Women’s Sports Column 18-24 May 2019

speedometerWelcome to this week’s column.  Not for the first time, last week’s offering was full of FA frustration.  Hopefully this week’s will be a bit calmer (stranger things have happened, although I can’t think of many).

News and results this week come from netball (didn’t see that result coming), motor racing, cricket, taekwondo, tennis, basketball, hockey, rugby league and football.

Let’s crack on……

Motor Racing – on the Track

It was Round Two of the W Series last weekend.  Dutch driver Beitske Visser took the win with Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell in second and third respectively.

Visser dominated the race, leading from start to finish.

There were two safety car periods; one when Sarah Tovy’s car got stuck on the grid at the start and one when Gosia Rdest and Esmee Hawkey collided.

Chadwick started on pole, but was overtaken by Visser at the start.  The Briton is still top of the leaderboard after this weekend’s result.

The third round is in Misano, Italy on 8 June.

Motor Racing – Off the Track

It was also confirmed this week that Jamie Chadwick has been offered a role as development driver with the Williams Formula 1 team.

Of course, Williams already have form for promoting women in motorsport.  Susie Wolff was a development driver for the team before she retired in 2015 and, of course deputy team principal is Claire Williams who said of the move,

“Promoting women in motorsport is extremely important and having a female role model as part of our driver academy will hopefully inspire young girls to take up racing at a young age.

“We hope to show that motorsport is inclusive and exciting, be that as a driver or on the engineering side. Jamie is a great talent and I look forward to working with her.”

Football

Champions League

Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 Barcelona

Yet another emphatic win for Lyon as they produced an exceptional first-half performance to mean that even in this season of ridiculous comebacks, the deficit was just too much for Barcelona to overcome after the break.

Ballon d’Or winner and now BBC Women’s Footballer of the year (see below), Ada Hegerberg, hit a hat-trick in the first-half.

If Toni Duggan had hit the target early on, rather than shooting wide, perhaps it would have been different.

Shanice Van de Sanden also starred, setting up the first two goals for Dzsenifer Marozsan and Hegerberg with excellent crosses.

Hegerberg then scored two more – a hat-trick in just 16 minutes and Lyon were four up by half-time.

Asisat Oshoala pulled one back for Barcelona late on, but it was a meagre consolation.

Nikita Parris

And it appears Lyon will only be stronger next season as it was announced this week that England’s Nikita Parris has signed for the French champions.  She will have to prove herself to make a place in such a successful side, but if anyone can, Parris can.

BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019

Ada Hegerberg has been named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019.

As we already know, she has had yet another excellent season, culminating in her Champions League final hat-trick.  This season she scored 29 goals in 33 games for Lyon and the team won the French league (again) and French Cup as well as the Champions League title.

Pernille Harder was second and Sam Kerr third.  It is Hegerberg’s second title, having also won it in 2017.

It is just a shame that we won’t get to see her playing for Norway in the World Cup.

England

Talking of which, there are two warm-up matches coming up for England as they continue to prepare for the World Cup:

England v Denmark (25 May, Banks’s Stadium, Walsall, 1pm kick-off, live on the BBC)
England v New Zealand (1 June, Amex Stadium, Brighton, 1pm kick-off, live on the BBC)

Scotland

Scotland also play a warm-up:

Scotland v Jamaica (28 May, Hampden Park, Glasgow, 7.35m kick-off)

Wales

Wales play New Zealand in a friendly before they begin their 2021 Euros qualification campaign:

Wales v New Zealand (4 June, Leckwith Stadium, Cardiff, 7pm kick-off)

Netball – on the Court

Manchester Thunder 57-52 Wasps Netball

Well I can honestly say I didn’t see this result coming.  Wasps have been so dominant this year, I thought it was practically a foregone conclusion that they would win the Grand Final, but that, without hopefully sounding too sententious, is the beauty of sport.

Wasps started well and were leading throughout the first quarter. In fact, Thunder didn’t come into their own until half way through the second quarter, when they took the lead for the first time.

At the beginning of the third quarter Wasps roared back and went back into the lead, but couldn’t hold it and the lead changed hands almost with every goal.

It looked as if Wasps had regained their equilibrium towards the end of the third quarter, and going into the final period they had a lead of 45-39.

But it was the Thunder who took the initiative in the fourth and final quarter.  They achieved two turnovers in the first few minutes and from that point never looked back, scoring 19 goals in the last quarter as they secured their third Super League title.

Team Bath 62-56 Loughborough Lightning

By half-time Lightning had a five-goal lead at 30-25, but were unable to maintain their form until the final whistle.

But Bath came back in the third, scoring 18 to Loughborough’s 14 and reducing the deficit to just one.

But it was in the fourth quarter that Bath took control, scoring 19 goals to Loughborough’s 12, giving them a six point victory and a third place finish.

Netball – off the Court

England Roses Squad

Tracey Neville has named her squad of 12 for the World Cup in July.  One person who will not be there is captain Ama Agbeze who has been left out due to ongoing injury.

Unsurprisingly Agbeze is devastated to be missing out.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I think I’m dealing with it quite well but I’m really disappointed.

“I feel like I’m at peace with the decision, which I never thought I would say because I’m usually a wreck.

“It wouldn’t be fair for me to go not to my full capacity. I did think I had time but obviously that has been taken out of my hands.”

Agbeze has been a star for England, leading them to the historic Commonwealth gold medal last year.  Let’s hope she can come back from injury and fight her way back into the team.

The squad in full:

Defence
Geva Mentor, GK
Eboni Usoro-Brown, GK/GD
Fran Williams, GK/GD
Layla Guscoth, GD/WD

Centre court
Jade Clarke, WD/C
Serena Guthrie, WD/C
Natalie Panagarry, WD/C/WA
Chelsea Pitman, WA

Shooters
Natalie Haythornthwaite, WA/GA
Helen Housby, GA/GS
Jo Harten, GS/GA
Rachel Dunn, GS/GA

It is a squad combining youth and experience with Geva Mentor, Rachel Dunn and Jade Clarke, all into their mid-thirties.  Eight of the squad played in the Commonwealth Games with just two making their big tournament debuts, Layala Guscoth and Fran Williams.  There is also a well-earned place for Loughborough Lightning captain Nat Pangarry.

You realise the strength of English netball when you realise who won’t be there; Agbeze, Sasha and Kadeen Corbin and Jodie Gibson all miss out.

Hockey – FIH Pro League

Great Britain 2-0 Belgium

The first-half was goalless, but Great Britain took the lead in the third quarter through Grace Balsdon.  Lily Owsley bagged the second.

Great Britain are now sixth in the table.

Next up is Germany at the Lee Valley Centre on 6 June.

Basketball – WBBL

Sevenoaks Suns won the play-off title for the second year running on Saturday, beating Leicester Riders in the final at the 02 Arena 60-55.

It was a tight game throughout and with four minutes to go the two sides were locked at 50-50.  But Sevenoaks stretched ahead to win the tie by five.

Suns’ top scorer was Janice Monakana with 23 points, while Riders’ was Brea Elmore with 17.

Tennis

Rome Open

Jo Konta got through to the Rome final with an excellent comeback against sixth seed Kiki Bertens in her semi-final, 5-7 7-5 6-2.

In the other semi-final, fourth seed Karolina Pliskova beat Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-4.

However, Konta fell short in the final, losing to Pliskova 6-3 6-4.

Konta’s performance at the Rome Open has earned her a seeding in the French Open, which starts on 26 May.

Strasbourg Open

We are at the semi-final stage of the Strasbourg Open.  Top seed Ash Barty withdrew at the round of 32 stage with an arm injury.  Hopefully she will be fit for the French Open.

The semi-finals look like this:

Dayana Yastremska (6) v Aryna Sabalenka (2)
Chloe Paquet v Caroline Garcia (4)

We are also in the midst of qualifying for the French Open.  Katie Swan is one win away from making the main draw and will face Slovakian Kristina Kucova in the final round, but Heather Watson is out, falling to world 193 Valentini Grammatikopoulou 7-5 6-7 7-6.

In the first round proper, Katie Boulter is scheduled to play 23rd seed Donna Vekic, although Boulter may still be nursing a back injury and the match could be in doubt.  Jo Konta is scheduled to play a qualifier.

There are some fascinating first round match-ups in prospect, including Jelena Ostapenko v Victoria Azarenka (both unseeded), Aryna Sabalenka v Dominika Cibulkova, Barbora Strycova v Sam Stosur and Venus Williams v ninth seed Elina Svitolina.

Taekwondo

Great Britain’s top two, Bianca Walkden and Jade Jones, duly claimed gold in their respective categories at the World Championships in Manchester last week – but in very different circumstances.

Bianca Walkden claimed her third successive world title after a bout mired in controversy.  She was 21-10 down to Olympic champion Shuyin Zheng of China, when Walkden forced her opponent into conceding penalties, aggressively getting her off the mat.  Eventually Zheng was disqualified.

Although Walkden fought within the rules, there was booing when she was declared champion and more boos when she received her medal on the podium.  Zheng refused to acknowledge the Briton’s win and then collapsed in tears on the podium when she received her medal.

Jade Jones finally secured the world title that had eluded her, after previously winning two Olympic golds.  She beat defending champion Lee Ah-reum of South Korea in the final 14-7.

A big shout-out too, to Aaliyah Powell, who became Britain’s youngest taekwondo medallist when she won bronze in the -53kg category.

Rugby League

I managed to miss the rugby league results last week, so here they are:

Super League – 12 May
Wigan Warriors 4-12 Leeds Rhinos
Castleford Tigers 30-14 St Helens
Wakefield Trinity 8-40 Featherstone Rovers
York City Knights 4-40 Bradford Bulls

So after four rounds of fixtures, Castleford Tigers are top with four wins from four and eight points. Then follow Bradford, St Helens and Leeds all on six points, but in this order on points difference.

Cricket – County Championship

Last weekend’s County Championship results:

Division One
Kent 235/7 (47.4 overs) 16 points beat Hampshire 233/6 (50 overs) 7 points
Nottinghamshire 207/9 (50 overs) 18 points beat Warwickshire 203/9 (50 overs) 8 points
Sussex 176/7 (50 overs) 5 points lost to Surrey 177/5 (47.2 overs) 16 points
Yorkshire 160/5 (48.3 overs) 17 points beat Lancashire 158 all out (46.2 overs) 5 points

Division Two
Cricket Wales 163/8 (50 overs) 12 points TIED with Middlesex 163 all out (47.4 overs) 11 points
Devon 203/5 (48.1 overs) 9 points ABANDONED Berkshire 22/2 (5 overs) Revised target 213 from 50 overs 7 points
Durham 152 all out (47.4 overs) 17 points beat Worcestershire 121 all out (43.4 overs) 6 points
Essex 124/9 (49.3 overs) 16 points beat Somerset 123 all out (45 overs) 6 points

England v West Indies

As I’m not here next week, I’d thought I’d just remind you of the upcoming England fixtures.  Tickets are still available, so if you’re in the vicinity, get out and watch the women in action.

West Indies have suffered a blow before the series starts with the withdrawal from the squad of Deandra Dottin through injury.  Her place is taken by Britney Cooper.

West Indies squad: Stafanie Taylor (capt), Shemaine Campbelle, Britney Cooper, Afy Fletcher, Chinelle Henry, Stacy-Ann King, Kycia Knight (wk), Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Hayley Matthews, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman.

There are three ODIs, all of which qualify for ICC Women’s Championship points.  There are also three T20s.

ODIs
First ODI, Thursday 6 June, Grace Road Leicester, 2pm start
Second ODI, Sunday 9 June, New Road Worcester, 11am start
Third ODI, Thursday 13 June, County Ground Chelmsford, 2pm start

T20s
First T20, Tuesday 18 June, County Ground Northampton, 7pm start
Second T20, Friday 21 June, County Ground Northampton, 7pm start
Third T20, Tuesday 25 June, County Ground Derby, 7pm start

And Finally,

It’s not just the FA that sets the bar high in incompetence.  It seems that FiFA too (are we surprised) are excelling themselves once again.  There have been reports – and it is a number, not just one or two – that groups or families just receiving their World Cup tickets, have been split up and are sitting in different places.  Are these people who have ordered at the last minute and are picking up the odd one?  No, these appear to be people who have been in from the start.  Let’s just hope the problem isn’t as widespread as it first appears and that everyone has a fabulous experience in France.

No column next week as I’m out and about. 

 

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 May 2019

golf

Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through yet again this week.  So here we go.  Stories and news this week come from football, tennis, netball, squash, cricket, golf, rugby league, motorsport and cycling.

Let’s crack on.

 

Motorsport – the W Series

History was made last weekend as the women-only W Series began in Hockenheim.

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick won the first race with compatriot Alice Powell in second with Marta Garcia of Spain in third.  Chadwick had been on form all weekend; she was fastest in both rounds of qualifying and took pole by two seconds.

Races to come:

Round 2 – Belgium
Zolder, 17-19 May

Round 3 – Italy
Misano 7-9 June

Round 4 – Germany
Norisring, 5-7 July

Round 5 – Netherlands
Assen, 19-21 July

Round 6 – UK
Brands Hatch, 10-11 August

Tennis – on the Court

Prague Open

Jil Teichmann defeated Karolina Muchova in the final of the Prague Open.  It went to a deciding set and the final score was 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Rabat Open

Meanwhile in Rabat, Jo Konta missed out on a first title of 2019, losing in the final to Maria Sakkari of Greece 2-6 6-4 6-1.  Konta was a set and a break up, but Sakkari came back and in the end was too strong for Konta in the final set.

Madrid

This week the tennis world moves to Madrid.  Sam Stosur went out in the qualifiers.  Caroline Wozniacki retired during her first round match.  Fourteenth seed, Anett Kontaveit, went out Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets after taking the first set 6-0.  Thirteenth seed Madison Keys was also defeated in the round of 64, losing to Sorana Cirstea 3-6 6-4 6-1.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  Number one seed and world number one Naomi Osaka crashed out at the quarter-final stage, losing out to Belinda Bencic in three sets 3-6 6-2 7-5.

Bencic faces third seed Simona Halep, while in the other semi, Sloane Stephens (8) plays Kiki Bertens (7).  More news on how it all panned out next week.

Tennis – off the Court

Britain’s number two, Katie Boulter, has withdrawn from the French Open.  She will miss the rest of the clay court season with a back injury.

Football – World Cup

Phil Neville has named his squad for the World Cup which begins on 7 June.

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Man City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Man Utd), Steph Houghton (captain, Man City), Abbie McManus (Man City), Demi Stokes (Man City) Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Jade Moore (Reading), Jill Scott (Man City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City)

Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona) Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Man City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Birmingham City)

No sign of the Scotland squad announcement as yet.

FA Cup Final

Manchester City 3-0 West Ham United

In the end West Ham were well beaten, but they gave Manchester City a few scares along the way, fighting with every breath until the final whistle.

The first-half was tight with the underdogs matching City in every department.

But the pace and pressure told in the second-half as West Ham tired and Manchester City took advantage.

Keira Walsh hit City’s first from outside the penalty area on 52 minutes.  Georgia Stanway doubled the lead on 81 and Lauren Hemp hit the third two minutes from time.

With their win, City completed the domestic cup double, having won the Continental Cup final against Arsenal on penalties in February.

West Ham can certainly take great heart from their performance.  They competed well for the majority of the match and they have come a long way from those uncertain days when then manager Julian Dicks had to plead for every scrap of kit, every resource and any recognition at all.

One disappointment was that the crowd, although a good one at 43,264, was nearly two thousand down on that at last season’s final.  Not quite sure what went on there – I had heard 52k being bandied about in the days leading up to the match.

Nikita Parris

One player Manchester City will not have next season it seems is Nikita Parris.  She is out of contract at the end of the season, and the word is she is looking to follow England stars such as Lucy Bronze and Izzy Christiansen in a move abroad.  Both Lyon and Bayern Munich are thought to be interested in signing her.

FAWSL

Just one result to report and what a score!

Yeovil Town 0-8 Chelsea
England 4’ 27’ 47’, Cuthbert 16’ 51’, Engman 28’, Kirby 84’ 87’

Chelsea are now up to third in the table.  Bristol City have played their 20 games, everyone else has one game left to play, which takes place this Saturday, 11 May at 12.30pm.

FAWC

The final round of Championship matches also take place on Saturday, 11 May and start at 5.30pm.

Netball

After the eighteenth and final round of the regular season we now know the final four teams contesting the semi-finals this Saturday, 11 May.

Final round results:
Loughborough Lightning 67-56 Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks 50-45 Strathclyde Sirens
Team Bath 72-50 London Pulse
Severn Stars 45-60 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 55-60 Manchester Thunder

Wasps finished six points ahead of the field with 45 points from 18 games.  Manchester Thunder, Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning all finished with 39 in second, third and fourth respectively on points difference.

As I said, the semi-finals are this Saturday and both are live on Sky Sports

Wasps Netball v Loughborough Lightning (5pm, Warwick University Sport & Wellness Hub)
Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (7pm, Wright Robinson College)

The third-place play-off and grand final are on Saturday 18 May, at the Copper Box.  Both Games live on Sky Sports from 3pm.

I know it’s a bit redundant to say this to you knowledgeable sports-lovers out there, but don’t forget this is not the end of the netball for this year.  The World Cup is coming!  It all begins in Liverpool on Friday 12 July.

Cycling

Tour de Yorkshire

Marianne Vos ended the two-stage Tour de Yorkshire as overall victor as she won the second stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.

Lorena Wibes, also of the Netherlands, had won the first stage.  Christine Majerus of Luxembourg was second, with Alison Jackson (Can), Roxane Fournier (Fra) and Lisa Brennauer (Ger) third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Vos led a three-rider break with Mavi Garcia and Soraya Paladin during the second stage.  She eventually outsprinted them to take the stage and the overall title.

Second stage result: 1. Marianne Vos (Ned) 3hrs 59mins 16secs, 2. Mavi Garcia (Spa) Same time, 3. Soraya Paladin (Ita), 4. Christine Majerus (Lux), 5. Amanda Spratt (Aus).

This led to a final classification of:

  1. Marianne Vos (Ned) 7hrs 34mins 27secs
  2. Mavi Garcia (Spa) +7secs
  3. Soraya Paladin (Ita) +9secs
  4. Christine Majerus (Lux) +1min 28secs
  5. Amanda Spratt (Aus) +1min 35sec

Of the British riders, the top three finishers were Hannah Barnes in eighth, Elizabeth Banks ninth, and Georgi Pfeiffer eighteenth.  Lizzie Deignan, in her first competition since giving birth in September, finished twenty-ninth.

Rugby League

Coral Challenge Cup

It was the first round of the Challenge Cup at the weekend, with the big sides yet to enter the competition.  The results from Sunday were:

Rochdale Hornets 12-56 Barrow
Halifax 24-14 Hull KR
Featherstone Lionesses 18-48 Stanningley
Widnes Vikings 16-14 Oulton Raidettes
Keighley Albion 26-22 Hull FC
Army RL 34-12 Huddersfield Giants
RAF Ladies 28-18 Leigh Miners Rangers Ladies

The next round is on Sunday 26 May and we are back to league action this weekend.

Cricket

County Cricket

I hope you all took advantage of the Bank Holiday to get out and see some women’s county cricket.  Last weekend’s divisions one and two were as follows:

Division One
Hampshire 131 all out (6 pts) lost to Yorkshire 190 all out (17 pts)
Kent 233/3 (18 pts) beat Warwickshire 232 all out (5 pts)
Surrey 241/7 (8 pts) lost to Lancashire 242/9 (17 pts)
Sussex 127 all out (6 pts) lost to Nottinghamshire 150 all out (17 pts)

Division Two
Berkshire 296/4 (18 pts) beat Worcestershire 77 all out (2 pts)
Devon 136/7 (17 pts) beat Cricket Wales 132 all out (5 pts)
Somerset 269/6 (18 pts) beat Durham Cricket Board 103 all out (4 pts)

For all fixtures please check out here.

T20 Challenge

Three from four of the matches in Jaipur have been played with the results so far:

Trailblazers 140/5 (20 overs)
Supernovas 138/6 (20 overs)
Trailblazers won by two runs

Trailblazers lost Suzie Bates for just one but Smriti Mandhana showed her class to put on 90 from just 67 balls, ably supported by Harleen Deol, who scored 36 from 44.  Deol fell in the nineteenth over and Trailblazers suffered a mini-collapse, suffering the loss of three wickets in the last over.

Radha Yadav took 2/26 from her four overs.

Supernovas started equally poorly with Priya Punia falling for one in the second over.  Chamari Atapatthu and Jemima Rodrigues steadied the ship and the lower order all contributed except Nat Sciver who was out for just one.   Sophie Devine scored 32 from 22 balls.

Supernovas needed 19 from the last over and Harmanpreet Kaur was not going down without a fight.  She hit the first four balls, off Jhulan Goswami no less, for four.  They needed three from the last ball but Tahuhu was run out attempting a bye and Trailblazers had won by two runs.  Sophie Ecclestone contributed with a fine 2/11 from her four overs.

Trailblazers 112/6 (20 overs)
Velocity 113/7 (18/20 overs)
Velocity won by three wickets with 12 balls remaining

Although Bates this time got a start, it was Mandhana who failed on this occasion, falling for 10 in the third over.  Deol batted well again, top-scoring with 43, but there was little contribution from anyone else in the lower order and Trailblazers subsided to just 112 off their 20 overs.

Ekta Bisht and Amelia Kerr took two wickets each.

In response, Velocity lost Hayley Matthews early, for just five.  Shafali Verma (34) and Dani Wyatt (46) took it on before, I’d love to say it, the curse of Nelson struck and they lost no less than 5 wickets on 111.  Somehow they managed to sneak over the line though with two overs to spare.  Deepti Sharma took 4/14 off her four overs, including three in the eighteenth.

Supernovas 142/3 (20 overs)
Velocity 130/3 (20 overs)
Supernovas won by 12 runs

Rodrigues top-scored with 77 not out for Supernovas as they put a good score together against Velocity.  She was supported by Atapatthu who scored 31 and Punia 16.

Velocity fell well short.  Matthews went early for 11 and Shafali Verma for 2.  Despite Wyatt (43), Raj (40) and Krishnamurthy (30) scoring well, they could not overhauls the Supernovas’ total.  However, it has been suggested that Velocity played to up their net run rate to get themselves into the final, rather than aiming to win the match.

This they achieved and so the final will be between Velocity and Supernovas on Saturday 11 May.  News of how this went in next week’s column.

Golf

 Sei Young Kim of South Korea won the LPGA Mediheal Championship after a play-off with England’s Bronte Law.  Law came from 10 shots back to get herself into a three-way play-off with Kim and Jeongeun Lee, also of South Korea.

Final round leaderboard:
-7 S Y Kim (Kor), J Lee (Kor), B Law (Eng); -5 C Hull (Eng), L Thompson (US), EH Ji (Kor), A Yang (Kor)

Kim won the tournament with a par on the first play-off hole, while Law and Lee made bogeys.

Squash

Former world champion Laura Massaro will retire from squash at the end of this season.

In her distinguished career, Massaro became World Champion in 2014.  She won three Commonwealth Games silvers, two in doubles and one in singles and was world number one in January 2016.

She won the World Series Finals in 2016 and 2017, the US Open twice and the British Open twice.

More news and views next week. 

 

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 August 2018

golfWelcome to this week’s column.  What a week!  So much going on I don’t know where to start.  One thing’s for sure, there’s plenty to catch up with stories from football, golf, hockey, rugby union, rugby league, athletics, cycling, motor racing, swimming, gymnastics, cricket and probably many other things that I’ve forgotten!

So let’s crack on!

Golf – British Open

Top of the pile this week is the Georgia Hall’s terrific triumph in the Women’s British Open at Lytham at the weekend.

It was a great tournament, good coverage on Sky, has its house in order as regards sponsorship and had brilliant crowds on all four days.  Am I allowed to say FA take note?

Anyway, Hall kept her cool to take the title by two shots on -17 from Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand in second and Ryu So-yeon of Korea a further two back in third.

Phatlum had an overnight lead of one shot, but Hall picked up five as Phatlum faltered in the closing stages, only going into the lead on the 16th after she holed a 20-foot putt to make birdie.

It was a stunning achievement for the 22-year old, who showed a maturity beyond her years.  Her cool approach will be a great asset in next year’s Solheim Cup.

Hockey – World Cup

Summary: the Irish took the tournament by storm, while a disappointing England side could only finish sixth.  There were many, many shocks, but right from the off no-one was beating the Netherlands!

Netherlands 6-0 Ireland

The bald facts will be there in the history books – the Dutch were by far the best team in the tournament, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

But back to the facts: Ireland went one down after seven minutes through (my) player of the tournament Lidewij Welton.  But it was the only score in the first quarter.

They scored a second on 19 minutes when Kelly Jonker put away a rebound originally kicked away by Irish goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran.  Before the half was over, Ireland were four-down as first Kitty van Male and then Malou Pheninckx beat the Irish defences.

At the start of the third quarter Marloes Keetels made it five and in the 34th minute Caia van Maasakker scored a sixth.

The Dutch then took their foot off the gas, but the Irish also showed great heart to keep them out and build up their own period of pressure.  They couldn’t quite force the ball over the line, but they gave it everything in the attempt.

And, we should remember they beat the United States and India in their pool matches, then India again in the quarter-final and Spain in the semi, all of whom were higher in the world rankings.

With their second place finish, Ireland move from 16th to 9th in the world.

One immediate result, apart from a truly stunning homecoming reception for the team in Dublin – if you haven’t seen it, check it out here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/hockey/45088396 is that the Irish Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, has indicated that hockey will receive better funding in the run up to the 2022 Olympics.

Spain finished third as they defeated Australia 3-1 in the bronze medal match.  Goals from Maria Lopez, Berta Bonastre and Alicia Magaz won it for the Spanish, with Australia’s score coming from Kathryn Slattery.

Rugby League – Challenge Cup Final

Castleford Tigers 14-20 Leeds Rhinos

The Tigers were well ahead 14-6 at half-time with tries from Katie Hepworth and Tara Stanley.

Sophie Nuttall got one back for Leeds before the break, but then Georgia Roche crossed again to stretch the lead.

On the resumption Leeds scored immediately through Caitlin Beevers.

Aimee Stavely put the Rhinos ahead and Lois Forsell scored again to ensure the victory for Leeds.

And it was great to see it on the TV!

Earlier on in the afternoon Bradford Bulls won the Women’s Shield 44-16 over Stanningley.  The Bulls’ tries came from Leah Jones, Shona Hoyle, Reagan Walker (2), Becky Conlon, Amy Hardcastle (2) and Jess Courtman.

Rugby Union

There is good news and a whole bundle of frustration from rugby union this week.  Next season’s fixtures for the Premier 15s have been announced although you have to search for them a bit.

Check it out here: https://www.premier15s.com/news/tyrrells-premier-15s-release-2018-19-fixtures/, as have those for Championship North and South https://www.englandrugby.com/fixtures-and-results/competitions/womens-competitions/#/fixtures.

On the other hand, there has been criticism levelled at the RFU over their handling of the women’s national side.  If you remember, after the World Cup, the 15s contracts were not renewed as they wanted to concentrate on sevens.

It is safe to say that the England Sevens side has not kicked on as was hoped and yet, there is no sign of 15s contracts.  Steve Brown, Chief Executive of the RFU, has said that their “ambition” is to award full-time contracts in both 15s and sevens.

But where are they?  Former England captain Catherine Spencer has been quoted as saying the RFU has shown “..a lack of effective leadership and a lack of direction.”

Is it a coincidence that this week has seen the retirement of England’s most-capped player Rochelle (Rocky) Clark from England duty?

The 37-year old won 137 caps for England in her 15-year international career and will continue to play domestically for Wasps.

This latest retirement comes in the wake of Izzy Noel- Smith’s in April and Danielle Waterman’s in May.

The last thing we need is another FA.  We don’t need another governing body that can talk a good game and then not follow through.  Let’s hope the RFU gets its house in order before too long.

Motor Sport

Another young British star in the making is Jamie Chadwick.  Last weekend at Brands Hatch she became the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.

She won from fourth position on the grid, moving up to second and staying just behind leader Pavan Ravishankar of Singapore until Ravishankar was hit with a 10-second penalty for a jump start and Chadwick took the win.

European Championships

The multi-sports European Championships are happening as we speak.  I can’t do justice to all of the performances, so apologies if I’ve missed your favourites.   Here are some of the highlights so far:

Rowing

It was a disappointing event for Team GB with only one medal for the women.  This came in the women’s eight which finished in silver medal position.  There were only three boats in the race, however, so they were guaranteed a medal.

The women’s quadruple sculls were fourth in their final as were the women’s four.  The pair of Hattie Taylor and Rowan McKellar finished fifth in their final.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith’s fabulous form continued as she stormed to 100m gold in 10.85 seconds, yet another British record.   Gina Luckenkemper finished in silver and Dafne Schippers took bronze.

Holly Bradshaw won bronze in the pole vault – her first major outdoor medal.

Cycling

Laura Kenny came back to the track and won two gold medals.  The first was in the team pursuit alongside teammates Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Neah Evans and they beat Italy in the final.

Kenny also won the elimination race ahead of Anna Knauer of Germany and Evgenia Augustinas on Russia.

Katie Archibald took three medals in total – the first as part of the pursuit team, but then she also won silver in the individual pursuit, losing to German Lisa Brennauer in the final and silver also in the omnium behind world champion Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands.

Emily Kay took silver in the 10km scratch race.

Swimming

There were plenty of medals won by Team GB in the swimming.

Hannah Miley took the first, a bronze, in the 400m individual medley behind Fantine Lesaffre of France who took gold and Ilaria Cusinato of Italy who took silver.  Britain’s Aimee Willmott finished fourth.

Holly Hibbott won a bronze in the 400m freestyle as did Molly Renshaw in the women’s 200m breaststroke.

Imogen Clark won silver in the 50m breaststroke, behind Yuliya Efimova of Russia and ahead of Arianna Castiglioni of Italy.

Alys Thomas won bronze in the 200m butterfly.

Wales’ Georgia Davies won a gold in the 50m and silver in the 100m backstroke.

Team GB was particularly strong in the relays:

She was also part of the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team alongside Freya Anderson, Eleanor Faulkner and Kathryn Greenslade that took gold.

There was a bronze for the women’s 4 x 100m team comprising Georgia Davies, Siobhan Marie O’Connor, Alys Thomas and Freya Anderson.

The 4 x 100m mixed medley relay team won gold.  The team comprised Adam Peaty, Freya Anderson, James Guy and Georgia Davies.

The 4 x 200m mixed freestyle team of Stephen Milne, Craig McLean, Kathryn Greenslade and Freya Anderson  took bronze.

Diving

Grace Reid and Ross Haslam won silver in the mixed synchronised 3m springboard.

Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson took gold in the 10m synchronised event.

Gymnastics

Team GB missed out on a medal in the team event, finishing fourth.  The event was won by Russia with France in silver and the Netherlands in bronze.

Triathlon

Jess Learmonth took silver in the triathlon.  Nicola Spirig won the title with Cassandre Beaugrand of France taking bronze.

There’s still plenty to come with more athletics, BMX and golf this weekend.

Other Athletics News

British javelin thrower Joanna Blair has been banned from the sport for four years.

She tested positive for anabolic steroids in June last year.  Her provisional suspension has now been upheld and she will be ineligible to compete until July 2021.

Blair maintains she unintentionally took the banned substance metandienone in a contaminated creatine supplement that she bought online.

But UK Anti-Doping (UKad) rejected this argument, saying she had not proved that she had not taken the drug intentionally.

Football – Signings

In a surprise move this week Jamie Sherwood has been appointed as Director of Football at Yeovil Town.  He stood down as manager in the summer and was replaced by Lee Burch, but has now rejoined to, in the club’s words, “provide the board with a link to the core work being undertaken by the management team”.

Yeovil have also re-signed striker Annie Heatherson.

Brighton & Hove Albion have signed midfielder Emily Simpkins from Doncaster Rovers Belles.

West Ham have been at it again, signing Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann from BSC Young Boys Frauen.

Not a signing as such, but an excellent and significant piece of news is that Jayne Ludlow has signed a four-year contract extension to her role as manager of the Wales national side.

Under 20s World Cup

England started their World Cup campaign with a 3-1 win over North Korea on Sunday.

Alessia Russo opened the scoring with Georgia Stanway bagging the second on the hour.

Ja Un-Yong got one back for North Korea in the second-half, but England sealed the win two minutes later as Russo got her second.

On Wednesday they played their second game against Brazil and drew 1-1.  England were ahead for much of the game after Georgia Stanway scored from the penalty spot in the 11th minute.  They conceded the equaliser in the last minute when Ariadina fired in to take a share of the points.

England’s last group game is against Mexico on Sunday 12 August.

The top two teams in the group go through to the quarter-finals.

Champions League Qualifying

Glasgow City 1-2 Anderlecht

Glasgow lost their first Champions League Group Three match in Edinburgh on Tuesday.  The away side took the lead through Ella Van Kerkhoven.  A few minutes later Leanne Ross missed a penalty, hitting the post with her spot-kick.  Elke Van Gorp scored a second for Anderlecht, before Lara Invanusa pulled one back for Glasgow.

Cardiff Met UFC 2-3 Olimpia Cluj

The Welsh Premier League champions fared no better in their first game in Group six as they too lost at home.

Cardiff opened the scoring through Naomi Clipston, but then Cluj had a period of pressure before Mara Batea equalised.

In the second-half, Cristina Carp scored for Cluj, Erin Murray equalised for Cardiff and Phoenetia Browne got a third for Cluj, all in the space of three minutes.  The Browne goal turned out to be the winner.

Football

Another week, another story of the FA’s lack of leadership.  I’m coming to the conclusion that the FA wants to offload the “burden” of the WSL as soon as possible.

This week the FA has said it would be “open to Premier League takeover” of the WSL.  But is it, as it stands, an attractive enough proposition for the Premier League to take an interest?

Obviously the game has grown under the FA, but last season some attendances stagnated or even went down.  It has been criticised for its constant revamping of the league structure and also last season’s fixture list which included large gaps followed by a crush of games.  The FA can’t even find a main sponsor for this year’s league.  So why would the Premier League take over?

Reaction from clubs to the idea has been mixed.  There is a belief from some that the league is not developed enough for the Premier League to take over, but those such as Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is in favour – back in January 2018 she said she thought it was a good idea as it would probably mean more money into the game.

If I were the Premier League, looking at its own package and how it brings in millions of pounds of revenue, at this moment I would run a mile.  I’d be telling the FA to come back when they’ve stopped messing with the product and everyone is settled and satisfied with the situation.

This one’s going to run and run.

Cricket

4 August
Southern Vipers 172/6
Loughborough Lightning 174/7 (19.4 overs)
Lightning won by 3 wickets with 2 balls remaining

Although Suzie Bates scored only nine and Tammy Beaumont a single, Sarah McGlashan scored 55, Danni Wyatt 36, Arran Brindle 26 and Mignon du Preez 24 to put together a sizeable total of 172 for the Vipers.

In response, Sophie Devine was out early for seven, but Rachael Haynes anchored the innings scoring 53 from 34 balls.  Amy Jones chipped in with 31 but it was Elyse Villani’s 61 not out from 38 balls that saw Lightning home as the lower order began to wobble.

Eventually Loughborough won the game with two balls to spare.

5 August
Yorkshire Diamonds 172/5
Western Storm 174/3 (19.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets with 4 balls remaining

Diamonds batted first and posted a decent score.  Beth Mooney top scored with 69 from 42 balls, while Lauren Winfield fell two short of her half-century.

In response, Smriti Mandhana continued her good form, making 56 from 36 balls. She was ably supported by Heather Knight who scored 45 and Rachel Priest with 37 and the Storm got home with four balls to spare.

7 August
Surrey Stars 167/8
Lancashire Thunder 112 all out (19.2 overs)
Stars won by 55 runs

An excellent and much needed win for the Stars as they skittled the Thunder for just 112.

Bryony Smith fell for just 10, but Lizelle Lee finally stepped up to show the crowd what she was made of and the partnership of 94 between Lee and Sarah Taylor really got the Stars going.  The lower order did not contribute much to the score, but it was a decent total to defend.

The Thunder made a good start in response with a 55 run stand between openers Nicole Bolton and Eve Jones.  After Bolton was dismissed by Dane van Niekerk for 24, there was then a disaster for Thunder as Harmanpreet Kaur was run out without scoring.  This precipitated a collapse with only Amy Satterthwaite (21) providing any resistance.  Van Niekerk took 3/20 from her four overs and Bryony Smith 2/9 from two.

8 August
Southern Vipers 159/7
Yorkshire Diamonds 143 all out (19.5 overs)
Vipers won by 16 runs

Vipers ended their losing streak with a win at Southampton.  Tammy Beaumont was back from sitting out through concussion and top-scored with 64.  Katie Levick was the pick of the bowlers for the Diamonds, taking 3/35 from her four overs.

It was the same old story for Diamonds though as they started relatively well but fell away down the order.  Thea Brookes top-scored with 45 from 36 balls, but wickets kept falling and the last five batters scored only eight between them.  Suzie Bates did much of the damage, taking 4/26 off 3.5 overs and Amelia Kerr chipped in with 2/22 off four.

9 August
Loughborough 100/7 (match reduced to 13 overs)
Surrey Stars 106/3 (11.2/13 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets with 10 balls remaining

Loughborough’s winning run came spectacularly to an end at Guildford as Stars cruised to the win.  Lightning made a fair 100 off 13 overs with Georgia Elwiss top scoring on 26.  They lost three wickets for 10 runs towards the end which prevented them posting a really good total.

But the Stars meant business.  Lizelle Lee starred, as it were, for the second game in a row, with 48 from 28 balls.  She was backed up by Bryony Smith who made 31 as Lightning struggled to take wickets.

9 August
Western Storm 185/4 (20 overs)
Lancashire Thunder 109 all out (18.2 overs)
Storm won by 76 runs

Not close.  Storm were ruthless in all departments as they crushed the Thunder at Taunton.  Priest went cheaply for just four, Mandhana was at it again with 49 from 25 balls and England captain Knight top-scoring with 76 from 50.  Stafanie Taylor hit 51 after the fall of Mandhana as they posted an excellent 185.

In response the Bolton scored a good 21, but fellow opener Eve Jones made only one, Amy Satterthwaite four and Harmanpreet Kaur eight before EllieThrelkeld came in to try to steady the ship.  It was a vain hope though – her 33 was easily the Thunder’s top score as the rest of the wickets fell around her.

We’re now just over half way through with all teams having played seven games.  Lightning’s loss at Surrey has seen them replaced at the top of the table by Western Storm.  It looks to be between Surrey Stars and Lancashire Thunder for the third place at finals day although there is still all to play for.

It may be significant that Loughborough Lightning’s two losses have been in reduced-overs matches.  With the weather becoming less predictable as the season progresses, will this cause Loughborough some problems?

More news and views next week.