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Owen Farrell rebuffs claims British & Irish Lions will be underprepared

• Farrell insists Lions’ world-class players will be ready for tour start
• ‘We’ll be on the same page. This squad can challenge anyone’

Owen Farrell insists the British & Irish Lions will not arrive in New Zealand underprepared despite taking off just two days after the end of the domestic season as part of a gruelling tour schedule that has come in for fierce criticism of late.

The Lions fly from Heathrow on Monday and land on Wednesday – stopping overnight in Melbourne – leaving only three days to prepare for the tour opener against the New Zealand Barbarians. In all, Warren Gatland’s troops play 10 matches in six weeks – a schedule labelled “suicidal” by Sir Graham Henry, the 2001 Lions coach and 2011 World Cup winner with New Zealand – and gathered together as a whole squad for just the second time on Sunday.

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Takuma Sato wins Indy 500 as engine failure ends Fernando Alonso’s race

  • Forty-year-old Japanese driver wins 101st running of Indianapolis 500
  • Two-time F1 world champion Alonso held lead before race ended early

Takuma Sato has won the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 after a dramatic race at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 40-year-old Japanese driver came through in the last few laps of the race to take victory over Hélio Castroneves in second.

Sato, a former Formula One driver, had only won one IndyCar race previously since joining the series in 2010. He had come close to winning the race in 2012, however, when he crashed out on the final lap as he battled Dario Franchitti for the lead. This time he held his nerve to give Andretti Autosport its third victory in four years at the Brickyard and shouted “Awesome!” into his radio as his win was confirmed. Ed Jones, Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.

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French Open 2017: Dan Evans puts up fight before losing to Tommy Robredo

• Robredo wins 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in draining heat
• Evans hampered by stomach cramps after fine start

Dan Evans remains convinced he will never fall in love with clay but, for the first half of his losing match against Tommy Robredo in draining heat over four sets on the first day of the 2017 French Open, his aversion to the dirt looked to be a grand bluff.

The elegant Birmingham strokemaker might never master the surface that so bothers those brought up on grass or hard courts yet, before his stamina leaked and stomach cramps kicked in, he mixed selective power and teasing touches of the highest class to raise hopes of what he, at least, would have regarded as an upset.

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Aidan O’Brien first to sweep Guineas board as Winter triumphs at Curragh

• Ryan Moore pays tribute to O’Brien: ‘He sees things from a different direction’
• Trainer limits news of his Derby hopes to: ‘We have six very strong possibles’

Aidan O’Brien became the first trainer to sweep the Guineas in England and in Ireland when Winter loped clear of her rivals in the 1,000 Guineas here on Sunday. Like her stablemate Churchill on Saturday, she was following up on an authoritative success in the Newmarket equivalent three weeks ago and, also like him, she is now an even-money favourite for a Royal Ascot race next month – in her case, the Coronation Stakes.

O’Brien has enjoyed so many such victories that even dedicated racing fans can hardly be expected to be thrilled by each one, especially when he wins yet another Irish Classic and when the winner is unbackably short, as Winter was at odds of 8-13. But the significance of this particular achievement should not be missed.

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson misses out in ‘greatest ever’ heptathlon

• Briton can only finish fourth despite setting new personal best
• Nafissatou Thiam becomes first athlete in 10 years to reach 7,000 points

“So Kat, is your glass half empty or half full after that?” When the question came, at the end of probably the greatest heptathlon in history, Katarina Johnson-Thompson mustered a smile. But it was tinged with what-might-have-beens.

The 24-year-old had just set a personal best of 6,691 points, a tally that would not only have won her bronze at last year’s Olympics but a podium spot in every heptathlon competition ever. Yet here, at the prestigious Hypomeeting in Austria, it had only been good enough for fourth.

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Tom Curry stands out in pragmatic England’s win over Barbarians | Gerard Meagher

Eddie Jones is looking for young players to force their way into his England team and Tom Curry impressed, as did the abrasive Ellis Genge

Considering that Eddie Jones has admitted to feeling “filthy” for more than a month after England’s defeat by Ireland, this stilted if spirited victory can at least be viewed as the start of the cleansing process.

It was not the grand unveiling to the second phase of his master plan – eight uncapped starters and a feisty Barbarians side made sure it was never going to be – but winning is an addictive habit for Jones and he will care little that there was barely a sparkle in an exhibition match that tends to offer the promise of fireworks.

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Reading’s Chris Gunter: ‘In one match, it is two years of your life’

As Reading’s Wales defender prepares for his 57th match of season in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield, he says: ‘These types of games can change people’s lives’

As Chris Gunter rattles through the names of the friends and family who will be sat – perhaps stood, celebrating – inside Wembley on Monday, the very sense of occasion becomes abundantly clear. In the absence of Paul McShane, Gunter will captain Reading against Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final, where both teams will fight it out for a place in the Premier League.

Moments before this interview at Reading’s Hogwood Park training ground Gunter is doing the mental maths, double-checking with Lynne, the club’s football administrator, that his loved ones have the necessary tickets. He is no stranger to this situation, having been part of the Wales team that reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals. “This is a lot easier than last summer,” the 27-year-old says, smiling as he alludes to factoring-in flights, differing time zones and his brother Marc’s wedding in Mexico.

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Alex Noren hits course record to win BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth

• Swede finishes -10 to secure his ninth European Tour title
• Noren overturned seven-point deficit to clinch victory on West Course

Alex Noren has won the BMW PGA Championship after hitting an incredible course record -10 on the final day at Wentworth. The Swede’s score of 62 was enough to clinch his ninth European Tour title and hold off the likes of Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari.

Noren, who won four times in 11 events last season, began the day seven shots off the lead but raced to the turn in 31 and picked up further birdies on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th.

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Blackpool’s Mark Cullen sinks Exeter City in League Two play-off final

Blackpool bounced back to League One at the first time of asking with victory over Exeter City in the League Two play-off final at Wembley, with Mark Cullen poking home the winner midway through the second half to spark joyous scenes in the Tangerine half of the stadium. Well, a corner of it anyway.

That so few Blackpool fans – little more than 5,000 – were here to witness what should have been a celebratory occasion is testament to the depth of resentment against the Oyston family’s ownership of the club. This result will prompt mixed feelings for those on the Fylde coast who fear a victory for the team is a victory for the regime.

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Blackpool’s Mark Cullen sinks Exeter City in League Two play-off final

Blackpool bounced back to League One at the first time of asking with victory over Exeter City in the League Two play-off final at Wembley, with Mark Cullen poking home the winner midway through the second half to spark joyous scenes in the Tangerine half of the stadium. Well, a corner of it anyway.

That so few Blackpool fans – little more than 5,000 – were here to witness what should have been a celebratory occasion is testament to the depth of resentment against the Oyston family’s ownership of the club. This result will prompt mixed feelings for those on the Fylde coast who fear a victory for the team is a victory for the regime.

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Blackpool beat Exeter City in League Two play-off final

Mark Cullen and Brad Potts starred to help Blackpool return to League One at the first time of asking with victory over Exeter in the play-off final.With the game’s first attack, Potts found the the bottom corner after Cullen’s classy touch and flick.O…

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Hamilton retain Premiership status with win over Dundee United

Hamilton Academical retained their Scottish Premiership status thanks to Greg Docherty’s goal in Sunday’s play-off final against Dundee United.With the tie goalless after the first leg, hosts Hamilton were denied by a brilliant Paul Dixon clearance and…

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Indy 500 2017 – live!

11.48am BST

It’s the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil! Hereby known as the Indy 500. Participating in one of motor sport’s iconic races is one of Formula One’s great champions, Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard hasn’t had a whole lot of fun over the past couple of years, chugging to a halt at various F1 circuits around the world in his McLaren Honda. Faced with the familiar scrap for minor points in Monaco this weekend or taking on an entirely new challenge, Alonso elected the latter, and here he is.

He has made a promising start to life in an Indy car, qualifying fifth for the race and generally carrying the aura of a man with little to lose and everything to gain, and why not: he has the opportunity to join an elite list of F1 champions to have tasted Indy 500 success and an even smaller group who have done it as a rookie.

Related: The plan to make Fernando Alonso a 35-year-old rookie Indy 500 champion

I walked out of the hospital today. On to rehab now! pic.twitter.com/bwTOsBNDaD

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Indy 500 2017 – live!

11.48am BST

It’s the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil! Hereby known as the Indy 500. Participating in one of motor sport’s iconic races is one of Formula One’s great champions, Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard hasn’t had a whole lot of fun over the past couple of years, chugging to a halt at various F1 circuits around the world in his McLaren Honda. Faced with the familiar scrap for minor points in Monaco this weekend or taking on an entirely new challenge, Alonso elected the latter, and here he is.

He has made a promising start to life in an Indy car, qualifying fifth for the race and generally carrying the aura of a man with little to lose and everything to gain, and why not: he has the opportunity to join an elite list of F1 champions to have tasted Indy 500 success and an even smaller group who have done it as a rookie.

Related: The plan to make Fernando Alonso a 35-year-old rookie Indy 500 champion

I walked out of the hospital today. On to rehab now! pic.twitter.com/bwTOsBNDaD

Continue reading…

0

Indy 500 2017 – live!

11.48am BST

It’s the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil! Hereby known as the Indy 500. Participating in one of motor sport’s iconic races is one of Formula One’s great champions, Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard hasn’t had a whole lot of fun over the past couple of years, chugging to a halt at various F1 circuits around the world in his McLaren Honda. Faced with the familiar scrap for minor points in Monaco this weekend or taking on an entirely new challenge, Alonso elected the latter, and here he is.

He has made a promising start to life in an Indy car, qualifying fifth for the race and generally carrying the aura of a man with little to lose and everything to gain, and why not: he has the opportunity to join an elite list of F1 champions to have tasted Indy 500 success and an even smaller group who have done it as a rookie.

Related: The plan to make Fernando Alonso a 35-year-old rookie Indy 500 champion

I walked out of the hospital today. On to rehab now! pic.twitter.com/bwTOsBNDaD

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Blackpool v Exeter City: League Two play-off final – live!

• Latest action and score from Wembley
• Email Rob at rob.smyth@theguardian.com
Blackpool fans boycott play-off final against Exeter’s jolly volunteers

3.09pm BST

9 min “Just looking at the teams’ line-ups,” says Kevin Ryan. “Blackpool have won this already by some way. Those last four substitutes: Flores, Osayi-Samuel, Delfouneso and Gnanduillet. Magnificent! What superb names! Fashion note: The Dude here is wearing a faded blue-green tee shirt by George, sun bleached blue Weird Fish cargo shorts and busted out New Balance trainers. Paul Tisdale eat your heart out!”

3.09pm BST

8 min Daniel’s cross is put behind for a Blackpool corner. Nothing comes of it. Let’s just move on.

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0

Blackpool v Exeter City: League Two play-off final – live!

• Latest action and score from Wembley
• Email Rob at rob.smyth@theguardian.com
Blackpool fans boycott play-off final against Exeter’s jolly volunteers

3.09pm BST

9 min “Just looking at the teams’ line-ups,” says Kevin Ryan. “Blackpool have won this already by some way. Those last four substitutes: Flores, Osayi-Samuel, Delfouneso and Gnanduillet. Magnificent! What superb names! Fashion note: The Dude here is wearing a faded blue-green tee shirt by George, sun bleached blue Weird Fish cargo shorts and busted out New Balance trainers. Paul Tisdale eat your heart out!”

3.09pm BST

8 min Daniel’s cross is put behind for a Blackpool corner. Nothing comes of it. Let’s just move on.

Continue reading…

0

Blackpool v Exeter City: League Two play-off final – live!

• Latest action and score from Wembley
• Email Rob at rob.smyth@theguardian.com
Blackpool fans boycott play-off final against Exeter’s jolly volunteers

3.09pm BST

9 min “Just looking at the teams’ line-ups,” says Kevin Ryan. “Blackpool have won this already by some way. Those last four substitutes: Flores, Osayi-Samuel, Delfouneso and Gnanduillet. Magnificent! What superb names! Fashion note: The Dude here is wearing a faded blue-green tee shirt by George, sun bleached blue Weird Fish cargo shorts and busted out New Balance trainers. Paul Tisdale eat your heart out!”

3.09pm BST

8 min Daniel’s cross is put behind for a Blackpool corner. Nothing comes of it. Let’s just move on.

Continue reading…

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Title race swings as Chelsea hit seven past WSL 1 leaders Liverpool

Chelsea Ladies stunned Spring Series leaders Liverpool 7-0 while Manchester City lost to Arsenal on a pivotal day in the Women’s Super League title race.Chelsea’s WSL 1 hopes are in their own hands after Gilly Flaherty, Fran Kirby, Ji So-yun, Maren Mje…

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Arsène Wenger got strategy spot on from back to front in Arsenal win | Michael Cox

Manager deserves praise for switch in strategy which won the FA Cup final as he outfoxed Antonio Conte’s efforts to reshape his lineup

Regardless of the result, this felt like a fitting end to the campaign – a match between two sides lining up with a three-man defence. It had, of course, been a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates in September which encouraged Antonio Conte to switch to his 3-4-3 system, and then Chelsea’s astonishing run of form seemingly encouraged Arsène Wenger to follow suit.

For all the pre-match speculation about Arsenal’s defensive problems and the controversial decision to play David Ospina rather than Petr Cech, Wenger’s key decision here was up front. For the 4-0 FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa two years ago, Wenger elected for the speed of Theo Walcott and omitted Olivier Giroud, and the extra pace forced Aston Villa’s defence to play deeper, creating space between the lines when their midfield tried to press, allowing Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil to run riot. Here, an almost identical thing happened – albeit with Danny Welbeck, rather than Walcott.

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