- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Lions salvage pride in final test
Noppawan wins girls’ title at Wimbledon
Battle for the
Ashes starts this week
Lions salvage pride in final test
Johannesburg (AP) - The British and Irish Lions won the
final test but South Africa captain John Smit held the trophy that said
his team had won the series.
The Lions scored more tries and outscored the Springboks 74 points to 63
over the three-test series, yet world champion South Africa won the
first two tests that mattered.
Whatever the outcome, the disputes over foul play, rule interpretations
and whether Lions head coach Ian McGeechan congratulated South Africa
coach Peter de Villiers after the second test in Pretoria, one thing
Lions’s Shane Williams (left) evades South Africa’s Jaque Fourie (right)
to score a try in the first half of the third test at Ellis Park stadium
in Johannesburg, Saturday July 4. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Lions tours are here to stay and remain, outside of the World Cup, the
biggest events in rugby - ahead of the Tri Nations or the Six Nations
“It’s the biggest jersey that any one of us can put on,” Lions captain
Paul O’Connell said after his team’s 28-9 victory in Saturday’s final
test. He has just come off Ireland’s first Grand Slam triumph since 1948
and first championship since the 1985 Six Nations.
He also led the Lions to a win that tied his team’s biggest ever victory
on South African turf - 28-9 in Pretoria in 1974, and ended a run of
seven test losses in a row. The Lions still haven’t won a series,
however, since their last visit to South Africa 12 years ago.
“They are tough tours but they are fabulous. Like today will be a moment
to remember for a lot of guys’ careers for a lot of years to come,”
O’Connell said. “It would have been tough to look some of those ’74 and
’97 guys in the eye if it had been no win, so today is a good day for a
lot of them.”
Even though the pro game has delivered big salaries, and club
competitions have grown in stature, players from South Africa, New
Zealand and Australia still savor the arrival of the top stars of
England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland in the famous red shirts and with
up to 25,000 fans with them.
Springboks captain John Smit, who has led the team to a World Cup
triumph and has led them 54 times in 84 tests, scored a try in his first
Lions game in the opening test at Durban.
“It was an amazing experience from start to finish, from the day the
Lions arrived,” Smit said. “It is still one of the most prized things
rugby has to offer. The toughness of game, the competitiveness of the
series, how close it was. If anything should be kept, the Lions should
O’Connell said that the previous two results - 26-21 in Durban and 28-25
in Pretoria - could have gone either way and was thankful at least one
victory was achieved.
“For a lot of us this week was one of the toughest in our careers,”
O’Connell said. “It could have been one of the most exciting in our
careers. But it could have been a long summer if we hadn’t won today.”
The first test at Kings Park saw the South Africans threaten a record
victory when they led 26-7 early in the second half, only for the Lions
to take advantage of premature Springbok substitutions to get within
The second at Loftus Versfeld saw the Lions lead 19-8 only for two
second half tries and a match winning 53-meter kick by Morne Steyn to
win the match and the series for the Boks.
Both teams made big changes for the final game at Ellis Park but for
Boks coach Peter de Villiers, criticized by the Lions for apparently
condoning what was perceived to be eye gouging by flanker Schalk Burger
on Ireland winger Luke Fitzgerald, started only five of the team that
won in Pretoria. That was partly to give back-up players an outing, and
partly because Burger was starting an eight-week suspension and Botha,
whose challenge dislocated Adam Jones’ shoulder, was out for two,
despite an appeal.
The Lions were forced into seven changes by injuries to stars such as
centers Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts and props Gethin Jenkins and
But the Lions proved better than the backup Boks with Shane Williams -
overlooked as a starter for the first two tests even though he was voted
IRB player of the year for 2008 - scoring two tries and Ugo Monye an
opportunist one from an interception in the Lion’s 22.
Stephen Jones followed up his 20 points at Pretoria with 13 more at
Ellis Park and South Africa’s points came from three penalties by Morne
“A very pleasant victory,” said McGeechan, who has been on seven Lions
tours as player or coach but says he won’t do it again. “This victory
lasts for four years.”
Noppawan wins girls’
title at Wimbledon
Wimbledon (AP) - Noppawan Lertcheewakarn
of Thailand won the girls’ title at Wimbledon on
Saturday, using a steady serve to beat top
seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 3-6, 6-3,
6-1 and become the first Thai tennis player to
win a singles event at a Grand Slam tournament.
Lertcheewakarn kisses the winners trophy after
defeating Kristina Mladenovic of France in the
Wimbledon girls’ singles final. (AP Photo/Anja
The 17-year-old Noppawan, a native of Chiang
Mai, landed 69 percent of her first serves
against Mladenovic on Court No. 1, far better
than her opponent’s 40 percent. Although
Noppawan had only nine winners in the match, she
was helped by Mladenovic’s 39 unforced errors.
After losing the first set 3-6, Noppawan
reversed the scoreline in the second set and
stormed through the final set 6-1 as more and
more errors began to creep into her opponent’s
Noppawan lost in the Wimbledon girls final last
year, but then won the girls’ doubles title at
the U.S. Open with Sandra Roma. In December, she
was named girls’ ITF World Champion. She also
won the girls’ doubles title with Elena Bogdan
of Romania at the French Open this year, and at
press time was also still alive in the doubles
competition at the All England Club. She was due
to partner Sally Peers of Australia in the final
on Sunday against the second seeds Kristina
Mladenovic and Silvia Njiric.
Battle for the
Ashes starts this week
One of the most eagerly anticipated and
oldest rivalries in sport gets underway this
week when England’s cricket team take on the
‘auld enemy’ Australia in a five match test
series with the famous Ashes urn up for grabs.
The first test begins at Cardiff on Wednesday,
July 8 with the concluding match being held at
the Oval cricket ground in London from August
20-24. In between time there will be three Test
Matches at Lords (Jul 16-20), Edgbaston (Jul
30–Aug 3) and Headingly (Aug 7-11). The Chiang
Mai Mail will keep you updated on all the action
from the Ashes series as it progresses. (AP
Photo/ Tom Hevezi)
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