Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts put himself in rarefied company with a standout performance in the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 116th World Series on Tuesday. Betts sparked the Dodgers’ four-run fifth inning with a walk and two stolen bases, joining Babe Ruth as the only players in World Series history to record such an inning. After walking to lead off the inning, Betts stole second base. After Corey Seager walked, Betts reached third on a double steal, giving the Dodgers runners on second and third with one out. Betts took an aggressive stance off the bag at third and when teammate Max Muncy hit a ground ball to first, Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz could not get the ball to the plate in time to prevent him from scoring on a head-first slide. Betts said that the base-stealing was a way to create “havoc” on the base paths. “That’s just another element that Mookie brings,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He does a lot of studying to be able to create stress.” Betts added a leadoff homer in the bottom of the sixth — his first hit of the night — joining Chase Utley as the only players with a homer and two stolen bases in a World Series game. Utley also did it against the Rays — for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series. Betts is the only player in World Series history to post a home run, two stolen bases and two runs scored in a single game. “I like winning,” Betts said when asked whether scoring or driving in runs gave him more satisfaction. “Whichever one is needed that day, I like doing that. You can’t do just one, you have to do both.” Betts, who joined the Dodgers prior to this season after helping
Marcus Rashford once again sank Paris Saint-Germain after netting the decisive goal in a 2-1 Champions League win in the French capital. Rashford, who scored the winning spot-kick when United knocked PSG out two seasons ago, drilled home a low shot three minutes from the end, which won a thrilling Group H contest at a near-empty Parc des Princes. United had taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Bruno Fernandes slotted home from the spot at the second attempt, but Anthony Martial inexplicably headed Neymar’s corner into his own net 10 minutes after the break. The rest of the match was an end-to-end affair, with both sides opting to go for the win rather than hold on for the draw. Rashford took the points after twice being denied by Keylor Navas. “Of course it’s a nice feeling. More importantly we win the game and we’re in a strong position now in the group,” Rashford told BT Sport. “It’s the first game, the concentration and intensity we showed today we have to take forward in the next games in the Premier League.” The win sets United up nicely for next week’s home clash with RB Leipzig, who are top of the group after beating Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 in Germany. In Group G, Ronald Koeman got his first Champions League campaign as Barcelona coach off to a winning start with a confident 5-1 win over Ferencvaros. The Hungarian side, the first team from the country to make the group stage in 11 years, started brightly and even had the ball in the net via Tokmac Nguen only for the powerful 12th-minute strike to be ruled out for offside. Messi won and converted the penalty to give the Catalans a 27th-minute lead and the match was as good as done when Ansu Fati clipped home Frenkie de Jong’s sumptuous pass just
China wants to unite its 1.4 billion people through soccer, while also using the sport as “a bridge to work with the rest of the world,” Chinese Football Association secretary-general Liu Yi told reporters in an interview published yesterday. Liu spoke about what lies behind the country’s push to become a major soccer power by 2050. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is described by state media as an “avid soccer fan” — the world’s most populous country has grand plans to host and even one day win a World Cup. Liu spoke about “using football to motivate the whole nation.” “Football is a beautiful game to educate the new generation of young Chinese and also to [help] our nation to team up as one and be more cohesive,” he said. Like China’s success at the past few Summer Olympics, Liu called soccer “another tool to unite a nation and also demonstrate what we can deliver.” “And football, as I said, is a bridge between China and the rest of the world. Everyone plays football,” he said. “China is still open and the development of Chinese football needs help from external stakeholders like the AFC [Asian Football Confederation], FIFA and also other federations as well, and other leagues as well,” Liu said. “We are definitely going to carry on with that kind of partnership, working with all the international governing bodies, brands and stakeholders.” China’s ambitions are striking for a team who have reached the World Cup only once, in 2002, when they failed to win a point or score a goal. China are 76th in the FIFA rankings and their chances of reaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup are in the balance, underlining how far they have to go to reach the top. However, speaking in Suzhou, where the Chinese Super League is in a “bubble” amid the
TENNIS Federer eyes Australia Roger Federer is practicing pain-free after undergoing two knee surgeries this year and said that he expects to return to the circuit at the Australian Open in January. The 39-year-old Swiss reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park at the start of the year, but missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee. “I’m on the right track,” he told German-language magazine Schweizer Illustrierte. “I’m gradually coming back, but I’m going to take my time and don’t want to put any pressure on myself. I will only take part in a tournament when I am 100 percent fit. At the moment, it looks like I can make my comeback at the Australian Open in January.” SOCCER European plans slammed The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) said a report that Europe’s top teams are in talks to become founding members of a new competition shows that “billionaire owners are out of control” and proves that the sport cannot regulate itself. A Sky News report said that more than 12 teams from the top five leagues — in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — are in negotiations over what has been dubbed the European premier league, with a provisional start date in 2022. “The latest reports of plots ... to create a European super league, expose the myth that billionaire owners care about the English football pyramid, or indeed anything other than their own greed,” the FSA said in a statement. “This has to be the last nail in the coffin of the idea that football can be relied upon to regulate itself. These billionaire owners are out of control. Decisive action is now needed to protect the game we love.” RUGBY UNION Lions to play Japan The British and Irish Lions yesterday said that they would host Japan
FIRING BLANKS: West Brom and Burnley had conceded a combined 21 goals in their seven games, but the 47th match of the season was the first to end goalless
Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday climbed to sixth place in the English Premier League as Raul Jimenez sealed a 1-0 win at Leeds United on a night West Bromwich Albion and Burnley played out the first goalless draw in the division this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves clinched their third league win of the campaign when Jimenez’s second-half strike deflected in off Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips. The Mexico striker’s third goal of the season made it back-to-back wins for Wolves after they beat Fulham before the international break. “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second half, but at the start it was very difficult for us,” Nuno said. “Leeds were so dynamic. We had to adjust and be more clinical in front. The goal was fortunate, but we had chances.” Leeds have now gone two games without a win as they were beaten for the first time in the league since their narrow opening defeat at champions Liverpool. “In the first half we should have established a difference, in the second half it was more even,” Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa said. “We created enough opportunities to establish a lead. I don’t think they were better than us, but they neutralized our game better.” Bielsa’s team dominated the first period, pinning Wolves in their own half, but had nothing to show for their dominance as the visitors’ defense held firm. Leeds striker Patrick Bamford’s early header was ruled out for offside and the hosts had a penalty appeal turned down after Helder Costa went down under Joao Moutinho’s challenge. Wolves almost snatched the lead against the run of play when Daniel Podence’s close-range shot was saved by Illan Meslier. Romain Saiss thought he had given Wolves a 54th-minute lead with a superb finish from the edge of the penalty area, but the
Patrick Mahomes on Monday did not mind taking a back seat to rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Kansas City Chiefs’ running attack. With the Buffalo Bills working hard to limit deep throws by Mahomes, he gladly kept handing off the ball as Kansas City beat Buffalo 26-17 in a game originally scheduled for Thursday last week. “You know my nature, I want to throw it deep every time. We want to go down and throw these long touchdowns, but if teams are going to play us like this, we’ve got to show we can run the football,” Mahomes said. Mission accomplished. Led by Edwards-Helaire’s 161 yards rushing, the Chiefs finished with 245 yards — the most since Mahomes took over as starter in 2017. Kansas City’s 46 rushing attempts were also the most in eight years under coach Andy Reid, and that was with newly signed Le’Veon Bell waiting to make his debut after signing with the Chiefs last week. “I can’t wait,” Bell wrote on Twitter during the game. Edwards-Helaire has already chatted with the veteran Bell and is excited to team up. “Another guy coming in, another piece to the puzzle. For me, we can only go up,” Edwards-Helaire said. “Anything I can do to pick his brain and gain knowledge from, I’m there for it,” he said. Mahomes finished 21 of 26 for 225 yards with two touchdowns, both to tight end Travis Kelce. His first touchdown was the 90th of his career in his 37th game, breaking the NFL record for fewest games to 90 touchdown passes. Hall of Famer Dan Marino held the previous mark at 40 games. The Chiefs are off to their third 5-1 start in four seasons as they bounced back from a sloppy 40-32 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Buffalo’s defense sold out to prevent Mahomes from going deep, but proved vulnerable against
Maybe Kyler Murray will lose a game on the home field of the Dallas Cowboys one of these days. It was not going to be on Monday, when the Arizona quarterback watched the star running back of his hometown team have another night of “fumble-itis.” Murray accounted for three touchdowns in his first game back home as a professional and Ezekiel Elliott set up the visiting team’s first two touchdowns with fumbles as the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-10. The speedy quarterback, who won three high-school championships and a Big 12 title at the home of the Cowboys, improved to 7-0 as a starter at AT&T Stadium, throwing for two scores, despite a rough start through the air, and rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown. “That’s not easy when that’s what everyone has been talking about all week,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s probably had this one circled on his calendar since it came out, but I thought he handled himself well.” It was the Monday Night Football debut for Murray, a star while playing in the Dallas suburbs, and Kingsbury, who also had a happy first trip to his native Texas as an NFL coach. “It was fun, brought back a lot of memories,” Murray said. “Felt like I’ve been playing there every Sunday honestly. It’s comfortable, felt good.” Andy Dalton had the rest of Dallas’ four turnovers, with two interceptions in his first start for the Cowboys in place of the injured Dak Prescott. The nine-year starter in Cincinnati led a come-from-behind victory over the New York Giants after a compound fracture of Prescott’s right ankle. There was not anything resembling a rally this time. While the Dallas offense did not look anything close to the unit it was with Prescott, Elliott’s miscues led to the fifth straight game in which the Cowboys have
Genoa on Monday held on for a 0-0 draw away to Hellas Verona in Serie A, despite losing 13 players from their squad following a COVID-19 outbreak at the club. Goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who was the first player to become infected and has since recovered, put in an excellent performance as he kept the hosts at bay, capped by a save from Davide Faraoni’s header late in the game. Genoa were hit by the outbreak three weeks ago and, at one stage, 17 players and five members of staff had tested positive. Their previous match at home to Torino was postponed. They still had 13 players missing on Monday, including some who were still positive and others who had recovered, but were not fit to play. “There is one word for it — teamwork” Perin said after the match. “We’ve really had a difficult time with players who trained very little, including myself, but we decided not to look for excuses, to be compact and try not to repeat last year’s season.” “We’re aware that our goal is to stay up, but we must also hope to surprise our fans, for the people who are suffering and cheering us on,” he said. Genoa, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, have four points from three games, while Verona have seven from four.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday said that the Chennai Super Kings have not lived up to their billing this Indian Premier League season after the three-time winners were outclassed by the Rajasthan Royals. Chennai skipper Dhoni’s 200th match in the Twenty20 tournament turned out to be a damp squib as his team lost by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi to slip to the bottom of the eight-team table. Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 70 and disciplined bowling helped Steve Smith’s Royals dominate the game after being asked to field first. “It’s fair enough, this season we weren’t there,” a disappointed Dhoni said after Chennai’s seventh loss from 10 matches. “Also there were few chances to the youngsters and maybe we didn’t see the kind of spark that they could have given us to say OK, to push [out] the experienced guys and maybe make space for them [the youngsters].” Dhoni, 39, said that his team, dubbed “Dad’s Army” by the media, would give the youngsters a chance in the remaining games of the season as Chennai still have an outside chance to progress to the playoffs. “Today the result, what it really does is give those guys [the youngsters], whatever is left in our league stage, a chance and they play without pressure,” the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman said. Jofra Archer led the Royals bowling attack with figures of 1-20 to restrict Chennai to 125-5, a total the Royals surpassed with 2.3 overs to spare to move up to fifth place. Buttler, who came to bat at No. 5 rather than his usual opening slot, put on an unbeaten 98-run stand with skipper Smith, who made 26, after the Royals lost three early wickets. “I thought we bowled pretty well in the power play, and the spinners did a good job in the middle with their leggies and googlies, and squeezing,” Smith
World No. 1 tennis player Ash Barty has been nominated by the Richmond Tigers to present them with the Australian Football League championship trophy if they win Saturday’s “Grand Final” in her home city of Brisbane. Barty, who elected to remain at home in Queensland this year rather than compete at the US and French opens because of health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is a lifelong supporter of the Melbourne-based Australian Rules team. The Tigers are to take on the Geelong Cats for the title in front of 30,000 fans at Brisbane’s Gabba as the title decider is played outside Melbourne for the first time in its history because of the pandemic. “I was surprised and very honoured [when I was asked] to present the cup. I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this, but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity,” Barty said in a statement. “I wish the boys all the best for Saturday and very much hope I have the chance to be out there when the siren goes celebrating another Richmond premiership,” she said. TV footage of Barty cheering on the Tigers with a beer in her hand in a match against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba earlier this month got plenty of attention on social media in Australia. Barty has not played a competitive tennis match since February, but remains top of the world rankings under an adjustment introduced by the WTA because of the disruption to the calendar caused by the pandemic.
GOOD NIGHT’S WORK: Cody Bellinger not only hit the go-ahead homer, he also snagged the final out when Julio Urias got Austin Riley to fly out to center field
Cody Bellinger on Sunday belted a go-ahead home run and Mookie Betts made another eye-popping catch as the Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to their third World Series in the past four years with a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Bellinger blasted the eventual game-winning homer in the seventh inning and Enrique Hernandez smacked a pinch-hit home run in the sixth as the Dodgers clawed their way back to win the final three games after being down 3-1 in the series. “I tried to stay within myself and I got a pitch I could get to,” Bellinger said of his home run. The Dodgers take on American League champions the Tampa Bay Rays, who won their own Game 7 on Saturday in San Diego, beating the Houston Astros 4-2. The first game of the World Series is today in Arlington, Texas. Los Angeles lost in the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros and in 2018 to the Boston Red Sox. Just a few thousand fans were allowed into the stadium because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what they witnessed was a back-and-forth classic end to the best-of-seven series between two of the premier teams in the National League. The Braves jumped out to 2-0 and 3-2 leads, but each time the Dodgers were able to counterpunch and level the score, including a rare pinch-hit home run in the sixth by Hernandez that made it 3-3. Hernandez is just the second player ever to hit a pinch-hit homer in a Game 7, joining Troy O’Leary of the Chicago Cubs in 2003. The Dodgers are in the playoffs for the eighth straight season and almost every batter in their lineup has World Series experience. That is why it was a huge surprise when their power game went missing early in the post-season,
Mathieu van der Poel on Sunday took the Tour of Flanders honors for the Dutch cross-code rider’s first win in one of cycling’s so-called “Monuments.” The race was overshadowed by world champion Julian Alaphilippe’s heavy fall after colliding with a motorcycle. Van der Poel had slipped away from the peloton with his great Belgian rival Wout van Aert, who like him is a three-time cycle cross world champion, and Alaphilippe forming a three-man breakaway. However, Alaphilippe crashed out of contention, leaving the duo to fight it out in a pulsating finish. “The world champion was taken to the hospital where the X-rays showed fractures on his right hand,” a statement by French rider Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team said. “Alaphilippe, who was making his last appearance of the season in Flanders, will be operated Monday morning.” Van der Poel emerged the winner in Audenarde 34 years after his father Adrie’s name was added to the celebrated race’s roll of honor. In the buildup to the start of the race in Antwerp, which was moved from its traditional slot in the cycling calender due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the signs were that Van der Poel and Van Aert held the key. When Alaphilippe broke away from the peloton 40km from the finish only Van der Poel went with him, Van Aert missing the move and as a result had to use up vital energy catching the two leaders on the cobblestones of Taaianberg. That effort coming after a fall 100km out would surely have taken its toll in the thrilling wheel-to-wheel sprint for the line. Van der Poel, the 25-year-old grandson of the late Raymond Poulidor — who sealed his place in the French public’s affections by coming second on the Tour de France three times, but never winning it — added Flanders to last year’s wins in the Amstel Gold
Taiwanese swimmer Eddie Wang on Saturday broke the 200m short course butterfly world junior record at the opening meet of the International Swimming League season in Budapest, Hungary. The 18-year-old, who was representing the Cali Condors, a San Francisco-based professional swimming club, finished third in 1 minute, 50.79 seconds. Wang finished behind winner Tom Shields of the LA Current (1:50.43) and runner-up Chad le Clos of Energy Standard (1:50.48). Wang’s time broke the 2012 world junior record of 1:51.30 set by former Japanese national team captain Daiya Seto. It also broke his national record of 1:52.38, set at the 2018 FINA World Cup meeting in Singapore, by 1.59 seconds. It is the first world junior record to be held by a Taiwanese. Coach Huang Chih-yung said that Wang had not targeted the world junior record at the event, which they were using as part of his training regime. “Frankly, I’m surprised,” Huang said, when asked about Wang’s 1.59 second improvement. Wang was born on Jan. 23, 2002. Under FINA rules for world junior records, swimmers are age-eligible through Dec. 31 of the year in which they turn 18. Wang joined the Cali Condors early last month to become the first Taiwanese swimmer in the International Swimming League.
A team made up mostly of Guatemalans who live and work in Taiwan were on Sunday crowned winners of the women’s Copa America Taiwan soccer tournament after defeating a Paraguayan team in the final in New Taipei City. Guatemala defeated Paraguay 3-1 in a final that kept hundreds of spectators on the edge of their seats at Fu Jen Catholic University Stadium. The two teams attacked at will early in the match as both looked to take an early lead, but it was Paraguay who went in front after a cleverly worked free-kick was headed into the net. In the second half, Guatemala stepped up the pace as they looked to level the score and finally converted their own free-kick. Paraguay peppered the Guatemala goal with shots, but then ran out of steam and Guatemala scored their second goal from another set-piece, before a cross into the penalty area was met with an unstoppable shot from close range to make it 3-1. The strength of Guatemala’s attacks put Paraguay on the defensive, making it hard for them to counterattack for large parts of the second half. The turnaround was the product of luck, technique and teamwork, Guatemala defender Stephanie said. “In football, you never know what can happen. Football is very unpredictable and things can change in a heartbeat,” she told the Central News Agency. Communication was also another key element that helped the team win the game, Guatemala defender Cristina said. Guatemala goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez said that her team had the edge because Paraguay did not play as a cohesive unit. “I think there were one or two girls that were really strong, but they didn’t play as a unified body. So even though there were opportunities, they were just trying to score a goal for the sake of scoring a goal and didn’t display much teamwork,” Sanchez said. Guatemalan
US Sassuolo on Sunday moved second in Serie A behind leaders AC Milan after a thrilling 4-3 win at Bologna, as AS Roma also staged a comeback against promoted Benevento to prevail 5-2. Roberto de Zerbi’s Sassuolo had been trailing 3-1 after an hour, but three substitutions, including a first start for French midfielder Maxime Lopez, rescued three points for the visitors. Francesco Caputo set up Filip Djuricic to make it 3-2 after 64 minutes and six minutes later Caputo nodded in the equalizer following a poor clearance from Rodrigo Palacio. Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu handed Sassuolo their third win this season after accidentally turning into his own net with 20 minutes to go. “It was a wonderful fightback from two goals down, but we haven’t done anything yet. There are difficult matches ahead,” De Zerbi said. In Rome, Edin Dzeko scored twice as the capital side earned back-to-back wins, despite an early scare after Gianluca Caprari put Benevento ahead after five minutes. Pedro got his first goal at the Stadio Olimpico after half an hour, with Dzeko scoring four minutes later. A Jordan Veretout penalty, a second Dzeko goal after 76 minutes and an impressive solo run from Carles Perez before the final whistle sealed the victory. “We always had control of the game, with little danger,” Roma coach Paulo Fonseca said. In Udine, Ignacio Pusetto’s late winner earned a first victory of the season for Udinese, 3-2 over a Parma side missing seven players due to COVID-19. ACF Fiorentina threw away a two-goal lead, before settling for a 2-2 draw at promoted Spezia. In Turin, an Andrea Belotti brace was not enough to secure a first win of the season for Torino, who slumped 3-2 to Cagliari.
Aston Villa on Sunday preserved the English Premier League’s only 100 percent record as Ross Barkley’s late goal earned them a 1-0 win at Leicester City to move them into second place, one point behind early leaders Everton, whose perfect start ended on Saturday. Gareth Bale’s first appearance for Tottenham Hotspur for seven years, following his loan move from Real Madrid, was eclipsed by West Ham United, who scored three times late on to draw 3-3 in the London derby. Brighton & Hove Albion scored late to earn a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, while Sheffield United and Fulham also drew 1-1 as both teams picked up their first points of the season. Villa’s dream start, following last season’s narrow escape from relegation, continued as Barkley sealed a generally dour Midlands derby in stoppage-time — his second goal since joining from Chelsea. Dean Smith’s side have won four out of four, the first time Villa have done that in the top flight since the 1930-1931 campaign when they went on to finish second. “An important win today,” said Barkley, who also scored in the 7-2 win over champions Liverpool before the international break. “I dedicated that goal to the physio because I was 50-50 in the week and he did a really good job getting me right.” Villa are one point behind Everton, who drew 2-2 with Liverpool in a controversial Merseyside derby on Saturday which left Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk with a serious knee injury that requires surgery. While the Premier League goal rush slowed a little on Sunday, it did not in north London, where Spurs and West Ham battled out an extraordinary derby. Son Heung-min put Tottenham ahead inside a minute and two goals from Harry Kane had Spurs three up after 16 minutes. Bale, back at the club he left in 2013 to start
SUPERB SHOWING: Despite Chou’s admirable play throughout the tournament, Antonsen’s sheer energy overpowered him, leading to an all-Danish men’s final
Taiwan’s World No. 2 Chou Tien-chen on Saturday crashed out of the men’s semi-finals at the Danisa Denmark Open, losing two straight games to World No. 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark. The second-seeded Chou started off mixing defense and attack effectively, covering the court to hit some impressive angles, but began to fall apart in the second half of the first game, when the third-seeded Antonsen found his form. The Dane did well playing backhand defense, while also bringing himself to play earlier at the net, forcing Chou to make errors. The Taiwanese shuttler showed some superb net play, delivering hard smashes going for the right hip of his opponent, giving Antonsen only split seconds to decide whether to play forehand defense or continue with the backhand, albeit awkward either way. However, it was Antonsen’s sheer energy that showed he was ready to pounce early at the net every time, forcing Chou into making errors and giving the first game 17-21 to the Dane. Chou seemed to lose his confidence in the second game as Antonsen dominated the net, hiking the score to 9-15, just six points away from wrapping up the match. Although Chou tried to put up a fight, it proved futile against Antonsen’s clever play, which interchanged between body and angle smashes. Chou eventually lost the match 15-21 in the second game. The loss brought the pair’s head-to-head record to 7-2, with the Taiwanese ace still in the lead. Chou’s defeat means that the men’s final this year would be an all-Danish affair, with Antonsen yesterday facing seventh-seeded, world No. 17 Rasmus Gemke. Spearheading Taiwan’s campaign in the tournament, Chou had defeated Victor Svendsen of Denmark 21-16, 21-11; Nhat Nguyen of Ireland 21-18, 21-16; and Srikanth Kidambi of India 20-22, 21-13, 21-16. The Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 750 Danisa Denmark Open, held from Tuesday last week
The All Blacks might have unearthed the next Jonah Lomu after 21-year-old Caleb Clarke yesterday proved to be a one-man demolition squad in the All Blacks’ 27-7 whipping of Australia in Auckland, New Zealand. Clarke, the son of former All Black Eroni Clarke, takes an uncomplicated approach to using his 1.84m, 107kg frame. “When you get the ball, just run. You don’t have to think about anything,” he said after his first Test start, after making his debut off the bench last week in the drawn first Bledisloe Cup Test. As the All Blacks lifted their aggression and accuracy in Auckland, much of it was off Caleb Clarke’s bruising runs. The build-up to Ardie Savea’s try was a standout as Caleb Clarke bulldozed his way through most of the Wallabies side before off-loading in sight of the line. “Michael Hooper grabbed my nuts just then,” Caleb Clarke said afterward. “I was really sore. I was trying to push his hand off.” Caleb Clarke also bounced off four tacklers as the All Blacks worked their way toward Aaron Smith’s opening try in the first half. Wallabies coach Dave Rennie was left counting the cost of 40 missed tackles, many of them on Caleb Clarke. The comparisons between Caleb Clarke and Lomu, the former All Blacks wing who is regarded as rugby’s first global superstar, are obvious with both big, fast and direct runners and playing in the No. 11 shirt. The modest Caleb Clarke is humbled to be compared to his hero, who died in 2015 after battling a long-term kidney disorder. “He was a big part of my childhood and I know he was a big part of my dad’s life. When he passed away it affected my dad. He wasn’t the same for a few weeks. I feel like I have a big responsibility to do the jersey justice,”
Hollie Doyle is the “boss,” her boyfriend and fellow jockey Tom Marquand says, but as far as she is concerned, he is “the romantic.” However, on Saturday, honors were shared at British Champions Day at Ascot. Doyle had gone 2-0 up after the first two races — including her first Group One success on Glen Shiel in The Sprint. Marquand, 22 and two years younger than Doyle, fought back to level at 2-2 in the feature race, the Champion Stakes, on Addeybb, and then the last with Doyle finishing second. “It is ridiculous. How could you write that?” said Marquand. “It will be a happy house tonight. We are so lucky to be with each other since I was 14.” Marquand generously conceded that Doyle had carried the day, but he has got used to it. In his first competitive ride in a pony race, he had to watch as his mount got stuck in the mud and Doyle won the contest. Doyle hails from a horse racing family — her Irish father is a former jockey and her mother rode in Arab races — while Marquand’s was more centered around horsepower and car racing. Such was Marquand’s passion for riding that he struck a deal with his father when he said he wanted to take the family and go on a two year sailing trip. “I said I would do it provided I could ride at every place we stopped,” Marquand told the Times this week. “And I did everywhere bar Morocco, I rode a Shetland pony in Corsica, an Arab Stallion up in the mountains in Sardinia and a huge big horse on the sands near Almeria,” he said. Those experiences served him well and he was crowned champion apprentice in 2015. Doyle took a bit longer to earn her spurs on the racecourse, but 116 winners last year and
The Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday punched their ticket to their second World Series in franchise history with a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros in a decisive Game Seven of the American League Championship Series. Rookie Randy Arozarena clubbed a two-run homer in the first inning and starter Charlie Morton worked 5-2/3 solid innings for the Rays, who won the series 4-3 and await the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves clash, which was also headed to a Game Seven yesterday. Arozarena has seven homers in the post-season, matching his total from the regular season. He was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series as the Rays celebrated their victory on the field at Petco Park in San Diego, California. “He is the best player on the planet. It’s incredible,” Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said of Arozarena. Mike Zunino also slugged an early home run as the Rays salvaged their season and recovered from the shock of being in a winner-take-all showdown, after cruising to victories in the first three games before losing three straight. “Every night we have a different hero. Except for Randy Arozarena. He’s the hero every night,” the Rays outfielder Austin Meadows said. The Rays’ win prevented the Astros from becoming just the second team in MLB history to storm back from a 3-0 deficit. Tampa Bay reached the World Series in 2008 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Morton allowed just two hits, struck out six batters and walked one against the Astros. Houston ace Lance McCullers struck out seven, but allowed four hits, three runs and two home runs in just 3-2/3 innings of work. Following a tumultuous offseason and a regular season in which they underperformed, the Astros regrouped in the post-season. Their 2017 World Series championship lost much of its luster after an MLB probe found Houston