Dmitry Bivol defended his WBA light-heavyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Lenin Castillo.

Bivol was too good for Castillo in Chicago, where the judges scored the fight 120-107, 119-108 and 119-108 in favour of the Russian.

In the co-main event prior to Oleksandr Usyk's showdown against Chazz Witherspoon, Bivol comfortably eased past his opponent on Saturday.

Bivol dropped Castillo (20-3-1) to the canvas in the sixth round and he continued to outbox the Dominican fighter for the remainder of the bout.

The 28-year-old Bivol improved to 17-0 with 11 knockouts following the 12-round domination at Wintrust Arena.

The New York Yankees drew first blood after shutting out the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Masahiro Tanaka dealt, Gleyber Torres dominated and Houston made mistakes in the ALCS opener on Saturday.

Now the Astros turn to Justin Verlander for Game 2 with hopes of stopping the bleeding in the MLB playoffs.

The Yankees counter with James Paxton.

 

Three takeaways from the Yankees' ALCS Game 1 win over the Astros

Inexcusable

Every single out in this series could matter. It may very well be a sweep by the Yankees, but if it goes how everyone thinks it will, this could be a very long and drawn out series. Taking that into account, Alex Bregman cannot make the mistake he made in the fifth inning of Game 1.

And let's make this clear, yes, Aaron Judge produced a great play reeling in a line-drive shot off the bat of Yordan Alvarez, but Bregman was absolutely in the wrong here. On the play in question with Houston down 1-0, Alvarez hit a line drive to right with Bregman on first base. It might have looked like a hit, but it was not a sure thing. Bregman took his lead off first and did not go halfway. He looked like he was trying to get a head start on getting to third, but Judge caught the ball.

Yes, Bregman slipped on his way getting back but he was way too far off the base in the first place. Judge then caught Bregman with relative ease to double him up at first and the Astros' chance was over.

Bregman is an MVP candidate, but that was not an MVP play. And the Yankees did win this game by seven runs, but in a one-run game, that mistake is inexcusable.

Did you hear? Gleyber Torres is 22

We poke a little bit of fun here because it would seem that every single Twitter account has 22 written in massive numbers next to Gleyber Torres' name and it is required to mention it every time he breathes. But what he has done this postseason is incredibly impressive regardless of his age.

Torres drove in five runs in Game 1 and now has nine runs batted in in during the 2019 playoffs. It cannot be ignored how good he has been this postseason and he only has a little way to go before he catches up with Juan Soto who is 20. Get that? He is 20.

Again, we joke. Torres has been awesome and he deserves a ton of credit for the Yankees' success.

We told you this could happen

When Masahiro Tanaka was announced as the Game 1 starter for the Yankees some people were surprised. We were not. Tanaka has been lights out in his postseason career and he has been doubly as good against the Astros.

Coming into Game 1, Tanaka had a 2.00 ERA (four runs in 18 innings) in three career playoff starts against the Astros. He had given up just two runs over his previous 13 innings against them. The Astros struggle against him and it is not surprising at all that he gave up just one hit and no runs in six innings of work in Game 1.

The Astros tend to struggle against men who really know how to pitch. That is why they struggled with Charlie Morton this year and David Price last year, but they got to guys like Tyler Glasnow and Chris Sale. If a pitcher knows how to work the corners and keep guys off balance the Astros can struggle. That is exactly why they had issues with Tanaka and likely will again in a potential Game 5.

Sebastian Vettel sealed a stunning pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix as Ferrari locked out the front row ahead of Mercedes.

Qualifying was moved from Saturday to Sunday – the morning of the race – due to Typhoon Hagibis – and Vettel tamed difficult track conditions to earn front position.

In sunny but windy conditions, four-time world champion Vettel clocked a new track record of one minute, 27.064 seconds at Suzuka Circuit.

It was Vettel's first pole position since the Canadian Grand Prix as the German star finished ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari's sensational performance – the team's fifth successive pole – left Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in the second row.

Vettel and Ferrari locked out the front row for the first time at Suzuka since 2006, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen fifth quickest.

"The conditions were very different to what we had on Friday, but the main thing is obviously the sun is out, people are happy," Vettel said after two red flags delayed proceedings in Q1.

"I think we were quite surprised, to be honest. We didn't expect that, to have the front row. So very happy.

"It was unbelievable, the car being so light on fuel and new tyres, and we had headwind up the Esses, which is what you want because then the car feels even better. I don't think I used the brakes other than Turn 2!

"It was unbelievable. I really enjoyed it, but it's only part of the job done. Let's look forward to this afternoon."

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:27.174secs
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.189s
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.229s
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.238s
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.787s 
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +0.787s
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.240s
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.400s
9. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +1.772s
10. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +2.277s

Scotland's crucial Rugby World Cup clash with hosts Japan will go ahead as scheduled following the passing of Typhoon Hagibis.

Sunday's Pool A fixture in Yokohama was under threat of cancellation with the severe storm approaching Japan's east coast, bringing extreme winds and torrential downpours.

Three World Cup fixtures had already been wiped out, with Sunday's Pool B match between Namibia and Canada cancelled due to the impact of the typhoon in Kamaishi.

However, quarter-final hopefuls Scotland will take to the field to face Japan at Yokohama International Stadium, World Rugby and Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee announced on the day of the game.

"The decision was taken following a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure on Sunday morning in partnership with the Host City," a statement read.

"World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee would like to thank everyone involved for their significant efforts to enable the match to be played as scheduled following one of [the] largest and most powerful typhoons to hit Japan in recent years."

With the game going ahead, it opens up a number of permutations as there are try-scoring and losing bonus points up for grabs, but if the teams should finish level in the group Scotland would progress on the basis of winning the head-to-head contest.

Japan occupy second position behind Ireland in Pool A with three wins from as many games, four points clear of Scotland as the quarter-finals loom.

Former World Series champion and MVP David Freese announced his retirement from MLB after 11 seasons.

Freese, 36, called it quits on Saturday following the Los Angeles Dodgers' National League Division Series loss to the Washington Nationals.

"Family friends, team-mates, coaches, and fans that handed out support especially when your lives were already full, you helped me more than you know," Freese wrote in a statement via Twitter,

"You took a 23-year-old kid out of college and pushed him to 36 ... As I more forward with the next phase of my life, I am forever grateful to all of you and the game of baseball."

Freese made his debut with the St Louis Cardinals in 2009 and is best known for his dominant performance in the 2011 postseason, where he hit .397 with five homers and a playoff record 21 RBIs.

He won NL Championship Series and World Series MVP for the Cardinals, hitting the game-tying triple and walk-off home run in Game 6 of the World Series to help St Louis capture their 11th championship.

Over the course of his career, Freese played for the Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates and most recently the Dodgers, where he hit .315 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs in 79 games this season.

Freese – an All-Star in 2012 – finishes his career with 113 home runs, 535 RBIs and a slash line of .277/.351/.423.

Lanto Griffin catapulted himself into the Houston Open lead with a seven-under-par 65 in round three.

Griffin climbed 16 positions as the surging American claimed a one-stroke advantage atop the leaderboard on Saturday.

Seeking his maiden PGA Tour title, Griffin had nine birdies and a pair of bogeys to become the man to beat heading into the final round.

A stretch of three consecutive birdies from the third to fifth holes set the tone for Griffin, who dropped a shot at the ninth prior to the turn.

It was a mere blip as Griffin birdied five of his next six holes and six of eight before bogeying the 18th to be 11 under overall in Humble, Texas.

Fellow American Mark Hubbard is within touching distance of Griffin following his 69, while Cameron Tringale (68), Beau Hossler (68) and overnight leader Peter Malnati (73) are a shot further back at nine under.

Malnati was a shot clear heading into the third round, but five bogeys and four birdies saw him drop into a tie for third at the Golf Club of Houston.

Carlos Ortiz (71), Brandon Wu (69), Austin Cook (70), Scott Harrington (72), Sepp Straka (72) and Talor Gooch (72) are eight under.

James Roby believes he has never played in a better St Helens side than the one that claimed Super League Grand Final glory on Saturday.

Saints beat shock finalists Salford Red Devils 23-6 at Old Trafford to secure a first title in five years and ensure a fitting farewell for departing head coach Justin Holbrook, who is returning to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans.

After dominating the regular season in 2018, Holbrook's men were found wanting at the semi-final stage, but their dominance of the competition was rewarded on this occasion as they beat rivals Wigan Warriors and Salford in the play-offs having lost just three league games all year.

Veteran hooker Roby, who made his 450th appearance for the club on Saturday, is no stranger to success with Saints, having claimed multiple Grand Final victories and a Man of Steel award in a fantastic 15-year career on Merseyside.

Asked in a news conference how the current crop compares to previous great St Helens sides he has featured in, Roby said: "I think it's hard to compare teams from different eras but, in my opinion, this team is the best for a number of reasons.

"Just the calibre of the blokes we've got. There's no bad apples, if you like, in the group. We're really strong, connected, and the work ethic that drives everything we do [is key].

"We've got a full team of grafters, really, who will do whatever they need to do to get the job done. I think that showed on the field this year. I'm hugely proud and privileged to be able to call myself the captain. To lift the trophy is a dream come true.

"At the end of the day, we deserve it. We finished the season 16 points clear, we've been so consistent, so dominant if you like, but we had to get over the line today. Luckily we did."

Props Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson played an integral role in Saints' win over Salford, the latter collecting the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the man of the match following a sensational 72-minute stint.

"I feel sweet, I feel like I could do another 72," said Thompson with a smile.

"It's just an unbelievable feeling. We've worked so hard all year as a group and we work hard every week in training. We're made up to do the job for Justin and send him home with some silverware."

The Washington Nationals are in control of the National League Championship Series after defeating the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 in Game 2.

Washington will return to the American capital with a 2-0 lead thanks to Saturday's victory in St Louis.

Max Scherzer did not give up a hit until the seventh inning, while Adam Eaton plated two with a double in the top of the eighth to all but put the game away.

Now, the Nationals send another ace to the mound in Stephen Strasburg – who is coming off two great starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

The Cardinals will counter with their ace Jack Flaherty in the MLB playoffs.

 

Three takeaways from the Nationals' Game 2 NLCS win over the Cardinals

Where has all the hitting gone?

The Cardinals have forgotten how to hit. There is no nicer way to put it. It took St Louis 7.6 innings in Game 1 to get a hit and they had just one in nine innings. Then in Game 2 on Saturday, they took six innings to register their first hit once again. But the failures do not stop there. Even in St Louis' 13-1 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinals had their struggles. They failed to tally a single hit over the final five innings of that game.

Now, the question here is, should we have seen this coming? That is a hard declaration to make. However, St Louis were 23rd in MLB in hits and batting average this season and 19th in runs scored. Hitting was not the team's strong suit, so they were bound to have some struggles against a Nationals team that were eighth in baseball in hits allowed and seventh in opponents' on-base percentage.

But one thing the Cardinals can hang their hat on is they are not alone in not being able to hit Scherzer in Anibal Sanchez. While going five innings over the first two games of a postseason series is bad, the Boston Red Sox did the same thing in the 2013 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. What is amazing about that though is it was the same two pitchers in Scherzer and Sanchez. You cannot make this stuff up.

The postseason isn't always about the stars

Bucky Dent, Geoff Blum, Steve Pearce and David Eckstein. Absolutely none of these men are household names but every single one of them had an impact on postseason series, and sometimes World Series as Pearce and Eckstein were named MVPs of the Fall Classic.

Michael A. Taylor was supposed to be the Nationals' next big thing a little more than five years ago, but injuries and poor performance got him passed up by Victor Robles. But with Robles' injury in the NLDS this year, Taylor was thrust into a starting role and boy did he make use of it in Game 2. Taylor smacked a home run off Adam Wainwright in the third inning to open up the scoring and give the Nationals some early confidence on the road.

He went two for four in the game. And yes, he made a defensive mistake in the bottom of the eighth, but it ultimately did not hurt the team too bad.

Taylor also was a mini hero at the end of the NLDS when he made a wonderful diving catch to end the series. Taylor might not be getting paid $200million when he possibly becomes a free agent after the 2020 season, but this performance could earn him a decent payday when he gets his chance.

Turn back the clock

To say Adam Wainwright's performance this postseason has been a revelation is far from hyperbole. After tossing 7.6 innings of shut-out ball in Game 3 of the NLDS, he turned around and worked into the eighth inning again in Game 2 of the NLCS on Saturday.

This is the guy who was throwing 83 mph when coming back from a rash of injuries over the last few years. He is the guy who pitched 28 innings in 2015, 40.3 innings in 2018 and 123.3 innings in 2017. He is 38 years old. And while he was OK this year breaking the 170-inning mark and posting an ERA of 4.19, it is pretty fair to ask where this came from.

But we are not complaining. This was a reminder of the guy who struck out Carlos Beltran to send the Cardinals to the World Series and the man who was on the mound when St Louis beat the Tigers to clinch a championship. This has been fun to watch and we are here to thank Mr. Wainwright because we enjoyed every minute.

Lyon racked up an impressive seventh win from as many Top 14 matches this season and champions Toulouse earned a timely win against Castres.

Jean-Marc Doussain impressed with the boot, kicking 17 points as Lyon outclassed Pau 27-8 at the Matmut Stadium.

Rudi Wulf scored a first-minute try and Baptiste Couilloud also touched down in an easy victory for the hosts.

Thomas Ramos was a surprise inclusion for Toulouse despite having been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup for France last week and was part of a team that saw off Castres 36-15.

Zack Holmes nailed 21 points with the boot, while Matthis Lebel, Lucas Tauzin and Gillian Galan scored tries as Toulouse jumped from 13th to seventh.

In other matches, third-placed Bayonne edged Montpellier 28-24, La Rochelle crushed struggling Brive 41-17 and Racing 92 drew 27-27 with Agen.

Josh Warrington overwhelmed French challenger Sofiane Takoucht with a second-round stoppage win in Leeds, and the IBF featherweight champion vowed he is ready for all-comers.

Warrington was on top from the early moments of the fight at Leeds Arena on Saturday, thrilling his noisy home crowd with a strong start before bringing out his biggest punches.

He sent Takoucht to the canvas twice in round two before a flurry of shots left the Frenchman in deep trouble, forcing the referee to step in and bring the contest to an early conclusion.

The 30th win of Warrington's career was another demonstration of the unbeaten Englishman's prowess, and now he is targeting another belt, which could mean he fights China's Can Xu in 2020, possibly at Elland Road.

WBO champion Oscar Valdez is moving up a division, so can be crossed off the list of potential opponents, and WBA super champion Leo Santa Cruz is going the same way.

Assessing his options, Warrington mentioned Valdez and Santa Cruz but said: "They've moved on. [WBC champion] Gary Russell Jr is kicking about. There's Can Xu, who's the WBA regular champion; he might get promoted to super champion. Shakur Stevenson's going to be fighting for WBO, so I'm leaving my options open and if anyone wants it, I'm here."

Asked about Can, Warrington said: "He's a fantastic champion. Gary Russell Jr only comes out once a year, but if Can Xu wants a fight, here I am."

Warrington insisted it would not be a problem to venture overseas, despite Leeds Arena becoming a regular venue for his big fights.

"Everyone's got their passports at the ready," Warrington told BT Sport.

But home comforts could again appeal to the 28-year-old Yorkshireman, who beat Lee Selby to land his current belt at Leeds United's Elland Road stadium last year.

"We made history at Elland Road, Leeds' first ever world champion," Warrington said. "It'd be nice to be Leeds' first unified world champion at Elland Road, then after that we'll go travelling all over, we'll go on tour."

Namibia and Canada's final Pool B match at the Rugby World Cup has been cancelled due to the impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

Both teams were aiming to claim a first win of the tournament in Japan, but the tropical storm – one of the most powerful to hit the country in decades – means Sunday's match in Kamaishi will not go ahead.

New Zealand's match against Italy and England's clash with France, both of which were due to take place on Saturday, were cancelled on Thursday. Italy's slim chance of reaching the quarter-finals was ended by the decision.

The crucial Pool A fixture between Japan and Scotland has also come under threat, with Gregor Townsend's team needing a bonus-point victory to be sure of progression.

A pitch inspection was due to decide the fate of Sunday's Yokohama contest. In the result of a cancelled fixture the score would be classed as 0-0, resulting in Scotland going out of the competition and Japan progressing to the last eight for the first time.

Scottish Rugby has threatened legal action in such a scenario.

However, World Rugby said in a statement that it hoped Sunday's remaining fixtures, including the Japan-Scotland match, would go ahead as planned.

World Rugby chief operating officer and tournament director Alan Gilpin said: "We remain optimistic that Sunday's remaining matches will go ahead as scheduled in Kumamoto, Hanazono and Yokohama, which are much further south and therefore outside of the impact of the storm conditions this morning."

Glasgow Warriors secured a first win of the Pro14 season at the third attempt, while Scarlets continued their perfect start to the campaign on Saturday.

Last season's finalists Glasgow held off the challenge of Cardiff Blues 17-13 at Scotstoun, with early tries from Callum Gibbins and Nick Frisby proving decisive, as they put defeats to Cheetahs and Scarlets behind them.

Aled Summerhill's score on the break brought Cardiff back into it, but the Blues did not show enough in the second half to fight their way back into the game.

Scarlets crushed Zebre 54-10 in a bonus-point triumph in Llanelli that leaves them top of Conference B in the embryonic Pro14 standings.

Kieran Hardy and Johnny McNicholl each dotted down twice and Josh Macleod, Ryan Conbeer, Taylor Davies and Josh Helps all registered in the rout.

Ulster were a class above Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth, John Cooney scoring two tries in an emphatic 42-17 victory for the Irish province.

Rounding out the action, hooker Sam Parry celebrated a hat-trick of tries as Ospreys overcame Benetton Treviso 24-20.

Departing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said his players deserve immense credit after they rounded off a dominant Super League campaign with a first Grand Final victory in five years.

Saints overcame Salford Red Devils 23-6 at Old Trafford on Saturday to erase the painful memories of their shock Challenge Cup final defeat in August and a semi-final loss in last year's Super League.

Under Holbrook, who will now return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, St Helens have twice coasted to the League Leaders' Shield, finishing an astonishing 16 points clear in 2019 after losing just three games.

"I'm just so happy and proud that we got the job done," said Holbrook. "We all know the season we've had ... but we had to deliver and we did.

"I just feel satisfied. If we hadn't have won, there would have been a real hollow feeling.

"To only lose three league games all year is an unbelievable achievement. For the group to finish 16 points clear ... it was great, but we had to go out and win that to make it all worthwhile.

"Now that we've done it, I think the current group deserves so much credit. Salford's story is a great one and they played brilliantly today as well. I'm all happy for that but this group of players deserve as many accolades as they can get."

Salford coach Ian Watson was understandably proud of his side's efforts in their maiden Grand Final appearance and had no complaints over the outcome.

When a reporter suggested a number of refereeing decisions had gone against the underdogs, Watson said: "Saints were the best team. I don't want to take anything away from them. The best team won."

Having reached the Old Trafford showpiece for the first time against all odds, Salford will lose a number of key players - including Man of Steel Jackson Hastings, Josh Jones and George Griffin - ahead of the next campaign.

Asked how the Red Devils, whose last title came back in 1976, can ensure their stunning season is not a one-off, Watson replied: "By keeping the supporters - we're a club that has to rely on our supporters, [and] has to rely on local businesses to fund us going forward.

"I think it's been amazing what they [Salford's players] have achieved. It's probably bigger than just getting to a Grand Final, it looks like the boys have got people to fall in love with their rugby team again in Salford.

"Hopefully it can help to build a club from the ground upwards. The club has been clearing debts over the last few years. We're hoping that this run can try and get us on a level playing field next year so we're getting close to debt-free."

Justin Holbrook will find it tough to leave a club he loves but was proud to mark his St Helens farewell with a Grand Final triumph.

Saints ran out 23-6 victors over a resilient Salford Red Devils side in front of a raucous Old Trafford crowd, with man of the match Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley impressing.

Salford have been the feelgood story of the season but Saints' first Grand Final triumph since 2014 came as just reward for a dominant campaign that saw them finish 16 points clear in the Super League table.

Head coach Holbrook is returning to his native Australia to take over at NRL side the Gold Coast Titans and he paid tribute to his Saints players.

"It'll be hard [to leave], it's hard, I love the playing group, I love the coaches, I love the fans, but I feel content bringing the Super League trophy back to St Helens," he told Sky Sports.

Asked if there was a period in the game when he ever felt nervous, Holbrook replied: "Not really nervous, I had utmost confidence in the boys, but in rugby league you never know what will happen.

"You have to do it when it counts, and we did."

Salford star Jackson Hastings, winner of Super League's Man of Steel award, fell agonisingly short of ending his stint at the club with a Grand Final to his name.

Hastings is to join Wigan Warriors for the 2020 campaign and admitted Saints were ultimately too good.

"Sometimes dreams don't come true, they've been the best team in the competition for a reason," Hastings said.

"They started like a house on fire, we did well to get back to 6-12 but the cream rose to the top. Over the year they proved how dominant they were."

Salford coach Ian Watson added: "It's a tough one. The best team won on the night. I'm massively proud of the players, it's been a right ride."

Davante Adams will miss the Green Bay Packers' Week 6 matchup against the Detroit Lions as he continues to deal with a toe injury. 

Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur told reporters Adams would not be fit to take part in Monday's match.

The game will be the second Adams has missed after being diagnosed with turf toe. He was seen at Packers practice this week but did not participate.

Adams was injured during a Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter, watching the end of the game from the sidelines in what he described as "a little bit of pain".

The Packers played well without Adams last week, beating the Dallas Cowboys 34-24, with tight end Jimmy Graham and receivers Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling expected to get more targets in his absence.

Adams, selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, was quarterback Aaron Rodgers' top target as he had 25 receptions for 378 yards through the first four weeks of the season.

St Helens gave departing coach Justin Holbrook a fitting send-off at Old Trafford, beating Salford Red Devils 23-6 to round off a dominant campaign with a Super League Grand Final triumph.

The Red Devils - 150-1 outsiders at the start of the season - were hoping to secure a fairytale victory after defying all expectations in 2019.

However, Ian Watson's men could not produce the greatest upset of all as Saints more than atoned for their shock Challenge Cup final defeat to Warrington Wolves in August.

Under Holbrook, who succeeded club legend Keiron Cunningham in 2017 but will now return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, St Helens have romped to the League Leaders' Shield in successive seasons, losing just three games this term.

They were eliminated in the semi-finals last year but there was no denying the competition's standout team on Saturday as they deservedly earned a sixth success at Old Trafford.

Salford did well to only concede two tries in a frantic opening 25 minutes as their defence was repeatedly tested by the pre-match favourites.

Saints, for whom prop Luke Thompson excelled, had already threatened several times when a fine set, starting with a trademark Tommy Makinson break from deep, ended with Morgan Knowles going over from Alex Walmsley's short pass.

The pressure on the Salford line intensified following that score and St Helens crossed again through Zeb Taia after James Roby had caught Salford napping, scooting down the blindside from a scrum before producing a glorious, spinning pass inside.

Lachlan Coote converted both tries, yet the Red Devils belatedly burst into life, to the delight of their raucous support.

After Tui Lolohea had seen a fine individual effort chalked off for obstruction, Jake Bibby took a ball from Man of Steel Jackson Hastings to slide over on the left, with Krisnan Inu adding the extras.

Jack Ashworth was perhaps fortunate to escape sanction early in the second period after clattering Inu with his shoulder and then leaning his head into the wing on the floor.

Soon after, Saints were two tries clear again as Mark Percival skipped infield and put in a perfectly weighted grubber kick that he was able to dive on to himself.

That seemed to take the wind out of Salford, who found themselves further behind when Gil Dudson's high shot on Luke Thompson allowed Coote to kick a simple penalty.

By the time Coote landed another two-pointer with nine minutes left, Saints knew they had done enough to end Holbrook's tenure on a high, and Makinson rounded things off with a late drop goal.

Salford's stunning season has won them many admirers, but the biggest prize proved just beyond them.

Coco Gauff says her run to a first WTA Tour final at the age of 15 shows she is ready to play at a top level.

Gauff needed a lucky loser spot to take her place in the main draw of the Linz Open after failing to qualify but could claim the title on Sunday following a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Andrea Petkovic.

The American, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and third round at the US Open this year, will face Jelena Ostapenko after the 2017 French Open champion booked her place in the final by beating Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Gauff saved nine of the 10 break points she faced in a superb defensive display, with the teenager thrilled by her continued rise.

"This is actually the first time in my life, including juniors, that I got into something as a lucky loser, and now I'm in the final," said Gauff. "I guess every little thing counts. You never know what it could lead to.

"Last year, around this time, I was playing a juniors Grade 1 [tournament], and I lost in the quarter-finals there, in Mexico. It's crazy how much a year can make a difference in improvement.

"I thought this was one of the highest-level matches I played, even though it was straight sets. No game was really easy to win, I felt, for either player.

"Andrea was playing an amazing match, and she was hitting a lot of winners and put a lot of pressure on me to put the ball deep. I guess I was fighting for every point, because you never know what happens.

"Maybe after these [earlier] matches, they boosted my confidence a lot. It kind of showed I can play at this top level, and hang with these top players."

Gauff, who enjoyed her first career top-10 win against Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals in Austria, will move into the top 100 of the WTA rankings when they are updated on Monday.

Coach Steve Jackson says Samoa will do everything in their power to help Bundee Aki avoid a suspension for his red card in Ireland's emphatic Rugby World Cup win over the Pacific Islanders.

Aki was dismissed for a dangerous tackle on Ulupano Seuteni after 29 minutes of the Pool A encounter at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland went on to dish out a 47-5 hammering and set up a quarter-final against New Zealand or South Africa next weekend, but they may have to do without Aki - who is of Samoan descent.

Jackson has called for the centre to be spared any further punishment, as he did not intend to strike Seuteni in the head with his shoulder.

"I've known Bundee for a long time and know what a great man he is, he's got a great character and he doesn't go out there to do that to anybody," said Jackson.

"Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and hopefully he gets to continue on in this tournament.

"We'll do everything we possibly can from a Samoan perspective to make sure he gets on that field next week."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is not optimistic Aki will be available for selection next weekend.

"Any further participation in the tournament is now at risk... we know there is a very hard line," the New Zealander said.

"It's a really tough situation. I think Bundee is upright, you can see both his hands behind the shoulder blades of the player who's just starting to come up and it's all split-second stuff.

"We live in hope and we'll see what the judiciary decide, but once it's a red card you sense a loss of control over what happens next no matter what you try to present."

Simone Biles won a 23rd career World Artistic Gymnastics Championship medal by claiming gold in the vault to tie the overall record with Vitaly Scherbo.

The American's flawless display in Stuttgart, which earned a score of 15.399, clinched a 17th world gold, with compatriot Jade Carey a distant second with 14.883.

It means Biles levels the benchmark for any gymnast, male or female, set by Scherbo and comes just two days after she became the first woman to win five all-around world titles.

Biles had the opportunity to take the record outright in the uneven bars final but could only place fifth in an event won by Derwael Nina.

However, the 22-year-old will have two more opportunities on Sunday when the balance beam and floor exercise finals take place, events in which she is favourite to triumph.

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