Women’s Sports Column 4-10 August 2018

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

So let’s crack on!

Golf – British Open

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

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

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

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

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

Hockey – World Cup

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

Netherlands 6-0 Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rugby League – Challenge Cup Final

Castleford Tigers 14-20 Leeds Rhinos

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

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

On the resumption Leeds scored immediately through Caitlin Beevers.

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

And it was great to see it on the TV!

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

Rugby Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motor Sport

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

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

European Championships

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

Rowing

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

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

Athletics

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

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

Cycling

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

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

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

Emily Kay took silver in the 10km scratch race.

Swimming

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

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

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

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

Alys Thomas won bronze in the 200m butterfly.

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

Team GB was particularly strong in the relays:

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

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

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

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

Diving

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

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

Gymnastics

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

Triathlon

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

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

Other Athletics News

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

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

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

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

Football – Signings

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

Yeovil have also re-signed striker Annie Heatherson.

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

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

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

Under 20s World Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Champions League Qualifying

Glasgow City 1-2 Anderlecht

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

Cardiff Met UFC 2-3 Olimpia Cluj

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

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

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

Football

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

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

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

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

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

This one’s going to run and run.

Cricket

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

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

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

Eventually Loughborough won the game with two balls to spare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 21-27 July 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  It’s been yet another one of those weeks when I wish I hadn’t “read the comments” on various articles, but I’m not going to give the trolls any more publicity by giving details.

But there are also lots of positive stuff out there and lots to get through so here we go with stories from golf, football, hockey (there’s a World Cup going on, you know), cycling, rugby, cricket and athletics.

Snowboarding

Terrible news to start the column this week.  Snowboarder Ellie Soutter died on Wednesday, on her eighteenth birthday.

Soutter was a tremendous prospect and was in line to make the GB team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

She had already won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was picked for the GB team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand in August and the senior GB squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup.

Hockey

There have been shocks a-plenty in the first week of the Hockey World Cup in London.  Ireland, second lowest ranked side in the tournament, have become the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals.  England, meanwhile, can no longer qualify automatically and will have to go through play-offs.

Scores so far:

Pool A
China 0-3 Italy
Netherlands 7-0 Korea

Pool B
England 1-1 India
USA 1-3 Ireland
USA 1-1 England
India 0-1 Ireland

Pool C
Germany 3-1 South Africa
Argentina 6-2 Spain
Germany 3-2 Argentina
Spain 7-1 South Africa

Pool D
Australia 3-2 Japan
New Zealand 4-2 Belgium
Japan 2-1 New Zealand
Australia 0-0 Belgium

So far, Ireland have been the stars and England will need to up their game on Sunday if they are to beat the team with momentum on their side.  England have looked a bit nervous and even lethargic, but certainly unlucky at times.

The Netherlands look the team to beat.  They have only played one game so far against a poor Korean team, but they looked superb.  Australia, by contrast, have not impressed.  They nearly let a big lead against Japan slip and were unconvincing against Belgium.  The other team I have enjoyed watching so far is Japan.  They put in 100% effort all of the time and with no little skill.  The Cherry Blossoms (yes, really) deserved their win against the Black Sticks and will hopefully go further in the tournament.

For all the news, scores and fixtures check out the tournament website: http://www.fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-london-2018-w/

Football – on the pitch

Women’s International Champions Cup

Manchester City are currently in the US playing in this new competition.  Three of Europe’s top teams; Olympic Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and City are playing alongside the NWSL leaders, North Carolina Courage.

In the first match Courage beat PSG 2-1.  Jess McDonald scored the first after 19 minutes.  PSG drew level just before half-time with through an own goal.  But the US side claimed the points when they scored five minutes from time through Darian Jenks.

In the second match Manchester City were well beaten by European champions, Olympic Lyonnais.  The French side took the lead after just four minutes, through Eugenie Le Sommer.  Le Sommer bagged a second ten minutes later and three minutes after that Ada Hegerberg got the third and the game was effectively over before half-time.

Football – off the pitch

Signings

I may have seemed somewhat grumpy last week when I was questioning some of the overseas signings made by both Super League and Championship teams during the close season.  But there are also a fair few British players who will be plying their trade both on the continent and further next season, one of whom will be Izzy Christiansen.

Christiansen has signed a two-year contract with European champions, Lyon.  She will, of course, be joining up with former Manchester City teammate Lucy Bronze.

A selection of other signings:

Scotland midfielder Chloe Arthur has signed a two-year contract with Birmingham City from Bristol City.

Everton have signed striker Hannah Cain from Sheffield FC.

Reading Women have dabbled in the market yet again and have signed Doncaster Rovers Belles left-back Mayumi Pacheco and striker Millie Farrow from Bristol City.

West Ham are at it again too, signing German international midfielder Julia Simic from SC Freiburg.

Bristol City have been busy this week; left-back Ali Johnson has joined them from Liverpool and New Zealand international striker Katie Rood from Juventus.

Going the other way, Nadia Nadim has put in a transfer request at Manchester City.  She is clearly unhappy.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“It is a fantastic club in many ways, but not for me.

“I’ve never felt home either in Manchester or Man City. I have made it very clear to the management that I want out, and this is something I’ve felt for a long time.”

Let’s hope she finds a way that suits all soon.

The FA has Spoken (or at least this is what’s happening at the moment)

Unsurprisingly, the FA has dismissed both Sunderland and Blackburn’s appeals and the Women’s Super League and Championship will comprise 11 teams in each next season.

It has been confirmed that Sunderland will play in the third tier, the Women’s National League.  The club is, understandably, disappointed, and released a statement, which you can read here:

https://www.safc.com/news/ladies-news/2018/july/ladies-appeal-unsuccessful

So it seems that the FA is now satisfied that the 22 chosen ones have met the required criteria.  But then they seemed satisfied with Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield FC, both of whom have had to withdraw with financial problems.

I can’t help thinking this season will be make or break for the future of women‘s football in England – let’s just hope it’s not “break”.

Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award

Chelsea Head Coach, Emma Hayes, is among those on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.  The shortlist in full:

  • Emma Hayes (Eng) – Chelsea Ladies
  • Stephan Lerch (Ger) – VfL Wolfsburg
  • Mark Parsons (Eng) – Portland Thorns
  • Reynald Pedros (Fra) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Alen Stajcic (Aus) – Australia national team
  • Asako Takakura (Jpn) – Japan national team
  • Vadao (Brz) – Brazil national team
  • Jorge Vilda (Spa) – Spain national team
  • Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Ger) – Switzerland national team
  • Sarina Wiegman (Ned) – Netherlands national team

You can vote for your favourite – here is the link:

https://www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/best-fifa-womens-coach/

Golf – on the course

Scottish Open

Tiffany Joh leads the Scottish Open after a first round 62.  She is four shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim, Amy Yang and Jenny Shin, who lie at five under par.

Kelsey McDonald of Scotland is one further back, as is England’s Charley Hull.

Golf – off the course

The countdown to the Solheim Cup is officially on!

You know it’s getting serious when Europe names its vice-captains.  This week Europe captain Catriona Matthew named Suzann Petterson and Kathryn Imrie as her vice-captains.

Petterson is a veteran of no fewer than eight Solheim Cups and was also a vice-captain in 2017.

Imrie has only played in one Cup, in 1996.

The sixteenth Solheim Cup will be at Gleneagles from 13-15 September 2019.

Cricket

We’re underway in this year’s Kia Super League.  At the risk of inducing the curse, Loughborough Lightning lead the way at this early stage with two wins from two.

22 July

Surrey Stars 141/9 (20 overs)
Southern Vipers 145/3 (17 overs)
Vipers won by 7 wickets

The Stars got off to an abysmal start at Guildford, losing both openers, Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith for ducks.  Sarah Taylor, new to the Stars this season, made only six as the Stars slumped to 12/3.  Nat Sciver soon followed for two and they were deep in trouble at 18/4.

They then rallied with Dane van Niekerk scoring 31 and Marizanne Kapp 19 but it was Sophia Dunkley’s 66 from 43 balls that saw them post a useful 141.   Fi Morris was pick of the bowlers with 4/22.

But the Vipers haven’t been champions and runners-up in the last two seasons for nothing.  Their openers (Danni Wyatt 6 and Suzie Bates 9) went cheaply, but Tammy Beaumont scored 62 from 45 balls, ably supported by Mignon du Preez with 48 from 31 balls.  Du Preez went with the Vipers needing just 22, and Beaumont and Sarah McGlashan saw it home with three overs to spare.

Lancashire Thunder 72 all out (16.5 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 74/4 (15.1 overs)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

At the top of the order Eve Jones tried to hold it together while those around were out cheaply.  She made 19 from 20 balls, while the next seven batters scored 20 between them.  Kate Cross and Natalie Brown hit 13 each towards the end of the innings but it all added up to a paltry 72.

New signing Jenny Gunn took 3/10 from three overs and Sophie Devine took 3/15 from 2.5.

Lightning took their time in getting the runs.  At one point they were 19/3 and Thunder may have sniffed a chance.  But Elyse Villani (13), Georgia Elwiss (19) and Georgia Adams (22) saw them home.

Yorkshire Diamonds 162/5 (20 overs)
Western Storm 166/3 (15.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets

The Diamonds posted a creditable 162, but the Storm never looked in danger of losing this one.  Delissa Kimmince top-scored for Yorkshire with 55, Lauren Winfield made 41 and Alice Davidson-Richards 33.

In response, Rachel Priest went for a duck, but England captain Heather Knight and Indian star Smriti Mandhana took it on.  Mandhana hit 48 from 20 balls before she was caught by Winfield off the bowling of Davidson-Richards.  Knight continued, scoring a fine 97 off 62.  In the end they won with a huge 27 balls to spare.

25 July

Southern Vipers 105 all out
Loughborough Lightning 109/4 (18.5)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

Lightning bagged their second win and their first against the Vipers on Wednesday with a fine bowling display.

Tammy Beaumont top-scored for the Vipers with 37, but Arran Brindle (19) and Mignon du Preez (13) were the only others to make double figures.

The wickets were shared between the bowlers; Devine 3/21, Smith 2/18, Gordon 2/23, Gunn 1/20, Glenn 1/14.

Lightning again took their time to get to their target.  Amy Jones and Elyse Villani both scored 35, with Villani particularly impressing.  After those two were out the game was seen home by Jenny Gunn (9) and Georgia Adams (5)

26 July

Western Storm 132/9 (20 overs)
Surrey Stars 136/3 (15.5 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets

Who can stop the Western Storm?  Well Surrey, for a start.  Not many would have predicted this result.

Storm made a good start as the openers made a 43 partnership.  Priest was first to go for 21 but big guns Knight and Stafanie Taylor made only 6 each.  Mandhana battled for 37 from 21 balls.  Others tried to make starts, but there were no further significant scores and the Storm could only muster a middling 132.

Sophia Dunkley was pick of the bowlers with 3/18 off just two overs.

All of the Stars batters got starts.  Lee (22) and Smith (33) started it off and Sarah Taylor made 50 not out.  She and van Niekerk (14) saw it home with 25 balls to spare.

Athletics

Anniversary Games –results

Last weekend’s Anniversary Games saw mixed results for Team GB:

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica took the 100m with Dezerea Bryant of USA in second and Jonielle Smith of Jamaica in third.   GB’s Imani-Lara Lansiquot was fifth and Bianca Williams seventh.

It was a USA one-two in the 200m.  Jenna Prandini finished first and Gabrielle Thomas second.    Shericka Jackson of Jamaica came in third while GB’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth.

The 400m saw a Jamaica one-two.  Stephenie-Ann McPherson was first and Anastasia Le-Roy second.  Courtney Okolo of USA was third.  Anyika Onuora was the best-placed British athlete in fifth.

Ce’Aira Brown of USA won the 800m.  Natoya Goule of Jamaica was second, while Lynsey Sharp of GB was third.

Laura Muir was being lined up to beat Zola Budd’s British mile record, but in the end could only finish fifth.  Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the race with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia in second and Hellen Obiri of Kenya in third.

Lilian Kasait Rengeruk of Kenya took the 3000m.  Susan Krumins of the Netherlands was second and Katie Mackey of the USA third.  GB’s Melissa Courtney was fifth and Steph Twell sixth.

The 100m hurdles was a one-two-three for the USA.  Kendra Harrison was first, Brianna McNeal second and Sharika Nelvis third.

The US also took the 400m hurdles.  Shamia Little won it, Janieve Russell of Jamaica in second and Dalilah Muhammed of USA in third.

In the field events, the high jump was won by Mariya Lasitskene of Russia, Elena Vallortigara of Italy second and Morgan Lake of GB was joint third with Vashti Cunningham of USA.

It was a GB one-two in the long jump with Shara Proctor taking it from Lorraine Ugen with Brooke Stratton of Australia in third.

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia took the discus with Yaime Perez  and Denia Caballero of Cuba second and third respectively.

Hui Hui Lyi of China won the javelin.  Nikola Ogrodnikova of the Czech Republic was second and Kelsey-Lee Roberts third.

Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Sevens

England’s disappointing Sevens season continued in San Francisco when they were beaten in their first game by Ireland 14-19.

Ashleigh Baxter scored the first try for Ireland after three minutes.   The conversion was missed and three minutes later Emily Scarratt’s try drew England level.  Holly Aitchison scored the conversion to take them ahead.   Amee Murphy Crowe then bagged two tries, both of which were converted by Lucy Mulhall.  England pulled one back on 14 minutes, converted again, but it was not enough.

England went on to defeat Mexico 59-0, China 38-0 and Japan 31-5 in the Challenge competition final, but this was scant consolation for not going through in the Championship competition.

The Championship final was won by New Zealand 29-0 against France. Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick of tries and Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong one each.  Nathan-Wong also put over two conversions.

Australia took the bronze final, beating USA 24-14.

Cycling

Bad news from cycling this week as it was announced that Wiggle High5 will fold after this season.

The team was founded in 2013 and employed 17 riders and 14 full-time members of staff.

It is thought that they are folding due to a lack of sponsorship.  Among those who will need to find new teams are Lucy and Grace Garner, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

Other team members Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot have already been linked with the new Trek team, led by Lizzie Deignan.

Although my cycling knowledge is not extensive, I do see it as a typical “two steps forward, one back” sport.  For every positive story, there seems to be a negative one and most seem to revolve around funding.  This may be something professional cyclists are prepared for when they start out, but it does seem to be a sport more prone to gaps and problems with sponsorship.  I know there are plenty of professionals out there working in sports sponsorship – and those who specialise in women’s sport.  But it’s not happening.  There are the high-profile success stories; Vitality, SSE, Kia, etc., but some sports obviously need a better strategy.

I’d  like to do some work in this areas so, if anyone dealing in sports sponsorship wants to talk to me about it, or if anyone has ideas they would like to share, please get in touch via the website.

And finally

 “Outrage”.  There’s a lot of it about.  I must admit I’m not immune and I do get sucked in to the vast stagnant pond of outrage that is social media.  Some of it I think is justified – women raped and blamed for it with nauseating regularity, immigrating parents separated from their children at the border, women’s rights over their own bodies constantly being eroded, the rise of Neo-Nazism, etc.

And then there’s the other kind of “outrage” usually promulgated by those such as the Daily Mail – those foreigners coming over here, using our services and taking our jobs, “Europe” robbing us blind at every turn, anyone who is unlike their white middle-aged middle-class readership doing absolutely anything!

So imagine my surprise when that same Mail calls the fact that Barcelona’s women’s team flew economy while their male counterparts flew business on the same plane an “outrage”.  All I can say is it did me good. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have described it as an “outrage” – disappointing, a rubbish decision, a backwards step – something like that, but not an “outrage”.

But just in case I may have been tempted to do so, this headline has made me see sense.  It’s a poor decision by the club, but it’s not an “outrage”.  Time to get things into perspective, I think.

No column next week as I am out and about (at the cricket, truth be told), but back in a fortnight with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 5-11 August 2017

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  I realise I am terribly late with my Rugby World Cup preview, and the KSL also returned this week, but, as you know, I’m struggling for time at  the moment – the World Athletics Championships have nearly passed me by completely!  I will do the best I can to keep up, but I’m giving my apologies now if I fall short.  The good stuff just keeps on coming with the Solheim Cup and the Netball Quad Series still to look forward to.

So, less blathering, more reporting.  This week’s stories come from rugby, golf, athletics, tennis, hockey, netball, football and cricket.

Firstly to the football and the final of the Women’s Euros.

Football

Women’s Euros Final

Netherlands 4-2 Denmark

What a fitting final to grace an excellent tournament!  It had everything; goals, tackles, great defending, great goalkeeping, mistakes and a fabulous crowd.

The largely orange crowd were silenced after six minutes when Nadia Nadim slotted home a penalty, but the Dutch were level four minutes later Vivianne Miedema poked in from close range.

Player of the tournament, Lieke Martens scored the Netherlands’ second with a 20-yard strike.  But five minutes later the Danes were level again through Pernille Harder.

2-2 at half-time after a breathless, end-to-end 45 minutes.

The second-half was just as competitive.  Six minutes after the re-start through a Sherida Spitse free-kick.  Denmark gave everything they had to come back, but in the 89th minute Danish hearts were finally broken when Miedema got her second.

Netherlands were the best team overall, no doubting that.  England’s Jodie Taylor received the Golden Boot for her five goals.

Other football news

It was announced on Wednesday that the English FA will bid to host the 2021 Women’s Euros.  England last hosted the tournament in 2005 and the current boom in the women’s game has prompted the FA to bid again.

FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, said,

“The Lionesses’ performances at the Euros this summer gave the country great pride.  It also showed the significant impact that hosting a major European tournament can have on growing and developing women’s football.”

Can’t wait for unreconstructed man commenting on this.

The bidding process begins in September, with a decision due in 2018.

The FA has also announced that it is looking into fielding a women’s GB side at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  Let’s hope the home nations come to an agreement in time, after their singular failure to do so for Rio.

Women’s Under-19 Euros

Hot on the heels of the Euros comes the under-19 version, which is taking place in Northern Ireland from 8-20 August.

Eight teams have qualified for the finals – split into two groups of four.

Group A: Germany, Spain, Northern Ireland, Scotland

Group B: Italy, France, Netherlands, England

The first round of matches produced the following results:

Group A:

Scotland 0-3 Germany

It could have been more for Germany had it not been for the excellent display from Scots goalkeeper Rebecca Flaherty.  Germany took the points with goals from Giulia Gwinn (19), Annalena Rieke (39) and Ereleta Memeti (80).

Northern Ireland 0-2 Spain

Likewise Spain were too strong for the host nation.  Lucia Garcia scored the first on the half-hour with captain Patricia Guijarro scoring on 53 minutes to seal the win.

Group B:

France 0-2 Netherlands

The Netherlands scored an impressive win over Cup-holders France with two goals in the first-half.  Victoria Pelova opened the scoring after just 10 minutes and an own goal from Julie Piga sealed the points for the Netherlands.

Italy 1-2 England

Two goals from Georgia Allen in the second-half were enough to take the points against Italy.  Italy pulled one back in second-half injury time through Annamaria Senturini.

The second round takes place on Friday 11 August.

Women’s Rugby World Cup

Having watched most of the first round of games, I can, with some relief, say that my original thoughts as to the ultimate destiny of the Cup have not changed significantly.  There were some unsurprisingly big wins as minnow were rolled over, with the undoubted highlight of the round being the game between Ireland and Australia.

England and New Zealand are the teams to beat and everyone will be looking to overturn them.  Canada and France will also be in the mix and as dark horses we have to include Ireland.  Can the “Netherlands effect” work in their favour?  It certainly helped at the first game against Australia.  Actually Australia were a good deal sharper than I expected and their sevens speed will be an asset, but I do question their ability, with so many sevens players in the squad, to last 80 minutes on a regular basis.

Right, on with the scores:

England 56-5 Spain

Clinical, but not perfect for England

England ran in 10 tries in their first game with four for Kay Wilson.  The other tries came from Emily Scarratt, Amy Cockayne, Harriet Millar-Mills, Alex Matthews, Lydia Thompson and Megan Jones.  Conversions came from Kay McLean (2) and Emily Scarratt.

Spain’s dogged persistence finally paid off towards the end of the first half as they scored from and England handling-error through Diana Gasso.

Although this was a good first result for England they know they will have to tighten up in certain areas if they are to progress.  They had 88% of territory, making 911 metres compared with Spain’s 258.  But the kicking was not too sharp and the line-outs positively ropey.  Their next game is against Italy on Sunday.

New Zealand 44-12 Wales

It was a tough start for Wales and by half-time they were 20-0 down.  Sioned Harries and Melissa Clay went over for Wales, but they were undone by merciless attacking speed from the Black Ferns, whose tries came through Winiata (3), Waaka, Wickliffe (2), Woodman and Blackwell.

USA 24-12 Italy

A tight game saw the Eagles claim the win with four tries to Italy’s two.  Kris Thomas scored the USA’s first after just two minutes with Kimber Rozier adding the conversion. Rozier went in for a try of her own on 17 minutes, but missed the conversion, to make it 12-0 to the USA.  Nine minutes later Italy were back in with scoring through Lucia Cammarano, which was converted.   In the second-half Thomas and Gustaitis went in for the USA.  Italy pulled one back with a late try from Giordano after Thomas had been yellow-carded.  A good confidence-building win for the USA.

Canada 98-0 Hong Kong

A crushing win for Canada, not really doing anything for the game, but Hong Kong have to start somewhere.  I fear for Hong Kong as things don’t get any easier as they face the Black Ferns next on Sunday 13 August.

Ireland 19-17 Australia

What a match!  Gosh, so tempting it is to trot out a whole line of clichés – they went toe to toe, knocking lumps out of each other, no quarter asked or given, etc.  But it’s also all true!  Before the game I thought Ireland, even without Niamh Briggs, would have it in the bag against such and inexperienced 15s side.  But Aussies never know when to quit (another cliché) and it was mighty tight to the end.

Ireland took the lead with at try from Larissa Muldoon, converted by Nora Stapleton.  But Australia hit back with a try of their own from Mahalia Murphy.  In what soon became a kicking nightmare for Australia, the conversion was missed by Samantha Treherne as the ball fell from the kicking tee just as it was about to be kicked.

After half-time Australia silenced the crowd by going in front with a try from Shannon Parry but there was further embarrassment in the kicking department as Treherne then took, what I would consider, to be one of the worst kicks I’ve ever seen.  We all laughed at the time, but in the end the difference was two points.

Ireland went back in front with a converted try by Ciara Griffin.  And when they scored again with ten minutes to go, the try by Sophie Spence adjudged legitimate by the TMO, Ireland were well ahead and the Aussies seemed to be tiring.

But it was Australia who were to have the last word, prop Hilisha Samoa tunnelling her way through a pile of Irish bodies to get over the line.

The TV coverage kept cutting to poor Niamh Briggs in the stand who was clearly playing every ball.  I hope she has some less-close matches to watch otherwise she’ll have no nails left.

France 72-14 Japan

Japan were touted as a possible outside threat before the tournament began, but this first game surely showed that they still have some way to go before being competitive in the big arena.  Twelve tries for France saw them win easily and a red card for Makiko Tomito for Japan in the second-half did not have improved the situation.

Live coverage is on ITV4.  It’s quite good (thank goodness for Maggie Alphonsi) – sorry can’t be more enthusiastic than that.  And as beggars can’t be choosers, I’d encourage you to tune in.

Tennis – Rogers Cup

There was disappointment for Heather Watson this week as she pulled out with injury in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

She was behind 6-1 4-1 to Naomi Osaka of Japan when she forfeited the match with a shoulder injury.

The quarter-finals take place on 11 and 12 August and the line-up is as follow:

K Pliskova (1) v C Wozniacki (6)

S Stephens v L Safarova

E Svitolina (5) v G Muguruza (4)

C Garcia v S Halep (2)

Athletics – World Championships

I think it’s safe to say that this has not been a vintage World Championships for Team GB.

So far we have only one medal – a gold for Mo Farah in the 10,000m.

Best results for British female athletes:

Laura Muir was a whisker away from taking a bronze in the 1,500m as she came in fourth.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson came in fifth in the heptathlon after really blowing her chances on the first day.

Holly Bradshaw came a creditable sixth in the pole vault but was not far away from getting a medal.

Sophie Hitchon came seventh in the hammer and Eilidh Doyle eighth in the 400m hurdles.

We still have potential medallists though on Friday 11 August with Dina Asher-Smith qualifying for the 200m and Lorraine Ugen in the long jump final.

There are plenty of events still to come through the weekend, so keep watching.  Blanket coverage on the BBC.

Netball

The netball Quad Series begins at the end of the month with England’s first game against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday 26 August at 6am.

They then play New Zealand in Auckland on Wednesday 30 August (8.30am) and South Africa in Invercargill on Sunday 3 September (3am).

Australia have already suffered a blow with top (and scariest) defender Sharni Layton pulling out of the squad, having been diagnosed with physical and mental exhaustion.

England have named a full-strength squad:

Ama Agbeze (captain), Jade Clarke (vice-captain), Joanne Harten (vice-captain), Sara Bayman, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Eleanor Cardwell, Beth Cobden, Kadeen Corbin, Stacey Francis, Jodie Gibson, Serena Guthrie, Helen Housby, Geva Mentor, Chelsea Pitman.

Reserves: Summer Artman, Sasha Corbin, George Fisher, Natalie Haythornthwaite

Hockey

Just a quick notice!  The public ballot for tickets to the 2018 World Cup, to be held in London from 21 July -5 August opens on 19 August.  Follow this link to register – it’s a short window, the ballot closes on 6 September.

 Golf

Solheim Cup

The teams, including the captains’ picks, are in!  The Solheim Cup is nearly upon us.  The USA are the current holders, having won in Germany in 2015, 14½-13½.

Europe captain Annika Sorenstam had four wildcard picks and chose Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Madelene Sagstrom (Swe), Caroline Masson (Ger) and Emily Pedersen (Den).

Julie Inkster had two wildcard picks for the USA and chose Austin Ernst and Angel Yin.  Although not originally included, Paula Creamer has now been drafted in, as Jessica Korda has pulled out through injury.

The teams in full:

Europe: Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Mel Reid, Florentyna Parker, Carlota Ciganda, Karine Icher, Suzann Pettersen. Wildcards: Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Masson, Emily Pederson, Magdalene Sagstrom.

USA: Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Danielle Kang, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lang, Brittany Lincicome, Lizette Salas. Captain’s Picks: Austin Ernst, Angel Yin.

The Solheim Cup takes place at the Des Moines Country Club in Iowa from 18-20 August and is live on Sky Sports.

British Open

Kim In-Kyung of Korea has won the British Open at Kingsbarns in Scotland at the weekend.  She won by two shots over Jodie Ewart Shadoff of England, finishing on -18.  Michelle Wie of the United States took a share of third with Caroline Masson of Germany and Georgia Hall of England as they finished on -13.

Kim had a six-shot lead going into the last round, but in the end she had to hold on as Ewart Shadoff shot a storming course-equalling round of 64 to pull the deficit back to just two shots.

Cricket

Kia Super League

The second season of the Kia Super League gets underway this week.  Each team still only plays each other once, with Finals Day this year at Hove on 1 September.

The ECB has revealed this week that next year’s competition will be expanded so that each team will play a more usual format of home and away ties.  This good news comes in the wake of an earlier announcement that the ECB has shelved plans for a similar women’s 50-over completion.  When the T20 competition was announced, the ECB said its plans were to extend it to a 50-over competition in a matter of a couple of years.  This is a massive U-turn and somewhat of a slap in the face for a country that has just won a 50-over World Cup.

Not sure how many times I’ve said this, but the various governing bodies have to stop using women’s sport as a guinea pig – so many initiatives announced, so many either dropped before they’ve started or after a limited time – see the RFU and its contract scandal, for example.

The ECB obviously want the women to be concentrating on T20, when really it is the grassroots county game that needs the money.  Where will the much vaunted “pathway” be for county players to get into the England one-day side? It’s a huge jump.

The odds are it will all change again in 2020 when the men’s “franchises” (hush my mouth, dirty word) for the T20 Blast will be revealed.  It is thought that the women’s Super League will then be revamped in line with these franchises.

Anyway, it all began again on Thursday 10 August with a somewhat underwhelming start at the Ageas Bowl as reigning champions the Southern Vipers took on Western Storm.

Western Storm 70 all out (18.5 overs)
Southern Vipers 73/1 (9 overs)

Not a storming start (sorry) to the KSL as the Vipers thrashed the Storm, knocking off their target in just nine overs.  Not even the missing Anya Shrubsole could have turned this round.

Top scorer for Storm was opener Georgia Hennessy, who dug in in the face of the carnage around her.

England captain Heather Knight, made only one before being bowled by Linsey Smith.  The only other player to make double figures was Fran Wilson who made 10.

In an attempt to up the scoring to make some kind of defendable total, Storm suffered three run-outs towards the end of the innings, including that of Sophie Luff who was dismissed by a direct hit from Charlotte Edwards.

In response the Vipers made it look all too easy.  They have a truly scary batting order, which was not needed on this occasion.  Hayley Matthews was the only wicket to fall as she hit out with freedom in attempt to get the game won.  She was caught by Hennessy off the bowling of Stafanie Taylor for 15.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates (47) and Georgia Adams (3) saw them home.

Coverage is on Sky and BBC TMS.

And finally,

I still must try harder to stop reading the comments sections, particularly on the BBC.  I thought the rugby had cracked it and it was accepted that the women’s game is a quality product (not that I care whether you accept it or not), but this is not the case.  Cue the usual misogyny on the BBC comments sections.  Bored now.

Sorry, no column next week as I’ll be working elsewhere.  Don’t forget, if you’ve enjoyed reading the column please share it with your networks.  I’m also happy to discuss any (non-troll) aspects of women’s sport.