The Otago Highlanders yesterday held on in a tight match of tit-for-tat scoring to beat the Western Force 43-35 and claim its first win of the season in Super Rugby.
The lead bounced between the teams in the first half and at the start of the second, but the Highlanders drew away with three unanswered tries through the middle of the second spell to lead 43-25. The Force then finished strongly with tries in the last two minutes to Sifa Amone and Ollie Callan.
The Highlanders had the hardest start to the season of any team, facing last year’s finalists the Canterbury Crusaders and the Auckland Blues in the first two rounds and semi-finalists the Waikato Chiefs in the third.
Back home at one of their two home grounds, Rugby Park in Invercargill, the Highlanders finally managed to stem the losing streak in the fourth round of the tournament.
The win came on Kids Day and the players were swamped by children seeking autographs when the final whistle blew.
“First win. It’s good to get the ball rolling,” Highlanders captain Billy Harmon said. “We’ve had a tough start. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was a win nonetheless.”
The Force took an early lead with two penalties to Bryce Hegarty before the Highlanders replied and took the lead with the first try of the match to winger Jonah Lowe.
The back and forth continued into the second half with a try to Tom Horton for the Force, quickly answered by Sam Gilbert who converted his own try to give the Highlanders a 22-18 lead.
Hegarty scored and converted a try and the Force led 25-22, but replacement George Poolman was pulled for a tipping tackle and the Highlanders took advantage with a try to Sean Withy, which again gave them the lead. Lowe and Renton then scored to make it decisive.
A week after beating the defending champion Crusaders, the Fijian Drua came close to picking up another scalp with a strong finish against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, Australia.
The Reds led 24-3 midway through the second half, but the Drua rallied strongly with tries to Leone Rotuisolia and Kalaveti Ravouvou. A late penalty and defensive play by Filipo Daugunu allowed the Reds to hang on.
Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying on Saturday crashed out of the BWF All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham, with South Korea’s Se Young-an denying the world No. 3 Tai a chance at a fourth All England title. In a replay of their semi-final showdown last year, the world No. 2 Se again beat Tai, saving four match points in a thrilling deciding game to prevail 17-21, 21-19, 24-22. Tai won the women’s singles title in Birmingham in 2017, 2018 and 2020. In the three times the two superstars faced each other prior to Saturday, Tai, 22, had only come out on top once, when
California-born Lars Nootbaar had never played for Japan before the World Baseball Classic, but he has become so popular in his adopted country that sales of pepper mills have shot up in tribute to his trademark celebration. The 25-year-old outfielder — the first player born outside Japan to represent the country at the tournament — mimics twisting a pepper mill after each hit to show he wants to “grind out” a win for his team. The celebration has become a smash hit during Japan’s games in Tokyo, with Nootbaar’s teammates jumping on the bandwagon and fans bringing pepper grinders to the stadium. Nootbaar
LAST ONE STANDING: The world No. 3 was the only Taiwanese left in the tournament, while there were upsets in the men’s singles and the women’s doubles Taiwanese badminton ace Tai Tzu-ying on Thursday defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-19, 21-12 to reach the quarter-finals of the BWF All England Open in Birmingham. Tai, the world No. 3, needed only 40 minutes to close out the round-of-16 matchup at the Utilita Arena. In the opening game, the Taiwanese shuttler established an early 10-5 cushion, before an aggressive Ongbamrungphan fought her way back into the tie, winning nine straight points to take a 10-14 lead. The pair traded the lead to bring the scores to 18-19, but Tai held her nerve to close out the first game. After a 2-2 tie early in
When Taiwan lost to Cuba 7-1 at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Sunday, it was an opportunity missed. A win would have sent the team to the quarter-finals in Tokyo. Instead, the loss gave Taiwan a 2-2 record, the same as the other four teams in Pool A, but they finished last because of tiebreakers. So, was the team’s performance a success or a failure? The 2-2 record would suggest somewhere in between, but two baseball experts, National Taiwan Sport University (NTSU) associate professor Kung Jung-tang and veteran commentator Tseng Wen-cheng, gave Taiwan’s WBC performance a resounding thumbs-up. “The team’s offensive showing was