Welcome to this week’s column – it’s good to be back! This week will be a bit of a past, present, future round-up, going over a few of the things I missed over the last couple of weeks and a bit of what’s coming up.
Stories this week come from the Commonwealth Games, cricket, football, hockey, golf, ice hockey, tennis, and rugby union.
So let’s crack on.
Many consider it an historical and political anachronism, but there is no doubt that the next two weeks of Commonwealth Games action will be filled with elite sportspeople doing their very best in competition – for some it will be the pinnacle of their sporting careers. So why should we begrudge these athletes their moment? For the time being, let’s just enjoy the sport. I will, almost certainly, miss something or someone out so apologies for that, but let’s give it a go.
The home nations story so far:
First home nations medal went to Jess Learmonth who won silver in the triathlon. Gold went to Flora Duffy, who won Bermuda’s first ever gold. Joanna Brown of Canada took the bronze.
While the domestic Superleague takes a break, we can relish the opportunity to watch top class netball on terrestrial television.
In Pool B England have started well with two wins from two: 74-28 v Scotland and 74-49 v Malawi.
Scotland play Wales next.
In Pool A Northern Ireland, in a ridiculously tough group have played just one game, losing to Australia 94-26.
In the women’s singles the home nations players are going well with one win each from one match. Tesni Evans of Wales beat Aifa Asman of Malaysia 3-1. England’s Laura Massaro, Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters all beat their opponents 3-0. Still a way to go.
Wales got through to the quarter-finals of the team competition, but were beaten 3-1 by Australia in that round. The Welsh team included 11-year old Anna Hursey, the youngest person to ever represent Wales at a Commonwealth Games. She lost in her singles, but won the doubles rubber with partner Chloe Thomas.
England play Canada in their quarter-final.
Katie Archibald (SCO) Gold in the 3000m Individual Pursuit
Sophie Thornhill (ENG) Gold in the Women’s B& VI Sprint
Lauren Bate & Katy Marchant (ENG) Bronze in the Women’s Team Sprint
Aimee Willmott (ENG) Gold in 400m Individual Medley
Sarah Vasey (ENG) Gold in 50m Breaststroke
Eleanor Robinson (ENG) Gold in S7 50m Butterfly
Alice Tai (ENG) Gold in S9 100m Backstroke
Hannah Miley (SCO) Silver in 400m Individual Medley
ENG bronze in 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay
England’s women won silver in the Team event with Canada taking gold
India 2-3 Wales
England 2-0 South Africa
India 4-1 Malaysia
England 5-1 Wales
Scotland 1-6 New Zealand
Australia 1-0 Canada
New Zealand 12-0 Ghana
International Football -World Cup Qualifiers
The Lionesses play Wales at Southampton on Friday evening. The squad has suffered a number of withdrawals through injury. Alex Greenwood has been called up to cover for Hannah Blundell, who is unwell.
Wales have a full-strength squad to pick from.
The match starts at 7pm and is live on BBC Two.
England then go on to face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica on Tuesday.
The Republic of Ireland will play two home games; on Friday against Slovakia and on Tuesday against the Netherlands.
Northern Ireland play on Tuesday at home to Norway.
Scotland played on Thursday 5 April, losing a tight game against Switzerland 1-0. The only goal of the game came through Lara Dickenmann on the half-hour.
Scotland play again on Tuesday, at home to Poland.
The scores from the latest round of WSL matches were as follows:
Saturday 31 March
Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-1 Watford
All the goals in this game came in the first-half. The home side were three up just after the half-hour. The Belles scored through Jess Sigsworth (9), Sam Tierney (12) and Maz Pachaco (32), before Anneka Nuttall scored the consolation for Watford a minute before the break.
Sunday 1 April
Yeovil Town 0-4 Liverpool
Liverpool ended a poor streak with a good win at Yeovil on Easter Sunday. They took the lead in the first minute through Laura Coombs. Gemma Bonner added a second on 17 and two minutes later they were three up through an Ash Hodson tap-in. A fourth was scored in the second-half through Beth England.
Arsenal 1-1 Chelsea
It was honours even at Meadow Park. The away side took the lead just after the half-hour through an in-form Fran Kirby. Arsenal equalised just before half-time through Beth Mead. Neither team could break the stalemate in the second half and the points were shared.
Birmingham City 2-0 Sunderland
A fine streak of form saw Birmingham up to third after this win on Sunday. Ellen White opened the scoring on 19 minutes, her 11th goal in 11 games. Four minutes later Rachel Williams made it two and Sunderland had no reply.
Manchester City 0-2 Reading
There was a shock defeat for the WSL1 champions as an inspired Reading took all three points at the Academy Stadium.
Remi Allen opened the scoring with an impressive bicycle kick on 34. Kirsty Pearce doubled the lead on 61 minutes. Reading worked hard to maintain the lead and even managed to work through Jo Potter’s red card ten minutes from time.
So Chelsea are still top of WSL1 with 29 points from 13 games. Manchester City are second on 26 with Birmingham City breathing down their necks in third on 22. At the bottom it’s still Yeovil, yet to get a point from 11 matches, with Bristol City above them on seven.
Durham 1-1 Oxford United
Jordan Atkinson’s strike on 31 opened the scoring for the home side. Imogen Lancaster, making her debut for Oxford, equalised in first-half injury time.
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Brighton are up to third with this win over Spurs. Chloe Peploe scored the first from a free-kick just before half-time. The crowd had to wait then until the 92nd minute for a second when Amanda Nilden slotted home to ensure the points went to the home side.
Sheffield FC P-P Millwall Lionesses
WSL2 sees Doncaster Rovers Belles top with 32 points from 12 matches. Millwall Lionesses are second on 26 from 11 and Brighton & Hove Albion third on 25 from 11. At the bottom Watford have only one point from 10 matches and Aston Villa seven from 11.
Thirteenth seed Sloane Stephens triumphed at Miami last week, beating sixth seed Jeļena Ostapenko in the final 7-6 6-1.
This week Naomi Broady and Heather Watson were competing at Monterrey and Charleston respectively.
Broady had a good win over Carol Zhao of Canada in the first round 6-3 6-7 6-2, but lost in the second to fourth seed Timea Babos of Hungary 6-3 6-7 7-5.
Watson’s bad run continued as she lost to American Taylor Townsend in the Charleston first round, 6-3 6-4.
British number on Jo Konta lost in the second round to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar 6-3 6-4. Konta had a bye in the first round. This continues a disappointing series of results for Konta at the start of the 2018 season.
The Monterrey quarter-final line-up is:
S Vickery (USA) (7) v M Rybáriková (SLO) (2)
M Puig (PUE) (5) v T Babos (HUN) (4)
D Collins (USA) v D Bogdan (ROM) (6)
G Muguruza (ESP) 1 v A. Tomljanović (AUS) (8)
The Charleston quarter-finals look like this:
B Pera (USA) v M Keys (USA) (7)
(J. Görges (GER) (5) v D Kasatkina (RUS) (3)
A. Sevastova (LAT) (8) v K. Plíšková (CZE)
A Cornet (FRA) (14) v K Bertens (NED) (12)
World Championship Division II Group A
Great Britain are currently competing in the World Championship Division II Group A tournament in Maribor, Slovenia. At stake is promotion to Division I Group B.
Team GB have made an excellent start and need one more win to finish top.
Great Britain 5-1 Australia
Australia took the lead through Michelle Clark-Crumpton, but GB then scored five unanswered goals to win the game. GB’s goals came through Beth Hill, Angela Taylor (2) and Leanne Ganney (2).
Great Britain 3-1 North Korea
Leanne Ganney was on the scoresheet again as GB took the lead, with Angela making it two on 25 minutes. Kim Un-hyang scored for North Korea, but Georgina Farman restored GB’s two-goal lead to ensure the win.
Great Britain 5-0 Mexico
Five goals from five different scorers saw GB comfortable winners over Mexico. GB’s goals came from Kimberley Lane, Clara Ashton, Saffron Allen, Katie Henry and Louise Adams.
Slovenia 1-4 Great Britain
Team GB took their fourth win in a row in beating tournament hosts, Slovenia. They scored four unanswered through Beth Hill, Katie Henry, Angela Taylor and Sophie Herbert, before Slovenia pulled one back through Sara Confidenti.
The Netherlands are top of the table on goal difference, with GB in second. The top two play on Friday 6 April in a winner-takes-all match. It will be GB’s sternest test as Netherlands finished as runners-up last year, while GB finished third. The match takes place at 3.30pm UK time and there is coverage on BBC radio.
Augusta National, not America’s most forward-thinking golf club, has announced that it will host a new women’s tournament before the Masters in 2019.
Augusta, which didn’t even admit women as members until 2012, will hold the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship over 54 holes.
The first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta and the final round, the cut to the lowest 30 scores will be at Augusta National.
It’s a good development for the women’s game, although the first women’s major of the season, the ANA Inspiration, will potentially clash as it usually played the week before the Masters.
Tyrell’s Premier 15s
The regular season is now over and the Finals places are decided.
After the season’s 18 games, Saracens finished top with 79 points. Joining them in the Finals are Harlequins, who finished second on 76, Wasps, third on 69 and Gloucester-Hartpury, who ended on 60 points and in fourth place.
The fixtures look like this:
Semi-final 1, first leg
Wasps v Harlequins (Twyford Avenue Sports Ground, 1pm)
Semi-final 2, first leg
Gloucester-Hartpury v Harlequins (4.15pm)
Semi-final 1, second leg
Harlequins v Wasps (The Stoop, 3pm)
Semi-final 2, second leg
Saracens v Gloucester-Hartpury (Allianz Park, 6pm)
29 April, Ealing Trailfinders RFC, 3pm
A quick review of the final between Australia and England, which took place on 31 March
Australia 209/4 (20 overs)
England 152/9 (20 overs)
Australia won by 57 runs
In the end England were well beaten by Australia. Although England had beaten the Southern Stars at the round-robin stage, their last game against India was poor and they went into the final having lost some form. Australia, on the other hand, had improved throughout the tournament.
Stand-in captain Dani Hazell won the toss and elected to field first. She must have rued that decision as Australia piled on 209 runs, including 32 fours, the most in a T20 international innings (men or women).
Meg Lanning scored 88 not out from 45 balls – an innings that included 16 fours and one six. She was ably supported by Elyse Villani who scored 51 from 30.
In response, England lost Bryony Smith and Tammy Beaumont early on for ducks, and while Dani Wyatt tried to hold it together, she couldn’t replicate her earlier form and was dismissed for 34. Nat Sciver contributed 50 from 42 and Amy Jones 30 from 28, but the chase was too stiff and they fell well short, leaving Australia worthy winners.
The biggest disappointment was the lack of media coverage in the UK of the tournament. England coach Mark Robinson said,
“I’m led to believe there are a lot of people back home that are disappointed,” Robinson told BBC Sport.
“It might be a wake-up call to broadcasters that there is a demand.
“That’s a healthy thing that we should make the most of.
“It is disappointing. Danni Wyatt’s innings deserved to be seen by a global audience.
“But to be at a stage where people are demanding to know why it isn’t on TV is a good thing.
“I’d rather look at the positive side of it. How exciting is it that we’re at the stage where people are clamouring to watch the tour, complaining and making a stink that they can’t?”
The tournament was shown live in both India and Australia. I can’t add much to that, can I, except to agree wholeheartedly. Come on ECB, put your money where your mouth is.
England v India ODI series
First ODI 6 April
England 207 all out (49.3 overs)
India 208/9 (49.1 overs)
India won by 1 wicket with 5 balls remaining
England captain Heather Knight was still missing for England as she continues to recover from a hamstring strain. Anya Shrubsole, herself returning from injury, captained the side, winning the toss and opting to bat first.
England made a fair start, making 71 before the first wicket was taken. Wyatt was out for 27 and, as so often happens, the second wicket just three balls later as Jones went for a duck. Beaumont was third to go for 37. Although Fran Wilson scored 45, it was from78 balls and all was a bit slow. As they tried to speed up they lost wickets and were eventually all out for a disappointing 207. Star bowler for India was Poonam Yadav, who took 4/30 from her 10 overs.
England never really had enough runs to play with, although the chase was tighter than India would have wanted. Although Raj went for a duck, Mandhana made 86, Kaur 21 and Sharma 24 to put them well in front. There was a flurry of wickets towards the end of the innings, but Bisht (12) and Yadav (7) saw India home with five balls to spare.
Other fixture dates:
Second ODI 9 April
Third ODI 12 April
Both games to be played in Nagpur.
Investec Women’s Hockey League
We are at the end of the regular season in the Women’s Hockey League with just the play-offs to come.
After 18 games, Surbiton finished top of the league with 34 points. Holcombe were second with 31 and East Grinstead and Buckingham both finished on 29 with East Grinstead finishing third on goal difference.
Leicester finished bottom of the pile with 16 points and are relegated. Slough finished second-from-bottom with 18.
It gets a bit complicated here, so here’s the official explanation of what happens next from the England Hockey website:
“A series of play-offs determines who is promoted, relegated, qualifies for Europe and crowned champions in the Investec Women’s Hockey League.
Investec Women’s Hockey League Champions and European Qualification
At the end of the regular season the team who finishes top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division will receive an automatic place in the EuroHockey Club Championships as England’s second ranked team. They can improve on this ranking, and compete to be crowned English Champions, in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Finals tournament.
The team who wins the Investec Women’s Hockey League Final will be crowned Investec Women’s Hockey League Champions and will be England’s first ranked team in the EuroHockey Club Championships for the subsequent season. In the event that the team finishing top of the league at the end of the regular season also wins the Final, the runners-up in the Final will be England’s second ranked team in the EuroHockey Club Championships.
What are the Investec Women’s Hockey League Play-Offs?
There are two types of play-off that determine which teams are promoted and relegated in the Investec Women’s Hockey League.
Investec Premier Division Play-Off
Here the winners of the three Conferences join the ninth-placed team from the Premier Division to battle it out in a round robin tournament for two spaces in the top tier, with the tenth-placed side having been automatically relegated.”
For all the details of who plays whom, where and when, check it out here.
The Forbes list of the most powerful women in international sport 2018 has been published. It comprises 25 names from nine sports.
Like all of these lists there are those we are going to say “who?” to and those we would add. And sorry, but for me no-one ever gets in who deals in “gaming”. I’m not quite sure how Caroline Wozniacki makes it at eight, while Serena Williams doesn’t get on at all. Great to see Mithali Raj at 12 and Nadia Nadim at 20. Here’s the list in full:
1) Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura (Secretary General, FIFA)
2) Lydia Nsekera (Council Member, FIFA & Member, IOC)
3) Florence Hardouin (Executive Committee, UEFA & Director General, French Football Federation)
4) Angela Dong (Vice President, Nike & General Manager, Nike Greater China)
5) Marina Granovskaia (Director, Chelsea FC)
6) Barbara Slater (Director, BBC Sport)
7) Moya Dodd (Executive Committee, Asian Football Federation & Member, FIFA Player Status)
8) Caroline Wozniacki (Tennis player)
9) Nita Ambani (Owner, Mumbai Indians)
10) Claire Williams (Deputy Team Principal & Commercial Director, Williams Formula 1)
11) Aoife Brodigan (Head of Games Marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Facebook)
12) Mithali Raj (Indian Women’s Cricket Captain)
13) Mary Davis (CEO, Special Olympics)
14) Rimla Akhtar (Council member, the FA & Chair, Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation)
15) Sophie Goldschmidt (CEO, World Surf League)
16) Japan’s Women’s Baseball League (!)
17) Beng Choo Low (Secretary General, World Baseball Softball Federation & Member, Olympic Council of Asia)
18) Blanca Uribe (Deputy Executive President, Toros de Tijuana
19) Po-chun (Sophiyah) Liu (Umpire)
20) Nadia Nadim (Footballer)
21) XinYi Hua (Sports Journalist, Xin Min Evening News)
22) Lieke Martens (Footballer)
23) Sung Hyun Park (Golfer)
24) Sasha Hostyn (Gamer)
25) Leticia Bufoni (Skateboarder)
Don’t think I’ve got much of a chance to get on this list, but it does give me something to aim for……