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Gareth Bale hailed as
‘Prince of Goals’ after
first Real Madrid hat-
trick Page 9
Gold Coast Suns
suspend Campbell
Brown after incident
Page 10
Five things we
learned from
the autumn
internationals Page 8
Auburn returns
missed field goal to
beat first-ranked
Alabama Page 8
Horse racing tips:
Monday 2 December
Page 6
Newbury deserves
ridicule for getting
hot under collar over
dress code Page 7
André Villas-Boas’s
under-fire Spurs draw
with Manchester
United Page 4
Rory McIlroy’s
Australian Open
victory ends fear of a
2013 whitewash Page 5
Fulham sack manager Martin Jol
Fulham have confirmed that manager Martin Jol has left the club
Page 4
Joe Root happy to be back in Adelaide and
ready to bat where needed
Andy Wilson: Joe Root knows Adelaide well, having enrolled at
Darren Lehmann’s academy three years ago Page 3
Hull City swoop for first victory over
defensively inept Liverpool
Hull City and Steve Bruce have upset Liverpool’s best-laid plans
and walked away with a 3-1 win Page 2
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City, that’s Hull City, had lost their previous two matches and
Bruce switched to the insurance of a three-man central defence
against Luis Suárez. Hull coped comfortably before the second-
half move to a 4-3-3 and were ahead with their first shot on
target. Curtis Davies glanced the game’s opening chance wide
of Simon Mignolet’s goal before Moses lost possession cheaply
inside the Liverpool half. Jake Livermore took over, exchanged
passes with David Meyler and tried his luck from 22 yards. Luck
was on the midfielder’s side and the ball looped over Mignolet
via Skrtel’s calf.
Bruce was submerged beneath his coaching staff in the
celebrations but, having seen Hull stifle the Liverpool attack, he
was rightly infuriated by one moment’s lapse in concentration.
Hull’s defenders hesitated a fraction too long over a loose ball
outside their area, allowing Jordan Henderson to intercept
prior to a clattering foul from Davies. Steven Gerrard swept an
emphatic free-kick around a crumbling wall – constructing one
appears a lost art in the Premier League at present – and into the
bottom corner of Allan McGregor’s goal.
Parity did nothing to improve the Liverpool performance
and it was Hull who showed more composure on the ball plus
intent in the final third. Davies went close with another header,
Tom Huddlestone almost capped a fine display with a goal
from 20 yards and, after McGregor saved superbly at point-
blank range from Moses, the home side regained a deserved
lead. Weak defending from Liverpool proved a valuable assist.
Davies and Yannick Sagbo caused chaos under a long ball into
the visitors’ area and Touré flicked a poor clearance straight to
Meyler who, after one blocked attempt, drove his second bite
low into the far corner.
Suárez almost levelled with his latest sweeping free-kick
from distance but the clearer chances came to Hull against
a ponderous Liverpool defence. Sagbo should have scored,
or at least squared to Elmohamady, when sent clear after the
Liverpool substitute Luis Alberto lost possession, but the striker
made amends seconds later. Collecting a hopeful clearance
downfield, the striker attacked Skrtel and eventually found
Huddlestone arriving into the area. The midfielder’s tame flick
was heading wide until Skrtel threw himself in the way and
diverted a shot beyond his own goalkeeper for the second time.
It was a soap opera with no redeeming features for Liverpool.
Man of the match Tom Huddlestone (Hull City)
David Meyler celebrates scoring Hull City’s second during
the 3-1 win over Liverpool at the KC Stadium. Photograph:
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Hull City swoop for first victory over
defensively inept Liverpool
Andy Hunter at KC Stadium
Brendan Rodgers claimed to draw inspiration from Coronation
Street in a left-field eulogy to Britain’s longest-running soap
before kick-off. Managing a Liverpool team with all the vision
and footwork of Alan Bradley as he careered into a tram on
Blackpool promenade was not what he had in mind.
“We’ll see in May how good our own soap opera is,” the
Liverpool manager had said. On a dark December afternoon
in Hull it was lamentable. Steve Bruce’s tactically tweaked,
supremely motivated side capitalised to record Hull City’s
first victory over Liverpool and leave Rodgers sweating at the
thought of a demanding winter programme without Daniel
Sturridge.
The England striker will be out for “six to eight weeks” with
an ankle ligament strain according to Rodgers. His bulletin set
the tone for a miserable day for the visitors from Anfield, who
offered little threat and were defensively inept against a Hull
team with only four home league goals before the game.
Rodgers insisted “the bigger picture” should be considered
when dissecting a collective off-day from Liverpool and gave
thanks to impending home games against Norwich City and
West Ham United. But that would be to overlook several glaring
deficiencies in the Liverpool squad and performance. The loss
of Sturridge and, for 66 minutes, Philippe Coutinho to another
ankle problem naturally disturbed the flow and penetration
of Rodgers’ team. But further upheaval was unnecessary,
principally the decision to recall Kolo Touré at the surprising
expense of Daniel Agger and therefore shift Martin Skrtel across
central defence.
Skrtel inadvertently deflected two of Hull’s goals beyond his
own goalkeeper as Liverpool’s defence crumbled around him.
Raheem Sterling and Victor Moses were given opportunities
they have craved and only served to increase Rodgers’s torment
over the injuries to Sturridge and Coutinho. In stark contrast,
Hull retained their focus impressively in the face of their own
potential distractions, not least the owner Assem Allam’s
ridiculous attempt to rebrand the club Hull Tigers.
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“It’s Ashes cricket; it’s hard cricket,” he said.
“Guys are out there to win, and it’s all part of the game.
“Whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it on the
field and find your own way to cope with it.
“If the ICC want to step in when they think things have gone
too far, that’s up to them. But all we can do is control what we’re
doing, and try to win the game for our country.
“I enjoy being out there, and the battles you get are all part
of the game. I’m sure it will continue the whole series.”
Root’s chosen response at the Gabba appeared to be a
mixture of amusement and redoubled determination.
“Everyone has their own way of coping with it, and generally
we’re good at it as a side,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s much point talking about it — you just
have to get on with your job and do it as best you can.
“If we perform well that’s best way of counter-acting it.”
He has batted for England in all but one position from two
down to seven, been promoted to open and then demoted again
— and, of course, dealt too with that David Warner left hook in
a Birmingham bar last summer. Asked if he feels he has had to
grow up quickly, Root said: “I think so.
“I’ve only really been playing for a year, and as a young lad
you have to find your feet in the international arena.
“There have been different obstacles to overcome — if I want
to survive in this environment then I have to find a way to do
that.”
Little fazes him in the middle, and Root also has the
copyright on a couple of trademark press-conference
manoeuvres.
An inevitable inquiry about whether he will be happy to go
back up the order to bat at number three in the second Test,
following Jonathan Trott’s departure from this tour, duly
brought a predictable and practised response.
That is not to say there was any lack of sincerity when he
said: “It doesn’t matter to me, I just love playing for England.
Regardless of whether I’m opening, three, five, six, it’s been
brilliant.
“If I get the chance to do it, it would be a great challenge for
me — and I’d love to do it.
“I don’t think it makes much difference.
“When you go out there you can face a number of different
situations, and it’s just making sure you’re well equipped to
deal with them.”
Wherever he bats, Root knows as well as anyone that — after
England’s chastening setback at the Gabba — the stakes could
hardly be higher.
Unsurprisingly, he is up for the challenge.
“This match is massive, and it’s a great opportunity to go out
there and make a statement as a team and put a big score on the
board.”
England’s Joe Root gives a press conference at the team hotel
in Adelaide. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Joe Root happy to be back in Adelaide
and ready to bat where needed
• Yorkshireman back at venue of Darren
Lehmann’s academy
• Root was present for England’s win on last
Ashes tour
Press Association
Joe Root can hardly wait for the “fun” to start again, when he
faces Mitchell Johnson in the second Ashes Test at Adelaide.
It was amid the wreckage of England’s second innings in
Brisbane a week ago that Root provided a fresh appreciation of
the skills and attitude which have so many already impressed.
The smiling 22-year-old demonstrated technique and
temperament to withstand Johnson’s 90mph-plus barrage,
while others wilted as England added 179 all out to 136.
Root could do little about England’s descent to a hapless 381-
run hammering as Johnson ruled the Gabba.
For his trouble, he was rewarded with only an unbeaten 26.
But he left Brisbane unbowed, and with reputation enhanced as
he presented a straight bat and a sunny disposition.
The Johnson bouncers, literal and figurative, just kept
coming in a match which ended in controversy as James
Anderson and home captain Michael Clarke — subsequently
fined by the International Cricket Council — made their
rumoured mutual antipathy abundantly clear.
Root will be returning to familiar territory this week, having
attended the Darren Lehmann academy in Adelaide — and
played club cricket for Prospect here alongside Nathan Lyon
— during England’s last tour Down Under.
It is uncanny that the two former team-mates will, three
years on, be in Ashes opposition at the Adelaide Oval on
Thursday.
Yet Root appears most excited about facing Johnson
again — an alarming prospect for most, but not so the young
Yorkshireman.
Asked if Johnson is the quickest bowler he has taken guard
to, his face positively lit up. “Probably, close to it,” he said. “It’s
great — that’s why you play Test cricket, to get in confrontations
and battles like that and try to be successful in those situations.
“Bring it on, on Thursday. It should be good fun. I’m really
looking forward to it.”
Root will not be dodging the verbals either.
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Wayne Rooney gets Manchester United’s second from the
penalty spot in the draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian
we move forward. I have great confidence in Rene and high
expectations for our squad to respond.”
Meulensteen is relishing his first crack at being a Premier
League manager. The 49-year-old’s first match in charge will
come when Fulham face Tottenham at Craven Cottage on
Wednesday. “I appreciate the faith Mr Khan has put in me and
will do my very best to honour his trust,” said Meulensteen.
“We aim to get Fulham back on track, starting Wednesday
night.”
Jol’s stint lasted almost two-and-a-half years, but the team
struggled badly in his third term at the helm. They began the
campaign by winning at Sunderland, but Stoke and Crystal
Palace have been their only other league conquests. “It was
a privilege to manage Fulham, one of the great clubs in the
Premier League or anywhere in the world,” Jol said. “I am
disappointed in this season but know there are better days
ahead for Fulham and its supporters. I will always treasure my
experience here and want to thank Mr Khan and everyone at
Fulham for the opportunity.”
Martin Jol looks on prior to Fuham’s 3-0 defeat at West Ham.
Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Fulham sack manager Martin Jol
• René Meulensteen takes over duties with
immediate effect
• Jol leaves Fulham in Premier League’s
bottom three
Agencies
Fulham have sacked manager Martin Jol after defeat at West
Ham on Saturday extended their run of consecutive defeats to
six games. The club announced René Meulensteen would take
over responsibility for the first team, stepping up to the top job
having only been recruited last month tinyurl.com/pjssh5q as
head coach to assist Jol.
Fulham were beaten 3-0 at Upton Park tinyurl.com/odxb4s4
and after 13 games of the Premier League season they stand
18th tinyurl.com/pgsrzld , inside the relegation zone.
Fulham chairman Shahid Khan said in a statement on the
club’s website: “Today I spoke with Martin to thank him for his
efforts on behalf of Fulham Football Club over the past three
seasons and, in particular, since my becoming chairman earlier
this year.
“Martin was very gracious and I appreciate his
understanding of the situation. There is no question Martin
is an excellent football man and he has my utmost respect for
the commitment he made to our club. However, our poor form
and results this season are undeniable, and Fulham supporters
deserve better. With more than half the season still ahead, an
immediate change was necessary.”
Fulham’s dismal run has included Premier League defeats
to Southampton, Manchester United, Liverpool, Swansea
and West Ham, and a Capital One Cup exit at Leicester. Many
supporters had been on Jol’s back, calling for change, and Khan
decided the London derby loss marked breaking point.
Jol’s fellow Dutchman Meulensteen spent many years at
Manchester United, initially working within the club’s academy
but graduating to become first-team coach under Sir Alex
Ferguson in 2008, a post he held until the Scot retired at the
end of last season. A short stint in charge of Russian side Anzhi
Makhachkala followed, and Meulensteen was strongly linked
with Crystal Palace before Tony Pulis took over at Selhurst Park.
“René Meulensteen was brought to Fulham to assist Martin
and today was offered the challenge and opportunity to step
in for Martin,” Khan said. “I thank Rene for accepting and now
André Villas-Boas’s under-fire Spurs
draw with Manchester United
Daniel Taylor at White Hart Lane
Perhaps the best thing that can be said for André Villas-Boas
amid all the scrutiny of Tottenham’s manager is that there was
never the sense that his team were playing under strain. True,
there was that awkward moment when he substituted Aaron
Lennon and White Hart Lane grumpily showed its disapproval
but there were other moments when the crowd belted out the
manager’s name. His team matched Manchester United in a
pulsating game and probably had enough chances to beat them
for the first time at this ground since 2001.
They led twice and the second of them was an absolute
peach off the laces of Sandro’s right boot. David Moyes’s
team, operating on the counterattack, needed all their powers
of durability. They created plenty of chances of their own
and Wayne Rooney, with another two goals, led their attack
with great presence and authority. Yet the draw still felt
unsatisfactory when it means a nine-point gap to Arsenal at the
top of the league.
Spurs, another point back, have different priorities and
Villas-Boas, in a spiky series of post-match interviews, felt
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Rory McIlroy with his caddie JP Fitzgerald after winning the
2013 Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club. Photograph:
Clifford White/Corbis
form, there is always reason for confidence, even with Robin
van Persie injured, but Moyes admitted being concerned by
their inability to get nearer to Arsenal, albeit pointing out there
was still plenty of time to close the gap.
Spurs, to their credit, did not allow nervousness to creep in
after Rooney’s penalty. They will know, however, they could
have protected their lead with more authority. Two minutes
earlier, Sandro had advanced through the middle, veering
right to left, before cutting back inside Cleverley and letting
fly. The connection was perfect and the ball rocketed into that
satisfactory part of the goal where post meets crossbar. Sandro
may never strike a shot so well again but Spurs could not hold
out.
Man of the match Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
sufficiently emboldened to argue that he deserved more
“respect” on the back of a week’s worth of debate about his
position. The Spurs manager clearly feels aggrieved that his
job is in danger and this was his chance, perhaps, to let off a
bit of that pent-up frustration, including a couple of icy little
putdowns for Sir Alan Sugar. All very entertaining, though
he really should be big enough to ignore the former Spurs
chairman rather than getting involved in a mud-slinging
contest.
His team had played well for the most part and, though
not flawless, he was entitled to reflect on a vastly improved
performance after the harrowing defeat at Manchester City
the previous weekend. The Spurs manager could have been
forgiven for feeling a measure of exasperation that they had
not gone even further. At 1-0, with Lennon pinning back Patrice
Evra and the volume cranked up, Roberto Soldado missed
a glorious chance from Paulinho’s pass to double the lead.
Rooney’s first goal arrived four minutes later, with United
otherwise hanging on, and the defending in the build-up was
fairly wretched.
Kyle Walker, the player raising an apologetic arm, had
opened the scoring in the 18th minute when the four players in
the visitors’ defensive wall jumped straight over his free-kick.
The guilty quartet – Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck
and Rooney – had clearly expected Walker to go for the top
corner. Walker struck an old-fashioned daisy-cutter instead.
It was a poor goal to concede and it took United some time to
shake their heads clear.
Unfortunately for Walker, the mistake that set up Rooney
just after the half-hour was a lot worse than Villas-Boas made
out when the manager talked about his player’s “unlucky
touch”. In mitigation, perhaps the right-back was distracted
by the close proximity of Michael Dawson. All the same, there
was something pretty ghastly about the way he inadvertently
cushioned Jones’s right-wing cross straight into the path of one
of the league’s in-form strikers. Rooney, from six yards, was
never going to pass up such a gift.
Walker also played an unwitting contribution before
Hugo Lloris came off his goalline to bring down Welbeck for
the penalty that offered Rooney the chance to put away his
second equaliser. The attack had begun in United’s own half,
with Nemanja Vidic and Walker going for a 50-50 and the Serb
making it absolutely clear he simply does not lose those kind
of battles. United broke upfield and Welbeck reached Rooney’s
through ball just in front of Lloris. The referee, Mike Dean,
decided the goalkeeper had made contact with the striker’s
trailing leg and Rooney aimed his penalty, low and hard,
straight down the middle.
Villas-Boas complained afterwards that Dean had a poor
vantage point but it was also true that Lloris should not have
rushed from his goalline. Welbeck’s body movement was
not taking him in on goal and a goalkeeper in those positions
is always vulnerable if he arrives a fraction late. Welbeck,
anticipating the contact, had left his foot in position, as tends to
be the way these days.
After that, the game could have gone either way. United
are never at their strongest when Jones and Tom Cleverley are
in the centre of midfield but Rooney was always a menace for
the Spurs defence. Antonio Valencia had the beating of Jan
Vertonghen, though Shinji Kagawa has a habit sometimes of
fading out of these fast, frenetic matches. With Rooney in this
Rory McIlroy’s Australian Open victory
ends fear of a 2013 whitewash
• McIlroy admits to relief after dramatic
final-hole win
• Victory is first of the year for Northern
Irishman
Ewan Murray
A win in the Australian Open may not rank among the most
high-profile in Rory McIlroy’s career but it is unquestionably
one of the more significant.
Encouraging signs that McIlroy has indeed emerged from
the slump which has overshadowed his game this year arrived
at Royal Sydney, where he dramatically pipped Adam Scott to
his home Open title. McIlroy thereby ends his season on a high
note and avoids a winless year, which would have been in stark
contrast to his epic success during 2012.
“Since the end of September I have felt better with how my
swing was, I felt that everything was coming together the way I
wanted it to,” McIlroy explained.
“It has been a frustrating year – I have worked hard and it’s
been a process, trying to get back to winning golf tournaments
again. It was nice to be able to do it.”
The style displayed by McIlroy in victory was as important as
the result itself. The Northern Irishman had trailed Scott by four
strokes heading into the final round but returned a 66 to win by
a shot. By the 8th, McIlroy tied the lead having followed up an
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Frederik Tylicki will be hoping for success on Pretty Buddles
in the 4.20 at Kempton Park on Monday. Photograph: Martin
Rickett/PA
eagle with a birdie. As Scott stumbled to a bogey on the 72nd
hole and a fourth-round 71, McIlroy birdied. Scott had missed
the green, before overhitting a chip.
Scott thereby failed in his quest to win a second
Australian Open title and the triple crown of Australian golf
– the Australian Masters, PGA and Open in the same season
– achieved only once before, by Robert Allenby in 2005.
“I wanted to get a win by the end of the season and finally I
have been able to get one,” added McIlroy.
“But more satisfying than that is being able to take one of the
best players in the world down the stretch and come out on top.
“Adam is a phenomenal golfer and a great competitor, and
probably even a better guy. I feel a bit sorry I was the one to ruin
the triple crown for him. Adam should be very proud of himself.
He is a credit to the game and a credit to this country.
“It is a very prestigious tournament. Jack Nicklaus, Gary
Player, it seems like most of the greats of the game have won
this tournament, and I am honoured to put my name on that
trophy.”
Scott, the Masters champion, did little to hide his
disappointment. The one negative, recurring aspect of his
career has been the failure to close out victories when within
his grasp. Scott’s talent, in short, has not delivered the number
of successes it should have.
“I felt I did everything right,” he said. “I was concerned how
I was going to hit it today because I haven’t been swinging the
club very well for the last two weeks and I played really nicely,
but the putter didn’t behave itself. But that’s the way golf is.
“I’m gutted, I felt I’d never have a better chance to win the
Aussie Open. I just slightly misjudged a few putts, overplayed
the break, missed a lot of putts on the high side and didn’t quite
have the eye in. And it always gets a lot trickier on the Sunday.
“I just misjudged on the last and a player as good as Rory is
going to take that opportunity.”
McIlroy admitted during last month’s DP World Tour
Championship in Dubai that distractions away from the
course had impacted on his game. The former world No1
remains locked in a high-profile legal battle with his former
management company.
Earlier, during the Open Championship at Muirfield, McIlroy
had offered an alarming insight into his mindset by claiming he
felt “brain dead” tinyurl.com/o8bs8pc during tournament play.
In Sydney, John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden
Macpherson also had cause for summer celebration, having
become the first players to qualify for the 2014 Open at Royal
Liverpool via the newly-introduced Open Qualifying Series.
This series involves 14 nominated events in nine countries and
five continents.
Peter Unsworth, the chairman of the Royal & Ancient’s
championship committee, said: “I would like to congratulate
John, Rhein and Bryden on qualifying for the Open
Championship. We have introduced the new Open Qualifying
Series to further enhance the global appeal of the Open and
improve the qualifying process for the players.
“The series has got off to an excellent start here in Sydney
and we have received very positive feedback from the
players who relished the opportunity to qualify at a 72-hole
championship. We look forward to the series continuing next
year as we build up to the Open.”
Horse racing tips: Monday 2 December
Supporters of Pretty Bubbles (fifth race at
Kempton Park) will be hoping their dreams
do not reach the sky only to fade and die
Greg Wood
Kempton Park
2.20 Minstrel Lad 2.50 Balducci
3.20 Twin Point 3.50 Warbrook
4.20 Pretty Bubbles (nap) 4.50 Drive On
5.20 Corporal Maddox 5.50 Climaxfortackle
Plumpton
12.40 Nesterenko 1.10 Buthelezi
1.40 Cannon Fodder 2.10 Ballyman
2.40 Mighty Mambo 3.10 Tarabela
3.40 Boogie In The Barn
Wolverhampton
12.55 Cabuchon
1.25 Mr Burbridge 1.55 Kantara Castle
2.30 Jazzy Lady (nb) 3.00 Spreadable
3.30 Maggie Pink 4.05 Speightowns Kid
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and Newbury’s insistence that a code is necessary for a far
less significant meeting is patronising and contemptuous,
suggesting that ordinary men and women cannot be trusted
to dress themselves. The result is an implicit insult to every
racegoer as they arrive at the gate, whether they pass or fail
their outfit inspection.
What Newbury has failed to appreciate, or has not bothered
to find out, is that most people do dress up a little when they
go to the races. It is a once-a-year experience for most of the six
million or so who go to a track annually. Dressing up adds to the
sense of occasion. But it is a matter of choice, not compulsion,
and if other racegoers turn up at a racecourse in late November
wearing jeans, that’s up to them.
Ultimately, and like so many of the debates and squabbles
which arise in racing, this one has its origins where the old
in racing rubs against the new. Racing was devised as a sport
for the elite in a society with an upper class and a working
class and precious little in between. It is still in the process of
transforming itself into a modern entertainment for the masses,
and the pace of change is much faster in some areas than it is in
others.
Nicky Henderson’s suggestion earlier in the week that he is
struggling to find suitable novice chase opportunities for many
of his horses is yet another example of a fault-line between old
and new.
It was an odd claim for a couple of reasons, an obvious one
being that, as the British Horseracing Authority later pointed
out, there have been, and continue to be, regular beginners’
chases and novice events in the calendar which are open to
all. Few, however, have included a runner from the Henderson
yard. But it is also true that the fields for many novice chases
remain small, which hardly suggests that there are not enough
in the programme.
Henderson’s career dates back to a time when chasers were
often stores that did not see a track until five or six, and few
National Hunt trainers enjoyed the facilities which leading
stables now take for granted. Fitness was sometimes a relative
concept, and while horses could, and did, run every three or
four weeks throughout the winter, it was often the only way
to build and maintain their fitness for the big meetings in the
spring at a time of the year when it could be very difficult to do
much with them at home.
It is to Henderson’s credit that he has adapted and prospered
as jump racing has changed over the last 20 years, so much so
that last year he won the trainers’ title for the first time since
1987. The old belief that promising recruits to chasing deserve
to kick off with a couple of bloodless wins to “learn their trade”,
however, is like the Newbury dress code: an idea which belongs
in the past.
The Guardian’s Greg Wood is on the shortlist to be the 2013
Racing Writer of the Year. The winner of the Horserace Writers
and Photographers Association prize will be announced at the
Derby Awards ceremony in London on Monday. Wood won the
award in 2009
Racegoers entering the premier enclosure at Newbury
racecourse on Friday during the three-day Hennessy meeting.
Photograph: Hugh Routledge/Rex
Newbury deserves ridicule for getting
hot under collar over dress code
Dress rules at Hennessy meeting a reminder
that in 2013 there are still some corners of
racing where it is forever 1950
Greg Wood
Stephen Higgins, Newbury’s managing director, said on Friday
that complaints resulting from a new dress code at the track
during the Hennessy Gold Cup meeting had been “a storm in
a tea cup”, and in one sense at least, he is right. Now that the
Hennessy is in the form book, Newbury will retreat from the
spotlight until Betfair Hurdle day in February (always assuming,
of course, that in the meantime it does not run any more races
when there are dead horses in the paddock tinyurl.com/pzvkp6n
).
But in another sense, this sad little episode does matter,
because it is a reminder that even in 2013, there are still some
corners of the racing landscape where it is forever 1950. While
tracks like Cheltenham and Aintree are now determined to treat
racegoers as valued customers, Newbury’s attitude seems to be
one of reluctant toleration: we’re doing you a favour by letting
you in at all, so do as you’re told and don’t get in the way.
The derision which was heaped upon Ascot when it
“stickered” racegoers at a meeting in January 2012 should
have served as warning enough that the world has moved on
from the days when divorcees were blackballed from the Royal
Enclosure. As Charles Barnett, Ascot’s chief executive, pointed
out while issuing refunds worth £28,000 tinyurl.com/pmcqzqj
during the subsequent damage limitation exercise, “no
customers should be expected to pay for such an experience”.
But at Newbury, it seems, that is precisely what they expect,
even on the Thursday of the Hennessy meeting when there
are unlikely to be more than 5,000 paying spectators turning
up in the first place. Its new dress code was the subject of
what Higgins describes as a “soft launch” via “the website and
various other channels”, and includes rules on the length of
skirts, collars on shirts (essential in the Premier Enclosure),
smart denim, which is banned in the Premier, and even fancy
dress (fine in the Grandstand, forbidden in the Premier).
The detail is not really the point, though. Cheltenham
does not bother with a dress code at its Festival meeting,
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and outstanding the next; Scotland struggle to make much of
possession, like Italy; while France had a miserable year with
their only victories coming against Scotland and Tonga but
in Wesley Fofana they have the outstanding three-quarter in
Europe. Things can only get better.
4 Southern comfort
It was a gruelling month for Argentina, whose Europe-based
players are playing all year round. Victory over Italy was their
only solace last month, but some of their squad are moving to
Super 15 sides. New Zealand won 14 out of 14 this year, pushed
hard by England, France and Ireland, but always able to work
their way out of trouble and make decisive plays. South Africa
have made significant advances under Heyneke Meyer, looking
multi-dimensional without losing sight of where they came
from, and their games against the All Blacks in next year’s
Rugby Championship promise to be epic. Australia looked
forlorn at Twickenham, but four successive victories and the
rehabilitation of Quade Cooper will send them into the new
year with hope. They did not buckle against Wales’s physical
onslaught and moments of the highest class behind won them
the match.
5 Refereeing
Australia and New Zealand struggled to deal with the way
the breakdown is refereed in Europe, complaining that sides
were able to slow the ball down, but with the World Cup hosted
by England in two years, they will have to get used to it. Why
there is a variation in approach between the hemispheres is
only something the International Rugby Board can answer, but
as the All Blacks found in 2007 and 2011, staging a World Cup
has its advantages on the field. The forward pass has become
confusing with physics being applied to the law: a pass may
go forward, but if the passer’s hands are pointing backwards,
it does not matter where the ball ends up. Something to do
with momentum. The Wales coach Warren Gatland moaned
about Australia’s third try, but Wales’s second against Tonga
the previous week came after a more blatantly forward pass.
Television match officials are in for a busy time.
Quade Cooper’s rehabilitation – and four successive victories
in the autumn internationals – will give Australia hope for the
new year. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile/Corbis
Five things we learned from the autumn
internationals
From the ability of southern team to get
tries under pressure to stand-out backs and
Quade Cooper’s rehabilitation
Paul Rees
1 Try again
There were 11 Tests involving the Six Nations and the Sanzar
countries last month and Europe’s only victory came in the first
between England and Australia at Twickenham tinyurl.com/
pxwcl73 . It was also the one occasion a home team outscored
their opponents on tries and in total the European teams scored
13 against 32, five of them coming in the last two matches
between Ireland and New Zealand, and Wales and Australia. In
contrast, the penalty tally went the other way, 33-23, and with
statistics showing that the vast majority of Test matches are
won by the team that scores the most tries, it is the ability of the
southern teams to create under pressure that continues to mark
them out.
2 Back to the future
The southern hemisphere teams have backs who stand
out in an era when the hit is king. Even South Africa, who
still base their game on physically dominating opponents,
are not immune to razzle-dazzle with full-back Willie le Roux
personifying how they have recalibrated their game. Even with
Dan Carter playing a bit-part last month, New Zealand had the
likes of Julian Savea, Israel Dagg and Ma’a Nonu while Quade
Cooper was a key difference on Saturday, as Australia again
overcame Wales, with his ability to move the ball wide under
pressure. Wales badly missed Jonathan Davies and still struggle
to bring Leigh Halfpenny into the line and, overall, the north
lacks the craft of the south.
3 World Cup pointers
England, the hosts, had the best month of the Six Nations
sides, beating Australia and leading against New Zealand with
17 minutes to go, despite being without a number of players.
They have been consistent under Stuart Lancaster without
being outstanding, hard to beat but lacking a wow factor.
Wales, the championship winners for the past two years, have
the muscle but not the wit; Ireland are volatile, poor one week
Auburn returns missed field goal to beat
first-ranked Alabama
Chris Davies sprints over 100 yards to take
Auburn to the SEC title game, while Ohio
State holds on to 42-41 win over Michigan
Associated Press
Ohio State’s passage to college football’s title game opened up
on with a thrilling win over Michigan on Saturday, coupled with
Auburn’s miraculous victory over top-ranked Alabama.
Auburn returned a failed field goal for a touchdown on the
last play of regulation to beat Alabama 34-28 and clinch a spot
in the Southeastern Conference title game next week against
Missouri, which clinched the East Division by beating Texas
A&M.
Ohio State’s 42-41 victory over Michigan sent the Buckeyes
to the Big Ten title game against Michigan State with an
unbeaten record. Florida State which will play Duke in the ACC
title game next Saturday will move above Alabama to the top
spot in the BCS standings and polls on Sunday, and Ohio State
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will likely be second.
But the question is already being asked: if Auburn can
win the SEC title with one loss, shouldn’t it go to the BCS
championship over Ohio State, which was undefeated but did
not have as hard a schedule?
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs was already lobbying
for his team, with one-loss, to jump the Buckeyes. He told
reporters it would be a “a disservice to college football” if a
one-loss SEC champion was left out of the national title game in
Pasadena, California, on 6 January.
“That has to happen,” Jacobs was quoted as saying by
Al.com. “Now, we still have more work to do. … This is not just
about beating Alabama. It’s about where this team has come
from. Gus and these coaches and players brought Auburn
football back. Auburn football is back.”
The decisive play against Alabama came right at the end,
as Chris Davis caught a missed field goal in the end zone,
sprinted down the left sideline and cut back with nothing but
teammates around him to notch a surprise victory. Alabama
had seemed poised to continue its run toward the first hat trick
of national titles in modern college football, with Crimson Tide
quarterback AJ McCarron completing 17 of 29 passes for 277
yards and three touchdowns. Auburn’s Nick Marshall was 11 of
16 passing for 97 yards but also rushed 17 times for 99 yards.
Ohio State hung on for a 42-41 win over Michigan when
Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s pass as Michigan
went for a two-point conversion with 32 seconds left. Gardner
threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Devin Funchess to make it
a one-point deficit, but instead of kicking for the tie, Wolverines
coach Brady Hoke went for the lead.
Gardner tried to zip a pass into traffic near the goal line, but
Powell came up with it. Buckeyes cornerback Roby Bradley
recovered the onside kick to seal Ohio State’s 24th consecutive
victory.
Florida State’s Jameis Winston threw three touchdown
passes to Kelvin Benjamin to beat rival Florida 37-7, as the
Seminoles move a step closer to playing for the national
championship. The Seminoles improved to 12-0 for the
first time since 1999 and likely will earn a spot in the Bowl
Championship Series title game by beating Duke in the Atlantic
Coast Conference championship game next Saturday.
Florida, meanwhile, ended its worst season since 1979 with a
4-8 record and will not play a bowl game for the first time since
1990. Missouri’s Henry Josey broke loose for the go-ahead score
on a 57-yard run with 3:34 to go to secure a 28-21 win over Texas
A&M, securing the SEC East.
Missouri advances to the SEC championship game against
Auburn a matchup of schools very lightly regarded before
the season. Missouri has made a six-win improvement from
its initial SEC season and fourth-ranked Auburn (11-1, 7-1) has
topped last year’s total by eight.
South Carolina’s Connor Shaw threw for one touchdown
and rushed for another as the Gamecocks notched a record fifth
straight win over Clemson, taking it 31-17. Stanford’s Wayne
Lyons intercepted two passes late in the fourth quarter as
the Cardinal held off Notre Dame 27-20. Baylor’s Bryce Petty
threw for two touchdowns and ran for another while the Bears
returned two interceptions for scores to beat Texas Christian
41-38.
Gareth Bale hailed as ‘Prince of Goals’
after first Real Madrid hat-trick
• AS also acclaim Bale as ‘Prince of Wales’
after 4-0 win
• ‘I am very happy here. I needed time to
adapt,’ says Welshman
Reuters
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale was hailed as the “Prince of Goals”
after his hat-trick and assist in Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win at
home to Real Valladolid tinyurl.com/pg7quko .
With Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined by injury, Bale stepped
up to net his first treble since his move from Tottenham
Hotspur and coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested the Wales
winger’s adaptation period was over. “He is in good shape, he
is confident and he is a very important player for us,” Ancelotti
told a news conference. “He performed very well today.”
Bale’s pre-season preparations were disrupted by the
protracted negotiations over his transfer and he then picked up
a minor muscle strain but now appears to be back to full fitness
and eager to impress Real’s fans. Saturday’s haul was a so-called
“perfect hat-trick” – a header and a goal scored with each foot
– and was only the second La Liga treble by a British player after
Gary Lineker’s for Barcelona in 1987.
Sports daily AS acclaimed Bale on their front page on Sunday
as “Prince of Wales” (Principe de Gales), while rival newspaper
Marca went for the headline “Prince of Goals” (Principe de
Goles).
“It is always a pleasure to score but even more when you are
able to score a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabéu,” Bale told
reporters after grabbing the match ball. “I am very happy here.
I needed time to adapt after not having a proper pre-season but
now I am improving. I want to continue improving and working
hard in the matches and in training and learn from the best like
Cristiano Ronaldo.”
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Rory Mcllroy claims first title of the year with a dramatic
victory at the Australian Open
Photograph: SNTV
Campbell Brown of the Gold Coast Suns. Photograph: Theron
Kirkman/AAP Image
Gold Coast Suns suspend Campbell
Brown after incident
• Incident left team-mate Steven May with
a broken jaw
• Brown’s AFL career hanging by a thread
AAP
Gold Coast have suspended Campbell Brown while the AFL club
investigate an overseas incident that left team-mate Steven May
with a broken jaw.
Brown’s AFL career hangs by a thread following the incident
last week in Los Angeles. Suns chairman John Witheriff wrote
an open letter to supporters on Sunday, a day after May had
surgery in Australia.
Witheriff said in the letter that May needed two plates to
repair the break in his left jaw and should return to training in a
fortnight. He added that the Suns’ board met on Thursday and
decided to suspend Brown from the club.
“Highlighting the seriousness with which the club is treating
the issue, the board agreed to delegate its authority to make a
decision on the matter to two board members — myself, and Mr
Bob East,” Witheriff said.
“Following the board meeting, the club notified Campbell
Brown that he would be suspended from the club until the
completion of the investigation. Campbell understands
the suspension and is co-operating fully with the on-going
investigation.”
Witheriff said the investigation was being conducted in “a
timely manner”.
“I must stress that the board is committed to a fair
and appropriate outcome,” he said. “The integrity of the
investigation is my dominant concern.”
The incident happened outside a Los Angeles nightclub,
following Gold Coast’s pre-season camp in Arizona. There are
unconfirmed reports that shortly before the incident May was
trying to re-enter the nightclub to take a photo of pop star
Rihanna.
Hawthorn star Josh Gibson, an old team-mate of Brown’s,
is also understood to have been with the group of Suns players
when the incident happened. Brown already was set to miss the
opening round of next season because of suspension.
Rory McIlroy pips Adam Scott on final
hole to win Australian Open
• Final day — Matt Cleary’s hole-by-hole
report
• Northern Irishman claims first title of year
• Scott bogeys final hole after leading from
start
Reuters
Rory McIlroy claimed his first title of the year at the Australian
Open by a single shot after home favourite Adam Scott bogeyed
the final hole to lose a tournament he had dominated since the
opening day.
McIlroy, who swallowed up Scott’s four-shot overnight lead
in the first eight holes, nervelessly sank a 10-foot birdie putt at
the 18th to finish on 18-under-par for the tournament with a
final round seven-under 66.
Scott, who was seeking a rare “triple crown” of Australian
titles after winning the PGA and Masters, missed a string of
chances over the back nine to extend his lead and held just a
single-shot advantage heading to the 72nd hole.
After firing his approach over the back of the green, the
world number two overcooked his chip and sent the ball racing
back past the hole before coming up short with a 40-foot par
putt to give McIlroy a chance he grasped with both hands.
“It’s hard not to feel some sort of guilt in the way that I won
it,” said two-times major champion McIlroy, who had been
facing a first winless season since 2008.
“It’s been a frustrating year but I’ve worked hard and it’s
been a process, trying to get back to winning golf tournaments,
and it was nice to do that today.”
In what emerged as a virtual matchplay contest, the pair
played together over the final two rounds in front of packed
galleries bathed in sunshine at the Royal Sydney Golf Club.
Scott, who had led from the first day of the tournament
when he smashed the course record with a 10-under 62,
finished with a 71 for second place on 17-under, six clear of John
Senden (66) in third.
“I’m disappointed to make an error at the last and open the
door for Rory,” Scott said. “I was kind of trying to keep it closed
all day the best I could.
“Nothing was going my way on the greens today. I could
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have put this thing away I think early on if the putter was
behaving how it should have . . . “
Bryden Mcpherson and Rhein Gibson, who both shot 69s to
share fourth on nine-under, joined fellow Australian Senden in
qualifying for next year’s Open Championship at Hoylake.
Scott had started the day with a three-putt bogey at the first
but reclaimed the shot when he smashed a superb second shot
from the fairway with a wood to set up a birdie at the second.
McIlroy missed a birdie putt at the third but took a stroke out
of Scott’s lead at the fifth when a sublime approach shot set him
up for a birdie.
Another long and accurate iron shot at the par-five seventh
gave him an eagle and when Scott missed a four-foot birdie
putt, the lead was reduced to just one stroke.
McIlroy drew level when he sank a six-foot putt to pick up a
shot at the eighth before Scott lipped out with his shorter birdie
putt at the same hole.
The roles were reversed at the ninth, where McIlroy missed
his birdie putt by less than an inch while Scott drained a six-
footer to reach the turn a shot in front at 17-under.
The pair parred the next four holes and both had eagle
chances at the 13th, with Scott coming closest when his first
putt shaved the cup before tapping in to match McIlroy’s birdie.
Scott had another chance to go two ahead after McIlroy
found a bunker at the par-five 16th but the Australian three-
putted from the front of the green to match the Northern
Irishman’s par.
Scott wasted another opportunity to pad his advantage
to a couple of shots at the par-three 17th when he lipped out
again following a brilliant tee shot, leaving McIlroy to take full
advantage in a dramatic conclusion to an absorbing contest.
“I just sort of stayed patient, I knew that anything can
happen on this golf course, if you just hit it into a tricky spot
like Adam did on 18,” McIlroy added. “Luckily I was just able to
make that putt at the end when I needed it.”
Scott said his final hole meltdown would not ruin a year in
which he became the first Australian to win the US Masters.
“It’s just the way golf is,” the 33-year-old said. “I’m gutted. I
felt like I never had a better chance to win the Aussie Open but
it was tight the whole back nine. Rory played so good.”