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20.06.2019 03:53
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This week, Stuart Barnes explains why he is excited by the appointment of Nigel Melville as RFU’s director of professional rugby. Plus, he looks at the winners and losers as the Premiership and PRO12 head towards the play-offs... 1. In England, the weekend rugby news was dominated by the imminent departure of Rob Andrew and his replacement, Nigel Melville. Andrew lost the faith of the general public and the media for not taking greater responsibility since his appointment in 2011.What I will say is that he had to take a share of criticism as a central protagonist in the appointments of Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster. Both were bad appointments for differing reasons. Nigel Melvilles USA experience will be invaluable, says Barnes To balance the negatives he is widely believed to have played the crucial role in the heads of agreement between club and country. That is no small achievement.However, more obvious rugby related results were expected. Melville will take back the development role Andrew lost. Great things are expected. Coming from Colorado to Twickenham, the very distance between the states and England will give him a fresh perspective.He has a sharp rugby mind, broad business experience and the knowledge of some of the most sophisticated sports thinking on the planet emanating from the US. The predominant reason for delight is Melvilles appointment, not Andrews imminent departure.2. Eddie has been setting out his time lines. The tour of Australia is a chance for England (as he sees it) to climb the world rankings.New Zealand, however, is in another league to every side and the target to overhaul them in Tokyo 2019 is ambitious enough. No more of this targeting 2023 nonsense, however. The age of excuses seems to have been left behind. Bring out the buntings! Jones plotting victory against Australia 3. Celebrations in Cardiff too where over 68,000 spectators were lured by a promise of exciting derby rugby and cheap tickets into the Principality Stadium for Cardiff Blues versus Ospreys; it is sad that such a great rugby nation as Wales needs something as corny as Judgment Day to lure the supporters, but in this instance it was a great success both on and off the field. Highlights of the Guinness PRO12 round 21 clash between Cardiff Blues and Ospreys Rhys Webb and the returning Scott Williams will have helped make the day of the Welsh management, too. Here is hoping Sam Warburtons injury is nothing too bad. Wales will need every man standing in New Zealand.4. It was billed as the shock of the weekend but was it really? Pat Lam rested most of his team against a Treviso side in a neck-and-neck battle with Zebre for the right to get hammered in the European Champions Cup. Highlights of the Guinness PRO12 round 21 clash between Benetton Treviso and Connacht. Any victories are rare for the Italian teams but a home win is hardly a once in a lifetime affair. Also, it has to be remembered that barring a draw against Glasgow next Saturday, nothing has changed in the Connacht versus Glasgow scrap for a home semi-final. The result in Treviso will not have knocked Treviso off their stride.5. The defending champions are in great form. I was starting to wonder whether there were any teams in the Pro12 league capable of giving them a game at the moment. Cue a trip to Belfast and a high paced, inventive, bustling and, more than anything else, an intelligent performance from Ulster. Highlights of the Guinness PRO12 round 21 clash between Ulster and Leinster This was only their second win in eight games against Leinster. The Dublin-based side have looked as if they would be vulnerable to good teams all season (as they were in Europe). With two sides playing so well I do not fancy their chances of regaining the Pro12 title this season; Glasgow remain my idea of firm favourites but if Ulsters half backs can keep playing as well as they did last weekend we have at the very least a serious challenger.Theyll need to play well just to make the play offs. The Ospreys have not given up on a European Champions Cup spot as they showed last Saturday and with Scott Williams back, the Scarlets have been reinvigorated ahead of their must win game in Limerick this weekend. Fourth place is in Ulsters hands but expect the Ospreys to make life incredibly difficult in Swansea.6. Saracens fans had a bit of a fright. Trailing 3-14 to Newcastle at half-time, there might have been a few worried Fez Heads but once they threw away their Dubrovnik holiday gear they stormed back to win the game and clinch top spot in the league table. All roads now lead to Lyon. Chris Wyles of Saracens shakes the hand of Jacques Burger as the Namibian walks off in his last match 7. I am sure they will have noted Racing 92s impressive win over Clermont. The Parisian side have a strong squad, some outstanding individuals and a determination to make this a memorable season. There is not much doubt a late Leicester breakaway in the semi-final would have made this an easier final for Saracens.8. It was Exeter who took a few weeks to put the misery of their last second European elimination at the hands of the Wasps behind them. On Sunday their quarter-final conquerors suffered the same fate after losing to Saracens in the semi-finals. One more win and the Chiefs will have the advantage of a home semi-final in the Premiership with Wasps expected to again be the visitors. However, Harlequins will be a tough final game. It will be Conor O Sheas Stoop farewell and the Quins will be looking to send him to Italy on a high.9. Wasps should have a fairly straightforward task of claiming maximum points with London Irish down and out. The Irish can start planning for an immediate return next season while Wasps must ready themselves for a tilt at the English title. Saracens are by some way the best team in England but with the European final before the domestic denouement who knows what victory or another defeat will do to them? Jack Tovey scores for Bristol against Bedford. 10. Bristol are overwhelming favourites to make it third time lucky after botching last years play-off finals against Worcester and, more unforgivably, London Welsh. Doncaster Knights are expected to face them in the final after an impressive away win of their own in Leeds. Bristol can enjoy next weeks second leg against Bedford before the pressure begins to pile on Andy Robinson and his heavily fancied team. Look at the respective squads of Bristol and the other three play-off teams. There are no excuses. Also See: WATCH Guinness PRO12 highlights Loss relegates London Irish Follow @SkySportsRugby Fixtures and results Cheap Rangers Jerseys China . Ivanovic was leading 7-5, 1-0 when Hantuchova withdrew after falling 0-40 behind in the second game. The match started slowly for Ivanovic, who surrendered her first two serves as Hantuchova took a 5-3 lead. Cheap Rangers Jerseys . Los Angeles star goalie survived those perilous gymnastics with no problem, and he eventually backstopped the Kings to a skid-snapping win. Quick stopped 27 shots in his return from a 24-game injury absence, Jeff Carter scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:55 to play, and the Kings snapped their five-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. . The parade and rally were held to celebrate the Saskatchewan Roughriders 45-23 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday in the CFLs championship game. Cheap Nolan Ryan Jersey .Y. - Rob Manfred was promoted Monday to Major League Baseballs chief operating officer, which may make him a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner. Cheap MLB Jerseys Authentic . Jane Virtanen scored two, and Alex Roach and Elliott Peterson rounded out the offence for the Hitmen (40-15-6). Brady Brassart chipped in with three assists. Colton McCarthy scored twice, Brayden Point had a goal and two assists, and Jack Rodewald also scored for the Warriors (15-35-9), who were 2 for 5 on the power play.Hideki Matsuyama fired a round-of-the-day 65 to open up a three-shot advantage at the WGC-HSBC Champions, as Rory McIlroy made a move up the leaderboard. Latest leaderboard WGC-HSBC Champions Matsuyama mixed nine birdies with two bogeys on his way to setting the clubhouse target in Shanghai, while McIlroy heads in to the weekend six strokes off the pace after a much-improved round.Resuming two strokes adrift of overnight pacesetter Rikard Karlberg, Matsuyama recovered from a first-hole blemish to birdie the next two and add two more from the seventh on his way to reaching the turn in 34. Matsuyama has posted top-five finishes in his past three starts The world No 10 opened his back-nine with a hat-trick of gains to move top of the leaderboard, before extending his advantage to three strokes by picking up shots at the par-five 14th and 18th.Im really happy with how it ended up today, Matsuyama said. During the warm-up this morning, it was starting to get windy and I thought maybe just a couple under par would be a good score. I have been playing well but today I hit some good second shots and made some putts and thats what made the round score well for me.Defending champion Russell Knox, looking to become the only player other than Tiger Woods to successfully defend a WGC title, posted a four-under 68 to join Amerrican Bill Haas in joint-second.dddddddddddd Knox is 10 under after the opening two rounds Birdies over his final three holes lifted Francesco Molinari to within five strokes of the lead alongside Richard Bland and Daniel Berger, with McIlroy posting a six-under 66 to join the group a further shot back.McIlroy reached the turn in 33 and added three gains in a four-hole stretch along the back nine, before bouncing back from finding the hazard and dropping a shot at the 16th to birdie the last. McIlroy is looking to close the gap at the top of the Race to Dubai standings this week The world No 3 is joined on seven under by Paul Casey, Ross Fisher and home favourite Xinjun Zhang, with Rickie Fowler seven off the pace after bogey three of his opening five holes.Masters champion Danny Willett struggled to a six-over 78 and US Open winner Dustin Johnson posted a second successive 74, as Adam Scott fired a back-nine 42 on his way to a second-round 80. Watch the WGC-HSBC Champions throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf. Live coverage begins on Saturday from 4am. Also See: WGC-HSBC leaderboard First round highlights McIlroy tests new driver Golf live on Sky Sports ' ' '

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