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George North injury mars Ospreys win in SA as Newcastle snatch first win

By PA
(Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Ospreys produced a stirring late comeback to beat Lions 38-28 and wrap up their Challenge Cup group stage campaign in style in South Africa.

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The Welsh side trailed 28-17 but stormed back with late tries from Keelan Giles, Cameron Jones and Morgan Morse wrapping up a highly impressive win.

Both sides had already qualified for the next stage of the competition and Ospreys were without a number of injured players including prop Gareth Thomas.

Owen Watkin and George North – who exited with a shoulder problem – scored early tries but Ospreys had to bide their time to get the better of the hosts, who had three players sin-binned.

Newcastle Falcons ended a run of 14 successive defeats as they wrapped up their campaign with a 32-23 win at Perpignan.

With both sides already eliminated from the competition there was little to play for but for Falcons players there was the chance to impress incoming consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond.

Louie Johnson kicked Newcastle into a 9-3 lead but it was wiped out by a Lucas Dubois try for Perpignan, who led 13-9 at the break.

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Tries from Hugh O’Sullivan and Ben Redshaw put the Falcons in control and the unfaltering boot of Johnson secured a thoroughly deserved win in the south of France.

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Poorfour 5 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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