NSW Blues chase first State of Origin series sweep in 18 years

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Jake Trbojevic and James Maloney of the Blues celebrate victory after game two

Brad Fittler‘s New South Wales are bidding for their first State of Origin Rugby league series clean sweep over Queensland in 18 years in Wednesday’s final game in Brisbane.

The Blues have already wrapped up the fierce interstate series after wins in Melbourne (22-12) and Sydney (18-14) in former Australia captain Fittler’s first year as coach.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for NSW who had won only one of the previous 11 Origin series in a formidable era of dominance by the Maroons.

It has been a troubled series for Queensland coach Kevin Walters with the retirements of greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd and injury to their new skipper Greg Inglis, ruling him out of this week’s final match.

Another Maroons icon, fullback Billy Slater, will lead his state for the first time in the last of his 31 Origin appearances in his representative swansong.

Daly Cherry-Evans, Corey Oates and Tim Glasby have been called into the injury-hit Queensland team. Cherry-Evans ended three years in the Origin wilderness after being recalled to replace Ben Hunt at scrum-half.

But it won’t be all plain sailing for NSW in the Suncorp Stadium cauldron where they have won only twice in their last 11 matches there going back to 2010.

Twelve of Fittler’s Origin series rookies will be playing their first interstate match at the intimidating ground.

Stand-off James Maloney has been one of the Blues’ outstanding players in the series and says his team refuse to take their foot off the pedal.

Asked about the repercussions a clean sweep would have on Queensland, Maloney said: “It has to do some damage to them, surely.

“In Queensland’s dominance they only ever did it once (win 3-0 in 2010). To go and do it, it would have to have some impact. What that is, I don’t know.”

NSW captain and back-rower Boyd Cordner has dispelled doubts over his calf strain for the final game after training with the team for the first time this week.

Teams (1-17)

NSW – James Tedesco; Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Josh Ado-Carr; James Maloney, Nathan Cleary; David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan; Boyd Cordner (capt), Tyson Frizell; Jack de Belin.

Interchange: Tariq Sims, Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton, Tyrone Peachey.

Queensland – Billy Slater (capt); Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Will Chambers, Corey Oates; Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans; Jai Arrow, Andrew McCullough, Josh Papalii; Gavin Cooper, Felise Kaufusi; Josh McGuire.

Interchange – Ben Hunt, Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess, Tim Glasby, Christian Welch (one to be omitted).

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Daily Digest: France and Belgium prepare for World Cup semi-final

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Good morning, David Cooper here with everything you need to know in the world of sport.

TOP STORY

Giroud, Griezmann, Hazard, and Lukaku take centre stage in the semi-final.

Giroud, Griezmann, Hazard, and Lukaku take centre stage in the semi-final.

France and Belgium go head-to-head in Saint Petersburg this evening for a place in Sunday’s World Cup final.

The Belgians, often said to currently have a ‘golden generation’ of players, have looked impressive during their run at the tournament, which included a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the last eight.

They have sealed a place in the semis for only the second time, and the first since 1986.

Les Bleus, who won the trophy on home soil 20 years ago, are bidding to get to the showpiece for the first time since 2006.

Head to our dedicated World Cup section for much more on this match, including key tactics, battles and team news.

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It was a series which lived up to its reputation of featuring two of the best white-ball cricket teams in the world at the moment with the pendulum swinging from one side to the other.

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As ever, we’ve been building up to today’s first semi-final!

#Spurs and the @premierleague are dominating the semi-finals! 👊

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Belgium’s front three are just having fun! 🙌

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

World Cup Semi-Finals: France v Belgium (22:00)

Tennis: Wimbledon, from (13:00)

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Good morning, David Cooper here with everything you need to know in the world of sport.

TOP STORY

Croatia have reached the semi-finals after another nervy win.

Croatia reached the semi-finals after another nervy win.

England will face Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals after Zlatko Dalic’s side beat hosts Russia 4-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in their last-eight match in Sochi.

Ivan Rakitic converted the decisive spot-kick after Mario Fernandes, who had netted an equaliser for Russia with five minutes of extra-time remaining, hit his effort from 12 yards wide.

Denis Cheryshev had put Russia in front in the 31st minute with a superb strike – his fourth goal of the tournament – but that was cancelled out eight minutes later by Andrej Kramaric’s header.

Croatia, having gone close in the 60th minute when Ivan Perisic hit a post, then had the lead in the 11th minute of extra-time as Domagoj Vida nodded in, before Fernandes brought things level late on once again with a header of his own.

Croatia’s win sees them emulate their 1998 achievement of reaching the World Cup’s last four.

They will now take on England at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday for a place in the final.

Head to our dedicated World Cup section for full analysis from both of yesterday’s matches.

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Hales held his nerve, and unleashed the power when 12 runs were still needed from the final over, hitting the first ball for six into Cardiff’s River Taff off Bhuvneshwar Kumar as England got home narrowly.

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As ever, we were across all of Saturday’s pulsating World Cup footy!

Emulating the stars of 1998! Nicely done, Croatia! 👏🇭🇷

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Into a first #WorldCup semi-final since 1990! 👏🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

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