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 6-12 October 2018

boxing_gloves-2Welcome to this week’s column. Hopefully a bit shorter (and sweeter) this week.  Lots of positive news around, which we all like to see. Stories this week come from boxing, football, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, netball, hockey, cricket, winter sports and motor racing.

So let’s crack on.

Boxing

Nicola Adams’ next bout could be a shot at the WBO world flyweight title.  On Saturday she beat Isabel Millan of Mexico on points (unanimous) at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

She is now five from five since turning professional in 2017.

It was a test for Adams – the first time she had been taken beyond four rounds.  Two judges scored it 97-93 and one 96-94.

Her promoter, Frank Warren, is keen to see Adams get a shot at the title.  It could be as soon as December and he is eyeing up the undercard of the Josh Warrington v Carl Frampton fight, which takes place at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd.

The current champion is Arely Mucino of Mexico, who has been professional since 2008.  She has won 16 of her 20 bouts, nine within the distance.

Tennis

China Open

Second seed Caroline Wozniacki took the China Open title with a straight sets win over Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-3.

Wozniacki beat home favourite Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 in the semi-final, while Sevastova defeated US Open champion Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-4.

The doubles final was an altogether closer affair, eventually won in three sets by second seeds Andrea Sestini Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova 4-6 6-4 10-8 over third seeds Xu Yifan and Gabriela Dabrowski.

This week sees tournaments in both Hong Kong and Tianjin.

Hong Kong Open

Naomi Osaka withdrew before the tournament started with a back injury.

Third seed Jelena Ostapenko suffered a shock exit in the round of 32, 5-7 3-6 2-6 to the unseeded Kristina Kucova of Slovakia.

At time of publication we are at the quarter-final stage; two have been completed and two are yet to take place:

Zhang Shuai beat Daria Gavrilova (7) 6-1 6-3
Dayana Yastremka beat Kristina Kucova 7-6 6-2
Garbine Muguruza (4) v Luksika Kumkhum
Elina Svitolina (1) v Wang Qiang (6)

Tianjin Open

Meanwhile in Tianjin Britain’s Katie Boulter has had a storming week.  She reached the quarter-finals of the Tinajin Open, eventually falling to world number six, Karolina Pliskova 5-7 6-0 6-3.

After taking the tight first set, Pliskova asserted her authority in the second, taking it 6-0.  But Boulter rallied in the third and was 2-0 up before Pliskova re-asserted herself and took the set and the match.

Quarter-finals:

Caroline Garcia (2) beat Petra Martic (6) 6-2 1-0 (Martic retired with an injury)
Aryna Sabalenka (4) beat Timea Bacsinsczky 7-6 7-6
Karlina Pliskova (1) beat Katie Boulter 5-7 6-0 6-3

Pliskova meets Bacsinsczky in the semi-final

Still to play:

Hsieh Su-wei (5) v Elise Mertens (3)

Tennis – off the Court

British number one Jo Konta has split with her coach Michael Joyce after less than a year.  She has struggled this year, particularly in the Grand Slams and has slipped to 45 in the world.

There is clearly something wrong in Konta’s world and it is not my job to speculate in this column.  Her rise over the last couple of seasons has been wonderful to watch and I really hope that she finds a coach who will restore the self-confidence she really should have, but shows so little.

More news as it happens.

Football

The shortlist for the first Women’s Ballon d’Or award has been announced.  There are two English players, Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby, on the list.

It’s a lot more representative of the current state of things than the Best Fifa Awards that took place last month.

Shortlist:
Lucy Bronze (Lyon and England)
Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg and Denmark)
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon and Norway)
Amandine Henry (Lyon and France)
Lindsey Horan (Portland and USA)
Sam Kerr (Chicago and Australia)
Fran Kirby (Chelsea and England)
Saki Kumagai (Lyon and Japan)
Dzenifer Marozsan (Lyon and Germany)
Amel Majri (Lyon and France)
Marta (Orlando and Brazil)
Lieke Martens (Barcelona and Netherlands)
Megan Rapinoe (Seattle and USA)
Wendie Renard (Lyon and France)
Christine Sinclair (Portland and Canada)

Lionesses

There were two somewhat contrasting friendlies for the Lionesses this week.  The first, a dull affair played in rotten conditions against Brazil and the second, a much tighter effort enlivened by some incomprehensible refereeing decisions.

England 1-0

Brazil were clearly uncomfortable in the driving rain and wind at Meadow Lane.  England used it to their advantage and scored after just two minutes, an exquisitely placed header from Fran Kirby.

Nikita Parris caused mayhem down the wing, but was, perhaps, guilty of shooting selfishly on occasion when a cross or pass would have done a better job.

Marta went off with an injury in the first-half which didn’t help their cause.

England had several chances to increase their lead, but were profligate in front of goal.  But their attacking style was pleasing to the eye (23 shots, 8 on target), even if the quality of the end product was frustrating.

Brazil had a ten-minute period towards the end of the second-half when they seemed to finally come alive, but it would have been most unjust if they had scored the equaliser.

In the end England held out and were on the front foot at the final whistle.  It was a good performance under the circumstances, even though the opposition were disappointing.

England 1-1 Australia

The Matildas, by contrast, were up for the fight from the off.  And although the Lionesses were not made to pay for their carelessness in front of goal by Brazil, the Australians were not so forgiving,

Fran Kirby was on target again as England took the lead midway through the first-half.  Lucy Staniforth had a goal disallowed as she was (wrongly) adjudged offside.

But it was the two penalties turned down by the referee that had both Head Coach Phil Neville and the rest us scratching our heads.

Both Beth Mead and Nikita Parris were clearly brought down in the box with neither penalty being given.

Even so, England had plenty of chances to score again, particularly through Mead, but the Matildas kept on with a tenacity that we didn’t see from Brazil and were impressive on the break.

Six minutes from the end, Australia equalised as Clare Polkinghorne headed in from a corner.

World Cup Play-offs

The last European place for next year’s World Cup in France will go to either European Champions Netherlands or Switzerland.

First leg – 5 October:

Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
Beerensteyn 21’, Van de Sanden 42’

Belgium 2-2 Switzerland
Cayman 5’, De Neve 60’
Lehmann 55’, 87’

Second leg – 9 October

Denmark 1-2 Netherlands
Nadim 5’ (Pen)
Beerensteyn 7’ 90+2’

Switzerland 1-1 Belgium
Reuteler 23’
De Caigny 77’

So, Netherlands win 4-1 on aggregate and although the other tie finished 3-3, Switzerland go through on away goals.

The final is also a two-legged affair.  The first leg is on 5 November and the second on 13 November.  Netherlands are at home in the first leg.

Doncaster Rovers Belles

Breaking news is that Doncaster Rovers Belles are in talks with Club Doncaster about a possible takeover.

Club Doncaster runs Doncaster Rovers men’s side, the rugby league side and several projects in the community.

Belles Chair, Faye Lygo told the BBC,

“We believe matters are moving forward positively,” Lygo told BBC Sport.

“We have had to take measures to stabilise the club at a time of change in the women’s game and believe the future of the Belles lies in Doncaster, with the Rovers.”

Let’s hope that the discussions go well as a fully integrated club will hopefully ensure the Belles’ survival and progress.

Rugby League

Woman of Steel

Georgia Roche of Castleford is the Rugby Football League’s first ever Woman of Steel.

Roche, who is just 17, is part of the Castleford team that got to the Challenge Cup final this year and the Super League play-off semi-finals.

Talking of which….

Super League Play-offs

Leeds 24-10 Castleford Tigers

The first-half was a tight affair with Castleford going in 6-0 up at the break.  But Rhiannon Marshall, player of the match, had other ideas.  She went in for a try and set up two more for Chloe Kerrigan and Frankie Townend.  Charlotte Booth scored a fourth.  Suze Hill added another and Castleford could only come back with a consolation try from Kelsey Gentles.  Courtney Hill hit a penalty to round off the scoring and see Leeds safely through.

Wigan Warriors 10-6 St Helens

Wigan led 10-2 at half-time.  St Helens took the lead through a Faye Gaskin penalty, but Wigan hit back through tries from Alison Burrows and Rachel Thompson with Michelle Davis converting the latter.

The second-half was intense as both sides tried to make the decisive breakthrough.  In the end, the only score was a try from Saints’ Katie-May Williams with just four minutes to go.  It made for an exciting end, but Wigan managed to hold out to get through to the final.

So it will be Leeds v Wigan in the Super League Grand Final which takes place this Saturday, 13 October at the Manchester Regional Arena.  1pm kick-off.  Admission is £5 with under-16s getting in for free.

Rugby Union – Off the Pitch

Liza Burgess

Liza Burgess has become the 142nd member (and first Welsh woman) to be inducted into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame.

She won 93 caps for Wales and Great Britain, captaining Wales 62 times.  She also played in four World Cups and

Domestically, she started at Loughborough University and Wasps and then co-founded Saracens in 1989, spending ten years at the club.

She ended her playing career at Clifton (now Bristol) and played her last game for Wales in the 2007 Six Nations against England at the age of 42.

Since her on-field retirement, she has coached extensively both domestically and with the Welsh national side and was Giselle Mather’s assistant coach of the inaugural Women’s Barbarians team in 2017.

Rugby Union – On the Pitch

The Premier 15s are back in action this weekend:

13 October
Firwood Waterloo v Gloucester-Hartpury (12.30pm, Firwood Waterloo Rugby Club)
Worcester Valkyries v Harlequins (2pm, Sixways Stadiium)
Loughborough v Bristol Bears (3pm, Loughborough University)
Saracens v Wasps (3.45pm, Allianz Park)
DMP Sharks v Richmond (5pm, Northern Echo Arena)

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Results from 6 October were as follows:

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

Surbiton dropped their first points of the season in their draw with East Grinstead.  Holcombe were the beneficiaries as they beat Clifton Robinsons to go level with Surbiton at the top of the table.  Both lie on seven points, with Surbiton top on goal difference.  University of Birmingham are third on five points.  At the bottom Slough gained their first point of the season, but are still at the foot of the table, with Bowdon second from bottom on two points.

This weekend’s fixtures:

13 October
Buckingham v Bowdon (12 noon, Stowe School, P1)
Slough v East Grinstead (12.30pm, Slough HC)
Surbiton v University of Birmingham (1pm, Surbiton HC)
Beeston v Clifton Robinsons (2pm, Nottingham Hockey, P1)
Holcombe v Canterbury (6pm. Holcombe HC, P1)

Netball

This Saturday sees the second Fast5 All-Stars tournament at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Loughborough Lightning are the defending champions.  The eight teams taking part are Lightning, Surrey Storm, Team Bath, Wasps Netball, Manchester Thunder, Strathclyde Sirens, Severn Stars and benecosMavericks.

It will be a fast and furious five-hour session.  All eight teams play in a double elimination format; two wins and a team goes through to the semi finals.  Two losses and you’re out.  Teams winning one and losing one of their opening matches will play a deciding match for a place in the semis.

Matches are 12 minutes long.  There is a five-point line and a two-minute Power Play where points count double.

It’s the netball equivalent of T20 (not commenting either way).  But it will be fun, so if you’re in the vicinity of the Copper Box on Saturday, check it out – the tournament starts at 1pm and goes on until 6pm.   It is also live on Sky.

The winning team takes away £25k, so it’s not to be sniffed at.

One player who will be there – and it’s probably worth going just to see her – is Sharni Layton.  Somehow I missed the startling fact that Layton, who retired from international netball earlier on this year, will be one of the “All Stars” playing for Surrey Storm.  Layton (and I don’t doubt it for a moment) has also indicated that she will play AFLW for Collingwood in the new season. Top of Form

Cricket

No cricket reports this week, but just to let you know that Australia will playing a three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in the coming weeks.  The dates are 18, 20 and 22 October and I will have news and reports on their completion.

Winter Sports

Lindsey Vonn has announced she will retire at the end of the upcoming season.

She currently has 82 World Cup victories and is still aiming to break Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86.

There is no doubt that the sport has taken a physical toll on her and it is mainly for this reason that she has decided that this season will be her last:

“Physically, I’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t make sense,” she said.

“I really would like to be active when I’m older, so I have to look to the future and not just be so focused on what’s in front of me.”

And Finally – motor racing W Series

Is it a chance to “show what women are really capable of” (Catherine Bond-Muir, Chief Executive of the new W Series) or is it “a sad day for motorsport” and an “historic step backwards (Pippa Mann, British IndyCar driver)?  Is it “an important means to an end – a stepping stone for female drivers” (Alice Powell, sportscar driver) or is it “founded on segregation” (Charlie Martin, racing driver)?

The news that there is to be a new women-only motor racing competition, the “W Series”, has certainly divided opinion.  It is backed by some big names, both male and female, including former F1 driver David Coulthard, former Williams test driver Susie Wolff and Red Bull chief designer Adrian Newey.

It’s a tricky one and I can see both sides.  What we want to avoid is creating yet another opportunity for men to cry “inferior sport” when actually, the premise is that motor racing is a sport in which men and women can compete alongside each other.

There will be up to 20 drivers competing for a prize fund of $1.5m.  There will be six races around Europe, including one in the UK.   The cars will be identical and will be run by the W Series.

Competitors will be chosen by assessment of their capabilities.

So why do we need a women-only competition?  Newey states that brute strength is not a factor in the success of racing drivers and so, he says,

“That being the case, I believe the reason why so few women have so far raced successfully at the highest levels against men is a lack of opportunity rather than a lack of capability.”

And surely that’s the issue.  It was the issue when all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats were introduced, and it’s the issue now.  I was a long-time opponent of so-called “positive discrimination” and of all-women shortlists.  But I came to see that they are a means to an end.  We want women in all areas of life to have equality of opportunity.  But it doesn’t happen.

It’s slightly different in motorsport as there is the karting route to come through.  But are women getting the opportunity in karting?   If, by the introduction of the W series, seeing women in motorsport becomes the norm, then hopefully the competition will do itself out of a job.  But until that happens, let’s give them the chance to compete and provide them with a different possible route into major motorsport and formula 1.

I’m against “ghettoising” women’s sport, but I’m all for extending opportunity, particularly in sports where, traditionally, the opportunities have been few.  Let me know what you think.

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. 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 15-21 September 2018

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Major news from rugby union this week.  Regular readers will know that I have a healthy disrespect for some sports governing bodies.  The RFU is one body that seems to take one step forward and one back.  With World Rugby’s Development plan for the women’s game published last year, the RFU really had to up its own game, especially after the non-renewal of 15s contracts debacle post World Cup.  So, more on that to come, along with stories from triathlon, netball, rugby league, tennis, football, hockey, cricket, equestrianism and golf.

Let’s crack on….

Golf

First to the shocking news that leading Spanish amateur golfer, Celia Barquin Arozamena has been murdered in the USA.  She was found dead on the Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa on Monday 17 September.

Barquin, who was 22, won the European Ladies’ Amateur championship in July and was in her last year at Iowa State University.

A man has already been charged with her murder.

Evian Classic

The Evian classic was won by Angela Stanford of the USA.  It was her first major win and she took it by one shot.

Her compatriot, Amy Olson, was a shot clear of Stanford, who was in the clubhouse on -12.  But on the last hole Olson double-bogeyed with a six.

There was a tie for second between Olson, Austin Ernst and Mo Martin (USA) and Kim Sei-young (Kor).

Top British finisher was Georgia Hall who finished on -6.  Charley Hull was one behind her on -5, but Bryony Law saw a disappointing end to her challenge as she finished on +6.

Netball

Somehow the beginning of the Quad Series completely passed me by last week, so there is quite a bit to catch up on.

Round One – 15 September

New Zealand 39-52 England

Helen Housby scored 28 points as the Roses recorded their biggest ever win over the Silver Ferns.

Australia 61-44 South Africa

Caitlin Bassett scored 31 for the Diamonds as they produced a dominant display against the Proteas.

Round Two

18 September

New Zealand 61-37 South Africa

Solonaima Falau scored 35 points from 37 attempts as New Zealand sailed past South Africa.

19 September

Australia 52-47 England

The Roses were unable to repeat the heroics of the Commonwealth Games final as they fell to the Diamonds in Newcastle (Aus).  Caitlin Bassett was in the points again, scoring 37 points from 40 attempts.  Helen Housby was again top-scorer for England with 29 from 35.

Round three is on 23 September in Melbourne, with England taking on South Africa and Australia playing New Zealand.

World Cup

The group draw has been made for next year’s world cup:

Group A

Australia, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka

Group B

New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados, Singapore

Group C

Jamaica, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji

Group D

England, Uganda, Scotland, Samoa

Triathlon

Vicky Holland of Great Britain became triathlon world champion last weekend after she finished second in the Grand Final.

Katie Zafares of the US had held a 34-point lead going into the final, but finished third and thus 52 points behind Holland.

Final points standings

      1. Vicky Holland (GB) 5540
      2. Katie Zafares (USA) 5488
      3. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GB) 4183
      4. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 3887
      5. Jess Learmonth (GB) 3810
      6. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 3750
      7. Jodie Stimpson (GB) 3658
      8. Taylor Spivey (USA) 3603
      9. Laura Lindemann (GER) 3423
      10. Rachel Klamer (NET) 3306

    Tennis – Pan Pacific Open

    We’re at the semi-final stage at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.  In the quarter-finals, Camila Giorgi went through after Victoria Azarenka retired hurt, Donna Vekic beat second seed Caroline Garcia in straight sets 6-3 6-4, third seed and US Open Champion Naomi Osaka defeated eighth seed Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-4 and fourth seed Karolina Pliskova overcame Alison Riske in three sets, 6-1 6-77-6.

    The semi-final draw:
    Pliskova v Vekic
    Giorgi v Osaka

    Top Briton, Jo Konta, was knocked out in straight sets in the round of 16 by Vekic, 6-3 7-5.

    Rugby Union – off the pitch

    The biggest rugby news comes this week from the RFU, which has announced it is to introduce women’s full-time 15s contracts this season.  The new deals will come into effect on 1 January 2019.

    There will be 28 full-time contracts for England Women plus seven Elite Player Squad (EPS, the current agreements), making a total of 35 contracts.

    “We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players,” said RFU chief executive Steve Brown.

    “This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport.”

    The England squad will now be based at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, giving them a top-class permanent base with access to some of the best facilities in the country.

    With World Rugby showing its commitment to women’s rugby, the RFU could not really do anything else but fall into line.  It has always talked a good game, and for periods had backed it up with actions and resources.  Let’s hope that this time the RFU keeps its focus and does not get sidetracked by the lure of Sevens.

    Rugby union – on the pitch

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

    Wasps 20-40 Loughborough Lightning
    Saracens 43-7 Worcester Valkyries
    DMP Sharks 14-57 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
    Richmond 12-24 Firwood Waterloo
    Harlequins 26-26 Bristol Bears

    After two games, Saracens are top with two wins and two bonus points (10 points in total).  Loughborough are second on nine and Harlequins third on eight.  At the bottom there are two teams yet to register a win.  Richmond are bottom with one bonus point, with Worcester just above them with two bonus points.

    This weekend’s fixtures look like this:

    22 September 2018

    Firwood Waterloo v Wasps (12.30pm, Firwood Waterloo Rugby Club)
    Worcester Valkyries v Richmond (2pm, Sixways Stadium)
    DMP Sharks v Saracens (3pm, Northern Echo Arena)
    Bristol Bears v Gloucester-Hartpury Women (4.50pm, Ashton Gate)
    Loughborough Lightning v Harlequins (5pm, Loughborough University)

    Hockey

    England goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch, has announced she is to take a break from international hockey.  In reality, this will probably mean only one international season as she has said,

    “I still have the goal of going to Tokyo 2020 if selected.”

    She is aiming to concentrate her efforts on playing for her club side, Stichtsche in the Netherlands.

    Investec Women’s Hockey League

    The domestic hockey season begins again this weekend.  The first round of Premier League fixtures are as follows:

    22 September

    Buckingham v East Grinstead (12 noon, Stowe School)
    Slough v Surbiton (12.30pm, Slough Hockey Club)
    Beeston v University of Birmingham (2pm, Nottingham Hockey)
    Canterbury v Clifton Robinsons (2pm, Polo Farm SC)
    Holcombe v Bowdon (3pm, Holcombe Hockey Club)

    For hockey news, fixtures and results for all divisions, check out the England Hockey website.

    Equestrianism

    This week has seen the start of a somewhat disrupted World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.  The advent of storm Florence meant that some events were cancelled and some moved around.  As you will all know by now, equestrian sports are not my favourite and probably a bit of a blind spot, but here is what has happened so far:

    Dressage

    Great Britain won bronze in the team event as Olympic champions Germany won gold and USA silver.  The team of Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Emile Faurie and Spencer Wilton took third, edging out Sweden and have now qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

    In the individual event Isabell Werth of Germany took gold, Laura Graves of USA silver and Charlotte Dujardin, bronze.

    Sophie Wells of Great Britain took gold in the individual para-dressage.  She finished ahead of Frank Hosmar of Netherlands , who took silver and Regine Mispelkamp of Germany, bronze.

    Eventing

    Great Britain dominated in the eventing, taking both individual and team gold.  Ros Canter won the individual title, Padraig McCarthy of Ireland took silver and Ingrid Klimke of Germany, bronze.

    In the team event Canter, Piggy French, Gemma Tattersall and Tom McEwan finished ahead of the Ireland team of McCarthy, Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson and Sarah Ennis – Ireland’s first team world medal since 1966.  France took the bronze.

    Show jumping is still to come with the team finals on 21 September and individual finals on 23 September.  For more information and results check out the WEG website.

    Football

    Just hours after last week’s column was published, Neil Redfearn resigned as manager of Liverpool.

    Continental Cup

    Sunday 16 September
    Group One – North
    Sheffield United 0-2 Birmingham City
    Staniforth, Hayles

    Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa
    Welsh 19’

    Bristol City 0-3 Manchester City
    Emslie 52’, Nadim 66’ (pen), Weir 72’

    Group Two – North

    Durham 3-3 Liverpool
    Roberts 3’ 19’, Cottam 61’
    Bradley-Auckland 2’, Babajide 71’, Sweetman-Kirk 87’

    Everton 3-2 Reading
    Walker 14’ 27’, Kaagman 56’
    Finnigan 24’ (OG), Chaplen 77’

    Group One – South

    Crystal Palace 0-4 Chelsea
    Engman 10’, England 56’ 64’, Spence 59’

    Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 London Bees
    Umotong 27’, Brazil 36’, Whelan 89’
    Howells 22’

    Yeovil Town 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
    Wiltshire 7’, Haines 22’ 39’ 61’

    Group Two – South

    West Ham 4-0 Millwalll Lionesses
    De Graaf 6’ 86’, Visalli 9’, Kmita 12’

    Lewes 0-9 Arsenal
    Van de Donk 6’, Miedema 21’ 27’ 60’, McCabe 26’, Little 37’ 45’ (Pen) 68’, Evans 59’

    There were also midweek Super League and Championship matches:

    Wednesday 19 September

    FAWSL
    Bristol City 0-0 Chelsea
    Birmingham City 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
    West Ham 0-0 Reading
    Yeovil Town 0-7 Arsenal

    FAWC
    Charlton 2-0 Aston Villa
    Leicester City 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
    Lewes 2-1 Crystal Palace
    London Bees 2-1 Millwall Lionesses

    Thursday 20 September

    FAWSL
    Everton 0-4 Manchester City

    FAWC
    Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield United

    I mentioned a few weeks ago that the FA has a new website for the women’s game.  Having tried to extract information from it several times now, I have to say it really is hard work.  I’m “sure” it will improve as time goes on, but patience is not my strong point and at the moment it is pushing what patience I have to its limit!

    Rugby League

    There were three Super League fixtures at the weekend:

    Bradford Bulls 32-10 Featherstone Rovers
    Castleford Tigers 20-32 Leeds Rhinos
    York City Knights 6-38 Wigan Warriors

    Most teams have now played 11 matches.  Leeds are top with 18 points, with Wigan in second just one point behind.  At the bottom, York City and Featherstone Rovers both have two points, with York at the bottom on points difference.

    Cricket

    Sri Lanka v India

    Third ODI
    India 253/5 (50 overs)
    Sri Lanka 257/7 (49.5 overs)
    Sri Lanka won by 3 wickets

    Sri Lanka claimed their first win of the series in fine style at Katunayake on Sunday 16 September.

    Mithali Raj scored a huge 125 not out from 143 balls as India set Sri Lanka a big total.  Smriti Mandhana contributed with 51 and Deepti Sharma 38.

    But Sri Lankan captain, Chamari Atapattu, capped a fine all round personal ODI performance with a knock of 115 from 133 balls, to give her side a chance.  It went down to the final over, with Sri Lanka needing six to win.  They took three singles from the first three balls off Sharma then Dilhari scored two off the fourth.  She then scored a four off the fifth ball to take her own score to 12 and to win the match for the home side.  It also gave Sri Lanka two priceless points in the ICC Women’s Championship.

    19 September

    First T20
    India 168/8 (20 overs)
    Sri Lanka 155 all out (19.3 overs)
    India won by 13 runs

    Mandhana was out for a duck, but Bhatia top-scored with 46 and Rodrigues and Krishnamurthy scored 36 each as India posted a competitive total in the first T20.

    In response the Sri Lankan openers put on 39 in just under three overs before Mendis was out for 32 from 12 balls.  After that, wickets fell regularly and although Kaushayala made a spirited 45, Poonam Yadav weighed in with 4/26 off her four overs and Sri Lanka were all out 13 short.

    21 September

    Second T20

    Sri Lanka had reached 49/3 off 7.5 overs before the heavens opened in Colombo and the match was abandoned.

    There are three more T20s scheduled; 22, 24, 25 September.  More news next week.

    Meanwhile, South Africa are also in action in the West Indies.

    16 September

    First ODI
    South Africa 201/9 (50 overs)
    West Indies 161 all out (46 overs0
    South Africa won by 40 runs

    Lizelle Lee went for a duck, but Laura Wolvaardt scored 45, Sune Luus 58 and Dane van Niekerk 46 not out as South Africa posted a gettable 201/9.  Stafanie Taylor took 3/37 off her 10 overs.

    But Marizanne Kapp had other ideas. She took 3/14 off nine overs as West Indies were skittled out for 161.  Hayley Matthews was her first victim, caught by Lee for a duck.  Shemaine Campbelle scored 46, but wickets fell all around her and when Kapp took two more in three balls (Aguilleira 1, Fletcher 0) the target was looking distant.  Campbelle’s spirited resistance ended when she was last wicket to fall in the 46th and South Africa had won by 40 runs.

    19 September

    Second ODI

    South Africa had reached 177/8 off 38 overs when the rain hit Bridgetown and the match had to be abandoned.  This was a pity for West Indies as they had South Africa in a good deal of trouble.

    There is still one ODI (22 Sept) and five T20s to come.

    More news and views next week.

 

Women’s Sports Column 28 April – 4 May 2018

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  After a surfeit of ranting last week, calmness reigns as I endeavour to present as much as I can without going on to 3k words!  Stories this week come from rugby union, football, tennis, cycling, hockey, netball, cricket, rugby league plus a reminder about the Be a Game Changer awards.

Rugby Union – on the pitch

Tyrrell’s Premier 15s Final

Saracens are the inaugural Premier 15s Champions.

They beat Harlequins 20-24 in the final at Ealing Trailfinders RFC on Sunday.

It was a fitting final to a fine season; full-blooded with plenty of flowing rugby on offer.

Saracens took the lead after five minutes when Sam Martinez Gion went over for the first try.  Quins hit back quickly with an Ellie Green penalty.

Saracens looked to have got a second on 10 minutes when Poppy Cleall crossed, but it was disallowed and the penalty given to Quins.  Saracens were clearly on top, but couldn’t seem to make the most of their possession until Lotte Clapp went over under the posts to make it 12-3.

Quins tried to get back into it, but were disappointed when Garnet Mackinder went in for Saracens’ third just before half-time.  They didn’t give up, however, and got their due reward as Holly Myers scored the try to get them back into the game and make it 8-17 at the break.

The momentum was with Quins and they took full advantage, Jess Breach scoring their second try nine minutes in.

There then followed a period when it looked to be anyone’s game.  Hannah Botterman scored a try for Saracens and then Deborah McCormack did the same for Quins, taking the score to 24-20 with just two minutes left.

Quins thought their comeback could be completed when Poppy Cleall was sin-binned for killing the ball on the line.  But Jess Breach could not quite get over and nothing Quins tried came off.

The game ended with a turnover by Player of the Match, Marlie Packer and Saracens had won it.

Rugby Union – off the pitch

England full-back and wing Danielle Waterman has announced her retirement from international rugby.

She won 82 caps for England in a career spanning 15 years and scored 47 tries.

“It has been an incredible journey and a true honour to be a Red Rose for the past 15 years,

“It’s been a huge privilege to have not only played alongside and against some of the best players in the world, but to have been part of the huge development and progression of women’s international rugby to date.

“Winning the World Cup in 2014 was definitely a dream come true and to beat New Zealand for the first time in 16 years and go world number one was amazing, and to do it with the support of the Lions crowd was amazing.”

Waterman will continue to play her club rugby with Wasps.

Tennis – on the court 

Stuttgart Open

Karolina Pliskova defeated Coco Vandeweghe 7-6 6-4.  Vanderweghe had been very much in it in the first set, but at the beginning of the second she fell and injured her hand, necessitating a medical timeout.

In the end, Pliskova’s serve was the difference – she served 11 aces in the two sets.

Istanbul Open

Meanwhile, In Istanbul France’s Pauline Parmentier was triumphant, beating Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-4 3-6 6-3.  Three out of four semi-finalists were unseeded and Parmientier saw off the last of them, Irina-Camelia Begu, seeded seven, in straight sets.

This week we’re on to Prague and Rabat, Morocco.

Prague Open

Unfortunately, it gets no better for Britain’s Heather Watson this season.  She lost in the first round of the Prague Open to wildcard Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-1 6-3.  Last week’s Stuttgart winner, Karoline Pliskova, has withdrawn from her home tournament, through injury.

We are now at the semi-final stage:
Zhang Shuai (6) v Petra Kvitova (2)
Mihaela Buzărnescu (7) v Camila Giorgi

Morocco Open

We lost second, third and fourth seeds, Dominika Cibulkova, Petra Martić and Timea Babos in the first round.

The semi-final line-up:
Ajla Tomljanović v Aleksandra Krunić (7)
Elise Mertens (1) v Su-Wei Hsieh (8)

Tennis – off the court

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Madrid Open which starts next week.  She has said she does not yet feel ready for the clay season.

Football

Don’t forget it’s the FA Cup final on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.  Apparently over 40,000 tickets have already been sold.

It’s bound to be a close-fought thing with Arsenal and Chelsea well-matched.  Neither side has had the ideal run up to the final with Arsenal beaten 3-0 by Birmingham City at the weekend and Chelsea totally outplayed by Wolfsburg on Sunday.

The match kicks off at 5.30pm and is live on BBC1 from 5.10pm.

Champions League

Unfortunately it was all too predictable for the remaining English teams as both went out at the semi-final stage to their impressive opponents.

Lyon 1-0 Manchester City
(Lyon win 1-0 on aggregate)

Former City player and England star, Lucy Bronze, put paid to City’s hopes on Sunday with a stunning volley to take her new club through to the final.

In truth, City barely raised a chance throughout the tie (both legs) and went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Lyon had several other chances, the best of which fell to Amandine Henry in the second-half, but her shot came off the post.

After the season started well, City only have the league title to go for and they currently lie second behind Chelsea.

Wolfsburg 2-0 Chelsea
(Wolfsburg win 5-1 on aggregate)

The damage was done in the first leg of this tie.  Wolfsburg took it incredibly easy as they romped away to a 2-0 win.

Pernille Harder scored the first put the first away after making a good run into the box and Ewa Pajor headed the second to seal the win.

Although the British teams are getting closer, I’m afraid it still looks as if they are some way behind their continental European colleagues when it comes to European competition.  There will, undoubtedly be further progress next season and there needs to be if the world’s best players are to be tempted to play in the FAWSL.

FAWSL

Saturday 28 April
WSL2
Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-1 London Bees

Sunday 29 April
WSL1
Sunderland AFC 0-2 Reading
Birmingham City 3-0 Arsenal (hat-trick for Ellen White)
Liverpool 1-1 Everton

WSL2
Tottenham Hotspur 6-3 Durham
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Aston Villa
Sheffield FC 4-1 Oxford United
Watford 0-4 Millwall Lionesses

Wednesday 2 May
WSL2
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Millwall Lionesses

Thursday 3 May
WSL1
Bristol City 1-6 Manchester City

There’s a change at the top of WSL1 as Man City’s drubbing of Bristol City meant not only drawing level with Chelsea on points, but overtaking them on goal difference.  They have 32 points from 14 games and a goal difference of28.  Chelsea are second with a goal difference of 26 from 14 games and Reading are third with 28 points but having played two games more.  We may just be saying at the end of the season that bagging that six at Bristol won City the WSL1 title. Yeovil are still bottom with just two points from 14, while Bristol City are second from bottom on 10.

In WSL2 Doncaster Rovers Belles are still top on 38 points from 15 games.  Millwall missed the chance to close the gap as they could only draw their game in hand against Spurs and are second on 33.  Brighton & Hove Albion lie third with 31 from 14 games.  Watford lie marooned at the bottom with just a solitary point from 13 games.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey Premier League Final

Surbiton completed their fifth title in a row as they beat Holcombe 3-1 in the final on Saturday 28 April at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.

They scored in the first half through Sarah Page (8th minute field goal), Hollie Pearne-Webb (10th minute penalty corner) and Beckie Middleton (26th minute penalty corner), taking the match away from Holcombe.

In the second-half Holcombe battled back, scoring a goal through Heather McEwan (35th minute field goal), but it proved only to be a consolation as Surbiton took the title once more.

Play-offs

Slough retained their Premier League status after they draw 1-1 with Beeston, while Hampstead & Westminster beat Stourport 4-2.

Slough 1-1 Beeston

Beeston scored first through a Sophie Robinson field goal, but Slough kept on pressurising the Beeston goal until in the 23rd minute Mel Ball rounded the keeper to equalise.

It was a competitive second-half, with both sides having chances to win it.  In the end the draw for Slough was enough.

Hampstead & Westminster 4-2 Stourport

Hampstead & Westminster not only needed a win, but they needed Slough to lose to be promoted.  Whilst they fulfilled their part of the bargain, the Slough draw meant they were foiled in their attempt.

Stourport took the lead through a Lorna Mackenzie penalty corner, but Hampstead & Westminster equalised soon after with a Lauren Turner field goal.  Just minutes later they were in front as Jessica Orrett fired home a penalty corner.

In the second-half both teams were still battling hard.  A reverse strike from Sophie Thompson brought Stourport level, but the Londoners were not done.  Louise Radford scored their third and Turner their fourth and her second to take the tie away from Stourport.

Rugby League

The Super League scores from the weekend were as follows:

Castleford 40-16 Bradford Bulls
Wigan Warriors 14-20 Leeds Rhinos
St Helens 40-14 Featherstone Rovers

So after three matches of the season, St Helens are top with the only 100% record.  Castleford Tigers are second on four points.  There are still three teams yet to get off the mark; Bradford Bulls, Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights, although the latter two have only played two games.

Cycling

It’s the Tour de Yorkshire this week and stage one was won by Dutch rider Kirsten Wild of the Wiggle High5 team.

Britain’s Dani Rowe lies fourth after she picked up four bonus seconds in intermediate sprints and fellow Briton Pfeiffer Georgi will be in the Queen of the Mountains jersey as she reached the only climb of stage one in first place.

Friday’s second stage starts in Barnsley and is 128km long.

Netball

It was round nine of the Netball Superleague last weekend.  The results were:

Wasps 64-60 Manchester Thunder
UWS Sirens 44-58 Surrey Storm
Celtic Dragons 51-56 Team Northumbria
Severn Stars 43-58 Loughborough Lightning
Benecos Mavericks 57-41 Team Bath

So Wasps maintain their 100% record with 10 wins from 10 games.  As I have said before the figures may be somewhat skewed as although it was round nine, Wasps have played 10 and some teams only seven!  Benecos Mavericks have 21 points – that’s seven wins from nine games.  Lightning are third on 18 – six wins from nine.  Team Northumbria are off the bottom of the table, having registered their first win of the season in their ninth attempt when they beat the Celtic Dragons on Saturday.  UWS Sirens are bottom with only one win, but they have only played seven games.

This weekend sees a kind of combined round 10 & 11 to cover the Bank Holiday in the UK.  The fixtures are:

Friday 4 May
Team Bath v Celtic Dragons (7.30pm)

Saturday 5 May
UWS Sirens v Manchester Thunder (2pm)
Surrey Storm v Benecos Mavericks (6pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Team Northumbria (6pm)

Monday 7 May
Surrey Storm v Celtic Dragons (3pm)
Team Bath v Severn Stars (5pm) – Live on Sky Sports
Manchester Thunder v Loughborough Lightning (5pm)
Team Northumbria v UWS Sirens (6pm)

Cricket

Two pieces of cricket news this week.

Firstly, Wales have signed New Zealand wicketkeeper-batter Rachel Priest for the 2018 county season.  This is a major coup for Wales, who play in the second division in both the Women’s County One-Day Championship and the Women’s County T20.

It is hoped that Priest’s presence will inspire Wales in their push for promotion in both competitions.

Priest has played 86 ODIs for New Zealand with an average of 28.35.  She also played in the Kia Super League in 2017 for tournament winners, Western Storm.

Secondly, Sarah Taylor has given an interview with the BBC on how she has coped with the anxiety that put her out of the game for some time a couple of years ago.  It’s well worth a listen.  Here’s the link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/43991569

Be a Game Changer

Don’t forget you still have time to vote in the Women’s Sport Trust #Be A Game Changer Awards.  Check it out: https://www.womenssporttrust.com/bagc2018/

And finally,

No ranting; just something to consider.  This is a comment left at the end of the BBC website’s piece on the retirement of Danielle Waterman from international rugby:

“6. Posted by Bionic weather man

On 1 May 2018 11:15

I think it’s great what she has achieved but truth be known women’s rugby and women’s sport in general is a complete travesty. The tens of millions they waste on women’s sport could be better used else where [sic] to improve infrastructure etc.”

This is what we’re up against, Ladies and Gentlemen.  I’ll leave it there.

No column next week, but I’ll be back the following week with more news and views.