The Weekend Roundup
Missed all the sports action last week? We got you. Every week we bring you the essential news and results to make sure you haven’t missed out.
In arguably the most important match of the season, Chelsea kept the title race alive with a 2-1 away win against Arsenal. The Gunners got off to a shaky start, sloppy in possession and dominated by their opponents in midfield, the injuries to Van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs weakened their performance. Of the cohort in red, only Williamson, on her 100th appearance for the club, put in a praiseworthy performance. Calm on the ball, she provided crucial interceptions to thwart Chelsea’s attacks. But, Chelsea went into the halftime break the worthy victors courtesy of a Cuthbert header at 26 mins. Arsenal were more convincing after the halftime break, holding onto the ball and setting a calmer pace of play. But again, their midfield frailties proved crucial and, naturally pressing for the equaliser, Cuthbert went untracked into the box and powered home her second. Although a Miedema tap in - from a bolt of an assist by Kim Little – inspired a burst of intensity from the home team with ten minutes remaining, it was too little too late.
Arsenal boss Montemurro will be thankful Arsenal have a game in hand. The loss meant Man City, who won away at West Ham, climbed to the top of the tree. Arsenal’s vastly superior goal difference (seven higher than Man City, and more than double that of Chelsea) will also be valuable if things go down to the wire.
In the Championship, Manchester United’s game against Charlton was abandoned after an injury to Charlotte Kerr. In a statement Charlton said ‘Charlotte was transferred to a local hospital by ambulance and her condition has improved. The club will not know the full extent of the injury until a full scan has been completed.’
The Australian Open kicked off this weekend, with two British hopefuls – Heather Watson and Harriet Dart – swiftly eliminated. British number two Watson, complained the intense heat made her light-headed after her 6-1, 6-2 defeat at the hands of 32nd seed Petra Martic. Elsewhere Dart, was swept aside by Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-0.
22 year old Katie Boulter is giving Brits something to cheer about though. She stunned former semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova with a final set tie-break win. Boulter, forgetting the new first to 10 rather than 7 rule in the tie-break, celebrated prematurely. Regaining her composure, she saw out the match winning 6-0 4-6 7-6 (10-6). Still early on in her career, the world number 97th is one to watch. On Monday Johanna Konta took to the court having been blighted by injury at the Sydney Open just a week earlier. She battled to win the first and third set tie-breaks against Ajla Tomljanovic. The former world number four goes into her next game against Muguruza as the underdog and will have to return to her best form to progress.
Road bikes, mud, cleats, steps, hurdles, hills, ramps, sand - what could go wrong? If you’re a beginner, a lot. But these women make this varied and exciting cycling discipline look easy.
In the junior girls race, Edinburgh native Flynn led early on in the race but the push proved premature as Harriet Harnden – who had benefited from riding in her slipstream – was able to overtake and ride from the front for the closing 15 minutes to claim victory. Windy conditions made for a difficult ride, but the youngster showed tremendous metal to claim the victory with a powerful sprint finish.
As the afternoon session began, all eyes were on the elite women’s race and three-time British champion Nikki Brammeier. A quick start saw Brammeier in the lead, but 19 year old rider Anna Kay’s intent was clear as she kept within touching distance of the favourite. A burst of pace saw Kay overtake on the inside before opening up a gap. However, the energetic push wasn’t enough to shake the experienced Brammeier who regained the lead on a technical uphill section. The two were neck and neck going into the penultimate lap, however a mechanical issue with her bicycle chain midway through saw Kay’s hopes of winning dashed. With a forty second gap opened up between Brammier and Kay after the youngster’s pitstop, the three time champion could cruise home to victory. Brammeier makes it four national titles but with a new challenger on the scene, it could well be her last.
After a successful outing against Uganda pre-Christmas, the England Roses were back competing in the 2019 Quad Series. The contest sees the top four Netball nations battling for the title, and England kicked off the competition against New Zealand’s Silver Ferns. Lining up with what is likely to be their World Cup starting seven, England began well taking a three goal lead. In the centre, Serena Guthrie again showed her world class pedigree providing crucial intercepts on more than one occasion. It wasn’t all plain sailing however, New Zealand were strong in defence forcing England to work hard in and around the D to get into shooting position. The Roses looked as though they might be masters of their own downfall as lobs into their attacking third went awry. New Zealand capitalised on the turnovers to draw level at 9-9 with four minutes left of the first quarter.
England’s Commonwealth gold winning shooting pair were reunited for the first time after Harten’s ankle injury and the time apart showed. They lacked the same understanding that they left off with, on multiple occasions running into each other’s space. Sloppy passing stopped them opening up a gap after their teammates’ great centre court work in the second third. As the game drew on the pair began to jell better and their quality showed against the inexperienced New Zealand team. The command became clear in third quarter where they opened up a 10 goal lead. Whilst England were able to claim a commanding 54-41 victory after New Zealand’s Karin Burger was sent off for two minutes in the the final quarter, there is still significant food for thought for coach Tracey Neville. The Roses starting lineup looks comfortable, but it will be interesting to see if she uses the rest of the series to test some alternative combinations ahead of the World Cup.