Castleford Tigers shot to the top of Super League with a 12 try demolition of Leeds. Greg Eden and Greg Minkin both got hat tricks as the Tigers ran out 66-10 winners. After a mixed start Hull hit their stride running up a 48-8 win at Huddersfield. Marc Sneyd controlled the game as he got a hat trick of tries and scored a total of 28 points. Mason Caton-Brown got both of Wakefield’s tries as they scored their first win of the season in a 16-12 upset at Langtree Park against ST Helens.
Rock solid defense was the foundation for Champions Wigan. Anthony Gelling went over twice in a 20-0 shut out of Leigh. Salford came from behind to heap more misery on Warrington. The Wolves last years Grand Finalists sit at the bottom of the table as Junior Sa’u got two of four tries for Salford in their 24-14 win. Finally it was all square in Perpingnon as Catalan and Widnes drew 14-14. Rhys Hanbury’s late score capped Widnes comeback from 14-0 down.
The NRL kicked off with Champions Cronulla going down to defeat against Brisbane. Jordan Kahu got a try and 12 points in the Broncos 26-18 win. Two tries n the firs six minutes from Cheyes Blair and Suniasi Vunivalu was enough for Melbourne despite not scoring again in the rest of the game to take a 12-6 win over Canterbury in the rain. Mitchell Moses was the general for Western Suburbs with a try and 14 points as the Tigers won a comfortable 34-18 victory over South Sydney. Joel Thompson got a hat trick and Gareth Widdop got two tries and a total of 22 points as St George/Illawarra thrashed Penrith scoring seven tries.
North Queensland scored a surprise 20-16 win in golden point overtime with Gavin Cooper getting the winning score. Latrell Mitchell got a hat trick for Sydney City as they eased past Gold Coast 32-18. The New Zealand Warriors got off to a winning start beating last years bottom side Newcastle in a tight game by 26-22. David Fusitu’a got a first half hat trick for the Warriors but two tries from Nathan Ross brought Newcastle level. The winning score seven minutes from time came from Ryan Hoffman. The round ended with Parramatta beating Manly 20-12. Clint Gutherson scored one of the Eels three tries and collected a total of 12 points.
Wigan Warriors are the Champions of the Rugby League World after defeating NRL Champions Cronulla in the World Club Championship match. Joe Burgess got the first try within three minutes and added a second half way through the first half. Some excellent defense helped the shut out Cronulla in the first half to take a 10-0 lead into half time. It was fitting the Oliver Gildart, whose father was in the Wigan team that won this trophy against Manly in 1987, was to score the first try of the second half. Jesse Ramien’s try finally got Cronulla on the board but they could not build on it as Burgess completed his hat trick at the end to secure a deserved 22-6 win for Wigan, who claim their fourth World title.
Ball Control the key for Warrington in historic win
A superb first half with no handling errors was the key to Warrington getting their first ever win against top NRL opposition with a 27-18 victory over Brisbane. Kevin Brown, Ryan Atkins, Matty Russell and Tom Lineham all scored tries in a blistering first half showing leaving them 24-6 ahead at the break. Tries from James Roberts and David Mead hinted at a comeback from the Broncos in a much better second half showing. The boot of Declan Patton with a penalty and drop goals kept Warrington’s lead sufficiently strong to ensure the victory. This with Wigan’s victory mean Super League have won the World Club Challenge series for the first time since it was expanded beyond just a meeting of the Champions, a great weekend for British Rugby League.
Australia were struggling in their innings early on at 78 for 4 but a century from Matthew Wade helped turn it around. Wade scored exactly 100 including two sixes and was supported by Glenn Maxwell (60) to help Australia post 268 for 9. Hasan Ali took three wickets and was the best of the bowlers. The home side were never under threat though as Pakistan collapsed in their innings Babar Azam’s 33 was the top score as Pakistan got nowhere near the chase. James Faulker produced an excellent spell taking four wickets and Pat Cummins took three as Australia coasted home to a 92 run win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Brisbane International Final in Brisbane, Australia
Pliskova serve dominates
Czech Karolina Pliskova will move to a career high 5th in the World Rankings after dominating the Brisbane Open Final against Alice Cornet. Pliskova only dropped three games with Cornet commenting afterwards that Pliskova’s serve is one of the most difficult in the game to read. Pliskova whitewashed her opponent 6-0 in the first set and broke again to take the second 6-3. it is Pliskova’s seventh WTA title.
Katerina Siniakova made it a double for the Czech Republic after a stunning week in China culminated in vicory over Alison Riske of the USA. Siniakova had beaten Simona Halep and Johanna Konta to reach the final and took full advantage of her good form to take the title. Riske broke early but a run of four game gave Siniakova the first set and she broke twice in the second to ease to victory and take her first WTA title.
Young star Lauren Davis ranked 61 in the world beat four seeds including Kiki Bertens to claim her first WTA title. She was the underdog yet again going into the final against Croatia’s Ana Konjuh but she needed just 73 minutes losing only four games to dismantle her opponent. It was Davis fourth attempt at a title after losing in three finals last year. She opens up in superb form going into the Australian Open in two weeks time. Davis, along with Siniakova, are two young start to watch in 2017 in what looks a fairly open women’s game at the moment.
The world’s top two players showed why in a three set classic with excellent tennis to kick off the ATP 2017 tour in Doha. Novak Djokovic took the first set after breaking in the 8th game and led by an early break in the second set. However Andy Murray reached number 1 in the world for a reason and fought back to take the second set 7-5 to force a decider. at 4-4 The Serb seized his chance to gain the decisive break. Murray fought back again to threaten at 0-30 in the next service game but Djokovic weathered the test to claim the game and his first title of the season and end Murray’s 28 match unbeaten run.
Experience beats youth as Bautista Agut claims fifth ATP title
Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut won a comfortable straight sets victory over Daniil Medvedev of Russia to claim the Chennai Open title. Bautista Agut won a break in each set against the youngster who was chasing his first title. There were plenty of long rallies but Medvedev made too many mistakes and the experience of Butista Agut told. The win is the Spaniard’s fifth ATP title.
Grigor Dimitrov ended his title drought with a three set victory over fifth world ranked Kai Nishikori of Japan. Dimitrov scored two breaks to easily take the first set but Nishikori hit back with a run of four straight games in the second to level. Dimitrov kept his composure to break in the final set and serve it out to take the third 6-3. It is Nishikori’s fifth final defeat in Brisbane but a sign we may begin to see the full potential of Dimitrov going forward.
1st Innings centuries from Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb set the tone for Australia to take a 1-0 lead against Pakistan at the Gabba. Superb bowling spells from Jackson Bird and Josh Hazlewood then ensured Pakistan collapsed to 142 all out and despite a spirited fight in the 2nd innings including a century from Sharfraz Ahmed, They fell just 39 runs short of an incredible comeback and what would have been a record final inning total.
Smith and Warner put Pakistan’s bowling to the sword
Despite scoring over 400 in their first innings and a double century from Azhar Ali, Pakistan could not stop the power of Australia as Steve Smith (165 not out) continued his brilliant for to hit another century aided by David Warner (144) and Mitchel Starc (83) as the Aussies hit 624. Starc then delivered with the ball with four wickets to help bowl Pakistan out for a mere 163 to take a 2-0 lead and a win by an innings and 19 runs.
The Brisbane Broncos kicked off the final week of the regular season taking good form into the play offs with a 24-14 win over Sydney City including 12 points and a try from Anthony Milford. By contrast Canterbury go into the play offs with a loss, two tries from Joe Burgess helped South Sydney to a surprise 28-10 win. A last minute Gareth Widdop Penalty earned ST George a 28-26 win over bottom side Newcastle who have only won one game all season. Gold Coast did not get the win they needed to ensure a play off spot, losing 32-16 to North Queensland. Johnathan Thurston kicked a perfect 6 for 6 to contribute 12 points for the Cowboys who had already qualified sealed a top four spot with the win. Gold Coast now needed Canberra to beat Western Suburbs.
In the big battle for top spot Melbourne came out on top against Cronulla. Two first half tries from Cheyse Blair gave Melbourne control that they never let go, running out 26-6 winners to take spot and the advantages that go with it into the play offs.Given the Gold Coast’s defeat Wests Tigers had the chance to make the play offs, but failed as Canberra demolished them. Jordan Rapana and Josh Papalii both scored twice. Jarrod Crocker also got 16 points including a try as the Raiders scored a total of nine tries in a 52-10 win the means Gold Coast will take part in the play offs. In the final games Parramatta won in New Zealand 40-18 with a hat trick from Bevan French and finally the Penrith Panthers warmed up for the play offs with a big 36-6 win over Manly. Josh Mansour went over twice and Nathan Cleary kicked all six conversions.