Wales edge out Junior Springboks with last-minute score
The Junior Springboks suffered the heartbreak of conceding a last-minute try and conversion to be edged out of the Junior World Championships, 18-17, (halftime 6-7) by Wales in Vannes, France, on Tuesday.
The Junior Boks had twice come from behind to hold the lead in the final quarter and looked on course for a place in Sunday’s final and a chance to retain the world crown they won in Cape Town 12 months ago.
Lock forward Irne Herbst collected a short throw at the front of the lineout to crash over for the first try and give South Africa a 7-6 lead on the half hour. Then, replacement flank Kwagga Smith, reclaimed the lead for South Africa with the second try on the hour to make it 14-11.
Handré Pollard had converted both tries and added a penalty to give South Africa a 17-11 with five minutes remaining. However, Wales right wing Ashley Evans dived on flyhalf Sam Davies’ chip into the in goal area and Davies then converted from wide out on the right to give Wales a last-gasp victory.
South Africa – Tries: Irne Herbst, Kwagga Smith. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard.
Wales – Tries: Ellis Jenkins, Ashley Evans. Conversion: Sam Davies. Penalties: Sam Davies (2)
Semenya in ‘race against time’ to qualify for IAAF
Caster Semenya hopes to return to competition at the end of next month, according to her agent Jukka Harkonen.
Semenya enters a race against time to qualify for this year’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.
The 22-year-old 800m specialist was adjusting well after undergoing rehabilitation for a recurring left knee injury, Harkonen said on Tuesday.
“She is recovering very well and practice is going well,” he said.
Semenya had struggled with an imbalance in her leg strength since she was a child, according to Harkonen.
“The knee injury is a very old one that she picked up when she was young – about 12 years old – when she was in Limpopo.
“That operation was not a very good one and the knee has been a big problem during all these years.”
However, extensive rehabilitation seemed to have rectified the problem, and Semenya was eager to return to the track after 10 months on the sidelines.
Olympic silver medalist
Perhaps South Africa’s most successful track athlete in recent years, Semenya has not competed since she clinched the silver medal at the London Olympic Games in August.
She has performed consistently in championship events since rising from relative obscurity to win the women’s two-lap title at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.
Two years later, after bouncing back from a gender controversy, Semenya grabbed the silver medal at the global championships in Daegu, and while she showed relative immaturity in her tactical approach in the Olympic final, she again stepped on the podium.
“She has done lot of rehab to get that leg as strong as the other one, and now the power of the legs are nearly the same,” Harkonen said.
“We have not decided yet on races, but if all goes well she will start to compete in late July.”
The qualifying window for the global championships in Moscow, in August, closes on July 29, and Semenya will hope to add her name to South Africa’s growing list of qualifiers.
Long jumper Khotso Mokoena, an Olympic silver medallist, was the latest athlete to qualify when he leaped a season’s best 8.3m in Bad Langensalza, Germany, on Saturday.
According to the IAAF A-standard criteria, 32 SA athletes have qualified in their events to compete at the global showpiece.
However, 10 of those athletes are male marathon runners, and only five athletes from the same country can compete in that event.
Six others – Simon Magakwe (100m), Lehann Fourie (110m hurdles), Burger Lambrechts (shot put), Victor Hogan (discus throw), Chris Harmse (hammer throw) and Lebogang Shange (20km walk) – have not achieved the A-standard marks in their events, but qualify automatically as African champions in their disciplines. – Sapa
England, South Africa look to ride their luck
England and South Africa will hope lady luck does not desert them when they clash in the Champions Trophy semi-final at the Oval in London on Wednesday.
Both sides, aiming to end a frustrating wait for a major one-day title, are fortunate to make the last four in the eight-nation tournament, saved either by the weather or their rivals’ bad luck. South Africa sneaked a tie — and gain a valuable point — at Cardiff last week when rain forced the game to end with the West Indies on the exact Duckworth-Lewis par score of 190-6 in 26.1 overs.
If Keiron Pollard had not been dismissed off what turned out to be the last ball of the match, the West Indies would have won the game and qualified for the semi-finals after being ahead of the D/L target at that stage.
England were lucky the weather favoured them in Cardiff on Sunday as the hosts squeezed out a 10-run win over New Zealand in a game reduced to 24-overs-a-side due to rain. A washed-out match or a defeat would almost certainly have knocked England out of the race and lifted the Black Caps into the semi-finals along with either Sri Lanka or Australia.
Eventually, England topped group A by virtue of a superior net run-rate over Sri Lanka, who drew level on four points following a 20-run win over defending champions Australia at the Oval on Monday. Last year, England and South Africa drew a one-day series 2-2 after the Proteas came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the final game at Nottingham by seven wickets.
South African captain AB de Villiers said he expected another close contest between two “world-class” sides. “England will be the favourites because they are playing at home and know the conditions well,” de Villers said on Tuesday. “But I think it is pretty much 50-50.
“It’s up to the team which rocks up with the right attitude that can take that momentum early on and run with it. We’ll be looking to do exactly that and adapt to conditions as quickly as possible. England are a world class team and so are we. It’s going to be a great game.”
The South African captain said the only way his team can get rid of the label of ‘chokers’ was to win the tournament. “I believe all teams choke in certain situations,” he said. “It’s just that somehow we managed to get that tag behind our names. Unless we win this tournament, people will continue to say we are chokers. But it is not something that bothers us.”
De Villers said premier fast bowler Dale Steyn, who missed two of the three games due to a side strain, was “close to 100%” fit, but insisted his team can win even without him.. England skipper Alastair Cook said his team was excited about playing in a major semi-final.
“It’s such an exciting place for a player to be,” he said. “We have come here to try and win the tournament. We have got an amazing opportunity to try and do that and both sides will be excited about that. It’s another day tomorrow. It’s another game. What’s gone on in the past has no relevance.”
Ethiopian blunder could aid Bafana
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia soccer officials have admitted fielding an ineligible player in a World Cup qualifier and are resigned to being stripped of three points, potentially handing South Africa and Botswana a 2014 lifeline.
“We have evaluated the situation and we came across the issue that we made a mistake,” Ethiopian Football Federation president Sahilu Gebremariam told Reuters.
Soccer’s world governing body FIFA announced on Sunday it was investigating allegations that Ethiopia had fielded an ineligible player in a qualifier against Botswana on June 8.
The announcement came hours after a 2-1 win over South Africa in Addis Ababa secured them top place in Group A and a place in the final phase of the African qualifiers for the 2014 finals in Brazil.
That win also appeared to have ended the hopes of 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa and Botswana reaching next year’s finals as Ethiopia had opened up what was an unassailable five-point lead in the group.
However, a place in the final round of qualifying will once again be up for grabs from Group A if, as expected, Ethiopia are docked three points for including a suspended player in their line-up on June 8.
If the points are redistributed, Ethiopia will have 10 points, South Africa will be on eight and Botswana on seven with each team having one match left to play in Round 2.
Ethiopia should not have fielded Minyahile Beyene in their 2-1 win in Botswana on June 8 as the midfielder was suspended for the match after picking up two yellow cards in previous qualifiers.
He was yellow carded in the 1-1 draw with South Africa last June, and then again in a 1-0 win over Botswana in March.
World Cup rules dictate that once a player has received two cautions in the qualifying campaign, he has an automatic one-match ban.
“We accepted the allegation, that this was inappropriate. There won’t be an appeal from us being lodged,” added Gebremariam.
‘We are not frustrated at all since we are still leading the group. The only thing to do now is to concentrate for the next game. I am confident that we will do our best.”
In their last Round 2 matches on September 6, Ethiopia play away against Central African Republic, while South Africa host Botswana.
Africa has seen an unprecedented number of disciplinary actions from FIFA against countries in the 2014 qualifying campaign.
Burkina Faso and Gabon lost points for fielding Cameroon-born players who were ineligible to play for their national teams and Sudan lost three points for using a suspended player.
There also cases pending against Equatorial Guinea, for using imported players from Brazil and Colombia in their recent World Cup qualifiers, and Togo, who played with an ineligible player when they beat Cameroon earlier this month. – Reuters
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