Super Rugby: Perfect Blues stay top, Crusaders march on

By Sports Desk June 04, 2021

The Blues beat the Reds 31-24 in Brisbane on Friday to stay top of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table.

Leon MacDonald's side have now won four out of four in the competition, though they were denied a precious bonus point at Suncorp Stadium against the injury-plagued Reds.

Harry Wilson found a gap to score the opening try of the match for the home team, but Brandon Paenga-Amosa's yellow card for collapsing a maul proved to be a turning point.

Dalton Papalii and winger Mark Telea crossed over for the Blues in the space of seven minutes as MacDonald's charges took full advantage of the one-man advantage.

Patrick Tuipulotu and Finlay Christie were next to dot down for the leaders, either side of Paenga-Amosa's try, to give their side a 17-point advantage.

The Reds made a fight of it late on when a crosskick sent Filipo Daugunu over, soon followed by a successful penalty from the Fiji-born winger, but the comeback fell just short.

The Blues are one point better off than Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders, who also made it four wins from four by defeating the Western Force 29-21 in Christchurch.

Scott Robertson's side were made to work hard for the victory after falling behind to Toni Pulu's well-taken try inside the opening four minutes.

Manasa Mataele finished soon after and Will Jordan slid over to complete a quickfire turnaround for the Crusaders, who went further ahead thanks to Whetu Douglas.

Ollie Callan's score from close range looked to have given the Force some hope, only for Sione Havili to cross the whitewash after the half-time hooter had sounded.

Jordan got his second of the game to give the Crusaders a 15-point lead and they stayed strong at the back until the final seconds.

Jordan Olowofela chased down Kyle Godwin's kick and went over, denying the Crusaders a bonus point in the process.

Related items

  • Tokyo Olympics Recap: Dressel savours first individual gold, Croatia's rowing brothers golden again Tokyo Olympics Recap: Dressel savours first individual gold, Croatia's rowing brothers golden again

    Everyone expected Caeleb Dressel to be one of the swimming stars of the Tokyo Games, and the American lived up to the hype on Thursday. 

    Dressel started strongly and held off rival Kyle Chalmers of Australia at the end to win the 100m freestyle, the 24-year-old's first individual Olympic gold after taking two relay wins in Rio and one earlier this week.

    The Floridian swam the 100m free three times in Rio and his time got worse from the preliminaries to the semi-finals to the final, ultimately leaving him sixth overall at 48.02 while Chalmers won gold with a 47.58.

    This time, Dressel was at his best when it mattered most, posting a 47.02 to break an Olympic record that had stood since Beijing 2008.

    Afterward, he described winning his first individual gold as a weight off his shoulders.

    "It is different," Dressel said. "I didn't want to admit it but now that I did it, I can.

    "It's a lot different – you can't rely on anyone else. It's just you and the water, there's no one there to bail you out. It's tough."

    Winning the gold in a head-to-head showdown with the reigning champion made victory even sweeter.

    "It's so fun going with Kyle – I mean, every time we make it good," Dressel said. "It's really fun to watch when we go head-to-head.

    "I've got nothing but respect for him."

    CROATIA'S ROWING BROTHERS GOLDEN AGAIN

    Brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic have teamed up to win a rowing medal for the third consecutive Olympics. 

    The Croatians took gold in the men's coxless pair event at Sea Forest Waterway, leading throughout the race and winning by 1.29 seconds over Romania's Marius Cozmiuc and Ciprian Tudosa.

    The Sinkovic siblings won gold in the double sculls five years ago in Rio after making up half of Croatia's quadruple sculls team that took the silver medal in London in 2012.

    They are the first rowers to win gold in both the pair and double sculls since Canada's Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean did it in 1992 and 1996.

    "It's an unbelievable feeling, hard to describe," said Valent, the older of the pair at 32. "This is like a new gold medal for us because it's in a second discipline, so we celebrate it like it's the first one for us.

    "We couldn't be happier. Everything went as planned, we executed the race perfectly."

    As for looking toward a potential fourth medal at Paris 2024, Martin Sinkovic said the brothers were done with pairs competitions but might look to row the four in three years' time. 

    RIO POLE VAULT BRONZE MEDALLIST OUT WITH COVID

    Sam Kendricks of the USA, the 2016 bronze medallist and 2017 world champion in the pole vault, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in Tokyo, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced.

    The USOPC said Kendricks has been transferred to a hotel and been placed in isolation in accordance with protocols.

    "Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed," the USOPC said. "Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

    Earlier on Thursday in its daily media briefing, the International Olympic Committee said three athletes were among the 24 people who had come back positive for COVID-19 in the most recent round of testing.

    STRAKA HAS CLUBHOUSE LEAD AS GOLF GETS UNDER WAY

    Austria's Sepp Straka went out with the first grouping in the opening round of the men's golf tournament and set the pace for everyone who teed off behind him, taking the clubhouse lead with a 63 on Thursday morning.

    Ranked 161st in the world this week after missing the cut at six of his last seven PGA Tour events, Straka turned in a bogey-free round at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, carding four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back.

    Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico finished with six-under-par 65s among the early starters to sit two back of the lead.

    Several major winners including Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa were still on the course.

    AUSTRALIA OPEN RUGBY SEVENS DEFENCE WITH ROUT

    Defending women's rugby sevens gold medallists Australia made a statement as they opened pool play with a crushing 48-0 defeat of hosts Japan after leading 24-0 at half-time.

    Emma Tonegato got three tries while Demi Hayes and debutant Maddison Levi had two each for Australia, who face China later on Thursday.

    "I definitely was concerned about this game," said Australia's head coach John Manenti. "Japan, playing at home, it would be very emotional for them and the pressures and expectations could have built on us.

    "But I was really pleased with that clinical first half. We could relax at the end of the game and give a few of the girls debuts."

    New Zealand, beaten finalists at Rio 2016, began their Tokyo campaign with a 29-7 win over Kenya.

    REIGNING BMX GOLD MEDALLISTS ADVANCE TO SEMIS

    BMX racers opened competition at Ariake Urban Sports Park, with defending gold medallist Connor Fields of the USA and current world number one Sylvain Andre of France among those booking their spots in the semi-finals.

    Andre's countryman Joris Daudet had the top time of the day in his last run to make Friday's semis along with Rio 2016 bronze medallist Carlos Ramirez of Colombia.

    On the women's side, world number one and Rio 2016 gold medallist Mariana Pajon of Colombia won all three of her preliminary races to advance, along with 2016 silver medallist Alise Willoughby of the USA.

    Willoughby's team-mate Felecia Stancil turned in the best overall time of the day on her first run and also is one of the 16 semi-finalists.

  • Gatland hails Itoje's 'best game' in Lions' first Test win Gatland hails Itoje's 'best game' in Lions' first Test win

    Warren Gatland felt Maro Itoje’s outstanding display in the British and Irish Lions’ victory over South Africa last weekend was the best he has seen from the back-row.

    Itoje was named man of the match after playing a huge part in the Lions overturning a half-time deficit to win the first Test at Cape Town Stadium 22-17.

    The 26-year-old England lock was dominant at the breakdown against the world champions and came up with a game-high three turnovers.

    "To me that’s probably the best game I’ve seen him play in any sort of jersey," said Gatland.

    "He has been guilty in the past of giving away penalties and probably pushing the limits but I thought we saw an incredibly mature performance last weekend."

     

    Gatland was impressed with Itoje's discipline in an attritional battle.

    "I thought it was an excellent performance; I made a joke on Monday that it was the first time in about 360-odd games that Maro Itoje hadn't given away a penalty," Gatland added.

    "I thought his decision making around the game in terms of when he went for things, when he decided to leave things alone, I kind of felt in the past he's chased lost causes and gone after things he didn't need to do and probably wasted a lot of energy.

    "But I thought on Saturday his decision making about when to go after something, counter-ruck at the breakdown and the line-out stuff, was actually outstanding."

    The Lions have made three changes for the second Test on Saturday, bringing in scrum-half Conor Murray, Mako Vunipola and debutant Chris Harris.

  • Tokyo Olympics Recap: Murray and Barty bundled out in doubles, Titmus and Ledecky triumph Tokyo Olympics Recap: Murray and Barty bundled out in doubles, Titmus and Ledecky triumph

    Ash Barty has followed up her shock women's singles defeat by crashing out of the women's doubles after an epic clash with Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

    World number one Barty was stunned in the first round of the women's singles on Sunday by Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo but teamed up with Storm Sanders in the doubles, with the Australian pair reaching the quarter-finals.

    However, Krejcikova and Siniakova proved too strong in a three-set thriller, winning 3-6 6-4 10-7.

    "You never quite have their measure,” Barty said. "It's disappointing but there's only a couple of points in that match, here and there and it's a different result.

    "We did everything right today but just weren't able to win those big points when it mattered most."

    Barty's medal hopes are now entirely focused on the mixed doubles, where she has partnered with John Peers.

    Andy Murray's bid to become the first male to win four Olympic tennis medals ended with defeat to Croatia's Marin Cilic and Ivan Dogic in the men's doubles.

    Murray, teaming up with Joe Salisbury, went down in two hours and 18 minutes after also winning the first set. The Croatian pair won 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 10-7.

    The two-time Olympic gold medalist had withdrawn from the men's singles on Sunday due to a right quad injury, preferring to focus on playing doubles. TeamGB have not fielded a mixed doubles team.

     

    TITMUS DOUBLES UP, LEDECKY LIFTS FOR GOLD

    Ariarne Titmus backed up her women's 400m freestyle gold medal from Monday with another triumph, getting the better of rival Katie Ledecky to win the 200m free.

    The 20-year-old Australian won the final ahead of Hong Kong's Siobhan Bernadette Haughey and Canada's Penny Oleksiak, while Ledecky finished back in fifth.

    Ledecky would claim her sixth Olympic gold medal, triumphing in the women's 1500m free, with the US claiming a rare one-two as Erica Sullivan grabbed the silver ahead of Germany's Sarah Kohler.

    After being beaten twice by Titmus earlier in the meet, Ledecky said: "I approach each race with a belief in myself. It's the attitude I've always had that's why I've been so successful. Anything can happen, [the attitude I go in with is] I can beat the world record in this race. 

    Japan's Yui Ohashi won the women's 200m individual medley, Hungarian favourite Kristof Milak powered to victory in the men's 200m butterfly and Great Britain triumphed in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay.

     

    STEERING ERROR COSTS GB IN ROWING

    Australia claimed two gold medals in the rowing at Sea Forest Waterway as Great Britain were left to lament a wayward finish in the men's four final.

    Australian quartet Alexander Purnell, Spencer Turrin, Jack Hargreaves and Alexander Hill won in 5:42:76 ahead of Romania and Italy who claimed silver and bronze respectively.

    Italy's late charge almost saw a collision with Great Britain, who finished in fourth, after veering towards the neighbouring Italian boat, narrowly avoiding a clash of oars.

    GB's Oliver Cook, who steered the men's coxless four, told BBC Sport: "I do (have the steering). I need to diagnose it but I feel I screwed up a bit and as I was closing in at the end and taking big strokes at the end going for the line I forgot the steering and that’s what cost us to be honest, cost us a medal."

    Australia also won the women's four narrowly ahead of the Netherlands by 0:34 seconds, with Ireland claiming the bronze more than five seconds back.

    Romania secured its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the women's double sculls final, while France triumphed in the men's equivalent.

    The Netherlands and China triumphed in the men's and women's quadruple sculls finals respectively.

     

    RADRADRA DREAMING OF FIJI SEVENS GOLD

    New Zealand will take on 2016 gold medalists Fiji in the final of the men's rugby sevens on Wednesday evening.

    Fiji went through to the gold medal match with a 26-14 triumph over Argentina, who will take on Great Britain for bronze.

    New Zealand were too strong for the British, winning 29-7 in their semi-final, with two tries each to captain Scott Curry and Regan Ware.

    Former NRL star Semi Radradra, who plays for Fiji after switching codes in 2017 and scored a try against Argentina, said: "Playing in the Olympics is a blessing for me. I never knew I would be here.

    "I think it is everyone's highlight to win a gold medal in the Olympics. That is our aim and we try to give back to our people at home."

    USA RESTORES CONFIDENCE IN BASKETBALL

    Team USA restored some confidence following their first-up loss to France with a comprehensive 120-66 thrashing of Iran in men's basketball.

    USA played fast throughout, wasting no time in offense, with Damian Lillard top scoring with 21 points, all from beyond the arc.

    Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine had eight assists along with his 13 points while Devin Booker, who played in the NBA Finals last week, scored 16 points and had five rebounds and three steals.

    USA head coach Gregg Popovich rotated his roster on and off the court, sharing minutes, as hos team piled on 38 points in the last quarter to round out a comprehensive victory.

    In Group B, Germany defeated Nigeria 99-92 despite Jordan Nowra's 33-point haul.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.