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The sports wrap 27th August 2018

LanguedocLiving, Aug 26

Catalans Dragons pull off stunning win to bring Challenge Cup home to Perpignan.

The Catalans Dragons pulled off one of Wembley's biggest upsets as the unfancied French side beat Warrington Wolves 20-14 on Saturday to win their first Rugby League Challenge Cup and become the first team from outside England to win the trophy in its 122-year history. From the moment that Lewis Tierney went over in the second minute, the Perpignan side looked capable of defying the odds. Ben Garcia and Brayden Wiliame got their other tries, while Australian Josh Drinkwater kicked four goals. Warrington crossed twice, through Ben Murdoch-Masila and George King while Tyrone Roberts kicked three goals. But in front of 50,672 - Wembley's lowest Challenge Cup final crowd since World War Two - former England coach Steve McNamara's Dragons were the deserved winners. The Catalans, who stunned Super League leaders St Helens in the semi-finals, got to the perfect start. Stefan Ratchford did not deal with the first high ball, Benjamin Jullien offloaded and Tierney, son of dual code rugby legend Jason Robinson, was over in the right corner. After kicking the goal, Drinkwater quickly added two more points with a penalty. And from 8-0 down with 10 minutes gone, the Dragons looked set to avenge a 30-8 defeat here by St Helens in the first final at the rebuilt Wembley in 2007. Luck did finally turn for the Wolves when, from Ratchford's high ball, Daryl Clark put pressure on winger Fouad Yaha, who spilled backwards, and Murdoch-Masila was allowed to run in the easiest of tries under the posts. Roberts' conversion cut the gap back to two points, only for Garcia to then dive over and, when Drinkwater successfully kicked again, restore that eight-point cushion. Worse was to follow at the start of the second half for the Wolves when man-of-the-match Tony Gigot's 40/20 kick to the left corner created the attacking platform for Wiliame to go over for the Dragons' third try. King's try reduced the deficit the Roberts kicked a goal and then added a penalty to make it 20-14. However, the French defended desperately and held on for the historic win.

Catalans’ fans celebrate famous victory at Wembley

Languedoc Living’s Rugby League correspondent Jake Hazell was at Wembley to join in the celebrations of the Catalans’ fans at their team’s historic victory: “Little did we think that five minutes into the game we would be cheering after the first try and in the lead. By half-time the lead was extended to 14-6. The last 10 minutes were agony which became disbelief when the final whistle blew....20-14 to the Dragons. It was a most exciting match and the atmosphere was that of a great party. We were amongst British Catalans fans who had never been to the South of France but were wearing the kit. The celebrations will continue, no doubt a parade through Perpignan with the cup, a visit to the Elysée Palace and Languedoc on the map as a rugby league stronghold.” Catalans’ coach Steve McNamara said the Dragons' long-term ambitions after winning the cup was to one day build a French team capable of winning Super League too. But, after becoming the first non-English side to win the trophy, their first job would be to nurse a few sore heads in Perpignan following an all-night party. "This is huge. It's surreal. We've made history," he told BBC Sport. 

Liverpool beat Brighton to go top of Premiership table

Liverpool have sounded a warning to English Premier League champions Manchester City after going top of the table by beating Brighton 1-0 at Anfield as Pep Guardiola’s side were held 1-1 away to newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was a hard-fought victory for Liverpool with star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah providing the winner. Salah, who scored 32 league goals last season, sealed victory with a clinical strike midway through the first half. Liverpool were joined by Chelsea and Watford in second and third spot on the table as the only sides with a hat-trick of wins. Chelsea, under new manager Maurizio Sarri, beat winless Newcastle United 2-1 at St James Park while Watford continued their surprise unbeaten start to the season with a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace. Liverpool, who are now two points clear of Manchester City, were not at their fluid best, with their most dangerous moments coming before Salah struck. After Sadio Mane poked a shot just wide, Roberto Firmino drew a smart save out of Mat Ryan with a downward header before Trent Alexander-Arnold hit the bar with a free-kick. In other matches, Arsenal recorded their first win of the season with a 3-1 win over West Ham. Unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur play Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday. In the Scottish Premiership, coach Steven Gerrard oversaw Rangers’ unbeaten record with a dramatic 3-3 draw at Motherwell while defending champions Celtic scraped home 1-0 against Hamilton Academical. Hearts top the table with three wins out of three after beating Kilmarnock 1-0.

PSG beat Angers 3-1 to stay top of French Ligue 1

Paris Saint Germain's potent trio of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all scored as the French champions beat Angers 3-1 to make it three wins out of three to stay top of Ligue 1. Cavani, in his first PSG outing this season after recovering from injury, made it 1-0 with a close-range strike. Thomas Mangani levelled from the penalty spot for Angers before Mbappe's volley saw PSG retake the lead. The 19-year-old World Cup winner then set up Neymar to fire in the third goal at Parc des Princes. PSG are ahead on goal difference of surprise second-placed Dijon who stunned Nice 4-0 away from home. Montpellier are sitting in ninth place on the ladder after a disappointing 0-0 home draw against Saint-Etienne. In the Spanish La Liga, Real Madrid went to the top of the table with a convincing 4-1 win at Girona, a fixture they lost last season. Barcelona also made it two from two for second place on goal difference with a hard-fought 1-0 away win over Real Valladolid, who had an injury-time equaliser ruled out after a video assistant referee (VAR) review. Ousmane Dembele scored a second-half winner after Sergi Roberto had kept the ball in with a header on the byeline. In the Italian Serie A, Cristiano Ronaldo made his home debut for Juventus as they beat Lazio 2-0 to extend their winning start to the season. Miralem Pjanic's delightful finish from 25m put the Italian champions ahead before Mario Mandzukic struck from close range after half-time. Ronaldo, who has yet to score for Juve, missed inside the six-yard box but his attempt rebounded to Mandzukic, who doubled Juve's lead. Juve have six points from two games. Carlo Ancelotti marked his first home game as manager of Napoli with a 3-2 victory against former club AC Milan which puts them in second place behind Juve. In the German Bundesliga, defending champions Bayern Munich predictably got off to a winning start to the season with a 3-1 home win over Hoffenheim.

Vettel wins Belgian Grand Prix to cut Hamilton’s championship lead

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel sped away from first corner carnage to celebrate a commanding Belgian Grand Prix victory on Sunday and trim Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One lead to 17 points with eight races remaining. Hamilton, last year’s winner in Belgium, started from pole position but finished second for Mercedes while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen gave his army of Dutch fans something to cheer with third place. In the battle of four times world champions, Hamilton now has 231 points to Vettel’s 214. “I had a great start, I’m not sure Lewis saw me as he pushed me to the left in the first lap, but after last year I ended up short, and this year it was the other way around,” said Vettel of his decisive pass on Hamilton. The start provided most of the afternoon’s excitement, with Fernando Alonso’s McLaren flying over Charles Leclerc’s Sauber at the La Source hairpin after being rammed by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. All three retired as the safety car was deployed for four laps but Leclerc had reason to thank the ‘halo’ head protection system — introduced this season — for allowing him to step away unscathed. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, a four times winner in Belgium, and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo also collided at the start and retired after pitting, the Finn having to wait for his 100th career podium. At the front, Vettel swiftly seized the lead from Hamilton down the Kemmel straight on the opening lap and never looked back, taking the chequered flag 11.0 seconds clear of Hamilton. It was the German’s fifth win of the campaign, matching his British rival, and 52nd of his career. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished fourth, and set the fastest lap, after starting 17th.

Castres beat Montpellier in repeat of Top 14 final

Castres showed that last season’s Top 14 final victory over the more-fancied Montpellier Herault was no fluke when they launched their 2018-19 campaign with a hard-fought 25-20 at the Altrad Stadium on Sunday. The champions dominated for large periods and eventually outscored their hosts by three tries to two with Scott Spedding crossing for a brace. Spedding was Castres’ hero as apart from his two tries, he also made a try-saving tackle on Vincent Martin in the game’s closing stages which helped his side to secure the result. In other matches, newly promoted Perpignan could not emulate their rugby league brethren and were soundly beaten 46-15 at home by Stade Francais while Toulouse managed a creditable 16-16 draw at Lyon. The big result of the weekend matches was Clermont-Auvergne’s 67-23 drubbing of Agen, a warning that they had put last season’s disappointing campaign behind them.

Barrett scores record four tries as All Blacks trounce Wallabies

Beauden Barrett scored a record four tries as the All Blacks withstood a tense first half before running away with the second in a 40-12 victory over Australia at Eden Park on Saturday as the hosts retained the Bledisloe Cup with a test to spare. Prop Joe Moody and loose forward Liam Squire also crossed in the Rugby Championship clash for the world champions, who have now held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003. The third match in the series takes place in Yokohama on Oct. 27. Scrumhalf Will Genia and centre Reece Hodge scored for the Wallabies, who, similar to last week’s 38-13 defeat in Sydney, were competitive until halftime when the score was 14-7 before the All Blacks accelerated away after the interval. Barrett’s four tries is a new All Blacks record in a match against Australia and he almost added a fifth when he touched down in the corner, but it was ruled out by the television match official for a knock-on by Ardie Savea earlier in the movement.The flyhalf’s haul eclipsed those of Frank Mitchinson (1907), Tom Lynch (1913) and Henry Taylor (1914), who all scored three tries for the All Blacks in a single test against Australia. In the other Rugby Championship clash, Argentina shocked South Africa with a 32-19 victory.

Spain’s Alejandro Valverde wins Stage 2 of Vuelta a Espana

Spain's Alejandro Valverde claimed victory on Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday as Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski took the red jersey. Valverde held off Team Sky's Kwiatkowski in a tight 50m sprint to secure victory in front of a partisan crowd in Caminito del Rey. Kwiatkowski, who finished second in Saturday's time trial, has a 14-second lead over Valverde in the standings. Britain's Simon Yates is in 12th place overall Quick Step's Laurens de Plus took third place on the stage, finishing three seconds behind the winner. BMC Racing's Rohan Dennis, who won the first stage, suffered a puncture early in the 163.5km stage and was dropped with 17km remaining. Kwiatkowski, the Polish national champion, attacked with 500m remaining, but was chased down by Valverde. World champion Peter Sagan and Australia's Richie Porte both struggled with illness throughout, and finished well behind the leaders. Last year's runner-up Vincenzo Nibali also struggled, leaving him in 82nd in the general classification. Monday's third stage is 178.2km from Mijas to Alhaurin de la Torre.

Medvedev wins second career title at Winston-Salem Open

Russia’s Daniil Medvedev defeated American Steve Johnson 6-4 6-4 at the Winston-Salem Open on Saturday to win his second career title in a tune-up for next week’s U.S. Open. The tall 22-year-old won all 12 sets he played in North Carolina and was not broken in the semi-finals or final. The victory was the fourth in world No. 57 Medvedev’s five meetings with Johnson and far different from the last. Johnson, world ranked 34th won that match in Eastbourne earlier this year in just 76 minutes and created eight break points. But Johnson struggled on Medvedev’s serve this time. The American entered the final having won 37 of 38 service games in the tournament. But Medvedev broke Johnson twice — once per set — to earn the victory. In the women’s singles at the Connecticut Open, young Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won her first WTA singles title, sweeping past Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-4 on Saturday in the final tune-up before next week’s U.S. Open. The 20-year-old rising star will move up to No.20 in the world rankings after becoming the youngest champion in New Haven since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010. “This is a great feeling,” said the delighted Sabalenka, who blasted 29 winners.

Heavy rain forces cancellation of British MotoGP

The British MotoGP was cancelled on Sunday because of heavy rain and standing water at Silverstone. The start time had been brought forward by 90 minutes but the race was cancelled just after 16:00, with MotoGP saying there was "no option" to hold it on Monday. The move came after talks with the International Road Racing Teams' Association - the teams' body - and commercial rights holder Dorna Sports. Spain's Jorge Lorenzo was set to start on pole at the Northamptonshire track after beating fellow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, of Italy, by 0.015 seconds in qualifying. The cancellation of the race came after a fraught day on Saturday, with Tito Rabat suffering a broken leg during the fourth free practice session.

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.

Calendar Keynotes: 27 August – 2 September 

Monday, 27 August

Football: English Premier League – Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Italian Serie A – Roma v Atalanta.

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September).

Cricket: ODI series – Ireland v Afghanistan, Belfast. 

Tuesday, 28 August

Football: Champions League qualifying play-offs (major clubs) – Dynamo Kiev v Ajax (agg 1-3).

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September). 

Wednesday, 29 August

Football: Champions League qualifying play-offs (major clubs) – PAOK Salonika v Benfica (agg 1-1), PSV Eindhoven v BATE Borisov (agg 3-2).

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September)

Cricket: ODI series – Ireland v Afghanistan, Belfast. 

Thursday, 30 August

Football: Europa League qualifying play-offs (major clubs) – FC Ufa v Rangers (agg 0-1), FC Copenhagen v Atalanta (agg 0-0), RB Leipzig v Zorya Luhansk (agg 0-0), Apollon Limassol v FC Basel (agg 2-3), Molde v Zenit St Petersburg (agg 1-3), Bordeaux v KKA Gent (agg 0-0), Burnley v Olympiakos (agg 1-3), Celtic v Suduva (agg 1-1).

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Cricket: England v India, 4th Test, Southampton (till 3 September, England lead series 2-1).

Rugby League: Super League Super 8s – Warrington Wolves v Hull FC.

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September). 

Friday, 31 August

Football: French Ligue 1 – Lyon v Nice, Spanish La Liga – Eibar v Real Sociedad, Italian Serie A – AC Milan v Roma, German Bundesliga – Hannover 96 v Borussia Dortmund.

Formula One: Italian Grand Prix, Monza (till 2 September).

Rugby Union: Gallagher Premiership - Bristol v Bath.

Cricket: England v India, 4th Test, Southampton (till 3 September, England lead series 2-1), ODI series - Ireland v Afghanistan, Belfast.

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Rugby League: Super League Super 8s – Huddersfield Giants v Wakefiel Trinity, St Helens v Wigan Warriors.

Golf: Dell Technologies Championship, TPC Boston, US (till 3 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September).

Athletics – IAAF Diamond League, Brussels, Belgium. 

Saturday, 1 September

Football: English Premier League – Leicester City v Liverpool, Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth, Manchester City v Newcastle United, Scottish Premiership – Aberdeen v Kilmarnock, French Ligue 1 –, Nimes v Paris Saint Germain, Guingamp v Toulouse, Reims v Montpellier, Spanish La Liga – Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid v Leganes, Italian Serie A – Bologna v Inter Milan, Parma v Juventus, German Bundesliga – Bayer 04 Levekusen v VfL Wolfsburg, FC Augsburg v Borussia Munchengladbach, 1899 Hoffenheim v SC Freiburg, VfB Stuttgart v Bayern Munich.

Rugby Union: French Top 14 – Pau v Toulon, Castres v Lyon, Montpellier v La Rochelle, Stade Francais v Bordeaux Begles, Grenoble v Toulouse.

Formula One: Italian Grand Prix, Monza (till 2 September).

Rugby League – Super League Super 8s – Castleford Tigers v Catalans Dragons.

Cricket: England v India, 4th Test, Southampton (till 3 September, England lead series 2-1).

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Golf: Dell Technologies Championship, TPC Boston, US (till 3 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September). 

Sunday, 2 September

Football: English Premier League –Cardiff City v Arsenal, Burnley v Manchester United, Watford v Tottenham Hotspur, Scottish Premiership – Celtic v Rangers, French Ligue 1 – Rennes v Bordeaux, Monaco v Marseille, Spanish La Liga – Levante v Valencia, Barcelona v Huesca, Real Betis v Sevilla, Italian Serie A – Lazio v Frosinone, Sampdoria v Napoli, German Bundesliga – RB Leipzig v Fortuna Dusseldorf, FC Schalke 04 v Hertha Berlin.

Formula One: Formula One: Italian Grand Prix, Monza (race day).

Rugby Union: Gallagher Premiership – Newcastle v Saracens, French Top 14 – Agen v Peripignan, Racing 92 v Clermont Auvergne.

Cricket: England v India, 4th Test, Southampton (till 3 September, England lead series 2-1).

Tennis: US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York (till 9 September).

Golf: Dell Technologies Championship, TPC Boston, US (till 3 September).

Cycling: La Vuelta a Espana, Spain (till 16 September).

 

 

 

 

 

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