Tag Archives: position

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX 2013: Nico Rosberg on pole as Lewis Hamilton starts ninth after penalty

Rosberg on pole for Bahrain Grand Prix as Hamilton starts ninth after grid penalty

PUBLISHED:

12:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 20 April 2013

Nico Rosberg will start from pole position for only the second time in his career at tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver will be joined on the front row by Sebastian Vettel with Fernando Alonso in third.

Hamilton, who was out-qualified by his team-mate Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career, starts in ninth after being handed a five-place grid drop.

Man in the middle: Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's grand prix from the front of the pack ahead of Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso

Man in the middle: Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's grand prix from the front of the pack ahead of Sebastian Vettel (right) and Fernando Alonso

Job done: Today's pole for Rosberg is only the second of his Formula One career

Job done: Today's pole for Rosberg is only the second of his Formula One career

The British driver will be joined on the
fifth row by former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who failed to post a
competitive time in Q3 for the second successive race.

It is the first time since last year's race in China that Rosberg will lead away the field, and the first time this season he has out-qualified team-mate Hamilton.

Following Hamilton's pole in Shanghai, Rosberg handed Mercedes back-to-back poles for the first time since their return to the grid in 2010.

Hamilton cut a bitterly unhappy figure post race as he knows such an incident undoubtedly affects his early title hopes, with the Briton currently 12 points adrift of Red Bull's Vettel.

Asked for his thoughts on a potential rule change, Hamilton said: 'It doesn't really matter. The rules are the rules.

'I've got a penalty and I will have to suck it up and deal with it. I just got unlucky as I think it was some debris with the tyre.'

Red Bull's Mark Webber was fifth quickest, but like Hamilton, faces a penalty of three places after colliding with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne last weekend.

Blow: Lewis Hamilton was handed a five-place grid penalty after he was forced to change his gearbox

Blow: Lewis Hamilton was handed a five-place grid penalty after he was forced to change his gearbox

Head down: Hamilton (right) was out-qualified by Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career

Head down: Hamilton (right) was out-qualified by Rosberg for the first time in his Mercedes career

BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING

1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)*
5. Mark Webber (Red Bull)**
6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7. Paul Di Resta (Force India)
8. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
10. Jenson Button (McLaren)

* Lewis Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty
** Mark Webber handed three-place grid penalty

It means Felipe Massa will move up to fourth in his Ferrari, with the Force India's of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil lining up fifth and sixth.

Then comes Webber, who actually only loses two places courtesy of Hamilton, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus who moves from ninth to eighth.

In 11th and 12th, after dropping out in Q2 will be Romain Grosjean in his Lotus and McLaren's Sergio Perez, beaten by team-mates Raikkonen and Button respectively for the fourth straight race.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, who a week ago in China qualified seventh, will start 13th tomorrow, with team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne 16th.

Sandwiched in between the pair are Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Leading the way: Nico Rosberg sealed only the second pole position of his career on Saturday

Leading the way: Nico Rosberg sealed only the second pole position of his career on Saturday

In a remarkable twist at the end of
the opening 20-minute Q1 session, Pastor Maldonado dropped out after
setting the same time as Williams team-mate Bottas.

Posting
a lap of 1:34,125, as the Venezuelan's time came after that of the
Finn, it left Maldonado kicking his heels whilst Bottas took part in Q2.

Maldonado
will start 17th ahead of Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, with the Mexican
out-qualified by Hulkenberg for the fourth consecutive race, and failing
to make it into Q2 for the third time.

Slow start: Jenson Button creeped into the top 10 but didn't complete a lap in Q3 and will start tenth

Slow start: Jenson Button creeped into the top 10 but didn't complete a lap in Q3 and will start tenth

With
a five-place grid penalty to serve for the race after running into the
back of Sutil in Shanghai, Gutierrez will start at the back of the grid.

Caterham
and Marussia naturally share the bottom four places, with Charles Pic a
season's best of 19th since switching from the latter to the former for
this season.

Either side
of Caterham's Giedo van der Garde are Marussia duo Jules Bianchi and Max
Chilton, with the 21-year-old Briton setting the slowest time in
qualifying for the first time this year.

On track: Fernando Alonso

On track: Fernando Alonso

Rosberg admitted to being 'a little surprised' at starting from pole, but natually claiming to be 'really, really happy' with 'a fantastic result'.

The question is whether Rosberg has the pace to go on and take the chequered flag given Hamilton dropped back to third from pole in China, and whether the tyres will hold up under the conditions.

'Tomorrow is going to be a tough day given the degradation of the tyres,' added Rosberg.

'I want to really kick start my season given the first three races which have been tough for me so far.

In the lead: Vettel holds a three-point advantage over Alonso ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

In the lead: Vettel holds a three-point advantage over Alonso ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

'It's difficult to say if we have enough to pace to win, but I will try, and I'm really looking forward to starting from first.'

Vettel was far from disappointed with second, especially after the time of Rosberg.

'Congratulations to Nico because it was a very strong lap,' said Vettel. 'When I crossed the line and I saw I was second I didn't know how much was missing from my lap.

'But then when I was told the gap to Nico it was clear, even with a perfect lap, he was unbeatable.'

Alonso declared himself 'very, very happy with third'.

It is the third successive race Alonso will start from third, adding: 'Normally we struggle a lot in qualifying, so this has put us in a strong position for the race.'

Meanwhile, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was irked by the Hamilton penalty.

Difficult weekend: McLaren driver Sergio Perez could manage only 12th in qualifying

Difficult weekend: McLaren driver Sergio Perez could manage only 12th in qualifying

He said: 'The difficulty we have in the future is where we get marginal cases where you have a problem, perhaps aggravated by the driver, and you don't get a gearbox failure as such, but it needs to be changed.

'Then you get into these long debates.

'But it is frustrating to get a penalty when there has been an outside influence. It's annoying.

'Fortunately it doesn't happen too often, but if it were to happen at a critical part of the season then it would be doubly frustrating, so it's worth looking at again.'

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery was certainly dismissing any prospect one of his company's tyres lay behind Hamilton's woes.

Hembery said: 'The problem seen on Lewis' Mercedes during free practice was not the result of a structural tyre failure, but instead must have been down to a piece of debris on the track.'

It was one of those bitter-sweet afternoons for Mercedes in light of Rosberg helping them to back-to-back poles for the first time since their return to F1 three years ago, and after Hamilton led away the field a week ago in China.

With two DNFs in his first three races, Rosberg has so far suffered in contrast to Hamilton, but was smiling again after claiming what is only his second pole in his 132 races.

'This is great for me because the start (to the season) has really not gone to plan, with a lot of issues,' said Rosberg.

'I'm really hoping this is going to kickstart my season. It's the first time everything has really gone to plan. Up until now it has been great.

'To turn up with the pole position, which I have to admit is a bit of a surprise, I'm really, really happy with.

Off colour: Hamilton will start on the fifth row with former McLaren team-mate Button for company

Off colour: Hamilton will start on the fifth row with former McLaren team-mate Button for company

'I'm now looking forward to tomorrow when hopefully everything will go well, although I'm not sure we have what it takes to win the race.'

That is based on the fact this year's Mercedes, whilst quick over one lap, lacks the race pace of rivals Ferrari, Red Bull, and Lotus on occasion.

The pits: Hamilton had to settle for starting fifth on the grid in the grand prix

The pits: Hamilton had to settle for starting fifth on the grid in the grand prix

Alonso declared himself 'very, very happy with third'.

It is the third successive race Alonso will start from third, adding: 'Normally we struggle a lot in qualifying, so this has put us in a strong position for the race.'

Lewis Hamilton given five-place grid penalty for Bahrain Grand Prix after gearbox change

Hamilton blow as Mercedes star is hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

By
Ian Parkes, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:06 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:12 GMT, 20 April 2013

Lewis Hamilton has been slapped with a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was forced to change his gearbox after this morning's final practice session following a suspension failure on his in-lap.

As a consequence of changing the left-rear corner of the car, the team have also had to replace the gearbox, resulting in the grid penalty.

Blow: Lewis Hamilton hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

Blow: Lewis Hamilton hit with five-place grid penalty after gearbox change

Blow: Lewis Hamilton has been hit with a five-place grid penalty

Although on pole position a week ago
in China, from where the 28-year-old finished third, balance issues have
affected Hamilton so far this weekend at the Bahrain International
Circuit.

Hamilton finished fifth quickest in final practice, just over two tenths of a second behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Hamilton is the third driver to face a
penalty for tomorrow's race as Mark Webber was handed a three-place
drop after colliding with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in Shanghai.

Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez will also
drop five places following qualifying after he ran into the back of
Force India's Adrian Sutil in the same race.

Drama: The British driver suffered a suspension failure in this morning's practice session

Drama: The British driver suffered a suspension failure in this morning's practice session

Lewis Hamilton

Alonso, on the back of his
31st-career victory in China last Sunday, has been highly impressive
around the desert-based Bahrain International Circuit and was fastest this morning.

With a high police presence around
the track as local authorities are determined to keep anti-government
protesters at bay, Formula One is virtually oblivious to what goes on
away from it.

On the circuit, Alonso led a
tightly-bunched field, with the top six separated by just two tenths of a
second, and the front nine by half a second.

Alonso, last on pole in Germany last
year, set a lap of one minute 33.247secs which was almost a second
quicker than the leading time of yesterday posted by Lotus' Kimi
Raikkonen.

As in second practice, the Red Bull
drivers had to settle for second and third on the timesheet, on this
occasion with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel ahead of Mark
Webber.

Vettel, who finished 0.101secs behind
Alonso and 0.032secs ahead of team-mate Webber, had looked poised to
snatch top spot from Alonso as he posted personal best times in the
first two sectors, only to be blocked by a Caterham.

Leading the way: Fernando Alonso was fastest in this morning's practice

Leading the way: Fernando Alonso was fastest in this morning's practice

Raikkonen was down in fourth,
0.199secs adrift, with Hamilton an improved fifth and 0.208secs down
after complaining of balance issues yesterday.

Behind the 28-year-old were Lotus'
Romain Grosjean, appearing more comfortable with the new chassis given
to him this weekend, followed by Force India pair Adrian Sutil and Paul
Di Resta.

Mercedes' Nico Hulkenberg was ninth quickest, 0.517secs off Alonso's pace, with Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.

Out of sorts: Jenson Button was off the pace in 12th

Out of sorts: Jenson Button was off the pace in 12th

Felipe Massa inexplicably now finds
himself struggling for pace as the Brazilian, quickest in first
practice, was languishing in 11th at the end of FP3 and 0.702secs behind
team-mate Alonso.

As for McLaren, their struggles
continue with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez 12th and 13th, the latter a
full second behind Alonso.

Towards the rear, Marussia also face
issues as Max Chilton managed just seven laps due to the team having to
replace the KERS water pump.

Chilton, however, was not last as
that position belonged to Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez who concentrated on
a long run, completing 28 laps overall, but finishing 6.345secs down.

Hawk-Eye miss out on goal-line contract with FIFA after GoalControl seal deal

Germany 2 England 1 in goal-line technology saga as Hawk-Eye miss out on FIFA contract (but they could win Premier League deal)

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Net gains: John Terry makes a controversial clearance in England's 1-0 win over Ukraine at Euro 2012

How will it work
Each goal has seven high-speed cameras which track the position of the ball in three dimensions to millimetre precision every two milliseconds.

Within a second of the ball completely crossing the line, the referee is alerted by a vibration and a flashing light on his watch. All camera footage is stored and can be replayed at any time.

How much will it cost
It costs around 170,000 per stadium to install and 2,800 per match to operate

What does it mean for fans
Besides no more missed goals, an instant replay can project a 3D view of the ball’s movement on a virtual pitch to TV viewers at home or to supporters in the stand via the big screen.

PS…

But despite all that technology, referees still retain the authority to make the final decision.

It will cost around 170,000 per stadium to instal and a further 2,800 per match to operate.

GoalControl uses 14 high-speed
cameras to track the 3D position of the ball and promises to alert
referees within a second of the ball completely crossing the line via a
vibration or flashing light on a watch.

FIFA said the German company was
chosen owing to its ‘ability to adapt to local conditions’ in
Brazil. The bids were also ‘judged on cost and project management
factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation’.

The contract, however, is subject to
independent ‘installation tests’ at each of the six stadiums due to be
used for the Confederations Cup – three of which have still not been
completed.

Match officials will also carry out
their own tests before each game, just as they did during the FIFA Club
World Cup in Japan last year.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has urged using goal-line technology in Brazil after Frank Lampard had a clear goal disallowed against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

HAWK-EYE REACTION

'Sport teaches us many lessons, including accepting defeat graciously and having confidence in your ability to bounce back strongly. Hawk-Eye wishes FIFA and the appointed GLT supplier every success at The FIFA Confederations Cup 2013.'

Statement released by Hawk-Eye

A FIFA statement said: 'While all
four companies had previously met the stringent technical requirements
of the FIFA quality programme, the final decision was based on criteria
relating more specifically to the tournaments in Brazil, including the
company's ability to adapt to local conditions and the compatibility of
each goal-line technology system in relation to FIFA match operations.

'The respective bids were also judged
on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time
schedules for installation.

'The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil
is subject to a final installation test at each stadium where the system
will be installed.'

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final

VIDEO GoalControl in action

Paolo Di Canio"s politics don"t matter, his results do, says Sunderland fan

COMMENT: Sunderland fan of 30 years says put politics aside – it's only the results
that matter

By
Graeme Down, Sunderland Fan Of 30 Years

PUBLISHED:

12:35 GMT, 1 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 1 April 2013

I was at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and witnessed Manchester United beat us fairly comfortably. We were very poor in the first half and just before the break I tweeted: ‘Half-time approaching. 1-0 United. #SAFC #Spineless #Depressing #Championship.’

I think my mood summed up the thoughts of the 40,000 Sunderland fans at the Stadium of Light. Everything our supporters demand from the players — passion, hunger and desire — was missing.

Then the news came through later that evening that life-long Sunderland supporter Martin O’Neill had been sacked.

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League

For some weeks, I have noticed along with friends of mine that O’Neill’s body language left a lot to be desired. As a fan, we’d like our manager to immerse himself in the North East, the great footballing tradition of the region, and above all, be proud of managing a great club.

And we are a great football club.

League position aside, we have an average home attendance of just over 40,000 fans, we have a state of the art academy in place, and we have a wonderful football history.

But our club — as many are these days — is run by a foreign owner, Texan billionaire Ellis Short.

With seven games left to go and sitting just a point above the relegation zone, appointing a new manager, let alone one without Premier league pedigree, has left supporters feeling extremely nervous.

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday

I expected us to secure a top 10 finish this season. We have spent 30million in three transfer windows, but our squad simply have not been good enough so far. Yes, we have injury problems but with games coming up, starting with Chelsea on Saturday, then the small event of a Tyne-Wear derby against our noisy neighbours Newcastle in less than two weeks’ time, it is a tough start by anyone’s standard.

Di Canio is potentially a good appointment, but this seems to me like another knee-jerk reaction to try and stay in the Premier league. There is of course the detail of another 60million of TV money at stake next season, and which owner would want to miss out on that

Then there’s his ‘facist’ political stance. How will the hard-working fans of the city take to his appointment, particularly given the club’s working-class heritage, never mind the sponsors of the club

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion

Personally, I have no opinion on his politics. Ultimately he has been appointed to get results and keep Sunderland in the Premier League — for supporters of the football club that is what fundamentally counts.

This a huge gamble by our board. For sure, l like his enthusiasm but does he really have the experience at this level The man we’ve just sacked had the experience, and as a motivator he was up there with the best. We all remember what happened to our ‘friends’ 10 miles up the road when Alan Shearer took over with eight games to go don’t we…

Time will tell. His appointment by Ellis Short is either a complete masterstroke, or a monumental catastrophe.

Southampton 2 Chelsea 1: Rafael Benitez stays calm and insists there is a long way to go in race for Champions League qualification

There's a long way to go: Chelsea boss Benitez stays calm despite top-four setback

By
Mark Bryans, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:36 GMT, 30 March 2013

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez maintains the race for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League will run until the end of the season despite seeing his much-changed side slip to a 2-1 defeat at Southampton.

First-half goals from Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert handed Mauricio Pochettino another prized scalp, with Chelsea briefly drawing level courtesy of a John Terry header.

The Blues have now lost three successive away games in the league and dropped below Tottenham into fourth place, with fellow London rivals Arsenal just two points adrift in fifth.

Undone: Rafa Benitez's Chelsea side were defeated 2-1 by Southampton at St Mary's

Undone: Rafa Benitez's Chelsea side were defeated 2-1 by Southampton at St Mary's

Despite the result Benitez, who was again the victim of jeers and negative chanting from the travelling Chelsea support, reckons no-one will be certain of a Champions League position until the very end of the campaign.

'It is the same situation, if we had three points more it would be easier,' he said. 'We still have one game in hand and we have to carry on and concentrate and move on and start thinking about Monday (FA Cup quarter-final replay v Manchester United).

'In the league you still have a lot of games and I think it (the battle for a top-four finish) will run for the rest of the season.'

Opener: Jay Rodriguez slotted the ball past Petr Cech to give Southampton the lead

Opener: Jay Rodriguez slotted the ball past Petr Cech to give Southampton the lead

Back on level terms: John Terry headed home from a corner to equalise for Chelsea

Back on level terms: John Terry headed home from a corner to equalise for Chelsea

This was Chelsea's first game in a run of six matches in a 16-day period and Benitez made no fewer than seven changes from the team that won against West Ham before the international break.

The former Liverpool boss said the fixture pile-up is something the Football Association needs to 'look at' in the future but did not regret rotating his players.

'We had to manage the squad,' he said. 'We didn't have many options in some positions so we had the players we had to use. You have to approach every game like it is the most important and we thought with these players we would be fine.

'I think that you could see that in the first half we didn't have the intensity we were expecting.

'We improved in the second half, made more chances, but still we didn't make the right decisions in the final third but at least we were there and made the chances.'

Sublime: Rickie Lambert scored a beautiful free-kick to put the Saints back ahead

Sublime: Rickie Lambert scored a beautiful free-kick to put the Saints back ahead

Pochettino, who has now won three, drawn three and lost three games since replacing Nigel Adkins as Saints manager in January was quick to defend his Chelsea counterpart following the game.

'I have a lot of sympathy (for Benitez's position),' he said.

'I fully recognise the job that he has done. For me he is one of the best managers in the world and he has my full respect for what he has achieved in football.'

Going places: Mauricio Pochettino believes his Southampton side are on the right path

Going places: Mauricio Pochettino believes his Southampton side are on the right path

The win against Chelsea follows earlier home successes against Manchester City and Liverpool and Pochettino believes beating some of the league's biggest names can only boost the morale around the club.

'Victories like those of today prove that we are on the right path,' he said.

'It is very important for the confidence of my players and especially the people surrounding our club – the technical staff.

'It is important that we believe we can achieve results as we saw today and we can continue achieving them in the future.'

Wasps 24 Northampton 26: Christian Day scores late winner

Wasps 24 Northampton 26: Day breaks hosts' hearts with last-gasp winner

By
Ian Stafford

PUBLISHED:

17:54 GMT, 23 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:11 GMT, 23 March 2013

Northampton 's pack dominated their Wasps counterparts to such an extent in this battle for the play-offs that three Wasps forwards were sent to the sin bin.

But it took Christian Day's finalplay try to steal victory. Stephen Myler still needed to land the simple conversion to confirm the win but Day's score – assisted by returning England star Dylan Hartley, who shoved his team-mate over the line – also earned a bonus point that could prove crucial.

Wasps, seconds away from a remarkable win considering they played with one man down for nearly half an hour and were crushed up front, now find themselves seven points adrift of fourth-placed Northampton.

Lee 'n' easy: Lee Dickinson scores the Saints' second try

Lee 'n' easy: Lee Dickinson scores the Saints' second try

Day's final score summed up a
physical clash between two teams featuring a host of players who either
lost for England last week in Cardiff or who are pushing hard for a
place in the June tour to Argentina.

Day's try resulted from a driving maul as the Wasps forwards spent much of the game going backwards and conceding penalties.

Saints would have been kicking themselves if they had lost, which they nearly did thanks to a second-half comeback from Wasps.

Losing director of rugby Dai Young
said: 'Fair play to Northampton, they had a real weapon in their maul
and they used it. It's hard to play against them with 15 men and even
harder with 14 for much of the game, especially when you don't get the
field position or the ball.

Heading for glory: Elliot Daly (right) of London Wasps scores his team's second try

Heading for glory: Elliot Daly (right) of London Wasps scores his team's second try

'That said, having got our noses in
front, I take issue with the last three penalties awarded to them,
although I'm not saying Saints didn't deserve to win. The bottom line is
that if you can't stop a driving line out you'll struggle.'

Northampton director of rugby Jim
Mallinder was more relieved than happy, saying: 'If you have a weapon
like that, then you use it. We controlled the game but Wasps can score
points quickly.

'We gave away some penalties and almost threw it away. But we got a bonus point win and are now in a good position.'

Snow stopping me: George Pisi evades Daly's tackle

Snow stopping me: George Pisi evades Daly's tackle

The portents were clear from as early
as the eighth minute, when referee David Rose awarded Saints a penalty
try and sent Thomas Rhys Thomas to the bin.

Eight minutes later, Lee Dickson
flopped over after another powerful maul. Wasps hit back through a
long-range Elliott Daly penalty and then a classic Tom Varndell try,
sprinting in from 50 yards to score his 12th of the season and his 72nd
Premiership try in total. Varndell is now only four behind record scorer
Mark Cueto.

Snow joke: Daly lefty dejected after Saints stole the win at the death

Snow joke: Daly lefty dejected after Saints stole the win at the death

A conversion and two penalties from
Stephen Jones meant the home side were only three points down at the
break, despite a Hartley try from yet another destructive maul.

This built into a five-point
advantage after another Jones penalty and a stunning finish from Daly in
the corner which will surely not go unnoticed by the England selectors.

But after Ashley Johnson received his
team's third yellow card, Day ended a period of sustained Northampton
pressure by snatching the game at the death.

Brian McDermott sacked by Reading – players informed by text message – Roberto Di Matteo emerges as favourite

Reading callously sack McDermott…and send the players a group text message to let them know with Di Matteo emerging as the firm favourite to replace him

By
Sami Mokbel and Sam Cunningham

PUBLISHED:

22:47 GMT, 11 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 11 March 2013

Reading's shocked players learned boss Brian McDermott had been sacked yesterday when they all received a round-robin text message from the club.

A core group of senior players were said to be baffled and angered by the treatment of the manager who led them into the Premier League just 10 months ago, as last night former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio emerged as an early contender to replace McDermott.

Former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant position with large stakes placed on the Italian returning to English football at the Madejski Stadium.

*Scroll down to watch highlights of McDermott's final match in charge

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

Sacked: McDermott guided Reading to the npower Championship title last season

The bottom six of the Premier League

The bottom six of the Premier League

Striker Jason Roberts said: ‘He’s a
football man and a good man and I just think at this moment in time we
take stock of what he has achieved and place on record our thanks.’

McDermott, 51, had been at the club
for nearly 13 years, first as Under 19 and reserve manager, then chief
scout before taking charge of the first team, and sent texts to friends
saying he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.

The Royals’ billionaire owner,
Russian Anton Zingarevich, took the decision after Saturday’s 2-1 home
defeat by Aston Villa, which left the club off the foot of the table on
goal difference.

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Leading contender: Former Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio was spotted at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and is the bookies favourite for the job

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

Ruthless: Zingarevich (left) showed no quarter in sacking McDermott

The sacking was confirmed by a club
statement put out just minutes after the players all received the text —
which also ordered them not to speak to the media and said any comments
on Twitter should be pre-approved by club officials.

That didn’t stop Roberts talking,
while Noel Hunt tweeted: ‘Want to say thanks to Brian for everything he
did for me especially. He’s been a great manager, man and friend to me
and will be missed!’

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Famous night: Shane Long scores for Reading against Liverpool at Anfield in 2010

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Taking the applause: Shane Long salutes the Reading fans after the win

Di Canio was installed as the
bookies’ favourite for the job after he was spotted at the Madejski
watching Saturday’s game (above) but Di Matteo could be offered the job tomorrow.

Former Russia boss Dick Advocaat,
currently in charge of PSV in Holland, is also believed to be on the
wishlist as Zingarevich aims to name a replacement before Saturday’s
trip to Manchester United.

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SIX NATIONS 2013: How good is England"s team?

We asked England's 2003 Grand Slam and World Cup winners for their views on Stuart Lancaster's side… what was the verdict

PUBLISHED:

22:42 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

England are two wins away from completing the Grand Slam, but just how good is Stuart Lancaster's side Sportsmail asked the class of 2003, who not only triumphed in the Six Nations, but were also crowned world champions.

The questions we put to them were:

1 How good are this England team
2 Can they replicate your triumphs
3 Which players have impressed you

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson

Scrum-half, 77 England caps, 16 tries. Retired in 2006. Now media pundit

1 They are easily the best since 2003, not necessarily a great set of individuals but, as a unit, they are very impressive. They’re in a similar position to us in 2001 but with less experience.

2 If they continue as they are, they will be in prime position for the World Cup in 2015. Winning the Grand Slam in a fortnight will help as they need to win big games under pressure.

3 I like the second row. They have become the epitome of the engine room. I’m also impressed with how Danny Care is dealing with being second-choice scrum-half.

Mature: Danny Care has taken well to being second choice

Mature: Danny Care has taken well to being second choice

Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery

Prop, 73 caps, 2 tries. Retired in 2010. Runs clothing brand Raging Bull

1 They’re good now but have potential to be great. I can see quite a few similarities to us, when it comes to individuals and their positions. The only player they’ll never find is a Billy Whizz [Jason Robinson].

2 Can they Yes. Will they With luck they should win the Grand Slam, but Wales will not be easy, and they need to hit a few more speedbumps before the World Cup to toughen them up.

3 Chris Robshaw is top of my list. He’s been outstanding as a player and captain. I’d also like to single out coach Stuart Lancaster. He hasn’t put a foot wrong. Manu Tuilagi’s my other man. Owen Farrell has also impressed.

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

Wing, 57 caps, 31 tries. Retired in 2011. Chairman of anti-bullying charity

1 They’re developing nicely but aren’t yet the best in the world. With Wales away for a Grand Slam we will find out whether this team can dig deep. The 2003 side suffered setbacks that made them stronger.

2 I don’t see why not. But I’d like to see a few more peaks and troughs so that we peak in 2015 for the World Cup.

3 I like the back row, including James Haskell. Tom Wood reminds me of Richard Hill. Ben Youngs may have more control but Danny Care is like Matt Dawson in how he can put the opposition on the back foot.

No joke: James Haskell has impressed in England's back row

No joke: James Haskell has impressed in England's back row

Richard Hill

Richard Hill

Flanker, 71 caps, 12 tries. Retired in 2008. Now coach at Saracens

1 They are performing well, are led well and seem to know what they want. In 10 years, the game has moved on, but this group seem quicker than us to find the answers.

2 There’s every indication that they can. They’ve already played all the best teams in the world and fared OK to very well against them. Winning the Slam would give them the confidence we got from our 2003 Slam.

3 Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood. They are ferocious in the breakdown and are used as an attacking weapon in defence. Manu Tuilagi is critical to England, too.

Mike Tindall

Mike Tindall

Centre, 75 caps, 14 tries. Now player-coach at Gloucester

1 They’ve been playing at a high intensity and their biggest strength is the pressure they apply. But there is still work to be done.

2 They can better us by winning a Grand Slam two years before the World Cup. I’d be disappointed if they don’t. Win, and they can go on to be world champions.

3 Manu Tuilagi is England’s key player and Robshaw’s consistency is outstanding, Joe Launchbury’s a real find and look out for Billy Vunipola.

Main man: Manu Tuilagi has been at the forefront of England's Grand Slam bid

Main man: Manu Tuilagi has been at the forefront of England's Grand Slam bid

Josh Lewsey

Josh Lewsey

Full-back, 55 caps, 22 tries. Retired in 2011. Works in the City as commodities trader

1 This is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Not many would get into our team, but what’s more important is the environment Stuart Lancaster has created.

2 Yes, in terms of medals, although I don’t think the calibre of rugby in the Northern Hemisphere is as high as it could be. This England team are doing well but we set the global standards in 2001-02.

3 It’s hard to single out individuals because England’s best weapon has been their teamwork. I do like Dan Cole’s demeanour and the way he goes about his business.

Ben Kay

Ben Kay

Lock, 62 caps, 2 tries. Retired in 2010. Now a ESPN commentator and media analyst

1 So far, very good, but it’s still early days. They need a lot more time. And how many would get into our team Not as many as some might think. We were much older and had experienced leaders all over the pitch.

2 They can, but don’t hang everything on 2015. Don’t forget the majority of the 2003 team went through the 1999 World Cup and the current team are certainly young enough to go on and win in 2019 instead — or maybe even as well.

3 Obviously Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell, but also Dan Cole and Joe Launchbury.

Hands on approach: Joe Launchbury is another who has grown during the Six Nations campaign

Hands on approach: Joe Launchbury is another who has grown during the Six Nations campaign

Trevor Woodman

Trevor Woodman

Prop, 22 caps, 0 tries. Retired in 2004. Forwards coach at Wasps

1 Judging by the last few results, England are becoming very difficult to beat. But are they better than we were Yes and no. They are a bit younger than us and we had more world-class players. What is similar is that a lot of our team had the disappointment of the 1999 World Cup, just as some of this team were at the 2011 Cup.

2 Without a doubt, if not better than what we achieved, but there are caveats. We must ensure we keep up, if not get ahead, of any improvements by others. We must ensure there is stiff competition for places and we must make Twickenham a fortress.

3 Mako Vunipola because he is such a destructive ball-carrier; Joe Launchbury, because he doesn’t make mistakes. And Manu, of course. He has the X Factor.

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

Hooker, 73 caps, 4 tries. Retired in 2011. Now living with his new family in Dubai

1 Good and will get better. I’m not sure the best starting XV is playing yet. The scrum creaked a bit against France.

2 Certainly with the Grand Slam. We’ll find out more about whether they can stand the pressure. I want to see them bully sides like we did, mentally and physically.

3 Tom Youngs is our best hooker now, overtaking Dylan Hartley. He’s awesome in the scrum and the loose and if he fine-tunes some of his set-piece he will be world class.

Head and shoulders above the rest: Tom Youngs (centre) has emerged as England's best hooker

Head and shoulders above the rest: Tom Youngs (centre) has emerged as England's best hooker

Will Greenwood

Will Greenwood

Centre, 55 caps, 31 tries. Retired in 2006. Now a media analyst

1 I’m enjoying watching them. They have great mental strength and are improving in stature every game. It’s a great sign they can beat sides as good as France when not playing well, and be annoyed about it.

2 The Grand Slam definitely and with a World Cup at home the options open up.

3 Geoff Parling. He jumps, he pushes, he tackles, he does exactly what it says on the tin. And Owen Farrell. To be a stand-off in a World Cup-winning side you need to be a tough nut and a sponge. He absorbs every lesson Test rugby throws at him.

Nick Barmby and Paul Cox favourites to take over at Barnsley

Barmby and Cox front runners for vacant Barnsley job

PUBLISHED:

16:29 GMT, 10 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:44 GMT, 10 January 2013

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox has emerged as one of the contenders to take over at Barnsley, with former Hull City boss Nick Barmby also in the frame.

The South Yorkshire club are seeking a replacement for Keith Hill, who was sacked on December 29 following a 3-1 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers which left them bottom of the Championship.

In the running: Mansfield manager Paul Cox is a contender for the Barnsley job

In the running: Mansfield manager Paul Cox is a contender for the Barnsley job

Contender: Former Hull boss Nick Barmby is also in the running

Contender: Former Hull boss Nick Barmby is also in the running

Inverness manager Terry Butcher was also linked with the vacant position but has said he will be remaining in Scotland, while recently fired Nottingham Forest boss Sean O'Driscoll also turned it down.

Cox, 41, is contracted at Mansfield until 2014 having joined the club in 2011. He guided the Stags to the third round of the FA Cup, where they were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to Liverpool last weekend.

Sacked! Barnsley manager Keith Hill was fired after the defeat by Blackburn

Sacked! Barnsley manager Keith Hill was fired after the defeat by Blackburn

Former England midfielder Barmby, 38, was last at the helm of Hull City last season but was sacked in May last year after making comments about the owners and his transfer budget.

West Brom reject QPR"s bid for Jonas Olsson

Blow for Redknapp as Baggies reject QPR's 5m bid for Olsson

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

08:15 GMT, 10 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 10 January 2013

West Brom have rejected a bid from QPR – believed to be around 5million – for defender Jonas Olsson.

Olsson only signed a new four-year contract with the Baggies in October.
The Swedish international is reported to be keen on a move to London for family reasons, but Albion have turned down the offer from Rangers.

Top target: Jonas Olsson is the man Harry Redkapp wants to sign

Top target: Jonas Olsson is the man Harry Redkapp wants to sign

Olsson is also understood to have reservations about any potential move to Loftus Road given their precarious position in the Barclays Premier League.

In any case, Baggies manager Steve Clarke made it clear last week he has no desire to let Olsson go during the January transfer window – and that stance has not altered.

Clarke said: 'Why would I expect to lose Jonas in January January is the silly season.

Looking to strengthen: Harry Redknapp wants to add to his defence

Looking to strengthen: Harry Redknapp wants to add to his defence

'We can hang on to every single player. We don't have to sell anybody.'
Olsson has also been linked with Arsenal, amidst speculation he has a get-out clause in the contract he signed three months ago.

The 29-year-old has been one of Albion's key performers since joining them four and a half years ago.

His form for the Baggies has also led to him becoming a regular for his country.