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Australia recovered from a 6-6 interval scoreline to eventually overcome Italy 32-6 in a four-try performance at North Harbour Stadium on Sunday. The Golds had struggled to shake off the Azzurri until a second-half masterclass saw them pull away from Nick Mallett’s passionate outfit. Tries from Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O’Connor and Digby Ioane sealed matters when the rain and Italian resilience had abated. Spectators could see that Martin Castrogiovanni and company were brimming ahead of kick-off when the heavens opened. And it proved to help...Continue reading »

Ireland got their World Cup campaign off to a stuttering start with a 22-10 win over USA at the Taranaki Stadium in New Plymouth on Sunday. The match was played in rainy conditions and although Ireland held the upper hand in most facets of play, they struggled to breach their opponents’ defence. They only scored three tries, which means that they failed to secure a bonus point. Ireland’s forwards illustrated their dominance with the first scrum of the match when they shoved their opponents off the ball and that scene was repeated on numerous occasions during...Continue reading »

THE ALL Blacks have an experienced squad, but one that is too old to win the Rugby World Cup, says former Wallabies skipper Andrew Slack. Slack, who played 39 tests and won 14 of his 19 tests as skipper, sees parallels between the Graham Henry’s All Blacks and the aging Australian side he led to a semifinal exit at the first World Cup more than 24 years ago. Of the current All Blacks team, seven players are on the wrong side of 30, with 36-year-old lock Brad Thorn the oldest in the team. “By anyone’s standards it’s an ageing team. It doesn’t mean...Continue reading »

Argentina centre Gonzalo Tiesi has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup, with captain Felipe Contepomi also left struggling with bruised ribs. Tests early on Sunday confirmed that Tiesi’s 2011 tournament was over after he came off in the narrow 13-9 loss to England with an injury to his right knee, a team spokesman said. Fly-half Contepomi is also in doubt for Argentina’s second game against Romania after leaving the field in the first half with a rib injury, although tests showed there was no serious damage. “There is no fracture. It’s...Continue reading »

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Wade Davis threw a six-hitter, John Jaso hit a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays moved within five games of AL wild-card leading Boston with a 7-2 victory over the Red Sox on Friday night. Davis (10-8) struck out eight in his second career complete game. The right-hander, who had his other complete game on Sept. 17, 2009, had gone 0-2 with an 11.12 ERA in three previous starts against Boston.Tampa Bay pitchers have 15 complete games this season. Jaso put the Rays ahead 3-0 with a three-run homer off John Lackey (12-12) in the second....Continue reading »

CLEVELAND (AP) – Justin Verlander won his 10th consecutive start and earned his 22nd victory overall when Victor Martinez hit a late grand slam that sent Detroit over Cleveland 8-6 on Wednesday. Verlander (22-5) gave up two two-run homers to Shelley Duncan and trailed 4-2 before Detroit rallied against Justin Masterson (11-9) and the Indians’ bullpen. The slam by Martinez highlighted a five-run seventh inning. BOX SCORE: Tigers 8, Indians 6 Verlander leads the majors in wins and is 20-2 since May 1. He gave up four runs and three hits in six innings, striking...Continue reading »

Determining who’s No. 1 in the American League this year may come down to who has the best No. 2. And that’s why New York Yankees rookie pitcher Ivan Nova and Detroit Tigers newly-acquired right-hander Doug Fister could play big roles come October. As the AL playoff picture takes shape, so too are the rotations. The Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tigers have all but sealed their playoff fate. The Texas Rangers hold a 3 1/2 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. Each team has an established No. 1 starter — Yankees (CC Sabathia), Red Sox (Jon...Continue reading »