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SIX NATIONS 2013: Chris Robshaw hails England preparation after Ireland win

England preparation key to not choking in Ireland, claims skipper Robshaw after win

PUBLISHED:

15:55 GMT, 11 February 2013

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 11 February 2013

England captain Chris Robshaw believes that the way his side nullified the effect of Ireland's 'choke' tackling was key to Sunday's vital win in Dublin.

Irish defenders looked to double up on the ball carrier and swarm their upper body in the tackle, preventing the offload and trying to force a turnover.

It was a tactic that worked brilliantly in their win over Wales last weekend but Robshaw revealed in the Daily Telegraph that England worked hard on countering the threat.

Winners: Captain Chris Robshaw celebrates England's win over Ireland on Sunday

Winners: Captain Chris Robshaw celebrates England's win over Ireland on Sunday

'We had worked hard last week on combating their choke tackle and for the majority of the time we negated it,' he said.

'It is a real strength of theirs, it gets their crowd and their team going and to nullify that gave us a significant edge.

'The key was in running a little bit lower because if you run upright they are very good at holding you up there. You also have to look after your mates.'

The 12-6 win, which has put England well and truly on course to win this year's Six Nations, looked in the balance when Red Rose flanker James Haskell was sin-binned on 57 minutes for not rolling.

Hitting the target: Owen Farrell scored all of England's points in the win at the Aviva Stadium

Hitting the target: Owen Farrell scored all of England's points in the win at the Aviva Stadium

Ronan O'Gara slotted the penalty to level the scores at 6-6 and momentum looked to be swinging Ireland's way.

England were heroic with 14 men though, not only holding out but stretching into a six-point lead before Haskell returned.

Robshaw revealed that, again, head coach Stuart Lancaster's meticulous preparation for such events helped England over the line.

'The big test came for us when James Haskell was sent to the sin bin in the second half,' Robshaw added.

'Their crowd had started to get up, their players started to get up and we had to take the sting out of the situation. That is what we did.'

LIVE: India v England – Twenty20 international in Pune

LIVE: India v England – follow the score from the first Twenty20 international in Pune

PUBLISHED:

13:02 GMT, 20 December 2012

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UPDATED:

13:45 GMT, 20 December 2012

England take on India in the first of a two-match Twenty20 international series in Pune on Thursday afternoon.

Captain Morgan: The England batsman leads the side in Stuart Broad's absence

Captain Morgan: The England batsman leads the side in Stuart Broad's absence

Although
both sides will make changes from the recent Test series, England will
be looking to take momentum from the historic 3-1 win into the shortest
form of the game.

Eoin Morgan captains the tourists with regular skipper Stuart Broad back at home with a heel injury.

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool forced Aston Villa defeat on themselves

Villa damage was self inflicted, says Rodgers after Liverpool stunned at home

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UPDATED:

19:05 GMT, 15 December 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers criticised his side's defending for a self-inflicted 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa.

Striker Christian Benteke scored twice either side of Andreas Weimann's well-worked goal before Steven Gerrard struck a late consolation as the hosts' three-match winning run was ended.

Rodgers felt his side should have been awarded a penalty for Ciaran Clark's pull on Daniel Agger's shirt early in the second half with the score at 2-0 but had no excuses for their defensive display.

Disappointed: Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool's mistakes and careless play let Aston Villa take the game

Disappointed: Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool's mistakes and careless play let Aston Villa take the game

'We are very disappointed and to be honest I didn't see that coming as our momentum and confidence coming into the game was probably as high as it's been,' said the Reds boss, whose side dominated before Benteke's 29th-minute opener.

'We probably got punished for our decision-making in that first 20 minutes, we were a bit careless.

'We could easily have been 3-0 up in the game and if we do that we can control it much better but we didn't have that final pass and bit of quality at the top end of the field.

'Then we went on to concede some poor goals. We weren't quite at it today with our intensity and pressure in the game and they were a threat on the counter-attack and got the goals.

'I thought we were flat. It was important for us to get the first goal – with them playing 3-5-2 – to open up the game but we had those chances early on and didn't take them.

'Once that happens, combined with sloppy play and giving the ball away in poor areas, we contrived to concede bad goals.

'Benteke was outstanding today but he got his shot in too easy for the first.

'The second goal we never tracked the runners into the box and then the third goal we've given it away in our half and he's broken through and nearly runs to the edge of the six-yard box before finishing.

'It was so unlike us because we're usually strong defensively. It was very much self-inflicted today.

'It was surprising because we haven't shown that in the last few months.'

On the penalty incident early in the second half Rodgers added: 'I thought when it was 2-0 we should have had a penalty so I'm not sure what we are going to have to do to get one.

'The referees are asked to look at the shirt pulling. I thought Agger was outstanding today but he gets pulled to the floor, it goes to 2-1 and you have most of the second half to apply the pressure.

'But as soon as the third goal went in we looked deflated and then Villa have no need to come out and go after the game and they just sat.

On fire: Christian Benteke (centre) pounced twice as the Reds lost at home

On fire: Christian Benteke (centre) pounced twice as the Reds lost at home

'For us it was a bad day at the office.'

It was the first time Villa had scored more than once in any half of league football this season and extended their unbeaten run to five matches with only a second away win in 17 away league games.

Only a fifth Anfield victory in 34 visits also almost doubled their league away goals tally, which now stands at seven.

'I think the whole performance was fabulous, the goals were excellent as was the way we defended,' said manager Paul Lambert.

'I thought we were excellent. The goals were brilliant: the second goal, with the movement and the backheel, especially.

Made to pay: Andreas Weimann struck the other as Villa ran out 3-1 winners

Made to pay: Andreas Weimann struck the other as Villa ran out 3-1 winners

'Benteke has been unbelievable while Andy Weimann knows where the goal is, he's a natural finisher and his enthusiasm and work ethic are second to none.

'The back three were terrific and put their bodies on the line when they had to.

'I am pretty sure Liverpool will give anyone a game here.

'It is just about trying to hold your nerve and trying to see it through, which is what we have done.'

Tom Wood will take no fear mentality from England to Northampton

Northampton's Wood still in mood for upset after England triumph

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UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

Tom Wood will resume club duties for Northampton on Friday night armed with the same ‘no fear’ mentality that he took into England’s epic victory over the All Blacks.

He and his fellow Saints aim to halt another double-digit winning run in their Heineken Cup pool four clash with Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens.

The flanker wears No 7 tonight after his man-of-the-match contribution to New Zealand’s downfall at Twickenham, when he wore No 6. But the positional change won’t mean a notable change of approach.

Spirit: Tom Wood (right) wants to take momentum and attitude from England's win over the All Blacks

Spirit: Tom Wood (right) wants to take momentum and attitude from England's win over the All Blacks

This will be a return to normality for the 26-year-old and lock Courtney Lawes after the high of being part of Saturday’s record win against the All Blacks.

But for the likes of Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden, this Anglo-Irish collision represents a first major opportunity to press their cases for a Test recall in the new year.

Yet the main focus for Wood and his fellow Saints is finding a way to stop an Ulster side who are runaway leaders of the Rabo-Direct Pro12 league and have won all their 12 games this season.

Then again, New Zealand were unbeaten in 20 international matches when they arrived in London, only to lose 38-21.

Wood said: ‘We’ll be on a high from that for a long time, it was a memorable day. But my feet are on the ground here at Northampton and I’ve been straight into training again.

Memorable: Wood certainly enjoyed beating New Zealand

Memorable: Wood certainly enjoyed beating New Zealand

'We’re not getting carried away, there are no egos or heroes, we’re looking forward to another big game for Saints.

‘Ulster are on a good run but we won’t worry too much about that. We know on our day, especially at Franklin’s Gardens, we can compete with anybody. There are a lot of good teams out there — Ulster are one of those.

‘But “fear” isn’t a word we use. We’re confident, especially at home in front of a full house. We can put on a positive performance and hopefully get the win.’

While Ulster will miss talismanic flanker Stephen Ferris, who has had surgery to repair ankle tendon damage and will be out of action for some time, Wood identified ex-Northampton No 8 Roger Wilson as a major threat.

Threat: Ruan Pienaar played England for South Africa and Wood will face him again

Threat: Ruan Pienaar played England for South Africa and Wood will face him again

However, the Irish province have threats all over, from Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble out wide to Ruan Pienaar pulling the strings at scrum-half and Rory Best at the heart of a big, abrasive pack.

Last year’s losing finalists will take some beating, but the Saints know they must win if they are to retain hopes of making it through to the knockout stages.

‘Without a win this weekend we will really be up against it’ said Wood. ‘After a disappointing campaign last year, it’s important we progress. We’re a club with high expectations and we want to do well in this competition. We need to win these big games at home.’

Manu Tuilagi convinced England can beat New Zealand

It's now or never! Tuilagi convinced England can get a result against the All Blacks

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 29 November 2012

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi hopes that a gruelling season will take its toll on New Zealand when they face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The All Blacks play the last game of a four-match tour of the northern hemisphere which has come straight off the back of a six-match Rugby Championship series and the intense Super Rugby competition that all of their squad were involved in during the summer.

The All Blacks have Andrew Hore missing through suspension and Dan Carter has had to pass a late fitness test on a troublesome calf – add to that a sickness bug that has swept through Steve Hansen's squad and England have plenty of reasons for optimism despite having lost their last two fixtures against South Africa and New Zealand.

Asked if now was the best time to be play New Zealand, Red Rose centre Tuilagi said: 'I hope so. They're coming to the end of their tour and will be tired.'

Saturday's game is England's last fixture before next year's Six Nations, and Tuilagi realises the need to take momentum into the tournament. 'It is very important to finish on a high,' added the 21-year-old.

'To get a win against New Zealand, the
best team in the world, that would be a dream ending for us and it would
be a great way to get the momentum going again heading into the Six
Nations.'

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Tuilagi's optimism is born from an improved performance by Stuart Lancaster's side in last week's agonising 15-16 loss to the Springboks.

Although profligacy remains an issue, England dominated the game for the long periods against the No 2 ranked side in the world and Tuilagi revealed that the camp are feeling much more positive than they did after the dismal defeat to Australia the previous week.

'It feels a little bit better than last week, but we're frustrated still,' he added. 'We went toe to toe with the second best team in the world, but we don't want to be a team that is satisfied by losing by one point, we want to get that win and we couldn't ask for a better team to get it against than New Zealand.

'The last two games have been really frustrating, we've played really well but just haven't finished the opportunities we have created. But we have been working really hard on that in training and now we have a great challenge in front of us to try and put that right.

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

'We've looked at the video (of the South Africa game) and we believe we played very well. We fronted up, we were disciplined, we were strong at the breakdown and at the scrum. We just need to keep on doing those things well and improve against the All Blacks.

'All the boys are looking forward to it. We have got a chance to show that we can beat the best side in the world.'

Tuilagi shot to stardom after making a blistering start to his England career last year in the build up to and during the World Cup. He has become one of the first names on the team-sheet for England but Saturday will be the first time he has faced the world's best side. It is a challenge he is looking forward to.

'I'm very excited,' Tuilagi enthused. 'It will be the first time I have played against the All Blacks and I just can't wait to play.'

And what about facing the formidable haka 'We will just stand up there and smile,' Tuilagi said. 'It's a great tradition for rugby and for New Zealand but all you can do is respect it and accept the challenge they're putting in front of you.'

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

The challenge directly in front of Tuilagi will be the most revered centre pairing in world rugby – Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Commentators have expressed concerns over the ability of England's midfield partnership of Tuilagi and Brad Barritt to stand up to the world's best, but Tuilagi is looking forward to the challenge and insists he and Barritt are up to the task.

'Playing New Zealand is exciting whoever is wearing that All Black shirt, but to come up against the likes of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith would be the ultimate challenge as a centre,' Tuilagi added.

'For me personally, I love playing with Brad. He is a fantastic player and I love playing outside him. I don't have to worry about him because I know he is always going to be there for me, so being there at 13 outside him is what you want.'

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Stuart Lancaster: England must learn lessons before South Africa challenge

Lancaster: England must learn lessons before South Africa challenge

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UPDATED:

18:40 GMT, 17 November 2012

England head coach Stuart Lancaster insists England must learn the lessons of life at the top level of Test rugby after his side were beaten 20-14 by Australia at Twickenham.

A Manu Tuilagi try and three Toby Flood penalties saw England lead 14-11 at half-time before full-back Berrick Barnes kicked three second-half penalties to wrest back the Cook Cup for the Aussies, who bounced back from their thrashing by France last weekend in some style.

The defeat could have long-term significance as it means England, currently ranked fifth in the world, are now unlikely to earn a top seeding for the World Cup on home soil in 2015.

Food for thought: Stuart Lancaster (right) knows England have to improve

Food for thought: Stuart Lancaster (right) knows England have to improve

Lancaster said: 'I'm disappointed we lost but I thought Australia played a smart game and bounced back from their defeat against France last week and were competitive in all areas.

'There were lots of positives from our own performance but the reality is we needed to take the opportunities we created, especially in the last 20 minutes when we thought our tempo would pay.

'They are the lessons we have to learn for South Africa next week.'

Some of those opportunities were squandered when England twice took decisions in the second half to tap and go or kick for touch with penalties rather than kick for goal.

Dejected: England players react to defeat against Australia

Dejected: England players react to defeat against Australia

However, Lancaster backed his players.

He said: 'We'll look at every decision but with the momentum at the time I thought it was the right decision. You back your players on the field. The momentum was with us and I thought from there we were going to score a try.

'If we are going to give players the confidence to go out and play then we have to back them.

'We have areas to work on, but there was lots of intent to play. It was just little bits of execution towards the end of each phase that put us under pressure.'

Australia scored the game's first try through wing Nick Cummins, who finished off a scything move with aplomb for his first international touchdown.

Flying winger: Australia'sNick Cummins bursts through to score

Flying winger: Australia's Nick Cummins bursts through to score

Barnes added a drop goal and a penalty in the first half and England's fate might have been different if number eight Thomas Waldrom had not spilled the ball in the act of touching down.

Lancaster, however, was upbeat, believing his players can turn things around for their encounter against South Africa next weekend.

'They are all must-win games,' he admitted. 'We're devastated to have lost this game. We didn't quite take our opportunities and at this level we must take it. They managed the breakdown better.'

Asked if seven days was enough time to put things right, Lancaster added: 'Of course it is. Every game's a new game. You learn, review and move on.

'We have got to be better. Australia proved in their 18-18 draw with New Zealand they can put out a performance at the top end and they have done that today.

'We'll look at the tape and talk it through, train and learn our lessons.'

Tough defence: Australia's Nick Cummins tackles Brad Barritt of England

Tough defence: Australia's Nick Cummins tackles Brad Barritt of England

England defence coach Andy Farrell was also impressed with the Australian performance. He said: 'Australia played a very smart game. Their attack was good and asked a lot of questions. We weathered the storm but theirs was a messy breakdown and penalties and it was stop-start.

'But all round you have to take your hat off to Australia. They didn't look desperate, they looked controlled.'

Australia head coach Robbie Deans felt his side had regained their winning mentality following their 33-6 defeat against France last weekend.

Victory!: Australia celebrate as the final whistle goes at Twickenham

Victory!: Australia celebrate as the final whistle goes at Twickenham

He said: 'It was much better than last week and obviously it had to be.

'A big part of the adjustment was mental. Paris is a bit alluring but in Tests you have to turn up or you get blown away.

'The lads defended very well because England threw a lot at them. The boys had a lot of faith in the defensive line and I think that showed. I think we went a bit defensive in the last 10 but that was indicative of the confidence they had and their ability to hold their line.

'Any result at Twickenham is significant, it doesn't come easily here. I'm pleased for the lads.'

Deans refused to criticise England for squandering their penalty chances.

He said: 'They wanted to win the game. We had been competitive in field position. You make those decisions in real time and that was an indication of what they were feeling in the contest.

Trophy time: Australia regained the Cook Cup

Trophy time: Australia regained the Cook Cup

'It was a remarkable Test when you consider how intense it was. In the 80th minute the intensity was still there around the contact. That is the nature of Test football now, there is no let-up.

'We would rather have scored more tries but when your opponent concedes penalties sometimes you just have to bank it and come back again.'

Aussie try scorer Cummins was delighted just to savour his first touchdown for his country.

'It was great to get a bit of meat, especially in front of a crowd like that,' said Cummins. 'It was great.'

Will Marouane Fellaini stay at Everton?

Everton face fight to keep Fellaini from clutches of Chelsea and PSG

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UPDATED:

11:23 GMT, 12 November 2012

The momentum keeps building and a reputation keeps burgeoning. Everton’s Champions League pursuit continues apace but their talisman’s form could lead to another chase entirely.

Plaudits have been flowing for Marouane Fellaini all season and they were many singing his praises again following his inspirational second half performance against Sunderland that helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a significant 2-1 win. Vanquished manager Martin O’Neill called him a 'proper player'.

Yet for all that David Moyes was thrilled Fellaini, whom he feels will mature into a marauding presence similar to Patrick Vieira, Everton's manager is aware the Belgian’s form will not have gone unnoticed to a wider audience.

Main man: Marouane Fellaini (centre) has attracted the attention of bigger clubs

Main man: Marouane Fellaini (centre) has attracted the attention of bigger clubs

England watch

PHIL JAGIELKA – Set the tone for Everton with a series of crucial interceptions and blocks; enters Sweden game in excellent form.

LEIGHTON BAINES – Some excellent passing and great energy but appeared to be carrying an injury in the second half.

LEON OSMAN – Involved in both Everton’s goals and his passing at times was outstanding. Deserves to play at some point in Sweden.

Fellaini has suitors around Europe – Chelsea and Paris St Germain showed an interest in the summer – and his talents would clearly fit neatly in many teams. Moyes, however, believes the prospect of leading Everton into the top four will render interest in him futile.

‘Everybody knows where he is and if they want to come and watch him that's up to them,’ said Moyes, whose side retained fourth place after goals from Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic cancelled out Adam Johnson’s strike.

‘It would be a big price on his head but we've got no problem in people coming and watching him. I'm not in the mood now to keep the fight going all the time because we've had to do it with a lot of players. We’ve sold some big ones but the club will always be bigger than any player, any manager.

‘But Felli knows what I think and I know what he thinks and I think more than anything he'd love to take Everton into the Champions League and that's what we'll try and achieve.’

In fine form: Fellaini helped Everton beat Sunderland on Saturday

In fine form: Fellaini helped Everton beat Sunderland on Saturday

So can they finish fourth come May They will certainly be thereabouts. Everton’s football is vibrant but the win over a Sunderland side that O’Neill felt were desperately unfortunate showed their appetite to scrap remains insatiable.

‘We are an expansive team and I suppose we have conceded more chances than we have done in previous years,’ said Leighton Baines. ‘But we kept going when it was difficult and we got what we deserved in the end with perseverance.

‘The style might be changing but one thing you are never going to lose from an Everton is that spirit. That was a massive win. We had four draws coming into this and following it with a defeat would have changed the whole complexion. It was pleasing to grind it out.’

Top man: David Moyes continues to impress as Everton's boss

Top man: David Moyes continues to impress as Everton's boss

That Everton were able to grind it out owed as much to Sunderland’s profligacy as it did their tenacity. Had Stephan Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher showed greater poise in the opening exchanges the deficit they faced after Johnson’s goal would have been insurmountable.

‘Those were clear cut chances and I don't think Everton could have complained if we had been 3-0 up at half-time,’ said O’Neill. ‘But we will turn it around and the players ironically will have taken a lot of confidence from that. Some players have come back to form and that is important.

‘We lost a game against what I consider a very, very strong outfit. But we will come back. We should have won this game and we didn't. I don't think it is to do with balance. I think rather than drawing a statistic from, my own view is that we were unlucky.’

Will Maroaune Fellaini stay at Everton?

Everton face fight to keep Fellaini from clutches of Chelsea and PSG

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UPDATED:

23:43 GMT, 11 November 2012

The momentum keeps building and a reputation keeps burgeoning. Everton’s Champions League pursuit continues apace but their talisman’s form could lead to another chase entirely.

Plaudits have been flowing for Maroaune Fellaini all season and they were many singing his praises again following his inspirational second half performance against Sunderland that helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a significant 2-1 win. Vanquished manager Martin O’Neill called him a 'proper player'.

Yet for all that David Moyes was thrilled Fellaini, whom he feels will mature into a marauding presence similar to Patrick Vieira, Everton's manager is aware the Belgian’s form will not have gone unnoticed to a wider audience.

Main man: Marouane Fellaini (centre) has attracted the attention of bigger clubs

Main man: Marouane Fellaini (centre) has attracted the attention of bigger clubs

England watch

PHIL JAGIELKA – Set the tone for Everton with a series of crucial interceptions and blocks; enters Sweden game in excellent form.

LEIGHTON BAINES – Some excellent passing and great energy but appeared to be carrying an injury in the second half.

LEON OSMAN – Involved in both Everton’s goals and his passing at times was outstanding. Deserves to play at some point in Sweden.

Fellaini has suitors around Europe – Chelsea and Paris St Germain showed an interest in the summer – and his talents would clearly fit neatly in many teams. Moyes, however, believes the prospect of leading Everton into the top four will render interest in him futile.

‘Everybody knows where he is and if they want to come and watch him that's up to them,’ said Moyes, whose side retained fourth place after goals from Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic cancelled out Adam Johnson’s strike.

‘It would be a big price on his head but we've got no problem in people coming and watching him. I'm not in the mood now to keep the fight going all the time because we've had to do it with a lot of players. We’ve sold some big ones but the club will always be bigger than any player, any manager.

‘But Felli knows what I think and I know what he thinks and I think more than anything he'd love to take Everton into the Champions League and that's what we'll try and achieve.’

In fine form: Fellaini helped Everton beat Sunderland on Saturday

In fine form: Fellaini helped Everton beat Sunderland on Saturday

So can they finish fourth come May They will certainly be thereabouts. Everton’s football is vibrant but the win over a Sunderland side that O’Neill felt were desperately unfortunate showed their appetite to scrap remains insatiable.

‘We are an expansive team and I suppose we have conceded more chances than we have done in previous years,’ said Leighton Baines. ‘But we kept going when it was difficult and we got what we deserved in the end with perseverance.

‘The style might be changing but one thing you are never going to lose from an Everton is that spirit. That was a massive win. We had four draws coming into this and following it with a defeat would have changed the whole complexion. It was pleasing to grind it out.’

Top man: David Moyes continues to impress as Everton's boss

Top man: David Moyes continues to impress as Everton's boss

That Everton were able to grind it out owed as much to Sunderland’s profligacy as it did their tenacity. Had Stephan Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher showed greater poise in the opening exchanges the deficit they faced after Johnson’s goal would have been insurmountable.

‘Those were clear cut chances and I don't think Everton could have complained if we had been 3-0 up at half-time,’ said O’Neill. ‘But we will turn it around and the players ironically will have taken a lot of confidence from that. Some players have come back to form and that is important.

‘We lost a game against what I consider a very, very strong outfit. But we will come back. We should have won this game and we didn't. I don't think it is to do with balance. I think rather than drawing a statistic from, my own view is that we were unlucky.’

Connacht 22 Harlequins 30: Danny double takes Care of Quins" business

Connacht 22 Harlequins 30: Danny double takes Care of Quins' business

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 20 October 2012

Conor O’Shea hailed Harlequins’ spirit after a Danny Care double inspired them to a fiercely fought victory against Connacht.

Quins trailed by 10 points after half an hour, following a Dave McSharry try, but the England scrum-half pounced twice in seven minutess.

The victory maintains Quins’ winning start in Europe and they sit on top of Pool Three with back-to-back clashes with Italian minnows Zebre to come in December.

Double delight: Danny Care crosses for Harlequins

Double delight: Danny Care crosses for Harlequins

Quins director of rugby O’Shea said: ‘We
didn’t sustain any momentum or field position and they were getting
stuck in at the breakdown. At 19-9 down we showed great mental strength
to come through.

‘I’ve been coming here my whole life and you don’t get an easy game. But
there was an outstanding 15 minutes where the game swung, and credit to
guys like Ben Botica, who’s come into a hostile place and done well.
Danny scored two nice tries, but it’s about the team performance.’

There was little chance of Harlequins underestimating the Irish after they crashed to defeat at the same venue last year.

Veteran campaigner: No 8 Nick Easter charges up-field

Veteran campaigner: No 8 Nick Easter charges up-field

Harlequins made a quick start with Botica – in for the injured Nick
Evans – bisecting the posts on four minutes before Connacht roared back
into the contest.

George Naoupu made the initial start with a quick tap and McSharry
completed the attack in emphatic fashion, cutting a superb line on a
miss-pass to cruise past Tom Williams. Dan Parks and Botica continued to
trade shots at goal with Connacht edging the contest before Care
pounced.

The scrum-half raced over the try line, cutting the deficit to 19-14 and
he grabbed a second try on 37 minutes. Botica added the extras and
slotted a penalty on the stroke of half-time to hand his side a 24-19
lead.

Brains' trust: Captain Chris Robshaw (left) with director of rugby Conor O'Shea

Brains' trust: Captain Chris Robshaw (left) with director of rugby Conor O'Shea

Biarritz 38 Zebre 17

Biarritz grabbed their first win of the Heineken Cup with a six-try romp over tournament newcomers Zebre.

Yann Lesgourgues scored the first of his double in a decisive opening 20 minutes as the hosts, thrashed 40-13 by Harlequins in their opener, raced into the lead.

But Connacht hit the ground running in the second-half and Parks nailed
an early penalty to cut the deficit. The hosts continued to cause
problems, but Harlequins hung on and Botica slotted a penalty on 56
minutes to ease the pressure. The 23-year-old continued his impressive
performance with his sixth penalty as the London club hung on.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood said: ‘Those 15 unanswered points just before half-time were a bit of a sickener.’

Edin Dzeko vows to fight for place at Manchester City

I'm staying! Dzeko vows to fight for place despite Mancini search for new strikers

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UPDATED:

05:49 GMT, 11 October 2012

Striker Edin Dzeko insists he has no interest in leaving Manchester City.

The 26-year-old, who joined from Wolfsburg last January, is once again being linked with a move away from the club, despite an impressive start to the season, with City seemingly scouting around for striking reinforcements.

'Every time I see a paper, for what seems like a year or more there is a story saying that I am leaving City, or that I want to go,' Dzeko said in The Sun.

Staying put: Dzeko has made clear his desire to remain at the Etihad Stadium

Staying put: Dzeko has made clear his desire to remain at the Etihad Stadium

'But I've never said that so the stories don't come from me. I've always wanted to stay at City and fight for my place.

'My motto has always been “Never give up”.'

'I hope the City fans who have always been fantastic towards me have seen I can score important goals for the team and that's what I want to carry on doing.'

Dzeko concedes life as a bit-part player is difficult, but with so much talent in the squad, each player must accept some time on the bench.

However, the constant chopping and changing makes it difficult to develop any momentum as the spearhead of the attack.

He said: 'There is myself and three fantastic strikers so obviously we can’t all play at the same time. So sometimes it can be difficult to find your rhythm.

'You could play one game and then be on the bench for the next three. I think confidence is the key to playing at your best, of course. Plus the more games you play, the more goals you are likely to score.

'But, as I say, with many good strikers at the club that's how it’s going to be. As a player you accept that and just try your best each time you play. That's what I do and will continue to do.'

On the hunt: Mancini has been scouting Europe for new attacking talent

On the hunt: Mancini has been scouting Europe for new attacking talent