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Top 100 sporting moments of 2023: 70-61

Sports Mole counts down the 100 greatest sporting moments of 2023, continuing with numbers 70 to 61.

The year 2023 has been another hugely eventful one across sport, with countless records set, new ground broken and non-stop drama and controversy along the way.

From World Cups in rugby union, women's football, cricket and netball to rarely-seen feats in darts, formula 1 and MMA, the past year has contained thrills and spills to keep any sports fan entertained, regardless of what they are interested in.

GOATs have been crowned, sporting perfection has been achieved and a plethora of prestigious honours and trophies have been hoisted aloft.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the sizeable task of narrowing the last 365 days down to the 100 greatest sporting moments from across the spectrum, based on a ranking system which takes into account prestige, drama, history, newsworthiness, quality and importance.

So sit back and raise a glass to another historic year of sport with the conclusive list of the 100 greatest moments, continuing with numbers 70 to 61.

SPORTS MOLE'S TOP 100 SPORTING MOMENTS OF 2023

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1



70. Stuart Broad takes 600th Test wicket (July 19)

England bowler Stuart Broad celebrates taking his 600th Test wicket on July 19, 2023.© Reuters

Ever the man for the big occasion, particularly in The Ashes, Stuart Broad wrote his name firmly into the cricket history books on day one of the must-win fourth Test in July by taking his 600th Test wicket.

The pace bowler removed Travis Head for his second wicket of the day as England made inroads into the deep Australian batting lineup, bringing up the historic mark and joining an elite group of bowlers.

Broad became just the second fast bowler - after long-time teammate Jimmy Anderson - to reach 600 wickets in the long history of Test cricket, and just the fifth bowler overall, with Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble making up the list.

Perhaps even more fittingly for the ultimate Ashes competitor, the same wicket saw him move out on his own above Sir Ian Botham as the player with the most wickets against Australia in the history of Test cricket too.



69. Owen Farrell becomes England's record points-scorer (October 7)

England's Owen Farrell prepares to kick penalty on October 7, 2023© Reuters

England's World Cup-winning golden boy Jonny Wilkinson had sat at the top of his country's all-time scoring ranks for 22 years, but he was finally dethroned during the 2023 World Cup as Owen Farrell moved out on his own.

The captain went into their final group game against Samoa knowing that any score would lift him above Wilkinson, but he missed the first chance to do so when he sent a conversion wide.

Farrell would not have to wait too much longer, though, and in the 18th minute he knocked over a penalty to move on to 1,181 points from his 109 Tests, writing his name into England legend forever.

In leapfrogging Wilkinson, Farrell also moved second on the all-time list of points-scorers for their country, behind only New Zealand icon Dan Carter - although Wilkinson remained above him in the overall international list due to his haul for the British and Irish Lions.



68. Harry Kane becomes England's all-time leading scorer (March 23)

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for England on March 23, 2023© Reuters

From the moment he broke into senior football, Harry Kane has been a threat to the goalscoring records of Tottenham Hotspur, England and the Premier League, and he completed the second leg of that trio of landmarks by becoming England's leading scorer of all time in March.

The magic moment came from the penalty spot in Naples, with his successful spot kick taking him on to 54 senior goals for his country, moving out on his own ahead of Wayne Rooney's previous record tally, which he had held since 2015.

Remarkably, Kane reached 54 goals in just 81 appearances - 39 games fewer than it took Rooney to reach 53, further underlining the Tottenham talisman as one of the greatest strikers England has ever produced.

To make it even more special, the goal also proved to be the winner in the Three Lions' opening European Championship qualifier, sealing their first win away to Italy since 1961.



67. France humiliate England in 'Le Crunch' (March 11)

France celebrating a try against England during Six Nations fixture on March 11, 2023.© Reuters

There is no team France loves to beat more than England, and to do so at Twickenham is always an extra special day in French rugby.

It was something Les Bleus had not managed since 2005 when they made the trip across the Channel in March, and despite being ranked second in the world and clearly ahead of Steve Borthwick's side in their progression, there were not many signs that a record humiliation would occur on the penultimate matchday of the Six Nations.

Indeed, France trailed England on points difference in the table heading into the match, but the gulf in class became evident very early on when Thomas Ramos scored the first of seven tries after only two minutes.

Two apiece for Thibaud Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud ultimately saw France canter to a 53-10 win, condemning England to the heaviest home defeat in their 152-year history, and their third-biggest defeat ever home or away.

It was the first time England had ever lost two Six Nations home games in a single campaign, and France's joint-biggest Six Nations win, and they would not have picked any other venue at which to claim it.



66. Fowler, Schauffele equal best-ever round in a men's major (June 15)

Rickie Fowler during first round of US Open on June 15, 2023.© Reuters

In the long, long history of men's golfing majors, consisting of tens of thousands of rounds, only one man had ever carded a round of 62 - Branden Grace at The Open in 2017.

Remarkably, that figure of one in 163 years was trebled in the space of just 20 minutes in the opening round of the US Open in June as Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both carded the joint-best rounds in men's major history.

The American duo made light work of the usually-fierce reputation of the US Open, with Fowler posting 10 birdies and two bogeys, and Schauffele - following two groups behind - hitting eight birdies in a bogey-free round at Los Angeles Country Club.

A memorable opening round also included two hole-in-ones, with the average score across the field being the lowest for an opening round in the tournament's history.



65. St Helens stun Penrith to win World Club Challenge (February 18)

Not since 1994 had a Super League champion travelled to Australia to win the World Club Challenge, but the all-conquering St Helens achieved that rare feat in thrilling fashion in February.

Despite winning an unprecedented fourth successive Super League crown in 2022, they made the trip Down Under as underdogs against a star-studded Penrith Panthers side that themselves had won back-to-back NRL Grand Finals.

Saints largely dominated their Australian hosts, though, leading 10-0 at half time and extending that lead to 12 points before Penrith launched a fightback to level the scores.

St Helens missed two attempts at drop-goals which would have secured the win in normal time as the match entered a golden-point extra time, when Lewis Dodd made it third-time lucky to create history and spark scenes of jubilation amongst the travelling players.

In addition to ending almost 30 years of disappointment for Super League champions in Australia, the victory saw St Helens lift the trophy for the first time anywhere since 2007, and become the first English team to be crowned champions of the world since 2017.



64. Brian Harman wins The Open (July 23)

Brian Harman of the U.S. poses with the Claret Jug as he celebrates winning the 151st Open Championship on July 23, 2023© Reuters

As with so many majors in recent years, much of the talk prior to the 151st Open surrounded whether an in-form Rory McIlroy could end his drought and triumph at Royal Liverpool - the same venue he won the Claret Jug nine years earlier.

Plenty of other names were also included in the list of potential winners, but few mentioned American Brian Harman - a man ranked 26th in the world but with only two wins in his entire career, the most recent of which came in 2017.

However, Harman produced a four-day masterclass at Hoylake to scoop his first major title, eventually finishing on 13 under - a commanding six shots clear of his nearest challengers.

The best in the world could not compete with the 36-year-old's relentless consistency, with Harman only finding two bunkers, missing just one of his 60 putts from inside 10 feet and avoiding a single three-putt throughout the entire tournament.



63. Australia win classic opening Ashes Test (June 20)

Australia's Pat Cummins as England's Joe Root rues a missed chance in first Test on June 20, 2023.© Reuters

The 2023 Ashes series was the most eagerly anticipated for a generation, with England's revolutionary 'Bazball' approach coming up against the world's best team in Australia.

Many had tipped it to emulate the excitement of the legendary 2005 series, and the opening Test more than lived up to expectations with plenty of parallels between the two Edgbaston Tests 18 years apart.

England immediately set the tone for a remarkable battle when Zak Crawley hit a four on the very first ball and Ben Stokes then shocked everyone by declaring on 393-8, while Joe Root was still in on 118.

Australia posted 386 in response before England built a lead of 280 with a second-innings score of 273, setting up a mouth-watering final day to what had been an engrossing clash from start to finish.

True to form, momentum swung both ways on a rain-affected day five, but when Stokes brought himself in to claim the crucial wicket of Usman Khawaja, and Root then caught and bowled Alex Carey, England were well and truly in the driving seat.

However, Australia skipper Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon stood firm with a 55-run stand to see the tourists over the line, winning by two wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the series.



62. Wigan Warriors win Super League Grand Final (October 14)

One of the great names of rugby league, Wigan Warriors restored their place at the top of the English game for the first time since 2018 with victory in October's Grand Final against Catalans Dragons.

The French side were bidding to take the Super League trophy off English shores for the first time ever - having already become the first overseas club to win the Challenge Cup and League Leaders' Shield in previous years - while their talisman Sam Tomkins was eyeing up a fairytale ending to his illustrious career against his hometown club, whom he helped to three Super League titles.

Wigan spoiled both parties, though, coming out on top 10-2 at Old Trafford following a nail-biting contest that saw just one try - scored by Liam Marshall - between the two sides.

The Warriors' defence was unflinching throughout and provided the foundation for their sixth Super League Grand Final triumph as Catalans were forced to settle for another near miss in their bid for history.



61. Saracens beat Sale to win Gallagher Premiership (May 27)

Saracens' Owen Farrell lifts the trophy as they win the Premiership on May 27, 2023© Reuters

The Gallagher Premiership's best two teams of 2022-23 met in the final at Twickenham when Saracens took on Sale in May, with Saracens looking to be crowned champions for the first time since 2018-19 and Sale bidding to win only their second-ever title.

A topsy-turvy encounter saw Sale more than hold their own for much of the contest, but Sarries showed their superior trophy-winning expertise to move clear in the final 15 minutes.

Quickfire tries from Elliot Daly and Ivan van Zyl took the game away from Sale, with Saracens eventually running out 35-25 winners at Rugby HQ.

The victory saw Saracens banish the memories of last year's Premiership final, when they were beaten by a last-minute drop goal, and also saw them join Bath and Wasps on six titles overall, with only Leicester Tigers having now won more in the competition's history.



Read more of the countdown here

Top sporting moments of 2023: 100-91
Top sporting moments of 2023: 90-81
Top sporting moments of 2023: 80-71
Top sporting moments of 2023: 60-51
Top sporting moments of 2023: 50-41
Top sporting moments of 2023: 40-31
Top sporting moments of 2023: 30-21
Top sporting moments of 2023: 20-11
Top sporting moments of 2023: 10-1


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