Lewis Hamilton thinks Mercedes will need to play "the long game" if they are to have any chance of beating Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the British Grand Prix.

The first-ever Formula One sprint race took place on Saturday, with Verstappen passing Hamilton – who had qualified fastest in a new Friday session - on the first lap and going on to win.

That means Verstappen is awarded pole position and three championship points with Hamilton and third-placed Valtteri Bottas having to settle for two and one respectively.

Hamilton is grateful to have the chance to bounce back in the main race on Sunday but is under no illusions over the size of the task facing him on home soil as Verstappen seeks a fourth consecutive F1 victory.

"Sunday is going to be tough," Hamilton, who is seeking a record eighth win at Silverstone, told reporters after the 17-lap sprint.

"He [Verstappen] had a lot of pace in him and I don't think he was particularly having to push too hard, and we were flat-out. 

"If I can try somehow to keep up with them through the stints, maybe we can apply pressure through strategy – but we're not going to be overtaking them on the track: they're just too fast. 

"So, we play the long game hopefully."

In the sprint race it was a slow start that cost Hamilton, who now trails Verstappen by 33 points.

The seven-time world champion added: "I gave it everything, it's just not good when you lose from P1. We'll try to turn the negative into a positive.

"Every point counts, but I'm grateful to have finished. We will fight again, but they're just so strong, in the race he was pulling away. There was nothing I could do to hold onto him.

"We really have to try and be in front somehow. I wish we could re-do the start again, but luckily we have it again on Sunday."

Verstappen believes Mercedes are competitive rivals for the race and the Dutchman will be outnumbered given Sergio Perez, who spun off and later retired in the sprint, will start at the back of the grid.

"What we learned on Saturday is that it's very close again," said the championship leader.

"It's a bit different. It seems like we are quick through corners, they are quick on the straight this weekend.

"The pace was alright but I still expect with a pit-stop coming into play – or two pit stops, who knows – it’s again going to be a good fight." 

Hamilton was positive about the trial changes made to the format this weekend, but thinks everything, including qualifying, should be packed in to Saturday and Sunday if a sprint becomes a permanent feature.

Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: "We should do more like that [the sprint], maybe a different version of it, in future because this makes the weekend more enjoyable I think.

"They did a great job and I think the fans enjoyed it, from what we saw on the parade laps. 

"I think this weekend's been awesome in terms of Friday, it was such a fun day to have qualifying - way more enjoyable [than practice would have been].

"It's always nice doing more races that’s for sure, but it is almost like they should almost do the sprint race on the Sunday and then the race because there could be a lot of sitting around for people on Sunday.

"It's been great to try something new - we should just do a long Saturday and long Sunday. P1, P2, qualifying on Saturday and then a sprint race and a race on Sunday. Pack it all in!

"That means we have one whole day less, 23 days actually less of driving these cars around the track and obviously that would be better in terms of going more green."

George Russell finished the sprint in ninth but has been handed a three-place grid penalty for an incident with Carlos Sainz.

He therefore drops to 12th, with Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Pierre Gasly the beneficiaries.

Marcus Smith played himself into contention to start the first Test against South Africa after a debut for the British and Irish Lions that delighted Warren Gatland.

Coach Gatland also expressed satisfaction at seeing Alun Wyn Jones back in action during Saturday's 49-3 win over the Stormers, three weeks after the captain dislocated his shoulder against Japan.

There will be "robust debate" over the coming days, Gatland predicted, as he and his coaching team consider their options for the July 24 series opener against the Springboks.

"With Marcus Smith, the longer the game went on, the better he looked and more comfortable out there," Gatland said.

Smith was a late addition to the tourists' squad, summoned from England duty after winning his first caps for Eddie Jones' side, but the Harlequins fly-half brought youthful zest to the Lions in Cape Town.

His kicking was reliable too, Smith nailing the extras for each of the Lions' seven tries.

As for whether the 22-year-old should start against South Africa, Gatland said: "Those are conversations we haven't had. I thought he looked good out there, some lovely touches. He kicked for goal well and I thought he defended well.

"For a guy who's only had one training session I thought it was pretty good. He'll be part of the discussions, no doubt about that.

"A lot of people put their hand up tonight and there were some pleasing performances on Wednesday too."

Wednesday's game saw the Lions beaten 17-13 by a strong South Africa A team, and Gatland made wholesale changes for the Stormers clash, allowing him to have a good look at all his options.

The return of Jones, who arrived in South Africa only on Thursday, means he assumes the tour captaincy again. That responsibility was initially transferred to Conor Murray when it appeared Jones had no chance of being involved.

Murray was more than happy to hand over the leadership duty, Gatland said, with one caveat.

"Conor, he's the first to admit he was more than comfortable for Alun Wyn to come back," Gatland said. "He wasn't prepared to give up his bedroom suite though, because I think he got the captain's bedroom suite."

Jones had almost half an hour as a second-half replacement against the Stormers, and Gatland said Test rugby's most-capped player would benefit from getting back to action.

"I thought he put a few shots on and defended well, had a couple of touches," Gatland said in his post-game news conference.

"The big thing for him was to get through that period and then to see how he was afterwards.

"We'll have that discussion about whether there's a role for him, either as a starter or a bench player or not involved next week.

"If he is not involved, we'll look at who potentially leads the team."

Spectators soaked up the sunshine on another glorious day at Royal St George's as The Open Championship's third round left us poised for a thrilling finale.

On the course it looks set to be a final-day shoot-out between three major champions, with Louis Oosthuizen, Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth setting the pace.

Meanwhile, there was plenty happening on the other side of the ropes as fans lapped up the entertainment on offer.

Our man on the ground brings you all the latest after being out and about on the Kent links on Saturday...

CELEBRITY SPOTTING

Big sporting events tend to attract stars from all manner of show business backgrounds, and it seems stand-up comedians are not immune to the allure of a golf major.

As this reporter was roaming alongside the 18th fairway he heard a familiar voice asking where the official Open shop was.

"It's the big building over there with 'the shop' written on it," I said.

"You're very helpful, thank you," replied British comedian Michael McIntyre.

PLAN OF ACTION 

As a spectator at a golf event, you have a multitude of options: pick a spot and make it your own for the day; follow a particular group; or maybe just wander around and see what you see.

One cluster of fans who had only just arrived were gathered around a course map, each apparently with very different ideas about what to do.

In such situations, it takes a leader to sort things out and, luckily for this group, the best man for the job stepped forward.

"Why don't you argue about this from somewhere you can actually see the golf?" he said, ushering the group away from the entrance.

WESTWOOD GRAFTING

Away from the gaze of the cameras and long after his round of 70 had come to a close with a birdie at the 18th, Lee Westwood was putting in the hard yards on the practice range.

The Englishman was one of a handful of players grafting away in the evening sun as, even at the age of 48, he showed every day presents an opportunity to learn and improve.

That's the commitment it takes to succeed!

Louis Oosthuizen and Collin Morikawa are relishing a final-day battle at The Open Championship as both men seek to double their major tally.

It is 2010 Champion Golfer of the Year Oosthuizen who holds a narrow advantage, leading by one at 12 under going into the Sunday's round at Royal St George's.

The South African has two runner-up finishes at majors this year, while Morikawa is looking to add to the US PGA Championship title he won in 2020.

Oosthuizen was four shots clear of his rival around the turn but Morikawa finished strongly, with the duo being chased down by the likes of 2017 Claret Jug winner Jordan Spieth (nine under) and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm (seven under).

 

Oosthuizen, whose 69 was one stroke worse than Morikawa's score, was left to rue some missed opportunities but was content to still be at the summit.

"I was minus 13 at a stage," he said. "Probably a good back nine I could have gone to 14 or 15. There was a few very tough pins out there that you can't really go for at all.

"I did have a lot of opportunities to go two or three better, but that's what this golf course can do to you.

"I'm happy with the lead and need to play some good golf tomorrow."

Asked if the prospect of a second Open triumph might keep him awake ahead of the final round, Oosthuizen said visualising success can only be a good thing.

"You need to believe that you can lift the trophy," he explained. "If you think about it beforehand that you might win this championship, I think that's great, and you have to believe you can do it.

"I don't really change my routine whether I've got a two-shot lead or I'm trailing by eight. You know, the only thing that differs is the tee time. 

"I would say just try and keep yourself busy and don't let your mind wander too much."

Meanwhile, Morikawa will draw on his experience from TPC Harding Park, where he won his maiden major by two strokes from Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in August last year.

"I think the biggest thing I can draw from the PGA is just knowing I can get it done," he said.

"But I think confidence just comes from hitting good shots, quality shots, seeing putts go in.

"There is a lot to draw from, especially this week. I don't have much experience on links golf and pretty much all the highlights in my head are from this week.

"Hopefully we can just use that momentum from the first three days and just bring it into the last 18. It's going to be a grueling 18, but I look forward to it.

"It's position you want to be in. As an athlete, golfer, you want to be in this position. I love it, so I really look forward to it."

Louis Oosthuizen will take a one-shot lead into the final round of The Open, where two fellow major winners are his closest rivals.

The 2010 champion will go out in the final group at Royal St George's on Sunday, when he will have 2020 US PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa for company.

Oosthuizen, who sits at 12 under and is chasing a wire-to-wire triumph, has had two runner-up finishes in majors this year, taking his career tally to six.

Also in the mix is Jordan Spieth, who claimed the Claret Jug in 2017, but the American's third round finished with back-to-back bogeys to leave him three adrift.

 

Corey Conners and Scottie Scheffler, both in search of maiden majors, are poised at eight under.

Pre-tournament favourite and U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm cannot be discounted at seven under, a score matched by Oosthuizen's fellow South African Dylan Frittelli.

Rory McIlroy threatened to get involved at the top end of the leaderboard after making the turn in 31, but three back-nine bogeys ended his hopes, while reigning champion Shane Lowry closed on five under.

It was a day to forget for world number one Dustin Johnson, whose 73 left him eight strokes adrift.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Danny Willett may ultimately have given back the two shots he gained with his hole-out eagle on the par-four 10th, but it was still a glorious shot.

The 2016 Masters champion was six under overall at that point and could scarcely believe what he had done.

CHIPPING IN

Rory McIlroy: "Sort of a tale of two nines. I played great on the front nine, hit some really good iron shots and converted some putts and really got it going. Then the back nine played tough."

Shane Lowry: "I have mixed emotions, to be honest, because I played great. I left a lot of shots out there."

Danny Willett: "It's always a bonus when they go in when you haven't holed a shot for a hell of a long time."

A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME...

- The 14th was the most generous hole as the par five played at an average of 4.53.

- McIlroy's five birdies was his best return from his first nine holes at an Open.

- Conners hit 92.86 per cent of fairways in his four-under 66.

In-form second seed Barbora Krejcikova saw off Wang Xinyu in straight sets on Saturday to set up an all-Czech final with Tereza Martincova on home soil at the Prague Open.

French Open champion Krejcikova needed just one hour and nine minutes to overcome Wang 6-1 6-2 and reach her third final in four tournaments.

Krejcikova controlled the match from the off, on her way to a routine win, with the world number 13 having still yet to drop a single set in the Czech capital.

Martincova had earlier been made to work a little harder for her victory over Greet Minnen, but the number eight seed advanced through to Sunday's final with a 6-3 6-4 win.

The 26-year-old let slip a 4-1 lead in the second set as Minnen pulled it back to 4-4, before taking her second match point with a strong forehand.

At the Lausanne Open, a new singles champion on the WTA Tour will be crowned on Sunday when Tamara Zidansek and Clara Burel face off.

Zidansek proved too strong for semi-final debutant Maryna Zanevska, prevailing 7-5 6-3, while Burel needed to dig deep to get the better of fifth seed Caroline Garcia.

Burel, who unlike Zidansek has never previously reached a WTA singles final at all, was a set and a break down to Garcia but recovered to take the match the distance.

The 20-year-old called a medical timeout in the decider, though she managed to put that behind her as she earned three breaks of serve to stun her French compatriot 5-7 6-2 6-2.


Elsewhere on Saturday, home favourite Dalma Galfi's tournament was brought to an end at the semi-final stage of the Hungarian Grand Prix with a 6-2 3-6 6-2 defeat to top seed Yulia Putintseva.

Wildcard entrant Galfi offered little in the first set to suggest she would push Putintseva all the way, but she did exactly that with a couple of breaks of serve in the second set.

However, Putintseva, looking to add to her only previous singles title at the 2019 Nuremberg Cup, stormed into a 5-1 lead in the deciding set and ended Galfi's hopes with her first match point.

The Russian will next take on Anhelina Kalinina, who led 6-7 (7-5) 4-1 against Danielle Collins in the other semi-final when her opponent withdrew injured.

Filip Krajinovic will take on Pablo Carreno Busta in the Hamburg European Open final on Sunday.

A memorable week for Krajinovic continued as he saw off fellow Serbian Laslo Djere 6-4 6-2 in his semi-final.

Sixth seed Krajinovic defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and ensured he followed up on that surprise victory with a dominant display against Djere on Saturday.

The victor committed only seven unforced errors in the match, while conceding just two break points in the contest.

Second seed Carreno Busta has not dropped a set all week and kept that run going with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 win over Federico Delbonis.

Carreno Busta needed just under two hours to see off a battling Delbonis, with neither player offering up a single break point in a first set that went the distance.

The Spaniard won five straight points to take the tie-break and continued that momentum into the second set when he broke Delbonis twice.

Neither Carreno Busta nor Krajinovic has ever won a tournament at ATP 500 level or above.

Carreno Busta has five career titles, but all of those are at ATP 250 level, losing to Dominic Thiem in his only showpiece appearance at this level at the Rio Open back in 2017.

Krajinovic, meanwhile, has lost all three of the career finals he has reached.

"I enjoy playing here, I feel comfortable here," Carreno Busta said. "It is my most important match this year on Sunday - I need to be really focused until the end.

"[Delbonis] is a really tough player and my level was very good. I probably played better in the second set, but I continued fighting all the time."

At the Nordea Open in Bastad, Sweden, top seed Casper Ruud was comfortable as he defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 6-4 to earn a place in the final.

Ruud needed just 79 minutes to do the job, breaking Carballes Baena on five occasions. 

He has only played two matches – both comfortable wins – to reach the final after a walkover against Henri Laaksonen in the quarters.

Rising star Ruud will bid for his second ATP title of the year and the third of his career against Federico Coria on Sunday.

Coria also had a comfortable last-four tie, seeing off Germany's Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6 -1, with the win meaning the 29-year-old reached his maiden career tour final.

"I am very happy - it is my first final," said world number 77 Coria, who beat second seed Cristian Garin in the last eight.

"I played the best tennis of my life in this match. It is amazing here in Bastad, it is beautiful."

Alun Wyn Jones returned to British and Irish Lions action in a crushing 49-3 win over the Stormers as the tourists found form ahead of next week's first Test against the Springboks.

The man who was designated as captain for this tour, only to suffer a shoulder dislocation in the Murrayfield clash with Japan last month, has made a spirited recovery and played almost half an hour of a one-sided tussle in Cape Town.

Whether he now starts against South Africa remains to be seen, but Jones has given coach Warren Gatland food for thought, and he was hardly the only player to do that.

This seven-try demolition was a perfect response to the midweek defeat to South Africa A, with scrum-half Ali Price, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and second-rower Adam Beard among the standouts.

The Stormers snatched a 20th-minute lead with a penalty from Tim Swiel, but the Lions had threatened already by that stage and it was not long before their quality began to show.

Josh Adams powered into space out wide and made valuable yards before the ball was fed back for Beard to jog through a gap in the Stormers ranks.

The defensive effort again seemed sub-par when Cowan-Dickie scrambled through for the Lions' second try in the 34th minute. He picked the ball from back of a maul, after his lineout throw, and scurried through to just short of the line before the Stormers got close to him.

It was 21-3 by the break, with Price feeding Beard who quickly relayed the ball to Stuart Hogg, and the captain put in Jonny Hill to score in the left corner.

Lions debutant Marcus Smith booted the extras each time and the young Englishman played a key part in the fourth try when his quick pass found Price, who in turn offloaded to number eight Jack Conan to run in from 30 metres.

With the game safe, and an eye on next weekend, Gatland introduced Jones just after the 50-minute mark, the most-capped player in Test rugby replacing Beard. The coach was looking for a steely run-out from the captain who dislocated his shoulder just three weeks ago.

Jones was not shirking anything, and Gatland made good use of his bench as the match went on, with Price doing his hopes of a Test start no harm before making way for Gareth Davies as the hour approached.

Tadhg Beirne had a try disallowed after a forward pass, before a fifth score for the tourists arrived in the 68th minute when Zander Fagerson dived over from close range.

Fagerson's fellow replacement Louis Rees-Zammit bolted in off the wing to net the Lions' late sixth try.

Smith, who created the space for that try, was again immaculate from the tee, converting for a seventh time after Sam Simmonds dotted down a last-gasp effort.

NAME YOUR PRICE

Is Conor Murray inked into Gatland's Test team, or might Price have done enough to edge ahead of the Irishman? Scotland scrum-half Price was impressive here, scurrying busily and purposefully like the man on a mission that he is. Price has done himself the power of good on this tour, and the Springboks will have taken note of the Glasgow Warriors man's threat and quick thinking behind the scrum.

Francesco Molinari has been ruled out of Italy's squad for the Tokyo Olympics, with the former Open champion hit by injury.

The 38-year-old narrowly missed the cut at the Open Championship on Friday when he followed an opening 68 with a disappointing 74, to finish one shot away from making it through to the weekend.

The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) said he was struggling and would not be able to recover in time to travel to Japan.

CONI's statement read: "Francesco Molinari is forced to give up on Tokyo 2020. The Azzurro golfer has suffered an injury in recent competitive engagements that will not allow him to recover in time to participate in the five-ring event.

"The Italy team has asked to be able to replace Molinari with Renato Paratore and awaits the green light from the international federation to make the replacement."

Molinari, who won the Open in 2018 and has played on three victorious European Ryder Cup teams, has endured a tough season, with the one-time world number five slumping to 141st in the rankings. Potential replacement Paratore is ranked even lower, at 192nd.

Golf returned to the Olympics at the 2016 Games in Rio, after last being contested in 1904, with Britain's Justin Rose taking the gold medal. Most of the world's elite players will take part in Tokyo, although American Dustin Johnson and Spain's Sergio Garcia have elected to stay at home.

The men's event is due to run from July 29 to August 1, at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama giving Japan a serious contender for the gold medal.

Tadej Pogacar was unable to secure a time trial victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France but will complete the formality of back-to-back general classification triumphs in Paris on Sunday.

On last year's penultimate stage, Pogacar overhauled a 57 second deficit to fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to snatch the Yellow Jersey, completing one of the most staggering turnarounds in the history of the race.

Such drama was never on the cards on the 31 kilometre route to Saint Emilion, given UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar boasted a lead in excess of five minutes, which Jonas Vingegaard trimmed slightly but not significantly as the race heads to its ceremonial conclusion in the French capital.

As such, he never had to pursue the stage win and its associated undue risk, with victory going to Wout van Aert in a time of 35 minutes and 53 seconds.

The Belgian rider has enjoyed a superb Tour and this was his second stage win – a sharply contrasting success to him twice conquering Mont Ventoux on a historic stage 11.

“It is quite something, winning a Tour de France time trial has been one of the biggest objectives in my career," Van Aert told ITV. "I've been really focused on this day in the last couple of days and I'm so happy that I can finish it off. The course was perfect for me."

Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team-mate Vingegaard came in third, consolidating second place in the general classification standings, while fellow Dane Kasper Asgreen was runner-up on the day, 21 seconds in arrears.

Pogacar rolled in 57 seconds shy of Van Aert's mark in eighth, having long made this year's Yellow Jersey his own.

STAGE RESULT

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 35:53
2. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +0:21
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:32
4. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +:0:38
5. Nils Politt (EF Education-Nippo) +0:44

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:20
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:03

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 304
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 269
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 216

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

Alongside Pogacar's coronation in Paris, much of the focus will be on whether Mark Cavendish can sprint to glory on the Champs Elysees and go clear of the great Eddy Merckx with a 35th stage win of his career.

Max Verstappen inflicted more damage to Lewis Hamilton's Formula One title hopes as the Red Bull driver held on to win the inaugural sprint race at Silverstone.

Verstappen started in second in the trial event ahead of the British Grand Prix, but a flying first lap saw him overtake championship rival Hamilton by the first corner.

It was a lead which proved unassailable, the Dutchman cruising to a victory which sees him take pole position in Sunday's main race, as well as three championship points.

Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas ensured it was not all bad for Mercedes as they claimed second and third on the grid, while Fernando Alonso was unable to sustain a brilliant start.

Verstappen flew out of the blocks, with Hamilton unable to compensate when he attempted to skirt around the outside at the first corner, only to pull out of the manoeuvre.

Bottas was hot on the tracks of the duo, while Alonso charged up from 11th to fifth with a first lap just as impressive as Verstappen's effort.

The veteran Spaniard was unable to maintain it, though, dropping down to seventh as his soft tyres started to struggle.

Further ahead, Hamilton – who set a blistering time in Friday's qualifying session – was demanding more from his team over the radio, yet he could not close the gap on Verstappen, who held a 2.3 second lead heading into the 17th and final lap.

Hamilton managed to close in on the final straight, but Verstappen was the deserving victor in the first taster of F1's latest format tweak.

There was less luck for Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, however, with the Mexican crashing on Lap 7, dropping down to 18th before Red Bull called him back to retire in the pits, meaning they have drivers bookending both ends of the grid.

Charles Leclerc came fourth, with Lando Norris capping a difficult week for him personally with an impressive drive to place himself fifth.

George Russell dropped to ninth, though faces an investigation for an early incident involving Carlos Sainz.

Louis Oosthuizen and Jordan Spieth will each continue their bids for a second Open Championship title amid fierce pressure at Royal St George's on Saturday.

The Kent links was once again bathed in sunshine as the 149th edition of golf's oldest major returned for the third round in Sandwich.

Firmer greens and tougher pin positions made life a little harder but the course still seemed nicely set up for low scoring, with Oosthuizen's 129 the lowest overall tally at the halfway stage of an Open.

The South African slept on a two-shot lead over Collin Morikawa and the 2010 Open champion will tee off alongside the 2020 US PGA Championship winner at 15:55 local time. 

Oosthuizen has been remarkably consistent in majors since his Open triumph 11 years ago, finishing as runner-up an incredible six times.

 

Spieth, who claimed the Claret Jug in 2017 and is eight under, goes out with Oosthuizen's compatriot Dylan Frittelli in the penultimate group.

Rory McIlroy looked to be making a charge when he made the turn in 31, but three bogeys on the back nine meant he signed for a 69 and well out of the picture.

World number one Dustin Johnson will get a couple of holes in before the leader gets his third round up and running, with the American starting four shots back.

With pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm moving to five under overall through three holes, the Spaniard is still in the mix, but reigning champion Shane Lowry's bogey at the fourth left him adrift.

Australia overcame a controversial fourth-minute red card for Marika Koroibete as they beat France 33-30 in a thrilling contest to take the Test series 2-1.

Les Blues claimed their first away win over Australia for 31 years in Melbourne last week to level the series, but they fell short in Saturday's tense decider at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies had to defy the odds after wing Koroibete was harshly dismissed early on for a high tackle on opposition skipper Anthony Jelonch. It was their first Test red card since Tevita Kuridrani was dismissed against Ireland in November 2013.

France initially took full advantage of the extra man as Baptiste Couilloud crossed from close range to add to Melvyn Jaminet's earlier penalty.

But Australia responded almost instantly when Tate McDermott went over unopposed and Noah Lolesio touched down soon after – those tries sandwiching another Jaminet penalty – to swing the game in the hosts' favour.

 

After Cameron Woki went over the top of the Wallabies' defence and slammed down for France's second try, Lolesio kicked his second penalty to level up the game at 20-20 midway through.

France then put themselves in a strong position to complete a series win when Pierre-Louis Barassi raced through early in the second half to round off a sensational move.

However, Australia hit back once again through Taniela Tupou, who evaded a few opposition players to cross the whitewash, before Lolesio and Jaminet exchanged penalties.

Australia had a try for Brandon Paenga-Amosa ruled out for a knock-on, but France's ill-discipline would cost them as they conceded another penalty that Lolesio made no mistake in converting two minutes from time to settle the series. 

The Phoenix Suns will be grateful to be back home as they attempt to respond when hosting the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday.

Phoenix had headed out on the road holding a commanding 2-0 cushion after a pair of impressive wins in front of their own fans, increasing the belief that this could be the year the franchise finally secures a first ever title.

However, the trip to Milwaukee did not pan out as hoped. Back-to-back defeats have put the best-of-seven series level at 2-2, with the Bucks now aiming to stop the Suns – and their bench in particular – rising to the occasion upon a return to familiar surroundings.

"It's always tough winning on the road in this league – it's always tough winning, period. But them especially, they really, really feed off the crowd and get going," Bucks big man Bobby Portis told the media.

"All their supporting cast play well at home, so we've got to try to limit them as much as we can.

"Obviously, it's going to be a hostile environment, but that’s what we play this game for. That’s why we work so hard in the offseason, during the season. This is why we sacrifice so much – to be in this position to lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy. I think everybody is locked in."

The key to the comeback for the Bucks has not just been about playing at home, though.

Phoenix had an offensive rating of 119.8 over the opening two games yet dipped to 104.6 across successive losses to a Milwaukee team determined to make a greater impact on defense.

Chris Paul had a combined 55 points in the Suns' wins but was stifled during the away trip. The veteran point guard managed just 10 points in Game 4, yet he insists experience has helped him quickly forget about such outings.

"In this league, when you play long enough – and I feel like I’ve played for at least a little while – you have to have a short memory. You can't dwell on it, win or lose," Paul said on Friday.

"You can win by 20 or lose by 20, you then start back at zero-zero and go from there. That's always been the mindset."

The Suns did lose by 20 in Game 3, before going down by just six points last time out. Their cause was not helped by shooting 30.4 per cent from deep in that most recent defeat, a statistic that needs to be a temporary blip rather than a set-in trend if they are to wrestle back the advantage, particularly when facing a Bucks team used to going the distance in these playoffs.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Phoenix Suns - Mikal Bridges 

As Portis mentioned, the Suns were able to get contributions from a number of role players during the meetings in Phoenix. Bridges certainly played his part, too, scoring 41 combined points, including 27 in Game 2 as he played for over 37 minutes.

However, he struggled to have anywhere near the same impact on the road, taking just eight shots in total as he mustered 11 points. Phoenix needs him to get more heavily involved again in the offense again, particularly when it comes to outside shooting.

Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Who else, right? Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 14 rebounds in Game 4, yet his biggest play was the astonishing block on Deandre Ayton as the Suns center attempted a dunk.

The Bucks finished that contest shooting at a mere 40.2 per cent, in comparison to Phoenix's average of 51.3 per cent. Taking 29 free-throws (the Suns had 19) helped mask the deficit, but Milwaukee will be aware they must do better from the field, having landed just seven of their 29 three-point attempts on Wednesday.

New Zealand scored over 50 points in three successive Tests for just the second time in their history as the All Blacks ran out 60-13 winners over Fiji.

Richie Mo'unga and Sevu Reece were the stars of the show in Hamilton, the former racking up 13 points with the boot and assisting three tries – his most in a Test and just the second time he has made multiple assists in a single match – while the latter scored a hat-trick.

The All Blacks beat Tonga 102-0 before their 57-23 win over Fiji in Dunedin last week, and Reece had them ahead again in the 14th minute despite Ben Volavola's early penalty.

Reece had won each of the three previous Tests in which he had scored a try and there never looked any risk of New Zealand letting their grasp slip once he went over for his second in the 30th minute, with the wing completing his maiden hat-trick before half-time.

Ardie Savea and Will Jordan touched down either side of the interval as New Zealand clicked through the gears, though Peni Ravai did at least get a consolation try on the board for Fiji.

Rieko Ioane soon had the hosts' sixth score and Samisoni Taukei'aho helped himself to a double either side of Shannon Frizell's effort to round off the win for the All Blacks, who have won their past four Tests.

Next up for New Zealand is the Bledisloe Cup against Australia, with Auckland's Eden Park hosting the first match of the three-Test series.

Jake Cronenworth recorded the second cycle of the 2021 MLB season as the San Diego Padres won 24-8 over the Washington Nationals on Friday.

Cronenworth hit a double in the second inning, a triple in the third, a home run in the fifth and a single in the sixth to record the third cycle in Padres' history.

In a high-scoring game, the Padres raced to a 10-3 lead after two innings, before Cronenworth hit a line ball to drive in Fernando Tatis Jr.

In the fifth inning, Cronenworth hit a fly-ball home run, before racing to first after hitting a soft ground ball to short stop.

Meanwhile, Tatis produced some spectacular fielding, throwing to first base from center at the bottom of the first inning.

Wil Meyers also got the 'Slam Diego' moniker going, with a grand slam in the second inning opening up the 10-3 lead, his 11th home run of the season.

As the runs piled on, the Padres claimed a record with the most runs scored in team history, with Meyers getting a second homer with seven RBI.

Indeed, since RBI became an official stat in 1920, no team had scored 24 runs in a game, had a player hit for the cycle (Cronenworth), had a player with seven RBI in a game (Myers) and had a player with five runs in a game (Tommy Pham) all in the same season, let alone on the same night.

 

Lowrie walkoff, Yaz double

Jed Lowrie hit a home run to clinch a thrilling 5-4 walk-off win for the Oakland Athletics over the Cleveland Indians.

Mike Yastrzemski hit two home runs as the high-flying San Francisco Giants won 7-2 on the road at the St Louis Cardinals.

Eduardo Rodriguez starred on the mound with eight strikeouts as the Boston Red Sox knocked off the depleted New York Yankees 4-0 in a delayed start to their series.

And the Los Angeles Dodgers piled on five runs in the first inning, including a Chris Taylor home run, as they won 10-4 against the Colorado Rockies.

 

Diamondbacks downed again

The NBA's Phoenix Suns are garnering a lot of love in Arizona but across town the Diamondbacks are having a tough time right now, going down 5-1 at home to the Chicago Cubs. The Diamondbacks (26-67) have lost their past three games, giving up 34 runs in the process.

 

Guerrero reaches 30 home runs

Vladimir Guerrero Jr continued his All-Star MVP form with two home runs as the Toronto Blue Jays won 10-2 against the Texas Rangers. Guerrero, who now has 30 homers this season, also had four RBI. He is second for homers this season behind only Shohei Ohtani (33).

 

Friday's results

Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 Miami Marlins
San Diego Padres 24-8 Washington Nationals
Boston Red Sox 4-0 New York Yankees
Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays 10-2 Texas Rangers
Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 Cincinnati Reds
Tampa Bay Rays 7-6 Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins 7-0 Philadelphia Phillies 
Houston Astros 7-1 Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals 9-2 Baltimore Orioles
San Francisco Giants 7-2 St Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners 6-5 Los Angeles Angels
Chicago Cubs 5-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
Oakland Athletics 5-4 Cleveland Indians


Astros at White Sox

Two of the top sides do battle for the second time in their series as the Chicago White Sox host the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is bullish that Chris Paul will respond in Saturday's Game 5 after an uncharacteristic display with five turnovers in Game 4's defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks squared up the NBA Finals at 2-2 with Wednesday's 109-103 win over the Suns, with Williams ruing his side's 17 turnovers which led to 24 Milwaukee points.

Paul was guilty of five turnovers, including a crucial late error allowing Khris Middleton to score as the Bucks raced away in the final quarter after trailing by six points at three-quarter time.

The 36-year-old Suns guard also only managed 10 points for the game, shooting at 38.5 per cent from the field and failing to hit one three-pointer but Williams backed him to respond in Game 5 back in Arizona.

"A blip on the screen, that's how I would term it," Williams told the pre-game news conference. "You're not going to see Chris having those kinds of games frequently.

"I've been around long enough and coached against him long enough. I'd term it a blip on the radar."

He added: "There's not a person in our locker room that's not expecting to not come out and play really well the next game."

Williams added that Paul, who has battled hand and shoulder injuries during the postseason, was fine physically and fully focused.

"I just see Chris being Chris," Williams siad. "He's always intentional about everything, he's focused.

"I find myself struggling when I can't help him. That's what we've talked about the last couple of days.

"Chris is fine. He's focused. He's all about winning. The conversations are all about basketball right now. We know what's in front of us."

Paul has averaged 18.7 points per game and 8.6 assists per game this postseason, shooting at 48.5 per cent from the field.

Richard Sherman described himself as "very remorseful" after he was charged with five misdemeanours following his arrest on Wednesday.

The Prosecuting Attorney's Office in King County, Washington, on Friday charged Sherman with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment of roadway workers, criminal trespass in the second degree (domestic violence designation), resisting arrest and malicious mischief in the third degree (domestic violence designation).

Sherman, a three-time first-team All-Pro cornerback formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and most recently with the San Francisco 49ers, pled not guilty to all charges.

The reckless endangerment of roadway workers charge was added on Friday after Sherman was released from King County Correctional Facility without bail on Thursday.

Sherman was arrested in Seattle on Wednesday morning. He was said to have attempted to force entry into the home of his wife's parents and there was believed to be a "verbal altercation" between him and the occupants.

The domestic violence components of two of Sherman's charges stem from his familial relationship with the residents.

Having entered his plea, Sherman is due to attend a pre-trial hearing on August 13.

In a statement released on Twitter and Instagram, Sherman wrote: "I am deeply remorseful for my actions on Tuesday night.

"I behaved in a manner I am not proud of. I have been dealing with some personal challenges over the last several months, but that is not an excuse for how I acted.

"The importance of mental and emotional health is extremely real and I vow to get the help I need. I appreciate all of the people who have reached out in support of me and my family, including our community here in Seattle.

"I am grateful to have such an amazing wife, family and support system to lean on during this time."

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