Davies’ late try seals Scarlets win

first_imgJames Davies scored a late try as Scarlets beat Ulster 22-13 at Parc y Scarlets to keep their chances alive of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions Cup. Scarlets were forced into a late change when Wales lock Jake Ball pulled out with a virus, with George Earle coming into the second row. For Ulster, centre Luke Marshall returned after recovering from a knee injury sustained playing for the Ulster Ravens in October. It was Scarlets who made the early inroads on the scoreboard, opening up a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter through two Priestland penalties, the first after Franco van der Merwe was penalised at a line-out and another when Ulster hands slowed ball at a ruck. Another useful attack from the home side forced Van der Merwe offside as Priestland made it three out of three. And it was 12-0 after 33 minutes as Priestland found the target again after Rory Best handled the ball at a ruck. Priestland sent a 40-metre attempt wide and was short with another shot but an 11-3 penalty advantage at the break had already taken its toll. But it took Ulster only 90 seconds after the restart to break their duck, with Luke Marshall and Darren Cave combining effectively twice for Cave to go in under the posts and Humphreys converting. Scarlets had put themselves under pressure when Rhodri Williams’ box kick had gone straight into touch from just outside the 22. Priestland was wayward with another penalty after Ulster continued to struggle at the scrum. Ulster also had a chance to cut the deficit further but Humphreys was wide of the target with his first penalty shot on 55 minutes. With Rhys Priestland kicking 17 points Scarlets have gone second in Pool Three with games against Toulon and Leicester remaining in January. Ulster could only manage a losing bonus point despite a Darren Cave try, two penalties from Ruan Pienaar and a conversion from Ian Humphreys. Press Association But Scarlets got on the scoreboard next with a Priestland penalty which went over via the help of the right upright to take the home side into a 15-7 lead on 61 minutes. Referee Doyle lost his patience with the Ulster scrum and sin-binned tight-head prop Declan Fitzpatrick on 65 minutes. But despite being down to 14 men Tommy Bowe broke through the Scarlets defence before Cave could not hold on to what would have been a try-scoring pass. But Pienaar kicked two penalties, one from close to halfway, in the space of three minutes to cut the deficit to only two points. However, on 76 minutes Pienaar missed a third penalty which would have given Ulster the lead. And the contest but was put to bed two minutes from time when flanker Davies intercepted the ball from an Ulster scrum to go over under the posts. Priestland added a drop-goal conversion. last_img read more

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Wiser Wales waiting for Ireland

first_imgWales forwards coach Robin McBryde has told Ireland not to expect the same Welsh mistakes made in Dublin last year. Ireland ran out convincing 26-3 winners when the two teams last met at the Aviva Stadium in February 2014 but McBryde admits the Welsh management could have prepared the side better for that contest. And, with Ireland’s visit to the Millennium Stadium on March 14 shaping up to be the game that could decide the destiny of this year’s RBS 6 Nations title, McBryde insists Wales will be ready this time. “I know from a coaching point of view we looked at ourselves and weren’t happy with the way we prepared for the game that week,” McBryde reflected on Wales’ visit to Ireland 13 months ago. “We did not have the intensity in training leading up to that match and we were exposed on the day. “We weren’t pointing fingers, we were looking at ourselves as to how we could have prepared better for that game. “It was a bitter pill to swallow because we were well-beaten and it was the first time in a long time that had happened to us. “We really struggled to cope with their driving game but we’ve worked worked hard in that area and the boys showed against France what they’re capable of doing.” Wales’ 20-13 victory in Paris has revived Welsh hopes of doing what they did in 2013, namely becoming Six Nations champions after losing their first game in the tournament and they were boosted on Friday when skipper Sam Warburton and Dan Biggar returned to training after suffering knocks in France. But Ireland are three-fifths to a Grand Slam having beaten England in Dublin last weekend and McBryde accepts Wales face a big challenge to record their first win over the men in green since 2012. “They’re a very formidable outfit as they’ve proven,” McBryde said. “You’ve got to have your wits about you playing them in regards to the tactical and technical approach to the game. “But the France game was a reflection of what the players have been doing in training and some of the execution and accuracy under pressure which we we speak about constantly came to fruition. “We’ve set the standard and now we’ve got to do it again.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Shaneshill stars in victory romp

first_imgCheltenham Festival runner-up Shaneshill emphatically went one better in the Coolmore NH Sires Leading Light & Ocovango Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was the 4-9 favourite, having chased home stable companion Douvan in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last month, and travelled powerfully throughout in the hands of Ruby Walsh. Having initially been dropped out, Walsh moved his mount closer to the speed with a circuit to run and it was clear from the home bend he had far more in the tank than his opponents. The other Mullins runner, Outlander, emerged as a threat heading to the second flight from the finish, but an untidy leap saw Shaneshill open up a clear advantage and he never looked like being caught, coming home with 13 lengths in hand. Mullins said: “I didn’t think he’d go in the conditions as it’s very tacky and soft, but he handled it very well. He’ll go to Punchestown and, on that run, it looks like he’ll stay at that trip. He’ll go chasing next year.” The valuable Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper also went to the Mullins operation as Castello Sforza (9-2), partnered by the trainer’s son Patrick, made a winning debut in the colours of Pearl Bloodstock. Mullins said: “I’ve no intention of going to Punchestown with him. Maybe he could go for the bumper at the Curragh, but we’ll probably put him away. “This man (Sheikh Fahad) has got into the game to go jumping and the aim is Cheltenham next year. Whether that’s for the bumper or over hurdles, we’ll see.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Dyche enjoys Burnley challenge

first_img “I think it’s quite obvious, I am enjoying the challenge here. I am not looking further afield,” the Burnley boss said. “I am enjoying the challenge here.” Dyche has retained the support of the Burnley fans throughout the season even though the club are now second from bottom with just seven matches to go. The same cannot be said for the man who will be in the away dugout at Turf Moor this weekend, though. Some Arsenal fans called for Arsene Wenger’s head following a difficult start to the season. Dyche remains a big fan of the Gunners boss and cannot comprehend why there were calls for the three-time Premier League winner to be sacked. “They’re a fine side, who keep progressing despite what people say,” said Dyche, who took Burnley up last year after finishing second in the Sky Bet Championship. “Arsene seems to get questioned, I don’t know why, I think the job he’s done is terrific. “Of course, I’m aware fans would like to have won more trophies in recent years but, as a young manager aspiring to progress in the game, I look at people like him thinking ‘you haven’t done badly if you have a career like his’.” Dyche hopes Matt Taylor (Achilles), Ross Wallace (knee) and Steven Reid (calf) will be fit for the visit of the Gunners, who have won their last seven games in all competitions. Burnley manager Sean Dyche has dismissed speculation linking him with Derby. Recent reports claimed Dyche has been lined up as a possible successor to Steve McClaren, who is the bookmakers’ favourite to take over at Newcastle. Dyche says he remains committed to the task in hand at Turf Moor, though. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Carver enjoying Newcastle challenge

first_img The 50-year-old has suffered a torrid time since replacing Alan Pardew as head coach at St James’ Park until at least the end of the season. Pardew’s former assistant has managed just two wins in 14 games in all competitions to date and has seen his side lose their last five Barclays Premier League fixtures, a run which has allowed the chasing pack to close and threaten to drag the club into a shock relegation fight. That, coupled with fury over owner Mike Ashley’s recruitment policy, has sparked calls for a mass boycott of Sunday’s home clash with Tottenham, but Carver remains upbeat. He said with a smile: “I’m enjoying it – you might think it’s strange to say that. “The hardest thing is to pick yourself up after a defeat because you take it personally. But we are professionals and have to get on with it. I’m quite a positive guy inside my head and I know I can do the job. I just need the tools. “We’ve had setbacks, but you have got to deal with setbacks. It would be interesting to see if any manger or head coach had had this sort of situation in their career. It has been difficult, the facts are there. “But I’m not a moaner and not making excuses. It’s a test of management how you deal with it. I think I’m getting the best out of the group of players we have.” Carver’s final comment may cause more than a few raised eyebrows with Manchester United, Everton, Arsenal, Sunderland and Liverpool each having emerged from their recent meetings with Newcastle having banked three points. Injuries and ill-discipline – Papiss Cisse and Moussa Sissoko are currently serving bans while skipper Fabricio Coloccini is available at the weekend after having to sit out the last three games – have severely depleted a team which has been marooned on 35 points since the victory over Aston Villa on February 28. Carver said: “You can’t afford to ease off in the Premier League. This is a difficult league and it’s difficult to win matches. You can win five in a row, lose five in a row – and we have to stop that.” John Carver has insisted he is enjoying the task of trying to turn Newcastle’s season around despite all appearances. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Rodgers apologises for poor defeat

first_imgLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers offered an apology for an “embarrassing” 6-1 defeat at Stoke and despite it putting his future under more scrutiny insists he still has a lot to offer the club. “They have every right to be angry and frustrated and of course I take full responsibility for that as the manager.” Rodgers also took responsibility for dropping Raheem Sterling for the first time in 18 matches and leaving him on the bench for the entire 90 minutes. The 20-year-old has been splashed over the back pages all week after his contract wrangle with the club – having rejected a £100,000-a-week deal back in January – took more twists, with his agent reportedly saying he would not sign a new deal and the club responding by cancelling a scheduled meeting to reopen talks. “With Raheem, there has been a lot going on over the past number of weeks and I felt there were other players mentally positioned to play in the game,” was the manager’s explanation. In his two years in charge Stoke boss Mark Hughes has guided the club to back-to-back top-10 finishes in the Premier League for the first time. “We couldn’t have asked for a better finish to a really great season,” he said. “The level of performance in that first 45 minutes was exceptional and I don’t think it reflects badly on Liverpool. I think most teams would have struggled to cope with the quality and intensity of our play. “It is a great performance against a very good team with great individual talents, and we have been able to get the level of performance that I think a lot of people sensed we were capable of. “Everything came together and we showed what a good side we are.” Stoke blitzed their hosts in a 23-minute spell from the middle of the first half, with Mame Diouf (two), Jon Walters, Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi putting them 5-0 up before the break. Substitute Peter Crouch rounded off the scoring late on after Steven Gerrard, on his 710th and last appearance for the club, scored a goal which brought the whole of the Britannia Stadium to its feet. “I am sure Steven wasn’t anticipating the manner of that being his last performance, but credit to him he was trying to drive his team on and it was great he got that reception from our supporters when he scored,” said Hughes. “It is only right and proper we recognise the impact he has had in English football and at his club as well. “To a man everyone applauded that goal. I wish him well, he has been a credit to his country and his club as well.” Asked if he understood the pressure was building on him the Northern Irishman said: “Yes, absolutely. “I’ve always said that if the owners want me to go, then I go. It’s as simple as that. “But I still feel I’ve got a lot to offer the club. A lot has happened this year which has made the job difficult but I totally understand that. “Last season, when things were working well, we had the support of everyone but performances like today do not help that and I fully understand that. “For everybody connected with Liverpool, we are all embarrassed by that today. “We have to be much better than that. They (the fans) deserve an apology. “They were angry at half time – and rightly so – because that was awful, absolutely awful. “The only way you’ll get support from them is by winning games, and we haven’t won enough games. Press Association A run of eight points from their final nine matches saw the Reds drop to sixth, eight points off Champions League qualification – the target set by owners Fenway Sports Group at the beginning of the campaign. Rodgers admits the shambolic performance at the Britannia Stadium, where his side found themselves five down at half-time, could be the final straw for FSG if they feel the need for change. last_img read more

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Kane strikes to see off Sydney

first_img Press Association Harry Kane continued his fine run of goalscoring form with a first-half winner in Tottenham’s 1-0 friendly victory over Sydney FC on Saturday. Kane bagged 31 goals for Spurs in a superb breakthrough 2014-15 season which also saw him score 79 seconds into his senior England debut and scoop the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Kane scored twice as Tottenham beat a Malaysia XI 2-1 in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday and he netted the only goal of the game in front of more than 70,000 fans at the ANZ Stadium as Mauricio Pochettino’s side overcame a determined Sydney side. center_img The 21-year-old striker was played through by Erik Lamela and unleashed a fierce low shot across Sydney goalkeeper Ivan Necevski and into the left-hand corner three minutes before the interval. last_img read more

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Kjeldsen leads way in County Down

first_img Kjeldsen enjoyed a four-shot lead after playing his first 13 holes in six under par at Royal County Down, but bogeyed the 17th and 18th to finish two ahead of Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Germany’s Max Kieffer. Kieffer carded seven birdies and one bogey to set a new course record of 65, despite cold and blustery winds which meant only 11 players were under par at the end of the day. Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen moved into pole position to claim his first European Tour title for six years, despite a poor finish to his third round in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Donald at least fared better than Players Championship winner Rickie Fowler, who looked to have got back into contention by chipping in for an eagle two on the 16th, only to take 16 more shots to play the last two holes. Fowler, who needed just 11 shots to play the final four holes of regulation at Sawgrass in five under, lost a ball off the tee on the 17th and ran up a quadruple-bogey eight, before driving out of bounds on the par-five 18th to card another eight and a round of 76. That left the world number nine on five over par alongside home favourite and 2007 champion Padraig Harrington, who came home in 40 for a 78. ” If you had given me 67 stood on the first tee I would have been very happy,” said Kjeldsen, whose last win came in the Open de Andalucia in 2009. “I played terrific all day and didn’t think I did too much wrong on the last two holes, so I will focus on the first 16. “Competition is pretty hard out here. It’s not easy to win and it’s not like I have played poorly for six years, but it’s nice to have a chance and i t would mean everything to win this event. “It’s a fantastic tournament this year, maybe better than ever, and on a wonderful golf course. But it’s too early to think about that. There are a lot of great players behind me and I need to play well (on Sunday) to have a chance. It’s still that open.” Kieffer made the most of some local knowledge to move into contention for his first European Tour title, his friend Stephen Sweeney having been an assistant professional at Royal County Down for four years. “He showed us around in the practice round and this is definitely a course where local knowledge helps a lot,” said the 24-year-old, who lost a record nine-hole play-off in the Spanish Open in his rookie season in 2013. “I played very well today and holed a lot of putts, but I also had some luck when I hit a bad shot, which you are going to do in these conditions. “I am looking forward to (Sunday). The crowds are great and it’s fun to play in front of such big crowds. There are a lot of benefits which would come with a victory and it would mean a lot. “My game is ready and I feel I am mentally ready, but we will have to wait and see.” England’s Tyrrell Hatton, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger were all three shots off the lead after matching rounds of 70, with former world number one Luke Donald six off the pace after a costly double-bogey on the 15th in his 72. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Turan targets Premier League move

first_img The Turkey international has two years left on his contract with the Spanish outfit and has been strongly linked with a move away from the Vicente Calderon stadium this summer. “His intention is to leave Spain this summer,” Turan’s agent Ahmet Bulut told Spanish sports newspaper AS. Atletico Madrid midfielder Arda Turan wants a move to the Premier League this summer and has three offers from top English clubs, according to his agent. Press Associationcenter_img “His will is to leave and to play in the Premier League, that is the path he would like to take to continue his career. “We are currently in talks with three teams but I cannot reveal the names of the clubs. “However, I can tell you that they are the best in England and in European football.” Turan, who joined Atletico in the summer of 2011 from Galatasaray from 12million euro (£8.5million), helped the Rojiblancos win the Copa del Rey three years ago and La Liga title during the 2013-14 campaign. The 28-year-old scored two goals and set up four more in 32 Primera Division appearances to help Atletico finish third in La Liga this season. Turan is also a target of AC Milan and Paris St Germain. “It’s true that Milan and PSG are two of the six teams that are interested in him,” Bulut said. “But the Italian team is not among our options because they will not play in the Champions League next season. “PSG is a possibility although Arda always has the desire to play in England.” last_img read more

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O’Driscoll heading to Anfield

first_img The 57-year-old, who has previously had spells in charge at Nottingham Forest, Doncaster, Bournemouth, Crawley and Bristol City, is being brought in as part of the summer overhaul of the backroom team. Press Association Sport understands O’Driscoll has been offered a role on the coaching staff, although his exact position is yet to be confirmed, and while there are still a number of matters to be finalised the move is likely to happen. “I can understand Charlton fans wanting me to stay another year – that it would be best for me to develop – but I’m ambitious and want to keep learning. Going to Liverpool was hard to turn down. “I had my mind set on Liverpool and tried not to let the talk of other clubs distract me. I didn’t really focus too much on anything else. “I understand it is a massive club and a step up from where I’ve been playing. “There are a lot more challenges but I’m going in with the aim to challenge for a place, regardless of age. “I want to prove myself, take this opportunity with both hands and try to play. “There is going to be a bigger spotlight but I’ve got to thrive under that and use it in a positive way.” O’Driscoll is understood to have found it a difficult decision to leave the international set-up, where he has been since last September, but felt working alongside Rodgers presented a huge opportunity he could not turn down. Liverpool sacked assistant manager Colin Pascoe earlier this month and did not renew the contract of first-team coach and former player Mike Marsh as a result of a robust end-of-season review which examined why the Reds failed to retain their Champions League status in finishing sixth. O’Driscoll has a good relationship with Rodgers, having visited the club’s Melwood training ground to observe some of his coaching sessions, and shares a similar philosophy to the Reds boss. Liverpool are also expected to promote highly-rated academy coach Pepijn Lijnders from the under-16s team before the start of pre-season next week. Most of the players return to Melwood on Monday, with the exception of those who were involved in the later stages of the Under-21 European Championships and Copa America, with a number of signings seeing their team-mates for the first time. Charlton teenager Joe Gomez is one of the six summer arrivals and he is keen to begin working with Rodgers, although it seems likely he will be loaned out for the forthcoming campaign. “I met him and that was a defining factor. He was positive and has already shown he will give young players an opportunity,” he told liverpoolfc.com. “I thought carefully where would be the best place and give me the best chance to play – it was Liverpool. England Under-19 manager Sean O’Driscoll is set to join Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers’ coaching staff at Anfield. Press Associationlast_img read more

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