Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

South Africa survive stirring Lions fightback — your views

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odriscollA mighty fightbcak from the Lions fell just short on Saturday as South Africa held on for a 26-21 vicotry in the first test in Durban.

The Lions were outplayed comprehensively in the first half but they dominated the last half hour or so, with a second try from Tom Croft and one from Mike Phillips, and gave South Africa a real fright.

So will such a positive second-half performance be enough to inspire a Lions comeback in this series?

As noted by Mitch Phillips, who was at the match for Reuters, only once before, against Australia in 1989, have the Lions lost the first test and come back to win the series.

Players, fans unite behind the Lions

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RUGBY-LIONS/All professional sportsmen talk about how important their supporters are but when it comes to the British and Irish Lions there really is a special bond.

Defying the credit crunch, up to 30,000 fans are expected to travel to South Africa to follow the Lions in their three-test series against the world champions.

McGeechan as good as his word as he picks Test team on form

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RUGBY-LIONS/Ian McGeechan has been as good as his word by selecting his British and Irish Lions team for the first test against South Africa on form rather than reputation.

The Scot was so keen to give every member of his squad a chance to prove themselves that, with only six provincial games to work with, he has not yet fielded the test team together.

Pakistan stun South Africa to reach Twenty20 final

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CRICKET-TWENTY20/

Pakistan bowled superbly to clinch an outstanding victory over favourites South Africa on Wednesday and reach the World Twenty20 final.

So, more disappointment for South Africa at the semi-final stage and further evidence that Umar Gul (the heroics of Afridi notwithstanding) is the best “death” bowler in this tournament. His spell at the end of the South Africa innings was beautifully delivered and certainly too good for the South Africans … and once again, it was the penultimate over that effectively decided this contest.

Things warming up nicely on the South African sporting front

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SOCCER-CONFEDERATIONS/The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.

Relatively high ticket prices combined with the Sprinboks’ decision to keep their players out of their Super 14 teams combined to ensure the early provincial games were played against a backdrop of empty seats.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

In defence of Giuseppe Rossi

American soccer fans aren't noted for their nastiness but the reaction to Giuseppe Rossi, New Jersey native, scoring twice for Italy against the U.S in their 3-1 Confederations Cup defeat on Monday has been surprisingly vitriolic.

What has upset U.S fans is that Rossi was born and bred in the U.S. but chose to play for another country and then -- to add insult to injury -- celebrated when he scored twice against his country of birth.

When you don’t want to see your name on the teamsheet

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rugbyOne of the most painful memories from my schooldays was the prolonged torture of being left in the playground on my lunch break, looking on as the cool kids picked all my friends ahead of me for the lunch break football match desperately wishing I could be selected.

A similar scenario, albeit with reversed emotions, would have occurred on Monday morning in a South African hotel as British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan named his team to play against the Southern Kings just four days before the first test.

Is Italy’s rugby trip south the ultimate tour too far?

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The ‘tour too far’ cliché is often wheeled out by rugby pundits when an outgunned northern hemisphere side travels south to take on Tri-Nations powers.

But it seems especially appropriate this year after the International Rugby Board (IRB) cooked up the ultimate mismatched series by handing Italy tests against Australia in Canberra and Melbourne on June 13 and 20 and a meeting with New Zealand in Christchurch on June 27.

from Raw Japan:

Japan coach Okada too bubbly?

As expected, Japan booked their place in next year’s World Cup soccer finals with two games to spare, sparking wild celebrations after a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan on Saturday.

Perhaps he had celebrated too much on the flight back from Tashkent, but less than 24 hours later Japan coach Takeshi Okada was talking about reaching the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa. It is hard to imagine Spain's Vicente del Bosque or England's Fabio Capello losing much sleep.SOCCER-WORLD/

Lions ready to upset Springboks, and bookies, again

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lionsThe Springboks don’t exactly appear to be shaking in their boots in the wake of the announcement of the British and Irish Lions squad they will face over three tests 
in June and July — but they weren’t 12 years ago either and we all know what happened then.

Still fresh from their readmission to the international game and wallowing in their status as world champions, the 1997 Springboks were dismissive of Ian McGeechan’s Lions in the early tour games.

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