Welcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get our teeth into again this week as we see stories from golf, football, cricket, speed skating, Laureus Sports Awards, netball, cycling and rugby union. Also, back to form in the “And finally” department.
Oates Vic Open
After her storming start last week, Laura Davies was unable to maintain momentum over the weekend, eventually finishing back in the pack at three under. However another Briton, Melissa Reid, won the tournament on 16 under, finally triumphing on the fourth play-off hole, claiming her sixth Ladies European Tour title.
She and Germany’s Sandra Gal were tied on 16 under after 72 holes. They played the 18th three times, both parring each time, but on the fourth attempt Reid parred again while Gal bogeyed.
-16 M Reid (Eng), S Gal (Ger); -14 S-H Oh (Aus), A Yin (US); -12 HJ Choi (Kor)
Other Britons’ scores:
-7 F Parker (Eng); -5 H Burke (Eng), K Henry (Sco); -4C Booth (Sco); -3 L Davies (Eng)
The Australian Open is now underway in Adelaide.
Top of the leaderboard after round one is Katherine Kirk of Australia who carded an eight under 65. Four players are currently tied second on six under; Chella Choi of Korea, Jane Park and Marissa Steen of USA and Min Lee of Taiwan.
Top placed Briton after one round is Michele Thomson who is tied for sixth on five under. England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is tied for 17th on three under.
There was further success for short track skater Charlotte Gilmartin this week as she took her second consecutive World Cup bronze medal in Minsk.
She was third in the 1,000m. China’s Han Yutong won gold in 1 minute 31.008 seconds, Rianne de Vries took silver, with Gilmartin 0.233 seconds behind the winner in third.
This is certainly looking like ideal preparation for Gilmartin for the World Championships next month in Rotterdam.
Timely news this week after the “And finally” of last week which outlined why, according to Mr. Opinionated, women are no good at sport because they get pregnant.
Laura Kenny has announced that she is pregnant. Not strictly a cycling story, but, if Mr Opinionated would like to suggest that Kenny has never been “any good” at sport I fear he might lose that one. And, if he were to suggest, that she will never come back to be as good again, I daresay there may be a fair few who take on that bet……
Needless to say, after the sport took a pummelling last week, netball has come out fighting. The best response I have seen is from former England netballer Tamsin Greenway. Netball is cool after all, who knew?
Read the whole article (and cheer) here: Tamsin Greenway (perhaps steer clear of the comments if you want to stay cheery though).
Signings, signings everywhere this week as we draw nearer to the Spring Series.
Top of these (even making it on to mainstream news) is the signing of FIFA World Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd, by Manchester City on a short-term deal.
Lloyd has scored 96 goals in 232 appearances for the USA.
She will play in the Spring Series and also the Champions League and FA Cup.
The significance of this news certainly cannot be underestimated. Lloyd is only the third American player to move to England, following Crystal Dunn to Chelsea and Heather O’Reilly to Arsenal.
However, the move may also be a sign of the WSL’s “haves and have-nots” problem, mirroring the problems in the men’s league. There does seem to be a very definite split developing between Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and the rest. There are set to be many words written on this subject before the Spring Series starts so watch this space as the analysis continues.
The Lady Pies have ventured into the transfer market again this week. They have signed Republic of Ireland centre-back, Louise Quinn, from Swedish club Eskilstuna United.
The growth in Chinese football shows no sign of slowing. They are now making bids for some of the world’s top female players. This week Nigerian winger Asisat Oshoala left Arsenal to join Dalian Quanjian.
Despite going part-time, Sunderland have made two signings this week. Goalkeeper Anke Preuss joins them from FFC Frankfurt and midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg from ASGM Verona.
Preuss is in line to replace England international goalkeeper Rachel Laws who left Sunderland this week to join WSL2 side Durham.
Chelsea have also dipped into the market again this week signing defender Deanna Cooper from London Bees.
Yeovil Town Ladies have decided to travel round Somerset to play their home games in the Spring Series. The Lady Glovers were promoted as WSL2 champions and will play their debut games at three grounds; Huish Park, their usual home, Taunton Town FC and Bridgwater Town FC.
Not sure it will catch on as a concept, but anything that showcases the women’s game to a more widespread audience can’t be bad.
The FA Cup fourth round takes place on Sunday 19 February. The fixtures are as follows:
Coventry Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies
Durham Women v Everton Ladies
Millwall Lionesses v Nottingham Forest Ladies
Sheffield Ladies v Doncaster Rovers Belles
Tottenham Ladies v Brighton Ladies
West Bromwich Albion WFC v Leicester City Ladies
Results next week.
Indian Women’s League
We have a winner in the inaugural Indian Women’s League!
The semi-finals took place on 11 February and produced the following results:
Eastern Sporting Union FC 4-1 Alakhpura FC
Rising Student FC 2-0 FC Pune City
The final was on 14 February:
Rising Student FC 0-3 Eastern Sporting Union FC
Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi
I’m glad to tell you that All India Football Federation published a good report of the final.
ESU pressed from the off but were unable to score until the 32nd minute when Kamala Devi tapped in from close range from a Prameshowri Devi cross. This was the score at half-time.
When Prameshwori Devi added a second on 57 minutes the game was effectively killed off. Kamala Devi added ESU’s third and her second on 66 minutes to seal it.
Jabamani Tudu won the “Emerging Player Award”
Umapati Devi was “Most Valuable Player”
Kamal Devi was the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals.
It all seems to have been a success, so let’s hope it continues and expands.
For a more in-depth report read here
We are now at the Super 6s stage in the Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka. As you will all know by now it is not in the ICC’s remit to make it easy, so we now have six teams fighting for four places in the World Cup in England later this year.
Three games took place on 15 February:
South Africa 156 all out
India won by 49 runs
South Africa put India in to bat. Raj scored 64 and opener Meshram 55 as India posted a middling total of 205. But in reply South Africa were on the back foot from the off as openers Lee and Wolvaardt were dismissed for 1 and 0 respectively. Chetty top scored with 52, but Pandey took four wickets for 34 and Bisht three for 22 as South Africa were all out for 156 and India had won by 49 runs.
Sri Lanka 216/5 (47.4 overs)
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets
Sri Lanka won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat. They made a poor start when opener Ayesha Zafar was dismissed in the second over for just one. But a partnership of 119 between Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan steadied the ship. Good contributions lower down the order led to Pakistan posting a decent score of 212.
The Sri Lankan response was good all the way down the order as all batters contributed. Kaushalya top scored with 65 off 75 balls and in the end the win was comfortable.
Bangladesh 145/3 (39.1 overs)
Ireland 144 all out (47.1 overs)
Bangladesh won by 7 wickets
Bangladesh won the toss and chose to field. Shillington top scored in the Ireland innings with 37, but a regular clatter of wickets meant that they were only able to post 144, committing the cardinal sin of not using all their overs.
Bangladesh made light work of the chase, losing only three wickets in the process and knocking off the runs with more than 10 overs left to spare. Sharmin Akhtar top scored for Bangladesh with 52.
Three games took place on 17 February:
Bangladesh 155/8 (50 overs)
India 158/1 (33.3 overs)
India won by 9 wickets
India ran out easy winners against Bangladesh as they won the toss and chose to field. Hoque top scored with 50 for Bangladesh and Akhter made 35, but although they managed to bat out their innings they were not scoring in a hurry and 155 never looked like enough. Joshi was the stand out bowler for India with 3/25 from her 10 overs.
India knocked off the runs in just under 34 overs. Meshram and Raj again combined after Sharma was out for one to score 78 and 73 not out respectively.
Sri Lanka 142/9 (50 overs)
South Africa 145/1 (36.1 overs)
South Africa won by 9 wickets
Sri Lanka won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat. Opener Hansika scored 48, but the total of 142 was never likely to be enough. Sune Luus took 3/40 in her 10 overs with van Niekerk taking 2 for a miserly 14 from her 10.
Lizelle Lee scored 35 off 29 balls before she was out, but then Wolvaardt and Luus each scored half centuries to get to the target with ease.
Pakistan 271/5 (50 overs)
Ireland 185 all out (48.5 overs)
Pakistan won by 86 runs
Pakistan will be very satisfied with this performance after they won the toss and chose to bat.
Javeria Khan top scored with 90. Nahida Khan scored 72 and Nain Abidi 44. Opener Ayesha Zafar will be disappointed that she was out for 11!
It was always going to be a monumental task for Ireland to put together any kind of meaningful response. Cecilia Joyce top scored with 41 with Garth and Isobel Joyce making 33 each, but in the end the chase was too tough and they subsided to 185 all out off 48.5 overs. Ireland can no longer qualify for the World Cup.
There is one more round of games which takes place on 19 February with the final on Tuesday 21, but don’t forget four countries actually qualify.
It was round two of the Six Nations last weekend and there were some pretty big scores.
Wales 0-63 England
England ran in 11 tries on Saturday as they destroyed Wales with a thrilling performance.
Amy Wilson-Hardy, Amy Cockayne, Natasha Hunt and Lydia Thompson had all over by the 23rd minute and the bonus point was already in the bag.
By half-time the lead was 38-0. In addition to the first four tries further scores came from Katy McLean and Sarah Hunter, with Emily Scarratt putting over four conversions.
The second-half went pretty much the way of the first. Thompson scored two more tries while Wilson-Hardy bagged a second and Danielle Waterman two to complete the scoring.
France 55-0 Scotland
Although France were only up 17-0 at half-time, they eventually ran in nine tries to beat Scotland on Saturday.
The home side took the lead after 18 minutes with a try from Safi N’Diaye. Shannon Izar made it two on the half-hour. Lenaig Corson scored a third before half-time with Christelle Le Duff adding the extras to make it 17-0 at the break.
Just into the second-half France secured the bonus point with a try from Elodie Poublan.
Elodie Guiglion, Jade Le Pesg with two, Caroline Ladagnous and Lisa Martin were the other try scorers. Le Duff hit two conversions and Cabalou, three.
Italy 3-27 Ireland
Ireland left it late to secure their bonus point in L’Aquila.
The away side pressed consistently until they were given a penalty which was slotted over by Nora Stapleton.
Italy were then awarded a penalty and Michela Sillari kicked it to make it 3-3 at half-time.
Hooker Leah Lyons went over for the first try for Ireland just after the resumption, with Stapleton converting. Sophie Spence scored Ireland’s second and Paula Fitzpatrick the third, but it was not until the dying moments that Hannah Tyrell popped over for Ireland’s fourth and the bonus point to take them above England in the table.
Laureus Sports Awards
Rachel Atherton’s mantelpiece must be starting to buckle under the weight of the awards she has won recently. And this week she received another, the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year.
Simone Biles won the Sportswoman of the Year award.
Sportsperson of the Year with a disability went to Beatrice Vio, Italian wheelchair fencer who won gold at the Rio Paralympics.
And a special mention for me goes to the Refugee Olympic Team who won the Sport for Good Award for Sporting Inspiration.
And finally, we all know that women are responsible for just about everything bad in the world; famine, poverty, climate change, corruption etc ., but the nadir has now been reached. This week a Hearts fan has blamed the poor atmosphere at Tynecastle as being down to “too many women” attending games. In his considered opinion:
“As a follow on from the atmos thread I think a contributing factor is the make up of our support – too many women.
“I’ve no idea what the % of female fans is here compared to other SPL clubs, but what I do know is that we do have a lot of women and this has noticeably increased over the past years.
“It is also no coincidence that as their presence has increased our fan base has become more muted and feminised.
“This then bleeds into other aspects of the club, we have a completely girly away kit that makes PHM cringe any time we see the players run out in it.”
He went on (yes I’m afraid he did),
“If women want to go to games then fine. If I flipped it around and thought about following a ladies netball team it would feel a bit odd to me.
“Even going around watching women’s football every week would feel odd to me.
“I genuinely and honestly have no idea why women would even want to be involved in a culture and sport that is absolutely a man’s thing.
“I would take zero enjoyment from following something that was always historically a female thing.”
So there you have it. Needless to say this comment has received somewhat of a backlash (male and female). As several people have pointed out, if it weren’t for the (female) Chair of Hearts, Ann Budge, there would be no club, as she saved them from liquidation when she took over…..