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  • 05 Jun
    Toulon were made to work hard by Scarlets as they recorded a 31-20 bonus-point win to keep up the pressure on Saracens in Pool 3 of the European Champions Cup.Mike Fords side were heavy favourites to return to winning ways after being beaten by Saracens in their last home Champions Cup encounter and they did exactly that as Mamuka Gorgodze, Leigh Halfpenny and Romain Taofifenua all scored before the break.Ken Owens responded for the Welsh side, but Guilhem Guirado scored Toulons crucial fourth try at the start of the second half.Wales full-back Halfpenny was inch-perfect from the tee with 11 points as the Scarlets returned home pointless despite John Barclays late effort.It didnt take long for the French giants to move ahead, their first try coming within five minutes after a powerful burst from Mathieu Bastareaud saw the giant centre break clear and, although he was stopped just short of the line, Gorgodze dived over from the next ruck.Halfpenny converted and then exchanged penalties with Rhys Patchell to make it 10-3, but it was still Toulon who were the dominant force, especially at the contact area.The Welsh side remained keen to move their opposition around the field though, spreading the ball wide at almost every opportunity and a second Patchell penalty narrowed the gap to four.Toulons lead was soon extended as yet another powerful Bastareaud carry allowed Halfpenny to sprint in and score and Taiofifenua reached for the line to add a third.Halfpenny converted both tries and while Owens scored just before the break from close range, Toulon still turned around 24-13 ahead.Home fly-half Pierre Bernard, an impressive figure in the first period, got the game restarted but it was the visitors who began the second half the better.Hadleigh Parkes put the Scarlets on the front foot, before a floated pass from Scott Williams put Steffan Evans over in the corner.But referee Alex Ruiz, via the TMO, decided Williams had knocked on before finding Evans and the score was ruled out.The decision looked touch and go, and it proved to be the crucial moment.Instead of scoring their second try, the Scarlets promptly conceded their fourth at the other end.Guirado emerged from a huge line-out surge with the ball and when Halfpenny nailed the touchline conversion, the game was up.Both sides rung the changes midway through the second period and the final quarter saw the game flow from end-to-end as the Scarlets refused to fold.Wayne Pivacs men actually had more of the ball and Taiofifenua saw yellow for dragging down a maul, allowing Barclay to score what was in the end a late consolation. 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NEW YORK -- A good ending to a long road trip kept the New York Mets talking in the present tense for at least a little while longer. The Philadelphia Phillies, meanwhile, will arrive in New York on Friday having taken another step toward their future.The Mets host the Phillies in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Citi Field. New York (64-63) edged closer to the pack in the National League wild card race Thursday night by beating the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-5.The win gave the Mets a series win in the three-game set against the Cardinals and pulled them within 3 1/2 games of St. Louis for the second wild card. New York went 5-5 on a 10-game road trip but ended the three-city trek with four wins in five games against the San Francisco Giants, who are currently the first wild card, and the Cardinals.The Mets two wins against the Cardinals came in games in which starter Jonathon Niese lasted just one out before exiting due to a knee injury and in which rookie Seth Lugo threw five shutout innings in place of left-hander Steven Matz, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.I dont care who were playing. weve got to put some wins on the board, Mets manager Terry Collins said. Weve got to get some streaks going, get back in the hunt here. Hopefully we get our pitching straightened away here in the next couple days where, going into that last month of the season, well know who is going to be out there.The Mets will send their one sure thing -- 43-year-old Bartolo Colon -- to the mound in Fridays series opener. Colon, the oldest player in baseball, will be making his team-high 266th start and will be looking for his 12th win, which would break a tie for the team lead with Noah Syndergaard.dddddddddddd If he lasts at least 3 2/3 innings Friday, Colon will also surge past Syndergaard for the Mets lead in innings pitched.While the ageless Colon pitches for the Mets, the Phillies youth movement will be on full display with their battery. Adam Morgan, a 26-year-old left-hander, will make his 15th start of the season and the 30th of his career for Philadelphia (59-68), which is headed for its fifth straight non-winning season.Morgan may be throwing to rookie catcher Jorge Alfaro, who is expected to be promoted following Thursdays trade that sent 37-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for fellow aging backstop A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later.With Ruiz gone, the only member of the Phillies 2008 World Series-winning squad still wearing a Philadelphia uniform is first baseman Ryan Howard, who is sure to depart following the season. While general manager Matt Klentak said the organization was glad to give Ruiz a chance at pursuing another ring, he acknowledged the trade will leave a big hole to fill for a rebuilding club.Carlos has been such an important leader for so long, we knew we had to fill a role on and off the field, Klentak told There is a reasonably good chance one of our young catching prospects will be in the big leagues before the season is over. ' ' '