Phil Taylor took another title in Australia winning the Melbourne Open Title by beating Scotsman Peter Wright. After blitzing home favourite Simon Whitlock in the Semi-Final Taylor went in odds on but after five holds of throw to start, it was Wright who struck first, Taylor missed double 19 with Wright on 81 and he took it out to earn the first break of throw and a 4-2 lead.
Taylor then hit back with a series of power legs to take six of the next seven legs and an 8-5 lead. Wright held in the next then hit a double-double finish with two double 18’s to break back and then hold to level at 8-8. Wright would not take another leg though, Taylor broke again then took out a 112 finish in leg 18 to take a 10-8 lead and go one away.
Wright was beaten at this point and Taylor broke again to take the match 11-8. Taylor has only lost once in Australia in a happy hunting ground. He will try and double up next week and make it an Australian Double as the tour heads out west to Perth.
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.
Serena Williams is the most successful woman in the modern era surpassing Steffi Graf to claim her 23rd major grand slam title. Despite her sister Venus playing as well as she has in some time to reach this final she was no match for her older sister’s power and speed. A break in each set was enough was Serena to claim her seventh Australian title, itself a record. How many more can she win? On this form in which she has won the title without dropping a set, there could be plenty more to come yet.
Federer claims 5th Melbourne title winning epic battle of the old masters
The fall of the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray opened the way for two old rivals and masters of the game to meet once again in a grand slam final. The contest between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal did not disappoint. The first two sets were shared but it looked like Federer had taken control powering through the third set 6-1. The Spaniard was not done however. Federer made errors in the fourth game to let Nadal back in and he took advantage to break and lead 3-1 in the fourth. He served it out to take the fourth set 6-3 and ensure the crowd got the decider they wished for. Nadal continued the momentum, breaking in the first game of the final set to take the advantage. However Federer kept going and had break point in each of the next three service games of Nadal, at the third attempt he took one to get the score back to 3-3.
After winning his next service game Federer then broke again to lead 5-3 and just one game away. Nadal kept fighting taking a 15-40 lead with two chances to break back. An ace and a stunning forehand winner allowed Federer to save both. Federer then had a Championship point saved but earned a second one. He then looked to hit a winner tight to the line to win it, Nadal challenged, the crowd waited, Hawkeye deemed the ball in and finally the Swiss had his 18th Grand Slam title. A fitting contest for a battle of this importance between to old masters we may never see again.
Kohli and Jadhav set up India in monster run chase
India completed a huge chase of 350 to take the first ODI against England in Pune. England may have thought they had a winning score on the board with Jason Roy Joe Root and Ben Stokes all making half centuries. However the fact nobody went on to make a hundred ultimately left them short. In reply Virat Kohli hit his 27th ODI hundred with 5 sixes and Kedar Jadhav hit 120 scoring his half century off only 29 balls to put India in contention. England did not take enough wickets and Handik Pandya with 40 not out was there at the end to finish off what Kohli and Jadhav had set up, hitting a six to win it with 11 balls to spare and continue India’s run as England are yet to beat India at any level on tour so far.
Pakistan have made a fist of their ODI series against Australia with victory in Melbourne. Australia never had enough on the board with only Steve Smith getting a half century in a total of 220. Mohammad Hafeez played the key knock of 72 to keep Pakistan ahead of the run chase and they got home with 14 balls to spare. The first win in a contest of any sort for Pakistan on this tour which will be a confidence boost for the rest of this series.
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.
North Queensland opened round 25 with a 24-16 win over Canterbury helped by two tries from Ethan Lowe. Brisbane ruined Melbourne’s chances of securing the minor premiership top spot this week with a 26-16 win over the League leaders. Tom Opacic went over for two of the Broncos fives tries as Wayne Bennett’s side look in form heading towards the play-offs.The Green Machine of Canberra have secured third place in a high scoring 44-30 win over Manly. Jordan Rapana got a hat-trick for the Raiders. Penrith have secured their play-off place with a narrow win over Gold Coast. Matt Moylan’s drop goal with two minutes to go gave them a 15-14 win leaving Gold Coast’s own play off chances hanging in the balance going into the final weekend.
Given Melbourne’s loss Cronulla set up a final day showdown for top spot after thrashing Sydney City 37-12. Six tries and 11 points from James Maloney saw Cronulla move one point behind Melbourne, the two meet head to head next week.Western Suburbs kept their play-off hopes alive with a Sauaso Sue getting two tries in a 36-24 win in New Zealand. South Sydney thrashed bottom side Newcastle 34-12 with Alex Johnson going over twice. The round ended with ST George/Illwarra going down to Parramatta 30-18. Bevan French got a hat trick and Mike Gordon got 14 points including a try for the Eels. Neither side can make the play-off. This leaves two thing left to be decided. Melbourne meet Crounulla for top spot, and the final play-off place could go to either Gold Coast or Western Suburbs.