It’s that time again! Not quite sure where the week has gone, but gone it has and so here comes the column. Plenty of news again this week with stories from cycling, football, badminton, boxing, squash, hockey, tennis, cricket, rugby and netball. This week’s “and finally” comes from basketball.
Tour de Yorkshire
Lizzie Deignan won the Tour de Yorkshire at the weekend. She finished the 122.5km course in three hours, nine minutes, 36 seconds.
Deignan was part of an eight-strong group that broke away with 60km to go. Then three riders, including Deignan pulled ahead. Deignan then made her move with 14km left and was never headed.
Top five finishers
- Lizzie Deignan (GB/Boels Dolman) 3hrs 09mins 36secs
- Coryn Rivera (US/Team Sunweb) +55secs
- Giorgia Bronzini (ITA/Wiggle High 5) Same time
- Amy Pieters (NED/Boels Dolman)
- Hannah Barnes (GB/Canyon SRAM Racing)
England’s women won the European Team Championships last weekend. They beat France in the final 2-0. Wales beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third place play-off.
England beat France 2-0
Sarah-Jane Perry beat Camille Serme 11/8, 8/11, 9/11, 14/12, 11/7
Fiona Moverley beat Laura Pomportes 14/12, 11/5, 4/11, 7/11, 11/8
Victoria Lust v Coline Aumard (match withdrawn)
Third place play-off:
Wales beat Netherlands 2-1
Tesni Evans beat Milou van der Heijden 11/6, 11/4, 11/7
Lowri Roberts lost to Tessa ter Sluis 5/11, 13/11, 6/11, 8/11
Deon Saffery beat Natalie Grinham 9/11, 11/7, 13/15, 11/6, 11/8
Katie Taylor’s winning run now stretches to five. She stopped Nina Meinke of Germany in the seventh round of her latest bout at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
She is now able to challenge for the WBA world lightweight belt currently held by Cecilia Comunales of Uruguay.
The news Lichfield fans dreaded came this week when the RFU announced that they have been unsuccessful in their appeal against being excluded from the new Women’s Super League.
An independent panel heard the appeals from both Lichfield, who finished second in this year’s Premiership and Thurrock, who finished top of the second flight and should have been promoted. The panel found that the RFU had followed correct procedure in selecting the teams for the new Super League, but it should also be noted that the panel was not constituted to decide whether the decisions made were the correct ones, just that correct procedure had been followed.
Lichfield will now play in the second tier of English rugby and may, in all probability, lose the services of their current internationals, such as Emily Scarratt and Amy Cokayne.
Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour won silver at the European Championships this week. She was defeated in the singles final by Spain’s Carolina Marin, 21-14 21-12.
It was Gilmour’s second final defeat in a row and three successive wins for Marin.
Good and bad news on the cricket front this week.
Bad news first. England captain Heather Knight has fractured a metatarsal whilst training for the World Cup in the UAE.
She will be out for five to six weeks, hoping to be back in time for the beginning of the tournament, which starts on 24 June. Fingers crossed her rehabilitation goes to plan.
The good news also concerns the World Cup with the news announced this week by the ICC that every match will be broadcast live for the first time. The prize money will also be doubled.
It’s all a bit last minute, as with so much surrounding women’s sport, but not perhaps one shouldn’t be churlish.
The prize fund goes up from $1m to $2m.
The ICC is also to publish plans later in the year for growing the women’s game with the aim
“To move towards equality across the game within 15 years”
Bold words – can they live up to it? Call me cynical, but let’s see the full document before we leap in the air with joy.
Ten games will be broadcast live on TV, with the other 21 streamed live on the ICC website. There will also be radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Xtra and highlights on the BBC Sport website.
There was heartening news this week as Petra Kvitova took her first steps on the practice court after the attack which left her with a career-threatening hand injury last December. She posted a photo of herself on the court in Monaco.
It is still unclear whether she will be fit to play in the French Open at the end of May.
Off the Pitch
BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year
The shortlist for the 2017 has been announced:
Melanie Behringer (Bayern Munich and former Germany midfielder)
Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais and Norway striker)
Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea and Sweden goalkeeper)
Marta (Orlando Pride and Brazil forward)
Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns and Canada forward)
You can vote via the BBC website. The closing date is Monday 15 May.
Notts County Ladies
It’s good to see that clubs are busy snapping up former Notts County Ladies players.
Reading Women have been the biggest beneficiaries signing England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter and Kirsty Linnett. Both Moore and Potter are in the England squad for this year’s Euros.
Carly Telford and Laura Bassett are the two remaining England internationals from Notts County’s squad yet to find a new club.
Carly Telford has rejoined Chelsea Ladies until the end of the Spring Series.
Yeovil Town Ladies have signed County’s second ‘keeper, Megan Walsh for the rest of the Spring Series.
It is likely that Walsh will go straight into the side as first choice goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes will be out for up to eight weeks after breaking her hand against Chelsea on Sunday.
On the Pitch
Women’s Champions League
Manchester City were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by cup-holders Lyon this week. They trailed 3-1 after the first leg – the damage was done. They put up a creditable performance in Lyon to win the leg 1-0 with a goal from Carli Lloyd, but it was not enough to take them through. A crowd of 19,214 saw the home favourites progress to the final.
In the other tie, Paris Saint-German beat Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate. They won the second leg in Paris 2-0 with an own goal and a penalty.
The final is on Thursday 1 June at the Cardiff City Stadium at 7.45pm.
FA Women’s Spring Series
Friday 28 April
Liverpool Ladies 4-2 Reading Women
Liverpool took the lead through Tash Harding after just two minutes. But Reading hit straight back just a minute later when Liverpool ‘keeper Siobhan Chamberlain spilled a Brooke Chaplen shot, which went into the net.
The away side took the lead four minutes later when Melissa Fletcher fired in from ten yards. Liverpool pulled level on 24 with Harding’s second and went ahead again ten minutes later when Caroline Weir tapped in from an Alex Greenwood cross. The teams went in with the home side leading 3-2.
Laura Coombs dealt the telling blow scoring five minutes after the restart and giving Liverpool all three points.
Sunday 30 April
Chelsea Ladies 6-0 Yeovil Town Ladies
Chelsea demolished newly promoted Yeovil in their first game of the Spring Series, but it took them until nearly half-time to take the lead.
In the 45th minute and in first-half injury time Ji So-Yun scored twice to demoralise Yeovil who had held out in the face of repeated Chelsea chances up to this point.
In the second-half the home side cashed in on their superiority with goals from Drew Spence, Erin Cuthbert, Crystal Dunn and Ramona Bachmann.
Sunderland AFC 0-0 Arsenal Ladies
There were chances for both sides but neither could break the deadlock at the Hetton Centre on Sunday.
Wednesday 3 May
Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies
City underperformed in this match and deserved nothing more than a draw. In contrast, Birmingham played to the best of their potential to take the point.
Carli Lloyd missed several chances for the champions, but Birmingham’s resolute defence held out.
The away side took the lead in the 14th minute with a header from Emily Westwood.
It took until the second half for Man City to get going and when they did they had periods of sustained pressure. The pressure told in the 58th minute when Lucy Bronze ran at the defence, beating two defenders to score the equaliser.
Yeovil Town Ladies 2-3 Bristol City Women
It looked set be Yeovil’s first point of the Spring Series until an unfortunate own goal from Nicola Cousins deprived the home side of the draw.
Bristol took the lead after just five minutes from the penalty spot. Lucy Quinn brought down Claire Emslie, who got up to convert the resulting spot kick herself.
The home side drew level in the 27th minute with a header from Annie Heatherson and it was all square at the break.
In the second –half the home side took the lead as Sarah Wiltshire scored from 25 yards.
But Bristol weren’t finished. Three minutes later they equalised through Chloe Arthur.
It was level until two minutes from time when Cousins’ deflection of an Arthur shot took the ball past goalkeeper Walsh.
Reading Women 0-4 Chelsea Ladies
Another day, another impressive win for Chelsea as they scored four without reply at Reading.
Karen Carney got the first on the half-hour, the only score in the first-half.
After the break Drew Spence scored from a few yards out, Ji So-Yun struck the away side’s third and a fourth came from Hannah Blundell with nine minutes to go.
Thursday 4 May
Arsenal Ladies 4-4 Liverpool Ladies
In a pulsating match at The Hive, Arsenal came back from 3-1 down and looked to have snatched all three points when a late equaliser for Liverpool gave the away side a deserved draw.
Liverpool took the lead on the 13th minute when Alex Greenwood scored straight from a corner. It was, perhaps, an indication of how the match was going to go.
The Gunners equalised on the half-hour through Chloe Kelly.
Then Liverpool moved up a gear with goals from Tash Harding and Caroline Weir before the break to take the away side 3-1 up at half-time.
After the break Danielle Carter got one back and the game was on again.
On the hour Carter was in for a second and the score was 3-3.
Arsenal looked to have completed a famous victory when a Jordan Nobbs stunner took them 4-3 ahead. But Liverpool were determined to have the last word as on the 84th minute Gemma Bonner made it 4-4 with a header from a Greenwood corner.
Rounds 12 and 13 of the Vitality Netball Super League were played over the bank holiday weekend. True to the commentator’s curse that I knew must come, I put the complete mockers on the league leaders, Loughborough Lightning as they lost their showcase game, held in front of a packed house in Leicester, to title rivals Wasps. They were back on form on Monday, beating Sirens comfortably and now lead the table by three points from Wasps with five rounds to go before the semi-finals.
Round 12 results:
Friday 28 April
Team Bath 59-33 Severn Stars
Saturday 29 April
Sirens 69-47 Team Northumbria
Celtic Dragons 53-55 Manchester Thunder
Hertfordshire Mavericks 56-63 Surrey Storm
Loughborough Lightning 54-57 Wasps Netball
Round 13 results:
Monday 1 May
Surrey Storm 49-56 Team Bath
Celtic Dragons 41-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks
Wasps Netball 62-46 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 56-47 Team Northumbria
Sirens 46-57 Loughborough Lightning
Round 14 is this weekend and the televised match is on Monday 8 May, Team Bath v Wasps Netball, 7.45pm live on Sky Sports.
Surbiton completed the league championship and cup double at the weekend with a 5-0 win over Clifton Robinsons in the Investec Women’s Cup final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre last weekend.
Surbiton have lost only one game this season, 3-2 to Leicester in February, and have now won four successive league titles and three of the last four cup finals.
Surbiton took the lead through Giselle Ansley and they were two up when Emily Atkinson bagged their second with Hollie Webb a third before half-time.
They didn’t let up in the second-half with Ansley scoring a second, and Hannah Martin the team’s fifth two minutes from time.
Surbiton now go into the Euro Hockey Club Cup in Den Bosch, Netherlands, facing Spanish side Complutense on 2 June. If they win this they will play the winners of the Den Bosch v Hermes-Monktown tie.
Canterbury are also involved and will play Hamburg on the same date.
And finally, some good news! I was despairing that I would ever be able to report this, but happily I was wrong.
After four long years of campaigning, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has approved the wearing of headcoverings under certain conditions.
The decision was supposed to have been made in August 2016, but was postponed until January 2017. It was postponed again in January. But, finally the ruling has been released. The conditions are:
- it is black or white, or of the same dominant colour as that of the uniform
- it is one same colour for all players on the team
- it does not cover any part of the face entirely or partially
- it is not dangerous to the player wearing it and/or to other players
- it has no opening/closing elements around the face and/or neck
- it has no parts extruding from its surface.
We must also remember this has a bearing not only for the wearing of the hijab for women, but also turbans for men. More than 130,000 people signed a petition to end the headgear ban.