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One win for Aussies and 3 for the Kiwi franchises

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Trans – Tasman Rugby round 3

By Rajitha Ratwatte

We had a game scheduled for Queenstown, the Melbourne Rebels were scheduled to fly down and play the Otago Highlanders (probably in snowy conditions as winter is here) but the current Covid outbreak in Melbourne has that match scheduled for Sydney on Sunday. The only game that happened on Friday was at Mclean Park, Napier that lovely seaside town in the Hawkes Bay of the North Island, NZ. The Wellington Hurricanes playing the Western Force from Perth in conditions that would be far colder than anything experienced on the West Coast of Australia. The ‘Canes resting their hooker Dane Coles and the Force having 13 test All Black Richard Kahui in their ranks at no13 and former British Lion Rob Kierney at no15.

The Western Force started off like they meant business, tackling fiercely and racking up a 6–0 lead in the first ten minutes with two penalties from in front of the posts. 12 minutes into the game Asafo Aumua that dynamic Hooker who always plays in the Shadow of Dan Coles, picked up a miscued long throw from a line out, in his 22, and sprinted down the touchline for 80 meters to score far right. An incredible sight, a no2 jersey burning up the touchline like a no11 or no 14! Jordie Barret converted from a difficult angle and the Hurricanes in the lead at last 7–6. In the 20th minute, a back peel off a line out saw the backline activated and a great cut-out pass to wing saw a try from Rayasi Salesi which involved a great finish, dotting the ball down with the rest of his body in the air and in touch. Barret converted again from the left extreme and the score read 14–6. The Western Force kept attacking and Jordie Barret was guilty of throwing a few wild passes and disrupting attacking moves from the Hurricanes. He made up however with a 60-meter clearing kick to touch in the 35th minute of the game. Around 5 minutes from half time Tyrrell Lomax the All Black and Hurricanes loosehead prop ripped the ball away from a Force player and set Du’Plessis Kirifi his open side flanker on a 22-meter sprint, with Jordie Barret at his elbow, which ended in a try for Kirifi. Barret missed the conversion and the halftime score read 19–6.

Six minutes into the second half quick hands and a series of lovely passes saw Wes Goosen the open side winger sprint 22 meters and score another far-right. Barret missed again but the lead was comfortable now 24–6. Aardie Savea coming on off the bench and still recovering from his injury made a difference straight away winning the ball from a ruck and earning a turnover penalty for his side in defence. In the 57th minute, Salesi Rayasi picked up a loose ball inside his 10-meter line and ran the length of the field to score under the posts for a converted try 31–6. About seven minutes from the full-time whistle, a simple chip kick behind the advancing Western Force defense saw Ngani Laumape pick the ball up run 40 meters, and earn himself another seven pointer, 38–6, and the beginning to look like a rout. Jordie Barret was not to be outdone dotting down another in the last stages of the game after another abject lesson in ball handling from the Hurricanes three quarters. Too hard to convert for the try scorer and the final score 43–6 a convincing win with a bonus point to start off round three and the midway point of this tournament.

The first game played on Saturday was at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong, NSW. Another seaside ground and this time with a 30-mph wind gusting around and mainly behind the Waratahs as the Crusaders kicked off. The first seven minutes or so spent in the Crusaders territory and it was only in the eighth minute that Ritchie Mo’uanga decided that he had enough and sent a long pass out to Seevu Reece on the wing who passed to Will Jordan who ensured that the diminutive number nine Mitchell Drummond scored mid-right. Easily converted and the Crusaders into a 7–0 lead. Another great attacking move a few minutes later was disrupted when Leicester Fainga’anuku playing in the number 11 jersey didn’t pass early enough. This open-side winger is the only weak link (if the Crusaders do have a weak link) in the backline and if he continues to play, this will be exploited by the Australian teams. Two penalties converted by the ‘Tahs in the 10th and 17th minute saw the game reduced to a one-point margin reading 7–6 to the Crusaders. In the 21st minute Jack Whitton the second row forward of the Waratahs was yellow carded and during the ensuing 10 minutes the Crusaders scored twice through their hooker Codie Taylor (unconverted) and Seevu Reece (goal) and the Waratahs converted a penalty to take the score to 19–9. On the stroke of halftime, Will Jordan drew the defence beautifully and opened the way for his number 12 Dallas McCloud to score mid-right. No problem with the goal and the halftime score read 26–9 to the visitors.

The highlight of the game came in the 1st minute of the second half with Ritchie Muanga showing infinite grace and wonderful timing, collecting a ball one-handed, slicing through a gap, and running 30 meters to allow his skipper and second-rower, Scott Barret, to power his way over the line for a seven pointer 33–9. The Waratahs attacked furiously and the Crusaders defended grimly until Jack Maddocks broke through a hole in the defence and scored for the ‘Tahs well within kicking range to take the score to 33–16. The Tah’s shortened the margin further by another seven pointer from Zane Paresi their number 13 taking the score to 33–23. Leicester Fainga’anuku the “weak link” in the crusaders line, redeemed himself by scoring mid-left paving the way for a routine conversion and the score to 40–23, in the 62nd minute. We had reached the stage of the game when the Crusaders put their “foot down” and usually accelerate their scoring and the duly obliged with a rolling maul that gained about 20 meters and Bryn Hall in at substitute hooker breaking away and scoring unopposed first, to take the score to 47–23 and then Will Jordan collecting a perfectly weighted cross kick from Fergus Berk to take the score to 54-23. The ‘Tahs were not finished yet and with the yellow carding of David Havilli for a deliberate knock on a scoring area, Alex Newsome their number 11 scored an unconverted try to take the final score to 54–28.

Eden Park the bastion of the Auckland Blues hosted the Brumbies for the second game of the Saturday of round three of the Trans-Tasman Super rugby tournament. It was 15 minutes into the game before the Brumbies line was crossed by Brett Eklund the Blues hooker, ably assisted by Dalton Papelili off a line out maul. Eklund went over mid-right and the conversion was no problem for Oteri Black 7–0. The Blues have right throughout the season continued to keep their fans in a state of high tension by making basic mistakes on attack and losing many scoring chances due to “brain freezes”. They continued in this vein first winning a scrum penalty and then having it reversed and then giving a penalty right in front of their posts and finally conceding a try to the Brumbies in the 33rd minute, taking the Australians into the lead 7–10. Oteri Black pulled back a penalty for the blues making the scores level at 10 all. Two minutes from half time Ricco Ioane scythed his way through the Brumbies defence and passed to his number nine Finlay Christie who ran 60+ meters and scored under the posts, making the half time score 17–10 to the Blues.

The second half started untidily with the ball flying around everywhere and handling mistakes and aimless kicking dominating the play. In the seventh minute, Bryce Heem of the Blues scored under the posts from a move that involved passing and offloads from Patrick Tuapoletu and Hoskins Sututu. Easily converted and the score now reading 24–10 to the home side. Finlay Christie the Blues halfback was having his best game for the season and at this stage, the Blues unleashed their hitman off the bench Nepo Laulala the All Blacks tighthead prop who usually makes big difference to the tiring opposition scrum. Laulala however could only manage to concede a penalty upon arrival! A great intercept by Gerard Cowley-Tuioti in the 55th minute saw good territory gained and the Blues forwards got down to work. Many phases and much hard work later A.J. Lam scored mid-right taking the Blues to 31–10. The 69th minute saw a formal warning issued to the Brumbies and a yellow card dished out their number 16 for collapsing the scrum. The Blues promptly took advantage of the numbers superiority, with T.J. Fayani scoring a converted try mid-right. This took the score to 38–10 which remained the final margin of Victory for the Auckland Blues.

The last game for Saturday’s rugby was Townsville with the Queensland Reds hosting the Waikato Chiefs. Things started badly for the Chiefs with the first scrum resulting in a penalty to the reds and quickly got worse with a penalty try being awarded to the Reds by Aussie ref Nic Berry, in the 15th minute and a yellow card issued to the Chiefs no 11 Chase Tiatia 0-7. The Chiefs pulled in a penalty in the 17th minute with their main playmaker and placekicker Damian Mackenzie converting from 40 meters out 3–7. Then came the turning point of the game in the 21st minute when Damian Mackenzie was found to have shoulder-charged the Reds number nine McDermott and red carded out of the game. The video evidence was clear and a player who always punched well above his weight for the Chiefs was out of the game in the 21st minute. The rule in force for this tournament says that a red card will result in no player being replaced for 10 minutes and after that, another player will be allowed on the field. The red-carded player can take no further part in the game. This meant that the Chiefs were now down to 13 men for a while and would be playing with 14 until one minute into the second half. The Queensland Reds obliged with four tries (three of them converted) in the remaining period to half time taking the score to 3-33 at the break.

The Chiefs were back to 15 men in the second minute of the second half and they got down to work. The 51st minute saw Gus Sowakula playing at flanker for the Chiefs scoring mid-right but Kaleb Task who was kicking in the absence of D’mac missed a fairly straightforward conversion. 8–33 and the Chiefs position looking hopeless. Five minutes later Filipo Daugunu who always does an exemplary job manning the wing scored again for the Reds and O’Connor converted from the extreme left corner of the field. Score 8–40 and the Aussie commentators who always double up as a cheering squad were ecstatic and even managed to pronounce Daugunu’s name right! The next ten minutes saw four tries by the Chiefs three of which were converted and the kick at goal off the fourth try which left them behind by six points (34–40) with less than two minutes left in the game, was not taken in an attempt to restart the game and attempt to score again. It was not to be however and the Australian franchise was able to record their first win of the tournament.

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Dates announced for India’s tour of Sri Lanka

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by Rex Clementine

India will send a second string team to Sri Lanka later this month for a six-match bilateral series. The teams will be involved in three ODIs and three T-20 Internationals with all games taking place in a bio-secure bubble at RPS. It is unlikely that spectators will be accommodated for the series due to current rising numbers of COVID cases. RPS underwent extensive renovation recently and hasn’t hosted a game in two years.

India have made tremendous progress in the game in the last ten years that they are able to send their main team to England, that too an extended squad and then send a second string team that looks not too bad on paper to Sri Lanka. IPL has opened up a whole lot of new opportunities for India.

India must be confident of winning in Sri Lanka even with a second string side. For example, their main team whitewashed Sri Lanka 5-0 in ODIs when they toured here in 2017 and the following year at the Nidahas Trophy, they sent a second string team and won the competition where Sri Lanka even failed to make it to the finals.

Sri Lanka’s players or SLC will not be complaining. Tours by India will result in huge profits for SLC. Board of Control for Cricket in India has been extremely generous in helping out Sri Lanka coming in for hastily arranged series previously to bail out SLC that was feeling the pinch. This tour, however, was part of the Future Tour Programme.

In the three match ODI series, 30 points will be up for grabs in the ICC World Cup qualifiers and pitted against a weaker Indian team, Sri Lanka will be fancying their chances to win and boost their opportunities of automatic qualification for the sport’s showpiece event. At the moment Sri Lanka are languishing last at 13th position.

India will arrive on the 28th of June and after mandatory quarantine they will be allowed to train. The ODIs will be played on the 13th, 16th and 18th of July followed by the T-20s on the 21st, 23rd and 25th of July.

 

1st ODI

– 13th July – RPS – 2.30pm 

2nd ODI

– 16th July – RPS – 2.30pm 

3rd ODI

– 18th July – RPS – 2.30pm 

1st T20I

– 21st July – RPS – 7.00pm 

2nd T20I

– 23rd July – RPS – 7.00pm 

3rd T20I

– 25th July – RPS – 7.00pm

 

India’s squad:

 Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya 

Net Bowlers:

 Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh. 

 

 

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Ranindu draws with grandmaster, settles for third place

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Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021

National Champion Ranindu Dilshan Liyanage fought hard to secure a draw against grandmaster Enamul Hussain on the final day as he settled for the third position of the Asian Zonal Hybrid Chess Championship 2021.

Starting with the Sicilian Defense the grandmaster sacrificed a pawn and got a strong knight against Ranindu’s bad bishop early in the game. He used all tricks available to earn points as a win would have earned him the gold medal and the possibility to play in the Chess World Cup 2021. But Ranindu had other ideas as the Anandian achieved the third spot winning six points from nine games.

Bangladesh grandmaster Ziaur Rahman (2434) also secured a draw in a hard fought game against 11-year-old, Manon Reja Neer who is also from Bangladesh and settled for eight points. Bangladeshi grandmaster Enamul Hussain needed a full point to tie with the leader but finally settled for the second position as he drew with Ranindu. He had 7 ½ points.

Grandmaster Ziaur won the gold medal and the ticket to the FIDE Chess World Cup. A total of US$ 3,000.00 is distributed among the winners. While the champion receives US$ 1,000.00, the runners up wins US$ 700.00. Ranindu is entitled for US$ 500.00 as he was placed third.

FIDE master Susal de Silva of Nalanda College met his colleague A.A.C.B. Amarasinghe of SJP Chess Club and the game ended in favour of Amarasinghe. Amarasinghe scored six points out of nine games. There were five other players who had scored six points each but he was placed eighth according to the tie breakers. Susal had a total of five points after nine games. Amarasinghe too is entitled for US$ 100.00.

The Asian Zonal Chess Championship 2021, the preliminary event for the FIDE World Chess Cup 2021 for the South Asian region started on June 1 and was held on the Tornelo platform. A total of 39 players from South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka participated in the event. India is considered a single zone by FIDE and has a direct entry to the FIDE World Cup.

The Bangladesh Chess Federation conducted the event from Dhaka and the Sri Lankan players competed from the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka headquarters, Gangodawila, Nugegoda. The event which concluded on Wednesday was conducted according to the Swiss System of nine rounds.

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Yupun set to climb up Road to Olympic rankings

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Yupun Abeykoon would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.

 

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka’s top ranked sprinter Yupun Abeykoon did well to finish fourth at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday. Brushing shoulders against some of the world’s fastest sprinters, the national record holder clocked 10.16 seconds.

The fourth place finish will augur well for the sprinter as he aspires to earn a Tokyo Olympic berth. The 26-year-old is currently placed 65th in the Road to Olympics rankings and needs to secure a spot within the first 56 positions as only 56 athletes are selected for Tokyo Olympic 100 metres. To earn a direct qualification Abeykoon has to clock 10.05 seconds.

With Diamond League competitions guarantying more points, analysts believe that Abeykoon would secure a better position in the Road to Olympic rankings when the World Athletics update the rankings.

To secure the fourth place Abeykoon edged out some leading athletes who are placed higher in the Road to Olympic rankings.

He would be delighted to have placed fourth against a solid field that included American veteran Mike Rodgers and Ivorian Arthur Cissé.

US World Relay champion Michael Rodgers who is ranked 15th in the Road to Olympic rankings was placed fifth in a time of 10.25 seconds.

South African Akani Simbine clocked 10.08 seconds to win while Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah finished second in a time of 10.10 seconds. Emmanuel Matadi was placed third in 10.16 seconds.

None of Sri Lanka’s male athletes have reached qualifying standards for the Tokyo Olympics so far while Nilani Ratnayake is the only Sri Lankan athlete who is within the required ranking positions to book a berth. The steeplechase athlete is currently ranked 37th in the Road to Olympics rankings.

Rio Olympic participant Sumeda Ranasinghe is also closer to an Olympic berth in the men’s category. The javelin thrower is currently ranked 43rd in the list. High jumper Ushan Thivanka who has produced a superb 2.30 metres is ranked 51st in the list.

At the Rome Diamond League on Thursday one of the highlights of the night was Dutch long-distance star Sifan Hassan’s performance in the women’s 1 500m. The 10,000 metres specialist showed her prowess in the 1,500 metres, beating Olympic 1 500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya in a new meeting record of 3:53.63. It was also a world lead. Kipyegon was placed second in a personal best of 3:53.91.

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