31 May 2019

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:50 am on 31 May 2019

Latest - New Zealand will meet Colombia in the round of 16 at the under-20 men's football World Cup after signing off on pool play with a 2-0 defeat to Uruguay in Poland.

New Zealand under-20 head coach Des Buckingham.

NZ under 20 football coach Des Buckingham. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Going into the final Group C clash on Friday (NZ time), history was beckoning for New Zealand as no team from these shores had ever qualified top of their group at a Fifa tournament.

Des Buckingham's side had put themselves in that position with back-to-back wins but couldn't complete the job against the classy South Americans to finish second in the group.

With their passage to the knockout stages already secured, Buckingham made nine changes, only the centre back pairing of Nando Pijnaker and George Stanger keeping their places.

That allowed Uruguay to dominate the first half, taking the lead five minutes before the break through Darwin Nunes.

New Zealand were much stronger in the second half and almost found an equaliser late in the match, before Uruguay broke away in added time to seal the result with their second.

Springboks skipper sidelined

A knee injury has ruled Springboks Siya Kolisi out of the rest of the Super Rugby season and threatened his participation in the build-up to the World Cup later this year.

Springbok Siya Kolisi.

Springbok Siya Kolisi. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Kolisi went off during last Saturday's 34-22 home win over the Highlanders, but coach Robbie Fleck said afterwards he did not think the injury too significant.

However, Kolisi is out of the Stormers' team to play away against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday and told local reporters he will miss the rest of the campaign.

South Africa host Australia at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on July 20 in the opening game of this year's Rugby Championship - after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

The Stormers must also do without Springbok lock Peter-Steph du Toit, whose shoulder injury keeps him sidelined for the next three weeks.

The two injuries are a major blow to the Cape Town team's hopes of making the June playoffs. They are in a tight battle for the leadership of the South African conference.

- Reuters

Rebels reportedly in money troubles

The Melbourne Rebels may reportedly be unable to afford to host a Super Rugby home final if they top the Australian conference.

The currently sit a single point behind the ACT Brumbies in fifth place with five games of the regular season left to play.

If they finish atop the table and earn a home final, The Australian reports, the Rebels will have to pay the visiting side about $75,000 (AUD).

But chief executive Baden Stephenson denies the club are on the brink of insolvency, despite the recent departure of their chief financial officer.

"There is no doubt that things are becoming increasingly fairly tight, but I'm extremely lucky that I have an extremely supportive and proactive board," he told The Australian.

"We had our monthly meeting yesterday (Wednesday) and we have some plans in place and we are working away. We are confident of what we have in the short term. The longer-term, post-2021, no one can crystal ball that."


Panthers go back-to-back

A breakout performance from rookie Liam Martin has inspired a depleted Penrith to a desperate 15-12 NRL victory over a similarly weakened Manly on Thursday.

Playing just the sixth game of his first grade career, Martin set up the Panthers' first try and then scored the second in an eye-catching effort.

The 22-year-old was a last-minute inclusion against the Sea Eagles after second- rower Viliame Kikau was ruled out before kick-off due to an illness.

And Martin didn't disappoint, spearheading Penrith to an unlikely 15-0 lead with 16 minutes to go at Panthers Stadium before the Sea Eagles roared back.

Another rookie, five-eighth Cade Cust, put Manase Fainu over and then scored one himself in the space of six minutes to set up a grandstand finish.

But Penrith just held on to record back-to-back victories for the first time this season, and temporarily move to 14th spot on the ladder.


Daniell out at Roland Garros

Marcus Daniell.

Marcus Daniell. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand's Marcus Daniell and his Dutch doubles partner Wesley Koolhof have missed a golden opportunity to knock out the top seeds in the second round of the doubles at the French Open.

They've succumbed 4-6 6-2 6-4 in 1 hour 51 minutes to Poland's Lukasz Kubot and Brazil's Marcelo Melo after coming within a whisker of breaking serve early in the second set after winning the first.

Daniell now turns his attention to the grass court season and may enter a Challenger tournament in Surbiton in the UK next week.He will then reunite with Koolhof for the ATP 250 tournament in s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands before playing either Halle or Queens before Wimbledon.

"I wasn't healthy for the grass court season last year, and grass is my favourite surface, more comfortable than clay so I am really looking forward to the next few weeks." Daniell said.

Djokovic breezes through

Novak Djokovic wasted little time beating Henri Laaksonen 6-1 6-4 6-3 to breeze into the third round of the French Open and stay on course to hold all four grand slam titles.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic Photo: Photosport

The 32-year-old Serbian top seed, bidding to win his second French Open, was at his clinical best in the opening set against the Swiss lucky loser ranked 104th in the world dropping only three points on serve.

As with holder Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic has enjoyed a friendly first-week draw and he will face Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso for a place in the fourth round.

Last year's runner-up Dominic Thiem overcame a tough test to reach the third round with a 6-3 6-7 (7-6) 6-3 7-5 win over Alexander Bublik on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Fifth-seeded German Alexander Zverev thwarted a late comeback attempt by Swede Mikael Ymer to seal a 6-1 6-3 7-6(3) victory.

- Reuters

Routine win for Williams

Serena Williams has cruised into the third round of the French Open with a routine 6-3 6-2 win against Japanese Kurumi Nara, wasting little energy in her quest for a record-equalling Grand Slam singles title.

The 10th seed, chasing a first major since the 2017 Australian Open, survived a first-set fright in her opening match, but there was no hiccup this time.

Serena Williams, French Open 2015.

Serena Williams. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She will take on fellow American Sofia Kenin in the next round, with world number one Naomi Osaka a potential opponent in the quarter-finals.

The 37-year-old was given a decent workout by world number 238 Nara, who was playing her only second match in the main draw of a tour-level tournament this year.

"I think she was playing tennis the whole time, really good tennis the whole time," Williams said.

"She was just playing really tactical tennis, and I just had to play a little bit better."

- Reuters