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Saracens 35 London Welsh 14 – Sarries go top: Match report

Saracens 35 London Welsh 14: Sarries go top as Strettle's hot streak continues

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:02 GMT, 3 March 2013

David Strettle continued to push for an England recall by sealing a bonus point win for Saracens against beleaguered London Welsh that took them to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

The in-form winger followed up his double at Leicester last week by running in Sarries' fourth try as they took themselves four points clear of Harlequins at the summit.

It rounds off a difficult week for Welsh, who find out their fate over the alleged ineligibility of scrum-half Tyson Keats at an RFU hearing on Tuesday which is threatening to seal their fate in their battle against the drop.

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

Man of the moment: Strettle crosses the whitewash to score late on for Sarries

The visitors got off to a disastrous start when Keats' kick in the first minute was charged down by Alistair Hargreaves, leading to a penalty and an easy three points for Charlie Hodgson.

Unsurprisingly, Saracens were having the lion's share of possession in the early stages and soon doubled their lead when Hodgson was given another simple kick at goal from under the posts.

A horribly-executed scrum then led a Welsh player being penalised for going in off his feet at a ruck, but Hodgson was this time unable to punish them as he kicked wide.

Completely against the run of play, London Welsh scored the game's first try after 26 minutes when Julio Cabello's off-load bounced nicely for Seb Stegmann on the left wing.

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

Flying start: Stegmann races clear for relegation-threatened Welsh

The debutant sold two Saracens players a dummy which both bought – and he could not believe his luck as he sauntered over, although Gavin Henson's missed conversion meant the hosts retained their lead.

But the visitors then lost Canadian winger Phil Mackenzie to the sin-bin and a few minutes later conceded a penalty try as a Sarries lineout led to a maul that was illegally dragged down.

To make matters worse, prop Tom Bristow was yellow-carded for the offence, but while they were down to 14 men, Henson knocked over a penalty.

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

High hopes: Joubert collects lineout ball for Saracens

However, yet more ill-discipline from the Exiles allowed Hodgson to slot another penalty before Henson reduced the gap to 16-11 with a scrappy drop goal that clipped the crossbar right on half-time.

Saracens managed to put more daylight between the sides seven minutes into the second half when a sweeping move involving Hodgson and Duncan Taylor led to Joel Tomkins holding off his tackler to score, with the former converting.

To London Welsh's credit, this latest setback still did not break their spirit and they brought the deficit back down to nine points with another Henson penalty.

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

Full stretch: Will Fraser adds another five points to Sarries' total

The inevitable raft of substitutions hurt the game's rhythm somewhat, Hodgson seeing a penalty come back off the left-hand post.

But Sarries took a huge step towards victory just after the hour mark when Strettle found Schalk Brits, whose off-load allowed Will Fraser to just about finish in the corner, with the try awarded by the TMO.

Still Welsh refused to lie down and the visitors thought they had a route back in the game when Henson touched down on the right wing – only to see the try chalked off for obstruction by Tom Arscott in the build-up.

The outcome was settled with eight minutes remaining when Saracens sealed the bonus point after Strettle went through a gap that appeared to be made by Tomkins holding back Henson.

India wrap up comfortable win over Australia in first Test in Chennai

India wrap up comfortable first Test win over abject Australia in Chennai

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

08:02 GMT, 26 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:06 GMT, 26 February 2013

Australia were comfortably beaten by India on the fifth morning of the first Test in Chennai.

Aussie debutant Moises Henriques was left stranded on 81 as his side were bowled out for 241 this morning, leaving India chasing just 50 to win, which they did for the loss of two wickets.

That simply was not enough to cause any jitters for India, even when the wickets of Murali Vijay and Virender Sehwag fell to Nathan Lyon, and there was time for Sachin Tendulkar to delight the home crowd with maximums off his first two deliveries.

Joy of six: Tendulkar hit his first two balls over the rope

Joy of six: Tendulkar hit his first two balls over the rope

Vijay perished for six as he picked out Henriques at short mid-off when he mistimed a drive off James Pattinson.

Sehwag followed in unusually tame fashion, edging to Michael Clarke at first slip as he defended the spinner.

Few in the Chennai crowd were disappointed, though, as that brought Tendulkar to the crease – and he gave them what they wanted by heaving his first two balls off Lyon for six.

End game: Cheteshwar Pujara hit the winning runs for India

End game: Cheteshwar Pujara hit the winning runs for India

He could not make it a hat-trick to win the game, but an edge for a single from Cheteshwar Pujara did the job just as well.

Earlier, Lyon could not help Henriques reach a debut century as Australia could only add nine to their overnight score.

Lyon's stout defence helped to repel the Indian bowlers for around 20 minutes this morning before he was finally caught by Vijay at short-leg off Ravindra Jadeja.

The second of four Tests begins on Saturday in Hyderabad.

David Cameron plays cricket in Mumbai

VIDEO: PM Cameron plays cricket in Mumbai… (and his cover drive is not bad!)

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:41 GMT, 18 February 2013

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UPDATED:

20:41 GMT, 18 February 2013

He is used to batting back questions from journalists and fellow MPs, so meeting willow with wood out in the middle of a cricket pitch shouldn't be completely alien to Prime Minister David Cameron – and it shows.

The PM, currently on a trade mission in India, produced a couple of stylish cover drives while being filmed playing cricket with children in a local park in Mumbai this week.

Scroll down to watch the video

Shot, sir: Cameron crashes a drive through the covers

Shot, sir: Cameron crashes a drive through the covers

As an Old Etonian Cameron is no stranger to the game but nonetheless his ability with the bat in hand will surprise many.

The PM went for one drive too many though, eventually losing his off stump after being bowled through gate by a seaming delivery that no doubt jagged back in off the Mumbai dustbowl of a pitch.

VIDEO: Watch David Cameron playing cricket in Mumbai

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Cameron was playing with children from the Global Cricket School, which teaches children from Mumbai's slums.

'He said he hadn't had a hit for a long time but he got going and hit a few good cover drives,' said Sachin Bajaj, the school's leader.

Kevin Pietersen shouldn't be too worried about his England place though.

On a mission: Cameron was taking time out from trade discussions

On a mission: Cameron was taking time out from trade discussions

Mark Cavendish wins Tour of Qatar stage

Qatar hero! British star Cavendish storms to victory on stage three

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

15:55 GMT, 5 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 5 February 2013

Mark Cavendish claimed his second win for Omega Pharma-QuickStep on stage three of the Tour of Qatar today.

The 27-year-old from the Isle of Man, who joined Omega Pharma-QuickStep following one year at Team Sky, opened his account for the Belgian squad in the Tour de San Luis and added another victory on the 143-kilometre route from Al Wakra to Mesaieed.

A 10-second time bonus accompanied the win and moved Cavendish to fourth overall, eight seconds behind American Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), who retained the lead.

All smiles: Mark Cavendish celebrates his stage win in Qatar

All smiles: Mark Cavendish celebrates his stage win in Qatar

Mark Cavendish

Two of Bookwalter's team-mates – American Taylor Phinney and Briton Adam Blythe – remained second and third overall, respectively.

Tomorrow's fourth stage is the 160km route from Camel Race Track to Al Khor Corniche.Cavendish wrote on Twitter:

'Nice to get the win here today in Tour Of Qatar! '@opqscyclingteam just chaperoned me the whole day. Machines! BIG machines! Thanks guys.'

Over the line: Cavendish powers to victory on stage three of the Qatar Tour

Over the line: Cavendish powers to victory on stage three of the Qatar Tour

Mark Cavendish

In an Omega Pharma-QuickStep media release, the Manxman added: 'I felt really strong, so I have to thank my team. They really kept me protected, kept me out of trouble the whole time and gave me energy for the sprint.

'I really had to kick at 350 meters, I was so far back.'

On the prospect of taking overall victory on Friday's final day, he added: 'I think it's best to come here, focus on the stage wins, and hope the GC (general classification) can come from that.'

England are Ashes favourites for good reason, admits Jason Gillespie

England deserve to be Ashes favourites, admits Aussie great Gillespie

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:30 GMT, 2 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:45 GMT, 2 February 2013

Yorkshire coach and former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie believes England will deservedly start as favourites for their defence of the Ashes later this year.

England retained the famous urn with an emphatic 3-1 win in the five-match Test series on Australian soil in 2010/11, and have been tipped to dictate terms again when the famous rivalry resumes in July.

Gillespie, having been installed as Yorkshire's first-team coach in 2011, has been able to assess the hosts' preparations first hand, and believes English optimism is well-placed.

Jason Gillespie thinks England's Ashes victories give them the advantage

Odds on: Jason Gillespie thinks England's will be full of confidence

Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

Pedigree: Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

'They are incredibly confident over here but they deserve to start favourites, England, no doubt about it,' Gillespie told The Australian newspaper.

'I think potentially they could underestimate our bowling. I've been speaking about it quite regularly over here and saying, ''Don't underestimate the strength of Australia's pace bowling attack''.

'But England won't underestimate Australia. They're too clever for that and I know the England management has already been doing a lot of research.

'They've been planning and researching for a long time. I've got no doubt they'll be wary.'

Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour to England

Lethal: Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour

Gillespie, who claimed 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia between 1996 and 2006, expects England's well-established bowling attack to trouble a relatively inexperienced Australian batting line-up.

'England's bowling is very good at the moment,' he said.

'Coming up against the Australian batting order, they will rightly feel they're in the game. They feel they can put Australia under pressure and can have Michael Clarke coming in consistently very early, at two or three down for not very many.

James Anderson could prove to be the difference

Match-winner: James Anderson could prove to be the difference

'James Anderson is one of the best going around. He'll lead the attack, (Steven) Finn is a very good bowler, (Tim) Bresnan is a very good bowler, (Stuart) Broad has had a bit of an up-and-down time but he's also a very good bowler.

'Graeme Swann is one of the best spin bowlers in the world, if not the number one. Their batting is strong and they've got the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world (Matt Prior) so they're in a good place.'

WHO ARE THE LIKELY BOWLERS IN THE MIX

England: James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar, Graeme Onions

Australia: Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Steven Smith

Saracens and Ulster Heineken Cup quarter-final at Twickenham

Twickenham to host Heineken Cup quarter-final between Saracens and Ulster

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:05 GMT, 30 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:57 GMT, 30 January 2013

Saracens have announced their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster on April 6 will be played at Twickenham.

The Aviva Premiership club's new Allianz Park home, complete with its artificial playing surface, had been mooted as a possible venue.

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

But club chairman Nigel Wray told Saracens' official website today that the game will be staged at Twickenham.

'We look forward to playing this important match at the home of English rugby, a ground that many of our players know extremely well,' Wray said.

'It is absolutely clear that people want to see big teams playing big matches at big stadiums, and that is precisely what we will deliver at Twickenham.

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

'We did consider the option of playing this showpiece match at Allianz Park, our brand new home stadium in NW4, but, in consultation with local residents and our partners at the London Borough of Barnet, we have decided to settle at the new venue before applying to stage a one-off event with a larger capacity.'

Harlequins will host Munster at their Twickenham Stoop home the following day, with the quarter-final line-up completed by Leicester visiting Toulon and Clermont Auvergne hosting Montpellier.

Six Nations 2013: Henry Thomas in England squad

Thomas drafted into England squad for Scotland clash as cover for Corbisiero

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 27 January 2013

Henry Thomas has been called into the England squad as injury cover for Alex Corbisiero ahead of next weekend's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham.

Sale Sharks prop Thomas will train with the rest of the England squad at Pennyhill Park ahead of Saturday's match while Corbisiero remains at London Irish for treatment on a knee injury, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement this evening.

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Call: Henry Thomas has joined up with the England squad

Harlequins' winger Ugo Monye has also been drafted into the 33-man training squad as Freddie Burns remains at Gloucester for treatment, also with a knee problem.

Meanwhile, the RFU also said Shaun Knight has withdrawn from the England Saxons squad as he, too, must return to Gloucester due to a knee injury.

The Saxons convene in Newcastle tomorrow morning ahead of their match with Scotland A at Kingston Park on Friday.

Ricky Hatton in Let"s Dance For Comic Relief

Former world champion Hatton to pull on dancing shoes for Comic Relief

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

00:01 GMT, 27 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:03 GMT, 27 January 2013

Ricky Hatton will swap the boxing ring for the dance floor when he takes part in Let's Dance For Comic Relief.

Fifteen contestants will battle it out in weekly heats before the 2013 champion is crowned in the grand final.

Former world champion Hatton retired for a second time after losing his comeback bout to Vyacheslav Senchenko last November.

Change of scenery: Boxer Ricky Hatton will dance for Comic Relief

Change of scenery: Boxer Ricky Hatton will dance for Comic Relief

He will be joined on the show by impersonator John Culshaw, ventriloquist Nina Conti and stand-up comic Tim Vine.

They will be attempting to emulate the success of television presenter Rowland Rivron, who wowed audiences with his routine to Fatboy Slim's Weapon Of Choice last year.

Host Steve Jones said: 'It's still the most fun I have on TV so I am ecstatic Let's Dance is back with a whole host of famous faces along with famous arms, legs, necks and fingers all attempting to dance for our viewing pleasure.'

Over and out: Hatton was beaten by Vyacheslav Senchenko on his comeback

Over and out: Hatton was beaten by Vyacheslav Senchenko on his comeback

Co-host Alex Jones said she was 'ridiculously excited' about the series, which raises money for the Comic Relief fund to help those in Africa and in the UK.

She added: 'We have some of our best comedians as panellists, and an unbelievable line-up of brave celebrities who are all prepared to don their dancing shoes to raise lots of money for this year's Red Nose Day.'

Judges for this year's Let's Dance, which starts on February 16 and ends on March 9, include Frank Skinner and Jo Brand. Viewers vote for their favourite performer each week, with the judges also choosing a runner-up to compete in the final.

Mo Farah will run at the Birmingham indoor Grand Prix in February

Farah to run indoor 3,000m in Birmingham to thank British fans who flocked to see Olympics

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:10 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

20:10 GMT, 17 January 2013

Mo Farah will run the 3,000 metres at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham on February 16, his only indoor race in 2013.

The Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion finished fourth in the 3,000m at the World Indoor Championships last March and has twice won European indoor championship gold over the distance.

‘I always love running in Birmingham and have fond memories of celebrating my Olympic success with the British fans at Alexander Stadium last August,’ Farah said.

Mo Farah is now one of Britain's all-time leading long-distance runners

Class act: Mo Farah is now one of Britain's all-time leading long-distance runners

‘I always run well at the National Indoor Arena. I won this meet in 2007, 2009 and 2011 and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do for next month.’

Looking ahead to the defence of his world outdoor 5,000m title in Moscow August, Farah believes that competing in Birmingham is an important part of his preparations.

‘The big focus this year is the world championships. I’ve had a good winter training block and the British Athletics Grand Prix will be the first time that I compete this year, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the track in front of a home crowd.’

Farah has not forgotten all his British fans

World famous: Farah has not forgotten all his British fans

Joe Root not resting on laurels after England beat India

Long way to go: Root not resting on laurels after Rajkot win

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

11:07 GMT, 12 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:04 GMT, 12 January 2013

Joe Root is confident England will not rest on their breakthrough success over India in yesterday's first one-day international.

England claimed a first 50-over win over India on their home soil in seven years, and 13 games, after securing a nine-run success in Rajkot.

The tourists had been whitewashed 5-0 in their previous two visits but, after a long-awaited Test success in the country last month, Root said the limited overs team would not get ahead of themselves in the five-match series.

Runs: Root was not required to bat in the first ODI as England racked up 325-4

Runs: Root was not required to bat in the first ODI as England racked up 325-4

'We all know how tough it is out here and there is still a long way to go in the series,' he told Sky Sports News.

'We are all up for it and ready to go for the second match (in Kochi on Tuesday).

'We are only concentrating on the next game and making sure we put in a good performance like we did in the first ODI. If we do that then we will be up there.'

Root was not required to bat on his ODI debut yesterday as England posted 325-4 on the back of a 158-run opening stand between Alastair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85).

Partnership: Bell (85) and captain Cook (75) shared an opening stand of 158

Partnership: Bell (85) and captain Cook (75) shared an opening stand of 158

The 22-year-old revealed he had begun the day expecting to come in at four but, after England's start, was shunted down the order.

It meant his nine handy overs of part-time spin – which conceded 51 runs – were his major contribution, although the Yorkshireman was hardly complaining.

'I was told I was going to bat four but the key to success everywhere is being able to adapt and we did that fantastically well yesterday,' he said.

'We're going to have to continue to do that throughout the tour if we are to be successful.

'I'm happy to play and be a part of it all so I'm not worried at all.'

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