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Salford fan Kallum Watkins aims to cause Challenge Cup final upset against ex-employers Leeds Rhinos

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salford fan kallum watkins aims to cause challenge cup final upset against ex employers leeds rhinos

When Kallum Watkins signed for Salford, he didn’t imagine playing in a Challenge Cup final, against Leeds of all teams, just six weeks later.

And yet on Saturday at Wembley, in only his fifth appearance for Salford, Watkins will face the club with whom he enjoyed 12 silverware-laden seasons. The England centre quit Leeds midway through last year after a contract dispute and joined NRL outfit Gold Coast Titans. He returned home in April when his father contracted Covid-19.

A move to Toronto Wolfpack followed but, when they withdrew from Super League in July, he joined Salford.

Kallum Watkins was immensely successful at Leeds Rhinos after making his debut aged just 17

Kallum Watkins was immensely successful at Leeds Rhinos after making his debut aged just 17

Kallum Watkins was immensely successful at Leeds Rhinos after making his debut aged just 17

The 29-year-old, who won two Challenge Cups at Leeds, said: ‘It’s pretty crazy that my first game against the Rhinos is at Wembley. To get the win with Salford would be an unbelievable achievement, but Leeds will always have a special place in my heart.

‘I owe Leeds a lot because they made me the player I am today. We had some incredible journeys and when it came to crunch time, in the play-offs, we knew how to perform.

‘Winning the treble in 2015 was obviously fantastic but the 2017 Grand Final win was particularly special. It was also a great send-off for Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow.’

Former scrum-half Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last December and his plight has drawn huge support. He has been named as chief guest ‘in absentia’ for Saturday’s game and Watkins added: ‘When I heard about Rob, I was in floods of tears and absolutely devastated.

‘He’s an incredibly kind, generous bloke and still has that fight in him, as this week’s BBC documentary showed.’

Watkins got Salford's first try as they came from behind to beat Warrington in the semi-final

Watkins got Salford's first try as they came from behind to beat Warrington in the semi-final

Watkins got Salford’s first try as they came from behind to beat Warrington in the semi-final

Salford’s last Wembley appearance was a defeat by Castleford in 1969 and their only Challenge Cup success came in 1938.

Yet Ian Watson’s men reached a maiden Grand Final last season despite being one of Super League’s lowest spenders.

Mancunian Watkins, a boyhood Salford fan, added: ‘We’ve got the belief that we can go to Wembley and win.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Bournemouth 1-0 Bristol City: Danjuma’s late strike moves the Cherries up to second in Championship

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bournemouth 1 0 bristol city danjumas late strike moves the cherries up to second in championship

Arnaut Danjuma earned praise from his manager after climbing off the bench to maintain Bournemouth’s unbeaten league record with victory at home to promotion rivals Bristol City.

The Cherries move up to second in the Championship table while their opponents are now winless in four games and slip down to sixth place.

Both sides struck the woodwork in difficult conditions on the south coast before Danjuma’s decisive intervention late in the game. 

Bournemouth winger Arnaut Danjuma secured a hard-fought win at the Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth winger Arnaut Danjuma secured a hard-fought win at the Vitality Stadium

Bournemouth winger Arnaut Danjuma secured a hard-fought win at the Vitality Stadium

On the Dutch international’s winner, Bournemouth boss Jason Tindall said: ‘When you look around and see someone with the quality of Arnaut Danjuma to go on there and deliver the 20 minutes that he did, it is excellent for us.’

On the unbeaten run, Tindall added: ‘To go eight games undefeated at the start of the season in any league is a really good achievement and the players have to take a lot of credit for that for the hard work they have put in. That is where we want to be, towards the top of the league.’

Young Robins striker Antoine Semenyo carved out the first opportunity, twisting and turning inside the box before firing wide.

Danjuma collected Solanke's through ball and lifted the ball over Bristol City keeper Bentley

Danjuma collected Solanke's through ball and lifted the ball over Bristol City keeper Bentley

 Danjuma collected Solanke’s through ball and lifted the ball over Bristol City keeper Bentley

The visitors looked more dangerous going forward with Tyreeq Bakinson forcing Asmir Begovic into a brilliant full-length low save. 

They were denied again when Joshua King leapt to clear Tomas Kalas’ header off the line before a swift counter saw Dominic Solanke’s effort from a narrow angle deflected just wide.

With seconds remaining in the first half, Bristol City’s Famara Diedhiou wriggled through several challenges inside the box but saw his scuffed shot deflected onto the post.

The hosts should have taken the lead when Lloyd Kelly burst into the box and squared for Solanke but the ball somehow ricocheted off the woodwork, before Stanislas fired inches wide as the pressure built.

After Diedhiou’s weak header was saved by Begovic, the hosts had claims for a penalty waved away when Solanke was felled by keeper Dan Bentley while trying to force a loose ball home.

Dominic Solanke clipped an upright and Junior Stanislas fired narrowly wide for the hosts

Dominic Solanke clipped an upright and Junior Stanislas fired narrowly wide for the hosts

Dominic Solanke clipped an upright and Junior Stanislas fired narrowly wide for the hosts

With 10 minutes left, Solanke slipped substitute Danjuma through to convert smartly for the winning goal.

Dean Holden threw on Chris Martin and Nakhi Wells in search of a winner but the Robins boss was left rueing missed opportunities as his side fell eight points behind leaders Reading.

He said: ‘We have absolutely dominated the first half and I don’t think anyone can argue with that. They haven’t had a shot on goal really, Bentley has had nothing to do. We switch off with ten minutes to go against quality players and they make you pay.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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10.30pm Arsenal news LIVE: Ozil training ‘best he can’, Umtiti transfer LATEST, Mike Dean ref for Man Utd

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ARSENAL aim to bounce from defeat against Leicester as they take on Irish side Dundalk in the Europa League.

And then at the weekend it’s old rivals Manchester United in a HUGE Premier League clash.

Follow ALL of the latest Gunners transfer gossip and news below…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Jose Mourinho warns Europe ‘remarkable’ Gareth Bale is ready to explode with Spurs hero to be unleashed on LASK

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jose mourinho warns europe remarkable gareth bale is ready to explode with spurs hero to be unleashed on lask

JOSE MOURINHO has warned Europe the real Gareth Bale is coming.

Tonight, the Tottenham boss will hand the Wales superstar his second start since rejoining the club on loan from Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho is set to start Gareth Bale for Spurs against Royal Antwerp

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Jose Mourinho is set to start Gareth Bale for Spurs against Royal AntwerpCredit: PA:Press Association

Bale, 31, started the north Londoners’ 3-0 win at home to Austrians LASK in last Thursday’s Europa League Group J opener.

And ahead of their clash with Royal Antwerp in Belgium, Mourinho revealed: “Bale is playing. I can see it with my eyes and the scientific data is also telling us he is working very well and improving a lot.

“He’s working very hard and has been a great example for everybody.

“A big guy like him travelled to Burnley on Monday, stayed on the bench for 90 minutes and his behaviour as a team guy has been incredible.

“His behaviour as a Tottenham man is remarkable.

“We will see he is already at a good level and, hopefully, he can fly.”

Defenders Eric Dier and Japhet Tanganga have not travelled with the squad following their recent injuries.

Striker Son Heung-min, who scored the only goal in the 1-0 win at Burnley, has travelled after signing a deal with the same agency which represents Mourinho.

But the Spurs boss denied it will lead to a conflict of interest with the South Korean, who is set to talk with chairman Daniel Levy about a new contract.

Mourinho added: “I don’t care who represents players, I just care about what players give me on the pitch.

“In relation to his contract, I am not worried about it because he has three years remaining.

The percentage of answers have been round up or down from their decimal points

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The percentage of answers have been round up or down from their decimal points

“I am sure sooner or later that will be resolved.”

Antwerp also won their first match in Group J, beating Ludogorets 2-1 away.

And Mourinho admitted: “This will be our toughest match of the group phase.”

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Royal Antwerp vs Tottenham FREE – Live stream, TV channel and kick-off time for Europa League clash

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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