Chiefs new Super 14 leaders
New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs are the new Super 14 leaders after a comfortable win in South Africa, boosted by a second straight loss for the former front-running Coastal Sharks. The Chiefs powered to the top of the southern hemisphere provincial championship on points differential with a convincing 28-10 victory against the Central Cheetahs on Saturday. The Sharks relinquished top spot when they bumbled to a 13-10 loss at home to Canterbury Crusaders. The Chiefs maintained their free-flowing form to down the Cheetahs in Kimberley three tries to one, despite trailing 7-6 at half-time. The Crusaders climbed to eighth position and are just three points off the top four following their crucial win over the Sharks in Durban.
Australia to appeal decision
Tennis Australia will appeal an International Tennis Federation (ITF) decision to allow its next Davis Cup match to be played in the Indian city of Chennai, despite ongoing security concerns by the Australians. The third-round Asia-Oceania Group 1 match is scheduled to take place from May 8 to May 10. In a statement released on the Davis Cup Web site on Friday, the ITF said Chennai was approved by the Davis Cup Committee following “a positive report from the ITF’s security consultants.” Australian tennis officials had sought a change of venue amid concerns about security for sports events on the Indian subcontinent, following a terror attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Pakistan last month. Lleyton Hewitt’s manager, David Drysdale, said yesterday that Australia’s most successful Davis Cup singles player was in Europe, awaiting the outcome of Tennis Australia’s appeal before making his next move.
Cardiff win Anglo-Welsh Cup
Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young believes his side’s Anglo-Welsh Cup final thrashing of Gloucester could help up to five of his leading players make the Lions squad that will tour South Africa in June. Cardiff scored seven tries to run out 50-12 winners at Twickenham on Saturday with Leigh Halfpenny and Ben Blair both touching down twice and Tom James, Ceri Sweeney and Tom Shanklin also on the scoresheet. “We didn’t think we’d score 50 points against a team like Gloucester. I’m very proud of the effort and the skills,” Young said. “The seasoned internationals really stood up and led us.” With the Lions squad due to be announced tomorrow, Young believes that Cardiff will be sending between three and five players to face the Springboks. “Tom Shanklin, Martyn Williams and Gethin Jenkins are dead certs,” he said. “Jamie Roberts has put his hand up and Leigh Halfpenny will be there or thereabouts.”
Defending champ in final
Defending champion Maria Kirilenko of Russia was due to face Italian Roberta Vinci in the final of the Barcelona WTA claycourt event yesterday. Kirilenko, the world No.37 and sixth seed, overcame home favorite Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the US$220,000 tournament on Saturday. Both had played rain-delayed quarter-final matches earlier in the day, Kirilenko defeating Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 3-6, 6-0, and Suarez Navarro easing past Germany’s Tatjana Malek 6-4, 6-0. Vinci, ranked 61, had a tough battle to defeat her compatriot Francesca Schiavone 0-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to reach the final.