6 Sep 2019

Today's sports news: what you need to know

1:39 pm on 6 September 2019

Latest - There's been mixed fortunes for the New Zealand men's and women's hockey teams in their opening games of the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton.

Former Australian skipper Steve Smith hit 144 on day 1 of the Ashes

Former Australian skipper Steve Smith hit 144 on day 1 of the Ashes Photo: All Rights Reserved

The winners of the three match series will qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The Black Sticks men have been thumped 4-0 by Australia in their opening game.

The New Zealand men face an uphill challenge to secure a place at the Games after being outclassed by the Kookaburras.

But the New Zealand women's hockey team has taken a major step towards qualifying for Tokyo.

The Black Sticks have beaten the Hockeyroos 3-1 in the opening game of the best-of-three match series in Queensland.

Three women's sevens players up for World award

New Zealanders are the three nominees for World Rugby's women's sevens player of the year award.

Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini, fellow forward Ruby Tui and playmaker Tyla Nathan-Wong have swept the finalists, after helping guide New Zealand to its first world series crown earlier this month.

It's the fourth time in six years Hirini has been nominated for the player of the year award, but she has yet to win it.

Team-mate Michaela Blyde has won the award for the past two years.

USA team-mates Folau Niua and Stephen Tomasin, and Fiji's Jerry Tuwai are the finalists for the men's sevens player of the year award.

Price makes strong start at Burghley

Defending champion Tim Price is sitting second and eighth after day one of the dressage at the Burghley Horse Trials.

Price and Bango posted the second best score of 29.6, before returning a score of 31.5 on Xavier Faer.

The New Zealand will ride his leading mount Ringwood Sky Boy tonight.

Steve Smith leads Australia again

Steve Smith's domination of England's bowling attack in the Ashes series reached new heights as his magnificent 211 led Australia to 497-8 declared on the second day of the fourth test at Old Trafford.

England lost opener Joe Denly for four, brilliantly caught by Matthew Wade short leg after he fended off a rising delivery from Pat Cummins to leave them struggling on 23-1 at the close.

Having made his third century of the series, Smith was on 118 when he was caught by Ben Stokes at slip off left-arm spinner Jack Leach. Unfortunately for the hosts, their joy turned to despair when video officials deemed Leach had delivered a no-ball.

As the top-ranked test batsman in the world was making his way towards the pavilion, the video reviewers spotted that Leach's front foot was not behind the crease when he let go of the ball, handing the Australian his second reprieve of the day.

Smith had had a lucky escape in the second over of the day when Jofra Archer dropped a caught and bowled chance.

- Reuters

Tonga's league stars to return to Australia and NZ?

Tonga's elite players are locked in a dispute with their country's rugby league board with claims the nation's unhappy stars are ready to return to Australia and New Zealand.

A revelation in international football over the past two seasons, Tonga have reinvigorated Test football after the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita switched allegiance from New Zealand and Australia respectively.

However, players are believed to be frustrated by uncertainty over the future of coach Kristan Woolf ahead of the World Nines and end-of-year Tests against Australia and Great Britain.

Former NRL player John Hopoate, the father of Tonga captain Will, took to social media on Thursday to claim players wanted an AGM to vote the current board out.

Otherwise he claimed players were ready to boycott the end-of-year matches and return to representing the top-tier nations.

Fifita was in Tonga last week for a family funeral, and local reports have emerged he'd sought help from the country's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva to resolve the impasse.


Philippe Gilbert gets Vuelta stage victory

Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert earned the 10th Grand Tour stage victory of his career by winning stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday, whilst Primoz Roglic held on to the red jersey as there was no change in the general classification.

Gilbert, 37, came into the Vuelta looking to prove himself after he was dropped by his team for the Tour de France and made his move on the final climb of the day with 40 kilometres to go.

He faced competition from Spanish pairing Alexander Aranburu and Fernando Barcelo but slowly increased his gap and maintained it during the downhill finale into Bilbao to win the 171.4 km hilly stage, which began in Circuito de Navarra.

He crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of Aranburu, who narrowly took second over Barcelo.

The peloton finished three minutes and two seconds down so there was no change in the overall standings despite the best efforts of Miguel Angel Lopez, who attempted an attack but was quickly reeled in by race leader Roglic.

- Reuters

Burgess out of NRL playoffs

South Sydney captain Sam Burgess will miss the first week of the NRL finals after he was hit with a contrary conduct charge for pulling the hair of Sydney Roosters winger Billy Smith.

South Sydney and England international Sam Burgess.

South Sydney and England international Sam Burgess. Photo: Photosport

Roosters and Kiwis prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has also been rubbed out for a week after his and Burgess' poor disciplinary records came back to haunt them.

Waerea-Hargreaves was charged with a grade-one high tackle for his shot on Souths prop Liam Knight in Thursday night's 16-10 loss.

Both players have copped one-game bans due to weighting and carry-over points.

They were both ineligible for fines because the pair already had two guilty charges this season.