25 Mar 2019

Today's sports news: What you need to know

5:15 am on 25 March 2019

Latest - Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Miami Open with a left knee injury.

Serena Williams lines up a forehand in Melbourne.

Serena Williams lines up a forehand in Melbourne. Photo: Photosport/Icon Sportswire

It is the second consecutive WTA event in which the American has been unable to continue, after her retirement from last week's tournament in Indian Wells with a viral illness.

The eight-times Miami champion had begun the tournament with a tough three-set victory over Sweden's Rebecca Peterson.

The tournament has also lost world number one Naomi Osaka in the third round.

The Japanese has lost in three sets to Taiwan's 27th seeded Hsieh Su-wei.

Dixon off the pace in Austin

Scott Dixon will start from the third row of the grid for tomorrow morning's Indy Car race in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 23: Scott Dixon (9) of Chip Ganassi Racing driving a Honda waits for his pit crew to work an issue  before the IndyCar morning practice at Circuit of the Americas on March 23, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Photosport

The reigning series champion has qualified sixth at the Circuit of the Americas, just behind his Chip Ganassi team-mate, rookie Felix Rosenqvist.

Australian Will Power has grabbed pole position ahead of American Alexander Rossi.

Dixon cut a frustrated figure after qualifying.

"I haven't really gelled with the track," he said.

"It's been frustrating, even at the test that we had here. It's not for the lack of laps. You know we ran here for two full days and we've been here for another couple."

Dixon sits second in the championship heading into the second of 17 races.

Brown secures strokeplay title with eagle finish

Northland's Luke Brown wrapped up the national stroke play title with an eagle two on the 72nd hole at the Christchurch Golf Club.

Kazuma Kobori. New Zealand Stroke Play Championship, Christchurch Golf Club, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday 22 March 2019. Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz

Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz

Entering the par four 18th all square with the in-form Kazuma Kobori, Brown produced the perfect drive to leave himself 20 feet for eagle to take home the title.

This is the 24-year-old's first national title and it may take some time to sink in after what has been a tough 18 months with injury troubles.

"I'm still trying to come to terms with it, it was quite an emotional finish so to get over the line was pretty amazing,"he said.

Auckland 15-year-old Carmen Lim won the women's stroke play championship by an impressive seven shots.

Lim completed a near-perfect week with rounds of 72, 70, 69 and 69 to finish 16-under for the tournament. Starting the day four shots ahead of runner-up and fellow Aucklander Vivian Lu, Lim never gave her a chance as they went shot for shot in the opening nine to both make the turn at four-under par.

Lim all but confirmed the win early in the back nine when she started with a birdie, while Lu was unable to keep up with a double bogey, bogey start to end her run at the title.

Chiefs record first win in style

The Chiefs have ended their miserable start to the Super Rugby season with an emphatic 56-20 victory over the Bulls in Pretoria, as Damian McKenzie proved the inspiration and captain Brodie Retallick scored two tries.

Chiefs first five-eighth Damian McKenzie

Chiefs first five-eighth Damian McKenzie Photo: Photosport

McKenzie's line breaks and relentless probing of a sluggish home defence set up the Hamilton-based side for a first success of the season, having lost their opening four games before drawing last week.

The Chiefs outscored the Bulls seven tries to two with giant lock Retallick, Solomon Alaimalo and Alex Nankivell each going over twice and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi also scoring.

McKenzie kicked 21 points while the Bulls replied with tries from Jesse Kriel and Burger Odendaal and 10 points from the boot of flyhalf Handre Pollard.


Crusaders suffer defeat in first match since Christchurch tragedy

The Crusaders have suffered their first Super Rugby defeat in more than a year, but the deadly shootings in their home city of Christchurch last week will give the defending champions some perspective on their 20-12 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.

Kurtley Beale celebrates the Israel Folau try. Waratahs v Crusaders. Super Rugby round 6 match played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on  Saturday 23 March 2019. Photo Clay Cross / photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said his side would be playing for their community at the Sydney Cricket Ground but the nine-times champions were a shadow of their dominant best as their 19-match winning streak was snapped.

Fullback Isreal Folau scored the last of the three Waratahs tries to match the Super Rugby record of former All Blacks winger Doug Howlett at 59.

"It hasn't been a great week but everybody's been staying pretty tight and we're doing that as a team, and for Christchurch as well," Crusaders skipper Sam Whitelock said.

The teams stood arm-in-arm in a circle on the pitch for a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the Christchurch attack before the start of the match.

- Reuters

Barrett brothers to the fore for the Hurricanes

A try each from Barrett brothers Beauden and Jordie and a brace for winger Wes Goosen have secured the Hurricanes a 34-28 Super Rugby win over the Stormers in Wellington.

Hurricanes captain Beauden Barrett speaks to his team during the Hurricanes vs Stormers Super Rugby match at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday the 23rd of March 2019. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

The tourists led a tight contest 21-15 at halftime and by a point with 10 minutes remaining but they were unable to hang on to hand the Hurricanes a first home defeat against South African opposition for nearly six years.

A rampaging run through the middle of the Stormers pack from flanker Ardie Savea after 70 minutes put the visitors on the back foot and All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barratt wriggled his way through the defensive line to score the winning try.

Skipper Siya Kolisi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi and loose forward Jaco Coetzee all crossed for the Cape Town-based Stormers, who started their season with a 40-3 loss to the Bulls but had won their three subsequent matches.

- Reuters

Sunwolves outclassed at home

The Lions have heaped more misery on the Sunwolves with a comfortable 37-24 victory at Singapore's National Stadium, a day after it was announced the Japanese side would be cut from Super Rugby after the 2020 season.

Hooker Malcolm Marx scored a first-half brace as the Lions led 12-7 at the break on Saturday, while Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe and Hacjivah Dayimani all crossed in the second half for the Johannesburg-based side.

Rahboni Warren Vosayaco managed to muster two second-half scores for the Sunwolves to add to an early penalty try, but the performance brought little optimism for rugby in Japan as the nation prepares to showcase its development in the sport as hosts of the World Cup.


Sri Lanka captain to skip IPL

Sri Lanka's limited-overs captain Lasith Malinga says he is ready to sacrifice his earnings from the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) in order to win a place in the country's World Cup squad.

Lasith Malinga celebrates the wicket of Guptill during the T20 match between the Black Caps and Sri Lanka.

Lasith Malinga celebrates the wicket of Guptill during the T20 match between the Black Caps and Sri Lanka. Photo: PhotoSport

Selectors have made it mandatory for Sri Lanka players to participate in a 50-overs tournament at home if they want to be considered for selection in the 15-member squad for the May 30-July 14 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.

"I had asked the board for the No-Objection Certificate for me to play in the IPL, and they had said that was fine, but that all players who want to go to the World Cup would need to stay back for the provincial tournament," Malinga told ESPNcricinfo.

"So I told them I'd play in the provincial tournament, and I asked the board to inform Mumbai Indians and IPL, since it was their decision. I'm ok with losing those earnings from IPL. I'm doing it for the country."


Top Kiwi golfers off the pace

Danny Lee has dropped further off the pace on day three of this week's PGA Tour tournament in Florida.

Danny Lee.

Danny Lee. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He's carded a two-over 73 in his third round to currently be tied for 60th at three-over par, 10 shots off the lead.

New Zealand number one Ryan Fox has carded a two-under 70 in the third round of the European Tour tournament in Malaysia to now be tied for 42nd.

Fox is 11 shots behind the leader, Spain's Nacho Elvira.

Keary steps up for the Roosters

A Luke Keary masterclass has propelled the Roosters to a dominant 26-18 win over the Manly Sea Eagles in Sydney to kick-start their NRL premiership defence.

Latrell Mitchell.

Latrell Mitchell. Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

With Cooper Cronk (hamstring) and Jake Friend (shoulder) missing, the reigning premiers shuffled the decks with Keary shifting to halfback and Latrell Mitchell to five-eighth, only for those plans to fall through when Brett Morris was helped off at halftime with a suspected knee injury.

The changes mattered little as the new-look halves pairing tore the hosts to shreds in a first-half blitz at Lottoland that saw the visitors open up an unassailable 22-0 lead at the break.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson credited Keary, who set up all four first-half tries, for being able to step up as the chief shot caller, while also reverting to his eyes-up play when the opportunity arose.


Panthers prevail on the back of defence

It's not often James Maloney pulls off a bellringer.

But the NRL veteran did that and more in an inspiring display that helped Penrith record an impressive 16-14 win over the Knights Newcastle.

Maloney has been chastised for most of his career over his defensive frailties but the 32-year-old came up with the goods when the Panthers needed it most.

His second-half hit on Connor Watson forced a turnover and minutes later, with Penrith holding a delicate eight-point lead, he stripped Edrick Lee over the line.

Gritty Sharks open their 2019 account

The Sharks have produced their trademark grit in a dominant 20-6 NRL win over the Gold Coast in Cronulla to celebrate skipper Paul Gallen's club record milestone match in style.

Gallen moved alongside Andrew Ettingshausen on 328 games for the black, white and blue as his side came up with a hardened performance at Shark Park.

After last week's loss to Newcastle, the Sharks bounced back in style as new coach John Morris registered his first win as a first-grade coach.

The victory had all the hallmarks that we have come to associate with the side in recent years - inspired goalline defence and a refusal to yield to adversity.


32 and counting for Winx

Australian racehorse Winx won the George Ryder Stakes for the fourth straight year at Rosehill Gardens to extend her record of Group One wins to 24 in what is expected to be her penultimate race.


Winx Photo: ABC

The bay mare started the 1500m race at the Western Sydney track with the lowest odds of her career and fully justified the backing by storming to victory by three lengths for her 32nd consecutive win.

"When the crowd erupted I could feel the energy increase in her body, it was just so exciting," said jockey Hugh Bowman.

Although ex-pat New Zealand trainer Chris Waller has not confirmed it, Winx's extraordinary career is likely to come to an end after a swansong at the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Randwick next month.