Welcome to this week’s column. Going to be a bit brief this week due to competing priorities. But hopefully all that should be covered will be covered!
News and stories this week come from netball, golf, football, tennis, cricket and taekwondo.
The top two finishers in the league will contest the Super League Grand Final on…
Wasps Netball 74-54 Loughborough Lightning
Wasps showed why they finished the regular season so far ahead with a demolition of Loughborough at the University of Warwick Sports and Wellness Hub.
Wasps coach Mel Mansfield made no changes throughout the match and the team seemed to get stronger, possibly because of it.
Lightning actually made the better start and were one goal ahead after the first quarter. In the second, Wasps came back and by half-time they were three ahead.
In the second-half Wasps found an extra gear and were dominant throughout. They were soon ahead by six and then by nine at the end of quarter three.
They reinforced their dominance in the last fifteen minutes, taking the margin of victory out to an impressive 20 goals.
It was altogether tighter in the second semi-final.
Manchester Thunder 57-54 Team Bath
Bath started well, taking a four-goal lead after ten minutes, but Thunder got into their game and before the end of the first they were ahead and although Bath levelled it at various points, Thunder were never behind again in the match.
It was nip and tuck in the second and going into half-time Thunder were only one goal ahead.
Thunder started well in the third and although Bath came back, going into the last quarter Thunder were five in front.
Bath pulled it back while Thunder spent minutes just holding possession, but in the end Thunder were just too strong, maintaining their three goal lead until the final whistle.
The Grand Final is this weekend at the Copper Box in London. The third-place play-off, between Loughborough Lightning and Team Bath starts at 3pm, with the final at 5.30pm, where Wasps will be going for their third title in a row. I thought both games were going to be live on Sky, but it appears that they are now only showing the final, which is a shame.
There was a blow this week for England as Beth Cobden ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament playing for Adelaide Thunderbirds on Sunday and is out of the World Cup.
She suffered the same injury during the Super League Grand Final in 2018 and had only just returned to competition.
It was the final round of matches in both the Super League and Championship last weekend. The results were as follows:
Yeovil Town 0-2 Birmingham City
Wellings 59’, Mason 64’ (OG)
Reading 2-3 Chelsea
Harding 50’, Williams 52’
So-yun Ji 8’, Carney 51’, England 64’
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City
West Ham United 0-4 Brighton & Hove Albion
Green 21’, Connolly 39’, Nilden 79’, Brazil 93’
Liverpool 3-1 Everton
Sweetman-Kirk 26’, Charles 31’, Rodgers 88’
Arsenal left it late to seal their win, but finished the season with 54 points from their 20 games, losing just two along the way. Manchester City were second on 47 with Chelsea third on 42.
Sheffield United 6-0 Millwall Lionesses
Gilliatt 11’, Rayner 17’, Salmon 36’ (Pen) 63’, Pennock 59’ 83’
Durham 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Filbey 60’ 90’
Manchester United 5-0 Lewes
James 11’, Sigsworth 33’, Galton 66’, Palmer 74’, Turner 78’
Charlton Athletic 4-0 Leicester City
Graham 1’ 63’ 92’, Ejupi 49’
Aston Villa 0-0 Crystal Palace
Manchester United were confirmed as Champions, ending with 55 points from 20 matches, suffering just one draw and one defeat all season. Tottenham were promoted in second on 46 with Charlton Athletic third on 41.
That’s the domestic season wrapped up. Now just the small matter of a World Cup to come. Speaking of which…..
Scotland World Cup Squad
Shelley Kerr named her squad on Wednesday. Rachel Corsie will captain the team and the squad comprises:
Goalkeepers: Lee Alexander, Jenna Fife, Shannon Lynn
Defenders: Chloe Arthur, Jennifer Beattie, Rachel Corsie, Nicola Docherty, Sophie Howard, Hayley Lauder, Joelle Murray, Kirsty Smith.
Midfielders: Elizabeth Arnot, Leanne Crichton, Kim Little, Joanne Love, Christie Murray, Caroline Weir.
Forwards: Fiona Brown, Lana Clelland, Erin Cuthbert, Claire Emslie, Lisa Evans, Jane Ross.
Ellen White has left Birmingham City to join Manchester City on a two-year contract. This is very disappointing for the Blues who had a good season and will be looking to build on their progress in 2019-20. In a statement she said,
“I want to be in an environment and with a group of players that have that same winning mentality, that same professionalism, that same commitment and passion, and I think that’s a great fit at City.”
I’m not quite sure why she thinks Birmingham don’t have a “winning mentality” or “that same professionalism” – I’m hoping this is not a euphemism for having a lot of money to throw at it. Either way, Birmingham fans probably won’t be pleased at the comment.
What is going on at Millwall? After nearly going into administration in April, it was saved by nearly £17,500 raised through crowdfunding.
Now the Lionesses’ board of directors and senior management have broken away from the parent club and plan to go it alone.
The FA, in its infinite wisdom, has apparently approved “in principle” the formation of a “new” club, the London City Lionesses, which could take Millwall’s place in the Championship if it fulfils all of the qualifying criteria.
There is obviously a lot going on behind the scenes here, but one of the FA’s aims in the latest restructuring of the women’s game was to make it stable and sustainable. With Yeovil’s administration, Sunderland’s woes and Millwall’s complicated story, I think we can safely say it has a long way to go before we reach this point.
Champions League Final
This Saturday sees the final of the Champions League in Budapest. In our most parochial manner it is Lucy Bronze and Jess Fishlock against Toni Duggan! Kick-off is 5pm BST and there is live text commentary on the BBC website.
The World Championships are taking place from 15-19 May in Manchester.
Bianca Walkden is through to the final in the +73kg category, having won two fights before beating Briseida Acosta of Mexico in the semi-final 19-9.
She faces Shuyin Zheng of China in the final on Friday 17 May – the same fighter who beat Walkden in the Rio Olympics semi-final.
Still to come over the weekend we have Jade Jones in the -57kg, Aaliyah Powell in the -53kg and Lauren Williams in the -67kg,
Tennis – on the Court
Seventh seed Kiki Bertens pulled off a fine win to take the Madrid title, beating third seed Simona Halep in straight sets 6-4 6-4.
Bertens had beaten eighth seed Sloane Stephens in her semi-final 6-2 7-5, while Halep overcame the unseeded Belinda Bencic in hers, 6-2 6-7 6-0.
In the doubles, fifth seeds Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova beat sixth seeds Xu Yifan and Gabriela Dabrowski in straight sets, 6-3 6-1.
It’s been an incident-packed tournament in Rome this week. Serena Williams pulled out with a knee injury before her third round tie against sister Venus. Jo Konta is still in the running, having had to complete two matches on Thursday. First she beat seventh seed Sloane Stephens in three sets 6-7 6-4 6-1 and then an injury-hampered Venus Williams in straight sets 6-2 6-4.
After withdrawing from the Stuttgart Open through injury, top seed Naomi Osaka has again pulled out in Rome, before the start of her quarter-final with Kiki Bertens. Bertens now receives a bye into the semis.
There are now only two seeds left standing; Bertens (6) and Pliskova (4).
The other quarter-finals looks like this:
Marketa Vonrousova v Jo Konta
Victoria Azarenka v Karolina Pliskova (4)
Kristina Mladenovic v Maria Sakkari
Tennis – off the Court
American player and world number 117, Nicole Gibbs, has been forced to withdraw from the French
Open after being diagnosed with salivary gland cancer.
The growth on the roof of her mouth was spotted by her dentist. A biopsy showed it to be cancerous.
Gibbs will have surgery this Friday. In a statement Gibbs said,
“Fortunately this form of cancer has a great prognosis and my surgeon is confident that surgery alone will be sufficient treatment.
“He even okayed me to play an extra couple of tournaments these past few weeks, which served as a nice distraction.”
She hopes to make a return at Wimbledon qualifying in June.
There was good news for women’s golf this week as the organisers of the Northern Ireland Open announced that men and women will compete for equal prize money.
It will be called the World Invitational and the $500,000 prize fund will be split equally between the men’s challenger event and the women’s event.
T20 Challenge Final
Velocity 121/6 (20 overs)
Supernovas 125/6 (20 overs)
Supernovas won by 4 wickets with 0 balls remaining
It was a bad start for Velocity, whose top five mustered 30 between them, including a five-ball duck for Dani Wyatt. They were rescued, somewhat, by Sushma Verma who scored 40 not out from 32 balls and 36 from New Zealander Amelia Kerr.
Lea Tahuhu took 2/21 from her four overs while the other wickets were shared around.
In response, Chamari Atapattu went early for just two, but fellow opener Priya Punia scored 29, Jemima Rodrigues 22 and Harmanpreet Kaur 55 from 37. Both Punia and Rodrigues fell when the score was 53 and although Kaur steadied the ship, Supernovas wobbled again when the overseas stars Nat Sciver and Sophie Devine fell for two and three respectively.
Kaur was out in the last over with just four balls to go of the Amelia Kerr over and seven runs still to get. They had Radha Yadav on strike and Lea Tahuhu at the other end. Yadav scored two from the third ball, two from the fourth ball, two from the fifth ball and then Yadav drove the last ball for four and Supernovas took the match by four wickets.
Results from the fixtures on 12 May in the first and second divisions of the County Championship were as follows (home side first):
Hampshire 128 all out (45.4 overs) 6 points lost to Sussex 129/9 (46.4 overs) 16 points
Lancashire 241/6 (50 overs) 18 points beat Nottinghamshire 195/9 (50 overs) 5 points
Surrey 148 all out (44.1 overs) 3 points lost to Kent 152/3 (30.1 overs) 18 points
Warwickshire 108 all out (47.1 overs) 6 points lost to Yorkshire 112 all out (42.1 overs) 16 points
After three matches, Kent are top with 53 points. Lancashire are one point behind and Sussex are way behind in third on 39.
Berkshire 160 all out (43.3 overs) 17 points beat Somerset 86 all out (25.4 overs) 5 points
Cricket Wales 211 all out (50 overs) 17 points beat Essex 139/8 (50 overs) 6 points
Durham 171/6 (50 overs) 4 points lost to Middlesex 173/4 (44.3 overs) 15 points
Worcestershire 69 all out (32.1 overs) 0 points lost to Devon 70/1(16.4 overs) 18 points
We’re three games down in division two also, with Devon at the top on 52 points. Behind them are Berkshire on 51 and Wales on 39.
More news and views next week as we hurtle headlong into this mad summer of top-class women’s sport!