ACU shot just 30.4 percent in the second half and went 6:13 without a point, yet was able to hold on thanks to Jaylen Franklin’s four free throws in the final 42 seconds. Franklin had just one field goal but was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line, finishing with 12 points. The Wildcats didn’t feel at ease about matters until a last-second heave from Southeastern Louisiana’s Von Julien fell short, giving them the chance to play for the tournament crown six years after rejoining the Southland Conference. Southeastern Louisiana (17-16) struggled without the services of All-Conference first teamer Moses Greenwood, who picked up two early fouls. Without their biggest interior threat, the Lions fell behind 37-27 at the half as they committed 12 of their 17 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes of play. Despite blowing a 13-point lead, No. 2-seed ACU survived the challenge of No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana in a 69-66 thriller that places the Wildcats (26-6) into Saturday’s tournament championship game against No. 4 New Orleans at 8:30 p.m. CT. The winner will get the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.MBB: Playing in their first Southland tournament, the @ACU_MBB Wildcats are GOING TO THE ‘SHIP! Run to the big backstage bracket, men! #GoWildcats #ChampWeek @ACUedu @ACUSports pic.twitter.com/ifBlkGeXYj— #SouthlandStrong (@SouthlandSports) March 16, 2019 Using the trap to harass the Wildcats, the Lions trimmed the lead down and closed within 49-44 on a dunk from Kajon Brown with 7:58 left. Brown added more offensive spark when his 3-pointer at the 5:49 mark pushed the deficit to 53-51 before Tyron Brewer’s dunk off an alley-oop from Veal gave Southeastern its first lead at 56-55 with 3:17 left. ACU led by as much as 13 in the first half but then went into an extended offensive funk that saw them score only seven points in a span of 12:03 seconds in the first and second half. The Wildcats opened the second half 1-for-7 from the field and eventually opened the door for Southeastern to get back into the contest. To be on the verge of playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time is a moment long coming for ACU, which had to sit out four years after returning to the conference.The lead is 37-27 after a @JayFrank0 steal and dish to @jarenlewis for the bucket. https://t.co/jiMDU2SiXG #GoWildcats pic.twitter.com/lmvTFHtANn— ACU Mens Basketball (@ACU_MBB) March 16, 2019 “With Moses picking up those two fouls, it was tough,” said Southeastern guard Marlain Veal, the team’s All-Southland first teamer who scored 20 points and added six assists in his final game as a Lion. Greenwood (10 points, five rebounds) gave the Lions their final lead at 59-57 after a layup with 2:07 left. However, ACU’s Payten Ricks responded with a 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats the lead for good with 1:59 remaining. Box Score | Photo GalleryKATY, Texas – Arriving at the Merrell Center was worth the wait for Abilene Christian, who finally played its first Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament game on Friday night in Katy. Thanks to clutch defense and a couple of huge baskets down the stretch, the Wildcats will spend one more day in town with a chance to head to the NCAA Division I Men’s Tournament at stake. “We knew how important it is to make them turn the ball over,” said Wildcats forward Jaren Lewis, who had 17 points, 11 boards and two assists. “They’ve been pretty good at what they run since I’ve been at ACU, so we knew that was a point of emphasis. We knew we had to get after them defensively and be aggressive.” “We got off to a great start, but in the second half we couldn’t see the ball go through,” said ACU coach Joe Golding. “But we continued to guard and continued to rebound. Rebounding was the most important factor and we ended up tied on the glass (31-31).” “That was a huge, huge shot,” said Lions’ coach Jay Ladner. “That might have been the difference in the game.” “We came from a program that didn’t have a lot of success, but these kids stuck with me,” said Golding. “At the end of the day, we’re 40 minutes away from the NCAA Tournament. Six years ago, that was a pipe dream.”
SANTA ANITA AUTUMN MEET TO AGAIN FEATURE WORLD CLASS JOCKEY COLONY AS SMITH, PRAT, ESPINOZA, VAN DYKE, CEDILLO, TALAMO, BEJARANO, & MANY MORE ALL RETURN FOR FULL-TIME ASSIGNMENTS 23-DAY AUTUMN MEET TO OPEN FRIDAY & WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED BY BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NOV. 1 & 2 ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 24, 2019)–Fans and horsemen will once again be treated to an abundance of world class riding talent as Santa Anita’s 23-day Autumn Meet, which will be highlighted by a record 10th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 & 2, opens this Friday, Sept. 27.With Hall of Famer “Big Money” Mike Smith, America’s all-time leading Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey again ready to roll, a deep and talented pool of young riders, including Flavien Prat, Victor Espinoza, Drayden Van Dyke, Joe Talamo, Rafael Bejarano and newcomer Abel Cedillo comprise an incredibly competitive Jockeys’ Room.Smith, who has won a record 26 Breeders’ Cup races (including four Classics), is scheduled to ride Bob Baffert’s McKinzie, America’s top ranked older horse, in this Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes, a key prep for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2. A native of Roswell, NM, Smith, 54, has also won two Kentucky Derbies and at age 52, became the oldest jockey to win a Triple Crown aboard Baffert’s Justify in 2018. He leads all jockeys with 26 Breeders’ Cup victories.A physical marvel, Smith has a strict daily training regimen which is enabling him to thus far defy Father Time. America’s second leading rider (to John Velazquez) with career purse earnings of more than $320-million, Smith is a tireless promoter of racing and many charities, including the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.Flavien Prat, a 27-year-old native of Melun, France, is unquestionably one of the top riders in the country and could well be an Eclipse Award finalist for 2019. A winner via disqualification of this year’s Kentucky Derby with the Bill Mott-trained Country House, Prat, who is regarded as a great judge of pace, strong finisher and fierce competitor, also won this year’s $1 million Pacific Classic with the John Sadler-trained Higher Power, who he is now scheduled to ride in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.The amazing Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, who was sidelined due to a broken neck a year ago, has come back strong this year, finishing seventh in the Del Mar Summer standings while winning the Grade I Bing Crosby aboard the John Sadler-trained Cistron and the Grade II Del Mar Derby with John Shirreffs’ Nolde. A winner of the 2015 Triple Crown with American Pharoah, Espinoza, 47, like Mike Smith, adheres to a strict workout regimen.A 25-year-old native of Louisville, KY, Drayden Van Dyke has been compared by many to the legendary Bill Shoemaker. Small at 5’6″, he tacks a feathery 106 pounds and is a great athlete with an unflappable demeanor. A three-time time leading rider in Southern California, Van Dyke has led two Del Mar meets and one at Los Alamitos.Although his status was in question due to sustaining what is described as a “crush, with no fracture,” to his right arm in a spill out of the gate while riding 1-2 favorite Eight Rings in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity Sept. 2, Van Dyke has been breezing horses since this past Saturday and will be back full-time on opening day.A perennial leader at Golden Gate Fields, Abel Cedillo, a 30-year-old native of Guatemala, shifted his tack to Southern California on a full-time basis this past summer and has made an immediate impact, finishing third in the Del Mar Summer Meet standings while impressing everyone with his work ethic and powerful finishing ability. With trainer Doug O’Neill firmly in his corner, Cedillo is a cinch to make the Autumn Meet Top 10 and could possibly contend for leading rider honors.A 29-year-old native of Marrero, LA, Joe Talamo, who’s closing in on 2,000 career wins, comes off a solid fourth place finish this past summer at Del Mar and with Bob Baffert providing a regular supply of competitive mounts, he’s positioned to have another solid meeting.A five-time leading rider at Santa Anita, Rafael Bejarano, 37, has come back from serious injuries to once again contend for leading rider honors. Second only to Prat in this past Spring/Summer Meet standings at Santa Anita, the popular Peruvian has good business coming into the Autumn Meet and should be flashing his signature smile in the Winner’s Circle on a regular basis.Up and coming Ruben Fuentes, 22, and hot apprentice Jorge Velez, 21, both figure to continue their ascent up the So Cal jockey ladder. Veterans Tiago Pereira, 42, Martin Garcia, 34, Geovanni Franco, 28, Aaron Gryder, 49, Edwin Maldonado, 36, Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux, 49, and others are all scheduled to ride on a regular basis and when combined with a number of top eastern-based jockeys who will be coming in for major stakes commitments, there will be no shortage of competition throughout the 23-day stand.First post time for a nine-race card this Friday is at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
MIDCOURT, ROADSTER & RESTRAINEDVENGENCE ALL PROMINENT AMONG COMPETITIVE FIELD OF 10 OLDER HORSES IN SATURDAY’S GRADE II,$200,000 SAN PASQUAL STAKES AT 1 1/8 MILES ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 29, 2020)–In what shapes up as an outstanding prep to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 7, this Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes has attracted a competitive field of 10 older horses at a mile and one eighth, with C R K Stable’s Midcourt, Speedway Stable’s Roadster and owner/trainer Val Brinkerhoff’s versatile Restrainedvengence all prominent.Although he had a four-race winning streak snapped when third to top older horse Gift Box in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 28, Midcourt will hope to mind his manners and break sharply with regular rider Victor Espinoza up.Last year’s Santa Anita Derby winner, Roadster stretches out off of a second place finish behind Omaha Beach in the opening day Malibu Stakes and speedy Restrainedvengence returns to Santa Anita following a smashing gate to wire win going 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Zia Park, New Mexico on Nov. 27.MIDCOURTOwner: C R K StableTrainer: John ShirreffsA handful in the morning and quite often in post parade on race day, Midcourt has benefitted greatly from Shirreffs’ patient handling which resulted in a four-game winning streak which culminated in a 5 ¾ length win two starts back in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 23. Away slowly and shuffled back in the early going, Midcourt, a 5-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute, never seemed to get untracked in the opening day San Antonio while running an even third, beaten 7 ½ lengths. With regular rider Victor Espinoza back aboard, Midcourt needs to break running and “get in the game” early in order to have his best chance on Saturday.ROADSTEROwner: Speedway Stable, LLCTrainer: Bob BaffertWinless in five starts since winning last year’s Santa Anita Derby, this 4-year-old Quality Road colt was a solid second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths by Omaha Beach going seven furlongs in the opening day Grade I Malibu Stakes. Never a factor in the Kentucky Derby five starts back, he came back to Santa Anita and posted a pair of second place finishes, in the Grade III Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles on June 16, and in the ungraded Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs Nov. 2–in which he was beaten a nose by highly regarded sprinter Flagstaff. Fourth, beaten nearly 10 lengths versus Midcourt as the 4-5 favorite in the Native Diver Nov. 23, his second place run in the Malibu was a very encouraging effort and Roadster looms a dangerous horse with Joel Rosario back aboard.RESTRAINEDVENGENCEOwner: Kelly Brinkerhoff and Bob Grayson, Jr.Trainer: Val BrinkerhoffA 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Hold Me Back, Restrainedvengence sped to a gate wire score in an ungraded stakes at Zia Park Nov. 27, winning by 4 ½ lengths. With outstanding recent races on dirt and turf at Longacres, Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita and Zia Park, Restrainedvengence is beginning to take on the look of a major player in the Handicap division and will be ridden for the first time by a red hot Abel Cedillo on Saturday.THE GRADE II SAN PASQUAL STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDERRace 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PTRoadster–Joel Rosario–122Route Six Six–Jose Valdivia, Jr.–120Restrainedvengence–Abel Cedillo–120King Abner–Flavien Prat–120Midcourt–Victor Espinoza–122Instagrand–Umberto Rispoli–120California Street–Mike Smith–120Two Thirty Five–Ruben Fuentes–120Bold Endeavor–Mario Gutierrez–120Combatant–Drayden Van Dyke–120First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Didn’t realise it was a fake and it was an electrician. Obviously don’t believe everything you read. Lesson learnt pic.twitter.com/9Lx0jeWeFb— Stephen Warnock⚽️📺🎙 (@StephenWarnock3) August 29, 2019 STEPHEN WARNOCK has held his hands up over his hair-brained claim Red Star Belgrade are full of part-time players and a plumber.The Serbian club qualified for the Champions League after beating Young Boys on away goals.4 Stephen Warnock appeared to get his facts wrong as he claimed the Red Star Belgrade squad contained plumbersCredit: Twitter/Sky Sports4 A rogue Twitter account claimed Red Star Belgrade striker Milan Pavkov was an electrician after he scored in the win over Liverpool last seasonCredit: Getty Images – GettyAnd after they were drawn against Tottenham in the Champions League, the former Liverpool, Aston Villa, Leeds and Wigan defender bizarrely revealed he thought they had a plumber playing for them.Speaking to Sky Sports News anchor Jim White immediately after the Champions League draw, Warnock appeared to get his facts wrong.He said: “It’s a very hostile place, they’re part timers as well and you think that they beat the European champions.”They have a lot of guys who are… there were plumbers playing there last year so that’s impressive in itself.”But to have a home record like that says it is a hostile place.”It turns out Red Star do not have any “part-timers” — but are a fully professional outfit in the multi-million pound competition.But Warnock revealed he was suckered by a tweet he saw from a football Twitter account that claimed Red Star striker Milan Pavkov is an electrician — even though he said “plumber” on air.The claim turned out to be rubbish — and fans were quick to lay into Warnock on social media.4 The Champions League group stages draw has once again thrown up plenty of tasty clashesMOST READ IN FOOTBALLTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticREF RELEASEDChampions League ref Vincic released by cops after arrest in prostitution raidKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for himREF RAIDChampions League ref Vincic ‘arrested in raid into drugs and prostitution ring’STIR IT UPBohemians post cryptic response to FIFA promoting a jersey with Bob Marley on it4 Warnock was speaking to Jim White on Sky Sports NewsCredit: Twitter/Sky SportsWhen you read this and say plumber instead of electrician. 🙈 oops pic.twitter.com/6vUKFZqpGJ— Stephen Warnock⚽️📺🎙 (@StephenWarnock3) August 29, 2019 He tweeted: “When you read this and say plumber instead of electrician.”And Warnock replied to another tweet, saying: “Didn’t realise it was a fake and it was an electrician.”Obviously don’t believe everything you read. Lesson learnt.”
TIM SHERWOOD wasted little time turning the knife on Hugo Lloris by making a joke about his horror arm injury while he was being treated in hospital.Lloris suffered a dislocated elbow after falling heavily on his left arm just 129 seconds into Tottenham’s game against Brighton.4 Hugo Lloris was left screaming in agony after suffering a horrific dislocated elbow in the defeat at BrightonCredit: ReutersThe 32-year-old was left screaming in agony and needed morphine to help cope with the pain following the shocking incident early in the 3-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium.The harrowing scenes led to fears over the long-term health of the World Cup winner, with Manchester United keeper David De Gea quick to send his best wishes minutes after it happened.But former Spurs boss Sherwood, who managed Lloris during his time in charge of the North London club, was less sympathetic.The 50-year-old was working as a pundit at the game for the Premier League channel alongside Michael Owen – and minutes after full-time he was making a joke of the incident.The pair were analysing the mistake from Lloris in the seconds leading up to the freak accident, which had gifted Brighton an early lead.Sherwood said: “Listen, Hugo would hold his arms up if he could hold both up and say that, ‘that’s a mistake’.”The attempted pun was met with a blank response by fellow pundit Owen and experienced presenter Manish Bhasin in the studio.4 Tim Sherwood joked about Lloris not being able to hold both his hands up to a mistakeCredit: Twitter-EssayjamesAdvanced levels of shithousery from Tim Sherwood. Taking the piss at Lloris’ expense. Facial expressions of @_manishbhasin immediately after is priceless 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/iprKfuLfLQ— Adam Essay (@EssayAdam) October 5, 2019 More Tottenham newsHARRY ALL FOUR ITKane admits Spurs must win EIGHT games to rise into Champions League spotGossipALL GONE PETE TONGVertonghen wanted by host of Italian clubs as long Spurs spell nears endBELOW PARRSpurs suffer blow with Parrott to miss Prem restart after appendix operationPicturedSHIRT STORMNew Spurs 2020/21 home top leaked but angry fans slam silver design as ‘awful”STEP BY STEP’Jose fears for players’ welfare during restart as stars begin ‘pre-season’KAN’T HAVE THATVictor Osimhen keen on Spurs move but only if they sell Kane this summerLloris now faces having to spend the next two months on the sidelines while he recovers from the injury having been rushed to hospital on the South Coast by ambulance.But X-rays revealed at least there was no break to the bone, which means he is expected to return quicker than had initially been feared.Tottenham, meanwhile, now find themselves in crisis after a dismal fortnight which has seen them dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Colchester before being humiliated 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.4 Lloris fell awkwardly on his left arm, dislocating his elbowCredit: Getty Images – Getty4
JURGEN KLOPP is prepared to balance risk and reward in his quest to bring the Premier League title to Liverpool.The Reds had a whopping 68 per cent possession against Tottenham, a team that aims to challenge for the top four come the end of the season.3 Jurgen Klopp is getting his tactics spot on in the title raceCredit: AFP or licensors3But Liverpool’s ambition to win the match at Anfield can be shown by their average position yesterday.When you look at the positions below, the league leaders played a 2-5-3 formation but, crucially, committed eight players in the opposition half.Liverpool’s high press means they have more joy in winning the ball back higher up the pitch and, therefore, create more goalscoring opportunities.Yes, that ambition can also lead to Klopp’s side leaving themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks down the sides of both centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.But Kop boss Klopp is prepared to take that calculated risk.Liverpool are relentless in their pressing game and ready to take the game to the opposition to take three points.The reason they win the ball back quickly is because it’s a collective press.It’s not just Roberto Firmino or Mo Salah who presses, it’s the whole team.I have said this before but what makes Liverpool and Manchester City so good at the moment is their unbelievable work rate and pressing when they lose the ball.most read in footballTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticREF RELEASEDChampions League ref Vincic released by cops after arrest in prostitution raidKEANE DEALEx Man United youth ace David Jones says Roy Keane negotiated a contract for himREF RAIDChampions League ref Vincic ‘arrested in raid into drugs and prostitution ring’STIR IT UPBohemians post cryptic response to FIFA promoting a jersey with Bob Marley on itAnd because of the number of Liverpool players in Tottenham’s half, it means Mauricio Pochettino’s side only have two main options if they want to combat that press.The first option is to go back to their goalkeeper, Paulo Gazzaniga, while the second is to play a hurried pass and allow Liverpool to regain possession.Klopp’s system overloads in the opposition half and that forces mistakes. It is why Liverpool are very difficult to play against.Twitter: @Higginbotham053 Klopp’s overload system are making them extremely difficult to play againstCredit: ReutersPochettino assesses his team’s performance after 2-1 loss to Liverpool
JOSE MOURINHO wants revenge on Bayern in the Champions League quarter or semi-finals.The Tottenham boss saw his second string beaten easily 3-1 in a Group B dead rubber.3 Jose Mourinho says Spurs would give Bayern a far tougher match with a full-strength team and when he knows his players betterCredit: PA:Empics Sport3 Scorer Ryuan Sessegnon believes Spurs learned they cannot afford to miss good chances against the best teamsCredit: Getty Images – GettyBut Mourinho, who made six changes, said: “My wish is to come back here later in the tournament — and that can only mean the quarter-final or semi-final — so we can give them a proper match with a proper team.“We tried to organise a team where we could rest players and give more experienced players who had not played some assurity.“In the first half they had more chances to score goals, but we were just one minute from going into half-time at 1-1.“It was just important for us to get out with some dignity.”’CRAZY PERIOD’Tottenham, who lost 7-2 at home to the Germans in October under previous boss Mauricio Pochettino, had already qualified for the next round as Group B runners-up behind winners Bayern.They face either Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig or Valencia in the last 16.Mourinho, who has been in charge at Spurs for just over three weeks, added: “The teams that finished first, they will wish not to play against us. We are one of the strongest teams in the second group.ACCA WITH LADBROKES Pick up a whole load of acca features to help you land the big one“We are in a country that goes through a crazy period this time of year that could leave marks on players, but come February we will be ready. I will have been here longer and we will know each other better.”Ryan Sessegnon marked his full debut with a 20th-minute cracker which cancelled out Kingsley Coman’s opener for Bayern.But sub Thomas Muller put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time before Philippe Coutinho scored their third after the break.Mourinho said: “The fact we beat Olympiakos 4-2 in the last game allowed me to risk what happened.most read n footballTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50′ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by Celtic“Bayern had four top players on the bench to rescue them if it went wrong. I decided not to have even Harry Kane or Dele Alli on bench. We manage our teams in different ways.”Scorer Sessegnon, 19, said: “I felt good. Physically towards the end I was a bit tired but in myself I felt good. To get the goal on my first start was a special moment.“We learned lessons. If you don’t take your chances against big teams then you will be punished. But we gave it a go and we are disappointed we didn’t get the result.”3 Brendan Rodgers is now the third best paid manager in the league… behind only Guardiola and MourinhoSolskjaer heaps praise on Fred as resurgent form could spell end for Pogba at Man United
The visitors delivered an unconvincing win against the semi-professional Provincial Barbarians in their opening game and on Wednesday lost to the Blues, New Zealand’s worst-performing Super Rugby side this season.The Crusaders always loomed as the toughest opponents of the opening 10 days and Gatland has decided to field what appears to be the strongest Lions side yet in a bid avoid what would be a dispiriting second defeat so early on the tour.Should the Crusaders inflict defeat on such a strong side, it could leave the Lions in disarray and send Gatland scurrying back the drawing board to sketch out a Plan B with only three matches to iron out the details before facing the All Blacks.”It would be disappointing to lose back-to-back matches,” Gatland said. “The challenge is to come together as quick as we can.”It’s a great test for us and preparation. We are trying to keep a few things back behind closed doors.”While Gatland may indeed be keeping a few things back, in truth there is very little time for the Lions to get things right as they build through the tour towards that all-important first test against the world champions on June 24.The visitors have so far failed to show the intensity, skill execution and cohesiveness that their 20,000 travelling fans had expected from day one in New Zealand.While the Lions demonstrated a stiff defence against the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday, they must capitalise on their scoring opportunities, create more with the ball in hand, and not rely solely on their kicking game to create pressure.And they need to score tries.Tour captain Sam Warburton has said they would not beat the All Blacks in the three-test series unless they scored more than 20 points per game. However, they failed to breach that mark against the Barbarians and Blues and scored just one try in both those games.On Saturday, the Crusaders represent a considerable step up in intensity with coach Scott Robertson fielding all of his All Blacks, with six in the pack alone.The Lions have surprisingly failed to dominate in the scrum and with the Crusaders boasting what is likely to be the All Blacks front row for the first test, that contest will be keenly watched.The seven-times Super Rugby champions have also been more expansive this year under Robertson, but he said it would be churlish not to adapt to what the Lions threw at them.”We will be smart about it. We also understand that with the potential test match focus of it, we have to adapt,” Robertson said. “If we have to go to set-piece, we will.”If we have to throw the ball as well, we will.”
The Hurricanes pair have been named in the reserves.Fullback Ben Smith will captain the side for the first time as regular skipper Kieran Read is still recovering from injury.The match will be a milestone for first five-eighth Beauden Barrett, who will run out in his 50th test, while midfielder Sonny Bill Williams returns in his first game since the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.”It’s also going to be a big night for Jordie and Vaea as they’re both likely to play a part on the night. They’ve both been in great form and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do at this level,” said coach Steve Hansen.”Samoa is about to kick off the qualifying stage of their Rugby World Cup campaign, so this will make them even more dangerous.”The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill. At the very minimum, we will need to match that,” he said.”This first week has been about bringing together the players from the five different Super clubs and reintroducing them to the All Blacks way. We’ve had a good week and are really looking forward to this match,” said Hansen.The All Blacks-Samoa match kicks off at 8pm on Friday, while Tonga play Wales at 5.30pm.The match day 23 (Test caps in brackets. * denotes new cap):Joe Moody (24), Codie Taylor (15), Owen Franks (90), Brodie Retallick (60), Samuel Whitelock (84), Jerome Kaino (77), Sam Cane (40), Ardie Savea (12), Aaron Smith (58), Beauden Barrett (49), Julian Savea (52), Sonny Bill Williams (33), Anton Lienert-Brown (9), Israel Dagg (61), Ben Smith – captain (60),Reserves: Nathan Harris (4), Wyatt Crockett (58), Charlie Faumuina (46), Scott Barrett (4), Vaea Fifita*, T J Perenara (29), Lima Sopoaga (6), Jordie Barrett *
The teams that are not in this project already have 23,000 insured for their classification in the Copa del Rey and 62,000 for having gotten up to sixteenths. In total they would carry an accumulated of 85,000, although it could be higher if they had to play a game as a visitor in the case of having been matched in the first round with another team of the same category. If they manage to qualify for the second round they would take 31,000 euros more.On the other hand, the teams participating in the ‘Impulse 23’ program of the Federation carry more accumulated money and could continue to earn more money. Teams like Unionistas, Real Madrid’s rival, which is part of this project would lead accumulated 40,000 euros for qualifying for the KO tournament and 70,000 for having passed the first two rounds of the competition. Amounts that would be greater if any of the clubs in this situation had to play outside. Continuing with the example of Unionists, if he manages to eliminate Real Madrid in sixteenths, the prize for winning the round would be 35,000 euros (the amount given by the FEF for each round that exceeds a Second B belonging to ‘Impulse 23’). That is to say, if a team in the bronze category manages to eliminate a Primera next week, it could have accumulated at least 145,000, not counting the box office revenues.The system for LaLiga Santander and SmartBank teams is different. They receive an economic amount as indicated by Royal Decree Law 5/2015. The RFEF gives the First and Second teams 90% of the television rights of the Copa del Rey according to the criteria established in said decree. Up to eight Second B teams have managed to get into the 16th of the Copa del Rey. Unionistas, Cultural, UD Logroñés, Ibiza, Ebro, Badajoz, Badalona and Recreativo are the eight representatives of the silver category who will have to fight against a First Division. The prize of qualifying up to eighths is priced between 31,000 and 35,000. The new Copa del Rey format has economic benefits for the most modest clubs. Being the only match the game is more relevant and having to always play in the stadium of the team with the lowest category ensures that they will have the ticket sales (which will be high, since having to play against a First Division club ensures you have a good entry) and avoid travel expenses.But besides this, the Spanish Football Federation has marked a series of economic amounts for the clubs of Second B and Third that are going round in the Cup King. The amount may be lower or higher in some clubs or others depending on whether they are enrolled in the project ‘Impulse 23’ presented by Luis Rubiales last November for modest football. But to participate in this program teams will have to meet a set of standards.