Tag Archives: mismatch

Leicester 17 Gloucester 12: Anthony Allen scores against former club

Leicester 17 Gloucester 12: Tigers leap up to second as Allen crosses against former club

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UPDATED:

20:04 GMT, 29 December 2012

Leicester fought off a rousing finish from Gloucester to win a thrilling match 17-12 at Welford Road and jump two places to second in the Aviva Premiership.

Trailing by five points Gloucester threw everything at Leicester in the final few minutes and were twice thwarted by the Tigers' last ditch defence on the line.

Anthony Allen scored the only try of the match against his former club seven minutes after half-time following intense pressure from a Leicester pack that dominated a match in which four players were yellow carded.

Try-time: Anthony Allen goes over for the game's only five-pointer

Try-time: Anthony Allen goes over for the game's only five-pointer

Leicester's other points came from fly-half George Ford, who kicked three penalties, and Geordan Murphy who added another. Fly-half Freddie Burns slotted four for Gloucester.

The withdrawal of England fly-half Toby Flood through illness deprived a capacity 24,000 crowd of a shoot-out with Gloucester's rising star Burns, who made his England debut as a replacement against the All Blacks.

It did, however, lead to a battle of the young pretenders for the England No 10 spot, with 19-year-old Ford called up to replace Flood. On a pitch made heavy by recent rain their kicking was more important than usual.

Burns won the battle in the first half, slotting two penalties out of three to Ford's one from three, giving Gloucester a 6-3 half time lead.

They would have been more than happy with that after spending most of the 40 minutes on the back foot, especially in the scrums where they were continuously marched backwards as if on wheels.

Mismatch: Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan is tackled by George Ford

Mismatch: Gloucester No 8 Ben Morgan is tackled by George Ford (right)

Leicester dominated that set piece so much that referee Andrew Small eventually lost patience in the 24th minute and showed Gloucester tight head prop Shaun Knight a yellow card.

Leicester, however, were unable to take advantage and around the half-hour mark they opted for four successive scrums near the Gloucester line instead of taking the three points from a penalty and came away with nothing.

Gloucester were awarded a penalty at the fourth scrum, escaped their own half and saw Leicester reduced to 14 men when scrum-half Ben Youngs was sin-binned for killing the ball. It was his second yellow card in successive games.

Burns missed the 45-metre penalty but he had already succeeded with penalties in the eighth and 27th minutes, while Ford's only success came in the fifth minute. He missed penalties in the 21st and 29th minutes, and he topped the second one so badly it hardly got off the ground.

The second half started with a bang and within seven minutes Burns had kicked his third penalty, and Leicester had scored a try and seen another player sin-binned.

High hopes: Manu Tuilagi performs acrobatics for the home side

High hopes: Manu Tuilagi performs acrobatics for the home side

Burns' penalty came after Ford was yellow carded for killing the ball in front of his own posts as he attempted to make amends for a move which went horribly wrong, his pass to Manu Tuilagi going to ground and allowing Burns to hack the ball upfield.

As Ford trooped off Youngs came back on and he provided the scoring pass from a ruck on the line for former Gloucester centre Allen to score in the corner after intense pressure from the Tigers pack.

Murphy, who took over the kicking duties from Ford, missed the conversion but slotted a penalty after Gloucester lock Will James became the fourth player to be binned.

That put Leicester 11-9 ahead and Burns missed a chance to restore Gloucester's lead when he was wide with a difficult 57th minute penalty.

Ford made it 14-9 with a penalty shortly after returning to the pitch as Leicester continued to dominate but Burns put Gloucester back in the game with a long range penalty 11 minutes from time.

Ford kicked his third penalty to make it 17-12 and while Gloucester staged a grandstand finish Leicester held on.

US Open 2012: Serena Williams beats Sara Errani

Williams hammers Errani to set up US Open final clash with world No 1 Azarenka

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UPDATED:

00:17 GMT, 8 September 2012

Serena Williams will face world No 1 Victoria Azarenka in the US Open final on Saturday after the American ended the run of Sara Errani in a one-sided semi-final.

Williams triumphed 6-1 6-2 in one hour and four minutes in a match that could not have been more different to the earlier contest between Azarenka and Maria Sharapova which was a far closer affair.

Williams is looking for her fourth title at Flushing Meadows in her sixth final after losing to Sam Stosur last year, and she has lost only one of 10 previous meetings with Azarenka.

Easy does it: Serena Williams hammered Sara Errani in her semi-final match

Easy does it: Serena Williams hammered Sara Errani in her semi-final match

The clash against Errani always looked like a mismatch, and so it proved. At only 5ft 4 1/2in and slight, Errani was giving away a huge amount of power to her opponent, and it told.

Williams won the first five games before the Italian finally got on the board, and that was only a minor delay before the fourth seed clinched the opening set after half an hour with a backhand winner.

It was her 18th winner in seven games compared to three from her opponent, and the pattern continued at the start of the second set.

Errani has had a brilliant season, reaching her first grand slam final at the French Open and establishing herself in the top 10, and she certainly was not about to give up.

Powerhouse: Williams set up a final with Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows

Powerhouse: Williams set up a final with Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows

Not quite there: Sara Errani threw everything at Williams but it wasn't enough

Not quite there: Sara Errani threw everything at Williams but it wasn't enough

She won the third game of the second set to at least give herself hope, but that was fading fast as Williams extended her lead to 4-1.

Errani simply could do nothing to take the American out of her comfort zone and Williams set up match point with a crunching backhand winner down the line.

She missed that one and Errani doggedly held serve but the Italian had got nowhere near Williams' serve all match and the 30-year-old clinched victory with a second-serve ace, letting out a scream of delight.

Williams was the hot favourite to win the title before the tournament after her Wimbledon and Olympic success, and that has certainly not changed.

She has dropped only 19 games in six matches, and blasted 38 winners compared to only six from Errani.

Williams said: 'It's really awesome. This is what I wanted and what I dreamed of all year. I'm really happy, I'm in the final again, and I'm excited.'

Errani still has a chance of winning US Open silverware when she and fellow Italian Roberta Vinci take on Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova in the women's doubles final.

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

Stars on show: The likes of Eva Longoria and WIll Ferrell attended the thrilling match

Tim Tebow Super Bowl dream dies as Tom Brady leads New England Patriots to win

Brady ends Tebow fairytale as Patriots beat Broncos to keep Super Bowl dream alive

All the heroics, all the big plays and quite a few records belonged to quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Saturday as they routed the much-hyped Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 45-10 in their NFL divisional play-off.

Brady threw six touchdown passes, five in the first half, putting the Patriots into the AFC championship game and silencing the American frenzy surrounding Tebow.

The Patriots (14-3), winners of nine straight games, will host either Baltimore or Houston next Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl. Saturday's romp snapped a three-game post-season losing streak, two of those at Gillette Stadium, and lifted the Patriots to the verge of their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 seasons. They've won three of those, two with Brady as the game's MVP.

Bowing out: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow could not help his side to victory

Bowing out: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow could not help his side to victory

'We came in and started fast and it was a big win for us,' said Brady, who even had a 48-yard punt on third down in the last quarter.

'I have no idea about records and stuff like that. Anytime you score 45, with the help of our defense, and special teams played great – hopefully we can go out next week and play even better.'

From the first snap, this was a mismatch. The Patriots were not going to make the same mistakes the Steelers made against Denver.

A nation transfixed by Tebow's play, and overt Christian displays, tuned in Saturday to see if he had any more magic in store for Brady and company. He had nothing left as the Patriots made this must-see TV only for those who live in New England.

Calling the shots: Legendary quarterback Tom Brady gives his orders to the New England Patriots

Calling the shots: Legendary quarterback Tom Brady gives his orders to the New England Patriots

With New England up 42-7, the fans began jeering Tebow. On the next play, the Broncos quarterback was sacked for an 11-yard loss – one of five sacks for New England's defense.

And so ended one of the season's most exciting story lines – one that began when Denver was 1-4 and made Tebow a starter. The one-time third-stringer promptly won six in a row and seven of eight, with a string of stunning comebacks.

'A lot of ups and downs,' Tebow said of his second NFL season.

'Overall, it's been a very special opportunity for me, something I'm really thankful for. There's a lot of things we're proud of. It's hard to see them all right now.'

Denver couldn't cover or tackle Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who tied a postseason mark with three touchdown catches, all in the opening half. Brady toyed with the Broncos (9-9), throwing more TD passes than Tebow had completions (three) in the first 30 minutes.

Fall guy: New England Patriots defensive tackle Gerard Warren (98) celebrates after sacking Tebow

Fall guy: New England Patriots defensive tackle Gerard Warren (98) celebrates after sacking Tebow

Brady's sixth TD was to his other tight end, Aaron Hernandez, as the quarterback tied Steve Young and Daryle Lamonica for the most in a postseason game.

Brady moved to third place in career touchdown passes in the playoffs with 36, trailing Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44).

He was 26 for 34 for 363 yards and Gronkowski made 10 catches for 145 yards as the Patriots gained 509 yards in all. In stark contrast, Tebow was nine for 26 for 136 yards.

Brady hit his first eight passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who's leaving to become Penn State's coach, threw up a surprise by using Hernandez as a running back. On one of those plays, Hernandez broke free down the left sideline for a 43-yard gain, the team's longest run this season.

End of the road: Tebow walks off after the Broncos crushing divisional play-off defeat

End of the road: Tebow walks off after the Broncos crushing divisional play-off defeat

But with the ball in his hands and a 14-0 lead, Brady momentarily stumbled. His throw over the middle for Julian Edelman sailed directly to safety Quinton Carter, whose weaving return set up Denver at the New England 24 and Willis McGahee scored on a five-yard run.

Carter left the game moments later with a neck injury; Denver was already without strong safety Brian Dawkins with a neck problem. And it's secondary had no chance without them.

Using the no-huddle, and aided by an effective running game, Brady hit three passes for 31 yards, with Gronkowski getting free over the middle this time for the 12-yard score. Several times, and not just on his romps into the end zone, Gronkowski simply shoved aside would-be tacklers to tack on yards after catches.

Brady's TDs covered 10, 12 and 19 yards to Gronkowski, 7 to Wes Welker, 61 to Deion Branch and 17 yards to Hernandez early in the third quarter. Coach Bill Belichick wasn't about to back off at that point, but the Patriots stalled inside the Denver five early in the fourth period and Stephen Gostkowski made a 21-yard field goal to conclude New England's scoring.

49ERS 36 SAINTS 32

In San Francisco, quarterback Alex Smith completed a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with 9 seconds left to give San Francisco a thrilling win over New Orleans.

Smith's 14-yard pass came just after New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees had put his team ahead, but the Saints were left to rue five turnovers which did as much as anything to hand the game to the resurgent San Francisco.

'This is big for us,' Davis said. 'It's history. It's legendary.'

Cheer we go: San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers celebrates with cheerleaders after his team defeated the New Orleans Saints

Cheer we go: San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers celebrates with cheerleaders after his team defeated the New Orleans Saints

Coach Jim Harbaugh's NFC West champions (14-3) proved that a hard-hitting, stingy defense can still win in the modern, wide-open NFL, holding off one of league's most dynamic offenses.

Smith also ran for a 28-yard TD with 2:11 left, but in a see-sawing finish, Brees completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with 1:37 left.

That seemed to be enough to complete a successful rally by the Saints from a 17-point deficit, only for Smith and Davis to deliver the winning score.

San Francisco triumphed in its first playoff game in nine years and will move on to face the New York Giants or defending champion Green Bay Packers, who play Sunday. A win by the Giants would give the 49ers the home field.

Harbaugh's 'Who's got it better than us Nobody!' group is drawing comparisons to the 49ers good ol' days of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott and Steve Young.

With Donte Whitner bringing the bruising hits and Dashon Goldson, Patrick Willis and their defensive mates pressuring Brees and forcing turnovers from every angle, surprising San Francisco is a win away from returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since capturing the franchise's fifth championship after the 1994 season.

Brees, whose team was coming off consecutive 600-yard games, completed 40 of 63 passes for 462 yards and four touchdowns and was sacked three times. He also threw two interceptions, his first in the postseason in five years, and New Orleans (14-4) fell short again in its quest to get back to the Super Bowl after winning it all two years ago. The Saints are still searching for the first post-season road victory in franchise history after falling to 0-5.

Twist and shout: Vernon Davis was delighted with the 49ers victory

Twist and shout: Vernon Davis was delighted with the 49ers victory

David Akers, the Niners' most experienced playoff veteran whose 44 field goals set a single-season record, kicked three more when it mattered most – from 25, 41 and 37 yards.

The underdog 49ers made the big plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams.

The Saints had lost five fumbles all season, then gave three away Saturday.

Brees drove the Saints close to the goal line on their opening drive but Pierre Thomas lost that fumble and was lost for the game to a head injury after being hit by Whitner. Two other turnovers came on special teams.

Smith, the 2005 No 1 overall draft pick booed so often his first six seasons, hit Davis on a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and then Michael Crabtree on a 4-yard TD strike as the 49ers jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead. He finished 24 for 42 for 299 yards with a 103.2 passer rating, showing the world he might be an elite quarterback after all in his breakout season.

Disappointed: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees trudges off at the end of the game

Disappointed: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees trudges off at the end of the game

Brees threw two first-half interceptions and had his NFL-record streak of 226 postseason passes without an interception snapped on Goldson's pick in the opening quarter.

But he hit a well-guarded Graham for a leaping 14-yard touchdown catch at the 9:32 mark of the second quarter, then had a 25-yard TD completion to Marques Colston to send the Saints into halftime trailing only 17-14.

Any momentum New Orleans gained was hurt when return man Darren Sproles fumbled after the 49ers punted on their first possession of the second half. That set up Akers' second field goal of the day.

Brees shone late in the game, just as he did throughout a record-setting season, also hitting Sproles for a 44-yard TD with 4:02 remaining – one of Sproles' 15 catches for 119 yards.

Connacht 10 Gloucester 14: Burns fires Cherry and Whites to glory

Connacht 10 Gloucester 14: Burns fires Cherry and Whites to glory

Freddie Burns landed the decisive penalty as Gloucester clawed their way past Connacht to claim their first win in this season”s Heineken Cup.

Burns kicked the English side 6-0 ahead at the Sportsground before James Simpson-Daniel and Connacht captain Gavin Duffy swapped tries coming up to half-time.

The second period was bookended by penalties from Niall O”Connor and Burns as the Cherry and Whites stood firm to pick up only their second away victory in all competitions sinceFebruary.

Freddie to rumble: Burns booted Gloucester to victory

Freddie to rumble: Burns booted Gloucester to victory

Connacht showed their intent in the opening minutes with Ethienne Reynecke snaffling a turnover and David Gannon bounding up the right wing.

Gloucester scrambled well though and despite struggling for early territory, Burns edged them ahead with a thumping eighth-minute penalty from halfway.

Pressure from the restart led to Dario Chistolini infringing at a scrum, but O”Connor failed to find the target. Burns then spotted a mismatch in midfield to storm into the Connacht 22, setting up a third penalty attempt which he converted.

Justice was served for the hosts when Burns struck an upright with a long-range penalty attempt after Ray Ofisa was harshly penalised.

Connacht were let down by a series of mistakes – loose lineouts being the most obvious – and Gloucester cranked up the pressure for a deserved 31st-minute try.

Their skipper Luke Narraway went close before play was swung out to the left, the Cherry and Whites biding their time until a lovely offload out of the tackle from Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu sent Simpson-Daniel over in the corner.

Burns failed to add the extras but the concession of the try prompted Connacht to lift their game.

O”Connor”s high kick broke for Duffy to gather and jink away from Olly Morgan and glide over by the posts.

O”Connor converted to close the gap to 11-7 before Gloucester almost ended the half with a second try, Charlie Sharples just running out of space as he hurtled onto Henry Trinder”s teasing grubber kick.

An early offside in the second half saw O”Connor make it a one-point game, slotting a high and handsome kick from the right.

A powerful couple of scrums and a lineout maul got Gloucester back into scoring range, but they turned down a kickable penalty and Connacht”s committed defence kept them out.

However, it fell to Burns to punish Rodney Ah You for being caught offside on 72 minutes, his close-range penalty edging Gloucester home, although the losing bonus point got Connacht off the mark in their first Heineken Cup campaign.