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Oxford powered to victory in the 151st University Boat Race on the Thames on Sunday, avenging last year's controversial defeat to Cambridge. Cambridge, who won the toss and chose the Middlesex station, had a poor start and although they quickly recovered, Oxford never lost the lead and finished well clear. The Dark Blues weighed in as the heaviest ever crew, averaging 98.35kg and outweighing Cambridge by about 10kg a man.
The crews included seven Olympians and had an international feel, with four of Oxford's eight rowers from North America and Cambridge boasting four Germans, one Australian and an American. The Light Blues hold a 78-72 lead in the annual four-mile race from Putney Bridge to Mortlake with one contest finishing in a dead heat. Cambridge controversially won last year's race after the boats clashed oars midway through the race and Oxford lost a length.
* Bristol took a stranglehold on rugby union's National League One with a 68-15 victory on Sunday over second-placed Exeter at the Memorial Ground, writes Huw Richards. The victory, with the bonus point secured when they scored the fourth of their nine tries, opens up a six-point lead over Exeter with four games left. Bristol end with three away matches after entertaining Rotherham, including tough trips to Bedford and Otley, but have the chance to secure the single promotion place to the Zurich Premiership before that forbidding final day in Yorkshire. Whoever finishes bottom, the Premiership would be more than usually perverse to deny them promotion. Bristol are clearly ready for the top flight, on and off the pitch. An attendance of 10,349, a record for the division, saw a contest more reflective of a history in which Bristol led by 75 wins to 12 in head-to-head meetings than of a tight promotion battle. Exeter arrived with a powerful pack and a still more physically imposing, heavily Polynesian-accented, threequarter line. But they lacked the speed and inventiveness that enabled Bristol to turn possession into points in a match whose fluidity was greatly aided by referee Tim Beddow allowing a proper contest at the breakdown.
The difference was epitomised by Bristol's first try after five minutes as Exeter rumbled through a series of phases, only to be turned over on the Bristol 22. Wing Luke Nabarro broke down the left, play was switched across the field and a superb sleight of hand pass by centre Manuel Contepomi sent hooker Saul Nelson 40 yards to the corner. Counterpunching from a turnover produced a second score in the same corner, wing Sean Marsden swerving outside full-back Stephen Ward for his 19th try of the season, and Bristol never looked back. Jason Strange kicked everything for a final tally of 21 points and Contepomi's class, subtlety and attacking instinct produced a second half hat-trick for the Argentinian centre. Bristol's other tries were scored by replacement Sam Cox, Nabarro, lock Ed Pearce and full-back Bernardo Stortoni.
Exeter were bamboozled and outpaced but never gave up. Two late tries by replacement Ed Lewsey, brother of England wing Josh, will scarcely be any consolation for having their own ambitions put so ruthlessly into perspective.
Bath secured an uninspiring 9-5 Zurich Premiership win at Newcastle after the Falcons had made an electric start with a try in 21 seconds by Tom May. In fog and rain, Bath resorted to the rolling maul to stifle the match and were content to win by two Chris Malone penalties and a drop goal. Leeds kept their Premiership survival hopes alive with a 23-22 win over leaders Leicester at Headingley. The Tigers were off-colour but looked like snatching an undeserved victory as Leeds conceded a stoppage-time penalty. But Andy Goode, having already kicked 17 points, failed to hold his nerve and put his kick wide to hand Leeds victory. Leicester looked to have taken control with a try early in the second half from Leon Lloyd but Leeds hit back through Tom Biggs. The kicking of Gordon Ross proved crucial for the Tykes, the fly-half scoring 18 points.
* Some breathtaking batting from Pakistan in their second innings set up a thrilling finish in the third Test with India in Bangalore. The match looked to be heading towards a draw when Pakistan finally dismissed India for 449 just after lunch on day four to establish a lead of 121 after stubborn resistance from VVS Laxman (79 not out) and Anil Kumble (22). However, the tourists were not finished. Eager to level the series, Pakistan's batsmen bludgeoned the Indian attack to reach 261 for two before declaring after 50 overs. India then staged a mini counter-attack of their own to reach 25 without loss at stumps off six overs to leave themselves 358 short of victory with a full day still to play. Shahid Afridi's electric 58 - his 50 came off 26 balls to establish a new Pakistan record - set the tone and Yasir Hameed with 76, Younis Khan (84 not out) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (31 not out) also blazed away. Alfridi's half-century was the joint second fastest 50 of all time, equal with one by England's Ian Botham, and behind only South African Jacques Kallis's 24-ball effort against Zimbabwe this year.
Meanwhile, a century from skipper Ricky Ponting ensured Australia were well on the way to overhauling New Zealand's first innings total at stumps on the second day of the third Test in Auckland. He was in superb form hitting the ball to all parts of Eden Park as the Black Caps' total of 292 looked woefully short of being competitive. Ponting smashed 105 off 110 balls, with four sixes and 13 fours. At the close Australia were 219 for four.
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