Thursday, 29 November 2012

Newton piles misery on hapless Eagles

Cam Newton starred for the Carolina Panthers, throwing for two touchdowns and crossing for another couple of his own, as his side earned a 30-22 victory over Philadelphia Eagles earlier this week.
The clash between the Panthers and Eagles was a meeting between the teams with the worst records in the NFC so far this season and the NFL betting lines struggled to separate them.
For the Eagles, Bryce Brown was on top form, and smashed the club’s record for rushing with 178 yards on the night.
The running back was only named in the squad following an injury to LeSean McCoy, but he made the most of the opportunity, breaking Correll Buckhalter’s haul of 134 yards, achieved in 1998.
Brown ran for two touchdowns for good measure, but his efforts were in vain as the Eagles crashed to their seventh straight defeat, giving them an overall record of 3-8 for the campaign.
Carolina, who are now also at 3-8 for this season, held an advantageous position from the beginning of the the fourth quarter thanks to Graham Gano’s 20-yard field goal.
Inevitably, it fell to Brown to lead the Eagles’ fightback, but the Panthers were wise to the running back’s antics when it mattered, and scuppered their opponents’ attacking threat sufficiently enough to seal victory and make positive NFL news  headlines for a change this season.
The victory for the Panthers was a welcome one following a run of just one win in their previous eight matches, though there was little to inspire hope of a late charge for Super Bowl glory, and many pairs of Carolina eyes are already transfixed on the fresh opportunities 2013 might offer.
A seventh successive defeat for the Eagles, meanwhile, sees their campaign go from bad to worse, and recent performances have been made even harder to bear given the potential demonstrated during the opening weeks of the year, which saw the side win three of their opening four matches.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

NCAAB Top 25 announced

The NCAAB season has commenced and already we have the first Associated Press poll to pore over and a welcome chance to celebrate if you are a UConn Huskies supporter.

Connecticut needed just one game to convince the voters in the poll that they can still be a basketball force to be reckoned with despite the setbacks they have faced before the start of this season.

Those setbacks included losing a Hall of Fame coach (Jim Calhoun) and five underclassmen. But despite those hindrances UConn (1-0) moved into the Top 25 on Monday on the strength of its 66-62 win over Michigan State in Friday's Armed Services Classic played at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The team hadn’t actually been ranked since earlier in the year (Jan 23rd) and they had not received a single vote in the pre-season poll, that one win soon put paid to their near ten-month exclusion. The Huskies had already lost their two best players, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb, to the NBA draft and three other players transferred after the NCAA declared the Huskies academically ineligible for the 2013 postseason.

That NCAA ban does not disqualify a team from the AP poll and that’s the yardstick by which the Huskies will be measured this year.

Apart from the reappearance of the Huskies there wasn’t an awful lot of movement in the poll after the opening weekend of NCAAB results.

The first seven teams in the initial regular-season poll, led by Indiana and Louisville, were the same as the preseason Top 25; with the Hoosiers a very solid No 1 choice, gaining 46 first-place votes from the 65-member strong Electoral College.

The rest of that top seven saw Kentucky take third place, and they were followed by Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina State and Kansas. Syracuse and Duke swapped places in eighth and ninth and Florida completed the top 10.

That left UConn as the only newcomer in the top-25 after this weekend, although not everyone was impressed by them and they have an awful lot of work to do yet to maintain a run of positive NCAAB scores and progress up the rankings. Although after their recent trials and tribulations just returning to one of the top slots is an achievement.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Wood upbeat but England face stiff test

England flanker Tom Wood says he is relishing the test South Africa will provide this weekend at Twickenham but, sadly, the Red Rose are unlikely to be able to stand up to the Springboks.

 Ahead of the latest Autumn International, Wood has admitted he is looking forward to what he says is the "man test" the tourists will provide in the clash and he hopes Stuart Lancaster's side can meet the significant challenge head on.

 Wood, back in the side for the first time since last year's World Cup after recovering from a foot injury, said: "They look for your biggest guy and get theirs to run at him as hard as he can.

 "If you show any fear and back off to any extent you've got a long day at the office. You have to match it head on."

 England have had to regroup after the setback of last week's defeat against Australia. Expectations were high before that game that Lancaster's men were capable of hurting what was apparently a below-par Wallabies outfit but, in the end, it never worked out like that and they were fairly comfortably beaten.

 It all means they will need to step up considerably if they are to get anything out of the Springboks who, on their day, remain up there with the All Blacks as the strongest side in international rugby.

 As expected, the returning Wood is confident Lancaster's developing side have what it takes to combat their opponents' obvious strengths this weekend and you would not expect anything else from the 26-year-old when speaking pre-match.

However, most astute observers know it likely to turn out different than that with England set to have to defend for their lives while taking any try chances that come their way if they are to secure a headline-grabbing win.

South Africa have already accounted for Ireland and Scotland on their current tour and will be in no mood to throw away that unbeaten run at Twickenham.

For a time, England may well be up to containing the Springboks but over 80 minutes expect South Africa to come out on top, both in the physical challenge Wood is predicting and the overall result.

 Don’t forget you can use your Betfair FreeBet for the big match this weekend, don’t’ forget to log-on for all the latest England v New Zealand Rugby betting news, odds and opinion.

Robshaw wrong to talk up England chances

Chris Robshaw says his England side can land their first win over South Africa at Twickenham since 2005 on Saturday but it remains a huge ask for Stuart Lancaster's side to come out on top.

The Springboks remain one of the best side's in the world and, in the eyes of most experts, they remain firmly ahead of the Red Rose in the international
pecking order.

You only have to check the record books to have that assertion backed up with England not being
able to boast a home win over SA in seven years.

Robshaw, however, believes his side does have what it takes to compete with the tourists and many are expecting a tight, physical battle this weekend.
England will certainly need to improve if they are to give themselves any chance of a morale-boosting win.

Last weekend's 20-14 result against Australia looks, on paper, closer than it really was and Robshaw knows all of England's big players will probably have to put on a virtually flawless performance if they are to secure the win.

Key to being able to achieve it, according to the captain, will be matching the Springboks' physical presence at Twickenhham but, on top of that, England also need to be clever in the final third and, crucially, make the right decisions at the right times. It sounds obvious but, clearly, the home side need everything to come together in the game to be able to achieve a positive result against the two-time world champions.

"What South Africa do is they raise the intensity when they get to that final third and that's something we've got to look at," Robshaw said. "They're very good at  clearing their lines. They've got a great kicking game.

"We need to play to our strengths and it's all about playing in the right areas. We've got to keep our composure and when they put balls in behind us, we've got to make sure we cover that up."

So far in the current series, England have been found wanting when asked to raise their game and only a significant improvement will give them any sort of
chance of hurting a powerful South Africa side in what could be heavy conditions, with plenty more rain forecast for Saturday in the south east.

Robshaw certainly knows what his side must do to get something out of the game but putting that into practice is not as easy as it sounds.

 Don’t forget to head over to Betfair for all your Rugby Union Betting   needs, including all the news, previews and England v New Zealand Rugby Betting offers

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

NBA: Struggling Lakers axe Brown

The Los Angeles Lakers are searching for a new head coach after parting company with Mike Brown.

The 17-time NBA champions made the decision in the wake of their poor start to the season which had seen them lose four of their five first matches.

Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff has been placed in temporary charge, with general manager Mitch Kupchak saying of Brown: “Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck."

Brown replaced Phil Jackson as Lakers’ head coach for the 2011-12 season and guided the team to a 41-25 regular-season record. They edged past Denver Nuggets in the first round of the play-offs before losing out to Oklahoma City Thunder in the Conference semi-finals.

As well as making their worst start to a regular season since 1993, the Lakers had also lost all eight of their pre-season exhibition games, despite adding two high-profile All-Star players – Dwight Howard and Steve Nash – to their roster in the summer and punters who bet on NBA had predicted further woe unless changes were made at the top.

However, Nash has only played in two games so far this season after sustaining a small fracture in his left leg, while Howard, who moved to the Lakers from Orlando Magic, is struggling to rediscover his best form after undergoing back surgery in April.

As yet there has been no news as to who may replace Brown, but a few names have appeared in NBA rumours reports, including Indiana Pacers head coach and former Laker Brian Shaw, Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni and Mike Fratello, the ex-Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Memphis Grizzlies coach who is now in charge of the Ukraine national basketball team.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Best ever ducks?

On November 3rd Oregon paid a visit to USC in a game that was meant to tell us plenty. It certainly did, with the  62-51 win for the Ducks giving us time to reflect on whether this could be the best Oregon side ever, because at the moment it sure feels like it is.
OK, the defence won’t walk away from the contest feeling that great about themselves having conceded 51 points, but what about the offence? They already had significantly better numbers than the 2010 squad that played for the national title. On Saturday they dismantled a USC defence that gave up their biggest NCAAF score ever, not to mention the yardage total racked up by the Ducks – 730 – breaking a 66 year-old record.
The 2010 Ducks squad will be used as the benchmark to judge the best ever side but this squad is far more athletic and physically gifted that that side of two years ago.  You could argue that with a lot of football left in the season we should leave statistical comparisons for later, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers. The Ducks rushed for 286.2 yards per game in 2010, they are rushing for 341.2 this season.

They averaged 530.65 yards in 2010, they average 561.2 yards this season. They averaged 47 points per game in 2010, they average 54.33 this season.
To be fair although that victory over USC was noteworthy there is some particularly tough football coming up for the Ducks and it will be interesting to see how the offence goes against three or four tough defences they will encounter soon.
This coming Saturday they visit California to play the Golden Bears in their next live NCAAF encounter - the one and only team to shutdown the 2010 version of the Ducks. Then come Stanford and Oregon State, those two are ranked Nos. 1 & 2 in both scoring and rushing defence in the Pac-12. In fact, Stanford is No. 1 and Oregon State No. 5 in the nation in run defence, and both are ranked in the nation's top 20 in scoring defence.
If the Ducks can come through those games unscathed then it will be time to confirm the 2012 Ducks as the best ever Oregon team, at the moment they have only created the impression that they are.