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Aap And Afp
Monday, May 28, 2012

All Whites win

DALLAS, Texas - A clinical Shane Smeltz finish and some desperate late defence gave New Zealand a 1-0 upset win over Honduras in a soccer friendly in Dallas. Smeltz met a pinpoint cross from Jeremy Brockie to head his side to the lead on the stroke of halftime at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. New Zealand, who had drawn 2-2 with El Salvador in Houston on Friday, then had to survive some heavy pressure during the last 20 minutes. The Hondurans, who at 62nd are ranked 70 places above the All Whites, hit the woodwork twice in the second half. But New Zealand were able to hold on for another morale-boosting result ahead of the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign in the Solomon Islands.

Froch's title

NOTTINGHAM, England - Carl Froch stopped Lucian Bute in the fifth round in his hometown to claim the IBF super-middleweight boxing title. The popular Nottingham resident, a two-time former WBC champion, was regarded as the underdog heading into the contest against the unbeaten Bute, the Romanian-born Canadian who was making his 10th title defence. The 34-year-old Froch improved to 29-2 with his 20th knockout. He lost his WBC title to Andre Ward at the Super Six World Boxing Classic in December.

English rugby

LONDON - England rugby union captain Chris Robshaw completed the first leg of what he hopes will be a perfect personal summer double by leading Harlequins to a first English title with a 30-23 win over Leicester in the final. After scoring one of his side’s two tries, and leading from the front, the whole-hearted flanker will turn his sights to tackling the Springboks next month in South Africa.

Toulon in semis

PARIS - Toulon qualified for the French Top 14 rugby union semi-finals - thanks to the boot of former Wallaby Matt Giteau - with a come-from-behind 17-13 playoff win over Racing Metro. Toulon will face Clermont in their June 3 semi, with Castres - who beat Montpellier 31-15 - up against Toulouse 24 hours earlier.

Celtics through

BOSTON, Massachusetts - The Boston Celtics punched their ticket to the NBA Eastern Conference finals with an 85-75 victory over Philadelphia behind a “triple-double” by Rajon Rondo. Rondo scored 18 points with 10 assists and 10 rebounds as the Celtics won the decisive game seven in the second-round series. The Celtics will have little time to relax. They open the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals in Miami against the star-studded Heat on Monday night. That winner will face San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.

Donald leads

WENTWORTH, England - Luke Donald is in pole position to defend his PGA Championship title and return to the top of the world rankings after overnight leader James Morrison suffered a third round meltdown at Wentworth. Morrison had been four shots clear after a second round 64, but the world No.236 carded a woeful 81 to leave him eight strokes behind Donald heading into today's final round at the tournament in Surrey, just outside of London. Donald is now 11-under-par and two shots ahead of second-placed Justin Rose as he bids to follow Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only players to make a successful defence of the European Tour's flagship event.

Strauss shines

NOTTINGHAM, England - England captain Andrew Strauss struck his second hundred in as many matches to answer one earlier from West Indies skipper Darren Sammy in the second Test at Trent Bridge. At the close of the second day, England were 2-259 in reply to the tourists’ first innings 370, which featured Sammy's 106 - the allrounder's maiden Test century. England were 111 runs behind, with Strauss 102 not out and Kevin Pietersen, who struck a six and 10 fours, unbeaten on 72. They've so far added 136 for the third wicket as they both cashed in on an excellent batting pitch.

Early boost

NICE, France - Spain's Nicolas Almagro got the perfect boost ahead of the French Open by ending the magical claycourt run of American qualifier Brian Baker to successfully defend his Nice Open title. Almagro’s 6-3 6-2 victory was his second tournament win of the year and the 12th of his career. Baker, 27, was playing in his first ATP final after being sidelined for almost six years having undergone five surgeries (three hip, one elbow, one hernia) before returning to tennis in July 2011 at the Pittsburgh Futures.

Euro warm-up games

LONDON - With the Euro 2012 soccer championship less than two weeks away, Spain is in good shape to defend the title by beating Serbia 2-0 in their first warmup game on Saturday.

It wasn't such a successful night for two other continental heavyweights, however, with a German team missing their Bayern Munich stars losing 5-3 in Switzerland and the Netherlands folding 2-1 to Bulgaria.

The Germans and Dutch are in the same Euro12 group, along with Portugal, who drew 0-0 with Macedonia, and Denmark who were beaten 3-1 by Brazil.

But Roy Hodgson began his reign as England manager with a 1-0 victory at Norway.

Adrian Lopez made a case for starting up front for the Spanish at the Euros in place of the injured David Villa by opening the scoring in the 64th minute on his international debut, before earning the penalty that was converted by Santi Cazorla 16 minutes from time.

Lopez - the leading scorer in Spain's win in the under-21 European Championship last year - has Fernando Torres, Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo to compete with for a spot in Del Bosque's squad, which will be announced on Sunday, but the coach couldn't have failed to be impressed by the debutant.

While Spain look to have good backup for leading players, the same maybe can't be said about Germany - arguably the holder's biggest rivals for the title at Euro12.

Germany rested their Bayern players who were involved in the loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final and were made to pay as Eren Derdiyok scored a hat-trick in Basel. In Amsterdam, World Cup runner-ups the Netherlands lacked their trademark fluency.

Robin van Persie gave the Dutch the lead on the stroke of halftime, running onto a pass over the Bulgarian defence by Wesley Sneijder and volleying home for his 26th international goal.

In Oslo, Ashley Young scored England's only goal in the 9th minute after combining with Andy Carroll.

Cristiano Ronaldo started in attack for Portugal but he couldn't break down a packed Macedonia defence in Leiria, with the home fans ending up jeering their own players. Denmark are the other team in a tough Group B at the Euros and the Nordic team were swept aside 3-1 by Brazil, starting a four-match tour ahead of the London Olympics. Porto striker Hulk, who has been linked with a move to European champions Chelsea, scored two of Brazil's goals.

In Dublin, Ireland beat Bosnia-Herzegovina thanks to Shane Long's second-half goal as they prepare for a first tournament appearance in 10 years. Greece, the 2004 European champions, warmed up for another shot at the title with a 1-1 draw with Slovenia.

Tigers five-up

SYDNEY - Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheen praised the effort of his team in a 'difficult week' for the club which ended with a fifth straight NRL victory over North Queensland at Campbelltown. Injuries and illness meant the Tigers could only put in one decent training session according to Sheens, who was thrilled his side beat the Cowboys 26-18 in front of 13,059 fans on Sunday. "We had plenty of issues and I'm really happy with the way the boys aimed up ... I'm pretty happy with the way the boys stuck together in defence in particular," Sheens said.

Manly down

SYDNEY - Ivan Cleary's controversial decision-making has dominated the headlines ahead of Penrith's last two NRL matches, but his side have once again risen to the challenge, seeing off premiers Manly 22-4 at Centrebet Stadium on Sunday. Cleary took the step of stripping the captaincy from NSW star Luke Lewis and handed it to hooker Kevin Kingston before the game, just two weeks after dumping Blues centre Michael Jennings to reserve grade ahead of the Panthers' match against St George Illawarra - a game his side also won.

Nalaga scores

PERTH - Every reason that the Western Force is desperate to re-sign star Wallabies flanker David Pocock was on display in Saturday night's drought breaking Super Rugby win over the Lions.

The Force's dominance was eventually rewarded with another try to winger Napolioni Nalaga in the 70th minute as well, on the way to the team's third win of the season - and first since March 31.

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