Thursday Morning Sports Update

RUGBY

Johnny Sexton is back in the Ireland team for Saturday’s second test against Australia in Melbourne.

The Leinster out half returns as one of eight changes to the side that lost to the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Munster’s Andrew Conway and Niall Scannell are surprise inclusions on the wing and at hooker.

Keith Earls is retained on the other wing, despite suffering a head injury last weekend.

Garry Ringrose, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy and Dan Leavy are also recalled, while Tadhg Beirne could make his debut from the bench.

Australia will line out with the same squad that won last week.

Coach Michael Cheika has named an unchanged 23 for the first time since taking charge of the Wallabies in 2014.

Ireland must win to keep the three-test series alive ahead of the final game in Sydney.

Sexton says lessons have been learnt from the opening defeat.


SOCCER

The waiting finally ends this afternoon as World Cup 2018 gets underway in Moscow.

The Luzhniki Stadium is the venue for the opening Group A game – the meeting of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The hosts will look to start on the right footing as they begin as the lowest ranked side in the tournament.

Kick off in Moscow is at 4 o’clock, Irish time.


Away from Russia, the attentions will briefly turn to the next Premier League season this morning.

The fixtures for the 2018-19 season will be released today.


GOLF

Rory McIlroy hopes home comforts will help him win his fifth major at the U-S Open this weekend.

The Ulsterman tees off alongside Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson at Shinnecock Hills just after 1 o’clock this afternoon.

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are among the later starters.

McIlroy says the coastal New York course reminds him of an Irish links.

He hopes that is good sign.

RACING

There is an eight-race card at Leopardstown this evening where the first is off at 6.00.

In the UK they run at:
Newbury, Good-to-firm; good in places – 1.20
Nottingham, Good-to-firm; good in places – 1.40
Yarmouth, Good-to-firm – 2.00
Uttoxeter, Good; Good-to-firm in places – 6.10
Haydock, Good-to-firm – 6.20