Latest – The Wellington Phoenix have jumped up five places to seventh on the A-League men’s ladder after recording their third win of the season.
Jaushua Sotirio celebrates with teammates Photo: PHOTOSPORT
The Phoenix have beaten Macarthur FC 3-1 at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, courtesy of two second-half goals from Jaushua Sotirio.
Reno Piscopo gave the Nix a 1-0 halftime lead from the penalty spot before former Wellington playmaker Ulises Dávila equalised for Macarthur early in the second-half.
Sotirio clinically scored his two goals after missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the first-half.
“I think Jaushy could have scored a couple more goals in the first half. We could have [been] two or three nil up and killed the game after 45 minutes,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay said.
“But as we like it we always do it the hard way. We let them in the game with an error that we made but I think performance-wise the boys were fantastic today.”
Ufuk Talay made four changes to the XI which started last week’s FFA Cup semi-final. Fit-again vice-captain Oli Sail replaced Alex Paulsen in goal, All Whites Tim Payne and Clayton Lewis returned from international duty in place of Louis Fenton and Nicholas Pennington and Sotirio came in for Gary Hooper, who missed the match with a tight hamstring.
Villiere scores hat-trick for France
France began their bid for a first Six Nations title since 2010 with a 37-10 bonus-point win over Italy at a rain-soaked Stade de France, as winger Gabin Villiere ran in a hat-trick.
The Azzurri, looking for a first Championship win since 2015 and their first ever victory in Paris, took a surprise lead when teenage debutant Tommaso Menoncello gathered a kick to finish in the corner.
France struck back with Anthony Jelonch and Villiere tries to take an eight-point lead into halftime.
Villiere weaved a path through the Italian defence to cross again after the break before Damian Penaud added the bonus-point score, and Villiere dived over for his third with the clock in the red.
France are level with Ireland on five points at the top of the table after the opening round, ahead of their meeting in Paris next Saturday.
Italy face England in Rome next weeken, where both sides will be looking to respond to opening-day defeats after the English lost their opener in Scotland.
India easily win first ODI
India captain Rohit Sharma marked his return to the side with a half-century as the hosts cruised to a six-wicket win over the West Indies in the first one-day international of their three-match series in Ahmedabad.
Rohit Sharma Photo: PHOTOSPORT
Chasing 177 for victory, India romped home with 22 overs to spare despite losing four wickets in quick succession following a fluent start.
Rohit (60) set the early tone with some crisp strokeplay and was ably supported by Ishan Kishan (28) before the West Indies hit back through Alzarri Joseph, who accounted for Rohit and Virat Kohli (8) in the same over.
The game, however, was comfortably seen out by Suryakumar Yadav (34 not out) and debutant Deepak Hooda (26 not out).
Earlier, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal picked up his 100th ODI wicket as he ripped through the visitors with figures of 4-49. Washington Sundar was also among the wickets, picking up 3-30 on a pitch that was offering turn.
West Indies were reduced to 79-7 at one stage before Jason Holder (57) and Fabian Allen (29) combined to push them over 150.
The two sides meet in the second match at the same venue on Wednesday.
Murray to miss clay-court season
Former world men’s tennis number one Andy Murray says he intends to skip the French Open and the rest of the clay-court season in order to prevent injury and prolong his career following multiple hip surgeries.
The 34-year-old Murray, who crashed out in the second round of the Australian Open, will be in action at the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam this week after accepting a wildcard to enter the main draw.
“The past couple of years, the clay has made issues worse,” the three-times major winner told reporters ahead of his first-round match against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.
“Last year I had some issues at the beginning of the year, the clay didn’t help, so I’ve spoken to my team about that and this year while I feel good and healthy, I don’t want to take that risk.”
Murray, who made the final at Roland Garros in 2016, added that he could return to the surface in the future.
Blues boss wants more freedoms for fans
Auckland Blues chief executive Andrew Hore has expressed frustrations with New Zealand’s COVID-19 restrictions, saying they are getting “a bit silly” and that team is on the verge of financial ruin even before the start of the Super Rugby season.
The six New Zealand-based teams in the competition will spend the first few weeks of the season in a hub over coronavirus fears in the remote southern city of Queenstown, while attendance at matches will be capped at 100, in line with the government’s attempt to minimise coronavirus infections.
“We’re in no-man’s land about where things go. Then you’ve got these draconian close contact rules that make, for most businesses in this country looking through an economic lens, everything unworkable and seemingly very disorganised,” said Hore.
Even when the New Zealand-based teams return to play at their home venues in early March, there is no guarantee that crowds will be allowed back.
Across the Tasman Sea, the six Australia-based teams will welcome crowds, boosting their coffers and giving matches some atmosphere.
Hore almost pleaded with the government to relax its coronavirus-related rules, observing enviously the situation in other nations.
“We’re expecting crowds. People have made their choices around vaccinations and those people who are double-vaxxed should be rewarded with being able to go to these things,” he said.
“I don’t think we should be held to ransom by those that haven’t. The rest of the world seems to be getting on with it.
Del Potro set to retire
Argentine tennis player Juan Martin Del Potro is considering an imminent retirement from the sport, saying recurring injuries mean two tournaments in Argentina and Brazil this month will “possibly” be his last.
Juan Martin del Potro. Photo: PHOTOSPORT
“This is one of the hardest messages I’ve ever had to face up to and communicate,” the 33-year-old said.
“Everyone knows and hopes that I return to tennis. Possibly it won’t be like that and that it will be more of a farewell than a return.”
The former world number three last played a tournament match in June 2019 at Queens in London. He injured his knee and has been struggling to regain full fitness ever since.
Del Potro has won 22 ATP titles since turning professional in 2005, including the 2009 U.S. Open, his only major win.
He has a wild card entry into the Argentina and Rio de Janeiro Opens, both of which take place this month.