingwood 8.7 (55) v West Coast 9.3 (57)

Pressure has really lifted here from the Pies.

Travis Varcoe was helped from the ground following this incident. #AFLPiesEagles

8.01am BST

AFL Q3 10:58 remaining Collingwood 8.7 (55) v West Coast 9.3 (57)

Some vision is being shown of Mick Malthouse sitting with Eddie McGuire – Brian Taylor wonders if he’s there “for an interview”.

7.57am BST

AFL Q3 11:52 remaining Collingwood 7.7 (49) v West Coast 9.3 (57)

Travis Varcoe looks to be concussed after a nasty fall onto his head. Not dissimilar to the Dale Morris fall that broke his forearm last night. For the record, Luke Beveridge said that could be the end of his career, which would be very sad indeed.

7.54am BST

AFL Q3 14:16 remaining Collingwood 6.7 (43) v West Coast 9.3 (57)

Taylor Adams gets one back for Collingwood – after a Wells fresh air shot left the ball behind. Adams swooped opportunistically to cut the lead back to 14 (the same margin the Pies led by in the first quarter).

7.51am BST

AFL Q3 15:17 remaining Collingwood 5.6 (36) v West Coast 9.3 (57)

Kennedy juggles a contested mark with one hand – he was far too strong for Goldsack. That’s his sixth – maybe Franklin’s record is under threat after all.

7.47am BST

AFL Q3 18:45 remaining Collingwood 5.6 (36) v West Coast 8.3 (51)

Another nice contested mark to Kennedy, who technically took the free for chopping the arms. That’s 5.1 for him in his milestone game.

7.46am BST

AFL Q3 19:50 remaining Collingwood 5.6 (36) v West Coast 7.3 (45)

News coming through that Darcy Moore is off to hospital with neck soreness – the Pies stress that they are being cautious more than anything. That means the Pies will be one dow for the rest of this game.

7.42am BST

NRL H1 26:30 Wests Tigers 8-6 Parramatta Eels

The Tigers hit the lead at ANZ Stadium, with a penalty goal converted by Tuimoala Lolohea. Both sides have one try each. The Eels opened the scoring with a try to Bevan French in the third minute, which Clint Gutherson converted. The Tigers then returned fire through James Tedesco in the 12th minute, and Lolohea followed with a conversion.

Was this a high tackle? #NRLTigersEels #9WWOS

7.36am BST

Ninja Warrior

Anyone been watching Ninja Warrior? I admit that I haven’t – but it seems the nation has, with Erin Riley reporting that its ratings have already eclipsed our major sports (with only State of Origin games and Australian Open men’s tennis final out-rating Warrior so far). In her piece on the Japanese franchise, Riley argues that the course gifts an unfair advantage to men and the able-bodied, making it anything but the ‘great equaliser’ it promises to be.

7.33am BST


There’s a couple of football stories emerging. The first is that West Ham have announced a record club signing – welcoming Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City on a five-year deal for a club-record fee of up to £25m, with a guaranteed £20m plus an additional £5m in potential add-ons. Arnautovic said he felt “special” to be a West Ham player:

7.26am BST

AFL half-time Collingwood 5.6 (36) v West Coast 7.3 (45)

Reid can’t convert his third and is well left in his attempt at goal. He seems to be the Pies’ primary target at the moment, with Darcy Moore off the ground with an injury concern.

7.21am BST

AFL Q2 03:49 remaining Collingwood 5.5 (35) v West Coast 7.3 (45)

There’s a trio of Eagles milestones today – the man I was just talking about, Josh Kennedy is playing his 200th game, Luke Shuey his150th and Elliot Yeo his 100th. The Eagles have plenty to play for given they desperately need a win to keep clubs level and below them at bay – including the Bombers, and fast-finishing reigning premiers the Bulldogs. They have had an inconsistent season, however, and have not won two games in a row since round eight – and have won three of their last eight games. I’m backing them in to win today, with a big bag from Kennedy (he might not beat the record for most goals in your 200th though – that sits with Buddy Franklin who kicked 9).

7.15am BST

AFL Q2 05:58 remaining Collingwood 5.5 (35) v West Coast 7.3 (45)

That man Josh Kennedy kicks a brilliant set shot goal from 45m out on a tight angle – that’s his fourth – he’s got 4.1. Has been an unbelievable acquisition for the Eagles since he came over all that time ago from Carlton.

7.12am BST

AFL Q2 07:56 remaining Collingwood 5.5 (35) v West Coast 6.3 (39)

Nice set shot from Ben Reid gets the score back to 4 points the difference. That’s his second goal for the day.

7.11am BST

AFL Q2 10:03 remaining Collingwood 4.5 (29) v West Coast 6.3 (39)

Fairly tight game here at Etihad as Josh Kennedy soccers through his third. Same old story for Collingwood – plenty of inside 50s and possession, but some questionable ball skills.

7.06am BST

This game is over at WIN Stadium, with a thumping 52-22 upset victory to the Dragons. The Sea Eagles scored four second-half tries – to Walker (42m), Lussick (48m), Trobjevic (51m) and Uate (54m) to put a scare through the Dragons’ camp, but they responded with four of their own – to Vaughan (59m), Nightingale (62m), Aitken (67m) and the impressive debutant Dufty (79m). Widdop converted well at 8 of 9 attempts.

Dufty also had two line breaks and two try assists for the Dragons, while Jack de Belin ran 251 metres and had 30 tackles (McInness had 39). For the Sea Eagles, Jake Trbojevic had 45 tackles, and ran 159 metres – while his brother Tom ran 233 metres.

On debut! Makes it a half century for the @NRL_Dragons.#NRLDragonsManly #NRL

6.50am BST

I’ll have a very short break and come back with the rest of the Collingwood v West Coast clash (after some other round-the-ground updates).

6.49am BST

Great win for the Tigers, who, as Anthony Hudson aptly puts it, went from “no hopers” last year to top 4 this year. Who knows what this side can achieve. I say that both sincerely and with some cynicism given we all know how up and down this side can be (remember the first half against St Kilda a couple of weeks ago?) Still, they looked back to their best today, and there’s no stopping Dustin Martin as far as I can tell. They’ve got Gold Coast next week, and a fairly soft run towards the finals. I’m backing them in to stay top 4.

For GWS – it was a disappointing day that told the story of their last month of football, during which they’ve had just the single win over the Lions (and draws against Geelong and Hawthorn). Toby Greene looks likely to spend a couple of weeks on the sidelines, and Shiel looked in plenty of pain when he left the ground in the final quarter, not to return. They’ve got Fremantle at home next week – they should surely bounce back then, or there’ll be much more scrutiny.

6.41am BST

AFL Q4 00:08 remaining Richmond 9.10 (64) v GWS 6.9 (45)

Josh Kelly misses an easy shot at goal to cap off a miserable day for his team. Kelly has been well down by his lofty standards with 21 disposals, but only 66% efficiency and just the one clearance.

6.38am BST

AFL Q4 02:33 remaining Richmond 9.10 (64) v GWS 6.7 (43)

That’s the sealer – Castagna kicks a scrubber to make a certainty of the Tigers’ victory. Well done to the Tigers – they’ve defended their lead much better after that run of close losses earlier in the season.

6.34am BST

AFL Q4 04:55 remaining Richmond 8.9 (57) v GWS 6.7 (43)

Consolation goal to Jon Patton with just under five minutes remaining. Don’t think they’re close enough to challenge, but they’ve kept pushing, the Giants.

6.30am BST

AFL Q4 07:25 remaining Richmond 8.9 (57) v GWS 5.7 (37)

Dylan Shiel is down again – this time it looks like a right shoulder. Again – there was no opposition contact, he merely slipped and thumped into the turf. The ball is locked up inside the Tigers’ 50 with only 7 minutes or so to go.

6.26am BST

AFL Q4 10:04 remaining Richmond 8.9 (57) v GWS 5.7 (37)

Deliberate out of bounds goes against Phil Davis to gift the ball back to Richmond. GWS have dominated possession this quarter but can’t make any meaningful inroads on the scoreboard. Brandon Ellis takes crucial seconds off the clock before setting the ball up to the top of the square. Another ball-up takes yet more seconds off the clock. The ball eventually lands with Kane Lambert who again milks the clock.

6.20am BST

AFL Q4 14:10 remaining Richmond 8.9 (57) v GWS 5.7 (37)

Very nice work by Jonathan Patton to find Steve Johnson on the boundary line – he showed some incredible agility and poise in pouring rain. Still, even Johnson can’t kick a miracle goal and it is rushed through for one behind.

6.18am BST

AFL Q4 15:23 remaining Richmond 8.9 (57) v GWS 5.6 (36)

Jack Riewoldt looked to kick one for the Tigers but upon review it seems to have hit the point post. GWS couldn’t pull off another come-from-behind victory in the last quarter, could they? I’m going with no in these conditions.

6.15am BST

AFL Q4 16:45 remaining Richmond 8.8 (56) v GWS 5.6 (36)

The Giants get one back through Kelly – the Richmond crowd don’t like it after a deliberate out of bounds call went against Rance. Nice roving goal by Kelly who has struggled to get into the game after quarter-time.

6.11am BST

AFL Q4 19:00 remaining Richmond 8.8 (56) v GWS 4.6 (30)

Nice work from Toby Greene, who drew a high tackle and picked out Will Setterfield. He misses to the left – that would have been his first goal in the AFL. Let’s see if there’s any fight left in the Giants.

6.09am BST

NRL H2 42:44 St George-Illawarra 30-6 Manly Sea Eagles

It took until the 42nd minute, but Manly have finally got a try back thorugh Dylan Walker. Cherry-Evans makes no mistake with the conversion.

The @SeaEagles hit back with a 4 pointer in the first minute of the second half.#NRLDragonsManly 30-6 after 43 minutes.#NRL

6.04am BST

AFL three-quarter-time Richmond 8.8 (56) v GWS 4.5 (29)

Miserable quarter from GWS to the scene of some miserable-looking rain at the MCG. Looks like the Tigers will hold onto their top-4 spot after this game, while the Giants’ premiership favouritism is no question in doubt.

5.59am BST

AFL Q3 02:52 remaining Richmond 8.7 (55) v GWS 4.5 (29)

An unlikely goal to ruckman Toby Nankervis to put the Tigers up by 26. He awkwardly lumbered towards goal (in typical ruck style) before producing a beautiful snap.

How good was the tap here? #AFLTigersGiants

5.56am BST

AFL Q3 05:07 remaining Richmond 7.7 (49) v GWS 4.5 (29)

Another goal to the Tigers – a beautiful team effort results in a Caddy goal. Another goal assist to Dustin Martin. I’ll be sharing some footage of that once I get it.

5.53am BST

AFL Q3 06:20 remaining Richmond 6.7 (43) v GWS 4.5 (29)

The unthinkable happens and Dustin Martin is caught holding the ball after trying a triple-fend off. Still he’s up to 23 disposals, 14 contested possessions, 9 clearances and 9 inside 50s (and a goal). You can understand why he still hasn’t signed his contract.

5.49am BST

AFL Q3 08:43 remaining Richmond 6.7 (43) v GWS 4.5 (29)

The Giants finally hit a target inside 50 through Toby Greene who has been pushed onto the ball. Good move by Cameron – he couldn’t get into the game at all, and needs an outlet for that aggression. Haynes has an important shot at goal – and the defender kicks it.

5.45am BST

AFL Q3 11:44 remaining Richmond 6.7 (43) v GWS 3.5 (23)

The Tigers have had several opportunities to put the Giants away but have kicked two shots at goal out on the full – the latest just then to Shaun Grigg. However, the Giants boot one out on the full through Wilson – Kennedy punches it away in frustration and gives away 50m. This is a comedy of coach killers. Kamdyn McIntosh makes them pay with a goal.

5.42am BST

AFL Q3 12:53 remaining Richmond 5.7 (37) v GWS 3.5 (23)

Further signs of frustration from the Giants here, with Jon Patton losing patience with his teammates after a few ignored leads and miskicks.

5.40am BST

AFL Q3 15:55 remaining Richmond 5.7 (37) v GWS 3.5 (23)

It’s all unravelling for the Giants – they can’t seem to find any momentum whatsoever and have given away several unnecessary free kicks. They look like a very frustrated team – and like a team that has only won one game from their last five. Let’s see what they have in them – but their last goal was the 22nd minute mark of the first quarter.

5.34am BST

AFL Q3 19:15 remaining Richmond 5.6 (36) v GWS 3.5 (23)

Questionable choice from Mumford to centre the ball there, it allowed Martin to intercept and hand off an easy goal to Jack Riewoldt. This quarter has started as the last finished, with Dustin Martin taking another free kick in the centre for yet another clearance.

5.27am BST

I’ll be back shortly with the 3rd quarter of the AFL clash between Richmond and GWS.

5.23am BST

NRL H1 16:00 St George Illawarra 12-0 Manly Sea Eagles

It’s another try to the Dragons after yet another set-up kick by McCrone. Tim Lafai fumbled it but put it down for the Dragons. Widdop strikes the conversion nicely to put them 12-0 up early. Manly fans wanted obstruction for an early jump by Nightingale but the bunker cleared the try.

5.19am BST

NRL H1 12:39 St George Illawarra 6-0 Manly Sea Eagles

Just going quickly around the grounds while we’re at half time. An early try here to the Dragons through Jason Nightingale. Nice pass by McCrone, who picks him out across the field. Widdop converts to give them the six points.

Straight into Nightingale’s lap! Can we smell a hat-trick coming on?#NRLDragonsManly 6-0 after 9 minutes.#NRL

5.15am BST

AFL half-time Richmond 4.6 (29) v GWS 3.5 (23)

18 inside 50s to 6 for the Tigers that quarter, for 4.4. Both Dustin Martin and Brandon Ellis are up to 15 disposals each, with 9 contested possessions and 5 clearances for Martin, as well as a goal and 5 inside 50s. They’ll need to do something about him if they’re any chance, the Giants.

5.11am BST

AFL Q2 00:26 remaining Richmond 4.5 (29) v GWS 3.5 (23)

Mark to Edwards after a big contested mark by Martin and bomb inside forward which looked to be touched by Lobb before he marked it. He misses, which might be some kind of justice after he seemed to play on.

5.08am BST

AFL Q2 03:00 remaining Richmond 4.5 (29) v GWS 3.5 (23)

The Giants accidentally concede a behind after an awful clanger from Phil Davis. He’s on top of Riewoldt at the moment but his team are under intense pressure – which, so far, they’re failing to handle whatsoever.

5.05am BST

AFL Q2 05:30 remaining Richmond 4.4 (28) v GWS 3.5 (23)

Goal to Jack Riewoldt – the Tigers are all over the Giants at the moment – largely thanks to their leaders in Martin and Cotchin, but Riewoldt is now also finding his way into the game. Heath Shaw can’t get anywhere near him – he’s only had the one possession this quarter.

5.02am BST

AFL Q2 07:30 remaining Richmond 3.4 (22) v GWS 3.5 (23)

The Tigers get another one despite Martin’s pass to Rioli bouncing straight off his chest. The ball luckily bounced into Lambert’s hands, who goals.

4.57am BST

AFL Q2 10:09 remaining Richmond 2.4 (16) v GWS 3.5 (23)

A real stalemate ensuing here with plenty of ball-ups. Jack Riewoldt finally gets a possession, hitting up Grigg just outside 50 who in turn hits up Dustin Martin for an easy shot at goal. He kicks truly to get some momentum going for the Tigers.

4.54am BST

AFL Q2 12:15 remaining Richmond 1.4 (10) v GWS 3.5 (23)

Shiel is back on in good news for the Giants. The game has slowed right up after the Giants dominated the first quarter. Richmond however, have blazed away a couple of times at goal. This time Scully misses for GWS.

4.52am BST

AFL Q2 14:00 remaining Richmond 1.4 (10) v GWS 3.4 (22)

Rory Lobb is tackled after what looked like a clear mark – did his teammate Patton have some of the ball? Play on was the call in an unlucky turn of events for the Giants.

4.49am BST

AFL Q2 16:23 remaining Richmond 1.4 (10) v GWS 3.4 (22)

Dylan Shiel is limping off with what looks like a right ankle. Meanwhile the Tigers are pressing with another point to Edwards.

4.46am BST

AFL Q2 18:15 remaining Richmond 1.3 (9) v GWS 3.4 (22)

Back on at the MCG with a single point to Richmond through their star Dustin Martin.

4.43am BST

Tour de France

In Tour de France news, Chris Froome is starting to look unbeatable, cruising to a 54 second lead after the stage 20 time trial. In an interesting quirk, Froome looks set to become the third rider in Tour history to win the race overall without taking any of the individual stages (as Oscar Pereiro did in 2006 and Greg LeMond in 1990). Romain Bardet – who trailed by 23 seconds at the beginning of the time trial now appears unable to challenge Froome, and faces a fight to retain third place from Mikel Landa (Bardet remains in third, but is only a second ahead of Landa). Bardet was overtaken by Rigoberto Uran, who now moves into second overall, while Maciej Bodnar enjoyed his fourth Tour de France victory with the stage win. Froome came in third, and came within six seconds of taking the stage from Bodnar.

4.40am BST

AFL quarter-time Richmond 0.2 (2) v GWS 3.4 (22)

Patton misses narrowly to the right. He’s having a huge month, though. Great comeback for someone with perennially dodgy knees.

4.33am BST

AFL Richmond Q1 03:22 remaining 0.2 (2) v GWS 3.3 (21)

I’m going to jump straight into the Richmond v GWS game now, which is almost at quarter-time. It seems the Tigers are struggling, with just the two points on the board.

4.25am BST

The Blues have won their second Interstate Challenge, to go back-to-back after an incredible run of 17 losses to their opponents (followed by a draw).

Kezie Apps tells Fox Footy that she’s feeling “fantastic” after breaking her leg back in February. “I love my Blues family, and the Blues girls. To nearly play 80 minutes, I’m stoked.” She’s won player of the match for the second year in a row – Jess Sergies might feel somewhat hard done by after her hattrick.

4.19am BST

Rugby League H2 77:40 NSW 22-6 QLD

Another penalty goes the way of the Blues to thwart the Maroons’ push forward. NSW coach Ben Cross had come down to ground level, confident his job is done.

4.17am BST

Rugby League H2 76:11 NSW 22-6 QLD

Yet another injury time-out here. I’m not sure there’s going to be any Jillaroos left at the conclusion of this game.

4.14am BST

Rugby League H2 73:11 NSW 22-6 QLD

This has been a brutal (and impressive) game of hard tackles. NSW are penalised for an illegal tackle which sets QLD up for another shot at a consolation try. Hancock falls just short of the line thanks to a nice defensive effort from the Blues – but the Maroons have got two tackles to go in this set.

4.10am BST

Rugby League H2 70:00 NSW 22-6 QLD

Ballinger’s pass goes out on the full, a really disappointing result as she tried to find Amelia Kuk. The Maroons look rattled with under 10 minutes to go.

4.08am BST

Rugby League H2 64:40 NSW 22-6 QLD

Finally some luck for the Maroons as the Blues drop the ball. It has all unravelled somewhat for QLD, with a kick out on the full following Sergis’ hattrick. Despite Hancock’s bullocking run they can’t find the try line. They do, however, get a penalty against the Blues 25m out to restart their set.

4.04am BST

Rugby League H2 64:40 NSW 22-6 QLD

Moran’s ball lands just short of the cross bar. Some photos are finally coming through so I’ll add those now!

4.01am BST

Rugby League H2 61:53 NSW 22-6 QLD

Caitlin Moran is fired up and is dodging and weaving her way through the QLD defence with some inside-out passes that are bamboozling the Maroons. The Blues take a penalty only 10m out. A dummy run from captain Ruan Simms works out perfectly and results in a hattrick for Jess Sergis!

Keeping @QLDMaroons at bay! Lead extended.@NSWRL lead 18-6 after 57 minutes.#WomenInLeague #NRL

3.58am BST

Rugby League H2 58:00 NSW 18-6 QLD

Have loved the boot of Studdon today – but this time QLD captain Brown takes the ball nicely from the air. The Maroons have been hit hard with injury – with Kody House off with another ankle injury.

3.56am BST

Rugby League H2 56:22 NSW 18-6 QLD

Foliaki – the QLD resident who argued successfully for the opportunity to represent her state of origin – finds the line again for the Blues. Smart backhanded offload from Moran set that up.

Studdon sends it high, straight into the bread basket for McGregor!@NSWRL lead 14-6 after 53 minutes.#WomenInLeague #NRL

3.54am BST

Rugby League H2 53:29 NSW 14-6 QLD

Moran takes a very difficult conversion, with the ball falling short.

3.52am BST

Rugby League H2 52:00 NSW 14-6 QLD

Penalty to the Blues sees them only 3 metres out with a full set to go. Elianna Walton draws four QLD defenders in a big, bullocking run toward the line but falls just short. Weight of numbers eventually tells with a perfect kick from Maddie Studdon to find Corban McGregor in space for a nice double-handed overhead take.

3.49am BST

Rugby League H2 49:19 NSW 10-6 QLD

Confirmation that Sam Bremner won’t be back with a sprained ankle. She also suffered a head knock in the captain’s run before the game in a horrid run of injuries. That’s a big blow to her personal hopes of representing the Jillaroos later this year.

Sammy Bremner is down and taken from the field. Caitlin Moran shifts to fullback#uptheblues

3.47am BST

Rugby League H2 47:09 NSW 10-6 QLD

Really nice suburban feel at the ground with crowds milling on the hills.

Not a bad crowd at @WINSportsEnt for the Women’s Interstate Challenge. Half time 10-6 @NSWRL leading the @QLDmaroons. #WomenInLeague

3.45am BST

Rugby League H2 45:25 NSW 10-6 QLD

Bad news here with Sam Bremner collapsing onto that troublesome right ankle. There was no contact involved that time, which makes the prognosis much worse. She’s helped from the ground by a couple of trainers. Big loss after she’s already had 1 try assist for her team.

3.44am BST

Rugby League H2 44:12 NSW 10-6 QLD

The sides trading sets at the moment after those early errors.

Hear from Jess Sergis at HT.#WomenInLeague #NRL

3.42am BST

Rugby League H2 41:00 NSW 10-6 QLD

Error from Foliaki gifts the ball to the Maroons to resume play, but House drops the ball to give it back to the Blues. The sides are trading errors at the moment, with Apps then dropping the ball for the Blues. It’s back with the Maroons – ping pong league!

3.39am BST


Just while we’re waiting for the second half to resume, here’s some golfing news. Branden Grace has become the first man in history to post a 62 in a major championship (par at Royal Birkdale is 70). Grace achieved the feat at at 3:16pm on Saturday – but the South African was unaware that he had broken the all-time major record. Grace is well-known in South Africa for his philanthropy – earlier in the year, he donated a significant sum to help victims of devastating forest fires in Knysa, where he first played golf.

3.35am BST

Rugby League half-time NSW 10-6 QLD

Some beautiful pictures coming through showing the stadium’s ocean views. Seems the crowds are really filing in now.

WIN Stadium has to be my favourite stadium at half time- ❤️ the ocean ⛵️ views! #womeninleague #interstatechallenge

3.34am BST

Rugby League half-time NSW 10-6 QLD

Jess Sergis’ teammates are happy with her after her double in the first half.

When you score a double on debut for your state… In 11 minutes! #uptheblues

3.27am BST

Rugby League half-time NSW 10-6 QLD

Maroons tried a big raking kick to test the NSW defence but they come down with the ball – great work from the Blues.

3.21am BST

Rugby League H1 35:00 NSW 10-6 QLD

Some big gains being made by both teams at the moment – around 80m per set. The game looks to have opened up with both teams running out of puff pre half-time.

3.20am BST

Rugby League H1 33:44 NSW 10-6 QLD

Poor bass from Bremner – she’s back out there but seems affected by that ankle injury. Missed her teammate in plenty of space just short of the try line.

3.18am BST

Rugby League H1 31:23 NSW 10-6 QLD

Great work from Karina Brown to dive back into play out of the QLD in-goal. She’s relishing the opportunity both to captain her state and also play in the fullback position – a position she’s eyeing off for the Jillaroos.

3.16am BST

Rugby League H1 29:32 NSW 10-6 QLD

Here’s the last try from Jenni-Sue Hoepper in her ‘welcome back’ game from maternity leave.

Welcome back to rep footy!@NSWRL lead 10-6 after 23 minutes.#WomenInLeague

3.15am BST

Rugby League H1 28:41 NSW 10-6 QLD

Really nice offload from Hancock drives her side forward, that’s a 41m gain for the Maroons, and Caitlin Moran manages to keep the Blues just in play after the kick on the 5th. The Blues get the relieving penalty, but Sam Bremner appears to have a serious ankle injury, perhaps accidentally stomped on in the last tackle. This will be a massive loss to the Blues if she can’t get back on.

3.12am BST

Rugby League H1 25:29 NSW 10-6 QLD

Here’s what everyone’s playing for today – the Nellie Doherty Cup.

.@NSWRL & @QLDmaroons play for the Nellie Doherty Cup in the #InterstateChallenge. Action on @abcgrandstand. LISTEN:

3.10am BST

Rugby League H1 22:17 NSW 10-6 QLD

Penalty to the Maroons for a high-tackle and QLD have another good chance to advance on the scoreboard. Kunst almost dives over but runs into a NSW brick wall. Jenni-Sue Hoepper, however, finds a gap inside and dives over. She’s just returned to representative league, after the birth of her 19-month-old child. The Maroons are on the board!

3.07am BST

Rugby League H1 19:00 NSW 10-0 QLD

Here’s the earlier double for Sergis while we’re waiting for play to resume.

Rinse and repeat! Sergis gets a double.@NSWRL lead 10-0 after 13 minutes.#WomenInLeague #NRL

3.06am BST

Rugby League H1 19:00 NSW 10-0 QLD

Studdon kicks the ball out on the full, in the first big error made by the Blues. Time-out here for some medical assistance to Heather Ballinger. The women are going in as hard as you can imagine.

3.03am BST

Rugby League H1 17:16 NSW 10-0

Karina Brown (QLD captain) runs into a massive Ruan Sims (NSW tackle) – that looked dangerous, as she speared her into the ground and onto the flat of her back. The penalty goes to the Maroons to give them their best chance yet of a try.

2.59am BST

Rugby League H1 12:12 NSW 10-0 QLD

HUGE try-saving tackle by Ballinger after yet another 74m gain by the Blues with a massive run and line break by Nakia Davis-Welsh. But they can’t hold the Blues at bay, with Sergis in for another try after a beautiful kick pass from Maddie Studdon. This time Caitlin Moran converts to send the Blues to a 10-0 lead.

An early Try saver thanks to @SammyBremner!#WomenInLeague #NRL

2.56am BST

Rugby League H1 09:30 NSW 4-0 QLD

What a start by the Blues – Kezie Apps broke through the QLD defence for a huge 80m gain for her team in that set. The ball is back with the Maroons, however.

2.54am BST

Rugby League H1 07:16 NSW 4-0 QLD

The Blues are over for the first try of the match through Jessica Sergis! That was set up by a fantastic run from Isabelle Kelly who broke the line. Bremner was involved again with a deft pass by foot. Caitlin Moran, a Jillaroo and Indigenous All Star, misses the conversion narrowly.

Hard to pick a side when theres so many Indigenous Women’s All Stars playing in the Interstate Challenge! #NRLIndigenous #WomeninLeague

2.50am BST

Rugby League H1 03:09 NSW v QLD

Ballinger dives over but is stopped by Sam Bremner! She has started on fire – and kicks the ball away from her QLD opponents for a dropout.

2.48am BST

Rugby League H1 01:35 NSW v QLD

Here we go! QLD finish their opening set with a kick forward, NSW fullback Sam Bremner takes a huge grab, all courage in a huge collision with that woman, Steph Hancock, from QLD.

2.43am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

Some are complaining that the game isn’t on free to air – but apparently you can also stream it live on – good news!

Such a shame it’s not on Free to Air, until it does #WomenInLeague will remain a second tier game #InterstateChallenge

2.40am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

And here’s NSW player Sam Bremner talking to the media ahead of today’s history-making clash. We’ve just gone to a break in the TV coverage and will be under way very shortly.

Hear from @SammyBremner ahead of the Women’s Interstate Challenge.#WomenInLeague #NRL

2.38am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

Karina Brown’s captaincy has started well, winning the toss for her team in today’s Interstate Challenge. For those following the game on twitter, try the hashtags #interstatechallenge and #womeninleague

#QLDER Women’s captain Karina Brown wins the toss before today’s Interstate Challenge match. #womeninleague

2.36am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

Who wins?

2.34am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

As I said there are plenty of firsts for this game – and it’s the first time ever that the Interstate Challenge will be televised live on Fox Sports – as a double-header with the St George-Illawarra Dragons clash against Manly. It’s also the first time in the history of women’s Rugby League that the Bunker will be used, which should make for good viewing, and accurate decision-making. We hope.

Hear from Renae Kunst ahead of the Women’s Interstate Challenge.#WomenInLeague #NRL

2.33am BST

NRL – Women’s Interstate Challenge

There’s plenty of fantastic individual stories out here today. One person to watch is Talesha Quinn, who grew up in NSW, and when she enlisted in the Australian Army, asked to be stationed in Townsville, because she knew a strong women’s rugby league competition was in place there. However, once she arrived, the competition folded, forcing her to play rugby union for four years. During that time she played through a dislocated hip, and has refused to give sport up despite several major injuries.

2.30am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

Here are our final teams, thanks to NSW Rugby League.


The final line-ups have been set for today’s Harvey Norman Interstate Challenge.

2.26am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

Steph Hancock

2.20am BST

Rugby League – Women’s Interstate Challenge

The changing face of the women’s game

2.15am BST

Hello and welcome to today’s (early) Guardian Australia Sportwatch blog. I’m Kate O’Halloran, and here we keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Australian sport, whatever your preferred shape of ball, with our rolling liveblog. Don’t forget to tweet us @GdnAusSport with the hashtag #sportwatch.

I’m here early today so I can cover the women’s rugby league Interstate Challenge between New South Wales and Queensland, otherwise known as the ‘Nellie Doherty Cup’ from 11:45am at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. In case you’re wondering, it’s televised on Fox League (for the first time ever!) and will also be covered by ABC Grandstand. The cup is so named because Nellie Doherty was instrumental in the staging of the first ever female league game in 1921. This is not, however, technically a ‘State of Origin’ since in the women’s game players are selected based on the state they live in currently, rather than their state of ‘origin’.

Can @NSWRL Women’s team win two straight or will @QLDmaroons Women dominate the #interstatechallenge? #NRL #womeninleague

4.17am BST

Kate will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Joe Gorman on the Nellie Doherty Cup and the clamour for a women’s State of Origin:

Related: ‘It’s the feeling of Origin’: clamour for women’s State of Origin intensifies | Joe Gorman

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 22

Castleford move closer to title thanks to Jy Hitchcox against Catalans

• Catalans 24-32 Castleford
• Tigers close to winning League Leaders’ Shield

Two Jy Hitchcox tries secured a 20th regular season win for the Castleford Tigers as they defeated Catalans Dragons in Perpignan and all but confirmed the Super League leaders a semi-final place in the end of season play-offs, even before the Super 8s start this week. They will need a maximum of two wins from the seven games to secure the League Leaders’ Shield.

The Tigers scored two late tries to secure the victory despite being down to 11 men at one point in the second half following the yellow cards for Kevin Larroyer (unsportsmanlike behaviour) and Mike McMeeken (holding down in the tackle).

Related: Rejuvenated Wakefield prepared for their finest Super League moment

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 22

Rejuvenated Wakefield on cusp of ‘unachievable’ Super League moment

After rescuing Wakefield from relegation the club’s owner, Michael Carter, has overseen a move to better times that could get even better as a win over St Helens would secure a Super 8s berth on Sunday

The date is 3 October 2015, rugby league’s first Million Pound Game, a day forever etched into the memory of the Wakefield owner, Michael Carter. Two years have passed since he rescued one of the sport’s most famous clubs, but things are not getting any easier.

Wakefield were, as Carter recounts, living “hand-to-mouth” to try to eradicate losses of almost a million pounds a year before his takeover. “We weren’t quite haemorrhaging cash but we needed an abundance of it to survive,” he tells the Observer.

Continue reading…

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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.

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Jul 21

Michael McIlorum leads way as Wigan show inexperienced Leeds no mercy

• Wigan 34-0 Leeds
• Oliver Gildart also runs in two tries as Wigan score seven without reply

Wigan reduced the gap to Super League’s play-off places to just three points with a comfortable victory against an under-strength Leeds outfit ahead of both sides’ respective Challenge Cup semi-finals next weekend.

With over a dozen players missing due to injury according to the Rhinos and eight changes from the team that beat Hull FC last week, Leeds were noticeably weaker than usual and, in a chastening season for the reigning Super League champions, there will at least be some satisfaction for Wigan that they managed to take advantage of the situation.

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Jul 19

Rob Burrow will retire from Leeds and leave legacy for the little guy | Aaron Bower

The diminutive 34-year-old half-back is to retire from playing at the end of the season and will long be remembered as one of Leeds’s finest players

The Leeds half-back, Rob Burrow, will become the latest member of the club’s golden generation to end his playing days with the Rhinos after announcing he will retire at the end of the season to begin an off-field role with the seven-time Super League champions.

The 34-year-old, who has won every honour in the domestic game since debuting for Leeds in 2001, will join the club’s captain, Danny McGuire, in leaving the Rhinos’ playing squad following this season. Unlike McGuire, however, who is joining Hull Kingston Rovers, Burrow will take up a role in Leeds’ youth development programme.

Related: London Broncos can see a long-term future back in the Super League | Aaron Bower

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Jul 18

‘It’s the feeling of Origin’: clamour for women’s State of Origin intensifies | Joe Gorman

Inter-state rivalry is just as fierce as in the men’s game but a women’s Origin has never been played, for reasons to do with funding and development

Steph Hancock won’t say for sure if this is her final year as a rugby league footballer, but she knows the stage is set for a dream end to her career. The veteran Queenslander is preparing to defend Australia’s title at the women’s World Cup in November, and on Sunday, will be part of the Queensland side attempting to win back the interstate challenge from NSW.

Nobody – not even the NSWRL or the QRL – has kept accurate records for the interstate challenge, but from 1999 to 2015 the Queensland women’s side went undefeated. “Of those 17 years that they were unbeaten, the number of games they won straight was like 30 plus,” said Brad Donald, the coach of the Australian women’s side, the Jillaroos. “It was an outstanding achievement.”

My blood’s boiling and it’s not just me – all the girls feel exactly the same way

Related: ‘I had tears in my eyes’: jubilant Queenslanders bathe in Origin glory

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Jul 18

Ryan Brierley on playing for Toronto Wolfpack: ‘It’s a crazy way of living’

Ryan Brierley left a Super League club and dropped two divisions to play in Canada but he is loving the ‘surreal, bizarre, thoroughly enjoyable adventure’

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

This time last year Ryan Brierley was adjusting to Super League, having moved to Huddersfield Giants after being a star with second-tier Leigh Centurions. Now he is a leading light at expansion club Toronto Wolfpack, the first transatlantic franchise in British sport. He sat down in his hometown of Preston to consider what went so wrong at the Giants and what is now going so right in Ontario.

How’s your Toronto Wolfpack adventure been, so far?

It’s everything I could have imagined and more. It’s a crazy way of living, especially when you’re in Canada. Going into the city and fans stopping you in the streets, people offering you free donuts… it’s surreal! It’s a bizarre situation, a crazy adventure, but one that we’re thoroughly enjoying. And who is to say being normal is being right? Everything the club said they would do they have delivered. There have been no false promises and it’s only going to get better with time. There’ll be some road bumps along the way but we will iron those out.

Yes, it’s boring over here. We don’t really like coming home now! It’s a dose of reality and I don’t think that’s a bad thing with what’s going on over there. When we come to England it’s a little bit different. We have to put our egos to one side and do the jobs we are supposed to do. When you go to places like south Wales and Newcastle, who don’t have many fans, the challenge is a mental one. You have to create your own atmosphere. That’s probably the most difficult thing but it’s all worth it when you go back to Canada.

Related: Luke Gale on Castleford’s title battle: ‘I’ve not been in big games but I back myself’

We train at Lamport Stadium, where we play, and have a college residency about 15 minutes away. We’re living in pairs but there are two private rooms to each apartment so, although we like doing stuff together, you still need time to yourself, like when your Facetiming your family. It’s great. The gym is five minutes away and we all got given cars so we can go out and explore. A few of the boys have been to Niagara Falls, which is unbelievable. We just roll with it!

It’s a challenge. A few players were missing their kids and family back home. It’s tough for those without a big support network back home. Given time, some of the younger players might get girlfriends over in Toronto and that might become home for some. It’s certainly a place I could live. It feels normal. I wouldn’t rule out living there in the future, certainly when my contract is up or when I finish playing – and I know a few of the boys feel like that. There’s scope for Toronto to become somewhere you stay after rugby and that can only be good for the city.

If I was talking to any player who has the opportunity to come over here I’d encourage them to do it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’d say “go for it”. Anyone who wants to be involved – players, coaches, support staff – I’d strongly recommend it. It’s a different way of life. Sometimes you’ve got to make that jump to experience something different and something better. It’s the best experience I’ve had in my rugby league career.

“We’ve been to a few schools and tried getting among the people. The big push we want is to get more kids involved in rugby league over there. It’s very new and it’s very fresh. It has to start at school level. You can’t start after that or you’re too raw. This month of home games gives a lot of time to get into schools and deliver the message. They just love any type of sport.”

The 80 minutes on the rugby field at the end of the week is a challenge mentally to keep your standards high and keep motivated. When there’s 7,000 crazy fans in Toronto wanting to give you everything – scarves, hats, they just want to love you and get any piece of you they can – that’s brilliant. It’s when you come back home, getting off the plane and going to play when everyone is fatigued, that’s the challenge. But if the only negative issue is I’m a bit tired after a flight and I’ve got to go and play, we’re on to a winner. That’s not a big deal. It could be worse.

Maybe it’s my fault for thinking things would be different. I’ve always wanted to know what this Super League bubble was, blinded by the bright lights. The easiest way to describe it is this: we travelled from Huddersfield on a Friday night to play at Wigan on Sky TV, we won and I scored three tries. We went home, I got into bed and woke up the next day and nobody cares. It’s totally forgotten about. It’s a weird feeling. You score three tries and you think you’re some sort of superhero, untouchable, but the next day you wake up in the same house, get in the same car. You don’t all of a sudden wake up in Las Vegas or Hollywood. Maybe I thought I’d be mobbed by fans and the media, but it wasn’t like that. It was just day-to-day work and it shocked me a little bit.

Related: Jamie Peacock interview: on England, Hull KR and the wisdom of Rocky III

It didn’t help that we were in a losing team and the environment was never going to be great anyway, but it felt like every day I was going into work, and to me playing rugby league has never been a job: it’s always been something I absolutely love. I just couldn’t feel the love for Huddersfield or Super League. That was probably my fault and I have to look at myself. But I don’t think I could be any more professional. Off the field I do the right things: I look after my body. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do anything bad, don’t eat rubbish. So I give myself every opportunity to develop in Super League. But once I’d ticked that box, I just didn’t feel fulfilled.

100%. We weren’t a successful team, especially last season, but the club did everything right by me. I was speaking to Huddersfield players, trying to get a feel for the club and the town, but I just didn’t feel emotionally connected to the club. I really tried, getting to know the fans and doing promos. Living out of the area didn’t help as you’re not really connected as much. Going to Huddersfield’s stadium felt a little bit cold to me and I can’t hide my feelings. I couldn’t shake that off. What rattled me was I had three coaches in the short time I was there. And I started at full-back then I went to half-back, then I got dropped, then I was on the bench, then back to half-back, then full-back. I probably didn’t do enough to tie a regular starting spot down. That plays with your emotions as well. When you’re playing every week at Leigh and everyone loves you, to not getting a game, it rocks your ego a little bit. It’s not great for the mindset. I’m thinking I should be some sort of hero in Super League and it never really worked out that way.”

I’ve ticked that Super League box. I should have been better when I played but did I get a fair crack? Probably not. I’m thankful for the opportunity though. In Super League we get blinded by this big dream. This is going to sound daft, because I’ve not won the league or the Challenge Cup and people are going to think I’ve got above myself, but it just didn’t fulfil my needs. The decision was made to feel the love again, to feel appreciated and to go back to a comfort zone where I knew I’d be appreciated for my talent and really develop my skills as an attacking half and really control a team. Going into a team and just getting through training and getting through games and then going home to go out with my mates, isn’t what I play rugby for.

Me and Paul have been really good friends for many a year and he’s always joked saying I’m not good enough for Toronto! So I never got the feeling he wanted me there. He’s so professional he would never put me in a situation. He kept it secret from me. I actually got a phone call from Richard Thewlis [Giants CEO] who said they’d accepted an offer from Toronto Wolfpack for me. That shows I’m not needed there and there’s no point them paying a guy to sit on the sidelines. Danny Brough was doing the job I’d been asked to do. Rick Stone was trying to make me more an all-round game-manager, which I don’t deny I need, but my natural ability had been put to one side. He didn’t want me to leave but when an offer has been accepted to sell you, I don’t think you belong there anymore. Rowls said: “I want you to come back and lead this team into Super League.”

That was a big pull. I know the lads there and they’re really big friends of mine. I was watching a Cooper Cronk video – I’m a little bit obsessed with Cooper Cronk – talking about Melbourne Storm. He said the common denominator in successful organisations is they’re good people. And top to bottom at Toronto Wolfpack they’re good people. I really missed the love of going to training and high-fiving everybody and just being myself, being with close friends who love me for who I am. As much as that sounds soft, as men we’re probably afraid to admit we need a bit of love now and then, and that’s what I was missing.

Yeah, it makes a massive difference. I could guarantee I’d be happy with Paul Rowley. As much as I’ve come down two divisions, my happiness level has gone through the roof. I’ve got a really supportive family who are only happy when I’m happy. I’ve always made decisions based on me wanting to be a superstar, a global superhero – I’ve been blinded by that and needed to take a step back and realise what’s most important in my life, and that’s family. I’m a much happier person now which makes me a very, very dangerous player for the Toronto Wolfpack. Hopefully we can both benefit from that.”

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Jul 16

Eagles take W.A. AFL derby, Manly overrun Wests in NRL and more: Australia sportwatch – as it happened

10.31am BST


That’s all from me for this edition of Sunday Sportwatch – I hope you enjoyed following my live commentary on our feature match, the underwhelming derby between Fremantle and West Coast. I’m not sure I’ve seen such a frustrating game in a long time, and imagine Dockers fans in particular will be feeling let down after their team’s inability to hit a target inside 50 in particular. Still, I’m sure I speak for most supporters when I say it’s nice to see Nat Fyfe back to somewhere near his best. The Eagles, meanwhile, were at their intercepting best, and found a way to weather an erratic Fremantle storm. No surprises that their best intercept mark – Shannon Hurn – takes the Glendinning medal for best on ground. That’s five derby wins for the Eagles in a row now as they take the final clash at Domain stadium.

10.15am BST

Good win for the Eagles in the end, their fifth-straight against the Dockers in the W.A. derbies. Fremantle had plenty of opportunities, plenty of the run and patches of high possession, but simply couldn’t find targets inside 50 and turned the ball over far too consistently. The Dockers finished with 57% disposal efficiency as a team, to West Coast’s 70%. Fremantle simply played into the Eagles’ hands, resulting in the high number of intercept marks taken by Eagles defenders, none better than captain Shannon Hurn who had 5 intercept marks and 34 disposals. The only person with more disposals on the ground was his teammate Andrew Gaff, with 35.

No surprises that Shannon Hurn takes away the Ross Glendinning medal – with 3 votes from each of the judges.

10.06am BST

AFL Q4 01:07 remaining Fremantle 5.14 (44) v West Coast 11.8 (74)

Amongst the casualties for Fremantle today is Ross Lyon’s coke.

Just when you thought your day couldn’t get any worse Poor Rossy #AFLFreoEagles

10.04am BST

AFL Q4 03:23 remaining Fremantle 5.14 (44) v West Coast 11.7 (73)

Another goal to the Eagles through Dom Sheed as Fremantle fans begin to leave Domain Stadium for the last derby at this venue.

10.00am BST

AFL Q4 04:48 remaining Fremantle 5.14 (44) v West Coast 10.7 (67)

That will be the sealer for the Eagles – Josh Kennedy shows the composure Fremantle have lacked all game to pick out Jack Darling just outside the square. I don’t think there’s enough time left for Fremantle – but they’ll rue their many missed opportunities.

9.57am BST

AFL Q4 07:30 remaining Fremantle 5.14 (44) v West Coast 9.7 (61)

I can’t say this enough but the Dockers just can’t hit a target inside 50. They’re playing right into the Eagles’ intercept game.

9.54am BST

AFL Q4 09:18 remaining Fremantle 5.13 (44) v West Coast 9.6 (60)

The Dockers are pushing but excruciatingly (for their fans more than anyone, I’d guess) keep missing targets. That said, they have all the momentum. Is there enough time? The Eagles need some more cool heads like Andrew Gaff – whose composure managed to take a couple of minutes off the clock.

9.50am BST

AFL Q4 12:52 remaining Fremantle 5.13 (44) v West Coast 9.6 (60)

Walters for another -Darcy was free in the goalsquare – all on his own, decided to let it drop and it almost hit the post! Imagine that. If Freo keep hitting their targets this game might be back on.

9.46am BST

AFL Q4 15:00 remaining Fremantle 4.13 (37) v West Coast 9.6 (60)

The Dockers finally get one back through Hayden Ballantyne after just their seventh mark inside 50.

9.43am BST

AFL Q4 18:19 remaining Fremantle 3.13 (31) v West Coast 9.6 (60)

Looks like Stephen Hill has popped a shoulder in a melee with LeCras, that’s bad news for the Dockers who failed to capitalise on another promising push forward inside 50.

9.34am BST

AFL three-quarter-time Fremantle 3.13 (31) v West Coast 9.6 (60)

Walters has GOALED! I can confirm, that is six points to the Dockers. That was the result of a Dom Sheed clanger which gifted the ball to Nat Fyfe.

9.28am BST

AFL Q3 03:03 remaining Fremantle 2.13 (25) v West Coast 8.6 (54)

This is truly an ugly game of football. The ‘FREEEEO’ chant has just gone up, I assume more in hope and irony than anything else.

9.23am BST

AFL Q3 06:46 remaining Fremantle 2.13 (25) v West Coast 7.6 (48)

It must be contagious, because even Josh Kennedy has missed.

#AFLFreoEagles “he can’t miss this”

9.18am BST

AFL Q3 10:15 remaining Fremantle 2.12 (24) v West Coast 7.5 (47)

And again.

This is excruciating #AFLFreoeagles

9.15am BST

AFL Q3 12:00 remaining Fremantle 2.11 (23) v West Coast 7.5 (47)

Some great play from the Dockers leads to yet another behind – the Dockers are going at 5% conversion from inside 50s. Wow.

The standard of #AFLFreoEagles is improving at half-time.

9.11am BST

AFL Q3 15:14 remaining Fremantle 2.9 (21) v West Coast 7.5 (47)

The Dockers finally manage to hit a target inside 50 thanks to the clean ball use of Fyfe, who finds Cox on the lead. He can’t convert, however.

9.09am BST

AFL Q3 16:40 remaining Fremantle 2.8 (20) v West Coast 7.5 (47)

Very impressive goal to Jeremy McGovern from outside 50 after an intercept mark inside 50. He loves getting forward – and wouldn’t the Crows love to have him alongside his brother Mitch?

9.07am BST

AFL Q3 18:00 remaining Fremantle 2.8 (20) v West Coast 5.5 (35)

The third-quarter starts as the rest of the game has proceeded, with poor ball use from the Dockers and Jack Darling with a shot on goal to make them pay. He misses.

9.04am BST

It’s all over at Barlow Park, with the Cowboys running away with the win 23-10. They had four different try-scorers, with Taumalolo, Feldt, Hess and Granville all crossing over. Taumalolo had 2 line breaks, and also had the most metres run, with 173 in total (Sam Burgess had 152 for the Rabbitohs). Granville also led the way for the Cowboys with 2 line breaks and 29 tackles, while Angus Crichton had 33 tackles for the Rabbitohs. The single point came from a Lachlan Coote field goal in the 78th minute, while Ethan Lowe converted 3/4 conversions.

The win takes the Cowboys to sixth, just behind the Roosters and just above the Dragons with 24 points. Meanwhile, the Dragons languish in 13th in what has been a disappointing season.

8.55am BST

The reigning premiers finally break through for a win against the Blues. Both teams have been hit hard with injuries – the Blues had just the single rotation in the end, with all of Alex Silvagni, Ciaran Byrne and Dylan Buckley on the bench with injuries. As posted earlier, Jake Stringer is also out with a hamstring. In more promising news, Lewis Young played very well in his debut game for the Dogs, leading all others in intercept possessions (8), intercept marks (5) and the most marks for the Dogs (9). The Dogs will also welcome Jason Johannisen’s return to form; he had 23 possessions, 8 contested, and 74% disposal efficiency. Funny what signing your contract extension can do.

For the Blues, Bryce Gibbs continued his hot run of form with 32 disposals, including 10 contested possessions and 8 clearances. Second to him were Sam Docherty (29 disposals, 9 marks and 9 contested possessions) and Sam Kerridge (29 disposals, 12 contested possessions).

8.45am BST

AFL half-time Fremantle 2.8 (20) v West Coast 5.4 (34)

Fremantle butcher another forward 50 entry and lose a good opportunity to score just before half-time. If they can fix up their disposal efficiency they’ll be right in this one.

8.42am BST

AFL Q2 01:45 remaining Fremantle 2.7 (19) v West Coast 5.4 (34)

Finally the Dockers kick truly with a goal to Suban in his milestone match. He still managed to fumble it before it went through. Ferocious tackle from David Mundy set that up.

8.36am BST

AFL Q2 05:36 remaining Fremantle 1.7 (13) v West Coast 5.4 (34)

Thankfully for the Dockers, Drew Petrie misses down the other end and fails to make Fremantle pay.

8.34am BST

AFL Q2 07:00 remaining Fremantle 1.7 (13) v West Coast 5.3 (33)

Would you believe it, Michael Walters hits the post from 10m out on the run. Nyhuis was all on his own just before he gave the assist to Walters, but the ball delivery to him gave the defenders a chance. Fremantle’s disposal efficiency is their biggest enemy.

8.31am BST

AFL Q2 09:05 remaining Fremantle 1.6 (12) v West Coast 5.2 (32)

Finally! Kersten kicks truly for the Dockers after a snap shot around the body. Phew. Dockers fans breathe a sigh of relief.

8.30am BST

AFL Q2 09:50 remaining Fremantle 0.6 (6) v West Coast 5.2 (32)

Stephen Hill misses a very easy shot at goal – he had plenty of time and lacked composure with the finish.

8.28am BST

AFL Q2 11:24 remaining Fremantle 0.4 (4) v West Coast 5.2 (32)

Fremantle have 14% disposal efficiency in their forward half this term. Unbelievably bad.

8.25am BST

AFL Q2 13:00 remaining Fremantle 0.4 (4) v West Coast 5.2 (32)

Things are getting ugly for the Dockers here. They’ve only managed 4 points in a quarter and a half of football.

8.22am BST

AFL Q2 15:26 remaining Fremantle 0.3 (3) v West Coast 5.2 (32)

Lachie Neale gives away a 50m penalty to Matt Priddis after stepping off the line (he also avoided giving Priddis the ball in the first instance, so was lucky not to give it away at first). Still, Priddis can’t capitalise, but the ball is back with Josh Kennedy who was in too much space inside the Eagles’ forward 50. He makes no such mistake.

8.19am BST

AFL Q2 17:41 remaining Fremantle 0.3 (3) v West Coast 4.1 (25)

Fox Footy’s commentators point out that Fyfe is now up to 11/39 contested possessions for his team – the next best is Lachie Neale on 3. Fremantle can’t afford such reliance on one man, as brilliant as he may be.

8.16am BST

AFL three-quarter-time Carlton 6.6 (42) v Western Bulldogs 10.8 (68)

26-point lead to the Bulldogs after a 3 goal to 2 quarter. Bontempelli, Wallis and McLean scored for the Dogs, while it was Wright and Graham for the Blues.

8.11am BST

NRL half-time South Sydney Rabbitohs 6-16 North Queensland Cowboys

Quarter-time in our feature match, and it’s half-time in the NRL. Here’s the most recent try to Coen Hess. Looks like the Rabbitohs might live to rue selling their home game to the state of their opponents…

Granville starts it. Hess finishes it!#NRLSouthsCowboys 6-16 after 34 minutes.#NRL

8.09am BST

AFL Q1 00:22 remaining Fremantle 0.3 (3) v West Coast 4.1 (25)

Nat Fyfe has had 10 contested possessions – a third of Fremantle’s 30 total. It might be cliche, but he can’t do it all alone. He’s leading all-comers with 12 disposals and 5 clearances.

8.07am BST

AFL Q1 01:50 remaining Fremantle 0.3 (3) v West Coast 4.1 (25)

Hayden Crozier nearly takes mark of the year before the Eagles clear the ball to again deflect Fremantle’s attack on the 50. Will get you some vision of that when I can!

8.04am BST

AFL Q1 03:49 remaining Fremantle 0.3 (3) v West Coast 4.1 (25)

Great goal to Priddis off one step on the left. He was all alone in the 50 after a panic clearance from the Dockers. That’s four goals to none in this term for the Eagles.

8.00am BST

AFL Q1 06:23 remaining Fremantle 0.1 (1) v West Coast 3.1 (19)

Nearly a miracle goal to Stephen Hill after a nice assist from Lachie Neale, who has seemingly recovered from an elbow to the head by Matt Priddis (he tried to fend off the tackle, rather than deliberately elbowing him).

We see you Jack Darling #AFLFreoEagles

7.56am BST

AFL Q1 09:22 remaining Fremantle 0.1 (1) v West Coast 3.1 (19)

Fremantle couldn’t convert through captain Nat Fyfe despite a 50m penalty gifting him a set shot at goal. Darling outmarks his opponent again to set up Drew Petrie in the square. How good has Petrie been off the North Melbourne scrap heap?

7.51am BST

AFL Q1 12:46 remaining Fremantle 0.0 (0) v West Coast 2.1 (13)

Congratulations to Nick Suban on his 150th game today. No love for the Dockers in this match so far, though. Eagles are dominating possession, with Kennedy and Darling looming dangerously in the forward line. Last week’s hero Nyhuis is already back defending, currently on Jeremy McGovern.

7.48am BST

AFL Q1 14:25 remaining Fremantle 0.0 (0) v West Coast 2.0 (12)

Absolutely HUGE mark from Jack Darling, and he follows it up with a nice set-shot goal from about 45m out, on a much tighter angle than Kennedy’s last shot.

7.45am BST

AFL Q1 16:40 remaining Fremantle 0.0 (0) v West Coast 1.0 (6)

Guess who? Josh Kennedy with a big 45m set shot goal for the Eagles. Great kick inside 50m from McGovern set him up. How glad are the Eagles that this man is back?

7.43am BST

AFL Q1 17:54 remaining Fremantle 0.0 (0) v West Coast 0.0 (0)

Big late out here, with Elliot Yeo missing from the Eagles’ side (while this might be devastating to Eagles fans, I am raging because he’s in my Supercoach team) That man Michael Walters gets the opening free kick off the match to push the Dockers forward.

7.40am BST

NRL H1 24:56 South Sydney Rabbitohs 6-6 North Queensland Cowboys

Our AFL feature match is about to start, but it’s all square in this game at Barlow Park. Here’s the first try of the afternoon to Cody Walker.

The @SSFCRABBITOHS get the first points of the afternoon thanks to Cody Walker!#NRLSouthsCowboys #NRL

7.34am BST

A quick shout-out to my friends at Chicks Talkin’ Footy on JOY FM 94.9. They’ve tweeted to promote my live blog today and interviewed me on Wednesday night about all things AFL, and my writing for The Guardian and The Footy Almanac’s season 2017 AFLW book. Look out for the podcast of that interview when their website is back online!

The Magic Unicorn Fairy has to finish fixing @JOY949 site but you can join guest @Kate_ohalloran at @GdnAusSport this arvo. Podcast soon!

7.30am BST


Are you wondering why Carlton are wearing orange socks today? It’s to promote awareness of violence against women – and to support its prevention. Orange is often the colour used by UN women to invest and mobilise against the fact that 1 in 3 women globally experience violence in their lifetime, often at the hands of someone they know. As reported by UN women, “of all women who were victims of homicide globally in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members”.

7.22am BST

AFL Q2 02:28 remaining Carlton 4.4 (28) v Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49)

Thankyou, Regan Phelps, I would like to concur.

Just turned on the footy. Then heard BT dribble this. Just turned off the footy. #AFLBluesDogs #Netflix

7.20am BST

AFL Q2 02:28 remaining Carlton 4.3 (27) v Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49)

One man who has looked very impressive is the Bulldogs’ debutant in Lewis Young who is playing in defence for the Dogs. Has picked off several intercept marks and looks composed, even shouting instructions to his much older teammates.

7.17am BST

AFL Q2 04:02 remaining Carlton 4.3 (27) v Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49)

Five goals to one to the Bulldogs this quarter, as Picken capitalises on the 75% of possession the Dogs have managed leading into half-time.

7.15am BST

AFL Q2 05:10 remaining Carlton 4.3 (27) v Western Bulldogs 6.7 (43)

Speak of the devil, Jones cuts off an impressive foray forward from the Dogs, after a misdirected kick from Caleb Daniel. Charlie Curnow now lines up for a goal down the other end. He hits the post.

7.12am BST


Some news relevant to this game from Wires (AAP): the former Western Bulldog Liam Jones has been offered a new two-year deal with the Blues, after his stunning rejuvenation as a defender. Jones spent seven seasons (including five with the Bulldogs) as an often-frustrating forward, capable of taking huge contested marks but marred by inconsistency.

7.08am BST

AFL Q2 11:17 remaining Carlton 4.2 (26) v Western Bulldogs 6.6 (42)

The Blues get their fourth goal, after they kicked three in the first 10 minutes of this game. That one went to Bryce Gibbs who was alone in the square, and kicked it into the top level of the ‘G.

7.05am BST

AFL Q2 12:43 remaining Carlton 3.2 (20) v Western Bulldogs 5.6 (36)

Brilliant snap goal from Bontempelli and the Dogs have 5 of the last goals in a row.

7.01am BST

AFL Q2 12:43 remaining Carlton 3.2 (20) v Western Bulldogs 4.6 (30)

The Bulldogs look to have some momentum in this game, finally stringing together some good form after such a disappointing season. They haven’t, however, capitalised on their opportunities – having kicked 6 behinds for their 4 goals.

6.57am BST

The sometimes spiteful clash between the Tigers and Lions is over at Ethiad Stadium, with Dustin Martin surging to 40 disposals, including 14 clearances, 18 contested possessions and 2 goals. He’s a star, but might be in trouble with the Match Review Panel after seeming to poke Nick Robertson in the eye (who was also reported for headbutting). Captain Trent Cotchin also led from the front with the Tigers, with 28 disposals, including 15 contested possessions and 1 goal.

For Brisbane, young gun Alex Witherden had 28 disposals, including 8 contested possessions and four inside 50s. He’s just one of an impressive bunch of young Lions, including Eric Hipwood (who said earlier in the week that he wants to be a Lion for life), Josh Schache (who is staying) and Hugh McCluggage. I don’t think it’ll be too long before the Lions turn things around.

6.51am BST

A lopsided second half sees Wests drop a 16-8 lead, to go down 16-28 to the Manly Sea Eagles. There was a noticeable shift in momentum after that knock-on was paid against Brooks (when Kelly appeared to wrest it from his hands).

Man of the match goes to Tom Trbojevic who had 2 line breaks, and 191 metres run (Woods had 196 for the Tigers). He set up his brother for a try in the 71st minute, and was influential in getting his side across the line.

6.43am BST

NRL H2 76:30 Manly Sea Eagles 28-16 Wests Tigers

Tom Trbojevic decides that the Sea Eagles will take the 2 points for the penalty, and Cherry-Evans makes no mistake.

6.39am BST

NRL H2 71:12 Manly Sea Eagles 26-16 Wests Tigers

Another dropout for the Tigers – Sea Eagles are dominating possession now. Here’s that last Trbojevic assist and try.

Trbojevic to Trbojevic!#NRLManlyTigers #NRL

6.37am BST

NRL H2 71:12 Manly Sea Eagles 26-16 Wests Tigers

I think it’s all over here at Lottoland, after a Cherry-Evans pass sets up the Trbojevic brothers – this time Tom feeding Jake (how often have we seen Jake feeding Tom?) Cherry-Evans converts for a 10 point lead with only 8 minutes to go. That’s three consecutive tries for the Sea Eagles.

6.33am BST

NRL H2 68:01 Manly Sea Eagles 20-16 Wests Tigers

Dropout for the Tigers after a deft Cherry-Evans pass forces the Tigers behind their try-line. The Tigers give away a penalty and the Sea Eagles have another six, but it’s intercepted by Nofoaluma. Tigers back on the attack.

6.28am BST

NRL H2 63:44 Manly Sea Eagles 20-16 Wests Tigers

Great effort from DCE to step back into play off his own try-line, with Lolohea charging towards him after the kick. It saves the Sea Eagles a dropout, and they proceed with some big metre gains.

6.24am BST

NRL H2 60:44 Manly Sea Eagles 20-16 Wests Tigers

A brilliant try from Akuila Uate – he ran straight through the centre of the Tigers’ defence -past Woods and Tedesco no less with a wonderful burst of speed. That gives the home side back the lead. An easy conversion follows to DCE. I feel for the Tigers – that knock-on decision has really changed the momentum of the game.

6.20am BST

NRL H2 54:41 Manly Sea Eagles 12-16 Wests Tigers

That set of 6 went absolutely nowhere for the Sea Eagles – and I was going to commend the Tigers’ defence, but a penalty for a knock-on is paid against Luke Brooks (even though it appeared Ryan Kelly punched the ball from his hands?!). The resultant scrum delivers an immediate Matthew Wright try. A conversion follows.

Through the hands, Wright has a double!#NRLManlyTigers #NRL

6.12am BST

NRL H2 46:48 Manly Sea Eagles 8-16 West Tigers

Signs of desperation here from the Sea Eagles with Darcy Lussick tackling Woods by the hair… and giving away a penalty in turn.

Ricochet!#NRLManlyTigers 8-16 after 47 minutes. #NRL

6.09am BST

NRL H2 42:48 Manly Sea Eagles 8-16 Wests Tigers

Were back on at Lottoland and Wests have scored a lucky goal from a dual ricochet – Brooks’ kick first hit Shaun Lane, and then the post, before he took the ball back for a try. And Lolohea converts for an 8-point lead to the Tigers.

6.06am BST


In case you missed it in my opening post, Greg Jericho argued in his piece today that the Australian cricketers have demonstrated the effectiveness of union organising in negotiating for fair share of their pay and power, tied to their revenue. Were the players operating individually, he says, “they would be stuffed”.

6.00am BST


Romelu Lukaku has made his debut for Manchester United as they saw off LA Galaxy, 5-2. Manchester United’s post-Wayne Rooney era began with Jose Mourinho fielding a rarely deployed 3-5-1-1, while Lukaku had to wait until the second half for his debut. He didn’t score, but didn’t look out of place either.

5.55am BST

AFL Q3 05:36 remaining Richmond 8.13 (61) v Brisbane 6.7 (43)

No surprises here with the Tigers leading the Lions at Etihad stadium. Brownlow favourite Dustin Martin looks to be free of the tag, racking up 13 possessions this quarter alone. He’s had 27 so far, although is only going at 55% disposal efficiency. He’s had 10 clearances though, including 6 centre clearances.

5.51am BST

NRL half-time Manly Sea Eagles 8-10 West Tigers

Lolohea intercepts a risky Matthew Wright pass on the verge of half-time. Lolohea speaks to the media at half-time and can hardly get a word in he’s puffing that hard. Says the Tigers started slowly, and is happy to take the lead into half-time. Apisai Koroisau denies that the Sea Eagles are struggling after a tough match last week; he says they started well and they won’t use fatigue as an excuse.

5.47am BST

NRL H1 37:27 Manly Sea Eagles 8-10 West Tigers

Tedesco takes the dropout for the Tigers after Manly pressed hard with a penalty, quick tap and Trbojevic dash that almost delivered. It’s almost half-time here, at which point I’ll go around the grounds for some AFL updates.

5.43am BST

F1 – British Grand Prix

In F1 news, Lewis Hamilton has emphatically answered his critics with a brilliant drive to pole position for this Sunday’s British Grand Prix. This is Hamilton’s fifth British GP pole, and matches Jim Clark’s record at Silverstone. He came in at more than half a second clear of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. If he should also win the race, he will match Clark and Alain Prost’s record of five wins in this race.

5.38am BST

NRL H1 29:03 Manly Sea Eagles 8-10 West Tigers

The kick from Luke Brooks goes over the hands Brian Kelly and Esan Marsters pounces. Some great work from Woods (via an offload) and a big, daring run from Lolohea set that try up.

The luck of the bounce!#NRLManlyTigers #NRL

5.32am BST

NRL H1 24:18 Manly Sea Eagles 8-6 Wests Tigers

The Tigers finally get one back! Joel Edwards is the unlikely hero after a Woods assist. He fumbled and weaved through a row of defenders for his first try since 2013 (when he was a Raider!)

5.28am BST

NRL H1 19:47 Manly Sea Eagles 8-0 West Tigers

James Tedesco down the inside for what looked like a try, but Woods is penalised for obstructing Trbojevic from tackling Tedesco.

Long ball from Tom Trbojevic #NRLManlyTigers 8-0 after 12 minutes. #NRL

5.25am BST

Tour de France

In Tour de France news, Chris Froome is back in yellow, after finishing 25 seconds ahead of Fabio Aru, who ceded the race lead by 19 seconds. Aru was poorly placed at the back of the group on the final ascent, while Froome finished 7th behind stage winner, Australian Michael Matthews. Froome also gained key seconds ahead of rivals Romain Bardet, Simon Yates, Nario Quintana and teammate Mikel Landa. Still, only 29 seconds separate the top four of Froome, Aru, Bardet and Rigoberto Uran. Froome said he would “regard all of the riders within a minute as a threat,” and at this stage, “we are fighting for every second”.

5.18am BST

NRL H1 11:47 Manly Sea Eagles 8-0 Wests Tigers

And now a try to Matthew Wright after an assist from Tom Trbojevic. Below is the 40/20 from DCE that set it up.

What a 40/20 from DCE! #NRLManlyTigers #NRL

5.15am BST

NRL H1 08:57 Manly Sea Eagles 4-0 Wests Tigers

It’s just his third game this season, but Shaun Lane has dived over for Manly’s opening try after another try assist from Daly Cherry-Evans.

5.12am BST


Australia have advanced to the semi-final against India in the Women’s World Cricket Cup, after easily accounting for South Africa. You can follow the live action as it happened here, with this link to Will Macpherson’s live blog.

5.07am BST


Overnight, 23-year-old Gabriñe Muguruza became only the second Spaniard – after Chonchita Martínez in 1994 – to win the women’s singles title at Wimbledon. Martínez was fittingly in attendance, cheering Muguruza on from the coaches’ box. Muguruza won 7-5, 6-0 in an emphatic victory over five-times champion Venus Williams. The 6-0 scoreline of the second set was telling; it is the first time Williams has lost a set to love in 20 years at Wimbledon.

5.03am BST

Before we get going with today’s action, I’ll update you on some of the emerging sports news from overnight. Then I’ll take us to the NRL clash between Manly and Wests, and update you on the score between the Tigers and the Lions in the AFL.

5.01am BST

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Sunday edition of Guardian Sportwatch. I’m Kate O’Halloran, and here we keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Australian sport, whatever your preferred shape of ball, with our rolling liveblog. Don’t forget to tweet us @GdnAusSport with the hashtag #sportwatch.

Today’s feature match is the 4:40pm clash between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers – otherwise known as the W.A. derby. Today’s clash is the 46th instalment of the derby, likely to be the last ever at Domain Stadium. The W.A. derby gives new meaning to the term ‘bitter rivalry’ – much akin to its S.A. cousin. Crowds for the game average 39,908, with the biggest crowd 43,527 in 2006 (when the teams were first and fourth). They sit at 12th and 10th today, but the game is likely to be as close as ever. West Coast have been hot and cold all season, and have lost three out of their last four at home – unbelievable considering they were accused so vehemently of relying on a home-town advantage. Many would have tipped the Eagles to topple the Power at home last week, but they looked the inferior team from the first bounce. They do, however, welcome back their spearhead Josh Kennedy, who has booted no less than 13 goals in the last two derbies between these teams. For that reason alone, I’m tipping a narrow West Coast victory.

2.57am BST

Kate will be here shortly. In the meantime, we recommend reading this piece from Greg Jericho on how Australian cricket’s pay dispute is a wonderful ad for joining a union.

Related: The cricket pay dispute is a wonderful advertisement for joining a union | Greg Jericho

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 15

London Broncos can see a long-term future back in the Super League | Aaron Bower

Their tiny home in Ealing has provided the nomadic club in the capital a base from which they can plan their return to Super League

“We’ve made massive strides around here,” says a beaming London Broncos coach, Andrew Henderson, as he looks over at the Trailfinders Sports Club in Ealing. At first glance it is hard to believe there is a chance this venue, with 1,000 seats, could be hosting Super League games next year.

It has been an arduous road to this point for London. Relegated from the top flight in 2014, the sport suddenly found itself shorn of an elite presence in the capital. But quietly, studiously, Henderson and the Broncos have been rebuilding. Eleven wins in 12 games have secured a place in the Qualifiers for the second successive season and London are targeting promotion as they prepare for Sunday’s game with Rochdale.

Related: Leeds keep up Castleford chase as Jack Walker try earns win over Hull FC

Related: Ben Currie try boosts Warrington’s hopes of top-eight finish in win over Wigan

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article:

Jul 15

Swans beat Giants, Arsenal outclass Wanderers, Collingwood overcome Suns, Geelong win nailbiter and more: Australia sportwatch – live!

2.15pm BST

And I’m spent.

Well that was another rip-roaring day of sport – there were thrills and spills in the rain, milestone moments for Luke Hodge and Matt Hodgson and, most importantly, the Swans won to keep my dream of winning $2000 alive. That’s enough to retire on, right? If it is, I promise my final Sportwatch will be full of bitter, expletive-ridden diatribes aimed at settling old scores with people I think have slighted me in some way. You know who you are. *Shakes fist at cloud*

2.04pm BST

Cycling: Then again, there’s always the Tour de France

Related: Tour de France 2017: stage 14 – live!

Related: Venus Williams v Garbiñe Muguruza: Wimbledon 2017 final – live!

1.59pm BST

Cricket: Well it’s not long before I sign off but for those of you with more stamina than me, why not follow the women’s cricket. Australia have set South Africa 270 to win – a very defendable total.

Related: South Africa chasing 270 against Australia: Women’s World Cup – live!

1.47pm BST

AAP: The Western Force bid farewell to retiring flanker Matt Hodgson in grand style, thumping the NSW Waratahs 40-11 in Saturday night’s clash in Perth. The Force ran in five tries to one in the bonus-point blitz, with Hodgson joining in on the fun with a 44th-minute try.

Hodgson put the icing on the cake by kicking a penalty on the final siren to send the 10,384 crowd into raptures. NSW simply had no answers to an emotion-charged Force in the wet conditions. The result was a sad end to the career of Waratahs lock Dean Mumm, who made a low-key exit to little fanfare in the 55th minute.

1.32pm BST

From AAP – Gold Coast halfback Ash Taylor orchestrated a 30-10 victory over defending NRL premiers Cronulla, mastering atrociously wet conditions at CBus Super Stadium. The 22-year-old crossed twice and laid on two more tries in Saturday night’s rout of the second-placed Sharks, making light of the conditions while others around him struggled to adapt.

Heavy rain fell all afternoon on the Gold Coast and continued as the game began, creating large pools of water that made conventional rugby league near-impossible. But Taylor rose above it, grubbering with composure for Konrad Hurrell to score in the ninth minute.

1.27pm BST

1.25pm BST

A great day for the Crows who cement their place at the top of the ladder with a win that was never really in doubt from the end of the first quarter. They took their foot off the gas towards the end of the 3rd quarter but, frankly, they could afford to.

And as a bonus for fans, Taylor Walker gave away free tickets to the gun show…

1.09pm BST

AFL: Full-time Giants (83) Swans (96)
That’s it, the Swans have done it. A big, big win that shakes up the ladder yet again. How long can they keep up this run, and how high can they rise? They were the better side tonight against one of the best in the competition.

1.06pm BST

AFL: Q4 Giants (83) Swans (96) – 0:30 remaining
This is a huge result for the Swans and sends a message to the rest of the competition. They’re back. Smith pulls one back for the Giants but it’s too little too late. They’ve lacked a little composure if not class.

1.03pm BST

AFL: Q4 Giants (77) Swans (96) – 1:40 remaining
That’s it surely! Papley with a simple kick after being put clean through by Franklin. The Giants are up against it now.

12.58pm BST

AFL: Q4 Giants (77) Swans (90) – 4:20 remaining
The Swans chewing up time, hoping to frustrate the Giants who are close but not close enough. It’s turning into a melee around the ball, desperate players diving everywhere.

12.56pm BST

AFL: Q4 Giants (77) Swans (90) – 5:40 remaining
Big call as the Giants get a kick in front of goal, possibly for a block. The Swans are seething. The kick is good and the Giants cling on. Is there enough time for them to turn this around?

12.52pm BST

And there we go, a convincing win for Arsenal and an entertaining night for the Wanderers at a packed out ANZ Stadium. Mission accomplished for all concerned.

Related: Olivier Giroud helps Arsenal breeze past Western Sydney Wanderers

12.50pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 90+1mins
Arsenal put on a late flurry of attacks, Walcott having a shot tipped around the post, another shot cracking the upright. The Wanderers just starting to tire.

12.46pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 88 mins
There’s a slight feeling of going through the motions now… although you could possibly argue that Arsenal have been doing that since kick-off, such is their languid style. The fans at ANZ can’t say they haven’t been entertained though.

12.45pm BST

AFL: Q4 Giants (64) Swans (82) – 13:30 remaining
The Swans are starting to turn the screw, another goal just edging them further ahead and demoralising the Giants – who seem to be losing their cool a little. That’s been the difference between the sides tonight – experience. The Swans have used every bit they have to get into this position. There’s still just enough time, and the Giants have the talent to turn things around. The clock’s ticking though.

12.39pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 80 mins
Cornthwaite seems to have hurt his head while challenging for a corner – and it looks like Janjetovic was the guilty party, flying out to claim a corner and clocking his teammate on the bonce. He’s up and running after a few moments though. Arsenal just getting on top again, a few more openings being created.

12.37pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 77 mins
The game has turned a little scrappy, which in a backhanded way is praise for the Wanderers who have managed to upset Arsenal’s rhythm. There have been far fewer flowing passing moves around the Wanderers’ box and far more direct runs towards goal by the Wanderers attack.

12.33pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 74 mins
Hats off to the Wanderers, they’ve made a real fist of it in this half. The gulf in class is obvious but they’ve worked harder than the Gunners to stay in touch. Walcott shows a couple of brilliant little touches to get away from three markers – but his final ball lets him down.

12.28pm BST

12.27pm BST

AFL: Q3T Giants (55) Swans (69)
That’s it for the quarter and the Swans still have their noses in front, pulling out every bit of experience and skill they have to keep the talented Giants at arm’s length. Can they do it for one last quarter though? No idea – but it’ll be fun finding out.

12.23pm BST

AFL: Q3 Giants (55) Swans (69) – 1:55 remaining
What a kick from Johnson; the tightest of angles with the Giants under pressure and he conjures a goal from nowhere. They’re still in with a shout but the Swans are in the driving seat as we head towards the final break.

12.20pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 61 mins
Arsenal guilty of switching off a little, clearly getting too comfortable as the Wanderers try and hit on the break after a soft pass from Arsenal in midfield is pounced on. Fair play to the Wanderers, they haven’t let their heads drop and are determined to make a game of it – and in the last few minutes, Arsenal have allowed them to.

12.17pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-1 Wanderers – 57 mins
Lustica pulls one back for the Wanderers, firing a free-kick from six yards out (it was for a pass-back) into the wall, then driving the rebound into the roof of the net. A little glimmer for the hosts.

12.15pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-0 Wanderers – 54 mins
Unless Arsene Wenger makes some major changes and substitutions in the next few minutes, it’s only a matter of time before Arsenal grab another goal. That said, the Wanderers have had their first real chance – Clisby striking the crossbar from close-range.

12.10pm BST

Football: Arsenal 3-0 Wanderers – 50 mins
The Gunners pick up where they left off, Elneny clearly buoyed by his “goal” cracks one off the crossbar that somehow stays out. Giroud puts the rebound wide.

12.07pm BST

AFL: Q3 Giants (43) Swans (62) – 11:45 remaining
Hanneberry puts it through the posts to boost the Swans’ buffer again. It must be frustrating for the Giants, every time they get within touching distance the Swans eek out another goal. Great to watch though, two different styles clashing head to head.

12.04pm BST

AFL: Q3 Giants (43) Swans (56) – 13:01 remaining
I was about to say it’s been intense without being dirty so far – although a little kick by Newman on Patton looked, for a moment, like a line had been crossed. Replays suggest it was accidental though. Either way, it seems to distract the Giants player enough to skew his kick wide. He gets another shot moments later though and nails it.

12.00pm BST

AFL: Q3 Giants (36) Swans (56) – 16:00 remaining
It’s a real scrap out there, neither side giving an inch. How different is this Swans side from the team that lost to the Giants earlier in the season? It’s all about confidence. The Swans kick another one to extend the lead – they’ve come out fired up.

11.57am BST

AFL: Halftime – Melbourne (33) Crows (72)
The Crows continue to march on at the top of the ladder. It’ll take something remarkable for this one to turn around.

11.54am BST

Time for a quick catch-up on the rest of the games in progress at the minute.

NRL: Titans 26-0 Sharks – 60 mins
The Sharks’ flawless away record is in serious danger at Cbus Super Stadium – Roberts the latest to go over the try line for the hosts.

11.48am BST

Football: Half-time – Arsenal 3-0 Wanderers
And that’s it, Arsenal on cruise control as they walk off the pitch having barely broken a sweat.

11.47am BST

Football: Arsenal 3-0 Wanderers – 44mins
A deflection off Hamill from an Elneny shot and Arsenal are three goals to the good. Unfortunate for the hosts – Janjetovic had no chance – but probably a fair reflection of just how dominant Arsenal have been.

11.44am BST

Football: Arsenal 2-0 Wanderers – 43 mins
It’s pretty subdued around Spotless, if not exactly quiet – more like the fans are trying to entertain themselves. Giroud with a sharp turn and shot that’s turned away by the keeper.

11.42am BST

Football: Arsenal 2-0 Wanderers – 39 mins
Ramsey doubles the Gunners’ lead with a lob and this has all the hallmarks of a cakewalk for Arsene Wenger’s men. The Wanderers are energetic enough but the difference in class is too much, even with Arsenal playing at 80 per cent.

11.39am BST

AFL: Q2T Giants (36) Swans (47)
A damaging last few minutes for the Swans, and a couple of priceless goals for the Giants as we head into the main break.

11.37am BST

Football: Arsenal 1-0 Wanderers – 36 mins
Clisby with a good cross into the box that’s defended well by Arsenal. It had to be though, it was a dangerous ball. Good response from the Wanderers although they’ve still barely had a sniff of goal.

11.35am BST

Football: Arsenal 1-0 Wanderers – 31 mins
Giroud comes up with a fantastic finish to put Arsenal ahead. It was always coming, just not in any particular rush.

11.33am BST

AFL: Q2 Giants (36) Swans (47) – 0:30 remaining
Shows what I know. The Swans throw themselves a little too far forward in the hunt for more goals and they get hit on the break, Scully with a confident kick to bring the Giants back into it. A couple of minutes later and Kelly kicks from the sideline to bring the difference back to 11.

11.29am BST

AFL: Q2 Giants (24) Swans (47) – 2:30 remaining
Buddy with a kick to extend the Swans’ lead to 23. The visitors are asking all the questions at the minute. The first signs of nerves from the Giants and the Swans smell blood. They want to make the most of this, the Giants are too good to be on the backfoot for long.

11.27am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 26 mins
Giroud with a free header from a cross six yards out … but it goes straight to the keeper. The linesman had his flag up anyway.

11.25am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 23 mins
The Wanderers are sitting very far back, Arsenal content to play it around and wait for some space to appear. Baccus tries to spring a counter-attack but it comes to nothing. It’s Majok next with some possession around the Arsenal box, but the ball never gets past the first man. It’s the first suggestion of danger for Arsenal but the Gunners deal with it very comfortably.

11.22am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 19 mins
Still that patient passing play from Arsenal that can be as mesmerising as it is frustrating. They don’t seem in any rush to score. Fair play, it’s hardly a crucial tie. No need to strain something. Ramsay with a cross into the box but Janjetovic flings himself at it to cut out the danger.

11.18am BST

AFL: Q2 – Giants (23) Swans (34) – 10:30 remaining
Egads it’s fierce out there – it’s energy-sapping just watching it. Despite some impressive stats for the Giants, the Swans are the side in front. They’ve been shrewd with their possession and tough in defence.

11.15am BST

AFL: Q2 – Giants (23) Swans (28) 12:10 remaining
It’s taken a while but we have our first goal of the second quarter, the Giants kicking a long one to get within five points. The goals might not be there but the intensity is. There’s a crackle in the air at Spotless.

11.12am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 11mins
A scything tackle and Arsenal get a free-kick on the left of the box. It’s swung in and cleared easily enough, but the pressure continues until Giroud skews one wide under pressure and with the ball behind him. Not sure what he was trying to achieve with that. Neither does he by the sheepish look on his face.

11.09am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 8mins
There’s no real urgency from Arsenal, just patient build-up play – but you sense they’re just one cutting move away from opening the scoring. The Wanderers are much more direct with their few rare forays forward, nothing the Arsenal defence can’t handle.

11.06am BST

Football: Arsenal 0-0 Wanderers – 3mins
Early chance for Lacazette but Janjetovic is equal to it, diving low to keep the shot out. Some good forward play for Arsenal, creating space and passing well, although they’re still in second gear.

11.00am BST

Football: Over to Sydney where Arsenal are preparing to take on the Wanderers. Lacazette makes his first start for the Gunners.

10.58am BST

AFL: Q1T Giants (16) Swans (28)
The Giants get one last shot at goal – but Shiel takes it too far to the left. After withstanding that early assault, the Swans have bounced back to take a healthy lead into the break.

10.56am BST

10.55am BST

AFL: Q1 Giants (15) Swans (28) – 1:58 remaining
And the Swans are in front. Great kick by Kennedy as the Swans take the lead for the first time. The Giants are getting a bit of battering, physically speaking at least, with de Boer the latest player to take a bashing. He hobbles off just as the Swans boot another one to go further ahead.

10.51am BST

AFL: Q1 Giants (15) Swans (15) – 3:10 remaining
Not only have the Swans soaked up that pressure, they’ve struck back to go level. Frustrating for the Giants but battling stuff from the Swans. Both sides playing well and we could be in for a cracker if this intensity continues.

10.45am BST

AFL: Q1 Giants (14) Swans (8) – 6:50 remaining
Despite the Giants’ dominance so far there’s still only six points in it, earlier in the season they would have run over the Swans but the visitors biding their time and soaking up the pressure, waiting for a chance to hit back. You’d still prefer to be in the Giants’ shoes though, they’re looking strong.

10.35am BST

I suddenly have a hankering for a chocolate orange.

10.34am BST

AFL: Q1 Giants (8) Swans (0) 15:20 remaining
Solid start from the Giants who are making all the early running. My dreams of early retirement are starting to fade already ($20 at 101-1 odds is $2million in winnings right?) Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. The Swans struggling to get out of their own end at the moment.

10.24am BST

OK people, it’s almost time for the Sydney derby. It’s a game of huge significance – not just because it pits one of the competition favourites against a side in red-hot form in a fierce derby rivalry (although there is that), but because in a fit of madness earlier in the season I bet $20 on the Swans to make the top four after they lost their first six games. The odds? 101-1… and they’re so close now I can almost taste it. Alas, this clash marks the start of a very tough run-in – which is why I’m making this shameless plug about my predictive powers while I still can.

10.18am BST

It’s all over in the Hunter too. That Broncos blitz at the start of the second half was decisive in the end, the Knights paying the price for a sloppy 10 minutes – but that’s all it takes at this level.

10.14am BST

10.13am BST

That’s all she wrote. A late flurry from the Pies has relieved some of the pressure on Nathan Buckley after four defeats. It was tight right up until the last 15 minutes. The weather didn’t help matters for either side. It looks atrocious out there.

10.10am BST

NRL: 75 mins – Knights 22-30 Broncos
Time running out for the Knights. They need something fast but the Broncos are looking in stingy mood.

10.09am BST

That reminds me. Can’t wait for the new season of Bojack Horseman.

10.06am BST

AFL: Q4 Gold Coast (82) Collingwood (97) – 4:04 remaining
We may have a winner in sight. There’s finally some daylight (no pun intended) between the Suns and the Magpies, and with Gold Coast down a couple of players, it’s a big ask for them to come back again. Another goal from Collingwood seems more likely than a comeback by the Suns.

10.03am BST

NRL: 66 mins – Knights 22-24 Broncos
We’ve got a game on our hands now. Hats off (again) to the Knights, they’re battling for everything out there – although they’re still two points behind purely because of that sluggish start to the half. The Broncos are up for the fight too, some big hits going in from both sides as we head towards end-game.

9.56am BST

NRL: 60 mins – Knights 18-24 Broncos
Newcastle not out of this, a much-needed try stopping the rot and they’re battling for every inch out there. They may be eyeing up the wooden spoon but it’s not due to a lack of effort – just silly spells where they seem to switch off.

9.51am BST

AFL: Q4 Gold Coast (76) Collingwood (83) – 12:20 remaining
Still tight at Metricon with both teams making mistakes as they look to build a decisive bit of momentum. Kicks being fluffed, catches being fumbled, although the weather is more to blame than the pressure.

9.47am BST

NRL: 52 mins – Knights 12-24 Broncos
And the Broncos are in again. A terrible spell for the Knights, ruthless stuff from the Broncos. It’s Milford this time, and this is getting out of hand fast for the side from the Hunter. A blistering start to the second half from Brisbane.

9.44am BST

NRL: 48 mins – Knights 12-18 Broncos
Moga in the corner and, just like that, the Broncos are back in front. They’ve caught the Knights cold at the start of this half – not the first time that’s happened to Newcastle. Someone needs to wake the Knights up.

9.39am BST

NRL: 44 mins – Knights 12-12 Broncos
Different code, similar story at Newcastle – with things as tight as possible. As expected the Broncos have come out for the second half fired up and have already squared the scoreboard. I wonder what Wayne Bennett said to them at the break. Probably unprintable here.

9.36am BST

AFL: 3QT – Gold Coast (68) Collingwood (69)
Players slipping and sliding all over the place, it’s really chucking it down out there. And that’s it for the quarter, with only one point in it. You’d have to be brave to call this one – braver than me anyway (insert joke here).

9.30am BST

9.24am BST

AFL: Q3 Gold Coast (61) Collingwood (62) – 6:30 remaining
Someone grab an oil can because the hinges on this see-saw match are getting a thorough workout. Collingwood in front now when just 10 minutes ago it was the Suns who had all the momentum.

9.19am BST

NRL: Half-time – Knights 12-6 Broncos
Thar she blows. The Knights head into the sheds in the lead… although they’ve done that a few times this season only to blow it after the break. The Knights fans are lapping this up, quite rightly cheering off the players. Can they keep it up for another 40 minutes? I suspect the Broncos will get an earful off Wayne Bennett. Expect them to step it up a notch.

9.13am BST

NRL: 37mins – Knights 12-6 Broncos
Fair play to the Knights. After the season they’ve had they could have crumbled mentally but they’ve hit back with aplomb – two tries shooting them into the lead in response to the Broncos’ opener.

9.09am BST

AFL: Q3 Gold Coast (53) Collingwood (47) 16:30 remaining
We’re under way again at Metricon Stadium and the Suns have picked up where they left off, with a goal from their skipper to put them back in front. As we’ve already seen, though, the momentum in this game can swing in a moment. The hosts looking good though. For now.

9.05am BST

9.03am BST

NRL: 28 mins – Knights 0-6 Broncos
Jordan Kahu with a beauty of a catch from a kick into the corner to dive over the line. The conversion is good too. Terrific stuff to open the scoring. Hard on the Knights but something had to give.

9.01am BST

8.58am BST

NRL: 24 mins – Knights 0-0 Broncos
The Knights start to build a bit of pressure of their own, but the Broncos escape with a tight offside call – just when it looked like they’d knocked on from their own 10m line. The Knights fans are in fine voice, and well they might be. They’re frustrating the Broncos and just starting to show signs of attacking football themselves.

8.54am BST

NRL: 20mins – Knights 0-0 Broncos
Still nothing on the scoreboard, although Brisbane have been pushing hard. The Knights have held up well – so far – but they won’t be able to hold them off forever. Credit where credit’s due though, they’ve defended bravely, holding them up on the line and scurrying back to collect kicks in danger areas. They just need a bit of a breather.

8.50am BST

Cricket: From AAP. Australian cricket’s pay stoush will continue on Monday, with a marathon round of talks unable to break the revenue-sharing deadlock.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association are attempting to thrash out a new Memorandum of Understanding. The previous MoU expired at the end of the financial year on June 30, leaving 230 players unemployed and prompting the cancellation of this month’s Australia A tour to South Africa.

8.48am BST

AFL: Q2 Gold Coast (47) Collingwood (47)
All level at half-time – although lord knows how. The Suns were very close to going into the main break in the lead after looking down the barrel about 15 minutes earlier. Still, it sets up an intriguing clash when they come back out. Pressure on both teams to get a result – who will crack first?

8.42am BST

8.40am BST

AFL: Q2 Gold Coast (47) Collingwood (46) – 2:40 remaining
My, my, my how the tables have turned. Well it’s been a hell of response from the Gold Coast. After looking shot about five minutes into this quarter, they’re now – remarkably – ahead. The Magpies are struggling for answers in the rain. Jekyll and Hyde doesn’t even begin to describe it. For both sides.

8.35am BST

NRL: 4 mins – Knights 0-0 Broncos
And we’re under way in Newcastle. Man it must be tough to be a sports fan in Newcastle these days, whether it’s football or rugby league, it’s slim pickings. Can the Knights spring a surprise here? They’ve made a decent start to be fair, pinning Brisbane back in their own half. Early days yet though.

8.31am BST

AFL: Q2 Gold Coast (34) Collingwood (46) – 8:06 remaining
You turn away for two seconds and this is what happens. Gold Coast have shot back into contention, blitzing the Pies to get back within six points after a flurry of goals. Collingwood stop the rot with a goal of their own but it’s game on again.

8.27am BST

NRL: Some overdue housekeeping from last night’s games. This from AAP.

Compensating for the likely injury-enforced absence of Warriors star Shaun Johnson is a near-impossible task, his halves partner has admitted.

8.18am BST

AFL: Q2 Gold Coast (13) Collingwood (40) – 16:05 remaining
Collingwood have picked up where they left off at the end of the first quarter. It’s been one-way traffic since after the first five minutes. The Suns just need a spark before this game runs away from them, they look pretty miserable in the rain.

8.06am BST

And that’s all she wrote. The Brumbies showed plenty of grit but they were just outclassed by the better side, who could’ve won by more if they’d been a bit more clinical. No bonus point for you. Finals ahoy.

8.02am BST

AFL: Q1 Gold Coast (13) Collingwood (34) – 2:49 remaining
Well it’s gone downhill fast for the Suns since we last checked in on them. Collingwood are, dare I cliche it, eclipsing the Suns on the Gold Coast, racing out to to a 20-point lead as we close in on the end of the first quarter. Lyons, who opened the scoring, has hobbled back onto the field after some time off with a knock. Maybe that will boost the hosts.

7.55am BST

Super Rugby: 74 mins – Chiefs 28-10 Brumbies
Michael Leitch scores in the corner to bump the Chiefs further ahead, and McKenzie kicks the conversion. The Brumbies have never been in this but they’ve battled hard throughout. It’d be a shame if they went down to a big score. Just another six minutes to go.

7.48am BST

Well the final whistle has blown but this game was over some time ago. Brutal stuff from Port Adelaide.

7.46am BST

7.43am BST

NRL: Before I go any further, time to tip the hat to a NSW Blues star who has called time on his representative career. This from AAP…

7.39am BST

AFL: Gold Coast (6) Collingwood (0) – 17:46 remaining
The Suns have got things under way on the Gold Coast – with Jarryd Lyons kicking a corker for the game’s opening goal. Here come the Suns…

7.34am BST

Super Rugby: 58mins – Chiefs 21-10 Brumbies
Well they were within touching distance for a long while but the Brumbies are just starting to slip further behind against the Chiefs. Hardly unexpected – and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the score blows out to a big one. Chins up Brumbies, chins up.

7.30am BST

7.28am BST

AFL: Q4 Port Adelaide (111) North Melbourne (55) – 13:08 remaining
Well that’s a hell of a way to start a shift. Well done to the Cats, commiserations to the Hawks. Can Port Adelaide and North Melbourne replicate that same amount of drama? The short answer is no. Port Adelaide are cruising to victory. As expected.

7.19am BST

My word. Well the Cats made it in the end but it was so much tighter than they would have liked. After pulling it back to within four points with 20 seconds to go, the Hawks had a chance right at the death but just skewed the final kick wide. And that’s it. The Cats take home the chocolates.

7.14am BST

AFL: Geelong (88) Hawthorn (78) 01:10 remaining
It’s straight to Geelong where time is running out for the Hawks who are giving the Cats a big scare. Things were neck and neck heading into the final quarter but it looks like Geelong are juuuust starting to pull away at the death… although they’ve just missed a sitter that would have killed the game.

7.11am BST

Afternoon everyone, I hope you’ve powered up your devices with a Tesla battery because we’re in for a long, long night of sport. There’s more juicy stuff rammed in tonight than a Trump Jnr email, and with a Sydney derby thrown into the mix it could be just as explosive. Here’s a rundown of all the action.

AFL: With a quintet of clashes, it’s all about AFL today. The Geelong and Hawthorn match is already in the final quarter (and is proving tighter than expected). The Port v North Melbourne game isn’t far behind – but is going much more predictably. More on those two clashes in a couple of minutes. There are another 30 minutes or so before the Suns versus Collingwood clash kicks off, then it’s off to Sydney for the big derby – the Swans v Giants, which promises to be a belter. I’m already salivating, although apparently that’s a glandular issue. I’ll be blogging throughout that match. Riding on its coattails is the intriguing clash between Melbourne and the all-conquering Crows.

Related: Alexandre Lacazette scores for Arsenal in friendly win over Sydney FC

6.35am BST

Richard will be here shortly. In the meantime, what to do about the sorry state of Australian Super Rugby? Here’s an idea:

Related: Move an Australian Super Rugby club to Japan and solve ARU problems | Bret Harris

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Jul 14

Leeds Rhinos keep up Castleford chase as Walker try earns win over Hull FC

• Leeds 10-7 Hull FC
• Ryan Hall scores 250th career try in Rhinos victory

Leeds secured second place in Super League ahead of the split for the Super 8s with a hard-earned victory against fellow title contenders Hull FC. Both these sides meet in the Challenge Cup semi-finals in a fortnight’s time, and while this dress rehearsal for their next meeting later this month was certainly not the highest-quality game of the weekend, for Leeds, it was a vital victory in their ongoing quest to keep the pace with the runaway league leaders, Castleford.

Hull were without their talismanic half-back, Albert Kelly, and his absence was sorely felt on an evening where the Black and Whites fell out of the play-off places at the expense of Wakefield Trinity. Hull, who started the evening three points shy of the second-placed Rhinos, began well. It took them only six minutes to take the lead and it came via an unlikely source, as the prop, Scott Taylor, showed remarkable agility to squeeze over from dummy-half and put the visitors ahead.

Related: Ben Currie try boosts Warrington’s hopes of top-eight finish in win over Wigan

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Jul 13

Ben Currie try boosts Warrington’s hopes of top-eight finish in win over Wigan

• Wigan Warriors 10-16 Warrington Wolves
• Forward helps secure victory on return after long period out with knee injury

Ben Currie marked the end of his long injury nightmare with the winning try as Warrington kept alive their faint hopes of a top-eight finish, spoiling Sean O’Loughlin’s landmark 400th Wigan appearance in the process.

Last season’s Grand Finalists knew anything other than victory here would consign them to this summer’s Qualifiers, where they would face the Championship’s best sides in a battle to avoid relegation to the second tier. While this victory may prove only temporary respite – a win for Huddersfield on Friday night would confirm Warrington’s bottom-four place – this was a welcome victory for Tony Smith’s side.

Related: Luke Gale on Castleford’s title battle: ‘I’ve not been in big games but I back myself’

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