Wales head coach Warren Gatland has no doubt his players understand the importance of Saturday’s Millennium Stadium clash against Ireland as a fierce battle for World Cup squad places intensifies. “There were a couple of little niggles and fights at training with the forwards. When they are holding and grabbing each other, you can tell there is a little bit of tension in the air. They are pretty aware of how important Saturday is, and the opportunity open to them.” There are two more uncapped players on the replacements’ bench in New Zealand-born fly-half Gareth Anscombe, whose mother is from Cardiff, and Anscombe’s Cardiff Blues colleague, hooker Kristian Dacey. Had it not been for what Gatland described as “a slight thigh strain,” it is likely that Anscombe would have started against Ireland this weekend. T he team will be captained by Scarlets centre Scott Williams, who leads his country for the first time. Elsewhere in the line-up, there is only a second Test start at fly-half for Gloucester’s James Hook since the 2011 World Cup, although his half-back partnership with Mike Phillips boasts a combined total of 170 caps. And while the uncapped starting quartet have golden chances against Ireland to press their claims, the same applies to players like full-back Hallam Amos, prop Nicky Smith and number eight Dan Baker, who packs down in the back-row alongside Moriarty and Justin Tipuric. England Under-20 World Cup winner Ross Moriarty is among four players handed a Wales debut on Saturday, when he will be joined by Ospreys wing Eli Walker, Newport Gwent Dragons centre Tyler Morgan and Bath lock Dominic Day. St Helens-born Gloucester flanker Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard both played for Wales, helped England win successive Under-20 World Cup finals in 2013 – against Wales – when his team-mates included current senior England stars Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell, and 2014. Moriarty is not tied to England because he has not represented either the senior team or England’s designated second XV, the Saxons. “There are quite a few players that have been in the squad for a number of years that we know a lot about, so that’s why there is a chance for some of the fringe players and younger players, and even more experienced players, to go out there on Saturday and perform,” Gatland said. “If you want to impress, then in front of 75,000 people with the roof closed at home, there is no better opportunity, so I am trying to give these players the best possible chance to go out and perform. “We have pushed the players right to the limit, and they have responded magnificently. “We know how hard we trained in preparation for 2011 (World Cup), and this has definitely been a step up. For everyone, it shows how much they want to make the World Cup squad and be a part of it, and it is going to be tough on us as coaches and selectors having to let some players down when we make that final cut. “We haven’t done a huge amount of contact stuff, but the forwards had a pretty tasty session this morning. They really ramped it up. Gatland reported a “couple of little niggles and fights” among the forwards at training on Tuesday, with Wales having entered the competitive warm-up phase of their World Cup countdown. He will name a final 31-man World Cup party on August 31. Wales face home and away appointments with Ireland before then. Press Association
An undefeated record in Big Ten volleyball is a tall task. There are currently six Big Ten teams in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll and four of them, including the University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team, are in the top-10. However, Big Ten powerhouses like No. 5 Minnesota or No. 6 Nebraska didn’t end the Badgers’ perfect conference record. It was the young The Ohio State University Buckeyes, who had zero wins against ranked opponents this season. A day after their loss to OSU, the No. 7 Wisconsin volleyball team (17-5, 13-1 Big Ten) rebounded with an emphatic sweep of the Maryland Terrapins. The trouble for the Badgers began in the first set. UW held late leads 21–17 and 24–21, but the Buckeyes responded with runs both times to take the set 27–25. That sparked OSU offensively as they hit .344 in the second set and won 25–20. Wisconsin rebounded to win the third set but fell in four with a Molly Haggerty hitting error eliciting a 25–23 loss in the fourth set. The Buckeyes (13-13, 6-8) dominated the service line — a usual strong suit for Wisconsin. OSU rattled off 10 service aces. The Badgers had not allowed more than five in their first 12 games in Big Ten play. Volleyball: Badgers look to extend historic Big Ten runThe No. 4 Wisconsin volleyball team (16-4, 12-0 Big Ten) remains on the road to face The Ohio State University Read…Senior middle blocker Elle Sandbothe, a transfer from Kansas State, finished with 12 kills at a .409 hitting percentage.OSU also held the Badgers to their lowest hitting percentage all season at .202. The loss ended the Badgers’ 12-game winning streak, but UW quickly re-entered the win column against Maryland (12-14, 4-10) with a 25–18, 25–13, 25–13 sweep. The Badgers dominated all three facets of the game. UW hit a blazing .406, held the Terps to .045 and won the serving battle with six aces to Maryland’s one. Setter Sydney Hilley had her entire arsenal of hitters going as she totaled 43 assists. Their .406 hitting percentage was the Badgers’ highest mark of conference play thus far. Middle blocker Danielle Hart posted a .778 hitting percentage with seven kills on just nine swings. Volleyball: Badgers record team’s best start ever in Big Ten playThe Wisconsin volleyball team (16-4, 12-0 Big Ten) has started 12-0 in conference play for the first time in Badger Read…The Terrapins’ Rebecca Rath was the only attacker with a hitting percentage above .067 and First-Team All-Big Ten outside hitter Erika Pritchard registered a .000 hitting percentage. Wisconsin forced Maryland into season-lows in hitting percentage, kills, points and assists. The Badgers once again won the battle of service aces as they have in 12 of the 14 Big Ten matches they have played thus far. Molly Haggerty and Lauren Barnes each recorded two aces against Maryland.
NEW HARTFORD — While the Trump administration is expressing interest in the U-S buying Greenland, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley admits that’s not something that was ever on his radar.A USA Today article this morning estimated the cost of such a purchase at half-a-TRILLION dollars. Grassley was asked if that would be a good investment for our country. “I’d have to know the value of Greenland, resources and stuff like that,” Grassley says. “I would not think of buying Greenland. It’s not something that’s foremost on my mind.” Reports indicate the administration was considering Greenland because of its strategic location, northeast of Canada and stretching into the Arctic regionGrassley says there are two primary reasons for considering the purchase of the world’s largest island. “One would be our further claim to jurisdiction over part of the Arctic Ocean as a result of Greenland being a territory of the United States,” Grassley says. “And secondly, the value of whatever resources there are.”Greenland has a population of around 55,000 and it encompasses some 536,000 square miles, or about a quarter of the entire United States. The country’s economy is small and is primarily based on fishing. “I don’t know anything about Greenland,” Grassley says. “I know that it has some value because people live there and Denmark has claimed it for, I suppose, a thousand years.”Denmark has said it’s not interested in selling Greenland. Some of the island’s natural resources include: aluminum, copper, iron, platinum, titanium and uranium — along with the potential for large oil fields.