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Saracens starlets Ben Earl and Max Malins open up ahead of facing parent club with Bristol

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saracens starlets ben earl and max malins open up ahead of facing parent club with bristol

Ben Earl is panting heavily as he sits down on a grassy bank at Bristol’s new £11.5million training facility – the England flanker already embracing his new surroundings with a neatly-sculpted West Country mullet.

He plonks himself down beside house-mate, team-mate and fellow loanee Max Malins minutes after a gruelling session and extra defensive work in 32-degree heat to talk about a weird week.

With sweat pouring off him, and an isotonic drink in hand he initially struggles to speak.

Max Malins (L) and Ben Earl (R) are out to prove a point when they face parent club Saracens

Max Malins (L) and Ben Earl (R) are out to prove a point when they face parent club Saracens

Max Malins (L) and Ben Earl (R) are out to prove a point when they face parent club Saracens

‘Oi, oi, oi!’ Earl, 22, sighs with a grimace.

‘As long as you make it clear we’ve come straight off the training pitch!’ On this evidence there is no chance he is going to take Saturday’s match lightly.

This is not just a first since March, nor just a debut for Bristol. It is against Saracens – his parent club who he will return to with Malins next summer.

So the strangest of years just became stranger.

Earl was happy in the colours of Saracens but is relishing facing them with Bristol on Saturday

Earl was happy in the colours of Saracens but is relishing facing them with Bristol on Saturday

Earl was happy in the colours of Saracens but is relishing facing them with Bristol on Saturday

‘We’ve spoken about this for ages,’ says Earl to Malins.

‘It’s going to be a weird one. It’s dead silence from everyone back in London, so I think they’re coming for us!

‘It’s a game of rugby – you’ve got to play as well as you can and at the end of it we’ll all be mates but it will be a weird one to begin with.’ Malins adds: ‘You know they’re going to come for you, but at the same time it’s our club and if you’re involved you want to do well, and show them something.

‘There’s definitely mixed emotions. I’m sure there will be a bit of chat!’ The pair have just about settled into Bristol life, sharing a flat in Clifton – five minutes from the new training venue – and when they are not there it is coffees, walks on the Downs and hours watching the cricket.

Earl is friends with England batsman Ollie Pope and went to school with Zak Crawley. A ‘medium-fast’ bowler himself he took five wickets in the annual Saracens squad match last year, with Malins hitting a half-century.

The duo are committed to their new temporary life in Bristol but will not go too far.

Malins (above) joined Earl in moving to Bristol in order to continue Premiership action

Malins (above) joined Earl in moving to Bristol in order to continue Premiership action

Malins (above) joined Earl in moving to Bristol in order to continue Premiership action

‘When are you getting the Bears tattoo lads?!’ heckles Dave Attwood from afar.

It will be a surreal experience for Earl coming up against Maro Itoje, Jamie George and the Vunipolas.

Both he and Malins, who is not yet fit to play today after a few lockdown knocks, have been turfed out of the Sarries WhatsApp groups and have discussed how on earth they celebrate in case they score a try.

‘I’m not sure Ben can do the ol’ big chest pump!’ laughs Malins

Earl continues: ‘If I’m lucky enough to score I think I’ll be very low-key and try and run back to the half-way line.’ Malins counters: ‘We talked about doing the Liam Williams celebration of the “calm-down” hands!’ ‘Brilliant!’ giggles Earl who is set to play a half from the bench at Ashton Gate.

Earl admits it was made clear that his England spot was at risk if he dropped to championship

Earl admits it was made clear that his England spot was at risk if he dropped to championship

Earl admits it was made clear that his England spot was at risk if he dropped to championship

‘We don’t want to disrespect our team-mates – they’ve been great with us for four-or-five years. We’ll be respectful but will play hard.

‘We’ve got no credit in the bank here – we’ve still got to prove ourselves – and the only way to do that is to play hard. The boys back at the club are going to respect you more if you went harder than softer.’ 

It has been a mad few months for this pair. With the salary cap saga engulfing Saracens it became clear quickly that unlike the established England internationals, youngsters were going to have to move to quicken their development.

‘When the news came out Eddie Jones was pretty clear that he wasn’t going to pick me if I wasn’t playing in the Premiership,’ says Earl, who made his Test debut during the Six Nations in February.

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31956194 8628261 image a 1 1597423676072

‘When he says that your mind in pretty much made up.’ Initially clubs wanted Sarries starlets only on permanent deals.

‘But then I got a phone-call from Pat Lam,’ 23-year-old Malins explains.

‘He said he lives in the present and wants the strongest squad possible at Bristol, told us what he wanted to achieve and offered the loan.

‘Seeing this training facility, how well they’re doing, growing, it made it an exciting prospect.’ With Bears director of rugby Lam snapping up the two hottest Sarries prospects – Earl the big, quick flanker, and Malins touted as a ‘young Beauden Barrett’ at full-back or fly-half – others followed suit.

Nick Isiekwe went to Northampton, Jack Singleton Gloucester, Nick Tompkins Dragons and Alex Lozowski Montpellier – all will be back next summer and have re-committed to Saracens for years to come.

Both Malins and Earl have been turfed out of the Sarries Whatsapp group following their loan

Both Malins and Earl have been turfed out of the Sarries Whatsapp group following their loan

Both Malins and Earl have been turfed out of the Sarries Whatsapp group following their loan

Naturally, when these two speak about the Bears it is not yet always ‘we’ or ‘us’ – mostly still ‘Bristol’ with Saracens as ‘the club’ – but that will surely change as the pair bed in, and start competing for honours.

Both have Premiership winners’ medals already, having played a handful of games last season, but Bristol fans should not worry that they are just out West to cruise for a season-and-a-half.

‘We are very much here to win and think we can,’ says Earl.

‘We’re in the early stages of our careers so we’re here to learn, gain a fresh perspective but also to win trophies.’ 

Malins – who will learn from superstars Semi Radradra and Charles Piutau – adds: ‘This playing group shows a lot of potential and can go a long way.’ The Bristol move will surely be a rousing success for both, but will there be any guilt that they did not tough it out in the Championship with their relegated mates?

Owen Farrell will miss the clash but stars like Maro Itoje will play in Saturday's match

Owen Farrell will miss the clash but stars like Maro Itoje will play in Saturday's match

Owen Farrell will miss the clash but stars like Maro Itoje will play in Saturday’s match

‘We get a bit of chat from the boys who are sticking it out,’ says Malins.

‘I would have loved to but if I went to play Championship rugby next season I wouldn’t necessarily progress as a player the way I would in the Premiership.’ 

Earl adds: ‘I for one certainly feel guilty that when it comes to 10 years down the line and we’ve hopefully had illustrious careers and won lots of stuff for the club, it’ll be tough saying we weren’t there during the hard times.

‘But it would have been seen as a year wasted so we had to make the most of it.’ After lockdown, the move and everything that went with it, it was fate that this would be the first game in 22 weeks. On Wednesday Earl’s mullet was whipped off in preparation – he must mean business.

‘I wouldn’t want another game,’ he says.

31956574 8628261 image a 12 1597424367419

31956574 8628261 image a 12 1597424367419

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Real Betis 2-3 Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos comes to the rescue

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real betis 2 3 real madrid sergio ramos comes to the rescue

It was business as usual for Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos as the reigning Champions beat Betis 3-2 .

The captain dinked the winner from the penalty spot – his 24th straight spot-kick success – and the three points came after two tight VAR calls went the visitor’s way.

Karim Benzema thought he had put Real Madrid ahead after just two minutes when he converted Ferland Mendy’s cross. The joy was short-lived because the Frenchman was offside. 

Sergio Ramos scored an 82nd minute penalty to give Real Madrid all three points at Real Betis

Sergio Ramos scored an 82nd minute penalty to give Real Madrid all three points at Real Betis

Ramos showed his composure by doing his trademark chipped penalty to seal the three points

Ramos showed his composure by doing his trademark chipped penalty to seal the three points

Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles committed to his right but Ramos dinked down the middle

Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles committed to his right but Ramos dinked down the middle

Uruguayan midfielder Fede Valverde fires into the back of the net to give Real the lead

Uruguayan midfielder Fede Valverde fires into the back of the net to give Real the lead

Valverde is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal of the match

Valverde is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring the opening goal of the match

But they were not ahead for long with defender Aissa Mandi bringing Betis level with a header

But they were not ahead for long with defender Aissa Mandi bringing Betis level with a header

Mandi celebrates with his team-mates after netting at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville

Mandi celebrates with his team-mates after netting at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Seville

MATCH FACTS 

Real Betis: Robles, Emerson, Mandi, Bartra, Moreno, Rodriguez, Carvalho, Joaquin (Tello 63), Fekir (Loren 73), Canales, Sanabria (Montoya 69). 

Goals: Mandi 35, Carvalho 37

Booked: Emerson, Rodriguez, Canales, Bartra, Mandi.

Sent off: Emerson 

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy, Casemiro, Valverde, Kroos (Modric 45+1), Odegaard, Jovic (Mayoral 72), Benzema.

Goals: Valverde 14, Emerson OG 48, Ramos 82

Booked: Carvajal, Modric

Manager: Zinedine Zidane 

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Antonio Sanabria then connected with a Sergio Canales cross and drew an incredible stop from Thibaut Courtois. The keeper had to adjust his feet and change direction to bat away the Paraguay forward’s downward header.

A goal was going to come at one end sooner or later and on minute 13 Fede Valverde put Madrid 1-0 up. Benzema tied Alex Moreno in knots and crossed from the right for Fede Valverde to score.

Segio Ramos then nearly doubled the lead but Marc Bartra got enough of his heel to the ball to divert it wide but not enough for the referee to spot the block and give a corner.

Betis did not shrink back into their shell and they deserved the equalizer that came ten minutes before the break. Again Canales provided the cross, this time from the left and Mandi climbed above Casemiro to head past Courtois.

Three minutes later and Betis had turned the game on its head. Toni Kroos gave the ball away and when Canales played it out to Fekir, he found William Carvalho who had ghosted ahead of Martin Odegaard. It was loose from Madrid and Courtois then allowed the midfielder’s shot to beat him at his near post.

There was still time in a helter-skelter first half for Joel Robles to save from Benzema and for Kroos to be taken off for Modric. Was it for giving the ball away ahead of the goal? The doubts dispersed when Kroos clutched the top of his hamstring.

Real Madrid were back on terms two minutes into the second half. Moreno gave Dani Carvajal too much space and Emerson turned the cross past his own goalkeeper.        

Benzema fires into the back of the net but his goal was ruled out by the officials for offside

Benzema fires into the back of the net but his goal was ruled out by the officials for offside

Benzema complains to the officials but his effort was ruled out by the Spanish referees

Benzema complains to the officials but his effort was ruled out by the Spanish referees

Betis midfielder William Carvalho fired the hosts in front just two minutes after the equaliser

Betis midfielder William Carvalho fired the hosts in front just two minutes after the equaliser

Benzema’s rocket shot then came down off the crossbar and over the line but he was offside when he pulled the trigger and it stayed at 2-2.

Benzema was on form and soon he did provoke ‘advantage Madrid’ when his perfect pass sent Jovic through.

He had yards to cover and Emerson to shake off but the Brazilian full-back nudged him and when he went down, VAR advised referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea to take a second look and, somewhat harshly he decided it was a straight red card offence. 

Down to ten men Betis might now would have been expected to just hang on but Carvalho curled a shot that Courtois need to stretch to push out. His two saves had been vital in the win. 

Carvalho celebrates but Betis were  pegged back just after half-time by one of their own men

Carvalho celebrates but Betis were  pegged back just after half-time by one of their own men

Real players run back to restart the game after Emerson put the ball into the back of his net

Real players run back to restart the game after Emerson put the ball into the back of his net

Emerson was then sent off after bringing down Real striker Luka Jovic (not pictured)

Emerson was then sent off after bringing down Real striker Luka Jovic (not pictured)

At the other end Jovic’s luck is still out because despite forcing that red he had struggled throughout and was taken off to be replaced Borja Mayoral. The sub was involved in the winner.

It came from Ramos who scored it with a Panenka from the spot. Again VAR intervened and again it intervened in Madrid’s favour.

Marc Bartra was adjudged to have used his arms to clear the ball. Betis will argue he was falling as the ball struck the top of his arm and he was falling under pressure from Mayoral.

The VAR interventions made for eight minutes of added time but Betis had nothing left in the tank and were left with complaints and a feeling of injustice. Madrid, as so often last season, were left with the points.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Real Betis vs Real Madrid LIVE REACTION: Ramos nets late from the spot to hand Los Blancos crucial three points

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Six games in the Spanish top-flight tomorrow starting from 11am and going into the night.

We’ll see Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla for the first time this season tomorrow.

Times UK:

11am – Osasuna vs Levante

1pm – Eibar vs Athletic Bilbao

3pm – Atletico Madrid vs Granada

5.30pm – Valladolid vs Celta Vigo

5.30pm – Cadiz vs Sevilla

8pm – Barcelona vs Villarreal

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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UFC 253: UK start time, live stream FREE, TV channel, card, prelims for TONIGHT’S huge Adesanya vs Costa clash

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ufc 253 uk start time live stream free tv channel card prelims for tonights huge adesanya vs costa clash

ISRAEL ADESANYA will put his UFC middleweight championship at risk as he clashes with Paulo Costa in the octagon.

A war of words have erupted between the two fighters as both look to inflict the first defeat on each other.

 How the fighters compare ahead of the main event

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How the fighters compare ahead of the main event

And the incentive is high for Adesanya as he could set up colossal clash with UFC great Jon Jones.

What time does the fight start in the UK?

The main event is set to take place in the early hours of Sunday morning for those watching from the UK.

Viewers can expect the fight to start around 6am, with the TV time being dictated for American audiences.

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It will take place at UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi

The preliminary card will begin at 1am UK time with the main card starting around 3am.

Can I stream it for free?

UFC 253 is not pay-per-view event in the UK and BT Sport 1 will broadcast the show.

Coverage of the preliminary will start at 1am on Sunday, September 27.

It will all be streamed on BT Sport’s website and app.

EE mobile customers can get a completely free three-month trial of BT Sport by texting SPORT to 150.

LB ufc fight islandv2

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What TV channel is it on?

All the action can be seen on BT Sport 1 from 1am with the prelims to 7am.

In the US, the fight is on ESPN+.

Who’s on the fight card?

The fightcard sees a set of fascinating bouts across the different weight divisions. Along with the main fight, viewers can also witness:

  • Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz – Light Heavyweight
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Zubaira Tukhugov – Featherweight
  • Kai Kara-France vs. Brandon Royval – Flyweight
  • Ketien Vieira vs. Sijara Eubanks – Women’s Bantamweight

What are the prelims?

The prelims, to be fought before, also sees a packed card of clashes:

  • Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Matthews – Welterweight
  • Brad Riddell vs. Alex Da Silva – Lightweight
  • Shane Young vs. Ludovit Klein – Featherweight
  • William Knight vs. Aleksa Camur – Light Heavyweight
  • Juan Espino vs. Jeff Hughes – Heavyweight
  • Khadis Ibragimov vs. Danilo Marques – Light Heavyweight

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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