Friday, March 29, 2013

The Rascal to meet Smith in Germany

Dave Chisnall’s opening round clash against Michael Smith in the European Darts Trophy is the pick of the games in the evening session of the competition on day one.

Smith has just recently reached the final of the World Youth Championship, where he hit a nine-darter during his qualification to the final. He will now face Ricky Evans in May at the 02 Arena.

Chisnall was voted the PDC newcomer of the year in 2012 after a successful transition from the BDO. Not only did he reach the semi-final of the UK Open but he picked up wins in Players Championship in Barnsley, Crawley and Reading.

At the 2013 World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace, the man from St Helens equalled his personal best in the tournament where he was beaten in third round by Australian Simon Whitlock 3-4.

Since then he reached the final of the first UK Open qualifier but lost to the in-form Michael van Gerwen 2-6.

The Hammer Andy Hamilton takes a break from the Premier League when he takes on Gareth Pass in the second game of the evening.

Hamilton has been in really good form in recent weeks with two wins over the 16-time world champion Phil Taylor and his recent success over Whitlock in week 7 of the Premier League in Cardiff. The man from Stoke is on course for another Play-Off appearance at the 02 Arena.

Also in action on Saturday evening in Germany is Robert Thornton who will be looking to bounce back from his defeat to Adrian Lewis last Thursday.

The Thorn has held his own in his debut season in the Premier League but suffered a setback in the Welsh capital when he went down 5-7 to the two-time world champion. 

Check out the darts betting on Betfair for all the latest from the Premier League.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Saints on Course for Playoffs

Northampton Saints’ hopes of securing a Premiership playoff spot received a huge boost on Saturday as Christian Day touched down an injury-time try to see off rivals Wasps 26-24.

In an intense game of rugby that witnessed six tries and a flurry of world-class kicking, the Saints came out on top with a crucial victory and earned a bonus point through Stephen Myler’s conversion off Day.

The result means that, with four games to go in the Premiership, Northampton sit in that last playoff spot and four points above fifth-place Gloucester.

As for Wasps, this home defeat bitterly tarnishes their hopes of making the playoffs as they now stare a seven-point deficit in the face.

For Northampton the points were thoroughly deserved as Jim Mallinder’s men travelled to Adams Park intent on getting the job done. An early penalty try was soon followed up by scores from Lee Dickson and Dylan Hartley – the former playing well at hooker to recover from the torment of Six Nations defeat with England.

Looking into April, Northampton are probably in the best position of any of the Premiership’s leading pack in that they don’t have Heineken Cup distractions to worry about.

The three teams above them in the league – Saracens, Leicester and Quins – are all involved in Heineken Cup action next month and fans in the betting world can expect a rough ride for the English trio.

Should one slump in form Northampton are primed to leapfrog their rivals and move further up the ladder. Although they cannot realistically win the league they will battle hard to secure the best possible playoff spot – a determination fans should keep in mind when betting on rugby this spring.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Casado Quashes Malaga Takeover Talk

Cash-strapped Malaga have denied reports suggesting Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), who own Paris St Germain, are planning to take them over.

QSI are owned by Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Crown Prince of Qatar, while the prince’s cousin, Abdullah ben Nasser Al-Thani, owns Betfair La Liga odds favourites, Malaga.

Both PSG and Malaga have won through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League but, while the French side have the funds to tempt the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham and Thiago Silva to Paris, the La Liga side appear to be lurching from one crisis to the next.

However, Malaga's director general, Vicente Casado, has moved quickly to refute the latest rumours, saying: "I categorically deny that there has been an offer to buy the club. I have had a commitment from the owner and am optimistic about the future.”

Meanwhile, Casado expects Malaga will be successful in their bid to have a ban from European competitions overturned.

Three months ago, UEFA suspended the Andalusians from European competition for any season in the next four years in which they qualify.

They also face that ban being extended by two years should they fail to meet a deadline of 31st March to fulfil payments of salaries and taxes, and wipe out a debt estimated at €30million.

Malaga have appealed to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against the decision, and Casado insists: “We are very optimistic. We have met with our obligations and we will prove it.” It is anticipated that Malaga’s hearing will take place on 14th May.

Malaga continue to do well on the pitch, against all odds. Manuel Pellegrini’s side face Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals of this season's Champions League and are currently sixth in the La Liga table, having lost only eight of their 28 fixtures.

Orioles suffer DH blow on eve of season

Just six days to go before the start of the 2013 MLB season and Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter has a major problem on his hands.

Midway through Monday’s game with the Boston Red Sox, Orioles designated hitter Wilson Betemit crashed to the floor as he ran from first to second base.

The 31-year-old looked in serious pain as medical staff went on to the field and five minutes later he was being driven off, clutching his right knee.

Unfortunately for Orioles fans in the betting world, the news isn’t good. Betemit went for an MRI scan immediately after the incident and was diagnosed with a Grade Two-to-Three tear of the posterior cruciate ligament.

“Obviously it doesn't look good right now,” said Showalter after the game. “I’m concerned about Wilson the human being as opposed to what he does for our club.”

 Indeed, the injury is a severe blow for Betemit, who many expected to play a big part in Baltimore’s campaign to make the postseason again this year. The infielder played 102 games for the Orioles last season, scoring 41 runs from 341 at-bats.

Although not in the best form of his life this spring, Betemit had started to find his swing and made a three-run homer on Monday before leaving the game.

 Showalter now has to think fast about who to replace Betemit with and come Opening Day will probably go with Ryan Flaherty, the utility infielder whose left-hand bat means he is a like-for-like swap for Betemit.

Yet fans are right to be unconvinced with this replacement, for although Flaherty can do a job for the team he doesn’t have the flair and inspiration that Betemit reserves for those big hits.

The Orioles are in for a long season and hopefully come mid-summer Betemit is back on the plate, although given this injury there is no knowing when we’ll see him return.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Former Gold Cup Winner has Sights on Aintree

Imperial Commander is aiming to emulate the great Golden Millen by adding the Grand National to his list of honours after already winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner was set for another shot at the blue riband event at the Festival earlier this month but was ruled out of the race through injury. He is expected to be fully fit for the showpiece at Aintree though over 4m4f next month, where he is likely to enjoy the bigger obstacles.

If he does run, Imperial Commander will have to carry top weight of 11-10 and become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to do so with that allowance. Tidal Bay was set to be at the top of the card before he was withdrawn last month through injury.

Ever since winning the Gold Cup in 2010 where he beat both Kauto Star and Denman in a memorable race at Presbury Park, he has struggled to remain fit. He has run on just four occasions since then, winning once in the 2010 Betfair Chase at Haydock where he finished ahead of Tidal Bay in Lancashire. 

He made his long awaited return this year after just under two years off the track in the Argento Chase at Newbury where he finished a respectable second behind Cape Tribulation.  Twiston-Davies was hoping that would springboard a follow up at Cheltenham but he was ruled out of the Gold Cup just a week before the big race.

Not only does he have Imperial Commander entered in the Grand National, but also Major Malarkey and Viking Blond. Both of the latter need other horses to pull out of the race before they make the maximum 40-runner field in Merseyside.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mighty Mike Eyes Top Spot

Michael van Gerwen has the opportunity to move to the top of the 2013 Premier League table following a victory over Gary Anderson in Cardiff on Thursday.

Although his fellow compatriot, Raymond van Barneveld, may take back the spot later in the evening, Mighty Mike will be keen to try to pick up maximum points against the Scotsman to continue his impressive campaign on his debut in the Premier League.

Van Gerwen has lost just once so far in six games with defeat coming to dual-world champion, Adrian Lewis, two weeks ago.

The 2013 World Championship runner up has won on three occasions and drawn twice during the tournament. Anderson on the other hand, is under real pressure to avoid the drop from the league when the bottom two players are eliminated and currently sits in eighth place.

Mighty Mike won the last three legs against the man from Fleetwood in Manchester last week after the scores were locked at 4-4.  The Dutchman finished with an average of 101.52 despite his finishing not being very clinical. 

He hit just 7 of his 17 attempts at a double but it proved to be enough to bring up his third win this year in the Premier League.

Anderson, on the other hand, had to hold his throw in the final leg of the match against Lewis to pick up a much needed point. Despite getting off to a good start, the Scot found himself under pressure in the final stages of the clash to avoid a further defeat. 

The critical point in the game came in leg 10 where Jackpot missed several darts to break the throw, instead Anderson took advantage to level the scores. The 2011 winner needed just 10 darts to secure the draw in leg 12.