World Cup Watch: England, Croatia too tough to call

By Sports Desk July 10, 2018
Croatia vs England. Croatia vs England.

Our panel of experts believe it will be even-stevens in the tough second semi-final of the FIFA World Cup.

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  • Ten-man Molynes United stay perfect with win over Arnett Gardens Ten-man Molynes United stay perfect with win over Arnett Gardens

    Newly promoted Molynes United maintained a perfect start to the new Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) after slipping by former champions Arnett Gardens, despite going down to ten men, at the Waterhouse Stadium on Sunday.

    Nicholas Nelson gave the home team the lead in the lead in the 18th minute but was dramatically sent from the pitch only two minutes after.  His ejection left Arnett with a one-man advantage and plenty of time to turn the game around.  The team seemed to be well on their way to doing just that when Vishineul Harris equalised two minutes in the second half.

    The hosts, however, had more surprises as Tyrique Wilson fired them back into the lead in the 65th minute.  To make matters worse for Arnett, they were themselves reduced to ten men when Kimani Arbourine was sent off in the 82nd minute.  The win marked a fourth in a row for Molynes who top the RSPL standings with 12 points.

    At Harbour View Stadium, defending champions Portmore United secured their first win of the season with a 2-1 win over struggling Harbour View. 

    At the Edward Seaga Stadium, Tivoli Gardens snapped a three-game losing streak to start the season when they defeated Cavalier 2-0.  The match seemed to be headed for an even share of the points but the dismissal of Tivoli’s Clifton Woodbine gave the home team added impetus. 

    Rodrico Wellington gave Tivoli the lead six minutes later before Donovan Dawkins secured the home team their first win of the season in the 88th minute.

    At the Royal Lakes Complex, Dean-Andre Thomas scored a brace to ensure Dunbeholden kept the momentum from a narrow win over Portmore United last week, with a 2-0 win over newcomers Vere United.  Thomas scored from the penalty spot in the 40th minute before adding a second in the 83rd.

    At Effortville, Humble Lion and Waterhouse played to a 0-0 draw.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Russia v Samoa Rugby World Cup 2019: Russia v Samoa

    Vaeluaga Steve Jackson has emphasised the importance of consistency in team selection after confirming Chris Vui will captain Samoa in their Rugby World Cup clash with Russia.

    Samoa are without captain Jack Lam, who is injured, for their opening Pool A encounter in Kumagaya City on Tuesday.

    Jackson has kept faith with the majority of the side which started a 34-15 defeat to Australia in Samoa's final warm-up match, with Vui one of five changes.

    "The players that have been selected deserve their selection, especially after the Australian game," Jackson said.

    "Some players really put their hands up and that was what it was all about really. We want to keep consistency within the group and especially the starting fifteen.

    "I think we've done that - barring a few in the front row who deserve their opportunity after the Australian test."

    Russia were defeated 30-10 by hosts Japan in the World Cup's opening match, though Lyn Jones has made no changes.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Russia - Kirill Golosnitskiy

    Centre Golosnitskiy will always have the memory of scoring the first try in the 2019 World Cup. The 25-year-old also completed 90 per cent of his tackles as Russia were forced to defend for long periods after making such a fast start against Japan.

    Samoa - Tim Nanai-Williams

    Nanai-Williams, the cousin of Sonny Bill Williams, is perhaps the most notable name in the Samoa squad, having switched international allegiance from New Zealand. In a contest that Samoa will expect to win, the 30-year-old has the potential to have a decisive say on proceedings.

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - Russia are still searching for a first Rugby World Cup victory, they lost all four of their games at the 2011 edition as well as the opening match of the 2019 tournament.

    - Samoa have won only four of their last 18 Tests heading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup, losing each of their last three fixtures.

    - Samoan duo Christopher Vui (13) and Kane Leaupepe (10) won more line-outs (including steals) than any other players during the 2019 Pacific Nations Cup.

    - Kirill Golosnitskiy's fifth-minute try for Russia against Japan on Friday was the quickest try in the opening game at a World Cup, beating Israel Dagg's score in the 11th minute for New Zealand against Tonga in 2011.

    - Ed Fidow of Samoa has scored eight tries in eight Tests since making his debut in June 2018 - Samoa enjoy a 60 per cent win rate when he has crossed (W3, L2).

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Playing Tonga is like facing Stoke City - Jones Rugby World Cup 2019: Playing Tonga is like facing Stoke City - Jones

    Eddie Jones said facing Tonga was "like playing Stoke City" after England opened their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 35-3 victory on Sunday.

    England did not fully hit their stride in their first Pool C match in Sapporo, though Manu Tuilagi's first-half double put them in control.

    Jamie George and substitute Luke Cowan-Dickie got in on the act with tries to secure a bonus point in the second half, with Owen Farrell's kicking doing the rest of the damage.

    Though Jones conceded his side did not reach their highest level, he insisted he was happy with England's attitude against a side he compared to Stoke, who - during their time in the Premier League under former boss Tony Pulis – developed a reputation for a physical style of play, albeit in a different sport.

    "I was really happy with the defence and that is a good sign of the attitude of the team," Jones told a news conference.

    "I'm happy with the players' attitude and I think they applied themselves well. We didn't execute well but that is rugby.

    "It's a bit like playing Stoke City [against Tonga]. The ball went out a lot and maybe that was their intention, but importantly we got five points and no serious injuries.

    "We showed no frustration. The only time they got in our 22 was in the last minute of the game which gives you a show of the superiority we had. These are always difficult games, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    "The World Cup is not a 100-metre sprint, so you don't have to come out of the blocks and be absolutely fantastic, you have to be steady and improve. I know we'll keep improving and that's the mindset of the team."

    England struggled with their discipline early on, conceding several penalties in quick succession - one of which was converted by Sonatane Takulua.

    Jones was clearly frustrated, television pictures showed him slamming his fist down on the desk during proceedings, though the former Japan boss laughed off the suggestion his anger got the better of him.

    "There was a lot of mosquitos up there," Jones joked. "I was struggling with them and had to swat a few.

    "Look, I'm a coach, I get emotional, angry, excited, disappointed, that's all. I'll just reiterate I was so pleased with the attitude of my players today. It was fantastic."

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