independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

In Brief: Harrington in final day frame

GOLF: One year on from last-man-in Branden Grace winning the Volvo Golf Champions, Scotland's Scott Jamieson could well do exactly the same thing at Durban Country Club today.

The 29-year-old from Glasgow will take a five-stroke lead into the final round of the European Tour's opening event of the year.

Ireland's Padraig Harrington posted a five-under 67 third round to move within seven shots of the leader. Shane Lowry lies a shot further back on seven-under-par for the tournament.

Meanwhile, Michael Hoey and Darren Clarke are at four-under and two-under, respectively.

* * * * *

ATHLETICS: Fionnuala Britton continued her 100 per cent start to 2013 by comfortably retaining yesterday's IAAF International cross-country in Antrim.

The double European cross-country champion built on last week's victory in Edinburgh, showed her now-typical race plan, taking the race to the field and opening a 15-second gap on the chasing pack.

English marathon runner Louise Damon gave chase but could not close the gap on the Wicklow woman, while Kenya's Madaglene Massai and Ireland's Linda Byrne battled for the bronze medal.

Britton came home 15 seconds clear of Damon, clocking 18 minutes 17 seconds for the flat Antrim cross with Masai proving her strength over Linda Byrne to take bronze.

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BASKETBALL: UL are one step away from retaining their Women's Super League Cup after overcoming Wildcats by 85-46 at the Neptune Stadium last night.

Rachel Vanderwal spearheaded UL's charge in the first quarter with eight points, with Rachel Clancy then landing two outside shots to leave them 24-11 up at the interval. From there, UL never looked back and put the game to bed in the third quarter.

The seniors men's Cup semi-finals saw Dan Griffin land crucial baskets in the final quarter to hand Team Mary's St Garvey's a 74-70 win over Killester, while Kyle Hosford (22 points) was the driving force in Blue Demons' 71-51 win over St Brendan's

Tralee Imperials, meanwhile, will meet Oblate Dynamos in the senior women's final after their 68-48 win over Kerry neighbours Team Tom McCarthy's.

* * * * *

RUGBY: Centre Brendan Macken struck for tries either side of the break to put Leinster A in control of Pool 5 of the British & Irish Cup at Donnybrook yesterday, prevailing 21-9 over Pontypridd.

Outhalf Noel Reid shot Leinster in front after handy work at the ruck. Dai Flanagan replied when Dominic Ryan blocked left wing Owen Williams from the restart.

Reid found the target twice only to be matched by Flanagan's flighted kicks to level things before the half at 9-9.

Then, Leinster's Reid shot between two defenders, delivering a slick inside ball for centre Macken on the cutback for the opening try, Reid converting for 16-9 at the interval.

Macken's second try in the 41st minute sealed it.

* * * * *

Defending champions Munster overcame Aberavon to keep their quarter-final hopes on course in the British & Irish Cup, winning 18-14, but despite their domination Munster only managed a Ronan O'Mahoney try in the first half to lead 10-3 at the break.

In the second half, Danny Barnes powered over before a second JJ Hanrahan penalty stretched the lead to 18-3. Aberavon took advantage of a Munster yellow card and produced a try and two penalties, but Munster clung on.

* * * * *

Connacht Eagles lost out to Newcastle for the second time this season in the British and Irish Cup as Dean Richards' side proved too powerful at Kingston Park yesterday, winning 16-6.

A first-half Jonny Golding try set Newcastle on their way to a fifth consecutive Pool 4 win, with two penalties from Tadhg Leader keeping Connacht in touch after the restart.

But Joel Hodgson kicked three penalties for the hosts as Nigel Carolan's youthful side defended manfully to hold the Falcons to just one try ahead of next weekend's final game against Newport.

* * * * *

TENNIS: Andy Murray is hoping to build on a year of firsts as he targets back-to-back grand slam titles at the Australian Open.

The 25-year-old Scot ended his long quest to win a major at last year's US Open, shortly after claiming gold at the London Olympics. He is looking to improve further in 2013.

"I kept saying that once you get to your mid-20s it's important to try to find things to improve on and do things that you've never done or things you haven't achieved before."

* * * * *

IRELAND'S James Cluskey yesterday made a tremendous start to the new year when he came up trumps in the doubles final of his first tournament in 2013 as he and Germany's Alexander Satschko saw off German duo Dominique Denis Maden and Yannick Maden on a 6-0 6-1 scoreline.

In Friday's semi-finals, the 26-year-old Dubliner and Satschko defeated Croatia's Marin Draganja and Germany's Kevin Krawietz 6-4 6-3.

* * * * *

CRICKET: Faf du Plessis registered his second Test century and Dean Elgar his first before South Africa declared in a commanding position against New Zealand in the second Test in Port Elizabeth.

Graeme Smith called his players off on 525-8 after Elgar struck a four to reach 103.

South Africa lead the two-Test series 1-0.

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