Sportwatch: Dragons win a thriller, Barty levels up Fed Cup - as it happened

  • St George Illawarra 12-10 Manly
  • Barty defeated Azarenka 7-6(2), 6-3

Richmond beat Sydney 13.11 (89) to 10.7 (67)

The Tigers didn’t have it all their own way in the final quarter, but they did enough to secure a dominant win over the Swans. With a short turnaround to their “Anzac Eve” (is that really a thing?) game on Wednesday evening, they will be glad to nail down those four points and hit the ice baths to prepare for the Demons.

Richmond’s Dustin Martin was back to his glittering best and after the match, he credited the young players at the club with stepping up after a raft of injuries to senior players. “That’s what I love about this footy club, the effort and intent,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys who put in so much effort and that really spurs on us older guys.”

A-League: Central Coast 3-1 Western Sydney

Well the Mariners have shaken off their first-half lead curse and closed out the game, defeating the Wanderers by two in Gosford. Matt Simon scored two goals for the home team, who still sit at the bottom of the ladder, but will have a bit more belief in themselves going into next season.

Waratahs 23-20 Rebels

After an underwhelming first half, the Waratahs decided to go with the strategy of “just give the ball to Bernard Foley” in the second half. And boy did it work. Foley scored all 16 of the Waratahs’ second half points, laying on three penalty goals and a converted try.

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper was full of praise for Foley after the match. “I love playing with the guy,” said Hooper. “He rises to the challenge, especially when we’re under the pump. He was outstanding tonight.”

The NSW team are out to prove that the loss of Israel Folau isn’t affecting them and that second half performance made quite a statement.

NRL: St George Illawarra 12-10 Manly

Did you hear that loud, fast thudding sound from wherever you’re reading this? That was my heart racing through the last three minutes of that game. Manly looked to have it all wrapped up after Tim Lafai missed a penalty goal that would have levelled the scores with a few minutes left on the clock. But a fumble by Manly gifted a set to the Dragons, who scored through Mikaele Ravalawa with two minutes remaining. A short kick off followed and Manly regained possession with under a minute to take the lead back. Despite Daly Cherry-Evans’ best attempts to convince the referees there was a penalty owing to them at the end, the whistle blew with the home team in the lead and the Wollongong crowd celebrating.

Dragons’ forward James Graham conceded it was a tough game but says his team has specialised in those wins and maintaining their composure to the end of every game. “Even when we lost a couple there, our confidence didn’t go away,” he said. “Three games have been within a point or two so there is plenty of belief there.”

Updated

ICYMI during the week, Sam Kerr was nominated for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. The honours just keep stacking up for the 25-year-old as she prepares for the World Cup in France later this year.

It’s also half-time in Gosford and the Central Coast Mariners have a 1-0 lead over the Western Sydney Wanderers. The Mariners have managed half-time leads 10 times so far this season and only won one of those games, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the second half.

Half-time at the Sydney Cricket Ground won’t be a happy one for the Waratahs, as the Rebels demonstrate that they are indeed the top team in the Australian conference, as if to taunt me for my earlier surprise. A late penalty goal sends the Rebels to the break leading 20-7. Though whether they have scored by ordinary means or by digging tunnels under the very unstable SCG turf isn’t clear at this stage.

Aaaand it’s also half-time at Marvel Stadium and Richmond have continued their form from last week, leading Sydney 9.5 (59) to 4.2 (26). Dustin Martin is in fine form for the Tigers, kicking two goals and taking four marks in the first half.

It’s half-time in Wollongong and the mighty Red V lead Manly 8-4. It’s been a defensive first half, with the Dragons kicking an early penalty goal, then consolidating their lead with a converted try. Manly scored late in the half to narrow the gap, but have had trouble breaking the line. The Dragons have an excellent record against Manly, let’s see if they can maintain it tonight.

Did you know it’s only seven days until the start of the Super Netball season? After all 80 players in the league came off contract at the end of the 2018 season which resulted in more movement than a sandpapered cricket ball in South Africa, I have absolutely no clue who will take out this year’s premiership. Except to say that it definitely won’t be the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

If you can’t wait for the season to begin, have a read of the wonderful Erin Delahunty’s article about the big signing for the Giants, Caitlin Bassett.

And take a look at this season’s promo video - sure to get you in the mood for intercepts, deflections and circle edge feeds.

The Women’s Affiliated State Championships for rugby league are happening this weekend, with great participation across the Under 16s and Opens categories from around Australia. Opportunities for women and girls to participated in elite sport are continuing to grow and competitions like these are a great place to see some of the stars of the future.

A-League: Brisbane 1-6 Newcastle

An absolute scoring bonanza by the Jets saw them take this win on the road. The Novocastrians didn’t play like a team sitting in seventh on the ladder and dominated the match from start to finish. Roy O’Donovan and Jason Champness each scored two goals and they will be celebrating all the way back to King St Maccas.

Super Rugby: Highlanders 24-12 Blues

A high scoring second half saw the Highlanders further push out their lead at home. They extend their lead over the Blues on the New Zealand conference ladder as well, sitting firmly in second place.

NRL: New Zealand 10-17 North Queensland

Life after Jonathan Thurston hasn’t been easy for the Cowboys, but a seven-point win over the Warriors in Auckland will give them something to celebrate on the long trip home.

Captain Michael Morgan looked relieved to have secured their second win of 2019. “It was a grinding game, but one I’m very happy to take out,” he said after the game. “Defence down on our line was key. That was our focus and luckily for the majority of the second half we were very good.”

AFL: St Kilda beat Melbourne 15.5 (95) to 7.13 (55)

St Kilda were able to push out their half time lead to take a dominant win against the Demons at the MCG. The win takes the Saints to the top of the table, though a Geelong win on Monday could see them drop back to second.

Tim Membrey was happy with how his team performed. “The game was pretty quick at times, but we wanted to slow the ball down, get the game back to our terms,” he said after the game. “I feel we were able to do that pretty successfully.”

Alex Hill on email has kindly reminded me to check in with the women’s Rugby 7s in Japan. Some big results out of there this evening, with France recording their first ever win over New Zealand, ending the Black Ferns’ 38 games without a loss. It was a very comprehensive victory, the French taking out the match 29-7.

Australia weren’t able to hold on against Canada, going down 17-14 after a last gasp try from Canada’s Kaili Lukan. Both teams will still qualify for tomorrow’s quarter finals.

Fed Cup: Ash Barty defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-6(2), 6-3

Ash Barty has levelled up the Fed Cup semi final against Belarus, defeating Azarenka in two sets. Barty played her hand well, grinding Azarenka down in a tight first set before cruising through the second.

There’s a lot of love for Barty over on Twitter as well - she is certainly the darling of the Australian public right now.

Another half-time score from New Zealand, this time in the Super Rugby. The Highlanders lead the Blues 7-5 at home in Dunedin.

And in the A-League in Brisbane, it’s the Newcastle Jets with a strong 2-0 lead over the Roar at half-time.

Half time in the NRL over the dutch and it’s the North Queenslanders with a four-point lead over the New Zealanders, up 8-4 at the break. A penalty goal right on the buzzer pushed them ahead after the Warriors had two tries disallowed in the last 10 minutes.

It’s been a close game for most of the first half, but a late run of goals for St Kilda means they head into the main break leading Melbourne 7.2 (44) to 4.5 (29).

Back to the Fed Cup and Ash Barty has ground out a determined first set win over Victoria Azarenka 7-6(2). This looks sure to be a fierce battle between the doubles partners - neither of them will give up without a fight.

Now for some A-League results. The (extremely long) season is finally nearing its end and the round began with some tight matches.

Sydney FC 1-0 Perth Glory

Adelaide United 1-0 Melbourne Victory

The top of the table clash in Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval has been the highlight of the round so far, with Sydney FC grinding out the win. However the Glory maintain their place at the top of the ladder. David Squires had some thoughts this week about the Glory rediscovering their glory days.

Did someone say Super Rugby? Nope, no one did, but I’m going to give you the scores anyway because I’m comprehensive like that.

Chiefs 17-23 Lions

Sunwolves 23-29 Hurricanes

Sharks 14-21 Reds

The Reds’ win over in South Africa sees them within striking distance of the Rebels who have somehow found themselves at the top of the Australian conference. I’m pretty sure even they’re surprised about that. However the Rebels take on the Waratahs tonight, who have been through a fair bit of upheaval recently, so they have a good chance to extend their lead out further.

Now to the AFL, where three matches were also played over Thursday and Friday - as well as the Fremantle win that took place earlier today.

Collingwood beat Brisbane 18.15 (123) to 8.13 (61)

Essendon beat North Melbourne 17.14 (116) to 7.16 (58)

Port Adelaide beat West Coast 13.17 (95) to 8.5 (53)

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for far this season for the reigning premiers. With three wins from their five games so far, they currently sit outside the eight and will be looking for plenty of improvement if they plan to repeat last year’s efforts.

So while we wait for the rest of the sport to get underway, let’s check in on the results that have happened so far this weekend. We’ll start with NRL for no other reason than it’s first on the list I made earlier today.

Cronulla 24-20 Panthers (Thursday)

Canterbury 6-14 South Sydney (Friday)

Storm 20-21 Roosters (Friday)

The Storm and Roosters match has been the pick of the round so far, with a golden point field goal to Latrell Mitchell (described to me as the “Steve Smith of rugby league” earlier today) the only thing to separate the two teams. While it was no doubt a tough battle, it couldn’t have been tougher than forcing the majority of NRL fans to decide which team they wanted to lose out of these two.

In Brisbane, the Fed Cup match between Ash Barty and Victoria Azarenka has just got underway. Belarus has the upper hand in the semi final so far, with Aryna Sabalenka defeating Sam Stosur 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the first match of the day. I’ll keep you up to date with Barty’s match as it plays out.

AFL: Fremantle 16.10 (106) beat GWS 11.16 (82)

A tight battle ensued for most of this game in Canberra this afternoon, with Fremantle asserting their dominance in the final quarter. The last couple of minutes showed they were still worried about their opponents’ ability to score quickly though, with the backs taking part in a little game of “keepings off” while the Giants desperately chased after them like kindergarten kids trying to get their bags back from a group of Year 6 boys.

The Dockers’ Matt Taberner was happy with a win away from home. “We’re a young team and we haven’t really performed on the road over the last two seasons,” he said after the game. “So we were treating this as a business trip and just came to get the four points.”

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Preamble

Welcome to another busy weekend in sport here at the Guardian Sportwatch blog. We’ve got so much going on this evening, I can’t wait to get started. As well as live AFL, NRL, A-League, Rugby 7s, tennis and Super Rugby games to cover, I’ll also be running you through some key events and results from the week gone by.

So go and get the Easter eggs out of their hiding spots, crack them open a little early and settle in for a big sportsfest ahead. Remember you can tweet or email me using the links above - I’d love to answer your questions or ramble on about a topic of your choosing.