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Ankle sprain relief for Earls

RUGBY: There was relief for Keith Earls, Munster and Ireland rugby yesterday when it was confirmed that the 22-year-old suffered nothing more than an ankle sprain after a non-contact incident in training last week.

While the three-quarter had been progressing well in his recovery from a groin problem when the ankle injury occurred, Earls will not be able to resume training for "several weeks".

Meanwhile, Ireland's women's team will go in search of a fifth-place finish when they take on the USA in the penultimate game of their World Cup campaign in England today (4.30pm).

Tour star Fignon dies from cancer

CYCLING: Laurent Fignon, who twice won the Tour de France but was defeated by American rival Greg LeMond in arguably the event's greatest race, died yesterday at the age of 50 after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Fignon, who won the Tour in 1983 and 1984, will always be remembered for finishing just eight seconds behind LeMond in the 1989 Tour de France.

The Frenchman also won the 1989 Giro d'Italia and the Milan-San Remo in 1988 and 1989.

After retiring, he managed races, most notably the Paris-Nice event until 2004, before turning his hand to television work with French television.

Meanwhile, at the Vuelta a Espana yesterday, Igor Anton gave the Spanish their first home stage winner after he won a mountainous fourth leg. Belgium's Philippe Gilbert remained the overall leader, while Nicolas Roche climbed to 11th overall after finishing eighth yesterday.

Philip Deignan finished 186th yesterday, which saw him drop 30 places to 162nd overall.

Johnston shines as Irish in charge

CRICKET: Trent Johnston took three wickets in four balls in Toronto yesterday to put Ireland in a dominant position in their must-win Intercontinental Cup match against Canada. Johnston grabbed another two wickets in his second spell and claimed figures of 5-23 as the home side were dismissed for only 120 soon after lunch on the first day of the scheduled four-day game.

Paul Stirling sped the defending champions towards the all-important first-innings points with a typically robust 45.


MAJOR LEAGUE: Baltimore 5 Boston 2, NY Yankees 9 Oakland 3, Cleveland 3 Chicago White Sox 4, Cleveland 3 Toronto 13, Tampa Bay 5 Atlanta 9, Florida 1 NY Mets 2, Florida 1 Washington 0 (10 innings), Cincinnati 8 Milwaukee 4, Houston 3 St Louis 0.