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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Scotland wait on wings for Cardiff

March 12 2014

Scotland have been unable to finalise a back division for Saturday’s final RBS 6 Nations match with all three of the wings who played in the French game out or in doubt. Scott Johnson has picked a squad of 14 backs for the match at the Millennium Stadium while they wait on a nagging injuries to Max Evans and Tommy Seymour. Sean Lamont, a starter in all five games in this 6 Nations, has already been ruled out with a knee ligament problem. The Scots have drafted in Lee Jones, Jack Cuthbert, the uncapped Dougie Fife and Richie Vernon, the former Dundee HSFP player who won 20 caps in the back row but has converted to be a centre/wing for the Glasgow Warriors this season. The 26-year-old scored two tries for Glasgow against Leinster in the PRO12 two weeks ago but has played only four games - two as a starter - since the switch in position was made earlier this season. Jones played in the 6 Nations for Scotland two years ago but has been out of favbour at Edinburgh and loaned out to Glasgow after playing with Scotland 7s. Cuthbert and Fife have been regulars for Edinburgh for most of the season, with Fife one of the leading try-scorers in the PRO12. Ruaridh Jackson has been included in the squad, but Duncan Weir is set to be retained at fly-half in a vote of confidence for the 22-year-old. A hip injury to to Ryan Grant has allowed Scotland to make only the one, enforced change in the pack, Ryan Wilson returning in place of ankle injury victim Johnnie Beattie. Alasdair Strokosch, not involved so far in the championship, is brought on to the bench. Scotland backs from: Chris Cusiter, Jack Cuthbert, Alex Dunbar, Max Evans, Dougie Fife, Stuart Hogg, Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Greig Laidlaw, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Richie Vernon, Duncan Weir. Forwards: Ryan Grant, Scott Lawson, Geoff Cross; Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton; Ryan Wilson, Kelly Brown, David Denton. Replacements: Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson, Euan Murray, Tim Swinson, Alasdair Strokosch plus two backs.

Scottish Premiership

Hearts and Aberdeen progress in League Cup

September 26 2013

Hearts once again needed penalties as they finally defeated Queen of the South to book their place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup. An epic third round tie remained all-square after 90 minutes and extra-time with spot-kicks eventually separating the two sides. Jamie Hamill, Chris Mitchell and Michael Paton all failed to convert from the penalty spot, with Dale Carrick’s strike sparking celebrations in the home camp. Hearts had also needed penalties to overcome Raith Rovers in the last round. Kevin McHattie fired the Jambos into the lead last night but his opener was cancelled out by Ryan McGuffie, with the scoreline level at half-time. The home side nudged in front again through a Hamill penalty only for Paton to haul Queens back in the match and force the third round tie into extra-time. Danny Wilson then netted just two minutes later but, unbelievably, the visitors restored parity again thanks to Chris Higgins. Scott Vernon’s second-half hat-trick helped ensure Aberdeen did not suffer another embarrassing choke against lower-league opposition as Falkirk were swept aside 5-0. Joe Shaugnessy had given the Reds a 22nd-minute lead while Cammy Smith added a second nine minutes before the break as Derek McInnes’ team made a positive start to the tie. And they sealed their place in the quarter-final draw with Vernon’s treble as a comprehensive 5-0 success was wrapped up. Vernon came off the bench after 30 minutes as McInnes admitted the striker was only handed an early run out because Calvin Zola was flirting with a red card. He said: “That’s him got four goals in two games, but he’s probably only had about 80 minutes within that. So he’s averaging a goal every 20 minutes right now. “Goals are like a drug to strikers and bring them so much confidence. He has a real spring in his step which is pleasing.” James McFadden scored with a backheel to secure Motherwell’s passage into the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over 10-man Livingston. Bob McHugh had opened the scoring on 15 minutes when he headed home from close range following a well-worked set-piece. Livi had their fair share of possession but they could not test Gunnar Nielsen in the Motherwell goal and they saw defender Jason Talbot sent off in the 65th minute for a challenge on Stevie Hammell. McFadden settled the issue five minutes later. Hammell’s cross was driven back across goal by Lionel Ainsworth and the Scotland forward flicked the ball into the far corner from six yards for his first goal of the season. Livi scored with their first shot on target in injury-time when Danny Denholm bundled home.


Vernon’s change to 13 faces huge Toulouse test

December 12 2014

Richie Vernon’s transformation is complete and he is now officially an international class outside centre - or he would not be first choice there for Glasgow Warriors’ biggest game of the season. The 27-year-old from Dundee has been capped 20 times for Scotland in the back row but although he’s actually the most experienced player at open-side available to Gregor Townsend he’s facing up to the famous Stade Toulousain backline in the crucial European Rugby Champions Cup clash at Scotstoun. Vernon is one of three changes to the Warriors side that went down 19-11 in France on Sunday for the return match. Ryan Wilson continues in place of the injured Chris Fusaro although Rob Harley will wear 7 and Tim Swinson starts in place of Leone Nakarawa. However it’s Vernon’s selection ahead not only of Peter Horne but also Sean Lamont the 13 in Scotland’s last test against Tonga that will raise most eyebrows. The former High School of Dundee pupil only made the switch from the back row just over a year ago and first played in the backs in January of this year. The project of using Vernon’s exceptional speed allied to his power in the open spaces has been a careful one, with head coach Townsend and defence coach Matt Taylor taking the player for many one-on-one analysis debriefs on his performances. Clearly, they now think he is ready for the biggest stage the club has faced this season, perhaps their biggest game ever in Europe. “It’s an opportunity he’s earned,” said the head coach. “He’s coming in on the back of his last two performances against the Dragons and as a replacement on Sunday, so it’s a selection reflected on form. “We’ve felt he’s been developing well at 13 since last year, he played during the 6 Nations and scored two tries away to Leinster, and that was maybe the breakthrough. “He just hasn’t had a run of games because of an injury and the competition for places we have at the position with Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar and Sean Lamont. “It is great to have Sean there and he could win his 50th European cap this week, so it is fantastic. He is fired up and wants to play well, and we see him covering winger at the weekend with Peter Horne also being on the bench.” Vernon’s long term goal when making the switch was to play for Scotland in the position, and he feels he’s on track. “Through the whole thing I have had a lot of assistance,” he said. “Early on I would go through my whole game with Matt Taylor on defence and Gregor on the attack side. “They realised when I made the transition I would need a lot of support to see my way through it and the more I could chat with them, the more it improved my game. “I feel more and more comfortable every game I play and now I feel like a 13, I feel comfortable out there against top quality opposition like this. “The coaches obviously have faith in me to put me in against two top quality centres like Fickou and David. It’s a huge opportunity for me and I am looking forward to it.” Ironically, with Fusaro out long-term and back-up open-side Tyrone Holmes out with a calf injury, Vernon has the most experience of anyone in the team of the key position for the breakdown area where Toulouse were dominant on Sunday. “We have our best available back row on the field,” continued Townsend, who must also do without Scotland No 8 Adam Ashe until the New Year. “Rob (Harley) did well there on Sunday, he has been in outstanding form and his workrate has been superb. “Toulouse have picked two opensides, and Dusautoir and Nyanga are both outstanding players. Dusautoir is one of the best ever to play the game so we know how good we have to be there.” Townsend thought Toulouse produced their best performance of the season to beat his team last weekend. “31 offloads is unreal, they went into that game wanting to play rugby, it will be interesting to see what game they come with,” he added. “It’s in their DNA they want to run, to play, to react to any space a defence might give. But maybe they will look to play a different game, a forward-based game with more kicking. We will have a clearer picture in the first 20 minutes.” Swinson comes into the second row to add a little more directness to the Warriors’ play while Nakarawa is available as an impact player off a bench that is evenly split between forwards and backs meaning Vernon could be called on for his old shift if injuries to forwards take effect. Euan Murray has recovered from the injury he sustained against the All Blacks for Scotland but will start on the bench. Glasgow: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Richie Vernon, Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour; Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos; Ryan Grant, Pat MacArthur, Jon Welsh; Tim Swinson, Jonny Gray; Ryan Wilson, Rob Harley, Josh Strauss (capt). Replacements: Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid, Euan Murray, Leone Nakarawa, Niko Matawalu, Duncan Weir, Peter Horne, Sean Lamont.


Scots release players for Edinburgh but keep up intensity for Rome

March 12 2018

Gregor Townsend indicated that he'll stick pretty close to the plan despite the reshuffle of personnel to the training squad ahead of this week's final NatWest 6 Nations match against Italy in Rome. Townsend has released a number of Edinburgh players back to Richard Cockerill, clearly with a view to them being fully involved in preparations for the capital club's key Guinness PRO14 game against Munster at BT Murrayfield on Friday night. He's also called up four Glasgow Warriors, three uncapped plus a surprise return for Richie Vernon with the PRO14 Conference A leaders having no game this weekend, as well as Gloucester centre Matt Scott, who was not in the squad to prepare for the Ireland game at the weekend. Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, John Hardie, Magnus Bradbury and Mark Bennett head back to Edinburgh while Glasgow's Alex Dunbar, who hasn't played in the 6 Nations this season due to concussion problems and a thigh injury, and Henry Pyrgos are also omitted. That clearly indicates that Townsend will make only minimal changes if any to the starting 23 for the Stadio Olimpico, as the Scots go for three wins in the championship for the second year in a row, something they haven't done since the Five Nations Championships of 1995 and 1996. The three uncapped Glasgow players are lock Scott Cummings, 19-year-old back rower Matt Fagerson and stand-off Adam Hastings, the son of former Lions and Scotland captain Gavin. Vernon's return is a surprise as the former High School of Dundee pupil has only just returned from a lengthy spell out with serious injury, playing only parts of two games with the Glasgow Warriors. Assistant coach Dan McFarland said that some of the alterations were to help Edinburgh this week. "It's making sure the PRO teams have a good spread of players for their games," he said. "It's very important for us to support them but at the same time not compromise our preparations. "It's about getting in guys on form and getting a look at them, but also helping out the PRO teams as well." There will be no let up in the intensity to training this week in preparation for Rome, with the Scots still in with a chance of a third place finish in this year's 6 Nations. "It's about winning a Test match and winning our third game in the championship," continued McFarland. "It's about focusing on going to Italy and playing against a proud nation who desperately want to win a match in the championship this year. "We are fully aware that this is another Six Nations game. "Everybody knows how competitive the Six Nations has been so far and we see a stern test ahead of us." Although one loss away from another whitewash, Italy will be looking for finish on a high, he added. "There are threats there and we are fully aware of them, they have a good tradition of forward play which is at the forefront of my mind. "They have some class players so we will have our eyes firmly on the ball."

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Pace puts Richie Vernon on plane to New Zealand

August 23 2011

Richie Vernon's pace proved enough to convince Scotland coach Andy Robinson to pick him for the Rugby World Cup squad. The 24-year-old Dundonian back rower was selected ahead of his former flatmate Johnnie Beattie in the only major decision left to be made. Vernon is one of two former pupils of Dundee High School in the 30-strong squad, along with prop Alasdair Dickinson. Dollar Academy is represented by John Barclay, Graeme Morrison and Rory Lawson, while Perth has the Lamont brothers, Sean and Rory. A third of the squad is from the northern Caledonia Region. The only shock and even that largely anticipated is Beattie's omission for the second World Cup in succession. The son of the former British Lion John was first choice No 8 only 15 months ago but his decision to undergo shoulder surgery and a troubled return to action has cost him dearly, with Vernon, Alasdair Strokosch and Ross Rennie all selected ahead of him. For Vernon, there was simple relief and delight that 12 weeks of hard work and a few nights of worry were finally over and he was headed to New Zealand. "It's a great feeling that all the hard work that I've done has paid off,'' he said. "Obviously Saturday against Italy went pretty well, parts of the performance I was happy with and obviously Andy was happy with it as well, so it's great to go to New Zealand with that confidence and, as he said himself, it's all about getting in the first 15 now. "It's been a hard few weeks but we have a smaller squad now, it's going to be even more intense, especially when we get out there and all eyes are on us." Vernon got a cheeky text from his brother saying he couldn't believe he'd made the squad but family plans for the next few weeks might be changing. "My mum and dad were set for a holiday in America but there's talk of a change of plan now. They're obviously all delighted for me." Vernon does feel for his friend Beattie, with whom he shared a flat when they were both with Glasgow up until this summer. "It is really hard for him. It was a similar situation at the last World Cup and he's been so unfortunate because in the past four years he's put together some exceptional performances for Scotland. "The shoulder injury has made it hard to recapture that form but I know he'll be back again representing Scotland and that he'll go back to Glasgow and put everything in there." Robinson singled out Beattie and Greig Laidlaw as two players who nearly made the cut but said it was the consistency of the five back rowers he selected that had won the day. "I was only picking five back rows and the combinations I was looking at, plus the consistency, is why I've gone for those choices and I told Johnnie that," said the head coach. "In the end we were down to one selection and the pace of Richie can really add to our game as long as he's getting himself in the game which we saw at the weekend. Richie is maturing as a player and he got involved where we needed him." The coach hinted that Nikki Walker, who damaged knee ligaments in the final warm-up game against Italy, would have made the cut ahead of Simon Danielli had he not been ruled out of the tournament.


Dundee school football team crowned national champions

May 11 2017

A Dundee school football team is celebrating after being crowned national champions. Fintry Primary School won the National Junior 7s, which is for pupils in primary 6 and under. They had qualified for the SFA's playoff competition, the National Final Festival, held in Glasgow, alongside seven other schools. There they beat Nether Vernon PS (Stewarton) 1-0, before sweeping aside Mount Vernon PS (Glasgow) 3-0, and staging a remarkable comeback against Burntisland PS (Fife) where they came back from being 2-0 down to win 3-2. In the final, they played Inverness side Lochardil PS, winning 2-0.


Glasgow 37 Edinburgh 34: Warriors’ bonus win sneds them second in PRO12

April 26 2014

Glasgow Warriors accomplished both their missions by retaining the 1872 Cup and going clear into second place in the Rabodirect PRO12 by beating Edinburgh in front of a record Scotstoun crowd. Two late tries from Tim Visser made it look closer than it was, but the Warriors had ticked off all their requirements with fully half an hour to play and the late scores were just a minor irritation. Full-back Peter Murchie scored two tries but the star turn was centre Mark Bennett, who made a try, scored another and perhaps crucially saved one midway through the first half when Edinburgh looked like they were about to gain ascendancy. Ruaridh Jackson and Rob Harley were Glasgow’s other try-scorers, but it was a careless defensive display in giving up four tries to Edinburgh. Visser’s brace, Matt Scott and Willem Nel scored for Edinburgh with Grieg Laidlaw a perfect six from six on his return from his sabbatical as the capital side left with two points but still no win in Glasgow since 2003. If there were any early derby nerves by the Warriors, they were dispelled by a shocking start by Edinburgh, who made a catalogue of errors helping the home side to an 11-0 advantage. Missed touches, dropped balls and silly penalties brought two strikes for Finn Russell and an unconverted try for Peter Murchie, the full-back twisting over from close range. Edinburgh quickly regathered themselves, making ground through strike weapons Matt Scott and Tim Visser, but it was prop Willem Nel in his 50th appearance who squirmed over at the corner, Laidlaw converting. And Edinburgh should have taken the lead when Scott again broke the line, his centre partner Andries Strauss only just forced into touch by a despairing try-saving tackle from Bennett. Laidlaw kicked a penalty for offside earlier in the move, but Edinburgh’s defence was pierced twice before the break with Bennett the constant threat. The young centre cut a great line off his left foot that only a high tackle from Izak Van Der Westhuizen could stop, but Ruaridh Jackson finished off the move by going over from close range. Laidlaw landed an easy penalty but before half-time the Warriors were rewarded for choosing the lineout over a kickable penalty and no-one could stop Bennett from scoring close to the posts. Russell’s conversion had Glasgow 23-13 ahead with three of the four tries needed and they thought they had it two minutes into the second half when Chris Fusaro got to the line, only for the TV official to spot an obstruction. The bonus try was only delayed momentarily, as the Glasgow forwards and backs put together a brilliant series of off-loads to take them from halfway to the Edinburgh line, and Murchie strolled over for his second try against the fractured defence, converted by Russell. Scott wrestled over for Edinburgh’s second try, converted by Laidlaw, but any Warrior worries of a comeback were ended when Rob Harley finished off replacement Richie Vernon’s break under the posts, Russell converting. Att 8855 Glasgow: P Murchie; S Maitland, M Bennett (R Vernon 72), F Russell, T Seymour; R Jackson (D Weir 77), C Cusiter (N Matawalu 61); R Grant (J Yanuyanutawa 77), D Hall (P MacArthur 50), J Welsh (M Low 61); J Gray, A Kellock (capt, L Nakarawa 61)); R Harley, C Fusaro (R Wilson 61), J Strauss. Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; T Brown, M Scott, A Strauss (S Beard 51), T Visser; C Bezuidenhout, G Laidlaw (capt); A Dickinson, R Ford (J Hilterbrand 77), W Nel; G Gilchrist, I Van Der Westhuizen (T Leonardi 51); M Coman (B Toolis 77), C Du Preez, D Denton. Ref: M Raynal (FFR)