18 Jul 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:50 am on 18 July 2020

Latest - West Ham United all but guaranteed their English Premier League safety with a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Watford at the London Stadium with all their goals coming before halftime.

West Ham United Manager David Moyes.

David Moyes Photo: PHOTOSPORT

What was expected to be a nervy contest between the sides perched immediately above the drop zone became something of a breeze for the Hammers who were 3-0 up after 36 minutes thanks to goals by Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice.

Watford replied early in the second half through Troy Deeney and there were some home nerves but West Ham stood firm to register back-to-back victories for the first time since August.

The Hammers, who have two games remaining, moved above Brighton & Hove Albion into 15th spot with 37 points, six more than Bournemouth and Aston Villa who are in the relegation zone.

While they could still be caught, David Moyes's West Ham team have a far better goal difference.

Watford, on the other hand, are only three points clear of the drop zone and, with their last two games against Manchester City and Arsenal, face a nail-biting end to the season.

Meanwhile Leeds United returned to the Premier League after a 16-year absence as West Bromwich Albion's loss at Huddersfield Town guaranteed them a top-two finish in the Championship.

A huge favour from Leeds' Yorkshire neighbours, who won 2-1, meant the celebrations could start in earnest at Elland Road.

The club's Italian owner Andrea Radrizzani will also be toasting promotion which is worth an estimated $325 million.

It also comes less than a week after the death of one of the club's greatest players -- England World Cup-winning centre-half Jack Charlton.

Mystics pip Stars

The Northern Mystics have beaten cross town rivals the Northern Stars 51-47 in the ANZ netball Premiership.

Phoenix Karaka and Jamie Hume.
Northern Mystics v Northern Stars.


The Mystics mirrored the four-goal win of the first clash between the pair in Round 1, played in March, to wrap up the Barfoot & Thompson Challenge which the two teams contest each season.

The Mystics much-vaunted defence brought the team home in style with a forceful run to the line after they trailed by one with 12 minutes remaining.

Towering teenaged shooter Grace Nweke was back in the starting line-up for the Mystics after coming off the bench last week, teaming up with Saviour Tui, who got her first start at goal attack for the season.

Nweke shot 36 of 45 and Tui 10 of 11.

The Mystics remain second on the table and the Stars third.

England cricketers on top

A grafting century from Dom Sibley and an increasingly belligerent one by Ben Stokes put England in control on day two of the second cricket test against West Indies in Manchester.

Dom Sibley of England


Opener Sibley completed his second test century shortly before lunch, eventually falling for 120, while Stokes cut loose after it before going for 176 as England declared on 469-9.

Sam Curran trapped West Indies opener John Campbell lbw for 12 in a tricky session before stumps to leave the visitors on 32-1 -- 437 runs in arrears.

England begun the day on 207-3 with Sibley and Stokes well set after coming together with the hosts on 80-3.

Sibley faced 372 balls and struck only five boundaries.

Stokes, who had been restrained during his 260-run stand with Sibley, reached his 10th test century shortly after lunch and immediately went on the attack with some majestic hitting.

The all rounder struck 17 fours and two sixes.

England are trying to level the series after losing the opener at Southampton last week.


Record wins for Tigers

The Wests Tigers have ensured the heat will again be turned up on Broncos coach Anthony Seibold with a stunning 48-0 win over a hapless Brisbane outfit at Leichhardt Oval.

Benji Marshall.

Benji Marshall Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Adding to the Broncos' woes was a horrific leg injury suffered by back-rower Corey Oates late in the game. Play was stopped for several minutes while Oates was stretchered from the field and taken straight to hospital.

The nine-try blowout margin easily eclipsed the Tigers' previous biggest win over the Broncos - a 34-6 semi-final rout on route to their 2005 premiership.

Meanwhile second placed Melbourne scored seven tries in a 42-6 win over Gold Coast.


Olympic rower retires

The New Zealand rower Sophie MacKenzie has announced her retirement.

MacKenzie first represented New Zealand at under-21 level in 2010.

She and Julia Edwards won two World Championship titles in the double in 2014 and 15 and set a world best timewon a has announced her retirement from professional rowing.

They finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Reds remain unbeaten

First-five James O'Connor kicked a late drop-goal to secure the Queensland Reds a 31-24 win over Western Force at Lang Park in the Super Rugby AU competition.

After the Reds spent 12 phases bashing away at the Force line in search of a sealing try, Wallaby O'Connor took the more direct route for points in the 78th minute.

O'Connor's score opened the door for the Force to push for a converted try and a chance to claim the win in extra time.

But a bone-jarring tackle dislodged the ball from Force lock Jeremy Thrush as he barged forward in attack to give the home side the points and an unbeaten start after three rounds.

The Force, back playing against Australia's top professional sides three years after being axed from Super Rugby, lost their second successive match but had their opponents on the back foot for much of the night.


Surf League called off

This year's World Surf League tour has been abandoned without an event completed due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Surfer Billy Stairmand, of Raglan.

Billy Stairmand Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The tour was due to start in March, just as large parts of the world including Australia were forced into lockdown due to the virus.

This year's Australian events at Gold Coast, Margaret River and Bells Beach had already been casualties of the pandemic but WSL chief executive Erik Logan said it had become apparent the whole season had to be scrapped.

The 2021 tour is actually set to start in November this year for the women and in December for the men, with both events to be held in Hawaii subject to local government approval and effective protocols allowing for safe international travel.

Next year's championship will also feature an equal number of 10 events for men and women with the women to compete at the legendary Teahupo'o break in Tahiti for the first time since 2006.

There will also be the introduction of a mid-season cut for both the men's and women's tours with the fields to be reduced to 18 and 12 competitors each.


Mercedes fastest in practice

Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton started his bid for an eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory with the fastest lap in practice before afternoon rain slowed everybody down.

The Briton led team mate Valtteri Bottas in a dominant Mercedes one-two in the first session at the Hungaroring, but did not set a time in the soggy later one after attempting an installation lap.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, a four times world champion who collided with team mate Charles Leclerc at the previous race in Austria, topped the afternoon timesheets but with a slow time in completing just two laps.

Only 13 of the 20 drivers set a time after lunch.

Mercedes-powered cars had filled the top four slots in the morning, with Racing Point's controversial 'Pink Mercedes' cars third and fourth with Mexican Sergio Perez and Canadian Lance Stroll.

The Briton has won a record seven times in Hungary and an eighth victory would equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record number of wins at the same grand prix, the German achieving that in France.


Same schedule for postponed Olympics

Next year's Tokyo Olympics will follow an almost identical competition schedule as the one planned for this year before the event was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese government decided in March to postpone the Games until 2021 and organisers have been working to rearrange an event almost a decade in the making.

The new date for the opening ceremony at the newly-built National Stadium -- July 23, 2021 -- had already been announced but the full schedule was pending final approval until today when the Tokyo 2020 organising committee made a presentation to the IOC Session in Lausanne.

The new schedule means women's softball will kick off competition at 9 a.m. in Fukushima on July 21, two days before the Games officially open, with all events taking place a day earlier than the 2020 schedule.

There have also been some minor changes to session times.

The Games are set to be the biggest ever in terms of events, with a record 339 medals available, before the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.

One of the biggest hurdles for organisers was securing the 42 venues needed for the Games as many had already been booked for 2021.

However, Muto said all the venues have been secured.

The marathon and race walking events will remain in the northern city of Sapporo after being controversially moved out of Tokyo because of the anticipated scorching summer heat.


South African rugby sides about to return to training

South Africa's Super Rugby franchises will be allowed to start training next week.

The game has been suspended in the country since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with South African Rugby having to sit idle as domestic competitions took flight in New Zealand and Australia.

Only the eight teams that are likely to feature in a domestic competition later this year will train, Super Rugby franchises the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, PRO14 teams Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs, and provincial Currie Cup outfits Griquas and Pumas.

The statement confirmed that all club and schools rugby remains prohibited, and expressed doubt that the world champion Springboks will host international tours in 2020, saying it was "unlikely that air corridors would be opened to allow international travel".

That opens up the possibility that the Boks' first matches since they lifted the World Cup trophy in Japan last year could be the British & Irish Lions tour in July/August 2021.