Your weekend sports round-up:
The big news of the weekend concerns two Kiwi halfbacks.
Shaun Johnson hobbled off the field in the Sharks’ 29-6 loss to the Broncos, with his injury thought to be serious. He faces a long spell on the sideline, which will sadly come as no surprise to Warriors fans who have followed Johnson’s career at Mt Smart.
Meanwhile, the Warriors themselves would’ve been watching the game with interest, as rumours swirl that they are about to sign Broncos half Kodi Nikorima. In other games over the weekend, the Bulldogs beat the Cowboys 24-12 in a battle of the cellar-dwellers, the Rabbitohs pipped the Panthers 22-18, the Tigers beat the Titans 30-14, the Sea Eagles got over the Raiders 24-20 in an entertaining match and the Knights got back into some form with a 28-14 win over the Eels.
The Crusaders stay on top of the New Zealand Conference thanks to a comfortable 36-10 win over the Lions in Christchurch on Friday night. The match marked the successful return from injury for winger George Bridge, who will be on the hunt for an All Black spot in coming months. However, there was bad news for midfielder Ryan Crotty, who was forced to leave the field for yet another head injury assessment.
Later on Friday night the Highlanders smashed the Sunwolves 52-0 in Tokyo, their second win in a row and a timely return to form.
The big match of the weekend was in Wellington on Saturday night, where the Hurricanes’ All Blacks played a big role in their commanding 47-19 win over the Chiefs. Jordie Barrett scored two tries to set up the Canes’ fast start, while TJ Perenana and Ardie Savea crossed later in the match. Perenara’s try was the 52nd of his Super Rugby career, which puts him only eight away from the all-time record held by Israel Folau.
The Australian fullback is unlikely to be adding to that tally thanks to his impending contract termination by Rugby Australia.
Elsewhere, the Folau-less Waratahs were upset by the Sharks 23-15 in Sydney. The Stormers beat the Bulls 24-23 in Cape Town and Los Jaguares beat the Brumbies 20-15 in Buenos Aires.
The Eastern Conference semi finals tipped off yesterday, with the Raptors taking their first game against the 76ers 108-95 in Toronto. The Celtics scored an important away win in Milwaukee when they beat the Bucks 112-90 in the first game of their series which is only the fifth time this decade an away team has won Game 1 of their series by 15+ points.
This morning, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rocket begin the Western Conference semis in Oakland, while the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers start theirs tomorrow in Denver.
English Premier League
It’s still only a one point gap between top-placed Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool as we head into the final fortnight of the EPL. Both picked up wins over Huddersfield and Burnley respectively with the title race to be decided on the final fortnight coming up. Both have potentially tricky assignments next weekend, with Man City at home vs Leicester City, while Liverpool are away at Newcastle.