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Update August, 2019


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Marquez wins MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan

France's MotoGP rider Fabio Quartararo (left), Spain's MotoGP rider Marc Marquez (center) and Italy's MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso pose for photographs during the award ceremony of the MotoGP Japanese Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Motegi, north of Tokyo, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Christopher Jue)

MOTEGI, Japan (AP) — Marc Marquez of Spain held off an early challenge from second place finisher Fabio Quartararo to win the MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan on Sunday.

Marquez started from pole and briefly gave up the lead to Yamaha rider Quartararo on the opening lap at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

The Honda rider, who clinched his eighth MotoGP world title in Thailand on Oct. 6, quickly regained the lead on the opening lap and held on for the remaining 23 to finish with a time of 42 minutes, 41.492 seconds, less than a second ahead of Quartararo. Andrea Dovizioso was third, 1.325 seconds back of Marquez on a Ducati.

With the win, his 10th of the season, Marquez also secured the manufacturers' title for Honda.

Andrea Iannone on an Aprilia and Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi both crashed out of Sunday's race but were not seriously injured.


South Africa reeling vs India at stumps on day 2 of 3rd test

India's Umesh Yadav, third right, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of South Africa's Quinton de Kock, right, during the second day of third and last cricket test match between India and South Africa in Ranchi, India, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

By CHETAN NARULA

RANCHI, India (AP) — South Africa was left reeling at 9-2 in five overs when play was called off on day two of the third test on Sunday.

Bad light forced the umpires to take the players off the field about 20 minutes into the day's last session. With the light not improving, play was called off for the day half an hour later.

The Proteas' batsmen struggled in the limited passage of play possible. Indian pacers Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami effectively used short deliveries with good pace to take a wicket apiece.

Shami got rid of Dean Elgar (0), while Yadav dismissed Quinton de Kock (4) to rattle the touring side.

At stumps, Zubayr Hamsa (0 not out) and Faf du Plessis (1 not out) were at the crease, trailing by 488 runs.

This was after India declared their first innings at 497-9. Rohit Sharma scored 212, his highest test score and a maiden double hundred to put the hosts in command.

Sharma faced 255 deliveries, and hit 28 fours as well as six sixes. He and Ajinkya Rahane put on a record fourth-wicket stand of 267 runs. Rahane scored 115, his 11th test hundred and a first on home soil since 2016.

India had resuming at 224-3 after bad light stopped play on Saturday as well.

Sharma and Rahane set a hectic pace of scoring in the morning session making 60 runs in the first hour.

Rahane reached his 11th test hundred off 169 deliveries in a free-flowing innings, which included 17 fours and a six.

Debutant left-arm wrist spinner George Linde (1-58) eventually broke the partnership having Rahane caught behind in the 76th over. The duo added 267 runs for the fourth wicket, a record for India against South Africa in test cricket.

Sharma, though, continued his dominance of the visitors' attack and not long after passed his previous best test score of 177 against the West Indies at Kolkata in 2013.

"I wanted to use this opportunity to full (to score big runs). Communication with team management about my opener's role has helped. I have played only 30 tests. In terms of what was thrown at me in this test, it was the most challenging one," Sharma said after the day's play.

He is the first Indian batsman to accumulate 500-plus runs in a test series against South Africa. The previous best was 388 runs by Mohammad Azharuddin in 1996-97.

"A lot has been said about my test career. I am not reading too much into my success right now. Conditions overseas will be different and (I am) awaiting that challenge," Sharma added.

Post lunch, Sharma added 64 runs for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja, who also scored his 13th test half-century.

Sharma got to his double hundred with a six. He looked to be in an attacking mood thereafter but pulled Kagiso Rabada (3-85) straight to fine leg in a bid to up the ante.

After Sharma's dismissal, Jadeja took the innings forward. He added 47 runs with Wriddhiman Saha (24) and another 33 runs with Ravichandran Ashwin (14).

With the threat of another thunderstorm looming, the Indian batsmen piled on the misery for the South African bowlers.

Jadeja was dismissed off George Linde, with the debutant wrist spinner finishing with figures of 4-133.

Umesh Yadav was the last wicket to fall, but not before he smashed five sixes and scored 31 off only 10 deliveries.

On day one, bad light halted play as Sharma's third century in this series helped India recover from a precarious 39-3.

India took an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after winning the first two tests in Visakhapatnam and Pune.


NFL's biggest star joins growing list of sidelined QBs

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) lies on the field after being injured against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By ARNIE STAPLETON

DENVER (AP) — With Patrick Mahomes sidelined, fans across the NFL may be longing for the days when the backup quarterback's job was to carry a clipboard and not the hopes and dreams of an entire franchise.

Mahomes escaped significant ligament damage when he dislocated his right kneecap Thursday night in Kansas City's 30-6 pummeling of the Denver Broncos and there is optimism the reigning NFL MVP could be back on the field in about a month.

Mahomes had an MRI exam Friday that showed the ligaments were intact, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was still sorting through the results and putting together a timetable for his return.

"He's a huge part of this team, huge part of the league. You just hate to see that," said journeyman Matt Moore, the latest No. 2 thrust into a leading role in this "Year of the Backup Quarterback."

Starting with Andrew Luck , who retired at age 29 after dealing with a series of injuries, the league's celebration of its 100th season has been marred by the loss of some of its biggest stars.

The club of QBs sidelined so far includes Drew Brees (thumb), Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), Cam Newton (foot), Nick Foles (collarbone), Josh Allen (concussion), Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) and Sam Darnold (mononucleosis), whose backup, Trevor Siemian was lost for the season with a gruesome ankle injury.

Now, the league's brightest young star is hurt, too.

Shortly after becoming the fastest player in NFL history to throw for 7,500 yards, in just his 25th game, Mahomes got hurt not on one of his improvisational masterpieces but on the most basic play, a quarterback sneak.

The stadium grew silent as one by one players peeled off the pile and Mahomes stayed down, his right leg stuck at an awkward angle before he rolled onto his back, ripped off his helmet and covered his face.

"I don't even want to think about that," receiver Tyreek Hill said. "We are just trying to move on from it, and I will continue to pray for my dog."

"It was out of whack," tight end Travis Kelce said. "I couldn't even describe it. You looked at it and were like, 'On no, there is something wrong with him.'"

Denver defensive end Shelby Harris' heart sank.

"I've never seen anything like that on the field before," Harris said. "His knee was literally all the way to the side, his kneecap was. I wish him the best. We definitely need him in the league, he's definitely a big attraction in the league."

Mahomes shooed away a cart and trainers helped him off the field once his kneecap was popped back into place. Then, he walked gingerly to the locker room.

"Obviously we need him to get wins," Hill said. "But now we just have to move on."

The Chiefs' hopes of reaching their first Super Bowl since 1970 — the year Mahomes' father, former big leaguer Pat Mahomes, was born — will rest at least for a while not on their magnificent maestro but on Moore, a 35-year-old career backup who wasn't even in the league last year as he sought to transition into either coaching or scouting.

Moore attended Kyler Murray's pro day at Oklahoma this spring alongside Adam Engroff, the Miami Dolphins' director of college scouting. But Moore found himself in demand again when Chad Henne broke an ankle in the preseason and he signed Sept. 1 to back up Mahomes.

It was Kansas City's dominant defense that really stepped up when Mahomes went out Thursday night, but Moore did throw a 57-yard TD pass to Hill with Chris Harris Jr. in coverage. Overall, he was 10 of 19 for 117 yards.

"It is crazy. I am pretty sure about three or four of the guys out there on the field had never caught a ball from Matt even in practice," Kelce said. "I know I hadn't."

While backups Teddy Bridgewater in New Orleans and Kyle Allen in Carolina have each gone 4-0, most fill-ins aren't so fortunate.

Mason Rudolph was knocked unconscious after replacing Roethlisberger, elevating undrafted Devlin "Duck" Hodges, who'd been cut at the end of training camp, to the starring role in Pittsburgh's last game. Siemian's season-ending injury opened the door for Luke Falk before Darnold returned last week.

Only four starting QBs who own Super Bowl rings are still standing: the ageless Tom Brady, the rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers, the dependable Russell Wilson and the floundering Joe Flacco, who somehow escaped injury Thursday night despite being sacked a career-high eight times and knocked down on most of his other drop-backs.

Hill insists it's business as usual with Moore under center instead of Mahomes.

"I don't see anything changing," Hill said.

Except, well, everything.

Earlier this week, Broncos coach Vic Fangio said facing Mahomes is the toughest task in the football because "you have to defend two plays: the one they've called and then the one he might create."

Now, those skills are shelved, like those of so many others who have mastered the league's paramount and most precarious position.


Not giving up his shot: Ben Simmons' jumper could lift 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) drives to the net as Guangzhou Loong-Lions' Yongpeng Zhang defends and Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, right, watches during the first half of an NBA exhibition basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By ROB MAADDI

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The crowd screamed for Ben Simmons to shoot as he dribbled near the perimeter in a preseason game against a team from China. Joel Embiid motioned for him to let it fly. Simmons took a couple more steps, stopped and popped.

Swish.

Fans celebrated Simmons' first career 3-pointer as if the Philadelphia 76ers had just won Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Embiid ran over and hugged him, teammates rushed the court and the internet went wild.

It's been nearly impossible to mention Simmons without adding jump shot in the conversation since his debut in October 2017. The 23-year-old Simmons is considered one of the best players in the world despite his reluctance to shoot jumpers in his first two seasons.

The All-Star point guard told The Associated Press last month that he allowed criticism to bother him, but he "fell in love with the game again" over the summer during the countless hours he spent in the gym working on his shot.

Simmons realizes adding a jumper would make him a complete player.

"It's a huge part of the game, so if it's open I'll take it," he said. "I think I was just too worried about what people were saying, what was going on around, too many outside noises, and I was able to block them out this summer and not really focus on what people say. I don't really care anymore unless it's coming from someone in my circle or someone who is trying to help me get better."

Simmons is 0 for 18 from 3-point range in his career, including playoffs, so making one even in a preseason game was a big deal for everyone — except him and his coach.

"I think the whole thing is so overblown," Brett Brown said. "I think in general, it's so inflated the attention."

Simmons sat out his first season with a broken right foot after the process-trusting Sixers selected him No. 1 overall in the 2016 draft. He earned Rookie of the Year honors the following year and became an All-Star for the first time last season. He has helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the NBA playoffs twice, and has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists.

Questions about his ability to shoot sometimes overshadow everything he does well.

"I'm confident in saying I'm not a great shooter," he said. "I'm getting better, though. It's a game. There are five people on the court. I lack something that I'm not great at it but there's other areas I'm very great at it. I run the floor as well as anybody. I'm physical. I can rebound the ball. At 6-foot-10, I'm a point guard, I can guard one through five, but (shooting is) just one thing that's coming into my game which I'm excited about. I love getting better. I love spending time in the gym and building that confidence."

Simmons worked with trainer Chris Johnson in Los Angeles during the summer, and videos showing him shooting teased fans for months.

"I believe if you continue to work, good things will happen over time, and that's what I will continue to do to keep playing the game I love at a high level," he said.

Simmons is quiet and reserved, a bit uncomfortable around media, but he's vocal about speaking out against racism. He is the executive producer of a documentary about Adam Goodes, an Australian football player and anti-racism advocate. It opens Saturday at the Philadelphia Film Festival.

"Everyone has a voice and everyone has different levels of (a platform) and, together as one, people can create change around the world," he said.

Simmons is also passionate about helping children in the community. He delivered new sports equipment to students in Camden, New Jersey last month and showed up at an elementary school in Philadelphia earlier this week to donate more than 600 new winter coats.

"Growing up, my parents told me I have a huge responsibility with what I do and if I have a chance to help kids, I love to do that," he said.

On Wednesday, Simmons became the face of smartwater, joining the brand whose goal is to encourage proper hydration.

"They continue to build themselves up and get better and that's how I see myself as a player," he said. "I want to continue to get better."

Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris and new additions Al Horford and Josh Richardson give Philadelphia its best starting lineup since Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones led the 76ers to their last NBA title in 1983. Jones came off the bench for that team while Andrew Toney and Marc Iavaroni rounded out the starting five.

Simmons says his only goal is to win a championship. He's also focused on being an excellent defender.

"I want to be the best defensive player on the team," he said at the team's media day. "So hopefully everyone on my team hears that, and they strive to do the same thing."



Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes injures right knee against Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws against the Denver Broncos Thursday in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

 Mahomes is helped by trainers after getting injured against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 17, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

by Pat Graham

Denver (AP) — Now the wait begins to see how long it takes Patrick Mahomes to return from a gruesome right knee injury.

Waiting in the wings, just in case: 35-year-old backup Matt Moore.

Mahomes, the MVP quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, was hurt on a second-quarter sneak in a 30-6 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

Kansas City coach Andy Reid doesn't yet know how long Mahomes may be sidelined as the Chiefs (5-2) snapped a two-game skid with Moore stepping in and the Chiefs defense stepping up (nine sacks and a defensive score).

"We need time to evaluate," Reid said. "I'll leave it at that."

Facing fourth-and-short deep in Denver territory, Mahomes picked up a first down by sneaking through the line.

As the pile began to clear, Mahomes didn't jump up.

Struggling to straighten his right knee, he tossed his helmet to the side and covered his face with both hands. His teammates immediately checked on him. Seeing Mahomes' condition, receiver Tyreek Hill put his hands on his helmet in concern — a feeling shared by a legion of Chiefs fans. Mahomes is a big reason why Kansas City was a preseason favorite to reach its second straight AFC championship game.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. showed his respect by coming over and shaking Mahomes' hand.

"You looked at it and were like, 'Oh no, there is something wrong with him,'" Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. "You just hope a guy isn't injured that bad and can come back."

One of the members of the Kansas City medical team worked on the knee to help straighten it out. A cart was summoned to take him away, but Mahomes refused to use it.

Instead, he put an arm around each trainer and made his way off the field. Mahomes, who entered the game with a sore ankle, then slowly made his way into the locker room.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wrote on his Twitter account: "Praying for you bro." It was a similar sentiment shared by Houston QB Deshaun Watson on social media: "Praying my bro @PatrickMahomes is straight!"

The reigning MVP was 10 of 11 for 76 yards and a 125.8 rating before his injury.

Mahomes has thrown 15 touchdown passes and one interception this season. Last weekend in a loss to Houston, Mahomes recorded his 14th career game with at least three TD passes. That's third-most in team history.

Moore's number was called. Before going in, he tapped Mahomes on the chest and wished him well. When Moore entered the huddle, he had a quick conversation with his teammates.

"Just something to let them know we were going to be all right. Kind of got them fired up a little bit," said Moore, who didn't play last season. "I just said, 'Hey, I need you guys. You guys need me. Let's go here. Help me and let's go.'"

It worked. Moore finished 10 of 19 for 117 yards and a 57-yard TD strike to Hill in the third quarter. Moore also had a grasp of the playbook despite being signed around two months ago after an injury Chad Henne.

"He goes, 'Let's go. I know it all. I'm good. Just call it. Let's roll,'" Reid recounted. "He's got ice water in the veins, that whole deal. He doesn't flinch. There's no panic."

After the game, Moore said Mahomes addressed the team in the locker room and praised the defense for a nine-sack performance.

Then, he complimented Moore.

"He said something about me, yes," Moore said. "He said, 'How about my guy, Matt?' ... I'm trying to downplay it.

"We're excited for the win, division opponent, road game — all things that are hard to do," Moore added. "At the same, a guy like Patrick gets hurt it can be deflating. He's obviously a huge part of this team, a huge part of the league. You hate to see that. We all know that injuries are part of this game. He's doing to do his best to get back out as quick as he can."


Carey Price makes 17 saves, Canadiens beat Wild 4-0

Montreal Canadiens' Phillip Danault is taken out from in front of the Wild's net by Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter during second-period NHL hockey game action in Montreal, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Minnesota Wild's Ryan Hartman gets a glove in the face from Montreal Canadiens' Jeff Petry during first-period NHL hockey game action in Montreal, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Associated Press

Montreal (AP) — It sounded like an overtime goal in the playoffs.

The Bell Centre erupted in a deafening roar when defenseman Victor Mete scored his first NHL goal in his 127th game — the longest goal drought to start a career in Canadiens history.

Montreal went on to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Thursday night, with Nick Suzuki also scoring his first NHL goal and Carey Price making 17 saves for his first shutout of the season and 45th overall.

"It feels good to finally get that out of the way," Mete said. "That was pretty cool. The crowd was going pretty nuts. It was ear-piercing. Everybody's wanted me to score for quite a while so to see everyone get as excited as they did, it's pretty special. It means a lot."

He ended the longest goal drought to start a career in Canadiens history, a mark previously held by Mike Komisarek at 122 games. It also ended the longest active drought in the league.

"The fans saw him score his first goal and they made sure to show him their support," coach Claude Julien said. "No doubt, it's going to be engraved in his mind. Definitely a special night for him."

Mete's goal was the first of three for Montreal in a 4:46 span last in the first period.

The 21-year-old Mete found space in the slot, took a backhand pass from Nick Cousins from behind the net and beat Alex Stalock glove side with 5:23 left in the period.

"I heard Mete yell for it so I just kind of whipped it out front and he was nice enough to bury it," said Cousins, who was making his Canadiens debut. "I didn't know it was his first goal. That's exciting for him. I like my steak medium rare. We'll have to figure that out tomorrow for dinner. He's buying for sure."

Joel Armia and Brendan Gallagher also scored to help Montreal improve to 3-2-2.

Stalock stopped 28 shots for the reeling Wild. They dropped to 1-6-0.

Armia connected on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:28 left in the first. He leads Montreal with four goal.

Suzuki scored with 37 seconds remaining in the period. A whiffed shot from Jeff Petry landed right on Suzuki's backhand before Stalock could cover the right post.

Gallagher put a fourth past Stalock at 12:40 of the third period.

NOTES: The Canadiens beat Minnesota for the first time since Nov. 8, 2014, snapping a streak of nine losses. ... Mete and Suzuki are the first Canadiens to score their first NHL goals in the same game since 2005, when Chris Higgins and Alexander Perezhogin did it against the New York Rangers.

Up Next

Wild: Host Montreal on Sunday.

Canadiens: At St. Louis on Saturday.



South Korean soccer team tells of 'rough' match in Pyongyang

In this photo provided by the Korea Football Association, South Korea's Hwang Hee-chan, left, fights for the ball against North Korea's Kim Chol Bom during their Asian zone Group H qualifying soccer match for the 2022 World Cup at an empty Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. (The Korea Football Association via AP)

by Kim Tong-Hyung

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's national soccer team described their World Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang as a "rough" match played under strange conditions that may be raised with FIFA.

The historic match ended in a scoreless draw Tuesday at huge Kim Il Sung Stadium, which was empty of spectators. The match was also under a media blackout, and the South Koreans first spoke to journalists about the playing conditions upon their return to Seoul on Thursday.

"The opponents were very rough, and there were moments when very abusive language was exchanged," Tottenham striker Son Heung-min said.

"It was hard to concentrate on the match because you were thinking about avoiding injury first ... It's an accomplishment that we returned from a game like that without injury," Son told reporters at Incheon International Airport.

The team's general manager Choi Young-il said the South Korean soccer association, known as KFA, will discuss whether to submit a complaint to FIFA over what he described as North Korea's failure to properly accommodate the visiting team and decision to block media and spectators.

North Korea kept out South Korean media and spectators and refused a live broadcast from the stadium.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino also attended the match, and on Tuesday issued a statement saying he was "disappointed to see there were no fans in the stands."

"We were surprised by this and by several issues related to its live broadcast and problems with visas and access for foreign journalists," Infantino said.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency published only a brief match report, saying the "game of attacks and counterattacks ended in a draw 0:0."

North Korea did provide a DVD recording of the match to South Korean soccer officials, but South Korean TV channel KBS canceled plans to broadcast the game on tape delay because of the video's quality, according to the broadcaster and KFA.

"We probably won't get another video from North Korea," said Park Jae-sung, a KFA official, adding the video was unfit for South Korea's high-definition TV services.

The North had been expected to have a unique home advantage in the 50,000-capacity stadium devoid of South Korean fans, but South Korean players and soccer officials were surprised to realize there would be no home crowd support, either.

Son said it was regrettable that South Korea, which has a stronger team on paper, couldn't return with three points, but admitted that their opponents' physical play got into the players' heads.

Choi, a former defender who played for South Korea during the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, said the North Koreans played like they were "waging a war," violently swinging their elbows and hands and driving into their opponents knee first when competing for balls in air.

"I have never seen something like this in soccer before," he said.

When they weren't playing or training, South Korean players and staff were holed up at the Koryo Hotel, which appeared to have no other guests, Choi said. They had no outside contact, having left their cellphones at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing before entering the North. Choi said North Korean officials didn't inform the South Korean team the match would be played in an empty stadium.

"We got there an hour and a half early and kept thinking that the gate will open and a crowd of 50,000 would pour in," Choi said. "But the gate never opened until the end."

The game was the first competitive meeting between the national men's teams in the North Korean capital, although the North hosted the South in a friendly in 1990.

North Korea in recent months has severed virtually all cooperation with the South amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States, and repeatedly ignored the South's calls for discussions on media coverage issues and allowing South Korean cheer squads ahead of the game.

South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, Seoul's point man on North Korea, said during a parliamentary session on Thursday that the way the North handled the game was "very disappointing" and reflected the stalemate in inter-Korean relations.

Some experts say the North was expressing its political displeasure with the South by shutting out rival reporters and fans, but opted to compete in an empty stadium at home in an effort to level the playing field and avoid questions about fairness.

Others say North Korea might have been concerned about the possibility of its national team losing to the South in front of a massive home crowd, which would have been a humiliating development for leader Kim Jong Un, who has a passion for sports.

The awkward buildup to the game "demonstrates the immense discontent North Korea has for (South Korea)" for its failure to break away from its U.S. ally and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by U.S.-led sanctions, said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

During qualification for the 2010 World Cup, North Korea chose to host games against South Korea in Shanghai, refusing to hoist the South Korean flag and play the South Korean anthem on its soil.

The fate of the game in Pyongyang was uncertain until last month when the governing body of Asian soccer informed the KFA that the North decided it would host the qualifier as scheduled.

South Korea's two Group H matches against North Korea will be crucial in qualifying for the World Cup. The second match between the Koreas is scheduled for June 4 in South Korea.

South Korea has dominated the past 17 inter-Korean matches with seven wins, one loss and nine draws.

Group H also includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.


Stats show up style clashes in Rugby World Cup quarterfinals

Japan's Kotaro Matsushima jumps to catch a ball during the Rugby World Cup Pool A game at International Stadium between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

by Steve McMorran

Statistics compiled over the course of the group stage at the Rugby World Cup may offer an insight into the nature of the match-ups which will occur in the weekend quarterfinals.

While the styles of each of the quarterfinalists are relatively well known, the pool phase data can be mined for deeper insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the various teams in Oita and Tokyo.

There are several obvious bullet points ahead of matches between England and Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, Wales and France and Japan and South Africa.

Defending champion New Zealand leads the way in most of the main attacking statistics; it has gained more meters, made more clean breaks, beaten more defenders and provided more offloads than any other team. Those factors may be tempered by the fact that with the cancellation of their last pool match, two of their three games where high-scoring and against Tier Two nations.

The All Blacks also have a 100% success record at scrums, the best of the tournament, though they haven't been tested by a scrum of Ireland's quality and experience.

In contrast, Australia is ranked 15th among the 20 teams which started the tournament on the basis of scrum success rate, well behind the much more accomplished England scrum.

Ireland has the best defensive record of the eight quarterfinalists, conceding only two tries in four pool games and missing fewer tackles than any other team.

Those figures point to one of the two glaring clashes of styles in the quarterfinals. On the basis of its pool performances Ireland will rely on its forwards as principal ball carriers, will attempt to command field position and will box kick, most likely toward the right flank where All Blacks winger Sevu Reece can expect to be tested.

Ireland and South Africa have kicked out of hand more often than most of the other quarterfinalists and that sets up a tactic and stylistic clash with New Zealand and Japan which attack more with ball in hand.

Japan can also be expected to be tested by a barrage of high kicks from the Springboks, mostly out of scrumhalf. But Japan has prepared for that; coach Jamie Joseph calculated that if Japan made it into the knockout rounds for the first time there would be at least some chance of facing South Africa in the quarterfinals.

Japan played South Africa in a warm-up two weeks before the World Cup and lost 41-7 but it used the match to test its high ball skills and its response to a kicking barrage. The lessons learned in that match came in handy when Japan encountered those tactics against Ireland in pool play, beating a team recently ranked No. 1 in the world.

Japan will likely join the All Blacks in playing the most adventurous style among the quarterfinalists, but that is not to underestimate the soundness of its forward play. It is tempo, almost frenetic, that serves Japan so well against more conservative or structured opposition.

Japan also finishes as well as any team when opportunities are created. Winger Kotaro Matsushima is the joint top try-scorer in the tournament with five, has made the second-most line breaks and the fourth most runs. At the same time, flyhalf Yu Tamura is the top scorer in the World Cup so far with 48 points, including 10 penalties.

A question mark hangs over Japan's defense; it conceded 62 points in pool matches, almost twice as many as South Africa with 36.

The Springboks also scored more points than any other team — 185 — and more tries, 27. But they were only fifth overall on the list of overall carries with 484 meters, well short of the leaders in that category, Australia, with 627. That can be interpreted as showing the Springboks advanced with kicks as often as they did with ball in hand and attacked from shorter range.

But the Springboks were also high on the list of overall line breaks with 63, behind only New Zealand with 71.

Goal kicking is frequently a decisive factor in World Cup knockout matches. That may come as a solace to New Zealand, which has the best success rate with 84%, and Wales, just behind with 83.

Wales, which plays France in the quarterfinals, has three reliable kickers — Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Patchell — but has missed more tackles than any other team in the quarterfinals and ranks high on the list of handling errors.

Wales winger Josh Adams matched Matsushima with five tries and led all players with 13 clean breaks, while captain Alun Wyn Jones was his team's most industrious defender with 47 tackles.

Discipline will likely be crucial from here on with seven red cards and 25 yellow cards dished out so far in the tournament. Australia has received more yellow cards than any of the eight remaining teams, and France has conceded most penalties.


McDavid (5 points) and Draisaitl lead Oilers over Flyers 6-3

 Philadelphia Flyers' Justin Braun (61) and Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) reach for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Associated Press

Edmonton, Alberta (AP) — Already way behind, the Philadelphia Flyers fired a franchise-record 25 shots on goal in the third period.

It wasn't nearly enough to overcome another big night for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

McDavid had a goal and four assists, Draisaitl added two goals and one assist, and the Edmonton Oilers' dynamic duo continued their sizzling start to the season Wednesday in a 6-3 victory over Philadelphia.

It was McDavid's third career five-point game. Mikko Koskinen made 49 saves for Edmonton (6-1-0) in his third win of the season.

"I thought he was good all night long, especially in the second. He really held us in it," McDavid said.

"I like how we bent but we didn't break in the second. We held strong and we found a way to get a couple to get ourselves the lead."

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ethan Bear and former Flyer Brandon Manning each scored their first goal of 2019-20.

Jakub Voracek scored twice for Philadelphia (2-2-1) and assisted on Oskar Lindblom's goal.

It was a tough night for Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who allowed four goals on 14 shots during his first NHL start in his hometown. He was pulled in the second period after Nugent-Hopkins' power-play goal and replaced by Brian Elliott.

"Sure, there's guys with a lot of skill like McDavid and Draisaitl, but at the end of the day you've got to stop the puck," Hart said.

"I didn't do my job and it cost us. You've got to come up with a couple of saves to keep your team in the game and I didn't do that."

The loss extended Philadelphia's skid to three games and marked the end of a road trip that included three games in five days.

Edmonton got off to a quick start as Draisaitl scored his fifth of the season 1:13 in, beating Hart with a hard snap shot over the blocker.

The Flyers tied it with the man advantage when Voracek buried the puck off a big rebound from Claude Giroux's shot. But the Oilers responded just more than seven minutes later as Bear jumped into the rush and took a feed from James Neal, beating Hart with a wrist shot to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead.

The Flyers pressed hard for an equalizer in the second period, but Koskinen came up with a plethora of big saves. His two biggest stops came on Sean Couturier's one-timer from the slot and a stick save against a wide-open Shayne Gostisbehere in front.

"He was the first, second and third star. He was the only reason we won," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. "It wasn't a 6-3 game or a 6-1 game. The score was that, but it wasn't that kind of game."

Koskinen's strong play sparked the Oilers late in the second. After being dominated for most of the period, Edmonton broke loose with three goals in less than four minutes to take complete control — and it was the NHL's top two scorers leading the way.

First, McDavid outmuscled Flyers defenseman Justin Braun off the puck to make it 3-1 at the 12:34 mark.

"That's when the game turned for us a little bit," Tippett said.

It didn't stop there.

Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl scored power-play goals 1:54 apart to give Edmonton a 5-1 cushion late in the period.

"That third goal was the difference maker," Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.

"We spent close to 45 seconds completely in their end against their top line, and they flip the puck out and they were able to put it in the back of the net."

McDavid added his fifth point of the game in the third with a nice drop pass to Manning, who fired a one-timer past Elliott.

Lindblom tipped in a drive from Voracek for his third goal of the season with 4:40 remaining. Voracek added his second power-play goal of the game with 2:18 to go.

"After the first two shifts of the game we were outplayed by a wide margin until we got it turned around. Connor got that goal and we got a couple of power-play goals and we pushed on," Tippett said.

NOTES: Edmonton's special teams have been a big key to its strong start. The Oilers were 2 for 2 with the man advantage and are 10 for 22 in seven games. ... The Oilers paid tribute to former coach Ted Green, who died last week at 79. ... McDavid's previous five-point games came against Toronto in February 2016 and Tampa Bay in February 2018. ... Manning dressed for the first time this season after being a healthy scratch for the first six games. ... Oscar Klefbom's assist on McDavid's second-period goal was the 100th of his NHL career.

UP NEXT

Flyers: Host the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

Oilers: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.


Boxer Patrick Day dies of brain injuries 4 days after fight

In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, Patrick Day, right, punches Elvin Ayala during the fifth round of a WBC super welterweight boxing bout in New York. Day won the fight. Day died Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, four days after sustaining head injuries in a fight with Charles Conwell. Promoter Lou DiBella said Day died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was 27. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Associated Press

Chicago (AP) — Boxer Patrick Day died Wednesday, four days after sustaining head injuries in a fight with Charles Conwell.

Promoter Lou DiBella said Day died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was 27.

"He was surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins," DiBella said in a statement on his website. "He was a son, brother, and good friend to many. Pat's kindness, positivity and generosity of spirit made a lasting impression with everyone he met."

Day had brain surgery after being knocked out in the 10th round Saturday night at Wintrust Arena. Knocked down twice earlier in the bout, the junior middleweight was taken from the ring on a stretcher.

Two days after the fight, Conwell posted a heartfelt message to Day on social media.

"I never meant for this to happen to you. All I ever wanted to do was win. If I could take it all back I would. No one deserves for this to happen to them," Conwell wrote. "I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you."

From Freeport, New York, Day had a career record of 17-4-1 with six knockouts. As an amateur, he won two National titles, the New York Golden Gloves tournament and was a U.S. Olympic team alternate in 2012.



Nats sweep Cards; DC in World Series for 1st time since '33

The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 4 of the baseball National League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Washington. The Nationals won 7-4 to win the series 4-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

by Howard Fendrich

Washington (AP) — As the Washington Nationals moved a party 86 years in the making from their ballpark's infield to a booze-filled clubhouse, manager Dave Martinez paused near the dugout and thrust the silver NL Championship Series trophy overhead, to the delight of loud, delirious fans still in the stands.

Who would have thought this was possible five months ago, when the team was flailing, trade talk was swirling around Washington and folks figured Martinez's job was in jeopardy?

From 19-31 during a mediocre May to the Fall Classic in an outstanding October — and the city's first World Series appearance since 1933.

Extending their stunning turnaround, the wild-card Nationals got RBIs from middle-of-the-order stars Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a seven-run first inning Tuesday night, and Patrick Corbin's 12-strikeout performance plus a trio of relievers helped hold on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in Game 4 to complete a sweep in the NLCS.

"Often, bumpy roads lead to beautiful places," said Martinez, who underwent a heart procedure in September, "and this is a beautiful place."

Right from the first inning Tuesday, most in a sellout crowd of 43,976 rose from their seats to applaud or yell or twirl their red towels, to chant "Let's go, Nats!" and "M-V-P!" and various players' names, enjoying every moment of that game-deciding outburst.

And then, a couple of hours and several innings later, as Tanner Rainey, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson were protecting a shrinking lead, those same spectators stood and shouted and reveled some more.

"I just kept counting down: We're 12 outs from the World Series. We're nine outs from the World Series," shortstop Trea Turner said. "Six. Three."

Now the Nationals get plenty of time to rest and set up their so-far terrific rotation before beginning the last series of the season against the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in a week. Houston leads the best-of-seven AL Championship Series 2-1 after winning Game 3 at New York 4-1 Tuesday.

The Nationals became the fourth team to reach the World Series after being 12 games under .500.

"We think we can compete with any team, any time," NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick said. "People always get caught up in the things that are on paper, but the reality of it is you have to go out and play. Once we get out on the field, anything can happen."

The last time the World Series came to the nation's capital, more than eight decades ago, the Washington Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. Have to go even further back, to 1924, for the city's lone baseball championship, when the Senators defeated the Giants.

The Senators eventually left, and the town didn't have a major league team at all for more than three decades until the Montreal Expos — who were founded in 1969 and never made it to the World Series — moved to Washington in 2005.

The Nationals had never managed to advance in the postseason since arriving, going 0-4 in the NLDS over the last seven years, including three Game 5 losses at home.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals' first draft pick in Washington, was there for all of that heartache.

"Sometimes," he said, "you got to wait for good things."

This month alone, the Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card game after trailing 3-1 heading to the eighth, and eliminated the league-best Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the NL Division Series after trailing 3-1 heading to the eighth again.

Then came this lopsided dismissal of the NL Central champion Cardinals, who were outscored 20-6 in the series.

"Of course, we could've played better," said St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who was 1 for 16 with nine strikeouts in the NLCS, "but we didn't."

Corbin, a left-handed pitcher signed with $140 million of the money that became available last offseason when Bryce Harper left town to join the Philadelphia Phillies, was not quite the equal of Washington's other starters in the series.

Still, he did become the first pitcher to strike out 10 batters in the first four innings of a postseason game and earned the win after allowing four runs in five innings.

Then Martinez turned to his NL-worst bullpen, such a problem for so much of this season.

After Rainey got three outs, and Doolittle got five, Hudson came in for his fourth save in four chances this postseason. It wasn't easy, though: After replacing Doolittle with two outs in the eighth, Hudson hit his first batter and walked his second, bringing pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter to the plate as the go-ahead run with the bases loaded.

Carpenter, a career .481 batter with the bases full, grounded out to second baseman Brian Dozier, a defensive replacement who briefly lost the ball before gathering it and throwing to first to end that inning.

Hudson finished things with a perfect ninth, getting Tommy Edman on a fly ball to center field to end it, and red fireworks went off around the stadium.

Corbin got this evening started with a 1-2-3 top of the first, striking out all three Cardinals with a high, 95 mph fastball, a real contrast to the off-speed stuff Stephen Strasburg used for his own dozen Ks a night earlier.

In the bottom half, Washington put up those seven runs, all charged to rookie Dakota Hudson, who lasted all of 15 pitches — doing to the Cardinals what they did in the previous round, when they scored 10 to open Game 5 of the NLDS against Atlanta.

All the heartache of playoffs past seemed to dissipate during an evening that only briefly was tense for the home team and its supporters: In the fifth, a juggled Cardinals lineup finally awoke, scoring three runs — one more than the team managed to produce in Games 1-3 combined — to get within 7-4.

With a man on second and the tying run in the on-deck circle, Corbin came through, striking out St. Louis' 3-4 hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, with sliders.

After becoming comeback specialists, the Nationals never trailed against the Cardinals. And dating to the final week of the regular season, Washington has won 16 of its past 18 games.

"We proved — and this doesn't require advanced sabermetrics," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said, "you have to get a lead to win a game."

Washington did not face either Houston or the Yankees in interleague play in 2019.


Vasilevskiy leads Lightning to a 3-1 win over Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens' Max Domi can't get to the puck on a shot deflected by Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy as he is covered by Lightning's Victor Hedman (77) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Associated Press

Montreal (AP) — Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Tuesday night in the fifth game of a six-game road trip.

Braydon Coburn, Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson scored for the Lightning (3-2-1), who were coming off a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Nikita Kucherov added two assists.

The 25-year-old Vasilevskiy improved to 8-1-2 in his career against Montreal.

Jeff Petry scored the lone goal for the Canadiens (2-2-2) while Carey Price stopped 19-of-22 shots in defeat.

The Canadiens came into the matchup with the league's fourth-best offense, scoring four goals per game, but they could only get one past Vasilevskiy.

 

Maple Leafs 4, Wild 2

Toronto (AP) — Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists and Toronto overcame a slow start and beat Minnesota.

Andreas Johnsson had a goal and an assist, and Auston Matthews and John Tavares also scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen made 27 saves.

Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly added four assists in the second period, tying a franchise record for assists in a period of a regular-season game set by Rick Vaive on March 12, 1984.

Luke Kunin and Gerald Mayhew scored for Minnesota. Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots for the Wild, who were coming off a 2-0 win at Ottawa on Monday.

 

Coyotes 4, Jets 2

Winnipeg, Manitoba (AP) — Christian Dvorak scored a pair of goals and Arizona beat Winnipeg.

The Coyotes had lost 10 straight games in Winnipeg, since the Jets franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011.

Nick Schmaltz had a goal and two assists for Arizona and Conor Garland also scored. Oliver Ekman-Larsson finished with two assists.  Darcy Kuemper made 38 saves for the Coyotes.

Mark Scheifele had a goal and an assist and extended his point streak to five games with his team-leading fourth goal of the season for Winnipeg. Kyle Connor also scored for Winnipeg, and Josh Morrissey had a pair of assists. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 shots for the Jets.

 

Flames 3, Flyers 1

Calgary, Alberta (AP) — Michael Frolik scored in his 800th NHL game and Calgary beat Philadelphia.

Frolik scored the 154th goal of his 13-season career, fifth as a member of the Flames.

Andrew Mangiapane also scored, and Elias Lindholm added an empty-net goal for Calgary, which snapped a two-game losing skid.

David Rittich made 21 saves and improved to 3-2 on the season.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen scored for the Flyers. Brian Elliott made 35 saves in his first start of the season.

 

Predators 5, Golden Knights 2

Las Vegas (AP) — Pekka Rinne made 33 saves to remain unbeaten as Nashville topped Vegas.

Rinne is 4-0-0 this season and has been splendid in the net, stifling one of the NHL's most potent offenses.

Kyle Turris, Colton Sissons, Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino scored for the Predators, who had nine players get points in the win. Seventeen of Nashville's 20 skaters to appear in a game registered a point.

Mark Stone and Reilly Smith scored for the Golden Knights, who had won their previous two games after outscoring their opponents by a combined final of 11-4.

Marc-Andre Fleury, whose five goals allowed was a season-high, made 34 saves.

 

Canucks 5, Red Wings 1

Vancouver, British Columbia (AP) — J.T. Miller had a pair of goals and Elias Pettersson and Alex Edler each had a goal and a two assists as Vancouver used a potent power play to beat Detroit.

Troy Stecher also had a goal and Brock Boeser finished with three assists for Vancouver.

The Red Wings' lone goal came from Dylan Larkin. Jonathan Bernier stopped 27 of 32 shots for Detroit.

Thatcher Demko had 26 saves and picked up his first win of the season in his first start for Vancouver.

The Canucks have won three games in a row, matching last year's best win streak.

 

Hurricanes 2, Kings 0

Los Angeles (AP) — Petr Mrazek made 31 saves in his 19th career shutout, and Carolina extended its torrid start to the season with a win over Los Angeles.

Martin Necas scored in the second period and Sebastian Aho tipped in an empty-net goal as the Canes rebounded from their first defeat and extended the best start to a season in franchise history, improving to 6-1-0 in the opener of a four-game road trip.

Jack Campbell stopped 21 shots for the Kings, who were shut out after averaging four goals per game in their first five games this season.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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Nats sweep Cards; DC in World Series for 1st time since '33

Vasilevskiy leads Lightning to a 3-1 win over Canadiens