Neser in doubt: Star quick’s epic batting cameo clinches nervy chase for stunning Heat upset

He’s one of Australia’s premier fast bowlers, and Michael Neser has shown he’s just as effective with bat in hand, producing a heroic counterattack to secure a stunning Brisbane Heat upset of the more fancied Sydney Sixers in the BBL Challenger final.

On a low, slow SCG pitch that proved a nightmare for batting, player of the match Neser more than doubled the next-highest score for the match, whacking an unbeaten 48 off just 32 balls – including a game-changing four consecutive boundaries off Hayden Kerr in the 16th over – to ace a difficult run chase and secure the Heat just their second BBL finals berth, a decade after their first.

All up, Neser hit seven boundaries, not only as many as the rest of his teammates combined but equal to the entire Sixers’ innings.

The 32-year old, surprisingly overlooked as part of the Test squad for the tour of India, proved a more than able replacement for departed Heat trio Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne and Matt Renshaw; while the absence of Mitchell Swepson for the same reasons was mitigated by the brilliance of spin-bowling pair Matt Kuhnemann (3/17) and Nathan McSweeney (1/21).

That duo helped restrict the Sixers, red-hot favourites heading in despite the departure of Steve Smith, to 9/116 from their 20 overs, before Neser’s late heroics saw the underdogs recover from 5/56 to win with 10 balls to spare.

It was a win to typify the Heat’s never-say-die season: in last place with just two wins from their first nine games, they have now won seven of their last eight, including three knockout finals on the road. They can head into their clash with the Scorchers with belief aplenty, though they will again need to defy the odds.

The victory sets up a trip to Perth to take on the Scorchers on Saturday night; the same opponent and state the Heat triumphed over in their one and only tournament title back in BBL02.

For the Sixers, defeat ends the storied T20 career of Dan Christian, who holds the unique distinction of BBL titles with three separate franchises: the Sixers in 2020/21, the Melbourne Renegades in 2018/19, and the Heat themselves in 2012/13.

“My mind’s now in Perth, really – I’m just stoked we made the finals,” a modest Neser said after the match.

“From being dead last on the table and now in the grand final, couldn’t think of anything better.”

After a breezy 27-run opening stand between Kurtis Patterson and Josh Phillipe was broken by breakout Heat quick Spencer Johnson, the Sixers’ innings was only downhill from there.

The turning point truly came with the wicket of Philippe, caught behind off Kuhnemann in bizarre circumstances: after a Heat review, the third umpire quickly ruled out LBW after seeing the ball brush the Sixers opener’s glove, only to seemingly forget keeper Jimmy Peirson had taken the catch.

It took an on-field protest for the review to continue, Philippe at last given his marching orders in the latest BBL third umpire farce.

From there, wickets fell at regular interviews, and just as crucially, the runs dried up. With a spin-friendly SCG pitch keeping troublingly low, Kuhnemann and McSweeney, recalled in place of Labuschagne as a batting all-rounder, proved all but impossible to get away, conceding one boundary between them.

Experienced pair Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques fell in identical circumstances, playing back and across to good length balls that fizzed in low: Henriques trapped plumb in front for the easiest LBW of the tournament, Hughes unable to even get his pad in the way to see his furniture disturbed.

Christian, too, paid a heavy price for hitting across the line, his heave at Johnson finding naught but air as his stumps were splattered. Unquestionably the find of the tournament, the tearaway quick recovered splendidly after a shaky start with the new ball, finishing with 3/28 from his four overs.

Neser, too, finished well, ensuring any late damage by tailenders Ben Dwarshuis and Sean Abbott was limited. The 27-run opening stand ended up comfortably the best of the inning, Hughes’ patient 24-ball 23 making him the pick of the batters.

All signs pointed to the wily veteran Steve O’Keefe, playing his 100th match, to prove difficult to so much as keep out, never mind score off.

But from the moment the recalled Sam Heazlett, opening in place of Khawaja for his first match of the season and first BBL game in more than 12 months, gazumped the left-armer over mid-wicket against the spin for four, the intent was clear.

Josh Brown, another find from Premier cricket, added two colossal sixes down the ground in his next over, O’Keefe’s first two overs costing 23.

At 0/25 after three overs, the Heat were flying; however, it would once again prove easiest to bat with the new ball. Having made his way safely to 13, Heazlett torched himself to begin the rot: taking an ambitious overthrow after Silk missed the stumps at the non-striker’s end with Brown a suburb away, his desperate dive couldn’t beat a precise return throw from Dwarshuis.

From 0/31 after 20 balls, the Heat would lose five wickets for just 25 runs across the next eight overs.

Spinner Izharulhaq Naveed proved fiendishly difficult to get away, taking an outstanding return catch to remove Englishman Sam Hain to boot, while O’Keefe’s second spell saw him concede just seven extra runs and add the wicket of Peirson.

Calling the Power Surge needing 36 runs from the final six overs, with Max Bryant and Neser at the crease, was a bold ploy given the Sixers had managed just eight runs (and lost two wickets) from theirs; the plan seemed to have failed when Bryant, the final true batter left standing, crumbled under the pressure to sky Sean Abbott to long-off.

But the Sixers hadn’t counted on Neser: just when they appeared to have their noses in front, the all-rounder landed four telling blows off Kerr to swing the match in an instant.

First pulling through the gap behind square, then clipping the left-armer past mid-on, then a deft late cut that beat short third man, and lastly a magnificent straight drive worthy of many a top-order batter, Neser’s orgy of boundaries were all distinct, and each as remarkable as the others on a pitch that had previously never been conducive to shot-making.

“The opportunity was there with the ball being still reasonably hard, to get a good over out of the Surge,” Neser said of the bold decision to take the Power Surge.

“We knew it was just one really good over, and the game was ours. I thought, don’t leave it too late while the ball’s getting softer and softer.”

Needing 14 from 24 balls after the flurry, the Heat could afford to bide their time: James Bazley mustered just two runs from his 10 balls at the crease, the second a desperate attempt to give Neser back the strike that would have seen him run out by half the pitch had the throw at the stumps been true.

But it was all Neser: finishing in style with another thumping heave over mid-on to the rope, a chase that at times had seen impossible was completed with the greatest of ease.

Others have scored more this BBL tournament; there have been more spectacular innings, against tougher bowling too. But there cannot have been a more substantial knock this season than what Neser produced at the SCG, to leave the Heat one game away from the competition’s greatest ever Cinderella story.



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‘Shows our need for growth’: Bruins send Maple Leafs into break with a reality check

TORONTO – Squint as hard as possible, and you still can’t see a way for the Toronto Maple Leafs to close the gap in the standings.

If there was any doubt that the Boston Bruins would run away with top seed in the Atlantic and a coveted home-ice advantage in the Division of Death, that idea was vanquished by the visitors’ 5-2 thumping of second-seed Toronto on Wednesday.

Despite arriving in town on their first three-game losing skid of their record-chasing campaign and eyeing a sunny bye week, “the class of the league,” according to Sheldon Keefe (and any reasonable hockey viewer of the season’s first 52 games), reminded the Leafs who stands taller when the measuring stick gets trotted out.

Following a loss that dropped his group 13 points behind Boston and swelled the Maple Leafs’ chances of finishing in the dreaded 2-3 playoff matchup versus the Tampa Bay Lightning to 90.9 per cent, Keefe reminded everyone that, hey, the game was close. Just like the last one. And that this was one of those nights where they missed Auston Matthews.

The score was 2-1 in favour of Boston heading into the third period, when the Maple Leafs opened up, and the smart and opportunistic Bruins took over something fierce.

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“The margins are thin,” Keefe said.

“But over the course of the season, it’s significant. They just stay with it. They’re 40 goals better than any team in the NHL. So, it’s a significant gap between them and the rest of the league when you look at the season in its entirety.

“But in the game, we’re right there. That’s what’s tough. Certainly, in Boston and here again tonight, we’re right there. But the difference between being right there and winning the game, being on the other side of it, that’s significant. That’s a significant challenge.”

And because these true litmus tests are so few and far between, those on the inside and outside naturally want to draw conclusions from how GM Kyle Dubas’s roster responds to these challenges.

The Maple Leafs don’t have another playoff team on their schedule until Feb. 24.

On this night, Toronto got burned by a harder, deeper, and more structured outfit.

Sure, Linus Ullmark outdueled Ilya Samsonov in the pipes, with Samsonov revealing post-game that he’d been dealing with an illness.

But we’re certainly not pinning this on goaltending.

“He’s solid,” Keefe said of Ullmark. “But their team defence helps a lot.”

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The Bruins out-blocked (22-10) and outhit (31-26) the Leafs. They also had fewer giveaways (19-10) and were more direct and punishing with their counterattacks and Grade-A looks.

“In the third, I don’t know if I’d call it cheating, but we were just pushing hard,” said Mitch Marner, after a rare defensive stinker. “Gave up a couple odd-man chances, and it cost us.”

The Bruins’ goal differential is a ridiculous plus-81. The Maple Leafs’ is plus-34.

That’s a result of dressing nine forwards with 10-plus goals and spreading them over four lines.

That’s a product of an experienced defence corps that seldom gets overwhelmed the way Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren did on the still-developing pair’s dash-3 outing.

That’s a depth that Dubas & Co. must attempt to match by the March 3 trade deadline, or risk remaining an incredible regular-season squad only.

“They’ve shown they’re at the top of the league all year,” John Tavares said, tipping the cap.

“Shows our need for growth and areas we’ve got to be better. But we’re right there. Had good looks, good opportunities.

“We have to be dialed in — every little detail.”

Post-game, the Maple Leafs room was quiet. The stalls emptied fast.

Keefe did his best to steal some positivity before the team scattered away from the grind for nine days.

“We know we’re a really good team. We’re in a really good spot. This is a tough way to go into the break, but it may be good for us,” Keefe said.

“We need a break. Everybody needs a break at this point in time. When we come back, we can be inspired by the season we’ve had here to date — yet motivated by the fact that we’ve got a ways to go. We can grow here.”

Thirty games to grow. Wow, the mountain looks steep.

How high can they stretch?

Fox’s Fast 5

• Brad Marchand believes the hockey chirp is endangered.

“Nowadays, it’s very hard to chirp anyone because of the amount of mics that are around, (attached to) certain players and refs and stuff like that,” he says. “It’s tough. Even the refs, as soon as you start talking, because there’s mics everywhere, they don’t want anyone getting in trouble. They shut it down pretty quick.”

Do players bring up opponents’ personal lives in a war of words?

“To be honest, there’s not a lot that happens out there anymore. There’s the odd one. But that’s typically when tempers get high, and guys are taking shots at one another,” Marchand says.

“You say things in the heat of the moment, and if a mic catches it, you have to deal with the consequences.”

So, who’s trying to keep snappy on-ice insults alive?

“(Drew) Doughty’s pretty funny. He’s just always yapping. (Claude) Giroux’s pretty funny, too.”

• Because the benches at Scotiabank Arena are short, Bruins backup goalie Jeremy Swayman chose to go watch the game from the dressing room, giving his teammates more seat room.

He returned to the ice to give Ullmark a big bear hug, though.

• Wayne Simmonds has more fights (two) than points (one assist) this season. A proud, respected veteran doing anything he can to keep his NHL career going at this stage.

He sent Boston goal-scorer A.J. Greer into concussion protocol with this punch:

(Yes, Greer did return after passing tests.)

• Marner was a minus-4 for the first time since Nov. 8, 2021.

• Psyche!

In a prank concocted by Marner following Tavares’s 1,000th game Sunday, Liljegren, holder of the player-of-the-game belt, passed the prize to Mark Giordano instead of the captain.

In on the joke, Giordano began giving a speech before breaking his straight face and passing the belt to Tavares.

“Mitchy was the first one who mentioned it. And Lily had it, so he jumped on. It was a good one,” Giordano explains.

“The joke got a few guys, and they were already pretty upset that we didn’t give it to John, so I had to turn it over pretty quick.”



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India vs New Zealand live score over 3rd T20I T20 6 10 updates | Cricket News

A dedicated team of experts bring you live score, live cricket score, live match update on Sports.NDTV.com. After 10.1 overs, New Zealand, chasing a target of 235, are 56/8. The live updates of India vs New Zealand scorecard is also available. It is the perfect platform to follow your favourite teams in India vs New Zealand, 2023. Keep a track on your favourite batsmen and bowlers through India vs New Zealand, 2023 today match, ball by ball commentary, India vs New Zealand, India vs New Zealand live score, India vs New Zealand scorecard. Follow the excitement of the India vs New Zealand, 2023 on Sports.NDTV.com as you can follow live match updates and live cricket score through our platform.

9.6 overs (1 Run)
Short and on off, Daryl Mitchell pulls it towards deep square leg for one more.

9.5 overs (1 Run)
Full and on off, Blair Tickner drives it through cover-point for one.

Drinks break! Well, there is not much to say here. India are on the cusp of a series win here. They have been lethal with the ball so far and haven’t let the Kiwis off the hook. So, it is Blair Tickner who joins Daryl Mitchell at the crease. The Kiwis would like to eat up as many balls as possible to delay the victory for India.

9.4 overs (0 Run)
OUT! TAKEN! Another one bites the dust! Hardik Pandya gets his thrid wicket! He serves this full and on off, Lockie Ferguson clears his front leg and goes for the slog, but he loses his grip as he connects with the ball and hits it with the bottom half uppishly towards mid on. Umran Malik there take a good catch. This is turning out to be embarassing for the Kiwis.

9.3 overs (0 Run)
Full and on off, Lockie Ferguson drives it straight to covers.

9.2 overs (0 Run)
Back of a length and outside off, Lockie Ferguson looks to cut it away, but fails to connect.

9.1 overs (1 Run)
Short and on middle, Daryl Mitchell pulls it towards deep square leg for a single.

8.6 overs (0 Run)
A dot to end the over! Shivam Mavi bangs in a bouncer, on off, Lockie Ferguson looks to pull it away, but misses.

Lockie Ferguson comes in at number 9.

8.5 overs (0 Run)
OUT! IN THE AIR AND GONE! Two wickets in the over for Shivam Mavi! He bowls this back of a length and around off, Ish Sodhi makes room to push it away, but does so uppishly towards point. Rahul Tripathi here moves to his right and pouches it safely before rolling over on the ground. New Zealand lose their seventh wicket.

8.4 overs (0 Run)
Shivam Mavi greets Sodhi with a short delivery around off, Ish Sodhi leaves it alone.

8.3 overs (0 Run)
OUT! TAKEN! SKY is everywhere in the field! He takes a brilliant third catch to dismiss Santner here. Shivam Mavi lands this short and on off, Mitchell Santner stays there and connects with his pull shot well towards the deep mid-wicket region. However, Suryakumar Yadav is there and he takes another great catch and does well to keep his balance to no go over the ropes. Santner cannot believe that he has found a fielder here, but he has to go back to the hut. New Zealand six down now!
IND vs NZ: 3rd T20I: WICKET! Mitchell Santner c Suryakumar Yadav b Shivam Mavi 13 (13b, 1x4, 0x6). NZ 53/6 (8.3 Ov). Target: 235; RRR: 15.83

Ish Sodhi is the new man in.

8.3 overs (1 Run)
Short and down the leg side, Mitchell Santner misses his flick. Wided.

8.2 overs (1 Run)
On a length and on off, Daryl Mitchell guides it towards point where a slight misfield from Rahul Tripathi allows a run.

8.1 overs (1 Run)
Shivam Mavi starts with a back-of-a-length delivery, on middle, Mitchell Santner nudges it towards mid-wicket for a single.

7.6 overs (3 Runs)
Floated, full and on off, Mitchell Santner drills it wide of deep point where Shivam Mavi covers his ground well to the right and puts in a dive to keep it inside. Three runs taken!

7.5 overs (1 Run)
Kuldeep Yadav decides to bowl a on-pace delivery, on a length and on middle, Daryl Mitchell flicks it through square leg for one.

7.4 overs (6 Runs)
SIX! BANG! This is flighted, full and on off, Daryl Mitchell skips down the track and smokes it over the long off fence for a biggie.
IND vs NZ: 3rd T20I: It's a SIX! Daryl Mitchell hits Kuldeep Yadav. NZ 46/5 (7.4 Ov). Target: 235; RRR: 15.32

7.3 overs (1 Run)
A bit short and on off, Mitchell Santner eases it towards mid off for a run.

7.2 overs (0 Run)
Tossed up, full and off, Mitchell Santner dabs it towards short covers.

7.1 overs (1 Run)
Kuldeep Yadav begins with a floated delivery, on off, Daryl Mitchell uses his feet and tucks it to the right of the bowler. There is a bit of hesitation between the batters, but in the end the run is completed.

6.6 overs (2 Runs)
Umran Malik lands this short and on middle, Mitchell Santner pulls it towards deep mid-wicket and comes back for the second.

6.5 overs (1 Run)
Back of a length and on off, Daryl Mitchell knocks it towards extra covers for one more.

6.4 overs (0 Run)
Short and on off, Daryl Mitchell mistimes his pull shot towards deep mid-wicket for a run.

6.3 overs (1 Run)
Back of a length and on off, Mitchell Santner forces it towards wide mid off for one.

6.2 overs (0 Run)
Full and on off, Mitchell Santner pushes it towards covers where the fielder dives to his right to stop it.

6.1 overs (4 Runs)
FOUR! Nice shot! Umran Malik bowls this short of a length and on off, Mitchell Santner stays there and punches it through extra covers for a boundary.
IND vs NZ: 3rd T20I: Mitchell Santner hits Umran Malik for a 4! NZ 34/5 (6.1 Ov). Target: 235; RRR: 14.53

5.6 overs (0 Run)
Back of a length and outside off, angling away, Daryl Mitchell lets it go to the keeper.

5.5 overs (6 Runs)
SIX! Daryl Mitchell goes big now! Arshdeep Singh serves this full and on off, Daryl Mitchell shows the full face of the bat and lofts it over the long off fence for a biggie.
IND vs NZ: 3rd T20I: It's a SIX! Daryl Mitchell hits Arshdeep Singh. NZ 30/5 (5.5 Ov). Target: 235; RRR: 14.47

5.4 overs (1 Run)
On a length and on middle, Mitchell Santner knocks it past the bowler towards mid on for a run.

5.3 overs (1 Run)
Short again and outside off, Daryl Mitchell pulls it towards deep square leg for a single.

5.2 overs (0 Run)
Short of a length and on leg, Daryl Mitchell taps it down to the leg side.

5.1 overs (0 Run)
Arshdeep Singh bowls this on a good length and on off, angling away, Daryl Mitchell looks to play at it but gets beaten on the outside edge.

Match Reports

  • India vs New Zealand: India vs New Zealand, 2023 Live Cricket Score, Live Score Of Today’s Match on NDTV Sports

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How the January window changed WSL transfers forever: Alessia Russo bid and Bethany England’s British record move help spark new era

The January transfer window was another watershed moment for the WSL, from record bids and moves to Aston Villa and Tottenham proving their mettle in the transfer market.

Last window before the first £1m player?

If Arsenal are offering £500,000 for a player with six months left on their contract, then how much is a big-name player now worth when they’re committed to a club for longer?

Clubs are now trying to lock down players to longer deals in an attempt to maximise their values. For Manchester United to stand firm over Alessia Russo is a sign the market’s changed.

The current world record for a player is the £400,000 spent by Barcelona on Keira Walsh. That could seem like a bargain in the not-so-distant future.

The money being offered is a first for the women’s game, which is a positive sign according to former England forward Lianne Sanderson.

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A look at Alessia Russo’s best goals in the Women’s Super League after Arsenal had a world-record bid for the striker rejected by Manchester United on Deadline Day

She told Sky Sports News: “To put it into perspective, in the men’s game, this is two weeks wages. In the women’s game, to see players like Bethany England and Alessia Russo being linked with this much money, it makes me so happy.

“Maybe I’ll come out of retirement, I don’t know how much I’d go for!”

Stars will emerge between now and the end of the season, especially at this summer’s World Cup. Watch this space because someone will become the first £1m player soon.

WSL must not let others be left behind

Of course, for their male counterparts, £1m for a player barely covers agents’ fees.

But the increase in money offered and paid – let’s not forget Tottenham also splashed out a British record £250,000 for Bethany England early in the window too – as well as increased integration between men’s and women’s teams could see accelerated fees over the next few years.

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Our pick of the best goals from January in the Women’s Super League

For example, if we consider Arsenal – the whole club, not just the women’s team – £400,000 for a player with six months left on her contract like Russo is a drop in the ocean. While we do not know the figures, Chelsea also offered a “substantial” sum to try and sign Katie McCabe from Arsenal.

The Chelsea men’s team had a net spend of £323.3m in January and, two and a half years ago, the women’s team broke the world record when they signed Pernille Harder for £250,000. Of course, that almost doubled with Walsh’s Barcelona move in the summer and could have been broken again in January.

However, you then have to ask if the already clear disparity between the “top” clubs and everyone else in the WSL will only widen as fees increase. The large offers for the players already mentioned – and explored in more detail below – are among the three clubs at the top of the table.

Aston Villa's Lucy Staniforth in action vs Spurs
Image:
Lucy Staniforth joined Aston Villa from Man Utd earlier in January

It is an issue that Man Utd manager Marc Skinner is wary of, saying after England’s move to Spurs: “Yes, it’s going to be a positive, but obviously when that happens there’s more expense that comes into it. You know, the clubs that can afford it can continue to grow, the clubs that can’t will have to find a different way.

“[But] the excitement around [England’s deal] just helps the fan base grow. It’s something to talk about. It helps our fans to grow, connect. I think [record fees] are going to keep going that way. It’s not going to stop now.”

Of course, there was movement between the other WSL clubs as well as bringing in talent from elsewhere, but for nowhere near the same fees. It may become harder for these clubs to navigate the transfer window as the money increases, and the league must be wary that some do not get left behind.

Days of selling to rivals are over

Arsenal's Katie McCabe during the UEFA Women's Champions League Group C match at Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Thursday October 27, 2022.
Image:
Arsenal’s Katie McCabe was also the subject of a “substantial” bid for Chelsea in the January window

Chelsea wanted Katie McCabe from Arsenal. Arsenal wanted Alessia Russo from Manchester United.

Neither club had their wishes granted.

The value of winning competitions has never been higher, hence the intransigence of selling clubs when rival teams put bids in.

Yes, England, Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth were all granted moves so they can attempt to secure their World Cup places but these were also business decisions.

Tottenham and Aston Villa aren’t in contention to win the league yet so getting squad players off the wage bill to teams further down the division makes financial sense.

But clubs are now in a stronger financial position to reject the notion of making rivals stronger even when six-figure sums are offered.

This window feels like the first time that’s happened.

Why Aston Villa and Tottenham are the window winners

Spurs' Bethany England in action vs Aston Villa
Image:
Bethany England moved from Chelsea to Spurs in a British record deal

While much of the January attention has been on those teams challenging for the WSL title, it is in fact two teams hoping to push into the top three places that have arguably done the best business this window.

Let’s start with Rehanne Skinner’s Tottenham – their purchase of England broke the British record for a player, and they also landed 2011 World Cup winner Mana Iwabuchi on loan from Arsenal.

Two players with international and WSL pedigree, plus more importantly the ability to score and create goals. Tottenham have scored the third lowest number of goals in the WSL this season (12), and both players have already scored since their arrival.

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Carla Ward says new signings Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth are helping Aston Villa look like a new and improved team after they drew with Manchester City

But Spurs were trumped by Aston Villa’s January business.

After a complete summer overhaul – including the surprise arrival of Rachel Daly from Houston Dash – Villa have continued to add vast amounts of experience to their ranks. Nobbs left Arsenal for the Midlands club, while Lucy Staniforth joined on a free transfer.

The influence of such talent is already clear to see. They have beaten Tottenham and drawn with Manchester City since the WSL returned after the winter break, and look a force to be reckoned with this season.

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa

Both Aston Villa and Spurs have proven to be shrewd in the transfer market, with a strategy to rival that of the biggest clubs. The players themselves too are not afraid to make moves away from the perceived “bigger clubs” to achieve their personal ambitions. No longer are the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City the only draws in the WSL.

The last window before the World Cup – who will stake a claim?

Mana Iwabuchi will be hoping to make Japan's World Cup squad this summer
Image:
Mana Iwabuchi will be hoping to make Japan’s World Cup squad this summer

Perhaps the most pertinent reason for the players above to have moved – and plenty more besides across women’s football – is the upcoming Women’s World Cup this summer, now only five-and-a-half months away.

England, Nobbs and Staniforth will surely be eyeing a spot in Sarina Wiegman’s England squad. For Euro 2022, Staniforth was named in the initial 28-player team, but a season blighted by injuries saw her miss out on a place in the final 23-player squad.

Nobbs found herself injured once again while England, although part of the squad, only played a few minutes. With the likes of Ebony Salmon, Lauren James and, surprisingly, Daly now eyeing places up front, England must be at her best to make it into the final World Cup squad.

Iwabuchi too, while a seasoned international, will want to keep her fitness up ahead of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Japan will be one of the favourites in Group C, along with Spain, Costa Rica and Zambia.

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1xBet New Customer Sign Up Guide: Registration, Promo Code and Login

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Before choosing to use any betting site or app, it is important to know the ratings of each feature. The main reason is that different punters look out for different characteristics in a betting site. For example, while a beginner looks out for features like ease of use, an advanced punter looks out for offers, promotions and withdrawal ease.

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Is 1xBet Nigeria legal?

Yes, it is. Until 2024, 1xbet has been granted a full Nigerian license for its operations

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Deion Jumah: Boxing took so much – I wasn’t going to let it take my eye as well

Eventually you have to stop fighting. Some get to leave boxing on their own terms. For others the end comes when they cannot help it, when they did not expect it and they do not want it. For Deion Jumah it was the latter.

He woke up and he could not see.

He was a couple of weeks out from what was going to be the fight his career needed. Jumah was due to box London rival Mikael Lawal for the British cruiserweight title, a key bout on a big Sky Sports bill in November.

Image:
Jumah always pushed himself hard in training

Training, and sparring in particular, had been going well. He had not noticed a particularly big punch land or anything that he thought might have caused an injury. But he found after training he could not see properly out of his left eye.

He wanted to believe he was just tired. Jumah rested in the afternoon, went for a run later and continued to hope. Late that night he woke up and could not see a thing. Then he went straight to hospital. Eight hours later he was in theatre for surgery on a detached retina. And like that boxing was done.

Jumah had been down this road before. He had previously detached a retina, had it operated on and undergone a long campaign to get his boxing licence restored and make a return to the sport.

“We jumped over and beyond to get my licence the first time. I think it was something that was quite a rarity in getting it, after a torn retina. I had a lot of help,” Jumah told Sky Sports.

“It took a long time. Even at the time while this process was going on, I wouldn’t say we got lucky but it was just effort. Our sheer effort and determination.

“I wasn’t willing to do that again. I was done.”

“The first time it happened I wasn’t as afraid of going blind as I was of missing my opportunity,” he explained. “I’d rather have fought and gone blind. The second time it happened I was like I don’t want to go to blind.”

It was all the more frustrating as Jumah was just on the cusp of his breakthrough fight. Win the British title and suddenly there would be even more exciting to contests to come, Isaac Chamberlain for instance, potentially Chris Billam-Smith, a rematch with Richard Riakporhe or even a world title challenge against Lawrence Okolie.

BOXXER WEMBLEY PROMOTION.OPEN WORK OUTS.GLAZIERS HALL,.LONDON.PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG.DAN AZEEZ PERFORMS A PUBLIC WORKOUT AHEAD OF HIS FIGHT ON PROMOTER BEN SHALOMS BOXXER SHOW AT  OVO WEMBLEY ARENA ON SATURDAY MARCH 26TH LIVE ON SKY SPORTS.
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The cruiserweight division looks to be hugely exciting in 2023 but Jumah has been denied his place in it

“I was at the point where I was thinking you know what, boxing’s taken so much from me, I’m not going to let it take my eye as well,” Jumah said.

He had spent years handling injury and misfortune. Before the eye issues, early on in his professional career Jumah also had to deal with pericarditis, which causes swelling of the heart.

“That took me a long time to get over. That was a big thing in my career. I think that was my first big hit,” Jumah said. “It’s pretty serious if your heart’s swollen. This is a high intensity sport. I’ve had the health scares. All have seemed to come through training or overtraining, or fights.

“I think my heart issue came from my mentality in training… It was insane the hours I used to put in.

“All that hard work you put in, all that sacrifice you make. You’re your biggest self-critic at all times, it’s just a non-stop cycle of never being good enough, for me personally.

“That’s how it’s been for years and it’s just drove me on and it spurred me on and it made me fairly good. But I think now it’s time to, I don’t know, not be so hard on myself all the time.

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Richard Riakporhe puts Deion Jumah on the floor with a massive punch in the fourth round of their encounter

“I think boxing, being a fighter, definitely suited my personality of being harsh on myself and being my own biggest critic, being over analytical about every single thing I do.

“Boxing I had a hell of a lot of confidence. I was a confident fighter,” he added. “But I think in other areas there was a bit of self-loathing there.

“Now I’m kind of glad I can let that go. I don’t have to drag myself out in the cold doing runs at four in the morning or hitting the bag so hard or performing a certain way in a spar just to rate myself.”

The disappointments of his pro career should not obscure that Jumah really could have been a contender. He asked questions of Riakporhe, who is now well on course for a world title fight, when they fought last year. He won the English cruiserweight title.

As an amateur Jumah won the ABA title twice. After only seven bouts he reached his first ABA final. That came in 2010 in the set of finals when future Olympic gold medallist and unified world Anthony Joshua first won it, when future Olympic medallist Anthony Ogogo won another national title, when Army boxing legend Martin Stead won, when Martin Ward dazzled, when Luke Campbell, a future Olympic gold medallist, and Thomas Stalker, another top international amateur, did not reach the finals.

“That was one of the best ABA finals in terms of the calibre of fighters and what they went on to do,” he said. “Sometimes I forget what I’ve done and the fighters I’ve been around because I’ve been struggling.

“Even before that Riakporhe fight I was back to fighting on a pub show in Essex. My first English title win was in York Hall against Wadi (Camacho), but then the even better fight against Sam Hyde, criminal that it wasn’t televised, that was in a leisure centre in Wythenshawe.

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Richard Riakporhe floors Deion Jumah for a second time to win their contest at Wembley Arena

“I’m sorry but there’s a lot of fighters that are less quality than me that are fighting on big shows.

“That’s always been a bit disappointing. Still glad I did it. If I could go back in time, I’d have done it again, 100 per cent. Sometimes it’s not even about the victories. It’s about the lessons and everything, I’ve enjoyed it and that’s been so important to me.

“I do love boxing. It’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do.”

For Jumah it just was not to be, even when it looked like it was about to happen. But boxing, even though you cannot choose when, always has to end.

“It seems like the British title, which I’ve had my eye on for so long and it was a genuine dream of mine, whenever the British title came up, my eye went. I was just like why? Why can’t I have what I want?” Jumah said.

But he added: “It’s never enough. I know from my personality type, it would never be enough. I just know what I’m like. I’d always want what’s next, I’d want what’s more. Every time I watch myself fight, I’m like that wasn’t good enough, even if I won brilliantly… It’s like trying to reach this level of perfection that just isn’t real.

Richard Riakporhe overcame Deion Jumah (pic: Lawrence Lustig)
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Jumah asked questions of Riakporhe

“My performance is never good enough, there’s always so much more and yes, I’m looking forward to leaving that behind because it drives me nuts. It’s not healthy.”

Jumah did not anticipate having to retire when he was 33. He has been fighting one way or another since he was eight years old. First it was martial arts and kickboxing, then it was amateur and ultimately professional boxing. Now he has to get used to not being a fighter anymore.

“I did go through a bit of that identity crisis. Like, who am I without boxing?” Jumah said. “My whole life has been about, okay, got a fight soon, got a fight soon… So who am I without Deion the fighter? I’ve just got to see it as: I’m willing to find out.

“It was time, if I’m being sensible, and there is life after boxing. And I’m healthy and I’m strong and I can see. And I’ve still go so much of my life ahead of me and I’ve still got so much to explore… All the opportunities that you’re shutting down because you want this big dream, I’m not so old that I can’t get something else.

“It’s just I’m hanging on to this identity. But boxing’s just what I did. It’s not who I am.

“I just need to understand that and I’m trying to drill that into my own brain.

“Some days are harder than others.”

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Raptors looking to regain momentum once again after loss to Suns

PHOENIX – The plan was to come to the desert, see some sun and hopefully keep some momentum going. 

Well, the Toronto Raptors came close. For 42 minutes they played the Phoenix Suns even or even better and looked poised to steal and take another win on their long road trip. But NBA games are 48 minutes long and the Raptors lost the final six minutes decisively in what ended up being a 114-106 Suns victory. 

The loss dropped Toronto to 2-2 on their road trip and 23-29 on the season while the Suns improved to 27-25 as the two short-handed teams split the season series. 

Trailing by one with just over six minutes to play, the Raptors’ offence hit a wall as they scored just three field goals over the game’s most critical stretch and didn’t manage to get to the line, either. Their two turnovers were another factor as the Suns were able to get just enough of their own offence – some tough, contested jumpers by Miles Bridges and a back-breaking three by Chris Paul with just over a minute that were all part of the Suns’ surge.

It wasn’t like the Suns ran away with it – holding an opponent to just 16 points down the stretch is nothing to be ashamed of but when you score just 10 points yourself – including a few lay-ups in the final seconds when Phoenix began prioritizing defending the three-point line, you have a problem. Especially if your opponents make their free throws in the final minutes, which the Suns did. 

It’s a little ironic because the Raptors have been playing some of their best offensive basketball as of late, but if consistency was a card the Raptors had to play, their season would be different. 

All five Raptors starters hit double figures led by Fred VanVleet, who had 24 points and nine assists. The Raptors shot 9-of-33 from deep to 11-of-28 by the Suns, who shot 49.4 per cent from the floor to the Raptors’ 44.9 per cent. Phoenix was led by Bridges who finished with 29 while Paul had 19 points and nine assists. 

The Suns had just 12 turnovers for the game, while the Raptors had 14.

The road trip also got that much harder, as the Raptors announced before the game that O.G. Anunoby would be out for the rest of their trip with the wrist injury he suffered on Friday when attempting a dunk against the Golden State Warriors. He was wearing a brace or splint on it and while there was no detail given on the extent of the injury, the timeline seemed firm, though Nurse seemed to be hoping for a little more wriggle room. 

“It’s a little surprising to me,” Nurse said. “This trip has a long way to go yet. It’s not like this trip is ending around the corner. So it’s a little surprising to me. We know what we have now with this trip.”

For the Suns, the game plan was relatively simple, based on their last meeting with the Raptors in Toronto on Dec. 30, when the short-handed Suns basically gave a win away. 

“[We] turned it over 27 times. Try not to do that,” said Suns head coach Monty Williams prior to the game. “I think you have to understand why you turned it over. When you play in crowds, you have to understand they’ll make you pay. They go after the ball when it’s low or high and get their hands on a lot of balls. Playing in a crowd, making one-handed passes in coverage, interior passing against this team, you don’t see a lot of teams accomplish that. That along with not giving them extra possessions. That’s what they do. They turn you over and crash the glass and they have an All-Star point guard who knows how to manage games.”

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In the early going the Suns followed their game plan well, and briefly, it looked the Raptors were going to be racking up big turnover totals. Toronto – the least turnover-prone team in the league – gave the ball away six times in the first, three of them by Scottie Barnes. Though, the second-year forward offset his mistakes with a steal of a pass that would have resulted in a dunk by Suns centre DeAndre Ayton, and later a block of Ayton at point-blank range too. The giveaways – four in the first 5:34 of the game — helped the Suns jump out to a 14-8 lead and their final turnover of the quarter resulted in a three by Miles Bridges – his third on three attempts put the Suns up 28-21. But a quick 7-0 Raptors spurt tied the game before a Chris Paul triple at the horn gave Phoenix a 31-28 lead to start the second quarter. Turnovers continued to be a problem as Toronto made five more in the second frame. Toronto also struggled from deep in the first quarter, shooting just 1-of-7 from deep in the opening 12 minutes and 4-of-13 for the half. The Suns on the other hand were on fire, shooting 8-of-16 as Bridges went off for 23 points in the first half and pushed Phoenix’s lead 62-53 to start the third quarter. 

The Raptors took their first lead of the game with 10-0 run to start the second half that started with a three from Siakam and featured three straight pushes up the middle of the floor and into the Suns’ paint by VanVleet – two to score and the last to pitch out to Gary Trent Jr. for a three. 

It was a microcosm of the resurgent Raptors’ offence of late. Their offensive rating over the past 11 games before Monday  – a stretch in which they are 6-5 – was 121.5 points per 100 possessions, which placed them fourth in the NBA. Prior to that the Raptors were 19th in offensive rating and generating 112.4 points per 100 possessions. 

“The issues that kept the offence behind, first and foremost, were the shooting, that’s certainly improved and a lot of that is related directly to health. It just is. Wasn’t much we could do about it, we were creating great shots by our best shooters, and they just couldn’t make ‘em but now they can,” said Nurse, by way of explanation, while adding: 

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“We score better in transition off our turnovers … getting better at that, getting better at our other positive offensive possessions off of stops, the screening, the passing, the cutting, we’re getting a lot more cutting baskets as well.

“Think there’s a number of things that are factoring in.”

Several of them were evident in the third as Toronto tidied up their turnovers and mostly pushed the pace with the ball, with VanVleet leading the way. He scored 10 points in the quarter and organized the Raptors’ attack. They didn’t make a turnover and forced five from the Suns to take an 84-82 lead into the fourth. 

At that point Nurse went to an unusual lineup, playing Scottie Barnes with Juancho Hernangomez, Thad Young, Malachi Flynn and Chris Boucher. It was a risky way to preserve his starters’ legs, but he more or less got away with it. A pair of big threes by little-used Malachi Flynn helped, the second of which was set up by a steal and a diving recovery by 16-year veteran Young. With Siakam and VanVleet back on the floor to join Barnes, the Raptors were still leading with just over six minutes to play. 

But even with his starters back in, the Raptors’ offence floundered, and Toronto heads to Salt Lake City looking for momentum again.

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#Raptors #regain #momentum #loss #Suns

5 midfielders with the best passing ability in Europe this season (2022-23)

Midfielders form the backbone of a football team. They dictate the speed of the game, bring players into the fold, and carve open defenses by playing inch-perfect through balls into dangerous areas. Midfielders seldom enjoy the glory attackers do, but without them, the entire system tends to fall apart.

The top five European leagues have the privilege of fielding some of the most gifted midfielders on the planet. Many of the said world-class footballers have dazzled onlookers with their crisp passes this season, and today, we will briefly review their performances.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a swift look at the five midfielders with the best passing ability in the 2022-23 season:


#5 Toni Kroos — Real Madrid

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander
Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF – LaLiga Santander

For close to a decade, Real Madrid maestro Toni Kroos has reigned as one of Europe’s most efficient players. The German central midfield player is not as adventurous as some of the other names on this list today. However, when it comes to dictating play, there is hardly anyone better than the Real Madrid no. 8.

Kroos is adept at playing short passes and keeping the opposition on their toes. He also has the innate ability to switch play to wide areas with his long balls and is rarely dispossessed under pressure. In the 2022-23 La Liga season, Kroos averages 74.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy) and 6.3 accurate long balls (86% accuracy) per game. Overall, Kroos has played 15 La Liga matches this term, scoring twice and claiming two assists.

Kroos has always been clear of that J league merchant https://t.co/FB4tIbgDU7

In the Champions League, he claimed two assists in five group-stage matches. There, he averaged 86.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy), eight long balls (87% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes per game.


#4 Joshua Kimmich — Bayern Munich

FC Bayern München v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga
FC Bayern München v Eintracht Frankfurt – Bundesliga

Bayern Munich’s right-back turned central midfielder Joshua Kimmich has been in red-hot form in the 2022-23 season. The Germany international has featured in 18 games in the Bundesliga this season, scoring thrice, providing three assists and creating six big chances. Kimmich averages 2.7 key passes, 70.4 accurate passes (89% accuracy), and 5.4 long balls (74% accuracy) per game in the Bundesliga.

Con este GOLAZO de Kimmich, el Bayern empató al Köln en los minutos finales del partido 🤩🤯. https://t.co/Prr3ogu3Kp

In the Champions League group stage, Kimmich claimed three assists and created four big chances in five games. He averaged 68.2 accurate passes (91% accuracy), 4.2 accurate long balls (68% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes in that round.


#3 Luka Modric — Real Madrid

Real Madrid v Valencia CF - Super Copa de España
Real Madrid v Valencia CF – Super Copa de España

Despite being firmly on the wrong side of 30, 37-year-old central midfielder Luka Modric has been one of Real Madrid’s best players this season. The Croatian superstar has been immaculate with his distribution, has worked harder than most, and has created goalscoring opportunities quite frequently.

In the 2022-23 La Liga campaign, Modric has featured in 17 matches, scoring twice, creating five big chances, and providing two assists. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder averages 1.3 key passes, 43.8 accurate passes (90% accuracy), and 2.4 accurate long balls (77% accuracy) per game.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist also looked sharp in the group stage of the 2022-23 Champions League, scoring twice in four games. He averaged 56.2 accurate passes (90% accuracy), 3.2 long balls (59% accuracy), and 0.8 key passes each game.


#2 Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City

Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League

Arguably the best midfielder in the world right now, Manchester City ace Kevin De Bruyne is in a league of his own. Not only can he dictate the tempo of the game with his short passes in the middle of the park but also do damage with his defense-piercing passes higher up. An in-form De Bruyne can take on any midfield unit in the world and come out on top.

Since the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season, the Belgian has played 19 games, scoring thrice and providing 11 assists. He has created 20 big chances, the most in Europe; and played 20 accurate through balls. The midfielder averages 44.95 passes per game in the Premier League.

16 – Kevin De Bruyne has provided more assists in all competitions this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues (16), with seven of these assists resulting in Erling Haaland goals. Blueprint. https://t.co/fpMKWpiRYk

The former Chelsea man has been impressive in the UEFA Champions League as well. In the group stage, De Bruyne played four games, claiming three assists, creating two big chances, and averaging 2.5 key passes per game.


#1 Martin Odegaard — Arsenal

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Manchester United – Premier League

Arsenal are currently sitting at the top of the 2022-23 Premier League table, and their captain, Martin Odegaard, has emerged as the team’s best performer. The former Real Madrid man has been reliable in possession, exhibited immaculate vision, and unlocked defenses with his slide rule through balls.

In the English top flight this season, the Norwegian midfielder has scored eight goals, provided five assists, and created 10 big chances. He averages 34.8 accurate passes (82% accuracy), 2.2 key passes, and 1.6 accurate long balls (64% accuracy) long balls per game.

Martin Odegaard is having an incredible season 👏 https://t.co/RJjPLux1zz

Mikel Arteta rarely deployed him in the group stages of the 2022-23 Europa League season. He averaged only 37 minutes over six games, starting only two matches. He created two big chances and averaged 1.3 key passes per game.

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Premier League Darts schedule and TV times: Michael Smith, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright star

Darts’ biggest party is back in 2023 as the Premier League roadshow heads to a venue near you!; the SSE Arena in Belfast plays host as the first of 17 individual venues from Thursday February 2 with the Play-Offs returning to The O2 in London on Thursday May 25

Last Updated: 30/01/23 4:50pm


Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith will clash on Premier League opening night in Belfast

Full schedule and TV times as Michael Smith takes Michael van Gerwen in a repeat of the World Darts Championship final on the opening night of this year’s Premier League.

This year’s tournament will see eight of the sport’s top stars contesting 16 mini-events during the season, with each league night comprising quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final over the best-of-11 legs.

The Premier League season gets under way at The SSE Arena in Belfast, with the opening night’s quarter-finals headlined by a blockbuster showdown between Smith and reigning champion Van Gerwen.

Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

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Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

Van Gerwen was one dart away from a nine-darter before Smith nailed the hold grail in the World Championship final

Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

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Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

Dan Dawson looks at the growing rivalry between MVG and Smith

This will be the pair’s first meeting since their Alexandra Palace epic on January 3, which saw Smith land a history-making nine-darter en route to clinching his maiden World Championship crown.

Two-time world champion Peter Wright plays newly-crowned Masters champion Chris Dobey, who celebrated his first televised triumph in Milton Keynes on Sunday night.

Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

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Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

Gerwyn Price hit TWO nine-dart finishes in one night in Belfast

Dimitri Van den Bergh marks his Premier League return with a clash against 2021 champion Jonny Clayton, while 2020 runner-up Nathan Aspinall plays Gerwyn Price – who famously landed two nine-darters in Belfast last year.

Night Two will take place at Cardiff’s International Arena on February 9, with Price pitted against Dobey on his homecoming, while Clayton makes his return to home soil with a tie against Smith.

Wright will headline Night Three at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro when he takes on Van den Bergh, with six-time champion Van Gerwen up against Aspinall in a repeat of October’s World Grand Prix final.

Michael Smith will be looking for Premier League success having claimed World Championship glory earlier this year

Michael Smith will be looking for Premier League success having claimed World Championship glory earlier this year

The sport’s biggest roadshow rolls into Dublin’s 3Arena on Thursday February 23, as Smith and Wright lock horns in a repeat of the 2022 World Championship final.

Night Five in Exeter will then see a repeat of two televised finals from 2022, with Van Gerwen meeting Price in a repeat of July’s World Matchplay decider, before Aspinall and Smith battle it out in a rematch of November’s Grand Slam showpiece.

Quarter-final fixtures for 14 of the 16 league phase nights are listed below in draw bracket order, with fixtures for Night Eight and Night 16 to be determined by league standings heading into each night.

All matches will be played over a best-of-11 legs format, with a £10,000 bonus on offer to each night’s winner.

Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

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Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

Watch every nine-darter that has been hit in the Premier League

2023 Premier League Fixtures

Night One – Thursday February 2
The SSE Arena, Belfast
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall vs Gerwyn Price

Live Premier League Darts

February 2, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena HD

Night Two – Thursday February 9
Cardiff International Arena
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Live Premier League Darts

February 9, 2023, 7:00pm

Live on Sky Sports Arena HD

Night Three – Thursday February 16
OVO Hydro, Glasgow
Quarter-Finals

Nathan Aspinall vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gerwyn Price vs Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton vs Chris Dobey

Night Four – Thursday February 23
3Arena, Dublin
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Jonny Clayton vs Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey vs Michael van Gerwen

Night Five – Thursday March 2
Westpoint Exeter
Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen vs Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall vs Michael Smith
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton vs Peter Wright

Night Six – Thursday March 9
M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Jonny Clayton
Chris Dobey vs Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night Seven – Thursday March 16
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey vs Michael Smith

Night Eight – Thursday March 23
Utilita Arena, Newcastle
Quarter-Finals

Fixtures based on league table following Night Seven

Night Nine – Thursday March 30
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Michael Smith
Nathan Aspinall vs Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton vs Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright vs Gerwyn Price

Night Ten – Thursday April 6
Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen vs Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall vs Jonny Clayton
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Michael Smith

Night 11 – Thursday April 13
The Brighton Centre
Quarter-Finals

Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey vs Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright vs Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton vs Michael Smith

Night 12 – Thursday April 20
Rotterdam Ahoy
Quarter-Finals

Chris Dobey vs Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith vs Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Nathan Aspinall

Night 13 – Thursday April 27
First Direct Arena, Leeds
Quarter-Finals

Michael Smith vs Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Jonny Clayton
Nathan Aspinall vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night 14 – Thursday May 4
AO Arena, Manchester
Quarter-Finals

Peter Wright vs Jonny Clayton
Chris Dobey vs Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael Smith vs Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price vs Michael van Gerwen

Night 15 – Thursday May 11
Utilita Arena, Sheffield
Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price vs Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey vs Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen vs Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton vs Dimitri Van den Bergh

Night 16 – Thursday May 18
P&J Live, Aberdeen
Quarter-Finals

Fixtures based on league table following Night 15

Play-Offs – Thursday May 25
The O2, London

Semi-Finals and Final



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An Unbiased Guide To Finding The Best Online Bookmakers In Australia

In the past couple of years, online sportsbooks in Australia have had a major breakthrough. They are far superior to brick-and-mortar facilities as they offer regular bonuses, better odds and more betting options.

And if that is not enough, they are as secure as you can think and will allow you to place real money bets with numerous methods.

Since their popularity is now off the charts, we wanted to help you have the best betting experience. That is why we are more than happy to give you an unbiased guide to finding the best online bookmakers in Australia. Let’s start breaking down the details.

What to Look For In a Good Aussie Online Sportsbook

First things first, there are a couple of features that you should look for when you are on the lookout for a good Aussie online bookmaker. Before you even think of registering, you must check whether the site is legal and secure.

The best way to do so is to have a look at its license and security system. Online sportsbooks display their licenses at the bottom of their home pages. Just access the website of the bookie and scroll to the bottom. Cross-reference the information with the regulator and if it checks out, you are clear.

As for security systems, just look at the URL of the website. If “S” is located next to “HTTP,” then the site uses the latest SSL encryption software. That means that it is secure.

Next up, look at the available bonuses and promotions. They can boost your winnings. Upon registering, you should have access to:

  • Welcome packages
  • Reload bonuses
  • Free bets
  • Odds boost
  • Enhanced odds
  • Loyalty programs

Check the terms and conditions of these offers, as well. They will tell you how easy it is to claim them and how easy you can withdraw bonus winnings. We often say that it is not just about how rewarding the bonus is, it’s also about how easy it is to claim it and use it.

Payments play a huge role in Aussie online sportsbooks. They are the key to claiming the aforementioned promos and placing real money bets. The more payment methods the sportsbook offers, the better. That way, you will have flexibility when you deposit and withdraw.

Other features that you should check are mobile compatibility, customer support responsiveness, market coverage and user interface. They can make a huge difference in your online betting experience.

Australia

Related: Best Sportsbook For Asian And African Countries

How to Compare Betting Sites in Australia?

When you are searching for a credible Aussie sportsbook, you will find several great candidates. The best way to compare them is to list their best features and see whether they are a good fit for your preferences.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time searching the net for legit bookies, you can always check out this list of online betting sites in Australia. It features the most secure and rewarding platforms in the country.

Some of the features that you ought to pay attention to are bonus terms, odds, available bonuses and payment methods. One additional piece of advice is to always check which company operates the sportsbooks. Some are more reputable and thus, more trustworthy, some are less.

Benefits of Placing Bets at Online Sportsbooks in Australia

There are tons of benefits that you will enjoy when you access online betting sites in Australia. They are the reason why you will have an unforgettable experience on these platforms. Some of the greatest ones are listed below.

Accessibility

First up, we have accessibility. A majority of online sportsbooks use the latest HTML5 technology. That means that you can access them from both desktop and mobile devices, at any time. All you have to do is make sure that your connection to the Internet is stable.

Rewards

Just as we mentioned earlier, online sportsbooks offer various bonuses and promotions. If they apply to your favourite sports categories, they can boost your potential rewards. Not only that but you can also have access to exclusive features and services at the sportsbook itself.

Diversity

The market coverage of online sportsbooks in Australia is simply mesmerizing. You can bet on pretty much any sport that you can think of. This includes rugby league, football, basketball, cricket, MMA, boxing and even eSports. Tons of pre-game and live betting options are also at your disposal.

Security

Aussie bookies that hold a license use advanced technology. They also allow you to place bets under an alias. In doing so, you receive a certain level of online anonymity. This greatly increases your security. If the sportsbook does shady business, you can always contact its regulator and sort things out.

Are Online Sportsbooks Legal in Australia?

One of the biggest questions that you probably want to know about online sportsbooks in Australia is whether they are legal. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 states that online betting is legal but under a few circumstances.

First up, the operator must possess a license if it wants to offer its services to Aussie punters. Online lottery betting and live betting are prohibited. If you wish to place bets on sports, you must also have over 18 years of age.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority must publish a register of all sportsbooks that operate in Australia and hold a license, per the changes of the act in 2017.

Remember to Wager Responsibly

If you are thinking of registering, make sure that you bet for entertainment purposes. In other words, gamble responsibly. You can do so by limiting the time that you spend on a sportsbook, as well as your budget.

Online sportsbooks are required by law to have self-exclusion programs. You can enter them if you feel like you are overspending on bets. Additionally, you can call the National Gambling Helpline at 1800 858 858. It offers 24/7 support and calls are free of charge. Agents will offer counselling services and help you overcome the issue.

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