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49ers beaten at own game as Giants road trip reaches Super Bowl

NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers 17 New York Giants 20 (OT)

There was to be no ‘Har-Bowl’ and no fairy-tale ending for the San Francisco 49ers and Alex Smith. A year after they finished a lowly 6-10 and the former number one overall pick was drummed out of town, Jim Harbaugh‘s revitalised team fell one step short of their first Super Bowl appearance in 17 years.

The New York Giants won on the road again, shutting down the 49ers’ offense for long periods and riding the boot of Lawrence Tynes to prevail 20-17 in overtime on a cold, wet evening at Candlestick Park. They will now play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis in a fortnight’s time, a repeat of the title game from four years ago, when the underdog Giants denied the Patriots what would have been only the second ‘perfect’ Super Bowl winning season.

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The week in numbers: w/e 22/1/12

Joe Paterno, RIP (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

85 – Age of Joe Paterno, former football head coach of Penn State University, who died after a short battle with lung cancer. Paterno won 409 games and two national championships in nearly 46 years as coach, but was sacked last November for his links to a child abuse scandal.

0 – Number of sets won by the five British players – Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Elena Baltacha, James Ward and Anne Keothavong – who competed on the first day of the Australian Open. They lost ten sets and all five matches between them.

3 – Former Chelsea and Leeds defender Michael Duberry scored an unusual hat-trick for current club Oxford United. He conceded two own goals to put visitors Hereford United 2-1 up at the Kassam Stadium, before snatching a last-minute equaliser to earn Oxford a point.

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The week in numbers: w/e 15/1/12

Yet another hat-trick for Messi (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

3Lionel Messi was awarded his third Ballon d’Or, becoming the fourth player (after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco Van Basten) to win three times. He is only the second man after Platini to do so in three consecutive years.

23Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed for 15 and 8 as Australia defeated India by an innings and 37 runs in the third Test in Perth to take a 3-0 lead in the four-match series. Tendulkar remains stuck on 99 international centuries and has now gone 23 innings without registering a ton.

69 – Australia’s David Warner needed just 69 balls to score his century in Perth, the fourth-fastest ton in Test history. Four of the seven fastest centuries have been scored at the WACA. He finished with a total of 180 off 159 deliveries.

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The week in numbers: w/e 25/12/11

Cavendish added the BBC SPotY award to his green and rainbow jerseys (image courtesy of Wikipedia

2 – Mark Cavendish followed in the footsteps of Tom Simpson by becoming only the second road cyclist to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SpotY). Cavendish had already emulated the achievement of Simpson 46 years earlier as the only British riders to win a World Championship road race, and also became the first Briton to win the green jersey at the Tour de France in 2011.

49.47% – In winning SPotY, Cavendish received a staggering 49.47% of the total votes cast between the ten shortlisted finalists, four times as many as runner-up Darren Clarke.

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The week in numbers: w/e 20/11/11

O'Gara repeated his last-minute heroics (image courtesy of munsterrugby.ie)

2 – For the second successive week, Ronan O’Gara kicked a last-minute drop goal to earn Munster a victory in the Heineken Cup. This week his kick defeated Castres 27-24.

5Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 26 runs in a one-day international in Sharjah. They took Sri Lanka’s last seven wickets for just 19 runs as they collapsed from 155/3 to 174 all out. Shahid Afridi, who had top-scored for Pakistan with 75, ignited the run with a spell of 5/8 in 22 balls. He finished with 5/35.

43 – Huddersfield Town‘s 2-1 win over Notts County set a new Football League record of 43 consecutive games without defeat. Arsenal hold the record for all English leagues with their 49-game unbeaten run during 2004 and 2005.

80 – Age of Basil D’Oliveira, the South Africa-born former England test cricketer who died on Saturday. His inclusion in England’s planned tour of South Africa in 1968 resulted in the ‘D’Oliveira Affair’, which led to South Africa’s expulsion from international cricket under the apartheid regime. He played 44 times for England, scoring five centuries and averaging 40 with the bat. He also took 47 wickets.

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