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 11-17 May 2019

netball2Welcome 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.

Netball

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.

England Roses

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.

Football

It was the final round of matches in both the Super League and Championship last weekend.  The results were as follows:

FAWSL

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
Mitchell 88’

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’
Stringer 39’

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.

FAWC

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.

Transfers

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.

Millwall Lionesses

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.

Taekwondo

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

Madrid Open

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.

Rome Open

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.

Golf

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.

Cricket

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.

County Cricket

Results from the fixtures on 12 May in the first and second divisions of the County Championship were as follows (home side first):

Division One
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.

Division Two
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!

 

Women’s Sports Column 27 April – 3 May 2019

camerawoman

Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get though again with Chelsea’s valiant attempt in the Champions League semi-final plus news of the Premier 15s final and yes, the hockey play-offs (thanks Martin).  This week’s “And finally” is one I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write.  You’ll know why when you get there.

So here we go, stories this week come from football, cricket, athletics, tennis, rugby union, rugby league, netball and hockey.

Let’s crack on… 

Football

Chelsea

Chelsea went out of the Champions League semi-final, drawing the second leg at home 1-1, with the aggregate score 3-2 to holders Olympique Lyonnais.

The Blues were 2-1 down after the away leg and although they had a vital away goal, it was always going to be a monumental task for them to beat Lyon, even on their own turf.

Lyon struck a blow when they took the lead through Eugenie Le Sommer in the seventeenth minute.

The home side could have caved in at this point, but they didn’t and got their reward through an excellent Ji So-Yun free kick.

Although they battled hard and had chances, they just couldn’t score the second to bring them level on aggregate and take it to extra time.  And every time Lyon broke they looked dangerous and likely to score.

This will be Lyon’s fourth final in a row.  A crowd of 4,670 watched the match at Kingsmeadow.

Barcelona 1-0 Bayern Munich

(Barcelona win 2-0 on aggregate)

With a 1-0 lead from the away leg, Barcelona were always going to be favourites to go through.

This they duly did, the only goal coming from a penalty, slotted home by Mariona Caldentey.

A club record 12,764 crowd saw them clinch their place in the final.

The final is in Budapest on Saturday 18 May.

PFA Player of the Year Award 2018-19

Vivianne Miedema beat Steph Houghton, Nikita Parris, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert and Ji So-yun to take the PFA women’s Player of the Year award this week.

The Dutch striker has scored 22 goals in 19 appearances in the WSL for title-winning Arsenal this season.  In all competitions she has 39 goals in 46 appearances.

Georgia Stanway won the Young Player of the Year award, having scored 11 goals for Manchester City this season in the WSL.  The other shortlisted players were Miedema, Keira Walsh, Erin Cuthbert, Alisha Lehmann and Sophie Baggaley.

Steph Houghton also received the PFA Special Achievement award.   She will captain England at the World Cup in France this summer and has already 104 caps.

FAWSL

Arsenal clinched their first league title since 2012 last Sunday.  They beat Brighton 4-0 at the Amex Stadium in front of a record WSL crowd of 5,265.

The weekend’s results were as follows:

Brighton 0-4 Arsenal
Needless to say Vivianne Miedema was in amongst it all, scoring the first and creating the second for Katie McCabe.

Beth Mead added a spectacular third and Danielle van de Donk the fourth as the Gunners secured the title in style, with a match to spare.

Birmingham City 2-0 Liverpool
White 20’ 29’

Everton 3-2 Reading
Kaagman 40’, Boye-Hlorkah 52’, Magill 65’
Allen 8’, Williams 77’

Manchester City 2-1 Yeovil
Parris 30’ (PEN), Hemp 65’
Fergusson 1’

Bristol City 1-2 West Ham United
Rafferty 60’ (OG)
Kiernan 74’, Ross 89’

So with most teams having just one game to play, Arsenal are top and champions with 51 points from 19 games.  Manchester City will finish as runners-up and are currently on 47 points, 10 points ahead of an impressive season from Birmingham City who are third.  They may not finish third, however, as Chelsea are just a point behind and have a game in hand.

FAWC

The weekend’s Championship results were:

Millwall Lionesses 0-5 Manchester United
Zelem 7’ (PEN), Turner 13’, Devlin 23’, Harris 29’ (PEN), Sigsworth 78’

London Bees 1-5 Aston Villa
McLachlan 66’
Richards 35’, Ale 38’, West 52’, Smith 80’ 90’

Leicester City 1-1 Durham
Johnson 82’
Robson 45’

Crystal Palace 1-4 Charlton Athletic
Balfour 77’ (PEN)
Eggesvik 24’, Graham 40’, Ejupi 75’, Agg 85’

Lewes 0-3 Sheffield United
Salmon 16’ 60’, Cox 35’

1 May
Aston Villa 1-1Tottenham Hotspur
West 50’
Naz 2’

As we know, Manchester United are champions.  With the draw against Villa, Spurs are promoted from second. All teams have one game left to play except for London Bees who have completed their season.

FA Cup Final

Don’t forget it’s The FA Cup final on Saturday.  Manchester City v West Ham Utd kicks off at 5.30pm and is live in the UK on BBC1 and on the radio on BBC 5 Live.

Tennis

Stuttgart Open

Petra Kvitova won the Stuttgart Open, defeating Anett Kontaveit in the final 6-3 7-6.

Kontaveit went through to the final after top seed Naomi Osaka withdrew with an abdominal injury before the match began.  Third seed Kvitova beat sixth seed Kiki Bertens in her semi-final 7-6 3-6 6-1.

Istanbul Open

Meanwhile, in Istanbul the final was between sixth seed Petra Martic, who had won the first set against Margarita Gasparyan in the first semi-final 6-1 when her opponent retired.  The second semi-final was a straight sets victory for the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova, who beat Barbora Strycova  6-2 6-1.

The final went to three sets, with Martic coming out the winner 1-6 6-4 6-1.

This week’s tournaments are in the Czech Republic and Morocco:

Prague Open

Two unseeded players will contest the final in Prague on Saturday 4 May.

Jil Teichmann will face Karolina Muchova, having beaten ninth seed Barbora Strycova (6-3 6-0) and the unseeded Bernarda Pera (6-2 7-5) respectively.

Rabat Open

Saturday’s Rabat Open final will be between sixth seed Maria Sakkari, who beat Alison Van Uytvanck (8) 6-4 6-4 and British number one Jo Konta (7), who defeated fourth seed Ajla Tomljanovic in her semi-final 6-2 7-6.

Netball

Vitality Super League

Last weekend’s results

Friday 26 April
Strathclyde Sirens 41-56 Wasps Netball

Saturday 27 April
Celtic Dragons 58-51 Surrey Storm
London Pulse 62-67 Loughborough Lightning
Saracens Mavericks 62-48 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 53-56 Team Bath

Wasps are out and away at the top with 42 points from 17 games.  They have qualified for the semi-finals.  Then come Thunder, Bath and Lightning on 36 points.  Lightning lie fourth with an inferior goal difference of just 14.  Just behind them, Mavericks are in fifth and can still qualify if they win and Bath or Loughborough lose as they have a massively better goal difference than the two above them.  It is bound to be an exciting final round of matches on Saturday.   Wasps have already secured a home semi-final.  The other is up for grabs.  Will Wasps get through again and if they do, can anyone stop them from making it a hat-trick of titles on 18 May?

It is the final (18th) round of matches this weekend before the semi-finals on 11 May.  All games start at 6pm.

Saturday 4 May
Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks v Strathclyde Sirens
Team Bath v London Pulse (Live on Sky Sports)
Severn Stars v Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder

Hockey

Contrary to what I said in the column last week, the Investec Women’s Hockey Premier League play-offs actually took place on the weekend of 13-14 April, so my apologies for that.  It would be remiss of me not to mention it, now it has been pointed out to me so here are the results:

13 April
Holcombe 6-0 Buckingham
Surbiton 2-1 East Grinstead

14 April – play off final
Holcombe 0-1 Surbiton

So despite Holcombe finishing top in the regular season, Surbiton are champions for a sixth straight season after defeating them in the play-off final.

Slough went into the Promotion tournament, but could not finish in the top two, which means that along with Canterbury, they are relegated.  Hampstead & Westminster and Loughborough Students (at least they’re not called Lightning) finished first and second and are promoted.

Rugby Union

Premier 15s Grand Final

Saracens 33-17 Harlequins

Saracens retained their title in front of a (slightly disappointing?) crowd of 2,590 at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton, on Saturday.

The holders took the lead on three minutes through Poppy Cleall.  They doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Sydney Gregson flew in on the wing.

On twenty minutes they were in for a third as Zoe Harrison went in and there were two more scores – a second each for Cleall and Harrison to make the score 27-0 to Saracens at half-time, leaving Harlequins with a mountain to climb if they were to get back into the match.

Quins made a spirited attempt after the break.  They were on the scoreboard early through an Emily Scott penalty.  Saracens responded with a penalty from Harrison.

Harlequins finally scored their first try on 54 minutes through prop Vickii Cornborough.  Soon afterwards captain Rachael Burford scored their second.

But it was not to be for the Quins who conceded another penalty late on, which Harrison slotted over.

Rugby League

Last weekend’s Super League results:

28 April
Bradford Bulls 58-6 Wakefield Trinity
Castleford Tigers 27-0 Leeds Rhinos
York City Knights 0-62 Wigan Warriors
St Helens 54-16 Featherstone Rovers

After three matches Castleford Tigers and St Helens have six points with three wins from three.  Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos have four.  Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity have two and York City and Featherstone Rovers have yet to get off the mark.

Athletics

London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei of Kenya won the elite women’s race in a time of two hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds.  She beat defending champion Vivian Cheruiyot into second with Rosa Dereje of Ethiopia finishing third.  At 25, Kosgei is the youngest woman to win the race.

In the wheelchair race, Manuela Schar of Switzerland took gold in one hour 44 minutes and nine seconds.  She finished more than five minutes ahead of Tatyana McFAdden, with last year’s winner Madison de Rozario coming in third.

Cricket

Women’s T20 Challenge

No it’s not a Women’s IPL, but it’s building on last year’s event as so, should be applauded as progress.  The three squads have been announced, with the Australian’s due to play being notable absentees due to a spat between the BCCI and Cricket Australia over a men’s series due to played in India in January 2020.  So, the best female Australian cricketers will miss out on a big pay day and the exposure the tournament will bring because of a dispute between men.  ‘Twas ever thus, you might say.  Cricket Australia have apologised to Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy for their omission.

The squads are:

Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Anuja Patil, Arundhati Reddy, Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka), Jemimah Rodrigues, Lea Tahuhu (New Zealand), Mansi Joshi, Nat Sciver (England), Poonam Yadav, Priya Punia, Radha P Yadav, Sophie Devine (New Zealand(, Taniya Bhatia.

Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (c), Bharti Fulmali, Dayalan Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Jasia Akhtar, Jhulan Goswami, R Kalpana, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shakera Selman (West Indies), Sophie Ecclestone (England), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Suzie Bates (New Zealand)

Velocity: Mithali Raj (c), Amelia Kerr (New Zealand), Danielle Wyatt (England), Devika Vaidya, Ekta Bisht, Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh), Komal Zhanzad, Shafali Verma, Shikha Pandey, Sushma Verma, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Veda Krishnamurthy.

The tournament will be played from May 6-11 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.  More news next week

And Finally,

Will she appeal?  Will she retire?  What on earth has possessed the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reject Caster Semenya’s challenge to the IAAF’s new rule restricting the testosterone level of female athletes?

Even more bizarrely, Cas said it has “serious concerns as the future practical application” of the new rule.  These include:

  • Worries that athletes might unintentionally break the strict testosterone levels set by the IAAF
  • Questions about the advantage higher testosterone gives athletes over 1500m and the mile
  • The practicalities for athletes of complying with the new rules

It also found that the ruling was discriminatory to those with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD).  Let’s just consider that statement in itself – it is not “positive discrimination” in any way; Just discrimination.  It goes on to qualify that by saying that it is “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to practise this discrimination to protect “the integrity of female athletics”.

But is it?

To muddy the waters further, not only has the United Nations Human Rights Council called the move “unnecessary, harmful and humiliating”, but before the ruling was made, the World Medical Association (WMA) issued a press release where it “urges physicians not to implement IAAF rules on classifying women athletes.”  Read the press release here.

The new ruling comes into effect on 8 May.  If Semenya (or any other athlete affected) wants to compete at the World Championships in September, she will have to start taking the testosterone-reducing medication in the following seven days.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve written this, but we’ve not heard the end of this one.  It’s a decision that strikes at the heart of women’s athletics.  Semenya has a naturally high testosterone level.  She has not cheated, she has not taken performance enhancing drugs.  There are many and varied views on this, but I for one don’t think she should be penalised and forced to undergo medical treatment for what is a natural condition.  More news on this as it develops.

And, and finally,

To end on a positive note, one last call to remind you that Bank Holiday Monday, 6 May is Women’s County Cricket Day.  Get out there and support your local county side and perhaps you’ll see some of the biggest stars in the English game.  If you still need to know when and where the matches are taking place, the link to the fixtures is here.

More news and view next week.

 

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 April 2019

tennis ballsWelcome to this week’s column.   Apologies for my prolonged absence, but hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the women’s sports news without me.  But also, hopefully, you’re still with me as I return to the weekly blog.

I can’t pretend to be able to go through everything I’ve missed, but there’s plenty write about just from this week, so let’s crack on.

Stories and news this week come from football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, hockey, netball, tennis and motor sport.

Tennis

Fed Cup

Great Britain beat Kazakhstan 3-1 in the promotion play-off to get into World Group II for the first time in 26 years.

Jo Konta started with a hard-fought win over Zarina Diyas in her customary three sets, 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Kazakhstan took the second rubber as a heartbroken Katie Boulter went down in three sets to Yulia Putintseva 3-6 6-2 7-6.

Konta beat Putintseva in the third rubber, again in three sets, 4-6 6-2 7-5

to make it 2-1 to Great Britain.

Boulter came through in the fourth match against  6-7 6-4 6-1, which meant Great Britain took the tie 3-1 and didn’t have to play the doubles rubber.

World Group

Meanwhile, in the World Group, the final will be between Australia and France.

Semi-final results:

France 3-2 Romania

Romania took 1-0 lead in Rouen as Simona Halep defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-1.

Caroline Garcia drew France level, beating Michaela Buzarnescu in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.

In the third rubber, Halep won again, beating Garcia in three sets, 6-7 6-3 6-4 to take Romania ahead again, but in the final singles rubber, Pauline Parmentier defeated Irinia-Camelia Begu 6-3 2-6 6-2.

The tie was 2-2 going into the doubles, which went the way of France as Garcia and Mladenovic defeated Halep and Niculescu 5-6 6-3 6-4.

Australia 3-2 Belarus

Australia reached their first Fed Cup final for 26 years after they defeated Belarus in Brisbane at the weekend.

Belarus won the first rubber with Aryna Sabalenka beating Sam Stosur in three sets, 7-5 5-7 6-3.

Ash Barty levelled it with a win over Victoria Azarenka 7-6 6-3.  Barty also played the third rubber, defeating Sabalenka 6-2 6-2.

In the fourth, Azarenka comprehensively defeated Stosur 6-1 6-1, to take it to a deciding doubles rubber.

Barty and Stosur came out on top, defeating Azarenka and Sabalenka in three sets, 7-5 3-6 6-2.

The final will be in Australia over the weekend of 9-10 November.

Stuttgart Open

We are at the quarter-final stage in Stuttgart and the matches look like this:

Anastasija Sevastova (7) v Petra Kvitova (3)
Kiki Bertens (6) v Angelique Kerber (5)
Naomi Osaka (1) v Donna Vekic
Victoria Azarenka v Anett Kontaveit (8)

News on how it all panned out next week.

Istanbul Open

We are at the same stage in Istanbul and the matches are as follows:

Barbora Strycova v Elena Rybakina
Petra Martic (6) v Kristina Mladenovic
Lara Arruabarrena v Marketa Vondrousova
Veronika Kudermetova v Margarita Gasparyan

Again, more news next week.

Football

Champions League – Semi-Finals

Lyon 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea grabbed a potentially vital away goal on Sunday, but it could and perhaps should have been even better for the London side.

Lyon took the lead through a Magdalena Eriksson own goal on 27 minutes.  Eleven minutes later the home side were two up when Amandine Henry scored from a corner.

Chelsea had the chance to pull one back on half-time when they were awarded a penalty.  Fran Kirby took it, but it was saved by Sarah Bouhaddi in the Lyon goal.

In the second-half, Chelsea did pull one back through Erin Cuthbert.

The second leg, at Kingsmeadow, is this weekend, on Sunday 28 April.  Kick-off is at 2pm.

Bayern 0-1 Barcelona

The Spanish side take a one-nil lead into the second leg.  After a goalless first-half, the only score came in the 63rd minute, through Kheira Hamroaui.

The second leg is also on Sunday 28 April at 11am.

FAWSL

With just two games to go in the regular season, Arsenal are in the box seat.

They have a four point lead at the top over Manchester City.  Arsenal have 48 and City 44.  Chelsea are third, some way back, on 36.  At the bottom, Yeovil are already gone and lie on -3 having had points deducted for going into administration.

Last weekend’s results:

Reading 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Furness 49’

Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Quinn 4’, Miedema 28’
Boye-Hlorkah 61’

Liverpool 5-2 Bristol City
Babajide 11’ 41’ 65’, Daniels 45’ Hodson 90+1’
Kerkdijk 35’, Fahey 83’ (OG)

West Ham 1-2 Birmingham City
Leon 27’ (Moorhouse sent off on 41’)
Ladd 44, Arthur 75’

FAWC

Manchester United have been crowned champions and will next season compete in the WSL.  They beat Crystal Palace 7-0 on Saturday to claim the title.

Last weekend’s results:

Manchester United 7-0 Crystal Palace
James 9’ 83’ 85’ 90’, Arnott 33’, Galton 35’, Sigsworth 46’

Sheffield United 4-1 London Bees
Cox 36’, Sarri 52’, Rayner 76’, Pennock 88’
Littlejohn 50’

Durham 1-0 Millwall Lionesses
Roberts 69’

Charlton Athletic 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Ejupi 41’, Graham 46’
Dean 53’ (PEN), Neville 71’ 80’

Aston Villa 2-2 Lewes
Ale 4’, Hutton 34’
Rood 45’ 90+2’

Everyone has two games to go.

West Ham

The FA Cup finalists have had their plea to move their men’s home game against Southampton on May 4 rejected.  Their match is due to kick off at 3pm on Saturday, with the FA Cup final kicking off at 5.30pm.

PFA Women’s Team of the Year

The Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year has been announced and features nine players from Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea.

Sophie Baggaley (GK) (Bristol City), Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Demi Stokes (Man City), Ji Sun-Yun (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Man City), Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City), Kim Little (Arsenal), Lia Walti (Arsenal), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Man City), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)

BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019

The shortlist for the award, drawn up by the BBC World Service is:

Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg), Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars and Perth Glory), Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais)

You can vote via the BBC website and voting closes on Thursday 2 May.  The winner will be announced on 22 May.

Netball

Vitality Netball Superleague

Last weekend saw a double round of fixtures with rounds 15 and 16 being completed.  The results were as follows:

Round 15 – Saturday 20 April
Strathclyde Sirens 44 -59 Loughborough Lightning
London Pulse 42-71 Manchester Thunder
Wasps Netball 76-42 Surrey Storm
Severn Stars 42-53 Team Bath
Saracens Mavericks 55-50 Celtic Dragons

Round 16 – Sunday 21 April
Wasps Netball 64-48 Celtic Dragons
Strathclyde Sirens 47-44 London Pulse
Surrey Storm 46-51 Severn Stars
Loughborough Lightning 60-57 Manchester Thunder
Team Bath 45-51 Saracens Mavericks

So with just two full rounds to go, Wasps are top with 39 points from 16 games.  The other three in the top four spots are Thunder (36), Team Bath (33) and Lightning (33).  Mavericks are fifth on 30 and could still qualify if results go their way.

Round 17 is this weekend:

Friday 26 April
Strathclyde Sirens v Wasps Netball (7.30pm)

Saturday 27 April
Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (4pm)
London Pulse v Loughborough Lightning (4pm)
Saracens Mavericks v Severn Stars (4pm – Live on Sky Sports)
Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (5pm)

The Grand Final is at the Copper Box in London on Saturday 18 May with the third/fourth place play-off at 3pm and the final at 5pm.  Both matches will be live on Sky Sports and the link to buy tickets is here.

Rugby Union

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

The Premier 15s Grand Final will be between Harlequins and Saracens, who beat Loughborough Lightning (26-10) and Wasps (31-13) respectively in their semis.

In the regular season the two teams finished top and second with Saracens top on 17 wins from 18 with Harlequins seven points behind them and with 15 wins.  Should be a classic.

You can still buy tickets here.  Under 16s get in for free.

The final is on Saturday 27 April at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton.  Kick-off is at 17.45.  The match will be live on Sky Sports Action.

Sevens

It was the fourth of six rounds of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens series at the weekend in Kitakyushu.

England looked as if they were about to claim their first round title since 2016 when Canada pinched it right at the end.

Final

Canada 7-5 England

England scored a try through Amy Wilson Hardy late in the first-half.  It looked as if this was to be the decisive score until Canada captain Ghislaine Landry broke through the defence to score behind the posts, giving herself an easy conversion opportunity.  She kicked the extra points and the title went to Canada.  It was Canada’s first leg win since 2017.

USA finished with the bronze, defeating France 24-12.

New Zealand could only manage fifth, beating Australia in the play-off 34-26.

The Women’s Standings are as follows:

  1. New Zealand 72
  2. Canada 66
  3. USA 64
  4. Australia 56
  5. France 46

The fifth round is in Langford, Canada over the weekend of 11-12 May.

Rugby League

While I’ve been off, the rugby league season has started once more, so apologies for the lack of coverage so far.  All Super League teams have played two games.  Castleford Tigers are top on points difference, having won both of their games, including a hammering of York City Knights away 80-0.  Needless to say, this has given a bit of a fillip to their points for column.  Leeds Rhinos and St Helens have also won their first two matches.

This weekend there are four fixtures:

Sunday 28 April
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos (13.00)
York City Knights v Wigan Warriors (14.00)
Bradford Bulls v Wakefield Trinity (14.00)
St Helens v Featherstone Rovers (17.45)

If you haven’t already had a look at the rugby league website, I would encourage you to do so.  It is very informative and kept up to date.  Check it out here:

Hockey

Apologies again, but it’s the time of year when I start to try to get my head around the hockey play-offs.  If you don’t know what happens at the end of the season, here are the regulations (thanks to the England Hockey website):

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.

Investec Conference Play-Offs
Here the teams that finish ninth across the three Conferences fight it out for survival. The winner of this round robin tournament will stay up while the other two will be relegated to their respective regional league along with the teams that finished in 10th in each Conference. The fixtures are played across three weekend with each side play a home and an away tie. The five regional league winners are then promoted to fill the vacant spots.

Holcombe finished top of the table in the regular season with 41 points from 18 games.  Surbiton finished second on 38 and East Grinstead third on 34.  East Grinstead were also deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player.  Buckingham finished fourth on 29.

Canterbury finished tenth on just eight points and have been relegated.

Play-off dates are still to be announced.  More news when I have it (Yes Martin, I know it’s simple really).

EuroHockey Club Cup

Amsterdam were triumphant at the EuroHockey Club Cup last weekend.

It was the last edition of the competition before it becomes the EHL in 2020.  Amsterdam will take their place in that competition with this win.

The tournament, also held in Amsterdam, saw the hosts beat Real Sociedad in the final 7-0.

The places finished as follows;

Bronze went to Alster, who been Den Bosch 2-1 in the third place match.

Hamburg beat English representatives Surbiton 4-1 in the 5th/6th place match.

Loreto defeated Ritm Grodno 2-1 in the 7th/8th place play-off.

FIH Pro League

Great Britain are currently lying seventh in the table after losing their fourth match of six against Germany on Wednesday.  Hannah Grablach scored a double on 38’ and 58’ as they won 2-0.  Great Britain’s next match is against China on Friday 3 May.

Australia are top with six wins from seven matches and a win/loss percentage of 85.71.  Argentina lie second having played 10 matches.  They have a win/loss percentage of 83.33.  Great Britain’s win/loss percentage is 27.78 from six matches.

And Finally,

Don’t forget it’s Women’s County Cricket Day on 6 May.  Get down to see your local county in action if you can.  You can read all about in my piece published last week.

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 16-22 March 2019

curlingWelcome to this week’s column.  Back with a vengeance this week with stories from rugby union, netball, football, hockey, cycling, cricket, winter sports and tennis.

Rugby Union

Six Nations
England retained their Six Nations championship title at the weekend, winning the Grand Slam as they crushed Scotland in their final match, 80-0.  An improving Italy finished second in the table as they beat France on Sunday and Wales beat Ireland.

16 March
England 80-0 Scotland

The Red Roses scored their first try of 12 after just two minutes when flanker Sarah Beckett went over.

Jess Breach scored a second four minutes later, and after 12 minutes they were three up through Natasha Hunt.  Breach scored her second on 17 minutes and so after 20 minutes England were already 26-0 up.

Kelly Smith scored England’s fifth after a fine scrum and the bonus point was already secured.

Poppy Cleall then went over and it was 40-0.  Things then went from bad to worse for Scotland as their captain Lisa Thomson was yellow-carded.

England took advantage of the extra player and Amy Cockayne made it seven tries before half-time.

After the break, with Scotland still down to 14, England piled on the pressure.  Prop Sarah Bern and captain Sarah Hunter both going over before Thomson’s return.

The other tries came from Emily Scarratt, Cleall with a second and second-half replacement Cath O’Donnell.

Katy Daley-McLean was in excellent form with the boot, slotting nine conversions and Scarratt added one right at the end.

17 March
Wales 24-5 Ireland

Ireland went into the lead after 13 minutes with a try from Beibhinn Parsons, but this was to be their only score.

Wales were level five minutes later through Jess Kavanagh.

Siwan Lillicrap was sin-binned for a high tackle for the home side, but Wales didn’t buckle, instead taking the initiative and did not concede in the ten minute period.

Once they were back to 15, Wales scored through Carys Phillips and they were in the lead.

In the second-half Wales scored two more tries through Beth Lewis and Jasmine Joyce, the latter securing the bonus point for the home side.

Italy 31-12 France

Italy capped a fine Six Nations with another excellent performance against France, which gave them second spot in the table.

The home side opened the scoring on 20 minutes through Sofia Stefan.

France levelled shortly before half-time as Caroline Boujard ran in from a Pauline Bourdon pass.

But Italy weren’t finished as Michela Sillari put over a penalty and the Azzure went in 8-5 ahead.

After the break, Sillari slotted another penalty as Coumba Diallo was sin-binned for France.  Then Italy went over again through hooker Melissa Bettoni.

Sillari’s third penalty made it 21-5 to Italy.

France rallied to score their second try through Ian Jason, which was converted by Jessy Trémoulière.

But Italy were not to be outdone and scored a fourth through Manuela Furlan, securing the bonus point and second place.

Cricket

England v Sri Lanka

England completed a 3-0 ODI series win over Sri Lanka this week.  Sorry, no time for reports, but here are the details:

First ODI
England 331/7 (50 overs)
Sri Lanka 159/8 (40 overs, target 314)
England won by 154 runs by D/L method

Nat Sciver scored 93 and Amy Jones 79.

Second ODI
Sri Lanka 187/9 (50 overs)
England 188/4 (33.4/50 overs)
England won by 6 Wickets with 99 balls remaining

Alex Hartley took 3/36 from 10 overs.  Amy Jones top scored for England with 54.

Third ODI
Sri Lanka 174 all out (50 overs)
England 177/2 (26.1/50 overs)
England won by 8 wickets with 143 balls remaining

Amy Jones top scored with 76 – that’s three half centuries in three games.  Tammy Beaumont scored 63.

There are three T20s to come: 24, 26, 28 March.

Tennis

Indian Wells

There was a surprise winner at Indian Wells last weekend as wildcard Bianca Andreescu defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4.

Andreescu had three match points on her serve, but was eventually broken as Kerber brought it back to be just 5-4 behind.

But then Andreescu produced some of her best tennis to break the German back and take the match.

Football – on the Pitch

Champions’ League Quarter-finals First Leg
Chelsea 2-0 Paris St Germain

Goals from Hannah Blundell and Erin Cuthbert see Chelsea take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their quarter-final which takes place in Paris on 27 March.

FA Cup Quarter-finals

Durham 0-1 Chelsea
Ji So-yun’s goal was enough to see holders Chelsea through to the semi-finals of this year’s FA Cup.

Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool

Janine Beckie scored the first for City in the first-half and they went into the break 1-0 up.  In the second-half, Georgia Stanway, on as substitute for Beckie, scored their second and added a third late on to see them through convincingly.

Reading 2-1 Manchester United
Neither side could make the decisive breakthrough in 90 minutes and the tie went to extra time.

United took the lead through and Alex Greenwood penalty, but Remi Allen equalised to make it 1-1.  Fara Williams looked to have won it for Reading as she scored direct from a corner, but it was ruled out for an infringement in the box.

But Reading didn’t give up and got their reward in the 120th minute when substitute and Iceland international Rakel Honnudottir scored from close range.

Aston Villa 0-1 West Ham
Scotland forward Jane Ross scored the only goal of the game to take West Ham through to the semi-finals.

Semi-Final Draw

Manchester City v Chelsea
Reading v West Ham United

Ties will be played on Sunday 14 April.

Spanish League
I couldn’t let this go by without a mention.  On Sunday, the crowd for the Liga Feminina match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid drew a crowd of 60,739.  I feel like I should write that out in words, sixty thousand, seven hundred and thirty-nine people.

Barcelona won the game 2-0 with goals from Asisat Oshoala and England’s own Toni Duggan.

Atletico are top of the table with 66 points from 24 games.  Barcelona are three points behind in second on 63.  Levante are third, way back on 51.

Football – off the Pitch
Women’s Super League BIG News

I hope you’ve all heard and digested this news already, but I couldn’t leave it out, could I?

At last, I say at last, the Women’s Super League is to have its first ever title sponsor.

Barclays have committed to a deal to the tune of what is thought to be in excess of £10m over three years.

The FA is, unsurprisingly, pleased with itself, calling it “the biggest ever investment in UK women’s sport by a brand.”

The WSL will be known as the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and there will be £500,000 of prize money at the end of the season.

Barclays will also be the lead partner of the FA Girls Football School Partnerships which aims to improve the availability of football to girls in schools.

We’re always using the term “game changer”, but this probably is.  Now trying telling us women’s football isn’t worth anything.  No business invests in a “useless” product.

And backwards we go…

However, it’s not woo-hoo all the way this week:

Yeovil Town

It has been reported this week that Yeovil may go back to being part-time at the end of the season.

They have already made three off-field personnel redundant.

The FA is believed to be trying to support them through this crisis but even if they avoid relegation (they are currently bottom of the league and five points away from safety), they may be demoted if they cannot assure the FA that their financial future is secure.

I hope there’s an answer to all this – I don’t want to see Yeovil go the way of Notts County.

Sophie Jones

There was a second unwelcome story this week as Sheffield United forward Sophie Jones was found guilty of racially abusing Tottenham Hotspur’s Renee Hector.

Jones has consistently denied the allegations, but has had her contract terminated by Sheffield United.   She has been suspended for five matches, fined £200 and must go on an educational course.

2023 World Cup

I know we’ve still got a World Cup to come this year, but the quest to hold the 2023 version is now underway.  And does it seem that countries are seeing the potential of women’s football at last?  A record nine countries have expressed an interest in hosting the event.  They are Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.  Apparently North and South Korea are also looking at making a joint bid.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 16 April.  More news as it happens.

Winter Sports

Skiing

On Sunday Mikaela Shiffrin of the USA became the first skier to win World Cup titles in overall, slalom, giant slalom and super-G in the same season.

She completed the set in Andorra when she won the giant slalom in 23.17 seconds, beating Alice Robinson of New Zealand into second.  She had already won the super-G earlier at the event.

Curling

Women’s Curling World Championships
The Championships which is currently taking place in Silkeborg in Denmark, runs from 16-24 March.  We are currently at the round robin stage.

The defending champions are Canada and those taking part in addition to Canada are USA, Korea, Switzerland, Japan, China, Finland, Latvia, Scotland, hosts Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Germany.

We are nearly at the end of the round robin stage with the qualification games (3 v 6 and 4-5), semi-finals, bronze medal game and gold medal game taking place this weekend.

So far Sweden, Russia and Korea have qualified for the play-offs.  There are three places still up for grabs with Switzerland, China and the United States in prime position.  Scotland, unfortunately, will not be amongst them having won four and lost seven of their matches.

Cycling
Para-cycling Track World championships

Great Britain’s para-cyclists had a good event.

Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott won two golds: in the B 500m Time Trial and the B sprint.

Kadeena Cox won gold in the C4 500m Time Trial and Sarah Storey took silver in the C5 version of this event.  Katie Toft took silver in the C1 version, but only gold was awarded.

Sarah Storey also won two golds; in the C5 Individual Pursuit and C5 Scratch Race.  Crystal lane-Wright took silver in the same Scratch Race.

Lora Fachie won bronze in the B Individual Pursuit.

Volleyball

Super League Top 5
16 March
London Orcas 3-0 Malory Eagles UEL (25-21, 25-16, 25-12)
TeamBU Wessex 0-3 Tendring VC Ladies (18-25, 17-25, 21-25)

Tendring are top with 36 points from 14 matches.  Durham Palatinates are a point behind with 35 from 13.

Super League Bottom 4
16 March
Sheffield Hallam 2-3 Polonia SideOut London (25-21, 17-25, 25-20, 14-25, 7-15)

Sheffield top the bottom four table with 16 points from 12 matches.

17 March
Bristol VC1 3-0 Birmingham Volleyball Club1 (25-19, 25-23, 26-24)

Netball

What a fixture to be live on Sky this week!  Lightning beat leaders Wasps in a thrilling match, by one point.  The winner was scored by Mary Cholhok with just four seconds remaining on the clock.  Brilliant stuff from Loughborough as Wasps suffered only their second defeat of the season.

Last weekend’s Vitality Super League were as follows:

Saturday 16 March
Team Bath 56-50 Celtic Dragons
Surrey Storm 53-44 Strathclyde Sirens
Saracens Mavericks 49-57 Manchester Thunder

Monday 18 March
Loughborough Lightning 60-59 Wasps Netball

Manchester Thunder have taken over at the top and are in ominous form.  They have the slightest goal average advantage over Wasps in second.  Both teams have 24 points from 10 games.  Saracens Mavericks are third with 21 and Loughborough Lightning are fourth, also on 21.  At the bottom, London Pulse still have only one win and three points.  Strathclyde Sirens are above them with six points and two wins.

Round 11 is this weekend:

Friday 22 March
Team Bath v Strathclyde Sirens (7.30pm)

Saturday 23 March
Manchester Thunder v Wasps Netball (5pm)
Severn Stars v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)
Saracens Mavericks v Surrey Storm (6pm)

Monday 25 March
Celtic Dragons v London Pulse (7pm, Live on Sky Sports)

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

16 March results:
Canterbury 2-1 East Grinstead
University of Birmingham 0-1 Bowdon
Clifton Robinsons 1-4 Surbiton
Slough 0-0 Beeston
Buckingham 0-2 Holcombe

All teams have played 16 games.  Holcombe are top with 35 points, Surbiton second a point behind and East Grinstead are third with 28.  At the bottom, Canterbury have eight points.  Just above them are Slough on 13.

This weekend’s fixtures:

23 March
Buckingham v University of Birmingham (12 noon, Stowe School, P1)
Surbiton v Slough (1pm, Surbiton HC, water)
Beeston v Canterbury (2pm, Nottingham Hockey, P1)
East Grinstead v Bowdon (2pm, East Grinstead HC)
Holcombe v Clifton Robinsons (2pm, Holcombe HC, P1)

FIH Pro League

There have been four games over the last week:

Saturday 16 March
Australia 0-1 Argentina

Sunday 17 March
Australia 1-3 New Zealand

Thursday 21 March
China 0-1 Argentina

Friday 22 March
China 5-3 New Zealand

Different teams have played different numbers of games, but currently Netherlands are top with a points percentage of 80.0 from five games.  Argentina are second with 76.2 from seven games and Belgium are third on 66.7, but have played only three games.  Great Britain are eighth with a points percentage of 22.2 from just three games.

And Finally,

Big, big news in sports media this week as the Daily Telegraph finally put its money where its mouth is and announced its first Women’s Sports Editor, the completely excellent Anna Kessel.  It’s not often I have cause to praise the Telegraph, but this move is a brilliant one and will hopefully cause many other news outlets to follow suit.  It has already signed up Dina Asher-Smith as a columnist.

You can read the full story, and its “manifesto” here

You will know that I have an issue with the “ghettoising” of women’s sport – do we give it its own space, far away from everything else, so those offended (and there are still plenty), do not have to view it (although they will still comment anyway)?  Or do we mix it in with everything else because essentially “sport is sport”.  It’s a difficult one, but at the moment the issue is that there’s little coverage at all.  Not in a ghetto, not on its own page, not anywhere (starting to sound a bit like Dr Seuss there).  So, let’s get it in there first.  Let’s get it its own pages, web page and identity and see where we go from there.

Come on, all you other media outlets, get with it.  You know it’s going to be big – AT LONG LAST.  Don’t get left behind.  If consumers don’t get what they want from their coverage of women’s sport, they will vote with their paper-buying, website-viewing feet.

And, and Finally,

Go for it, Tayla Harris.  Need I say more?

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 November 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  This week’s stories range from a wet West Indies to Rotherham with plenty in between.  There is so much going on including one high-profile administrator steps down while another takes up a massive challenge.

So, stories this week come from cricket, football, rugby, hockey, volleyball, sports admin, tennis and modern pentathlon.

Cricket T20 World Cup

At one stage it the ICC seemed to be considering moving group A from St Lucia because of the persistent bad weather, but it looks like we’re sticking with it now.  From what I’ve seen, I have no reason to change my view that Australia are the team to beat.  Here’s where we are at the moment:

Group A

It’s tight in Group B, where the weather could yet play a deciding part.  West Indies are two from two at the top with wins against South Africa and Bangladesh and are looking good.  England are second, a point behind with one win against Bangladesh (via DLS)and a washout against Sri Lanka.  England still have to play the two strongest teams in the group, South Africa and West Indies and need to take points from both.

Bangladesh 76/9 (20 overs)
England 64/3 (9.3 overs)
England won by seven wickets (DLS method)

Kirstie Gordon took 3/16 on debut as England beat Bangladesh in a rain-affected match at St Lucia.  Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver both took early wickets to leave Bangladesh 3/2 after three overs.  But Ayasha Rahman showed resolve, scoring 39.

In reply, Danni Wyatt went first ball, but when England’s target was revised towards the end of the innings after a spell of drizzle, they cruised home with 39 balls to spare.

Amy Jones made 28 and Nat Sciver 23.

Group B

Australia are three from three with wins against Ireland, Pakistan and New Zealand and have already qualified for the semi-finals.  India are second on net run-rate.  They play each other to see who finishes top of the table.  New Zealand are third with only one win from three matches and cannot qualify.

Pakistan have flattered to deceive once again and should have done better.  They beat Ireland, but could have done so much more.

Ireland, also, will be frustrated.  They targeted the game against Pakistan as a possible win, but fell badly short.  Their bowling has been excellent in patches, particularly from Lisa O’Reilly, but the batting has been poor.  They even had a chance against India as they restricted them to just 145, but, in truth, I’m not sure there were many watching and listening who were convinced they could chase the target down.  In the end they had a fine aggressive power play, but once again tailed off and could only reach 98/8 at the end of their 20 overs.

You can listen to and watch all of the action via Sky Sports and BBC Radio Test Match Special.  There are also video clips on the BBC website if you don’t have Sky.

Women in Sports Administration

Liz Nicholl will step down from her role as CEO of UK Sport next summer, after eight years in post.   She had worked at UK Sport, in its various incarnations, for 20 years.

“This really is the best job in sport and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

“My successor will find British sport in a good position to realise our vision of inspiring the nation in Tokyo and beyond.”

Meanwhile, the football Premier League has appointed Susanna Dinnage as its new chief executive.

Dinnage’s background is in media, including roles at MTV, Channel  5 and Discovery.

“I am excited at the prospect of taking on this fantastic role. The Premier League means so much to so many people,” she said.

“It represents the pinnacle of professional sport and the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and inspirational organisation is a great privilege.

“With the support of clubs and the team, I look forward to extending the success of the league for many years to come.”

This experience will likely be invaluable when negotiating new broadcast deals, but there will be many other issues she will have to face.  Whatever happens, it is good to see a woman reach such a high-level post in such a traditionally male, stale and pale environment.

Modern Pentathlon

British modern pentathlete, Samantha Murray, has retired from the sport at the age of 29.

She won silver at the London 2012 Olympics and gold at the World Championships in 2014.

Football – International

England Lionesses

After putting in a fine away performance to beat Austria 3-0 last week, the Lionesses were looking to celebrate captain Steph Houghton’s 100th cap with an equally good game against Sweden in Rotherham.   But football, as we know, is fickle and it didn’t go to plan.

Austria 0-3 England

England were dominant throughout, even though the team was an inexperienced one.  Former USA under-23 player Chioma Ubogagu scored the first on her debut and Georgia Stanway, also making her first appearance, bagged the second.

Rachel Daly scored the third in the second-half.

England 0-2 Sweden

The Lionesses suffered a shock defeat to Sweden at Rotherham on Sunday.  It was the first time they had lost at home since 2015.

Sofia Jakobsson scored Sweden’s first and Anna Anvegard the second to spoil the Steph Houghton party.

The game was a sellout with 9,561 fans packed into the New York Stadium.

From Phil Neville’s first 12 games in charge, England have won seven, drawn three and lost just two.  I’ll never be his greatest fan, but the women are clearly enjoying their football and I am impressed by his comments and commitment to the role.

Scotland 0-1 USA

Scotland were unlucky not to scrape a draw from this match.  They had defended well up until the 39th minutes, when Alex Morgan took advantage of some poor marking to volley in a cross from Mallory Pugh.

The USA were also awarded a penalty in the second-half but Carli Lloyd hit the bar.

Scotland’s best chance came through Lana Clelland but it her shot was turned around the post.

Champions League

Chelsea will play Paris St-Germain in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.  If they manage to overcome PSG they will face Wolfsburg in the semis, who have knocked them out of the competition at the quarter-final stage for the last three years.

Quarter-final draw:

Slavia Praha v Bayern Munich
Barcelona v LSK Kvinner
Lyon v Wolfsburg
Chelsea v PSG

First leg to be played on 20 and 21 March 2019, with return leg the following week.

Semi-final draw

Lyon or Wolfsburg v Chelsea or PSG
Slavia Praha or Bayern Munich v Barcelona or LSK Kvinner

Semi-finals will be played towards the end of April 2019.

Managerial Casualties

There have been two manager sackings this week; WSL side Everton dispensed with the services of head coach Andy Spence and Championship club Lewes sacked John Donoghue.

Everton have only one game this season and that was against Reading in the Continental Cup.  They are currently bottom of the WSL table, having been beaten by previous bottom side Yeovil Town last weekend.  Goalkeeping coach Jennifer Herst has been put in interim charge.

Donoghue had been with Lewes since 2014.  He helped to establish Lewes in the National League (South) before they were allocated a spot in the newly revamped Championship for 2018-19.

Hockey

Champions Trophy 2018

The Champions Trophy takes place in Changzhou, China from 17-25 November.

The six teams involved are Great Britain, hosts China, defending champions Argentina, 2018 World Cup winners Netherlands, Oceania champions Australia and Asian Games champions Japan.

Group games schedule
17: Great Britain v China (06:00), Australia v Argentina (08:00), Netherlands v Japan (10:00)
18: Australia v Great Britain (06:00), China v Japan (08:00), Netherlands v Argentina (10:00)
20: Australia v Netherlands (06:00), Argentina v China (08:00), Japan v Great Britain (10:00)
22: Argentina v Japan (06:00), China v Australia (08:00), Great Britain v Netherlands (10:00)
24: Japan v Australia (06:00), Netherlands v China (08:00), Great Britain v Argentina (10:00)

Finals schedule
25: 5th v 6th (06:00), 3rd v 4th (08:15), Final (10:30)

TV coverage is via BT Sport.

Last weekend’s Investec Women’s Hockey Premier Division results:

Canterbury 1-3 Beeston
Holcombe 1-0 Surbiton
Bowdon 1-0 East Grinstead
Clifton Robinsons 4-2 University of Birmingham
Buckingham 1-0 Slough

Surbiton dropped points at the weekend, but are still top of the table on 19 points from eight games.  Holcombe are second on 16 and Buckingham third on 14.  East Grinstead have also been deducted three points for fielding an illegible player and are now fourth with 13.  At the bottom, Canterbury have three from eight games, with Bowdon just above them on six.

This weekend’s fixtures:

17 November
Buckingham v Clifton Robinsons (12pm, Stowe School P1)
Slough v Bowdon (12.30pm, Slough HC)
Beeston v Holcombe (2pm, Nottingham Hockey P1)
Canterbury v Surbiton (4pm, Polo Farm SC, P1)
University of Birmingham v East Grinstead (4pm, Birmingham Uni P1)

Volleyball

Just one result from the Women’s Super League from last weekend:

Durham Palatinates 3-1 Tendring VC Ladies (16-25, 25-16, 25-17, 26-24)

Durham are top with five wins from five games and 14 points.  Tendring are second with three wins from four games and nine points.  At the bottom, Birmingham have no wins from three games and have no points.  Bristol VC 1 are just above them on one point from five games.

Rugby union

England 57-5 USA

There was a record win for England against USA last weekend as they won 57-5 at Allianz Park.

The score did not reflect USA’s contribution and they will perhaps feel aggrieved that prop Megan Rom was sent off in the 14th minute for a high tackle, an event that made the visitors’ task that much harder.

England started the scoring with a try through Leanne Riley.  Sarah McKenna got a second under the post, making it 14-0.

Ten minutes later England were awarded a penalty try and Kate Zachery was yellow-carded.  England scored two more tries before half-time, including one for Katy Daley-McLean, winning her 100th cap for England and racing 50m to go over the whitewash.  The score was 33-0 at the break.

In the second-half England soon made it 40-0 but then took their foot off the gas.  Sarah Hunter scored another to make it 47-0 after 53 minutes and then there were 20 minutes of even play culminating in a try for USA through Jennine Duncan.

England had the final word, though, with time for two more tries, one from Kelly Smith and one from Carys Williams.

Wales 19-5 South Africa

Wales also began their autumn internationals with a win, beating South Africa at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Welsh tries came through Jasmine Joyce, Sioned Harries and Carys Phillips, with Robyn Wilkins converting two.

The Welsh pack was dominant throughout and South Africa’s only score came through a try from Lusanda Dumke.

This weekend’s fixtures see Wales take on Hong Kong on Friday 16, while England play Canada and Ireland face USA on Sunday 18.

Tennis

Agnieszka Radwanska has announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 29.

She has admitted that her body is beginning to let her down and feels that now is the right time ,

“Unfortunately I am no longer able to train and play the way I used to, and recently my body can’t live up to my expectations,” she added.

“Taking into consideration my health and the heavy burdens of professional tennis, I have to concede that I’m not able to push my body to the limits required,” she said.

Always a fine player to watch with plenty of subtlety to her game and possibly the best drop-shot out there, she will be missed from the WTA Tour.

At her peak she was world number two to Serena Williams in 2012.  She reached a Wimbledon final and won 20 WTA titles in her 13-year career.

And Finally,

The BT Action Woman 2018 shortlist has been announced: Dina Asher-Smith, Lizzy Yarnold, Fran Kirby, Georgia Hall, Vicky Holland, Laura Kenny, Menna Fitzpatrick & Jen Kehoe and Lucy Bronze.

Voting closes at 11.59pm on 25 November and the ceremony is live on BT Sport on Monday 3 December.

Check out the link here to vote: https://sport.bt.com/action-woman-2018-01364108169407

That’s all for this week.  More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 27 October – 2 November 2018

bikini-two-piece-swimwear-women-two-parter-54265Welcome to this week’s column.  I realise that, of late, the column seems to have been getting longer and longer.  While this obviously means that there is a lot of women’s sport out there, it also means that it’s taking me a long time to compile.  At the moment it’s taking me a day and half to write and post.  I enjoy it very much and I hope you do too.  But sometimes it’s a bit of a strain.

Towards Christmas and the end of the year, the column may become more sporadic as I have other commitments to fulfil.  I hope you’ll bear with me and read on.

So, here we go.  Stories this week come from football, hockey, cycling, rugby union, volleyball, cricket, gymnastics, sports politics, netball, sailing and tennis.  Plus the only possible “And Finally” and if you haven’t heard about it it’s a corker – if you have, it’s worth another read.

Let’s crack on.

Netball

Fast5 World Series

New Zealand claimed the Fast5 World Series 2018 title in Melbourne, defeating Jamaica in the final by a single point 34-33.  Ironically, Jamaica were the only team to beat New Zealand in the rounds stage.

In the table, Australia finished third, Malawi fourth, England fifth and South Africa sixth.

Defending champions England had a difficult tournament winning only one of the games in the rounds, losing all three games on day one and gaining their one win against Australia on day two, 29-28.

Australia claimed bronze, defeating Malawi in the play-off 38-15.

England finished fifth, defeating South Africa in the fifth/sixth place play-off 35-33.

Tennis

WTA Finals – Singapore

Elina Svitolina took the WTA Finals singles title in Singapore.  She defeated Sloane Stephens in the final 3-6 6-2 6-2.

It was a miracle that Stephens actually made it to the final.  She lost the first eight games of her semi-final against Karolina Pliskova.  She eventually took the match 0-6 6-4 6-1.

The second semi-final also went to three sets, with Svitolina triumphing over Kiki Bertens 7-5 6-7 6-4.

The doubles title went to second seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos as they defeated top seeds Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková 6-4 7-5.

WTA Elite Trophy

The second-tier end of season tournament is taking place this week in Zhuhai.

We are currently only at the group stage.  Keep up with events here:

http://www.wtatennis.com/scores

Cycling

UCI Track World Cup

Great Britain won eight medals at the Cup in Milton, Canada last weekend, of which three golds went to women riders.

The Pursuit team comprising Katie Archibald, Eleanor Dickinson, Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker took gold, defeating Italy in the final.  New Zealand beat Germany to take bronze.

Archibald and Barker also took gold in the madison with Denmark in silver and Canada in bronze.

Laura Kenny won gold in the omnium with Lizbeth Salazar of Mexico in silver and Jennifer Valente of USA in bronze.

Australia took gold in the team sprint, defeating Germany in the final.  Gazprom-Rusvelo took bronze, defeating Netherlands in the bronze medal final.

Alexandra Goncharova of Russia won the scratch race.  Olivija Baleisyte of Lithuania finished second and Jennifer Valente of USA was third.  Eleanor Dickinson was twelfth.

Madalyn Godby of the USA won the keirin.  Stephanie Morton of Australia took silver and Martha Bayona Pineda of Colombia the bronze.

The event comprises six stages with Olympic qualifying points at stake.  The next round is in Berlin at the end of November.

Trek-Drops

There was bad news for women’s cycling this week as British team Trek-Drops announced their new sponsorship deal has fallen through and unless they can find backing they will fold.

In a press release the team said:

“The title sponsor in a cycling team invests the largest proportion of budget and the company pulling out leaves us with a large deficit in our budget for 2019,” said the press release.

“This leaves the future of 12 riders and a number of staff, uncertain.”

Although sponsors Trek had announced in July that they would be forming their own team, Trek-Segafredo, it was thought that their sponsorship of Drops would continue.

But this is no longer the case and Drops have turned to crowdfunding to try to secure their 2019 future.

The campaign was launched on Tuesday morning and the team’s crowdfunding page invites contributions from £50 through to £250,000.  It is time-limited to 15 days.  If you can help check out the page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/be-part-of-drops-cycling-team#/

Football

England Lionesses

The England squad for the friendlies against Sweden and Austria has been announced.  Neville has included the former USA Under -23 forward Chioma Ubogagu.

Ubogagu was born in London but emigrated to the USA as a child.  She made her professional debut for Arsenal in 2015 and now plays for Brisbane Roar.

The other squad debutantes are Georgia Stanway and Ellie Roebuck.

England squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Manchester United), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Abbie McManus (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Lyon), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Chioma Ubogagu (Brisbane Roar, on loan from Orlando Pride)

Champions League

After a tense first leg two weeks ago, Chelsea turned on the style in Florence to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals.  The other British side left in the competition, however, Glasgow City, bowed out as they were well beaten by Barcelona.

Fiorentina 0-6 Chelsea
Chelsea win 7-0 on aggregate

A hat-trick from Fran Kirby was the highlight of a fine Chelsea performance that saw them through to the next round.  Chelsea opened the scoring in the 24th minute through Drew Spence.  Fran Kirby scored her first and Chelsea’s second in the 38th and they went in two-up at the break.  In the second-half Kirby got her second through a penalty and Erin Cuthbert scored the fourth.  Kirby grabbed her hat-trick just past the half-hour and Ramona Bachmann bagged the sixth on 67 minutes.  Chelsea had to play the last fifteen minutes with ten players as Millie Bright was sent off for a professional foul, but by then the tie was effectively over.

Glasgow City 0-3 Barcelona
Barcelona win 8-0 on aggregate

The damage had already been done in Barcelona and the chances of Glasgow pulling off a shock win were slim.  But they gave it everything they had from beginning to end.  England striker Toni Duggan bagged two, in the 13th and 51st minute while Alexia Putellas scored in the 48th, between the two Duggan goals, to take Barcelona through 8-0.

Brondby 0-2 LSK
LSK win 3-1 on aggregate

Bayern 3-0 Zurich
Bayern win 5-0 on aggregate

Paris 3-2 Linkoping
Paris win 5-2 on aggregate

Slavia Praha 0-0 Rosengard
Slavia Praha win 3-2 on aggregate

Lyon 9-0 Ajax
Lyon win 13-0 on aggregate

Atletico Madrid 0-6 Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg win 10-0 on aggregate

The quarter-final draw is on 9 November.

FAWSL

Friday 26 October

Manchester City 1-1 Reading
Stanway 33’
Moore 50’

Sunday 28 October

Bristol City 0-4 Arsenal
Nobbs 14’, Miedema 41’ 88’, van de Donk 90’

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Yeovil Town
Brett 13’, Williams 32’
Mason 69’

Everton 1-2 West Ham
Walker 5’
Ross 27’, Lehmann 45’

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Ericsson 27’

So at the top, Arsenal go romping on with six wins from six games and a goal difference of +31.  As Manchester City could only draw, they are now three points behind in second on 15, having played a game more, with Birmingham City in third with 13 points from six games.

At the bottom, there was still no joy for Yeovil and they remain pointless.  Everton are just above them with two and Brighton third from bottom on four points.

FAWC

Sunday 28 October

Leicester City v Manchester Utd
Postponed due to the dreadful events in Leicester on Saturday evening

Millwall Lionesses 0-8 Charlton Athletic
Ejupi 24’ 31’ 44’ 59’, Agg 26’, Gur 45’, Bowers 58’, Graham 87’

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Aston Villa
Neville 41’, Dean 82’ (PEN)
Welsh 7’

Crystal Palace 0-1 Sheffield United
Pennock 34’

London Bees 0-1 Durham
Hepple 19’

Tottenham keep up their 100% record in the Championship, with six wins from six games.  Manchester United are second with 13 points from five and Charlton are third on the same points but having played a game more.

At the bottom, Millwall have only one point and Aston Villa are just above them with two.  Both teams have played six games.

Football – off the Pitch

Liverpool Women’s new manager is Vicky Jepson.  Former England goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, will be assistant coach and goalkeeping coach.

Jepson takes over from Neil Redfearn, who resigned in September.  She has been caretaker manager since then.

Jepson has been with Liverpool since 2009, and has, up to this point, been development squad manager.

There was more good news for Arsenal this week as Joe Montemurro signed a new long-term contract with the club.

The length of the contract has not been disclosed, but the buzz around the club is palpable and this news is another boon for the Gunners.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Last weekend’s results looked like this:

Beeston 1-3 Surbiton
Canterbury 0-4 Buckingham
East Grinstead 1-0 Clifton Robinsons
Bowdon 2-2 University of Birmingham
Slough 2-1 Holcombe

Surbiton are now five points ahead at the top with five wins from six games.  Buckingham lie second with 11 points and East Grinstead third on ten.

At the bottom, Bowdon and Canterbury both have three points from six games with Bowdon at the foot on goal difference.

This weekend’s fixtures:

3 November
Clifton Robinsons v Bowdon (1pm, Coombe Dingle P1)
University of Birmingham v Holcombe (1.30pm, Birmingham Uni, P1)
Beeston v Slough (2pm, Nottingham Hockey, P1)
East Grinstead v Canterbury (4pm, East Grinstead HC)
Surbiton v Buckingham (4pm, Surbiton HC Water)

Rugby Union – off the Pitch

Heather Fisher has signed for Gloucester-Hartpury Women on a short-term contract.  Fisher had recently announced she is to take a break from international rugby.

In an interview featured on the excellent website womenseliterugby.com Fisher said,

“I think everyone’s aware that I’ve taken a few months out of the game just to get my physical and mental state back to where it needed to be to get back to international level.

“I came here to Hartpury to do commentary last weekend, and I realised that I missed that team environment. I watched them playing and I thought to myself that I could see myself playing a few games.

“Part of the love for playing rugby is playing with your mates. I know the likes of Kelly Smith and Millie Wood from Sevens, and a few of the Welshies and some girls who used to play for Worcester.

“I watched them last weekend and they play with a bit of dog, they don’t give up, they keep going right until the very end, I like the style they play. I left thinking ‘Could I play?’ You know what, let’s just see what happens.”

Rugby Union – on the Pitch

Last weekend’s Premier 15s results:

27 October
Firwood Waterloo 20-51 Loughborough Lightning
Worcester Valkyries 10-50 Bristol Bears
DMP Sharks 0-38 Wasps

28 October
Richmond 10-40 Harlequins
Saracens 48-24 Gloucester-Hartpury

It’s played seven, won seven for Loughborough Lightning and they sit top with 34 points.  Saracens are second with 30 and Harlequins three further back on 27.

At the bottom, Worcester still only have two points and will not be buoyed by the thought of facing Lightning in Loughborough on Saturday.  Just above them are Firwood Waterloo with five points from seven games.

This weekend’s fixtures:

3 November
Loughborough Lightning v Worcester Valkyries (12pm Loughborough Uni)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Richmond (2pm)
Firwood Waterloo v DMP Sharks (2pm, Firwood Waterloo RFC)
Bristol Bears v Saracens (2.30pm, Shaftsbury Park)

4 November
Harlequins v Wasps (4.30pm, The Stoop)

Volleyball

Last week’s Women’s Super League results:

 27 October
London Orcas 3-0 Sheffield Hallam (25-24, 25-18, 25-23)
Durham Palatinates 3-0 Polonia SideOut London (25-14, 25-12, 25-19)
Birmingham Volleyball Club1 1-3 TeamBU Wessex (25-23, 25-17, 24-26, 25-19)

 28 October
Bristol VC1 0-3 Tendring VC Ladies (25-16, 25-12, 25-17)

Durham have won three from three and are top with nine points.  London Orcas are second on eight.

At the bottom Polonia and Birmingham have yet to register a point, Polonia from three games and Birmingham from two.

Sports Politics

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has resigned over the delay to introducing a cut in the maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting machines from £100 to £2.

In Monday’s budget Chancellor Philip Hammond said the cut would now be enforced in October 2019.

Crouch said that pushing back the date was “unjustifiable” and has resigned.

I may not be of Crouch’s political colours, but she has been a good Sports Minister and it has been excellent to have a woman in the role.  I also admire her stand over this issue.  I discussed the stance of Scotland’s women’s football a few weeks ago when they stated they were not going to accept sponsorship or advertising from betting sites.  It’s a plague in this country.  But while we have those willing to stick to their principles let’s hope that eventually the constant bombardment that we receive when watching (or listening to) sport may at some point have had its day.

Gymnastics –World Championships

Simone Biles does it again.  She won her fourth all-around title at the world Championships in Doha.

Not only did she do this, but she did it falling twice in the process and while suffering with a kidney stone.

Biles fluffed her landing in the vault and fell from the beam but still took the title with 57.491 points, 1.693 points ahead of Mai Mukarami of Japan, who took silver.  Morgan Hurd of the USA took the bronze.

Britain’s Ellie Downie finished 11th after a long lay-off with an ankle injury.

The individual apparatus finals take place this weekend.

Sunday Times Women’s Sportswoman of the Year

Last night (Thursday 2 November) saw the SWOTY awards.

Dina Asher-Smith won the main award.  Lizzy Yarnold was second and Katie Archibald, third.  Also nominated were Georgia Hall, Rachel Atherton and Vicky Holland.

The England Roses Commonwealth Games winning team won Team of the Year.

Georgia Hall, winner of this year’s Women’s British Open was named Young Sportswoman of the Year.

Menna Fitzpatrick (thanks Sunday Times for tweeting that “Mina” Fitzpatrick” had won), along with guide Jen Kehoe won the Disability Sportswoman of the Year award.

Jennie Price, the outgoing Chief Executive of Sport England, was given the Lifetime Achievement award.

Triathlete Trish Deykin won the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration and Alex Paske the Grassroots Award.  Paske, from Stamford in Lincolnshire, founded MIntridge Events when she was just 24.  It aims to increase young people’s sports participation, enhance their life skills and promote their knowledge of health and wellbeing.

Cricket

Don’t forget the Women’s T20 World Cup begins next Friday, 9 November.  You can follow it on Sky Sports and via BBC Radio Test Match Special.  I’m away next week, but there will be plenty of news and results in a fortnight.

And Finally,

It had to be, didn’t it?  In a way I hope you’ve all seen this already, but if you haven’t, it’s possibly the classic to end all classics as regards sexism in sport, why so many women give up on sport so early and why they are reluctant to return later on.

Many thanks to journalist and campaigner Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) for tweeting about this and, of course, to Simone Webb (@SimoneWebbUCL), who had to bring it to Swim England’s attention in the first place.

Hats off to Swim England – you really are the “best”.

Swim England, the governing body for swimming in England, has a campaign to get people swimming.  It’s called “Just Swim”.  So far, so good.  However, when Simone Webb was considering taking up swimming after a long period away from the sport, when she consulted “Just Swim”, she found that some of the advice was, how shall we put it?  Less than helpful, perhaps?

In a piece entitled “Guide to Choosing Swimwear for Women” she found the following juicy morsels;

“If your body is short in proportion to your legs, you will want a swimsuit that gives the impression of litheness”

“A pear shape has often been the plague of women, but it no longer needs to be so.”

“…try pairing an eye-catching bikini or tankini top with subdued bottoms in a dark colour.  This type of swimsuit will draw attention toward your more appealing characteristics.”

“To add curves and subtle cleavage to a small bust, look for a bikini top with triangle-shaped cups and a tie-front.”

“Boyish body.  Try push-up cups and twisted bandeaux to enhance your cleavage.”

Perhaps all this means if I get it right I’ll be able to swim like Becky Adlington?  Perhaps not.

Unfortunately, by the time I’d got there the piece had been taken down – I would have loved to have read it in full.  Swim England’s response was somewhat bizarre; apparently the piece had been there since 2010, but they were unaware of it.  They have since apologised.

And, and finally,

Congratulations to one of my favourite contacts in sailing, Dee Caffari, for being shortlisted for the Pro Sailor of the Year award in the British Yachting Awards 2018.  It’s a formidable shortlist as Dee is up against Carolijn Brouwer, Charlie Crumbly, Phil Sharp, Sophie Weguelin & Sophie Ainsworth and Wendy Tuck (5 women in the shortlist!).  If sailing’s your thing and you would like to vote check it out here https://www.britishyachtingawards.com/pro-sailor-of-the-year/

I’m away next week, but I’ll be back in a fortnight, by which time the World T20 will be in full swing.  Can anybody stop the Southern Stars?

Women’s Sports Column 13-19 October 2018

social mediaWelcome to this week’s column.  The motorsport issue is still causing fierce debate, but there’s so much more to offer this week with stories from winter sports, hockey, rugby league and union, netball, football, gymnastics, athletics, golf, tennis and cricket!  Unfortunately, also two disturbing and despicable “and finally” items this week.

So let’s crack on….

Winter Sports

The biggest story this week, as regards British athletes, has to be that Lizzy Yarnold, two time Olympic gold medallist, has announced her retirement from the skeleton.

She is Britain’s most decorated Winter Olympian, having defended the title she won in 2014 at Pyeongchang in 2018.  She also won World Championship gold in 2015 and bronze in 2012 and 2017, World Cup gold in 2013-14 and silver in 2014-15 and European Championship gold in 2015.

It is no secret that the skeleton has taken its toll on her body, with her back and knees taking the brunt of this punishing sport.  She also suffers from vestibular disorder which affects her inner ear and brain, causing dizziness.

Yarnold’s decision may have been hastened by former teammate Amy Williams’ revelation that her skeleton career has caused her so much back and knee pain that she has had to sell her house and move into a bungalow.

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that Yarnold is a brilliant role-model for would-be winter sports athletes and I’m sure she’ll stay involved in sport, perhaps working with youngsters and their motivation and I would like to offer my congratulations to her on a stunning career.

Rugby League – Super League Grand Final

Leeds Rhinos 16-18 Wigan Warriors

Wigan defeated Leeds Rhinos in the Grand final on Saturday with a penalty in the last minute.

Leeds took the lead through Rhiannon Marshall, but Wigan were ahead at the break 8-6.  Rachel Thompson scored a hat-trick of tries and Georgia Wilson one try as Wigan pulled 10 points ahead.

But Leeds were not done.  They drew level to 16 points all with tries from Caitlin Beevers and Suze Hill with two goals from Courtney Hill.

With one minute to go, Wigan were awarded a penalty and Charlotte Foley calmly slotted it home to take the two points and the game.

Leeds have still had a great season, winning the League Leaders’ Shield and the Challenge Cup.

Tennis – on the court

Kremlin Cup

Jo Konta is through to the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup.  She had a fine win in the first round of the beating seventh seed Elise Mertens 6-3 7-5.  In the round of 16 she defeated Daria Gavrilova in three sets 6-4 3-6 6-3 and in the quarter-final she overcame Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 7-6.

She faces sixth seed Daria Kasatkina in the semi-final.  The first semi is between Ons Jabeur and fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Luxembourg Open

We are also at the semi-final stage of the Luxembourg Open where top seed Julia Goerges meets Eugenie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic comes up against ninth seed Dayana Yastremska.

Tennis – off the court

Britain’s Katie Boulter is into the top 100 of the WTA world rankings for the first time.

Last week she lost at the quarter-final stage of the Tianjin Open to world number six Karolina Pliskova.

Now the 22-year old from Leicester is ranked 96 in the world.

Race to Singapore

She was due to be number one seed at the WTA Finals which begin on 21 October, but Simona Halep has had to withdraw due to her ongoing back injury.  Kiki Bertens, who finished ninth in qualifying, takes her place.  The full line-up is as follows:

(1. Simona Halep)

Angelique Kerber
Caroline Wozniacki
Naomi Osaka
Petra Kvitova
Sloane Stephens
Elina Svitolina
Karolina Pliskova
Kiki Bertens

Gymnastics

After the hideousness of the Larry Nassar scandal, it is up to USA Gymnastics to get its house in order, and quickly.  Unfortunately, it seems they have failed spectacularly this week.

It had appointed Mary Bono as interim head, but after objections by Olympic champions Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, Bono has resigned after just four days in post.

First Biles criticised Bono for appearing to oppose Nike’s Colin Kaepernick advertising campaign.

Bono has responded that she did not oppose the campaign because of Kaepernick’s stance over racial injustice, but because of the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”.  She said she was responding as someone who has lost family serving in the armed forces – the ultimate sacrifice.

But it Raisman has also raised the issue that Bono was a solicitor at the law firm that represented Larry Nassar in 2015.  Bono did not represent him directly, but the firm and the sport’s administrators were aware of abuse allegations at the time.

Nassar was sentenced to 300 years in prison for child pornography and sexual abuse charges.  He abused both Biles and Raisman while coaching for USA Gymnastics.

Time for USA Gymnastics to think again.

Football

World Cup Qualifying

Three more countries qualified for next year’s World Cup this week.  The USA and Canada qualified from the CONCACAF Women’s Championship as finalists.  USA beat Canada 2-0 in the final with goals from Rose Lavelle in the second minute and Alex Morgan in the 89th.

There was an historic result in the third-place play-off as Jamaica defeated Panama 4-2 to qualify for their first World Cup finals.  The match ended 2-2 in normal time and the deadlock still could not be broken in extra-time.  So it went to penalties.  Jamaica coach, Hue Menzies, took off the first-choice goalkeeper in the last minute of extra time to bring on Nicole Mcclure, a renowned shot-stopper, a manoeuvre that paid off as Mcclure saved two penalties while the Jamaicans scored all their four.

Panama still have a chance to qualify, but they have to beat Argentina, who finished third in the Copa America Femenina.  First leg is Monday 5 November and the second is just over a week later on Tuesday 13.  Brazil and Chile have qualified for next year’s finals after finishing top and second respectively.

Champions League

Chelsea 1-0 Fiorentina

Chelsea may rue their missed chances when it comes to the second leg in Florence in two weeks.  Emma Hayes had made seven changes to the team that were demolished 5-0 by Arsenal at the weekend.

Chelsea played well and were most often on the front foot, with chances for Fran Kirby, Ramona Bachmann (who ran and ran all night) and Millie Bright.

The only goal of the game came from Karen Carney from the penalty spot on eight minutes.

Fiorentina seemed happy to sit back and try to hit Chelsea on the break, but in truth it would have been most unjust if they had scored an equaliser.

Some fine goalkeeping from Fiorentina’s Stephanie Öhrström kept the score down and Fiorentina will go into the second leg confident of overturning the 1-0 deficit.

Barcelona 5-0 Glasgow City

Glasgow contributed to their own downfall with a series of mistakes and now the tie seems to be over.

Barcelona were three-up at half-time with goals from Kheira Hamraoui, Aitana Bonmati and Patricia Guijarro.  After the break the onslaught continued and two more goals from Andressa Alves and Maria Leon ensured a thumping first leg win for the Spanish team.

Other Champions League scores:

Wolfsburg 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Zurich 0-2 Bayern Munich
Ajax 0-4 Lyon (a goal for Izzy Christiansen for Lyon in this match)
FC Rosengard 2-3 Slavia Praha
Linkoping 0-2 Paris St Germain
Lillestrom SK 1-1 Brondby

The Round of 16 second leg matches are 31 October and 1 November.

Football – English Domestic

Arsenal are on Fire, as the current idiom would have it.  They put five past Chelsea at the weekend away from home to stay top of the table, but they need to watch out as Manchester City also seems to be hitting their straps at last.

Super League Results from Sunday 14 October:

Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City
Mannion 75’

Everton 3-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
Kaagman 27’, George 46’, Kelly 70’
Buet 2’, Brazil 75’ 78’

Liverpool 2-1 Yeovil Town
Linnett 18’, Clarke 87’
Heatherson 28’

Manchester City 7-1 West Ham United
Weir 2’, Parris 7’ 17’, Stanway 72’ 80’, Houghton 76’, Wullaert 86’
De Graaf 82’

Chelsea 0-5 Arsenal
Little 21’ (pen), Miedema 38’ 57’, Nobbs 52’ 67’

On the negative side for Arsenal, Scotland striker Kim Little fractured her leg in the match and will be out for approximately 10 weeks.  According to social media it was a bad tackle by Drew Spence that took her out and she should have been red carded, although she was only booked.

Arsenal are top from Birmingham City on goal difference.  Both teams have 12 points, the Gunners from four games and the Blues from five.  Manchester City are a point behind in third.  At the bottom, Yeovil are still without a point and Brighton are above them with just one.

Championship results from 14 October:

Millwall Lionesses 1-2 Leicester City
Lumsden 20’
Axten 61’ 77’

Crystal Palace 1-0 London Bees
Hincks 21’

Aston Villa 0-0 Durham

Lewes 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Kempson 14’
Baptiste 16’, Dean 32’ 45’

Manchester United 3-0 Charlton Athletic
Zelem 16’, Sigsworth 57’, Arnott 75’

Who can stop Manchester United from running away with it?  They are top with 13 points from five games.  Spurs are second a point behind, but from four games, and Leicester are third with nine from five.  At the bottom, Villa and Millwall have a point each but Villa have a terrible goal difference (-17).

Athletics

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  The introduction of the IAAF’s new testosterone rules has had to be delayed due to a legal challenge from Athletics South African (ASA) and 800m runner Caster Semenya.

The new ruling was due to come in on 1 November, but that has now been put back to 26 March 2019.

However, the ruling states that female athletes have to keep their testosterone levels below the prescribed amount for at least six months before competing.

This means that the athletes affected (primarily Semenya), will not be allowed to run for six months from the date the rule comes in.  If the March date happens, six months from then will be 26 September, just one day before the start of the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

More to come as it happens.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey league Premier Division

Last weekend’s results were as follows:

Holcombe 2-1 Canterbury
Beeston 4-3 Clifton Robinsons
Surbiton 1-0 University of Birmingham
Slough 0-3 East Grinstead
Buckingham 2-1 Bowdon

So the Surbiton juggernaut rolls on.  They are top on 10 points from four games.  Second are Holcombe with the same points but an inferior goal difference.  Buckingham lie third on eight points.  At the bottom Slough lost again and still have only one point.  Canterbury and Bowdon are just above them with two.

This weekend’s fixtures:

20 October:
Surbiton v Bowdon (12 noon, Surbiton Hockey Club)
University of Birmingham v Canterbury (4pm, Birmingham Uni P1)

21 October
Buckingham v Beeston (12 noon, Stowe School P1)
Clifton Robinsons v Slough (1pm, Coombe Dingle, P1)
Holcombe v East Grinstead (2pm, Holcombe Hockey Club, P1)

Rugby Union

Premier 15s

Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:

DMP Sharks 15-7 Richmond
Saracens 21-5 Wasps
Loughborough Lightning 36-18 Bristol Bears
Worcester Valkyries 19-69 Harlequins
Firwood Waterloo 10-43 Gloucester-Hartpury

After five games Saracens are top with 24 points.  Loughborough are second with the same number of points but an inferior goal difference.  Harlequins are third on 18.  At the bottom, Worcester have only two points having lost all of their games so far.  Firwood Waterloo lie above them on five.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

20 October
Wasps v Richmond (2pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Bristol Bears v Firwood Waterloo (2.30pm, Shaftsbury Park)
Harlequins v Saracens (3pm, Surrey Sports Park)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Worcester Valkyries (4.30pm)
Loughborough Lightning v DMP Sharks (5pm, Loughborough University)

Young Sports Personality of the Year

The shortlist for Young Sports Personality of the Year has been announced.  There are six girls and women in the list of 10:

Kare Adenegan (17) (Para-athletics)
Freya Anderson (17) (Swimming)
Georgia-Mae Fenton (17) (Gymnastics)
Anna Hursey (12) (Table tennis)
Georgia Roche (17) (Rugby League)
Maisie Summers-Newton (16) (Para-Swimming)

Check out the credentials of the contenders here

Netball

A full house at the Copper Box saw Wasps Netball win the second Fast5 Allstars tournament at the weekend.  They beat the benecosMavericks 42-32 in the final.

The series of results were as follows:

Double elimination stage

Loughborough Lightning 19-21 Surrey Storm
Strathclyde Sirens 4-15 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-18 Manchester Thunder
benecosMavericks 31-41 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 12-28 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-37 Wasps Netball
Loughborough Lightning 32-28 Strathclyde Sirens
Manchester Thunder 22-32 bencosMavericks
Surrey Storm 15-6 Loughborough Lightning
Team Bath 21-47 benecosMavericks

Semi-Finals
Wasps Netball 45-36 Surrey Storm
Severn Stars 8-38 benecosMavericks

The Final
Wasps Netball 42-32 benecosMavericks

There are a number of “warm-up” tournaments before the Vitality Netball Superleague begins in January.  Check out your favourite team’s website to see who they’re playing.

Sunshine Series

Meanwhile England Roses have suffered a disappointing series defeat against Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls in Kingston.  England were without some of their star names, but with the World Cup next year, Tracy Neville will be concerned that none of the three matches was particularly close.

First Test
Jamaica 55-43 England

Second Test
Jamaica 58-39 England

Third Test
Jamaica 58-43 England

Cricket

It was an easy a start to a series as Australia could wish for as they demolished Pakistan in a rain-affected first ODI in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Pakistan 95 all out (37.2 overs)
Australia 95/5 chasing revised target of 92 (22.2 overs)
Australia won by five wickets with 112 balls remaining

The rain hit when Pakistan were 76/6 and reduced the game to 41 overs per side, but Pakistan were in deep trouble already by then.  Sana Mir made 21 not out and captain Javeria Khan also made 21, but Megan Schutt took 3/17 from 7.2 overs and Nicola Carey 3/19 off 7 as the home side slumped to 95 all out.

Australia’s target was revised to 92 via the D/L method.  They started well with an opening stand of 40 before Alyssa Healy was out for 26 in the seventh over.  Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry went cheaply (four and one respectively), both wickets falling to Sana Mir, who eventually took 3/26 in seven overs.  After Nicole Bolton was out for 22 it was up to Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney to see it home.  Haynes was out with just one needed, but Ash Gardner came in to back up Mooney and take the win.

The only real positive for Pakistan is that they took five Australian wickets.

Reports from the rest of the series next week.

Golf

Laura Davies has won the Senior LPGA in Indiana.  She finished four ahead of the field on -8.  Helen Alfredsson of Sweden and Silvia Cavalleri of the US were tied for second on -4.  Of the other British players, Trish Johnson finished on +3 and Catriona Matthew +4.

This is Davies’ second senior major win of the year, after winning the US Senior Women’s Open in July.

And Finally,

I have neither the space nor time do justice to the subjects of this week’s “And Finally”.

This week Chelsea winger Karen Carney received abuse, rape and death threats on Instagram after Chelsea’s win over Fiorentina on Wednesday.

You will know how much I tend to “go on” about the abuse women receive on social media and on “Have Your Say” sections of websites, but there has been talk that the abuse of Carney is of “another level”.  Is it?  Is it not part of the same systematic degradation of women in sport (and in other areas of public life) that goes on every day?  It’s despicable and unacceptable and sends chills right through me, but I would say, seeing the stuff that gets through the comments pages, I would imagine it is probably on a level with those comments that are “moderated and removed because they have broken house rules.”

No-one should have to contend with this, be they woman or man – no-one should be threatened for doing their job, be that on the pitch, as a journalist, an administrator or an activist.

What is on “another level”, however, is the news from Mexico that a woman who spent her life working to promote women’s football, Marbella Ibarra, has been murdered.  It is not known whether her links to football made her a target, but it has certainly brought home to me yet again that while words are upsetting and unacceptable, women all over the world are being killed or suffer violence for their thoughts, actions and stances.

Read the full story of the death of Marbella Ibarra here

I in no way mean to belittle what Carney and many, many other women have gone through – goodness knows I try to highlight it and call it out as much as I can.  I also realise that violent words can often escalate into violent behaviour, so we should always investigate this kind of abuse and find out the motivation behind it.  But I also realise that social media is not the be-all and end-all of life.  Some people are living through real-life horror stories every day.  And some may not survive it.

More news and views next week.   

Women’s Sports Column 29 September – 5 October 2018

laura 1Welcome to this week’s column.  After a slightly ranty piece last week, hopefully this week’s will be a bit calmer (but also longer!).  There’s another bit of “feedback” on women’s football in this week’s “And finally”, but I’m sure you’ll all be able to appreciate the irony when you read it – it certainly made me laugh!  Hey ho.   Stories this week come from tennis, football, netball, cricket, rugby union, athletics, motorcycling (yay!), hockey, rugby league and volleyball.

So plenty to get through.  Let’s crack on.

Tennis

Wuhan Open

After Wang Qiang had retired in the first semi-final against Anett Kontaveit (6-2 2-1), the second semi-final was won by Aryna Sabalenka.  She beat the last remaining seed, Ash Barty (16), 7-6 6-4.

The final saw a straight sets win for Sabalenka 6-3 6-3 over Kontaveit.

This week the WTA tour moves on to Beijing for the China Open.

China Open

Still no joy for Jo Konta as she departed the China Open in the first round, beaten by 10th seed Julia Goerges of Germany 6-2 4-6 6-3.

British number three Katie Boulter also fell in round one after coming through qualifying, losing to Kirsten Flipkens 4-6 6-2 7-5.

And to complete a miserable trio of results, British number two Heather Watson didn’t even make it to the main draw, losing in the final round of qualifying 6-0 6-3 to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Other top names to fall in the first round proper were Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina.  Simona Halep had to retire with a back injury.

 Three out of the four quarter-finals have been completed at the time of publishing:

Caroline Wozniacki (2) beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 7-6
Naomi Osaka (8) beat Zhang Shuai 3-6 6-4 7-5

Still to play: Wang Qiang v Aryna Sabalenka

Sevastova will face Osaka in the first semi-final on Saturday 6 October

In the doubles the semi-final line-up is:

Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova (7) v Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yifan (3)
Elise Merterns/Demi Schuurs (4)v Barbora Strycova/Andrea Sestini Hlavackova (2)

Both matches to be played Saturday 6 October.

Race to Singapore

We’re only two weeks away from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore and, as it stands, only three places have definitely been bagged.  US Open champion Naomi Osaka has become the latest to qualify for her first WTA Finals.  There is also still some doubt as to Simona Halep’s fitness, after she pulled out of the China Open this week.

Top 20 singles players with their points as of 1 October:

Simona Halep (6911) (Q)
Angelique Kerber (5256) (Q)
Naomi Osaka (4351) (Q)
Petra Kvitova (4300)
Caroline Wozniacki (4087)
Elina Svitolina (3841)
Sloane Stephens (3824)
Karolina Pliskova (3601)
Kiki Bertens (3591)
Elise Mertens (3080)
Aryna Sabalenka (2990)
Serena Williams (2976)
Daria Kasatkina (2920)
Madison Keys (2752)
Julia Goerges (2715)
Garbine Muguruza (2606)
Ashleigh Barty (2475)
Anastasija Sevastova (2465)
Caroline Garcia (2360)
Jelena Ostapenko (2299)

Netball

The fixtures for the 2019 Netball Superleague are out.  Check out where your favourite team will be and when at https://www.netballsl.com/competition/fixtures/

The first weekend will be a “Super 10” event where all 10 teams will be in action, this time at the Arena Birmingham on Saturday 5 January 2019.

Tickets went on sale on Thursday 4 October.  It will sell out – so get your tickets as soon as possible.

Cricket

With Sri Lanka v India done and dusted and West Indies v South Africa drawing to a close, it’s now the turn of the Southern Stars and White Ferns to complete their T20 World Cup warm up series.

Second T20 – Tarouba
28 September
South Africa 101/8 (20 overs)
West Indies 102/1 (15.8 overs)
West Indies won by 9 wickets with 27 balls remaining

West Indies went 2-0 up in this five-match series with another good performance.  Offspinner Anisa Mohammed took only the ninth hat-trick in women’s T20 history as South Africa were restricted to just 101.  She finished with figures of 5/24 from her four overs.

Lizelle Lee went for a 12-ball duck, but fellow-opener Dane van Niekerk top-scored with 36 as South Africa tried to build a total.  Three other players made decent double figure scores, but Mohammed then took three wickets from the last three balls of the innings to keep the total down.

West Indies made short work of the chase, losing only one wicket (Hayley Matthews for 17), in the process.  Natasha McLean scored 42 and Stafanie Taylor 35 as West Indies won with more than four overs to spare.

Third T20
29 September

Abandoned without a ball being bowled

There are still two T20s to go, on 5 and 7 October.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Southern Stars have just whitewashed New Zealand in a three-match T20 series played over a week.  They will then play them in a three-match ODI series starting in February 2019.

Australia were too strong all-round for New Zealand in this series.  All three matches followed the same format with New Zealand batting first, not making enough and Australia knocking them off.  By match three, New Zealand’s confidence was obviously knocked allowing Australia to press home their advantage to win easily.

First T20
New Zealand 162/5 (20 overs)
Australia 164/4 (17.4 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 14 balls remaining

With Suzie Bates out for just three, bowled by Ellyse Perry, it was up Sophie Devine and Jess Watkin to take it on.  Watkin made 18 from 15 balls before she was stumped by Alyssa Healy.  Devine carried on, making 43 from 33 before she was caught by Beth Mooney off the bowling of Ash Gardner. New captain Amy Satterthwaite fell cheaply for just two, but Katey Martin top-scored with 56 not out from just 34 balls as the White Ferns set a competitive target.

Australia started badly, losing the top four for 45, but captain Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes steadied the ship and then took on the chase.  Lanning scored 6 off 44 and Haynes 69 off 40 as New Zealand were unable to take any further wickets and Australia got home in the eighteenth over.

Second T20
New Zealand 145/8 (20 overs)
Australia 149/4 (18.5 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 7 balls remaining

Suzie Bates led from the front with 77 from 52 balls, but there was precious little below her backing her up.  Amy Satterthwaite was the next best scorer with 27.  Megan Schutt was the star with the ball for Australia, taking 3/15 from her four overs.

In response, Mooney went for a three-ball duck, but Healy scored 57 and Elyse Villani 50 not out to get Australia on their way.  It was a closer affair, but the Southern Stars still managed to reach their target in the penultimate over.

Third T20
New Zealand 103 all out (18.6 overs)
Australia 105/1 (12.3 overs)
Australia won by 9 wickets with 45 balls remaining

The third game was the least competitive.  New Zealand were battered and bruised and barely put up a fight.

New Zealand seemed to be batting in slow motion.  The openers scored 11 each but took up 27 balls in the process.  The only batting of note came from Katey Martin who was 35 not out by the end.  Perry was fearsome, taking 4/21 from her four overs.   Sophie Molineux took 3/11 from four.

It was never enough and Australia set about the chase with gusto.  Healy pushed it from the off, scoring 67 from 44 balls and by the time she was out, caught Tahuhu, bowled Devine, the game was effectively done (98/1).  Beth Mooney ended with 29 not out and Ash Gardner 5 not out as Australia romped home with more than seven overs to spare.

Anyone betting against Australia for the World T20?  I’m certainly not.

England

The England squad for the T20 World Cup in November has been announced and contains three as yet uncapped players.

The squad in full: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Dani Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Linsey Smith, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.

Sarah Taylor is rested, as part of the management of her mental health and Amy Jones takes up the gloves.  Of course Taylor is a hard act to follow, but from what I saw of Jones in the summer, her keeping has really come on and she will be, excuse me, a safe pair of hands.

Two of the uncapped players are from Loughborough Lightning.  Linsey Smith and Kirstie Gordon are both left-arm spinners.  Although Gordon has played for Scotland the games did not have first-class status.

All-rounder Sophia Dunkley earned her place after a storming Kia Super League season with champions Surrey Stars.

Alex Hartley, Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh are among the big names to miss out.

Rugby Union

Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:

29 September
Bristol Bears 41-14 DMP Sharks
Gloucester-Hartpury 40-41 Loughborough Lightning (Lightning won with the last play of the game)
Wasps 29-10 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins 27-6 Firwood Waterloo
Richmond 12-30 Saracens

It’s four from four for Saracens with a full complement of bonus points.  They sit top of the table with 20 points.  Loughborough Lightning are second with 19 and Wasps third with 15.  At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries have two losing bonus points from four games and DMP Sharks are second bottom with five.

There are no Premier 15s fixtures this weekend.

Rugby League

The last round of league fixtures in the Super League took place last weekend.  This weekend sees the play-offs.

Friday 28 September
St Helens 24-14 Castleford Tigers

Sunday 30 September
York City Knights 6-50 Leeds Rhinos
Wigan Warriors 26-8 Bradford Bulls

Leeds Rhinos finished top in the regular season with 20 points from 12 games.  Wigan finished just one behind and St Helens were third with 17.

Play-offs

Sunday 7 October
Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers (1pm)
Wigan Warriors v St Helens (2pm)

The play-off winners will face each other in the Women’s Super League Grand Final at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday 13 October at 1pm.  The Women’s Championship Grand Final will be the curtain raiser to the main event and begins at 11am.  Tickets can be purchased on the gate; £5 for adults and free for under-16s.  So if you’re in the area on Saturday 13, get out there and show them some support.

Football

Sunday 30 September

FAWSL results:

Birmingham City 2-3 Manchester City
McManus ‘8 (OG – check it out if you haven’t seen it – also features in “And finally”), Sargeant 49’
Weir 54’, Parris 65’, Wullaert 73’

Chelsea 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Kirby 32’, Cuthbert 36’

Liverpool 0-1 Reading
Chaplen 36’

Bristol City p-p Everton

West Ham United 2-1 Yeovil Town
Kiernan 67’, Kmita 80
Mason 78’

Arsenal are still top, although they didn’t play last weekend.  They have nine points from three matches.  They are ahead on goal difference from Birmingham City, who have nine from four.  Manchester City lie third on eight points.  At the bottom, both Yeovil and Brighton are still to get off the mark.

FAWC results:

Manchester United 0-0 Durham

Charlton Athletic 4-1 Lewes
Clifford 9’, Gurr 60’, Agg 79’, Graham 85’
Bergin 77’ (Pen)

Crystal Palace 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Balfour 8’ (Pen)
Dean 15’, Addison 65’

Leicester City 4-2 London Bees
Axten 2’, Ayisi 33’, Dugmore 40’, Nymoen 82’
Littlejohn 50’ (Pen) 70’

Sheffield United 4-1 Aston Villa
Jones 4’ 51’ 71’, Paul 35’ (Pen)
Welsh 25’

In the Championship, Manchester United are top, their goal-scoring bonanza having come to an abrupt halt against Durham, with 10 points from four games.  Tottenham are second with nine from three with Lewes third on nine from four games and with a worse goal difference.  At the bottom, Aston Villa are the only side yet to register a point.

Champions League

The draw for the last 16 was made on Monday 1 October:

FC Zurich (SUI) v Bayern Munchen (GER)
Wolfsburg (GER) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Ajax (NED) v Lyon (FRA)
Barcelona (ESP) v Glasgow City (SCO)
Linkoping (SWE) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Chelsea (ENG) v Fiorentina (ITA)
FC Rosengard (SWE) v Slavia Praha (CZE)
LSK Kvinner (NOR) v Brondby (DEN)

Both Glasgow City and Chelsea have difficult draws.  Ties will be played on 17-18 October and 31 October-1 November.

FA Women’s National League Cup

The draw for the second round of the League Cup has also been made:

Huddersfield Town v Burnley FC
Stoke City v Norton & Stockton Ancients
Derby County v Bolton Wanderers
Hull City v Birmingham & West Midlands
Brighouse Town v Leeds United
Blackburn Rovers v Fylde
Nottingham Forest v Chorley FC
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland AFC
Billericay Town v Chichester City
Cambridge United v Leyton Orient
Cardiff City v Cheltenham Town
Queens Park Rangers v Loughborough Foxes
Oxford United v Crawley Wasps
Larkhall Athletic v AFC Wimbledon
Southampton v Plymouth
Watford v Coventry

Ties will be played on 14 October.

Lionesses

Don’t forget England Lionesses play two friendlies in the next week.  On Saturday 6 October they face Brazil at Notts County (12.30pm kick off) and on Tuesday Australia will be the visitors at Craven Cottage, Fulham (7pm).  Tickets will be available on the gate.

Scottish football

There was a really good piece on the BBC website this week about Scottish Women’s Football (SWF), in which the chair, Vivienne MacLaren stated that the organisation would not consider sponsorship from alcohol or gambling companies.

In an interview with BBC Scotland she said,

“Over 80% of our members who play football are in youth teams and are under 18,”

“I understand why, in the men’s game and other sports, it fits very well with what they are trying to do.

“But, for us, it is very much family-orientated. Even in our senior teams, there are many players who are under 18.

“We know it is a minority of people with issues around alcohol and gambling, but they are still serious issues.

“We want wee girls playing football to have positive role models and a bit of a cleaner view of life.”

We all know how women’s sport struggles for sponsorship, but I absolutely applaud SWF’s stance.  I am absolutely sick to death of gambling adverts every five minutes during games, posters on billboards and logos on shirts.  The UK has serious problems with both alcohol and gambling without sports viewed by millions of people a week being bombarded with advertising for both.  Let’s hope that companies from other sectors take their chance to sponsor some quality sport.

Check out the full interview here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45704266

World Cup Qualification

There is one European World Cup place still up for grabs.  This Friday, the four best-placed runners-up will play the first leg of a two-legged play-off for the right to compete in the two-legged play-off final on 5 and 13 November.

Netherlands v Denmark
Belgium v Switzerland

The second leg is on Tuesday 9 October.  News of both legs will be in next week’s column.

Motorcycling

It’s not often I get to feature any form of motorsport in this column.  Obviously, there’s a very good, albeit very disappointing reason for this – it’s still largely a boys’ club.  But this week we have a good news story from the world of motorcycling.

Ana Carrasco, aged just 21, has become the first woman to win a motorbike world title.

She won the World Supersport 300 title by one point from fellow-Spaniard Mika Perez.

She won her first race in the series in Portugal in 2017.  Since then she has gone from strength to strength, finally taking the championship lead in May at Imola.

She started from 25th position on Sunday at Magny-Cours and finished 13th, which was enough to take the title.

Here’s hoping this high-profile success will inspire other young women and girls to take up the sport.

Athletics

Great Scottish Run

Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia won the Great Scottish Run half-marathon on Sunday in a time of 1:09:15.  Rose Chelimo of Kenya finished second in 1:10:07 with Alia Gray of USA in third with a time of 1:13:32.

Volleyball

I rarely feature volleyball and I really feel I should.  It’s a great team sport and in the equality stakes it rates highly.  I suggest you all check out the Volleyball England website.  It’s clear, informative and easy to use.  I’ll outline the basics here, but go and check it out for yourselves.  And if you find you’re in the area of a game, go and see it.

https://www.volleyballengland.org/competitions/national_volleyball_league

The NVL (National Volleyball League) is the top competition for volleyball in England.  The men’s and women’s competitions are organised in the same way.  The top league is the National Super League with National Division 1, National Division 2 and 3 National Division 3 beneath them.

I’m going to concentrate on the Super League, with apologies to everyone else.  The structure is a new one, so we’re all learning together.  From 2019-20 there will be 10 teams in the Super League, but this year (2018-19) there are nine.  All teams play each other once before Christmas and then the league splits into two halves.

The top half plays each other twice to determine positions one to five and the bottom half plays each other twice to determine sixth to tenth (ninth this year). The team that finishes bottom is relegated and the team finishing ninth (eighth this year) plays-off against the team which finishes second in NVL division one.

Got that?  Good.

There has only been one fixture so far this season:

Bristol VC1 2-3 London Orcas

I’ll try to remember to include scores when appropriate, but if I do forget, please check out the website.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

29 September results:
Surbiton 1-0 Clifton Robinsons
East Grinstead 2-1 Beeston
Holcombe 1-1 Buckingham
Bowdon 2-2 Canterbury
University of Birmingham 2-1 Slough

After two games Surbiton are top with maximum points.  Then come three teams on four points.  Slough are bottom and the only team yet to pick up a point.

This weekend’s fixtures:

6 October
Clifton Robinsons v Holcombe (1pm, Coombe Dingle Pitch 1)
University of Birmingham v Buckingham (1.30pm, Birmingham Uni Pitch 1)
Bowdon v Beeston (1.45pm, Bowdon Club)
Canterbury v Slough (4pm, Polo Farm SC, Pitch 1)
East Grinstead v Surbiton (4pm, East Grinstead Hockey Club)

And finally,

You just have to laugh – no, really.  The BBC ran a “story” on Tuesday where it invited comments on which was the worst own goal of the weekend; Abbie McManus (Manchester City) and two from male footballers, one from Stuttgart and one from Olympiakos.  “Right,” I thought, “Here we go.  Fill your boots chaps, go for it all you women’s football-haters, just go for it.  Now’s your chance to come up with the highly original ‘all female ‘keepers are rubbish’, line.”  I looked briefly at the comments, only to find the first said something like “why do you put women’s football in with this?  You should not be giving it space.” And I thought, “Wow, way to absolutely make a complete mess of it…..”

And, and finally,

Apparently, according to the BBC a new study has found that 84% of “general sports fans” are interested in women’s sport.  More than half of the number surveyed were men.  The countries included in the survey were the UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.  It was found that 51% of men surveyed were supportive of women’s sport.

Check out the facts and figures here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/45737718

I’m always healthily sceptical of such surveys and I certainly wouldn’t use the figures to “prove” or “disprove” anything – I gather the chap mentioned in this week’s “And finally” was probably not among the 51%………

More news and views next week.

Women’s Sports Column 22-28 September 2018

the-ball-stadion-football-the-pitch-39362Tennis

Pan Pacific Open

Karolina Pliskova claimed the Pan Pacific Open singles title by beating US Open champion Naomi Osaka, in the final, 6-4 6-4.

Third seed Osaka had defeated the unseeded Camila Georgi in the semi-final 6-2 6-3, while fourth seed Pliskova overcame Donna Vekic 6-2 4-6 6-3.

There was a surprise result In the doubles with top seeds Barbora Strycova and Andrea Sistini Hlavackova losing out to the unseeded Japanese pairing of Miyu Cato and Makoto Ninomiya 6-4 6-4.

Wuhan

This week we’re on to the Wuhan Open.  Top Briton Jo Konta perished in the first round, losing to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, 7-5 6-4.

The quarter-finals went as follows:

Anett Kontaveit beat Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-6
Wang Qiang beat Monica Puig 6-3 6-1
Aryna Sabalenka beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-5 6-3
Ash Barty (16) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 5-7 6-4

So Barty is the final seed standing and the semi-finals are on 28 September.  One has already happened with Wang unfortunately having to retire with an injury:

Anett Kontaveit v Wang Qiang 6-2 2-1 (retired)
Aryna Sabalenka v Ash Barty (16)

Netball

Australia duly claimed their fourth Quad Series title as they won all three of their matches.  The third round comprised two closely fought matches, ending in wins for the Diamonds over the Silver Ferns and the Roses over the Proteas.

Round Three – 23 September
Melbourne Arena
England 45-42 South Africa

Helen Housby scored 31 points from 35 attempts as England came back from a seven-goal deficit (20-27) at half-time to take the tie.

By the end of the third quarter England trailed by only one point, 32-33.

But South Africa came again and were 38-41 up until the Roses scored seven without reply to take a 44-41 lead and the game ended 45-42.

Australia 60-55 New Zealand

Caitlin Bassett lead from the front once more as she scored 46 points from 50 attempts (92%) as Australia took their third win in three games, and with it the Quad Series title.  The Diamonds were as many as 10 goals ahead in the final quarter, but the Silver Ferns pulled it back to make the gap just five by the end.

The new Vitality Super League season is getting nearer and there have been plenty of signings, re-signings and moves over the close season.  For all the latest news see the Super League website.

Table Tennis

Li Qian of Poland won the women’s singles final at the European Table Tennis Championships in Alicante, Spain.  She defeated Margarita Pesotska of Ukraine 8-11 10-12 11-6 11-6 11-2 11-2.

Nina Mittelham and Kristin Lang of Germany won the Women’s Doubles, beating Sofia Polcanova of Austria and Yana Noskova of Russia 10-12 11-8 11-6 4-11 11-9 7-11 12-14.

The Mixed Doubles title went to Han Ying and Ruwen Filus of Germany.  The number two seeds beat the number four seeds Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova of Austria, 11-7 9-11 11-4 9-11 11-8.

Football
Champions League

There were mixed fortunes for Britain’s sides in the last 32 of the Champions League this week.  Chelsea went through comfortably, Glasgow City also qualified, but Manchester City went out.

The results in full:

Brondby 1-0 Juventus
(Brondby win 3-2 on aggregate)

Wolfsburg 2-0 Thor/KA
(Wolfsburg win 3-0 on aggregate)

Barcelona 3-0 BIIK Kazygurt
(Barcelona win 4-3 on aggregate)

Sparta Praha 1-2 Ajax
(Ajax win 4-1 on aggregate)

Linkoping 4-0 Zhytlobud-1
(Linkoping 10-1 on aggregate)

Fortuna Hjorring 0-2 Fiorentina
(Fiorentina win 4-0)

Rosengard 2-0 Ryazan
(Rosengard win 3-0 on aggregate)

Bayern 4-0 ZFK Spartak
(Bayern win 11-0 on aggregate)

Manchester City 0-2 Atletico Madrid
(Atletico Madrid win 1-3 on aggregate)
With the score 1-1 after the first leg, City would have been confident of doing the job and progressing into the last 16.  But they were behind within four minutes through Silvia Meseguer.  They were two ahead before half-time when Ludmila da Silva slotted home.  Jen Beattie had had a goal disallowed towards the end, but the tie was already lost.

Chelsea 6-0 Sarajevo
(Chelsea win 11-0 on aggregate)
It was an easy and convincing win for Chelsea as they carried through a 5-0 lead from the first leg to score another six at home.  Drew Spence got the first, and they were two-up by half-time as Fran Kirby bagged the second.  After the break there were further scores from Maren Mjelde, Kirby with her second, Hannah Blundell and Erin Cuthbert.

Zvezda 2005 0-1 Lillestrom
(LSK win 4-0 on aggregate)

Lyon 5-0 Avaldsnes
(Lyon win 7-0 on aggregate)

Slavia Praha 4-0 Gintra
(Slavia Praha win 7-0 on aggregate)

Zurich 5-1 Honka
(Zurich win 6-1 on aggregate)

Paris SG 2-1 St Polten
(PSG win 6-1 on aggregate)

Glasgow City 0-1 Barcelona FA (Cyprus)
(Glasgow City win 2-1 on aggregate)
Glasgow did the hard work in the first leg, sealing a 2-0 win so that a home defeat still saw them go through.  Krystyna Freda gave the away side the early lead, but they couldn’t score again and indeed in the second-half Glasgow had plenty of chances to stretch further ahead on aggregate.

There was a full Super League and Championship programme at the weekend:

FAWSL
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-1 Liverpool
Arsenal 4-3 West Ham United
Everton 0-0 Chelsea
Manchester City 2-2 Bristol City
Reading 0-1 Birmingham City

Most teams have now played three games.  Arsenal are top with three wins from three and a goal difference of +13.  Birmingham City are second; they have nine points but a goal difference of only +3.  Manchester City are in third with five points.  At the bottom Yeovil and Brighton are yet to take a point, although Yeovil have only played two games.

FAWC
Durham 2-2 Charlton Athletic
Tottenham Hotspur p-p Sheffield United
Lewes 4-3 Leicester City
London Bees 0-5 Manchester United
Millwall Lionesses 1-1 Crystal Palace

Needless to say Manchester United top the Championship with three wins from three and a whopping goal difference of +20.  Lewes are second with nine points but a vastly inferior goal difference of just +5. Tottenham are third on six points, but from only two games.  At the bottom Aston Villa and Sheffield United have yet to take a point.

The SSE FA Cup third round of qualifying draw was made on Monday 24 September.  The fixtures are as follows:

West Didsbury & Chorlton v Bolton Wanderers
Leeds United v Boro Rangers
Norton & Stockton Ancients v Redcar Town
FC United of Manchester v Bridlington Rovers
Chorley v Crewe Alexandra
Chesterfield or Burton Albion v Stockport County
Brighouse Town v Burnley
Newcastle United v Chester Le Street Town
Sporting Khalsa v Long Eaton United
Kidderminster Harriers v Solihull Moors
Leicester City Women Development v Oadby & Wigston
Birmingham & West Midlands v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Leafield Athletic v West Bromwich Albion
Nettleham v Histon
Norwich City v Enfield Town
Acle United v Cambridge City
Cambridge United or Harlow Town v Stevenage
Wymondham Town v Billericay Town
Chesham United v Denham United or Crawley Wasps
Islington Borough v New London Lionesses
Ashford Town (Middx) v Kent Football United or Burgess Hill Town
AFC Wimbledon v Godalming Town
Whyteleafe v Queens Park Rangers Girls or Royston Town
Luton Town v Oxford City
Newhaven v AFC Bournemouth
Buckland Athletic or Ilminster Town v Marine Academy Plymouth
Eastleigh v Poole Town
Keynsham Town v Southampton Saints or Warsash Wasps
Southampton FC Ladies v Larkhall Athletic
Cheltenham Town v Exeter City

Ties take place on Sunday 7 October, with the first round proper on Sunday 11 November.

Euro 2021 Finals

The FA has submitted a bid to stage the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 finals in England.  The decision on who will host the tournament will be made at the UEFA Executive Committee meeting on 3 December 2018.

It has been proposed that Wembley Stadium will host the final and the eight cities and towns to be included in the bid are:

Brighton & Hove – AMEX Stadium
London – Wembley Stadium connected by EE and Brentford Community Stadium
Milton Keynes – Stadium MK
Manchester – Manchester City Academy Stadium
Nottingham – Meadow Lane
Peterborough – ABAX Stadium
Rotherham – AESSEAL New York Stadium
Sheffield – Bramall Lane

Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s director of women’s football, said:

“We have made great strides in growing participation, support and success at all levels throughout women’s and girls’ football, of which we can be rightly proud.

“In ‘The Gameplan for Growth’ strategy, launched in March last year, we set ourselves some challenging targets which we are on course to achieve, but we are impatient to accelerate the development of the sport.

“There is no question that the opportunity to host such a prestigious tournament would provide us with an incredible catalyst for the future growth of the game at all levels.”

You know my views on the FA and its capabilities, or lack thereof.  I have no doubt, however, that it (and the clubs/grounds involved) could host a brilliant tournament.  Apparently, there were no other bidders within the closing date.  So, let’s hope the FA put a sufficiently convincing case forward – it would be a bit embarrassing if it was the only bidder and still couldn’t be awarded the event.

Best Fifa Football Awards

Brazil and Orlando Pride forward, Marta was adjudged Best Female Footballer at the weekend.  It is the sixth time she has won the award.

The awards ceremony, the voting system for which drew plenty of criticism, was held in London.

Marta drew 14.73% of the votes, Dzsenifer Marozan was second with 12.86% and Ada Hegerberg, third with 12.60%.

The Best Women’s Coach award went to Lyon manager Reynald Pedros.  In his first season at the club they won the French league and Women’s Champions League double.

Pedros took 23.15% of the vote.  Sarina Wiegman (Head Coach of Netherlands) was second with 15.31% of the vote and Asako Takakura (Head Coach of Japan) third with 12.80%.

More on this – the sad, misogynist side in this week’s “And Finally”.

In other awards news, France Football has created a new women’s Ballon d’Or.  The winner will be voted for by a panel of specialist women’s football journalists (a move that will, no doubt, go down like a lead ballon with the Neanderthals out there).

The Ballon d’Or was first awarded in 1956 so I think it’s pretty much about time there was a women’s equivalent.

The nominees for the award will be revealed on Monday, October 8.

World Judo Championships

It has been a difficult week for Britain’s women at the World Judo Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan this week.

It began well with a silver medal for Nekoda Smythe-Davis in the -57kg category – Britain’s first silver medal at the championships since 2009.  Smythe-Davis, who is the world number five, lost in the final to world number two Tsukasa Yoshida of Japan.  The Briton beat world number one Sumiya Dorjsuren from Mongolia in the semi-final.

But Natalie Powell (world number two) went out in the third round of the -78kg category, losing to world number 14 Klara Apoteker of Slovenia.

Sally Conway missed out on a bronze as she lost to Yoko Ono of Japan in the -70kg repechage and Sarah Adlington lost at the same stage in the +78kg class, losing to world number two Larisa Ceric of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

It was the start of the season last weekend and reigning champions Surbiton got off to a fine start in defence of their title.

22 September
Holcombe 2-0 Bowdon
Canterbury 0-1 Clifton Robinsons
Beeston 2-2 University of Birmingham
Slough 0-4 Surbiton
Buckingham 2-1 East Grinstead

This weekend’s fixtures are:
29 September
University of Birmingham v Slough (1pm, Birmingham Uni, Pitch 1)
Bowdon v Canterbury (1.45pm, Bowdon Club)
East Grinstead v Beeston (4pm, East Grinstead Hockey Club)
Holcombe v Buckingham (4pm, Holcombe Hockey Club, Pitch 1)
Surbiton v Clifton Robinsons (4pm, Surbiton Hockey Club)

Rugby Union

There was a full round of Tyrell’s Premier 15s fixtures at the weekend:

22 September 2018
Firwood Waterloo 14-52 Wasps
Worcester Valkyries 12-43 Richmond Women
DMP Sharks 0-61 Saracens
Bristol Bears 43-5 Gloucester Hartpury
Loughborough Lightning 41-17 Harlequins

After three games, Saracens are top on 15 points including three bonus points.  Loughborough are second on 14 and Wasps third on 10.  At the bottom Worcester have only two bonus points and DMP Sharks are just above them on five.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

29 September
Bristol Bears v DMP Sharks (12pm, Shaftesbury Park)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Loughborough lightning (1pm, venue TBA)
Wasps v Worcester Valkyries (2pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Harlequins v Firwood Waterloo (3.30pm, Surrey Sports Park)

30 September
Richmond Women v Saracens (3.30pm, Richmond Athletic Ground)

It was announced this week that the Tyrell’s Premier 15s final will be held at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton on Saturday 27 April 2019.  Kick-off will be 5.45pm.

Rugby League

Just one result from the Super League from the weekend:

Castleford Tigers 34-8 Featherstone Rovers

So Leeds Rhinos are still top on 18 points from 11 games, with Wigan Warriors just one point behind on 17 from 11.

York City Knights and Featherstone Rovers are still on two points apiece at the bottom.

Cricket

Sri Lanka v India

India ended up 4-0 winners in their five-match T20 series, with one no result due to rain.

Third T20 – Colombo
22 September
Sri Lanka 131/8 (20 overs)
India 132/5 (18.2 overs)
India won by 5 wickets

Siriwardene top-scored for Sri Lanka with 35 and captain Atapattu 28, but the home side lost eight wickets including two run outs as they posted 131.

In response, although Raj and Mandhana made only 13 and six respectively, Jemima Rodrigues took it on, scoring 57 off 40 balls.  Captain Harmanpreet Kaur also chipped in with 24 off 19, and India won it with 10 balls to spare.

Fourth T20 – Colombo
24 September
Sri Lanka 134/5 (17 overs)
India 137/3 (15.4/17 overs)
India won by seven wickets

A similar match to the third, the fourth was cut to just 17 overs.  Sri Lanka posted 134 with Siriwardene top scoring again, this time with 40 from 32 balls.  Atapattu scored 31.  Anuja Patil took 3/36 off four with her off-breaks.

Again the top two went cheaply; Raj (11) and Mandhana (5), but Rodrigues continued her fine vein of form, scoring 52 not out from 37 balls.  Top scorer was Patil with 54 not out.

Fifth T20 – Katunayake
25 September
India 156 all out (18.3 overs)
Sri Lanka 105 all out (17.4 overs)
India won by 51 runs

This time India batted first, but for the third match running the openers did not perform.  Raj went for 12 and Mandhana a duck, but again Rodrigues, this time joined by Kaur put on a third wicket partnership of 75.  But Sri Lanka kept going and were rewarded by getting India all out in the last over.  Siriwardene took 3/19 from 3.3 overs and Fernando 3/24 from her four.

In response Sri Lanka made an equally bad start with Atapattu falling for a duck and Mendis just 10.  They lost wickets at regular intervals and after the fourth wicket went (Ranasinghe for 22), no-one else got into double figures.  Pick of the Indian bowlers was Poonam Yadav, who took 3/18 off her four overs.

West Indies v South Africa

Third ODI – Bridgetown
22 September
West Indies 292/5 (50 overs)
South Africa 177 all out (42.3 overs)
West Indies won by 115 runs

South Africa were one-up going into the third ODI, with the second having been washed out.  And what a game the crowd were treated to!

The home side made a fantastic 292/5 in their 50 overs.  Hayley Matthews secured player of the match with 117 from 146 balls.  Fellow opener Kycia Knight went for only five, but Stafanie Taylor made 46 and Deandra Dottin 56 as they piled on the runs.  Marizanne Kapp took 4/55 from her 10 overs, but the others all took some punishment.

Lizelle Lee went for just two in the first over.   Laura Wolvaardt scored 54, albeit from 82 balls and captain Dane van Niekerk 77, but no-one else made double figures and it was a convincing win for West Indies.  Dottin took 4/36 off 9.3 overs.

So the ODI series was squared and on to the five-match T20 series.

First T20 – Bridgetown
24 September
West Indies 124/6 (20 overs)
South Africa 107/7 (20 overs)
West Indies won by 17 runs

First blood to the home side in the T20 series.  After her fine century in the last match, Matthews could only make eight in the first T20, but opening partner Natasha McLean top-scored with 38 as the Windies posted a fair score.

In response, the South African openers went cheaply (Lee 1, Wolvaardt 8) and they never really recovered as they dropped behind the required run rate.  The rest of the side all made contributions, but all too slowly.  Stafanie Taylor took 3/16 from her four overs.

The remaining T20s are on 29 and 30 September and 4 and 7 October.  More news next week.

And finally,

Sorry, but it’s back to the usual.  And yes, I know I shouldn’t do it, but I did.  Let’s face it, no-one has a good word to say about Fifa, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the comments on the BBC coverage of the Fifa Best Football Awards to see what people were saying.  Big mistake.  I actually thought it would be several pages of rants about Fifa’s iniquities, but it wasn’t.  It was largely populated by those who though Marta should not be ALLOWED to share a podium with Modric.  I’ll say it again – not ALLOWED.  Like she shouldn’t be allowed to breathe, like Fifa should not have any truck with women’s football, should not promote it, should not even mention it.  There was at least one who actually said “women shouldn’t be allowed to play football”.  Real, proper, outrage.  Really?  Is that still, as the common parlance would have it, a thing?  Since when were these Neanderthals appointed arbiter of what is “allowed?”

And not only did Fifa come into the firing line, but then the BBC also copped it for having the temerity to mention the women’s award.  If I saw the words “PC brigade” once, I saw it a hundred times.

Come on folks, it’s not funny anymore (not that it ever was). Please get over yourselves.  Women are here, women will play whatever sports they want to.  And, if they’re good enough, they will receive plaudits and awards for doing so.  Move on, chaps.

More news and views next week.