Apologies, my vast brigade of readers. I’ve been subjected to being “AFK” for the last few days, so I haven’t been able to update you on the finer points of Britain’s achievements this weekend. And by “weekend”, I mean “ever since Thursday”. So, without further ado and any more pointless preamble, here’s an alphabetical breakdown of the last few days.
As I suggested previously, it wasn’t going well in the Dutch Open and it might go down to the mixed doubles to save us. Sure enough, Marcus Ellis and Gabrielle White combined to reach the final, but they were unable to defeat the Danes, going down 15-21 13-21. With no trophies in the Netherlands, it was over to Ireland and the Future Series, where Wales’ Daniel Font and Oliver Gwilt succeeded in the men’s doubles, overcoming Scotland’s Martin Campbell and Angus Gilmour 12-21 26-24 21-16.
It was a stonking great week for Worcester Wolves in the British Basketball League. The only side to play two matches, they scored a neat 98 in each game, winning by a total of 89 overall. Only Newcastle Eagles scored more (99) in a close-ish game against Durham Wildcats, whilst further wins were clocked up by Leicester Riders and Surrey Heat.
As heavily reported in the weekend’s papers, Audley Harrison was knocked unconscious in the first round of his bout against David Price, lasting only 89 seconds. It surely must be time for him to go now, casting a dark shadow on his sport. Elsewhere, James DeGale continued his rise by unanimously outpointing Hadillah Mohoumadi.
In everyone’s favourite sport, Great Britain’s croquet team overcame the United States in fashion, claiming the Solomon Trophy with a 13-8 overall win.
The first port of call is the velodrome, where Britain’s Jess Varnish partnered Rebecca Angharad James and took first place in the Team Sprint event of the Track Cycling World Cup. The team pursuit team of Elinor Barker, Ciara Horne and Amy Roberts came a close second in their final, as did Kian Emadi-Coffin in the men’s 1km Time Trial. A million miles away in China, Sky Procycling finished a disappointing Tour of Beijing in 17th place. It was better news for Stephen Cummings, who finished fourth in the King of the Mountains competition and 21st in the overall GC, coming 19th behind Andrew Fenn in the points race.
Both darts codes had major competitions this week. Mervyn King was beaten 6-4 by Michael van Gerwen in the World Grand Prix, but the World Masters spun up some new talent. Stephen Bunting beat former champion Tony O’Shea 7-3 and Julie Gore triumphed in the ladies’ competition.
Not much football this weekend, thanks to the international break. England did what was expexted of them by thrashing San Marino 5-0. Wales came back to beat Scotland 2-1 thanks to late goals from Gareth Bale.
It was a disappointing weekend for all British hopefuls in South Korea. The foundations were set when Lewis Hamilton was the only man to reach Q3, finishing third. This didn’t translate into race form as he ended up in tenth, two places ahead of Paul Di Resta. Jenson Button crashed early on.
A full set of fixtures saw a number of dominating performances; Leeds CYDC took the prize for the best result, thrashing Yorkshire rivals Hull 11-0. London also got in on the action, beating Kickers 10-0 away from home. Bath beat Cardiff 8-1 and Sheffield notched up the same score against F.S Derby Willows. The only draw was a 7-7 thriller between Gloucester and Tigers.
A whole host of British players reached the top 25 of the European Open Portugal Masters on Sunday, with Ross Fisher coming in second to Ireland’s Shane Lowry. Richard Finch, Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher and Danny Willett all rounded off the top ten. As expected, the frys.com open in the US wasn’t as dominant, with only Russell Knox sneaking into the top ten in 9th.
The Men’s Challenge Cup is one of the minor European tournaments in handball but don’t tell that to Ruislip Eagles. They were soundly beaten by Olimpus-85-USEFS, SPE Strovolos and Dragunas to finish bottom of their group, crashing them out of the competition already.
The Euro Hockey League got under way with Beeston HC chalking up two respectable victories, including a 6-0 whitewash of Grunwald Poznan. This means they qualify for the next round as group winners.
Business as usual in the Elite Ice Hockey League, with a number of games taking place. In a stunningly even league, almost all of the teams that played two matches (nearly everyone) managed to lose one and win one. Only Braehead Clan succeeded in besting two opponents, and in style. Away from home on both occasions, they thrashed Dundee Stars 6-2 before beating Edinburgh Capitals 6-3 the next day.
Only one British judoka represented Great Britain in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Natalie Powell finished second in the -78kg category, beating UAE opponent Habiba Almisary in the semis but losing out to Canada’s Catherine Roberge in the final.
Don’t ask me who these teams are or what the matches were about, but Honour beat Hope 6-4 and Glory beat Mighty 10-5. It feels ridiculous just to write it, really.
As the season draws to a close, James Ellison of Paul Bird Motorsport came in a lowly 14th place, whilst Cal Crutchlow failed to finish.
A number of tours are going on at the moment, so we’ll begin with Wales and Scotland’s trip to the Cook Islands. Wales have been the most superior so far, whomping the hosts 65-29 before beating their fellow travellers 48-34. The competition between Scotland the Cook Islands has been more fierce, Scotland taking the first leg 55-25, but the hosts rallied back to beat them in the next game by a matter of two points. England are also in the southern hemisphere but lost 40-64 to Australia.
Not only that, but the Premier League was in action, with a number of close results. The biggest margin was 28 goals, as Hucclecote scored over twice as many as Leyton to beat them 55-27.
So, so many ties in both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup this weekend. So many that I’m just going to list the results! What a scamp…
Ospreys 38-17 Treviso
Ulster 41-17 Castres
Edinburgh 0-45 Saracens
Racing Metro Paris 22-17 Munster
Zebre 10-19 Connacht
Harlequins 40-13 Biarritz
Clermont Auvergne 49-16 Scarlets
Leinster 9-6 Exeter Chiefs
Toulouse 23-9 Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints 24-15 Glasgow Warriors
Sale Sharks 34-33 Cardiff Blues
Amlin Challenge Cup
Mont de Marsan 6-11 Gloucester
Bordeaux-Begles 16-43 London Irish
Bizkaia Gernika RT 5-85 Worcester Warriors
London Wasps 38-25 Dragons
London Welsh 19-68 Stade Francais
I’m not going to go on about all the events that happened in the Oslo Horse Show, there’s just too many in equestrian meetings. Still, Scott Brash won the Spillers Internasjonal Sprang Class on Bon Ami, completing a faultless jump-off on 40.29 seconds. Earlier on, Robert Smith had already come second on Balourado in a prior event and later, managed to reach the semis of the Accessorize Knock Out on the same steed, losing out to Italy’s Lunca Moneta.
The US Open finished shortly after I stopped reporting on it, or at least for our British hopes. Laura Massaro, James Willstrop and Nick Matthew all crashed out in the semi-finals, although all but Willstrop put up a good fight.
It’s been given a few inches in the newspapers but yes, Heather Watson won her first WTA title, beating Chang Kai-Chen of Chinese Taipei in the final of the Osaka Open. Not such good news for Andy Murray, where Novak Djokovic got his US Open revenge and took advantage of Murray’s inability to win several match points in the Shanghai Masters final. Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins also lost the men’s doubles final to Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. A new week saw Dominic Inglot progress past the first round of the Erste Bank Open alongside Treat Conrad Huey, but Anne Keothavong lost to Russia’s Vera Dushevina in straight sets in Luxembourg.
A strong performance from Phil Wolfe in Lantau saw him finish fourth in the Asian Cup with a combined time of 1:57:28.