The old enemy arch-rivals Australia & England are back on the field together in a while last night at the huge Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad following the recent Ashes Test series in English soil during the middle of this year (June-July).

England have asked the Aussies to bat first after the winning toss where they might have early wickets on hand, but Australia have turned themselves around though to 286 thanks to a Marnus Labuschagne 50 as well as brilliant all-round knocks from Cam Green & Marcus Stoinis. Later on, England too scored not bad this time following Jonny Bairstow’s first ball duck of their batting spell, with 50s coming from Dawid Malan & Ben Stokes including some good runs down the order by Moeen Ali. But out of the best of the all-round displays between England’s Chris Woakes & Australia’s Adam Zampa in this game, it’s Zampa who never looked out of place as the frontline spinner (3 wickets) along with his excellent 19-ball 29 cameo off the willow. 

Australia went on to not just bowl England all out for 253 thanks to a 33 run victory, but they also confirmed their elimination from the CWC with two games left where England will not defend their 2019 crown come semi-finals time after next weekend.

It’s not been the tournament England was hoping for, especially when they came in as the defending champs who play an attacking, positive style of cricket under Bazball – even though Brendon McCullum doesn’t coach their white-ball team in One Day & T20s. The bowling/on-field performance wasn’t bad to begin with where they were good at limiting to such low scores thanks to the winning toss advantage. Now their batting has improved in some way but still just couldn’t quite hold it off there when it comes to the winning runs, as no hundred being scored against at least the top teams is the one big weakness that let’s them down big time. They still got the Netherlands (Wednesday) and Pakistan (next Saturday) left to play over the next seven days before England will fly back home empty handed, but sadly it’s been largely disappointing for the majority.

Meanwhile, it’s great to see another win for the Aussies which is five games in a row now. While the first 3 batters didn’t work out where they kept on trying to hit over the ground before being caught, but great seeing Marnus pile up the runs along with both fast bowling all-rounders in Green & Stoinis. Then with the ball, It’s always the Adam Zampa show when it comes to spin who not only got away with three wickets but he also batted well a bit down the tail end at 10. He might not be the biggest hitter but at least Zampa has found the gaps really well with some simple stuff to execute through these ropes for four. Let’s hope the fast bowlers step up to support Zampa in the hope of finishing 2nd or 3rd in the ladder so they can avoid Team India with Afghanistan next on Tuesday before before finishing off the group stages v Bangladesh next Saturday.

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It was a huge weekend of World Cup cricket from a few days ago where one match was a Trans-Tasman rivalry between Australia & New Zealand while another was the host nation (India) battling up against the under-fire defending champions (England).

Australia was sent into bat after New Zealand won the toss by electing to field first as the returning Travis Head & Dave Warner got them to another best possible start, with Head backing up his 100 on his first match back from injury. Although Australia did well to keep on scoring up to 388, they were under threat by the attacking NZ side with the bat later on thanks to some spectacular knocks from Rachin Ravindra on what has been another ton, as well as 50s coming from Daryl Mitchell & Jimmy Neesham. But in the end though, the Aussies were able to put them into bed at 383-9 thanks to a narrow five run win after 50 overs of play. Meanwhile, a similar thing happened the next day to India when they were also asked to bat first after losing the toss to England. Now India might not have scored as much as they’d like especially when Virat Kohli didn’t do so well, although Rohit Sharma is still at it in his Opening role as always. However, they defended their score of 229 where the fast bowling duo of Mohammed Shami & Jasprit Bumrah dismantled England’s batting card so quickly before the opponents were all out for 129 that secured them a 100 run win.

First of all, the Blackcaps showed some good rebound with the bat after a poor showing on the field except the last couple of overs with the ball. It’s still just not enough sadly when they fell just short towards meeting that 389 run target as there’s still time to improve their fast starts (either way or hopefully with the bat next first time) as well as these catches on the field. Aussies on the other hand have been so fortunate to escape NZ’s chase on the pitch as the overs comes down where it would be great if their quicks step up when building on these early scalps other than just the usual Adam Zampa show with spin. Other than that, the opening partnership has been strong as always regardless of the other partner with Dave Warner lately including 1-2 in the middle to lower order like Glenn Maxwell, wicket keeper Josh Inglis & skipper Pat Cummins.

Then India would’ve love to score as big as they’d like where that match could go England’s way at last who is good with their so-called Bazball tactics when it comes to playing attacking cricket. But they were fortunate to shut the opposition’s batting card down as quick as they can thanks to the excellent fast bowling duo of Mohammed Shami & Jasprit Bumrah as said above including some help in the spin department from Kuldeep Yadav. And speaking of England, their bowling wasn’t bad where the could come at last after bowling them out for 229. But unfortunately, their batters still blew it up before it was too late just short of 100 runs which was the 230 run target as they are still rock bottom in this CWC.

Australia will renew its long-standing rivalry v England this Saturday while New Zealand will next be out on the field soon tonight v South Africa followed by Team India the next day v Sri Lanka.

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We’re now one match left to wrap up the 2023 Rugby World Cup tournament with the All Blacks v Springboks final around the corner tomorrow AM AEDT time where we look back at the Bronze match final between Los Pumas v England. England got off to a great start while Pumas made up some lost time with their first TRY not long from the break 10-16. Although the Pumas found the breakthrough for the lead at one point, but then England responded really well by regaining the lead before they went on to shut them out on the run home for the best of 3rd – 23-26.

Commiserations to the Pumas who didn’t play bad where they’ve caught up to the English really well including a short 2nd half lead not long after the break. But just couldn’t hold it off or get the job done under pressure where England’s great start & the way they regroup themselves with patience has saw them fell short towards the end there. Hope things will get better & strong for the Argentinians going forward to next year under the helm (Head Coach) of Aussie’s own Michael Cheika.

And England played really well as we’ve seen by taking a few safe plays with the number of three-point penalty goals for a start. Glad they’ve made some improvements here & there when it comes to collecting these big points as the game goes on, which is something they should’ve done (like five-metre line-out when it comes to a close winning penalty from the TRY area for example) against a scrambled Springboks defense during the 2nd semi last weekend. But all in all, great seeing England collect the bronze/3rd place, who has been good in the last two World Cup campaigns. They’re still the only Northern Hemisphere team so far to lift the Webb Ellis Cup once back in 2003 against the Wallabies at Stadium Australia in Sydney when No.10 Jonny Wilkinson broke their hearts at extra time courtesy of that winning drop goal through the posts, 17-20.

2023 Rugby World Cup Final Preview: All Blacks-Springboks at Stade De France

Now the tables have turned to one of the world’s long-time rivalries in World Rugby that takes place every year – All Blacks v Springboks. The Boks have won against them a few times in recent years after struggling for the majority between after the 2007 World Cup win to around 2017 beforehand including the warm-up game in London back in August, even though they’re no longer in Super Rugby & instead ply themselves in Europe. All Blacks on the other hand have been one of the world’s greatest sporting teams that everyone looks up to as their source of inspiration & they too have always been winning lots of matches here & there, but they had some downtimes too including the opening WC game v France as well as the three-match series v Ireland at home last year & they also lost to England during the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final in Japan.

Given the Boks have won three of the last six games v the ABs since 2021, their scrambled defense & the way they gradually get themselves into the game by being right on the money will be the key to their success that will leave the ABs bereft of options before being haunted at the opposition’s own danger zone. If not, look out for the ABs possession-based tactics where they will look to get the best out of their attacking football through the gate before being able to defend at ease & that is going to be the secret weapon by making the Boks difficult to chase them up during 80 minutes of play tomorrow AM.

It all comes down to just two top-quality teams in the 47th & final game of this tournament where one of them will be the first four-time Webb Ellis Cup winner in Rugby World Cup history at Paris’s Stade De France since its inception in 1987. And if I was going to pick a winner between those two, it’s going to be the All Blacks  – even though it will be a close one by seven points.

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What now for England after they lost three in a row including overnight v Sri Lanka as well as four out of their last five matches so far in the 2023 Cricket World Cup. They might have the toss advantage at the start by electing to bat first, but it’s been extremely underwhelming to say unfortunately. A mix of run-outs & mis-timed hits saw them being wiped out so fast within 35 overs for 156 before England weren’t able to stop the Sri Lankans from defending their low-scoring target of 157 with a huge eight wicket loss.

England knows how to get the ball rolling as seen in both innings spells. However, they have been stuck in a rut, particularly on the field including some of their top-order batters & they’ve haven’t shown anything like this as of late. We’ve only seen 1-2 players who can bat well in the other half batting card, such as Mark Wood last game with his 17-ball 43 v South Africa (forgot to give him a shoutout there) & Ben Stokes last night also with his 73-ball 43 display here v Sri Lanka. As said, it’s up to the on-field side of things (bowling & fielding) now in order to get back on track – which would really benefit the batters that would win them games. And in the contrary, Sri Lanka’s on-field performance has been brilliant before they got themselves home at their own pace where the communication was there that led to some good direct hits/stumping, appeals and catches amongst the scalps they’ve accrued across a few bowlers from overnight. Shoutout to Lahiru Kumara who wiped the English middle order with three wickets on hand, particularly Ben Stokes. With the bat, Pathum Nissanka has remained calm & composed as always from the beginning with a 83-ball 77 that includes the winning runs, while Sadeera Samarawickrama also did well to help bring the Sri Lankans home with Nissanka after he too scored so quickly at 65 runs not out off 54 balls.

England’s next game is against the in-form India side this Sunday which is going to be extremely difficult whereas the Sri Lankans hope to keep their World Cup semis hope alive when they battle v Afghanistan the next day on Monday.

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The 2023 Rugby World Cup Final is all set through the best of the two Southern Hemisphere teams & also both 3 x champions, whom they’ve shared a lot of history together as rivals that happens every year via The Rugby Championship & also the Freedom Cup Series trophy. It’s the All Blacks v Springboks for the Webb Ellis Trophy next Sunday AM at 6am AEDT at Stade De France in Paris (You can watch that big final match-up live & free on 9Gem). Plus, Los Pumas will take on England the day beforehand (also 6am Saturday AM AEDT) when it comes to the best of 3rd place in the Bronze Medal Final.

Los Pumas might have opened the scoresheet first via the penalty goal (and also collected the 2nd three-pointer later during the first half), but the ABs were too good fair & square all along from 6-20 at half-time to 6-44 in the end off the back from the Will Jordan hat-trick brace on his wide right role. Meanwhile, the 2nd semi game was a close one where the first half was full of three-point kicks with England leading the way v the Boks 12-6. Later on the Boks responded to Owen Farell’s drop goal with the one & only big score of their own before a successful scrum penalty saw their own No.10 Handre Pollard kick that winning three-point conversion from such a long distance with four minutes left towards the end by a one-point win 15-16.

Not the day the Pumas was hoping for where the first points were there off the back of the winning penalties, even though it’s just through a penalty kick conversion. But their open play performances wasn’t the same where the Pumas unfortunately didn’t score any big points as the ABs were simply too good for them. Speaking of ABs, they were outstanding from start to finish. They’ve  been patient with the ball on hand that dominated easy possession v the Pumas, while the passage of play & execution with the safety of their numbers has been effective in order to get the job done.

Looking at England now, they weren’t bad for a start in the way they use their winning penalties towards a shot between the sticks. I don’t blame them for that strategy one bit but it would’ve been better if they took a bit more risk by dismantling a robust Boks defense when it comes to the big points where holding on such a small lead was sadly backfired towards the end there. And the Boks are on their way on what is going to be another World Cup final at the same place they’ve last won back in 2007 also against England. They did so well to keep up with the English initially with the winning penalties before the Boks finally found a way to split their territory while dominating the rest of the match in all areas with the match-winning penalty goal to savour as a fourth title awaits to whichever winning team comes out first alongside fellow 3 x World Champs the ABs.

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It’s no surprise last night that the Proteas has scored even big against England despite the loss of toss, having made a whopping 399 runs throughout their 50-Over batting shift before they’ve bowled them all out for 170 that sums up a 229 run victory when the English couldn’t meet the huge 400 run target within 22 overs.

Wow!! Well batted by the Proteas where a few of them did brilliantly to keep the flow of runs going from start to finish. Great seeing Reeza Hendricks struck an immediate impact in the opening role after being called up last minute in place of the unwell Temba Bavuma. Plus, Rassie Van Der Dussen backed up well at the other end with his 61-ball 60 run performance, while Heinrich Klaasen went big on what has been his One Day 100. And shoutout to the tall all-rounder Marco Jansen who helped finish off the team’s excellent innings on 75 off 42 balls including two wickets that oversaw England’s top order collapse alongside Gerald Coetzee (3 wickets) off his right fast bowling hand.

Meanwhile, it’s not an easy day once again from England who suffered a shock loss against Afghanistan last weekend likewise with the Proteas after their loss to the Netherlands the other day. They fired off well thanks to the quick dismissal of keeper Quinton De Kock being caught behind 2nd ball, but Reece Topley’s damaged finger hasn’t been the same unfortunately, before he returned at the wrong time later on while Proteas kept smashing with runs everywhere downtown. Although Gus Atkinson did well on his World Cup debut where he ended the big show of Klaasen as well as a brilliant knock to stay in there from the tail on a 21-ball 35, but then the whole team couldn’t help themselves in the end – that is all I can say to the defending champs. Proteas take on Bangladesh on Tuesday while 10th-placed England v 9th-placed Sri Lanka two days later.

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The last two remaining Quarter-Final Rugby World Cup matches are now done & dusted where we’ve just witnessed something that was so extraordinary & unreal to watch. England saw off Fiji’s 2nd half comeback bid (30-24) while current champs Springboks just locked up the doors of the host nation France with a one-point win (28-29) – having came from a few points down at half-time (22-19) that sets up a 2019 Final rematch against England for semi-final 2 this Sunday AM.

Hats off to England with the win where they’re the one and only Northern Hemisphere team in the hunt for that Webb Ellis Cup after the eliminations of France, Wales & Ireland. They fired off really well to bring in the early big points as they can while their opponents were playing catch up. Yes, they may have been under threat at times, having scored no tries in the 2nd half. But England showed that were the better team thanks to holding off their small lead where another series of three-point goals was enough to see them move into the last four v Boks.

Also, how good was the Boks who absolutely broke the home nation’s hearts in front of their national stadium as the defending champs are still chasing World Cup title No.4. Gotta love their fight back and the way they controlled with the ball before the rewards were there to see every time when given the opportunity. Yes, they might have suffered some ill-discipline earlier on but they kept on scoring while showing excellent defense to stop the French in its tracks with the close win.

Meanwhile, as said with the host nation, it’s hard to see a loss at home when they came in this tournament as one of the few favourites to lift the trophy alongside Ireland & South Africa. The French opened the scoring account first as reflected with their first half display, having never been out of place to try and stop the Boks from going past their lane. But sadly the French’s 2nd half form just wasn’t the same; Yes, they’ve made some lost time as said where France were still alive all along but couldn’t escape them in the end.

And for Fiji, love their response to the opposition’s early start, especially when looking to close England down after half-time in the hope of a late win. But if the Flying Fijians scored the big points first that reflects a full 80 performance, then they would’ve knocked England out where they’ve made this deep into the last 8 thanks to some excellent growth via Fijian Drua in Super Rugby. Sadly, it’s too little, too late when they levelled the scorecard before England went on to rebound by extending their lead a bit further before their elimination was confirmed that would’ve seen Fiji round out an all Southern Hemisphere semis shootout.

All in all, here’s a few questions that we’re about to see ahead of the weekend’s semi-finals. Can the All Blacks put in another amazing show like they did the other day v World No.1 Ireland en route towards the main event final for the first time since 2015? If not, will it be Michael Cheika’s turn this time as the Los Pumas coach? Having lost to the ABs once in a World Cup match back in 2015 when the Wallabies had to settle as runners-up. Plus, will England go one better and make the Boks pay after their 2019 Final loss to the reigning champs in Japan under coach Steve Borthwick? Or can the Boks go all the way for their fourth possible big final & hopefully light up Paris once again like 2007 since they got the favourites cap on?

We shall find out by Sunday AM where two winners will go into the main event for the Webb Ellis Cup trophy while the losing two teams will play in the Bronze final for third place going into the last weekend of October.

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We’ve reached the first week of six in this year’s Cricket World Cup over in India with some exciting match-ups to kick things off, such as the 2019 Final rematch opener between England v New Zealand. England didn’t do so bad for a start thanks to Joe Root (77) earlier on of 282-9 even though they couldn’t reach 300, but that big batting partnership of Opener Devon Conway (152) & No.3 Rachin Ravindra (123) has helped NZ wow the defending champions by a nine wicket win – having each recorded their own 100s.

Sounds like NZ’s attacking approach is the original birth place of Bazball where it has been adopted to England since last year by their Test coach Brendon McCullum. Although it’s safe to say that he’s not their white-ball coach (Matthew Mott is who formerly coached the Australian women’s side), despite having a similar kind of dedicated coaching staff who shares the same philosophy as him. NZ went on to beat the Netherlands two days ago by 99 runs two days ago (Monday) while England has also recorded their first win of the 2023 CWC v Bangladesh yesterday by 137 runs.

Then the tables turn on our Aussies who unfortunately didn’t get the win they wanted from Sunday v the host nation, India. It looked so promising from the start when you got Dave Warner & Steve Smith smashing 30/40s, but then the rest didn’t do so well where they ended up just above 200 before India were too good to bring it home with the winning runs by six wickets.

Their next game is tomorrow night AEDT v South Africa who got their first win from Saturday v Sri Lanka. Now the Proteas would want to treat carefully with water later on who is well known for being chokers like India – but so far, so good. 

SA recently beat the Aussies at home out of a five-match ODI series last month (3-2) & that it’s something the Aussies needs to do in order to turn things around such as their batting card on such hot conditions over there. There is still some time left to play for where Australia will look to win some matches against 2-3 top teams & then hopefully put themselves into the Top 4 finals, with Sri Lanka coming after this next game on Monday.

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Well, we were hoping to have at least some play tonight between Australia v England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but again Mother Nature ultimately won this game ahead of the two teams without a ball being bowled.

With that being said, Australia should not have to face any issues beating Ireland and Afghanistan to complete their Super 12 campaign. However, like Mother Nature, Australia will need some luck & pray that England lose to the Black Caps (New Zealand) on Tuesday. 

That way, not only Australia can end up in the Top 2 Group 1 ladder, but they can advance into the semi-finals v India or South Africa in order to continue their World Championship defence on home soil.

For now, the Australian Opening and Top-Order will need to be at their best by scoring big, so they can come to a semi-final fully prepared to upset a giant like India as if their 2nd place finish in Group 1 was confirmed. 

Meanwhile, their bowling has been okay on the other hand but again they will need to be up and running right & nail down early wickets from the very start. If not, they will have a hard time overcoming India in the semi-final and potentially throw away another Trans-Tasman showdown v the Blackcaps (New Zealand) for the big T20 World Cup Final at the MCG come Sunday November 13.

We love seeing some underdog teams upset the big nation Test sides so far in this tournament, as we can’t wait to see how the business end of the Super 12 group stages unfold going into this weekend as well as the entirety of next week.

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It was one huge decider to look back from last night at the Sydney Cricket Ground when Australia went head-to-head against England for the series trophy, as they came into the field at 1-1 apiece after England bounced back last Saturday in Brisbane. The away team struck the first blow before they responded to Tom Wright’s TRY from Australia with a one-point lead at half-time, courtesy of Freddie Steward. Although, Australia kept themselves in the hunt within England’s radar thanks to Folau Faingaa off the bench. But at the end of the day, it has to be England when Marcus Smith capitalised a small lead with a wonderful intercept TRY before they tightened their defense that frustrated Australia in the end. The final score on what has been the final ever rugby union match at the SCG – 17-21 – as we look forward to move back to the all-new Allianz Stadium soon next door.

It’s not been the series ending the Wallabies wanted last night during the 3rd and final Test decider v England. Their first-half run wasn’t bad when they took note of the opposition’s ill-discipline thanks to Nick Frost on second row, before they got the ball rolling via his Brumbies team-mate Tom Wright. A few changes off the bench during the second 40, especially when Folau Faingaa kept the Wallabies hopes alive towards stealing the series away from the English. Sadly, they just couldn’t get escape the opposition’s robust defense under pressure while suffering lapses of inconsistency going forward – which led to lost penalties/turnovers. It’s that one huge weakness they need to work ahead of the Rugby Championship beginning with Argentina in a few weeks, even though they have to keep moving without a few key players from the treatment room.

Meanwhile, England retain the series yet again when they have now taken home the Ella-Mobbs Cup, which is the new trophy after the Cook Cup was retired at the end of last year that spanned for 25 years since its series inception back in 1997. They were glad to get away from their own ill-discipline at the beginning & touched down Australia’s inconsistent attack where England showed excellent fightback in the first half. Not only they opened the scoreboard via the three-point penalty goal, but Freddie Steward’s TRY in the 40th minute puts them ahead of Australia by just one point at half-time, 10-11. They later capitalised on their narrow lead with another three-pointer followed by amazing finish from fly-half Marcus Smith, before England put their bodies on the line defensively that stopped Australia from slipping past them in their tracks going into full-time.

As said earlier, the Wallabies are now preparing for the Rugby Championship going into August. These two games in Argentina will be a Stan Sport exclusive since they kick off at 5am AEST our time which is 4pm over there, so it won’t be aired for free as Nine/9Gem tends to broadcast Super Rugby and Wallabies games within here and New Zealand. I don’t know about the away Springboks games at around midnight when Australia last played in South Africa since 2019, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough next year. For now, there’s some Club Rugby to watch before Nine/9Gem airs the Wallabies games again when the Springboks come here at the end of next month.

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