Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

The Republic of Ireland have the chance to take another significant step towards the 2018 World Cup finals tonight.

A win over Wales at the Aviva would give Martin O’Neill’s side a seven-point advantage over their visitors at the halfway point in Group D.

Wales have won just once so far in the group, and that was against bottom side Moldova back in early September.

But O’Neill doesn’t think the Welsh are a diminished force since their run to the semi finals at the Euros

Wales manager Chris Coleman says it’s vital his players stick to their game plan

Kick off is at 7.45.

Serbia could find themselves top of Group D by the time kick off rolls around at the Aviva.

They’re just two points behind Ireland ahead of their trip to Georgia, which is underway at 5.

At 7.45 tonight, Austria play host to Moldova.

Gianluigi Buffon will reach yet another career milestone tonight.

He’ll play his 1000th professional game when he starts in goal for Italy against Albania tonight.

The Azzurri start the night level on points at the top of Group G with Spain, who face Israel in Gijon.

GOLF

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry have both been eliminated from the World Championships Match Play in Texas.

McIlory was handed a walkover in his second group game against Gary Woodland, but was knocked out after Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen won his second match 4 and 3.

Lowry meanwhile lost to Jon Rahm overnight.

Both players play their final group games later today, with McIlroy meeting Emiliano Grillo and Lowry taking on Kevin Chappell.

A group of 3 share the lead in the LPGA Kia Classic.

Cristie Kerr, Mo Martin and In Gee Chun are all at 6 under, one ahead of a group of 6.

RUGBY

Ulster are hoping to edge closer to sealing a Pro 12 playoff spot this evening.

Les Kiss has called upon Iain Henderson and Jared Payne following their Ireland exploits just last week for the trip to Dragons.

Kick off is at 7.35.

Scarlets start the night four-points adrift of Ulster in the table ahead of the visit of Edinburgh for a 7.05 start.

MOTORSPORT

Lewis Hamilton has dominated practice ahead of the opening Grand Prix of the Formula One season.

The three-time world champion set the fastest time in both sessions in Australia.

Hamilton’s new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third quickest, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel second.

BOXING

Donegal’s Jason Quigley has made it 13 straight pro career wins with victory over Glen Tapia in New Jersey overnight.

Quigley was named the victor on a unanimous decision to win the North America Boxing Federation Middleweight belt.

The bout was his first time headlining a nationally televised boxing card.

Ireland’s cricketers have set Afghanistan 230 to win the deciding one-day international of their series.

They were bowled out for 229 inside their 50 overs.

Paul Stirling was the only batsman to pass 50.

Ireland levelled the series at 2-2 ahead of today’s fifth and final match.