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The sports wrap 25th June 2018

LanguedocLiving, Jun 25

For those of you who missed Reg Gratton's sports wrap on Monday because of a technical hitch, here it is again, with an update of Monday's games.

Brilliant England through to last 16 with 6-1 rout of Panama.

England gave their long-suffering supporters unbridled joy with a 6-1 trouncing of Panama on Sunday to send them through to the knock-out stages of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while co-favourites and champions Germany salvaged their hopes of survival with a last-gasp win over Sweden. None of the fancied contenders have stamped their authority on the qualifying stages but England, Belgium and even hosts Russia have been slamming in the goals, leading pundits to describe the tournament as one of the most open in recent history. In Monday night’s matches, Euro 2016 champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup champions Spain both scraped through to the last 16 after salvaging draws against Iran and Morocco. In an extraordinary finale, controversial refereering decisions following VAR reviews will see Portugal play unbeaten Uruguay and Group B leaders Spain play Russia. In Nizhny Novgorod, England recorded their biggest win at a World Cup to overwhelm Panama 6-1 and secure a place in the last 16 before Thursday’s final Group G game with Belgium, who have also qualified. Harry Kane played a captain's role once more with a hat-trick to become the tournament's leading scorer, as England built on their opening victory against Tunisia with an impressive show of ruthlessness and quality. The margin of victory for England topped 3-0 wins over Poland and Paraguay in Mexico in 1986, and against Denmark in 2002. France qualified for the last 16 with a second win, an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Peru on Thursday and will play Denmark on Tuesday to decide who tops Group C. Five-time champions Brazil, who have also looked shaky in their first two matches – a draw against Switzerland and victory over Costa Rica - play their last group match against Serbia on Wednesday with Switzerland also in the mix for the two qualifying places. Another fancied South American nation, Argentina, are in an even more precarious position with Croatia assured of qualifying and Lionel Messi’s team facing a must-win match against Nigeria on Tuesday after securing one point from their first two matches. Of the Latin American nations, Mexico have looked the most impressive, qualifying with victories over Germany and South Korea. 

Lewis Hamilton regains championship lead with French GP win

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton reclaimed the world championship lead with a dominant victory in the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet on Sunday. The Mercedes driver led from start to finish other than one lap around his pit stop to move 14 points ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth. The German made life difficult for himself with a collision at the first corner with Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The German fought back through the field impressively but earned a five-second penalty for causing the crash, which put both to the back of the field. It was a costly error for Vettel, who was one point ahead of Hamilton before the race, and not the first one he has made this year that has cost him ground in the championship. Hamilton’s victory marks the start of a crucial run of three races in three weeks, one of them the British Grand Prix in two weeks' time, and five in six before the four-week summer break in August. Hamilton made a good enough start to be just clear of the crash between Vettel and Bottas, and after a five-lap intervention by the safety car, leapt away at the re-start and was never seen again. Hamilton was able to build a comfortable gap to Red Bull's Max Verstappen behind him in second place for the entire race and then cruise and conserve to the finish. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikonnen finished third.

England win at last, Ireland take series in Australia but France lose again

England ended their five-Test losing run but South Africa still won the series 2-1 while Ireland beat the Australians to record their first series win down under in 39 years. In other weekend tour matches, France as expected lost again to the mighty All Blacks to make it a 3-0 whitewash while Scotland thumped Argentina 44-15. In a very wet Cape Town, England ground their way to a 25-10 victory over South Africa in the third and final Test. Two Owen Farrell penalties to one Elton Jantjies effort gave England a 6-3 half-time lead. South Africa went ahead via a converted Jesse Kriel try soon after the break but England turned the screw and four Farrell penalties and a Jonny May try sealed victory. In Sydney, Ireland resisted a sustained second-half assault to forge a 20-16 victory over Australia to win the Test series 2-1. The Six Nations Grand Slam champions needed the boot of Johnny Sexton to steer them through a scrappy but compelling contest In Sydney. CJ Stander's try at the start of the second half was cancelled out by an excellent score by Marika Koroibete. The Wallabies scented a win but the Irish defence held firm before Sexton kicked a late insurance penalty. In Dunedin, Rieko Ioane scored a hat-trick of tries to give New Zealand a 49-14 win over France and a 3-0 series win. The first half was closely contested with the All Blacks taking a 21-14 lead into half-time in Dunedin, but France failed to score after the break. Ioane scored a second-half hat-trick, while Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith and Matt Todd also crossed for the hosts. France's tries came from Baptiste Serin and Wesley Fofana. The tourists lost 52-11 in the first Test and 26-13 in the second. All Blacks fly-half McKenzie scored two tries and kicked seven out of seven conversions.

England make it a 5-0 ODI whitewash of Australia

Jos Buttler made a brilliant hundred to give England a dramatic victory in the fifth one-day international at Old Trafford on Sunday and a first 5-0 whitewash over Australia. Chasing only 206, England were 114-8 when Buttler was joined by Adil Rashid for a stand of 81. Rashid was dismissed with 11 needed, but Buttler hit the next ball for six to move to his sixth ODI century. Last man Jake Ball survived an Ashton Agar over and Buttler completed a one-wicket win with nine balls to spare. England have dominated depleted Australia in this series - they hammered a world record 481-6 in the third match at Trent Bridge and then chased 311 with more than five overs to spare in Durham on Thursday. However, they looked to have wasted the chance of the whitewash and only their second 5-0 ODI series win against any opponent. That was to discount Buttler, who curbed his usual attacking instincts to manoeuvre the ball into gaps, run hard and only occasionally crack it through the off side

Federer loses No.1 ranking after shock loss to Coric

Roger Federer suffered a surprise defeat to Croatia’s Borna Coric in the final of the Halle Open on Sunday and will lose his No1 ranking to old rival Rafael Nadal. The 21-year-old Coric won 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-2 to end the Wimbledon champion's run of 20 consecutive victories on grass. Federer, 36, was bidding to win the event for the 10th time and secure his 99th career title heading into Wimbledon next week. Coric had claimed his first win over a top-10 player on grass earlier in the week when he knocked out Germany's Alexander Zverev. In London, former No.1 Novak Djokovic was still seeking his first title in a year when Croatian Marin Cilic saved a match point before beating him to win his second title at Queen's Club on Sunday. The 29-year-old Cilic fought back to win the Fever-Tree Championships 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in the longest final in the tournament's history. Cilic, who won the title in 2012 and was runner-up last year, saved match point at 5-4 in the second set and came back from 4-1 down in the tie-break.His serve was crucial in the final set as he won in two hours and 57 minutes.

Bubba Watson wins Travelers Championship as Paul Casey fades

American Bubba Watson carded a seven-under-par 63 to win the Travelers Championship for a third time on Sunday, as Paul Casey faded in Connecticut. Watson, 39, started the day six shots behind overnight leader Casey, but took the outright lead with a birdie on the 18th to finish on 17 under. England's Casey, who shot a 62 in the third round, struggled to keep pace. His round unravelled with back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th, as he signed for a 72 to finish on 14 under. American Stewart Cink had the round of the day with an eight-under 62 to tie for second with fellow Americans Beau Hossler and JB Holmes, and Casey. Northern Irish four-time major winner Rory McIlroy finished on 11 under after a 67, while US Open champion Brooks Koepka was tied for 19th on nine under. "It was a fun round of golf and I got lucky that he [Casey] didn't have his best stuff," two-time Masters winner Watson told Sky Sports after his third win of the year.

Catalans inflict fifth straight loss on Leeds Rhinos

Catalans Dragons bounced back from defeat to the Huddersfield Giants beating Leeds Rhinos last Wednesday night for the second time in a month and boosting their Super League survival hopes. Leeds, who are now in danger of a bottom-four finish, led 24-10 at half-time at Headingley but the Dragons then ran in three second-half tries to level at 24-24. With two unconverted, Liam Sutcliffe's drop-goal put the hosts ahead, but Kenny Edwards' second try gave the Catalans a 28-25 lead and condemned Leeds to a sixth straight defeat. It leaves the Dragons fourth from bottom in the table, a point behind Brian McDermott's injury-hit title holders. At the top of the table, Jamie Ellis' late drop goal gave Castleford a dramatic 19-18 win over second-placed Wigan Warriors and moved them up to third, within a point of their opponents. St Helens, who had no match at the weekend, are still six points clear.

England beat New Zealand in RL Test in Denver

England came from behind to ease past New Zealand 35-18 in a Rugby League Test match played in Denver, Colorado. It was England's first match since the 2017 World Cup final loss to Australia. Esan Marsters and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak gave the Kiwis a 12-0 lead before Ryan Hall's brilliant try cut the deficit. Elliott Whitehead scored twice and debutants Jake Connor and Tommy Makinson both went over before John Bateman completed a resounding victory. England were playing in the USA for the first time since 2000 as they aim to raise the sport's profile in North America, which is hosting the 2025 Rugby League World Cup. Some 19,320 fans watched the match in the 76,125-capacity Mile High Stadium. 

Dongfeng Race Team win Volvo Ocean Race

Dongfeng Race Team, with French skipper Charles Caudrelier, have won the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 after eight months of gruelling competition. The China-based team won the 11th and final leg, from Gothenburg to The Hague, to seal a narrow victory in the 45,000-mile round-the-world race. They had been in a three-way tie with MAPFRE and Team Brunel going into the final leg. The stage win was the team's first of the race as the 13th edition proved the closest in the event's history. 

For full reports on all the weekend sporting events go to:

http://www.bbc.com/sport, http://www.espn.com, http://www.lequipe.fr, http://www.reuters.com/news/sports, www.skysports.com, www.eurosport.fr.

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