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Friday's Sport: Championship clash tops the Friday bill

Friday sees action from a number of sports to follow, including Championship football, World Championship darts and games from both the European Champions and Challenge Cups in rugby union.

The Championship fixture on offer sees Birmingham City play host to Reading, while topping the bill at the Ally Pally is two-time beaten finalist Michael Smith, who finally broke his Major hoodoo by winning the Grand Slam of Darts earlier this year.

There is also action at the English Open snooker in Brentwood, horse racing which has beaten the weather to follow on our Sports Live Streaming platform and the Mauritius Open golf to keep tabs on with the bet365 Live Golf Tracker.

Championship: Blues aim to move level with Royals

What: Birmingham City v Reading
Where: St Andrew's, Birmingham
When: 20:00, Friday 16th December
How to watch: Sky Sports Football
Odds: Birmingham 23/20, Draw 21/10, Reading 11/4

Both Birmingham City and Reading were expected to be down among the strugglers in the Championship this season, but both are performing to performing to a higher level than that currently.

Indeed, should the Royals take all three points on Friday evening they will move into the play-off places ahead of the rest of the weekend action, while a home win would see the Blues move above their visitors on goal difference.

However, City could well be without leading scorer Scott Hogan due to injury, with the former Brentford striker having netted four goals in his last seven games.

Last season Reading won both meetings of these two sides by 2-1 scorelines, while two seasons ago it was the Blues who won out 2-1 in both clashes in the Championship.

Another 2-1 victory for Birmingham on Friday evening is priced at 17/2.

Darts: 'Bully Boy' enters the fray

What: World Darts Championship, Day Two
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: From 12.30, Friday December 16th 2022
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event & Arena
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 5/2, Gerwyn Price 6/1, Michael Smith 15/2, Peter Wright 10/1, Luke Humphries 14/1

Michael Smith already has plenty of pedigree at the World Darts Championship, but this time around he enters the tournament, finally, with a Major title to his name.

Smith lost in the Ally Pally final in both 2022 and 2019, being beaten by Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen respectively, while in nine other appearances he has only reached the quarter-finals once.

However, having finally ended a run of eight Major final defeats by seeing off Nathan Aspinall 16-5 in the final of the Grand Slam of Darts last month, many expect Smith to make his strongest challenge yet for a world title.

He opens up on Friday evening against Nathan Rafferty, who edged out Jermaine Wattimena 3-2 in their first-round clash, having had an operation to remove his appendix exactly a week ago.

Smith has won all three of his previous meetings with Rafferty, two of which came earlier this year, and he is 1/8 to safely progress through the the third round.

Rugby Union: Gloucester face toughest test

What: Leinster v Gloucester
Where: RDS, Dublin
When: 20:00, Friday 16th December 2022
How to watch: BT Sport 1
Odds: Leinster 1/33, Gloucester 10/1

There are fewer tougher assignments in club rugby than a trip to Dublin to take on Leinster and that is what faces Gloucester on Friday evening.

The hosts began their Champions Cup campaign with a 42-10 victory away at Racing Metro, while a perfect record in the United Rugby Championship shows just how strong the Irishmen are this season.

The Cherry & Whites opened their European adventure with a narrow 22-17 victory over Bordeaux Begles at Kingsholm, while they have won five and lost four to lie in fourth place in the Gallagher Premiership.

Gloucester boss George Skivington has made no fewer than 13 changes to the XV who began the win against Bordeaux, with Billy Twelvetrees partnering Giorgi Kveseladze in the centres and Ben Meehan captaining from scrum-half.

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