TAGS: Cardiff Blues LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS A step in the right direction: Matt Kvesic played well in a great win for England Saxons. Photo Getty Images Hero or villain? Ben Spencer is congratulated by his Saracens team-mates. Photo Action ImagesParty pooperFor all those people who would like to see London Welsh finally get their first win of the season, Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer is the villain of the piece this week as he kicked two penalties inside the last eight minutes of their LV= Cup match to take Saracens from 15-14 down to a 20-15 win.London Welsh replacement Alex Davies missed a penalty which would have put the Exiles 18-14 up, then Spencer showed him how it’s done with two difficult penalties – the second from inside his own half – to break Welsh hearts again. Oh Ben, you meanie! The SaintsSaxon spiritFacing an Ireland Wolfhounds team with just under 300 Test caps between them, and not to mention a smattering of Lions players, the England Saxons had their work cut out on Friday evening – even more so as they were playing away from home, in Cork.However, the young England side battled their way to an 18-9 win and two of their number – Bath prop Henry Thomas and Exeter Chiefs stand-off Henry Slade – impressed enough to earn call-ups to train with the senior England side this week.Other outstanding performances came from Man of the Match Chris Pennell, who made 74 metres in attack (more than any other player) and Gloucester openside Matt Kvesic, who grabbed several turnovers, tackled hard and made a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown.Ireland had been hoping some of their Wolfhounds would put their hands up for selection for next weekend’s Six Nations opener against Italy, but the men in green failed to shine.All-weather fans: Supporters turned out in huge numbers for the LV= Cup games. Photo Action ImagesStanding room onlyThe LV= Cup took centre stage this weekend, which means most clubs rest their frontline players (or lose them to the Test teams) so the team-sheets are full of lesser known names.The lack of star turns did not stop rugby fans in England and Wales from turning out in astonishing numbers to cheers on their teams, hoping no doubt that they were witnessing the emergence of a new generation of heroes.Six of the eight LV= Cup pool matches attracted crowds of more than 5,000. Three games – Harlequins v Bath, Gloucester v Ospreys and Leicester v Northampton – drew in more than 10,000, with the East Midlands derby topping the bill with 24,000.On a cold, wintery day, that is an outstanding tribute to the loyalty of the fans, their appetite for the game and the success of the clubs’ marketing strategies.Miles makes the Blues smileCardiff Blues came back from 42-17 down at Wasps to beat them 45-42 in a scintillating LV= Cup clash, and lock Miles Normandale was the hero of the hour for the Welsh visitors as his stoppage-time try took Cardiff from 42-38 down to victory.Normandale had already scored one try earlier in the comeback and in the 81st minute he received the ball around eight metres from the line, powered through an attempted tackle from full-back Alex Lozowski and was driven over the line by replacement Ben Roach.Rhys Patchell, who had already kicked five conversions and a penalty, slotted the extras to seal the win and take Cardiff to the top of their pool table with one match to play. Doing battle: The Saxons and Wolfhounds packs had work to do at scrum-time. Photo: InphoTight callsThis will be controversial, because social media was alight with people pleading for referee Neil Hennessy to put his whistle away and let the game flow during the Ireland Wolfhounds v England Saxons match on Friday evening, but one area where Hennessy did help the game was the scrummage.He penalised Lee Dickson for a crooked feed at the very first scrum of the game, which meant the Saxons captain put the ball in straight at the second scrum, Rob Webber was unable to hook and the Wolfhounds won it against the head.Once or twice Hennessy failed to penalise wonky feeds, unfortunately, but he did a better job of policing it that any other ref I have seen this season and most of the scrums were fierce contests as the ball sat in the tunnel waiting for one side or the other to get the upper hand. Not a single scrum collapsed until the second half, making this a rare occasion on which the scrum was a fair battle and a means to re-start the game.The SinnersHit-man hurtIrish Wolfhounds lock Mike McCarthy saw the chance to finish the first half of the match against the Saxons with a big hit on Dave Ewers and went for it – but ended up injuring himself so badly he could take no further part in the game.McCarthy appeared to clatter into Ewers with his chest and head, leaving the Englishman with a nosebleed but McCarthy himself spread-eagled on the floor, unable to play on. He suffered a suspected concussion.See the collision for yourself here.Kicking himselfElliot Daly wasted a gilt-edged try-scoring opportunity for England Saxons after creating the chance with a wonderful individual break. As he cut through the Ireland Wolfhounds’ defence, his old pal from schooldays, Marland Yarde, was racing up the left outside him and had even tracked inside the man marking him, so he was in a perfect place to take a pass and sprint in for a score. However, Daly kicked instead of passing and the ball raced too far ahead for even the fleet-footed Yarde to swoop on it and score the try.Yarde gesticulated to Daly to point out the error of the centre’s ways and Daly will have to do better next time. This weekend may have been the calm before the RBS 6 Nations storm, but the Ireland Wolfhounds’ clash with England Saxons, and the latest round of LV= Cup matches, provided their share of highs and lows
River lotteries for nine great white water rafting destinations close todayCalling all river rats! It might be freezing cold outside today but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start planning your summer adventures. In fact, today is the last day to enter lotteries for nine in-demand white water rafting rivers including the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Salmon River, Hells Canyon- Snake River, Selway River, Rogue River, Desolation Gray- Green River, Salt River, Dinosaur Green and Yampa River, and San Juan River. Permits allow a visitor to use floating watercraft to navigate the river. To enter the permit lottery for any of the rivers listed above, click here.Runners complete 135-mile ultramarathon during polar vortexThe arrowhead 135 ultramarathon is purposely held in January or February to line up with the coldest temperatures of the year. But no one was expecting what the racers faced this year, temperatures of -30 degrees F. The race course runs from International Falls, Minnesota to Lake Vermillion on the Arrowhead State Trail. One hundred forty six racers toed the line this year in four disciplines: running, cycling, skiing, and kick-sledding. With seven hours left, only 39 bikers and nine runners had finished the race. Four more runners were still out on the course, 43 hours after the start of the race. Those runners ultimately completed the race, the last one coming in after 56 hours and 58 minutes of running. Jovica Spajic of Serbia and Scott Hoberg of Minnesota crossed the line together and snagged the men’s fastest times, clocking in at 36 hours and nine minutes. The fastest women’s time came from Faye Norby of Minnesota who finished the race in 48 hours, 34 minutes.Study shows 11 of Georgia’s 12 coal-powered plants are leaking chemicals into the groundwaterA study released in mid-December by conservation groups that looked at information on Georgia’s 12 coal-powered plants found that 11 of the 12 plants are leaking chemicals into the groundwater. Coal ash contains toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead, which are known to cause cancer and heart disease. Environmentalists hope the study will encourage lawmakers to strengthen Georgia’s coal ash regulations by requiring utilities to remove waste from leaking, unlined coal ash ponds. According to the study, Georgia Power, the state’s largest energy provider, owns 10 of the 11 leaking plants. Georgia Power officials said that tests over the past several years show that any leaking chemicals have not had an impact on the state’s groundwater.
Hearts of Oak have defended their decision to continue their preseason in Libya insisting it is purely for developmental purposes.The Phobians lost 3-0 in the first leg of their friendly against Ahli Tripoli adding to their 4-1 defeat of WAFA.This comes at a time the club has failed to inspire confidence amongst their hugely populated fan base.Spokesperson of the club, Kwame Opare Addo however believes the trip will provide invaluable lessons for the players as they prepare to mount a title challenge in the upcoming Ghana Premier League. “I don’t think it has got to do with we coming here as a matter of finances.”“If it is finances, then we could have stayed back home and continued with our training,” Opare told Joy Sports “It is just working to find an environment where we can improve upon what we have started.”“So coming here, most people think it is not prudent to be here because of the unrest but I can assure you that you if you come here and look at the facilities and how the people love football, nothing has changed in Libya football.”“It is one of the appropriate places to continue to develop. The team we played is a big team. If you come here and play them, there are some useful lessons you’ll pick.”The Phobians are scheduled to play their Libyan counterparts in the second leg of their friendly on Friday.– Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySports