26 Jun 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

6:38 am on 26 June 2020

Latest - Super Rugby Aotearoa is expecting bigger crowds and better refereeing this weekend, with the chief executive of New Zealand Rugby confident the 10-week domestic competition is building up a head of steam.

Referee Paul Williams, during the  Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs.

Referee Paul Williams Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Crowds for the four games held so far were averaging about 26,000, an increase of more than 105% on the wider Super Rugby tournament before it was shut down due to Covid-19, NZR's Mark Robinson said.

Television viewing figures were up 88%, he added.

That upward trend looks to be continuing this weekend.

Ticket sales for Saturday's clash between the Blues and Highlanders are on track to breach 25,000, while the Crusaders are also expecting a large crowd for their first home game against the Chiefs.

"The players are taking a little while to adjust. And the referees are taking a little while to adjust," NZR referees boss Bryce Lawrence told Sky Sports. "We are putting our hands up and saying that we're not quite getting it right at the moment."

However, Lawrence pointed out the penalty count had fallen from the first week to the second.

"We're close but not quite at our best."


Penrith beat Souths

Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary overcame an infection that required a hospital visit to help his side down an error-prone South Sydney 20-12 in the National Rugby League.

Nathan Cleary of Penrith.

Nathan Cleary Photo: PHOTOSPORT

After an impressive three-game stint, Souths fullback Latrell Mitchell had an off night, marked by four handling errors and a late visit to the sin-bin.

He wasn't alone though as his team coughed up plenty of ball, making 12 errors and conceding eight penalties as well as badly losing the contest in the middle of the field.

Penrith had enough chances to win by plenty more but let a few chances go begging.

Penrith are top of the ladder while Souths are eighth.


Nuggets and Rams win again

The Otago Nuggets have gone two from two in the National Basketball League after scoring a comfortable 107-82 win over the Nelson Giants.

Nuggets guard Jarrod Kenny.

Jarrod Kenny Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Nuggets, who beat Palmerston North the night before, were once again superbly led by guard Jarrod Kenny, while Jordan Ngati hit a game high 23 points.

Nelson, who have lost both of their games, again had a number of players sidelined with injury including Mika Vukona.

The Canterbury Rams are also two from two after beating the Franklin Bulls 75-72.

Sam Smith hit two free throws in the few seconds to seal the win for the Rams.

Thiem sorry for their conduct

World men's tennis number three Dominic Thiem is "extremely sorry" for the way players conducted themselves at Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour exhibition event after which four players tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Dominic Thiem of Austria.

Dominic Thiem Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki tested positive after playing in the charity tournament in Serbia and Croatia, which drew big crowds and saw players pose for pictures together.

Austrian Thiem played in and won the Belgrade leg, which was staged at Djokovic's tennis centre by the Danube River.

The 26-year-old said he was "shocked" when he got the news from the Adria Tour. The event was called off following the second leg in Zadar, Croatia.

"We played without an audience for weeks, so we have been more than happy about the fans at the event," Thiem said in an Instagram post. "We trusted the Serbian government's corona rules, but we have been too optimistic.

"Our behaviour was a mistake, we acted too euphorically. I am extremely sorry."


Carter confirms his retirement

Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter has officially announced his retirement from professional basketball after an NBA record 22-season career during which his high-flying dunks made him one of the game's top players in his prime.

Carter, widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had previously said the 2019-20 NBA campaign would be his last but had not addressed his playing status since the NBA suspended its season in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I am officially done playing basketball professionally," Carter, 43, said.

Carter, the first NBA player to feature in four different decades, signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last August.

However, their season is over as they did not qualify for the NBA's 22-team format for restarting action in late July at Disney World amid the novel coronavirus.

He also helped USA Basketball win gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 FIBA Americas tournament.