Daily horoscopes: Saturday, May 18

Read Alison Moroney’s daily stars for Saturday, May 18, 2013.ARIES: You’re a touch confused about some aspect of your life during Saturday and Sunday, paralysing action. It’s good to stop and think about the problems at hand.
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TAURUS: Taurus has doubts about something they are striving to attain during May 18, 19: a financial vulnerability exists or there is a weak link in a chain of communication or line of thought.

GEMINI:Gemini natives tend to stumble as they climb that career ladder during May 18, 19, so youneed to ensure you fully comprehend any situation you are about to tackle: place yourself in context.

CANCER: Information you are receiving may well be misleading during May 18, 19, even if it seems to come from an authoritative source. All people make mistakes so, if in doubt, double check.

LEO: You need to make yourself fully aware of the fine print in any policies you hold as they may well be problematic during May 18, 19: the same goes for any financial communications.

VIRGO: With your eyes set on something personally important to you, it is possible that misunderstandings could arise between yourself and your partner during May 18, 19: don’t make assumptions.

LIBRA: A vulnerability exists in the Libran constitution during May 18, 19, so try avoiding excessive use of alcohol, cigarettes and other toxins; minimise exposure to contagions.

SCORPIO: Uncertainty associated with a child or romance can raise anxiety levels during May 18, 19. It’s important to make sure of your facts then and keep track of children.

SAGITTARIUS: It seems that misunderstandings disturb domestic quietude during May 18, 19. Sagittarius needs to clarify plans and ideas with other family members.

CAPRICORN: Don’t believe all you read and hear during May 18, 19, as there is an element of fantasy or illusion around it. Situations need to be put into perspective.

AQUARIUS: Flawed communications tend to give rise to misunderstandings over money during May 18, 19. Take the time to clarify important details, for losses may occur otherwise.

PISCES: Piscean individuals are prone to flights of fantasy making it difficult, sometimes, for others to reach you. Such a situation arises during May 18, 19: come down to earth.

LUCKY NUMBERS: Aries: 1, 3, 4, 9; Taurus: 5, 8; Gemini: 6, 7; Cancer: 3, 4, 7, 9; Leo: 1, 3, 4, 9; Virgo: 6, 8; Libra: 5, 7; Scorpio: 2, 3, 7, 9; Sagittarius: 1, 3, 4, 9; Capricorn: 5, 6; Aquarius: 5, 6; Pisces: 2, 4, 7.

Inside Berlusconi’s bunga bunga parties

Berlusconi_HPL_2Silvio Berlusconi’s private disco featured not only aspiring showgirls performing striptease acts as sexy nuns and nurses, but one woman dressed up as President Barack Obama and a prominent Milan prosecutor whom the billionaire media mogul has accused of persecuting him, according to the first public sworn testimony by the Moroccan woman at the center of the scandal.
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Karima el-Mahroug’s testimony Friday (local time) at the trial of three former Berlusconi aides accused with procuring her and other women for prostitution confirms a sexually charged atmosphere at the “bunga bunga” parties of the then-sitting premier.

The trial is separate from the one in which Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with a minor – el-Mahroug when she was 17 – and trying to cover it up.

El-Mahroug, now 20, said she attended about a half-dozen parties, using her nickname Ruby, and that after each, Berlusconi handed her an envelope with up to 3,000 euros (NZ$4775)  in denominations of 500. She said she later received 30,000 euros cash from the then-premier paid through an intermediary – money that she told Berlusconi she wanted to use to open a beautician salon despite having no formal training.

But she denied that Berlusconi had ever given her 5 million euros ($6.43 million). She said she told acquaintances and even her father that she was going to receive such a large sum “as a boast,” but that it was a lie to make her seem more important.

The three Berlusconi aides – Emilio Fede, an executive in Berlusconi’s media empire; Nicole Minetti, a former dental hygienist, showgirl and local politician, and talent agent Dario “Lele” Mora – are accused of recruiting women for prostitution at the parties and abetting prostitution, including of a minor. They deny the charges.

El-Mahroug has made carefully orchestrated statements to the media since the scandal broke, but has never publicly given sworn testimony. Both she and Berlusconi deny having had sex.

Dressed soberly with her hair pulled back, El-Mahroug said she first made contact with Berlusconi’s inner circle when she participated in a beauty contest organized by Fede in Sicily when she was 16.

After that she made her way to Milan, hoping to find work. She said she tried to get work through another defendant’s talent agency but didn’t have proper identity documents, and wound up landing a job as a hostess in nightclubs, earning around 100 euros a night.

She frequently changed accommodation during that time, staying for periods of days with people whose names she no longer recalls.

Eventually, she ran into Fede at a restaurant, where she reminded him of his promise in Sicily to help her. Shortly thereafter, she was invited to a dinner party, at Berlusconi’s villa outside of Milan.

She testified that she met the premier that night – on Valentine’s Day in 2010 – and that he gave her an envelope of 2,000 to 3,000 euros ($2,600 to $3,900) as she was leaving, saying it was “a little help” and asking for her telephone number, which she gave him. Ad Feedback

At that party, she said, she introduced herself as Ruby and told other guests a fake tale that she was Egyptian, that her mother was a famous Arab singer and that she was related to then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. She was 17 at the time but had passed herself off as being 23 or 24.

El-Mahroug confirmed Friday what other witnesses have testified previously: that at some of the soirees, young female party guests had dressed up like nuns and danced for Berlusconi and then stripped down to their underwear.

The parties took place in a disco in Berlusconi’s villa equipped with a lap dance pole. El-Mahroug told the court that there was sometimes a singer who is close to Berlusconi at the parties, but most of the guests were young women. While she went home in a taxi alone the first night, other times, she testified, she slept in a guest room by herself. Since she only had the dress she was wearing, she was given a track suit in the morning to have breakfast, and sometimes stayed for lunch, leaving in the late afternoon.

El-Mahroug said Minetti, one of the defendants, had dressed up like a nun at that February 14 party and lifted her costume to show off her legs as she danced in Berlusconi’s in-house disco. El-Mahroug demonstrated from her seat how Minetti had raised her hemline. She said Minetti eventually took off her costume and was in just her lingerie.

She said another young woman dressed up alternately as Obama or a Milan magistrate who is leading the prosecution against Berlusconi in the sex scandal, donning a red wig and the black robes worn by magistrates in Italy.

“The girls who were dressed in costumes approached him in a sensual way as they danced. They raised their skirts,” El-Mahroug testified. She added: “I never saw contact.”

On the stand, El-Mahroug denied ever having acted as a prostitute, and repeated her denials that she ever had sex with Berlusconi.

However, when the presiding judge pressed her on wiretaps in which she appears to be referring to acts of prostitution, she said that her statements then were just “stupid things.” It was the same phrase she used to explain away her statements that she was about to receive 5 million euros from the then-premier.

At one point, the judge admonished her that she was testifying at a trial aimed at ascertaining the facts, not appearing on a televised interview, when she appeared to criticise prosecutors, then backed down.

Prosecutors in Berlusconi’s separate trial have said El-Mahroug’s testimony is unreliable and are relying on her sworn statements. The defence had initially called her as a witness, but then changed its strategy and didn’t call her. That trial is nearing a verdict and will reconvene May 24.

– AP

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New car review: Honda CR-Z

On the surface, Honda’s latest CR-Z coupe seems like a masterstroke, combining the performance of a sports car with the efficiency of a hybrid.
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Add to that an arsenal of accessories befitting a luxury vehicle and a price tag of less than $40,000, and you should be onto a winner. And a worthy successor to sporty Honda predecessors including the NSX, S2000, Integra and Prelude.

Unfortunately for Honda the latest iteration CR-Z has efficiency and sportiness in the wrong doses.

Honda recently streamlined the CR-Z range to just one luxury model. At $38,490 plus on-roads ($40,790 in automatic), the CR-Z is more expensive than a Toyota 86, Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

As before, the two-door CR-Z gets a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, combined with a lithium ion battery. Honda engineers have extracted some extra performance from the teaming, boosting power to a combined petrol-electric output of 99kW and 190Nm in automatic form. The CR-Z comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or CVT auto. We drove the latter, fitted with paddle shifters for increased driver involvement.

From the outside, the CR-Z lives up to Honda’s sporty past. There’s a striking resemblance to the 1980s CR-X, from which it takes its styling inspiration. A prominent grille and LED lights punctuate the car’s swoopy and slightly revised front end, with a sharply tapered rear and two-tone 17-inch wheels complementing the aggressive stance. Owners won’t appreciate the CR-Z’s extra-long driver and passenger doors in tight spaces, though.

Inside, the CR-Z’s cabin is very much focused on the driver, with a cockpit feel to the instrument panel and a driving position that is low and laid-back, with white-stitched leather front seats. The instrument read-out is a highlight, changing colour depending on the driving mode you choose. Hit the Eco button and it turns green, go to sport and it glows red. The only let-down is an abundance of hard plastic on the dash and doors.

By comparison, the cloth-trim seats in the rear are virtually redundant and are among the worst for practicality in the new-car market. Teens would struggle to squeeze into the rear pew because of negligible leg room and the sharply tapered roofline, and even little ones will feel claustrophobic. Honda has fitted the CR-Z with two anchor points for a baby capsule, but they’re virtually useless because of the poor layout. The shallow 225-litre boot (despite getting a tyre inflation kit instead of spare to conserve space) is hard to access, while the two-piece rear glass makes rear vision a chore.

Driving through Sydney’s outskirts, the 1199-kilogram CR-Z felt surprisingly agile, but only when it was fixed to Sport mode. A new Plus Sport (S+) button supposedly provides further engine and electric motor assist power, but the gains felt negligible. Switching from Sport mode to the Normal and ECON mode, the CR-Z turned its hand to efficiency, dimming power and handling characteristics to more docile levels. Honda claims fuel usage figures of 5.0L/100km; our reading was closer to 7.0L/100km in a mix of driving.

The CR-Z’s engine is helped along by a fairly adept, albeit buzzy, CVT gearbox. The combination, while undernourished, worked well enough. The CR-Z works its way up to 100km/h in circa-10 seconds and, once there, springs no nasty surprises with road and engine noise.

The steering in the CR-Z is razor sharp, accurate and well-weighted, giving terrific feedback through turns. Impressively, the car suffered very little front-end scrub, though the Michelin tyres tended to lose grip in the rear fairly easily with enthusiastic driving.

As a result of the sporty steer, the CR-Z tended towards firm in its handling, bouncing over all but the smallest of bumps and even crashing in the rear over larger obstacles. Tyre noise is also intrusive.

The CR-Z is fitted with a swag of fruit to match the $40,000 price tag, including sat-nav, reversing camera, DVD player, auto-stop function, Bluetooth phone audio streaming, a six-speaker stereo, USB connectivity, climate control and sun-roof.

The CR-Z gets a five-star safety rating (six airbags, stability control) and a three-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty, but isn’t offered in Australia with capped price servicing.

There is plenty of merit in combining performance with hybrid efficiency. But unfortunately for Honda, the CR-Z is neither overtly sporty or impressively efficient.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Boilover: Bombers fall hard

Brendon Goddard Desperately trying to hang on … Pearce Hanley is tackled by Essendon’s Mark Baguley. Photo: Pat Scala
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BRISBANE LIONS 3.4 6.5 11.7 14.12 (96) ESSENDON 3.1 7.6 10.9 12.14 (86) GOALS Brisbane: Zorko 3, Brown 2, Raines, Moloney, Staker, Lisle, Polkinghorne, Redden, Leuenberger, Hanley, Black. Essendon: Heppell 2, Crameri 2, Bellchambers 2, Howlett, Myers, Kavanagh, Hocking, Watson, Ryder. BEST Brisbane: Zorko, Brown, Merrett, Hanley, Golby. Essendon: Heppell, Goddard, Hibberd, Hooker, Hocking, Watson. INJURIES Essendon: Hurley (concussion). UMPIRES Wenn, Pannell, Fisher. CROWD: 33,915 at Etihad Stadium.

Two statistics best sum up the Brisbane Lions’ stunning 10-point upset of Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. One is that the team sitting 15th on the AFL ladder somehow managed to defeat one in second spot. The other is that the lead in this gripping, highly entertaining game changed on no fewer than 18 occasions.

This was one of the best games of the season to date, but perhaps even more so because it was so unexpected. Sure, Brisbane had rediscovered some competitiveness and Essendon had lost, but this was supposed to be all about the Bombers getting back on track against a team that had won just once in its past nine visits to the venue and lost both games there this year by more than 10 goals.

But you knew this wasn’t going to be all one-way traffic within 10 minutes. In fact, you could have argued a convincing case at that moment that if this game was indeed going to be one-sided, it would be Brisbane dominating. The Lions certainly had to that point. Incredibly, by then, Essendon hadn’t had a single inside-50 entry. Brisbane had had nine and scored two goals from them, both to livewire Dayne Zorko.

The first came after Bomber skipper Jobe Watson got a little too cute for his own good, dummying a handball inside his defensive 50, Zorko smothering and pouncing on the spoils. The second was a classy right-foot snap. With a Jonathan Brown poster and another behind, Brisbane was 14 points up and looking good.

The Lions had been on the angry pills, too. Daniel Merrett slammed Michael Hurley in a sling tackle, forcing the Bomber forward off the ground, and eventually to be substituted out of the game. Only a couple of minutes after that, young Lion Justin Clarke, playing only his fourth game, came in even later than the Metro timetable on Elliott Kavanagh, conceding a 50-metre penalty and the Dons’ first goal.

This was feisty stuff, and it seemed to spur the Bombers into action. Essendon proceeded to take control at ground level, if not on the scoreboard, enjoying the next seven inside 50s before David Myers converted some of that dominance with a thumping left-foot goal from beyond 55 metres. But from that moment, until half-time, these two teams were pretty hard to split, going virtually goal for goal.

Brown gave the Lions a little breathing space, Tom Bellchambers promptly closed it. Kavanagh put the Dons in front, Matthew Leuenberger snapped a response. Dyson Heppell, one of the Dons’ best, snapped off one step. Jack Redden clawed it back with a goal from a free kick and 50-metre penalty. Bellchambers kicked a second from a tight angle, and veteran Simon Black, having a big influence, had no trouble popping one through after a clever pass from the impressive Ryan Lester.

Stewart Crameri’s snap just on half-time for Essendon made it seven lead changes. But by the final change that had become 14, Brisbane determined to make its clearly greater levels of commitment count for something a lot more substantial than just honour. Essendon had key midfielders David Zaharakis and Brent Stanton subdued and even skipper Watson a little quieter than usual early, and by the time the urgency of the situation appeared to dawn on the Bombers, they were up against a side just as confident it could prevail in the end.

Essendon began hammering the goals, but the Lions defence was superb, Joel Patfull and Merrett resilient, Mitch Golby tough and productive when opposed to either Zaharakis or Jason Winderlich. Essendon finished the game with 61 inside 50s for 26 scores, the Lions went in just 39 times for the same number. At one stage in the third term, they’d had five entries for four goals.

There was controversy when Brown converted a mark that had appeared to be taken over the goal line, Ben Howlett pounced on a bungled kick-in from Jed Adcock, but the lead changed hands for a final time when Zorko, reprising his dynamic start, put Brisbane in front again after a rare turnover from Bomber defender Michael Hibberd.

And the exclamation mark was a beauty, a set shot from Brent Staker from just inside the 50, hard up on the boundary line, with less than a minute to play. It was only the second time in the entire game one side had led by a double-figure margin. And the closeness will have Essendon rueing a lost chance. But the Brisbane the Bombers met on Saturday was a far tougher proposition than the one they expected to be taking on. And the price paid for the underestimation was fair enough.


With their season on the line, the Lions chased the ball – and man – with vigour, as shown when Dayne Zorko booted the opening two goals of the match. The first came after Zorko smothered a Watson kick at half-back, collected the loose ball and ran into goal; the second after he scooped up a loose ball as the result of pressure in the forward pocket. The Lions had been slow starters this season.


The Bombers were forced to reshuffle their forward line when Michael Hurley (concussion) was forced off. This prompted James Hird to use Tom Bellchambers, his premier ruckman, predominantly as a key forward, alongside his best ball winner, Jobe Watson, through the first half. This seemed an odd move considering the contest was tight and there had been few smooth passages to goal. Hird changed tactics in the third term and shifted the pair into the middle. Watson helped the Bombers to a staggering 41-19 advantage in clearances by three-quarter-time.


Leigh Matthews maintains he has no interest in joining the Lions’ board as a director – despite repeated entreaties – or eventually becoming chairman. ”I haven’t had the motivation, I am away all the time,” he said. The Lions need someone of Matthews’ stature on their board to help impart football knowledge, and to help sell the club. What concerns the club’s triple-premiership mentor is that few leading business types in Brisbane want to join the board, unlike in Melbourne where all clubs generally have a long list of candidates. ”The Lions are struggling to get people to put their hands up. It’s not the AFL heartland,” he said on 3AW. – JON PIERIK

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It’s not just a league of extraordinary gentlemen

Passionate: Manly captain Jamie Lyon with Layne Beachley. Photo: James AlcockStanding on a beach in France in 2003, I was asked by a group of male surfers to stand aside because the waves were ”too good to be wasted on the girls”. This didn’t shock me – I’d had this attitude thrown at me throughout my career and many women in all sporting codes have encountered the same sentiment.
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As a tragic Manly Sea Eagles fan, I’ve loved rugby league my whole life. Alongside surfing, it’s one of my biggest passions, and as we are in the midst of the seventh annual Harvey Norman Women in League round, it felt timely to speak to the thousands of young women who play the game and hope to represent their country.

There were times in surfing where I simply wanted to quit. It was too difficult, the divide between men and women in the sport too stark. In 1997, I sat down with my trainer Rob Rowland-Smith, who I count as one of my closest mentors, and waved the white flag. I wanted out. Rob asked me two things – how much are you investing in this, and how much do you want out of it? If these two elements weren’t equal, it was never going to work. Finally, he told me if I were to walk away, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I still carry Rob’s pep talk with me, and it’s his message I’d like to share with the women of rugby league.

The Jillaroos, Australia’s women’s rugby league team, are in for a massive year in 2013. They head to the UK in July for the World Cup in what will be their fourth international competition. I met three of the ladies in the squad earlier this week. One of them, Ruan Sims, has three brothers playing in the NRL – Ashton, Tariq and Korbin. Now this is a family born to play league. Ruan will play for Australia this year, something her brothers are yet to achieve. Her story is one of many emerging in women’s rugby league – they can play this game, they can be as successful as the Kangaroos.

For the first time this year, the Australian Women’s Rugby League will be integrated under the governance of the Australian Rugby League Commission and the changes are already being felt. The Jillaroos received funding from the ARLC for their World Cup campaign this year, and coming from someone who worked 60 hours a week to fund my place on the professional surfing tour, this is a huge support for the talented women.

With the Women in League round, we see NRL clubs across the nation turn pink with jerseys and socks and boots, all auctioned off for charity. Many cry this round is tokenistic; it’s all lip service and no action. But sitting on the panel of the annual Women in League lunch in Sydney earlier this week, I saw first-hand the groundswell of support the NRL has for women in the game, from players to the board room. I spoke with NRL CEO Dave Smith, who addressed a room of 200 women and outlined ambitious plans to ”add more women to boards and create more pathways for women in the game … see female CEOs and more female coaches and referees rising through the ranks”.

There is a healthy base of women’s engagement – female participation is at record levels, 41 per cent of fans are female and the number of women in senior executive and board positions has increased to 19 (almost double what it was two years ago with 10 in 2011). As women, we all stand on the shoulders of giants, on the shoulders of those women who paved the way for us to fulfil stronger and more senior positions among our male counterparts. I encourage today’s female players to use the platform the NRL is offering them and take it to the next level, not just for themselves but for the next generation of girls aspiring to make league their game. It’s great to have the support from the top levels of the game, in fact, as someone who has worked their way through a male dominated sport I believe it’s critical.

But if there’s one message I have for the women rising through the ranks it’s to keep that momentum going. Keep agitating for change and better sponsorship deals. It’s up to you to use this support and drive it forward. Prove to yourself and to the fans of league this wave is one you deserve to be on.

And as for those waves back in France in 2003, we stood our ground, won the fight and the boys were astonished by how well we surfed. Amazing what good waves can do for you.

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Students send message to rivals by toppling Southern

Sydney University signalled a warning to their Shute Shield rivals after inflicting Southern Districts’ first loss of the season in a thrilling game at Forshaw Park on Saturday.
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In a rematch of last season’s grand final, University’s dogged defence proved the difference, limiting the Rebels with a brutal lesson in tackling and determined forward play.

The line-ups differed significantly from those which contested last season’s decider with Southern Districts fielding nine from that game and Sydney University five players in the highly anticipated match.

The quality was plain to see as Waratahs stars Ben Volavola, Lopeti Timani, Jed Holloway and Grayson Hart started for Southern with Tom Carter, Michael Hodge and Tom Kingston on the field for University.

The first half was characterised by University’s defence, which was able to contain the dangerous Southern back line by slowing the ball down at the breakdown. By containing the pace at which Southern spread the ball, their back line was able to set itself and deal with their rivals’ use of the ball.

University crossed the line first with some typical forward play. The Students’ rolling maul laid the platform for a try by prop Sam Talakai.

Both teams lost key players in University second-rower Sam Jefferies and Southern’s inside-centre Apo Latunipulu, both leaving the field with knee injuries.

But Southern were able to enter the sheds trailing 8-10 after Alex Gibbon crossed the line in the corner following good hands from Volavola and Rohan Saifoloi.

The Students continued to dominate after the break, through their disciplined defence. They then caught the tiring Rebels defence off-guard as winger Greg Jeloudev streaked away to score, opening up a 10-point margin.

The Students let Southern back into the match in the final 10 minutes after captain Tim Davidson was yellow-carded for committing a professional foul.

But despite conceding a brilliant second try to Gibbon in the final moments, University showed more defensive grit to see off the table-topping Rebels by five points.

Both teams had several chances to win the match but it was the defensive qualities of Uni which proved decisive in the end.

In other matches, Warringah succumbed to West Harbour 46-40, Manly accounted for Penrith 44-29, Randwick overcame Norths 39-20, Easts outlasted Parramatta 40-31 and Eastwood outscored Gordon 49-22 in what was a very high-scoring day all round.

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Dugan’s Dragons debut a pearler

Dream debut: Josh Dugan ran in two tries. Photo: Adam McLean Nathan Fien spreads the ball. Photo: Adam McLean
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Josh Dugan Photo: Adam McLean


Forget just rescuing his new club’s season, if Josh Dugan’s form on his Dragons debut is any indication, he may be the man to end Queensland’s Origin dominance and says he is ready if called upon next month.

While it is highly unlikely he’ll play in State of Origin I, Dugan could be selected should NSW falter in the series opener after starring for St George Illawarra in their win against Parramatta in Wollongong on Saturday night. He scored two tries, carried the ball in a strong fashion and attacked from fullback, adding an extra dimension to a once-stagnant Dragons attack. His counterpart Jarryd Hayne was superb, too, denying Dugan a try with a lifting tackle just short of the line, and ending another Dugan 40-metre charge from a kick return. Either way, if their form continues, NSW coach Laurie Daley will have to find a spot for both.

”If my name got tossed up I’d grab it with both hands,” Dugan said. ”I would like to think that I’d warrant it. I thought my fitness would be a bit underdone. I’ve had a whole week to learn [the structure] as I went. Our trainings went a bit longer to help me out. I’m very appreciative of it.”

By the time Dugan touched the ball his new side had already scored a try thanks to good footwork by lock Trent Merrin. He had to wait until the 10th minute for his first carry of the Steeden and got on the outside of the Eels’ defence after a wide shift attacking Parramatta’s line, only to lose the ball as he drifted towards the touch line.

”I’m looking to improve and get back in the groove of things,” Dugan said. ”I was a bit nervous for the first 10 minutes trying to get my hands on the ball.”

But from there his touches and game involvement improved in between short stints on the wing, running for a game-high 202 metres. His coach Steve Price said there was still plenty of improvement left in his star acquisition.

”He is a winner,” Price said. ”He has played Origin and he fitted in really well. He is a great communicator and he is steering the guys around. He will get better as the players around him understand his strengths and weaknesses.”

The Eels struggled with poor discipline and their right-hand edge failed to contain a rampant St George Illawarra attack. The Dragons’ first four tries all came on that side of the field as the hosts targeted one of the most inexperienced edges in the NRL. The trio of Kelepi Tanginoa, Api Pewhairangi and Vai Toutai are all first-year debutants, while Chris Sandow – a natural attacking player – offered little resistance to a running Jamie Soward, who returned to form to torment the Eels’ defence.

Following Merrin’s early try, the Dragons struck three more times before the break through Ben Creagh and Daniel Vidot with the latter two tries scored in almost identical formations. Vidot bagged his second three minutes before half-time to gift his side a 20-0 lead.

While the Dragons were flimsy at times in the middle, the Eels failed to capitalise on multiple good situations. Eventually the middle opened, handing the Eels two tries.

When the Dragons’ defence fires, their attack follows. In three of their four wins this season they’ve completed a first half shut-out.

The Eels will be without Tanginoa who sustained a suspected broken hand. Coach Ricky Stuart was critical of where the game is headed.

”Daniel Anderson and his little rules committee wanted to speed up the ruck,” Stuart said. ”[It was a] tough game of touch football.

”The first 25-30 minutes was frustrating. We lost the game there.”

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ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 32 (J Dugan 2 D Vidot 2 B Creagh T Merrin tries J Soward 4 goals) bt PARRAMATTA 12 (P Terepo 2 tries C Sandow 2 goals) at WIN Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 17,458.

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Matthew Burke: Lions taming needs muscle – here are my tips

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the series against the British and Irish Lions in 2001 was the speed of play and physicality. We were shell-shocked walking into the sheds after losing the first Test in Brisbane. To put it simply, we were out-muscled.
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We Wallabies had to ask some serious questions about how we could get tougher in a week. We knew we had the skill to deliver something that would stress the Lions, but it came down to being able to dominate your opposite number, especially in the forwards. The coming series will be no different as size will be a factor. Here are the forwards I’d call up to wear the gold jersey.

Tight-head prop: James Slipper. If you are looking for the combination of a solid scrummager and mobility, Slipper has all the necessary attributes. He has shown at the Reds he can get into a position of support to the ball players.

Hooker: Stephen Moore. It’s all about experience and Moore has that mantle sewn up with 76 caps to his name. He will face a wily front row that will use all the tricks of the north to unsettle the Wallabies pack. His ball running is a feature of his game and he will pop up in support.

Loose-head prop Benn Robinson. Coming into some good form after an indifferent start to the Waratahs’ season. He’s not only an accomplished scrummager but very solid in defence. Mobility is one of his best attributes and he often steals the opposition ball at the breakdown. As a replacement Ben Alexander would be vital as he can play loose- and tight-head.

Second-rowers: James Horwill. Perhaps some time on the sidelines through injury has given him a new lease of life. The skipper cuts an imposing figure and players follow his actions. His physical presence will be enough to match the Lions and continues the theme of size throughout this pack. Sitaleki Timani. Included for his pure size and physicality – sometimes you just need a bloke who is going to be intimidating. His intensity at the breakdown and his defence will be felt for 60 minutes, then he can rest. Step up Hugh McMeniman, otherwise known as ”Madness”. He is overcoming a shoulder injury but before that, he was proving his worth at the Force in his ball carries and lineout ability.

Blindside breakaway: Dave Dennis. An impressive man on the field who came of age last season and was rewarded with his first Wallabies jersey. Captaining the Waratahs has brought a new sense of awareness without reducing his aggression.

Openside breakaway: Michael Hooper. Have to go with the youth call here. If we remember back in 2001, George Smith was the baby assassin of the Wallabies and no doubt Hooper would be able to handle the pressure of coming up against Lions captain Sam Warburton. He played incredibly well last season in the absence of David Pocock, and has relished the role as the scavenger at the Waratahs. Smith has to be in the 23 for his experience alone, not to mention how effective his play has been since he took up a contract with the Brumbies. Fotu Auelua is my bolter. Playing a supersub role is simple – smash the opposition whenever possible. His ball carrying has been top class and his effectiveness at the breakdown and in defence has left players reeling.

No.8: Scott Higginbotham. Big, dynamic and fast, exactly what the Wallabies need. He has been imposing in a Rebels side that has been dominated in most areas around the park. He is at home at blindside breakaway as much as he is at No.8. He will be an important cog at the back of the scrum as well as dominating at lineout time.

The difficulty for the selectors will be how to find places for the likes of Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Liam Gill and co, who have all excelled at Super Rugby level this year. This is a nice dilemma for them compared with last year.

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Hodkinson ready for second chance

Trent Hodkinson was the forgotten man of the Bulldogs’ remarkable charge to the grand final last season.
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An injury in the opening month of last season meant he lost the No.7 jersey to his close friend, Kris Keating, but the shoe is on the other foot this year, with an injury to Keating opening the door for Hodkinson to regain his position and push for a new contract.

Hodkinson is a free agent at the end of the season and is yet to be approached by the Bulldogs about a new deal. The former Manly halfback admits he was in limbo a month ago but is adamant the future is now in his hands.

”I didn’t know what was going to happen a month ago,” he said. ”But I just have to concentrate on footy and see how I go and push my claims for a new contract given the fact I’m coming off contract. I just have to concentrate on footy and keep ticking the boxes and see what happens.

”They [Bulldogs] haven’t said too much at the moment. I knew I had to play a few games before I go to them. I have a few games under my belt now so hopefully something starts to occur soon. I’d love to stay here and I found a home here. I love all the boys and we have a great coaching staff. There’s a great vibe around the club so the ideal situation would be to stay.

”I knew I had to go back to NSW Cup and play well there. I knew that it would pay off. Kris got injured and it was unlucky for him but I got my opportunity and I have to grab it with both hands.”

While Hodkinson missed the majority of last season, he said it had not been difficult adjusting to the style of football the Bulldogs developed under the watch of coach Des Hasler. ”I was still watching them closely and I was in among the video sessions because Dessie had me in there,” he said.

Hodkinson said his side was wary of the Knights after their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Raiders last week. ”They’ll be ready to go and fired up this week after last week’s performance,” he said. ”They won’t be happy with that. Sunday arvo at home, they’ll be really keen to put on a good performance in front of their crowd.”

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Phil Gould: Dugan’s attitude defeats bullies

 Earlier this week, new Dragons recruit Josh Dugan was sitting in a Bondi Junction cafe with a friend. Just after dinner time they’re relaxing, enjoying a coffee.
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From a nearby restaurant a group of young men emerge. They notice Dugan sitting in the coffee shop. Then it starts.

For the next several minutes these blokes direct a barrage of abuse at Dugan. The mob mentality kicks in and these morons proceed to yell obscenities and insults of the most disgusting nature.

I doubt any of the individuals would be game enough to confront Dugan one-on-one. Together though, they grow in confidence and for some reason find this celebrity invective entertaining. The abuse is vile. It’s disgraceful. Judging by his level of self-control, it’s not the first time Dugan has been confronted with such a scenario.

I guess every fibre of his competitive nature would have been urging him to get out of his seat and confront these gutless hoons. But, then again, what could possibly be gained by such a reaction? Dugan sits quietly, not even acknowledging the group hurling this tirade of abuse.

After a while, this band of reprobates realise they’re getting no reaction and move on.

Maybe they’re supporters of a rival club or code. Maybe they’re not supporters at all. These brain dead, good-for-nothings walk away cheering as though they’ve achieved something they can one day boast to their grandchildren.

Remember too, these morons are the same types as those bullying your son or daughter in the playground at school, through social-media platforms, or wherever they can make contact with your kids. I hate bullies. They are weak individuals who find safety in numbers or hide behind the skirt of anonymity.

Once the mob has gone, Dugan continues as though nothing has happened, but undoubtedly with the words of these degenerates ringing in his ears. It is a tremendous show of restraint. But should Dugan, or anyone else for that matter, have to put up with this sort of treatment? Is it our expectation that Dugan, or any person with a public profile, should have to endure such personal attacks in silence and without reaction?

The abuse doesn’t always happen in public. Anonymous prank calls on mobile phones, or postings on web forums and social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are the new playgrounds of these bullies. Most people in the public eye have been at some time or another subjected to abuse just as Dugan experienced, or through digital and social-media forums.

Sporting fans these days have become more demanding in terms of access to their favourite players and teams. Many believe the club, coach or player should be on call 24 hours a day to the fans. NRL clubs have significantly expanded their staff numbers to cater for the demands of members and service their thirst for information. Some of the stuff these officials and staff are subjected to from fans goes way beyond fair play.

The majority of fans who use social media and web forums are great people. They’re friendly and supportive. Many have great knowledge of the game and like to share their opinions with other supporters. It’s all good fun.

However, there are those who take advantage of this access and get their kicks out of delivering nothing but vile abuse. It’s the small and unruly minority who spoil it for the majority of people who just want civilised interaction.

Many will say the celebrity sportsperson or club staff member should just ignore the abuse. Yes, of course – sticks and stones.

However, it doesn’t make it right.

In the instance with Dugan, such a display of aggression from the public gives us a taste of what these players face on a daily basis. If such abuse had taken place in a nightclub and the player being baited was with a group of friends, I think you know how these things could escalate. If the player retaliates, you can bet your life it will be his face on the front page of the newspaper, not the instigator.

We stress to players the importance of turning the other cheek and walking away from such situations – just as we tell our kids to ignore the bully in the playground and to report them to the teacher or their parents.

That’s why most players no longer socialise in public. They know they are targets. The best way to avoid such incidents is to not go out in the first place. I find that very sad. I don’t believe cutting themselves off from society completely is healthy for their personal development.

I think it’s bad enough that our players don’t have regular jobs. The workplace environment is vital to developing communication and social interaction skills. Many of our full-time footballers have no idea what it is like to work with other people. Pretty much the only people they interact with these days are family members and their fellow players in their football club.

If they stop going out in public altogether, how will they ever get a rounded education in life? I don’t know Dugan. I’ve never met the lad. From the outside looking in, though, it’s easy to be judgmental of him.

I’ve been critical of his antics at Canberra that eventually led to his sacking. I can’t justify what he did. However, he has only hurt himself. He hasn’t hurt anyone else. He doesn’t deserve to be abused in public in this manner. No person does.

When told of this latest incident, I honestly felt sorry for Dugan. Sure he’s been something of a dope, but maybe we need to look closer at the causes of such behaviour. I guess it’s easy to pigeon-hole such conduct as arrogance or a lack of respect for authority. Too quickly we are guilty of labelling alcohol abuse, drug or gambling addictions as irresponsibility or weakness. Ben Barba walked away from the game. Rugby player Kurtley Beale is in rehab.

In recent times we’ve seen a couple of young players sink to the depths of walking away from life to free themselves of whatever pressures they have built up in their own minds. In my lifetime, I’ve known six rugby league players to do the same; all of them without warning.

The sad thing is, I probably only notice this when it happens to a footballer. Unfortunately, this is happening too often in all walks of life. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, pressure – these emotions are extremely damaging and, sadly, all too common. Many people just don’t have the tools to deal with them.

For what it’s worth, I hope Dugan does well for his new club and for the rest of his playing career. I hope the disciplines and camaraderie help shape the rest of his life as well.

As for the boofheads who abused him at the Bondi Junction coffee shop? Well, good luck to you too. Hopefully, some time in the near future, you grow a brain.

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Power, Briscoe looking for their moment in the Indy fun

Passing the baton: Wayne Gardner with son Luca. Photo: SuppliedTwo Australians – Will Power and Ryan Briscoe – are among the 32 drivers named in the 33 entries lodged for next weekend’s 97th annual Indianapolis 500, the race with a shaky claim on being the greatest spectacle in racing. A few decades ago, Indy would routinely kill an average of a driver every May. Not so, in this faster, yet safer era. The entry list screams quality. IndyCar Series champions assigned to cars are reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011), Scott Dixon (2003, 2008), and Tony Kanaan (2004).Though from a road-racing background in European motor sport, Power – runner-up in the IndyCar standings for the past three years – is increasingly competitive on the high-speed ovals. His experience on road courses is an asset at Indianapolis, a flat, four-kilometre circuit with four distinct turns. Power qualified second in 2010, and has a fifth place (2009) to his name. Briscoe, cast aside by long-time employer Penske at the end of last season, has grabbed a lifeline with the Ganassi team, a five-time winner at Indy. The versatile Briscoe, who claimed pole last year and went on to finish fifth, is part of a four-driver Ganassi line-up which also includes Franchitti, Brisbane-born Kiwi Dixon and Charlie Kimball.
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Formula one’s clumsy efforts to spice up its racing by instructing tyre supplier Pirelli to create two very different compounds for every grand prix descended into farce in Spain last Sunday as most drivers, struggling with rubber degradation, were forced to make four pit stops. Mark Webber has long shown his dislike of the contrived unpredictability. Pirelli says it will have better-lasting compounds ready for the Canadian Grand Prix on June 9. Meanwhile, the Suddeutschen Zeitung newspaper in Munich has reported that the Bavarian public prosecutor’s office has completed its investigation into F1’s little big man Bernie Ecclestone and will indict him later this month for allegedly bribing former BayernLB executive Gerhard Gribkowsky, a state official. Ecclestone, who steered F1 from a motley assortment of race folk to one of the grandest shows in global sport, has indicated he will resign if charged. The court case, rumoured to start in July, could have serious implications not only for Ecclestone but for the planned flotation of the formula one group in several months’ time. Ecclestone, 82, maintains his innocence.


Chip off the old bloke is Luca Gardner. The younger son of the 1987 world 500cc champion Wayne Gardner scored a big win in round two of the pre-Moto3 Campeonato Mediterraneo de Velocidad category at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain last weekend. “It’s a long year ahead, but I’m so proud of Luca’s results so far this season,” said Gardner snr (pictured with Luca) who moved to Spain last year with wife Toni to give Luca, 13, and his brother Remy, 15, the chance to seriously pursue their road-racing careers.


Though never a round of the world championship, the annual Macau Grand Prix is coming up for its 60th anniversary, its longevity due to the dramatic, exotic setting on the streets of the former Portuguese protectorate. The temporary circuit of more than six kilometres and a mix of claustrophobic sections and wide-open straights was a favourite of Ayrton Senna, one of many champions who raced formula three cars there. A free exhibition, Macau Grand Prix: 60 Years of Motorsport History will be held in the Lower Exhibitions Hall at Sydney Town Hall from May 23-26 with three different-era formula cars, historic photographs, video coverage and other memorabilia.

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Kelly will tough it out in Texas

Character-testing struggle: Rick Kelly qualifying for the inaugural Austin 400 in his Nissan Altima. Photo: SuppliedAustin: The only thing that could make former champion Rick Kelly happier than finally getting to race in the United States would be to score Nissan’s first V8 Supercars victory at the inaugural Austin 400.
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It’s unlikely to happen because the Japanese car-maker is early in its freshman year in V8s and still a long way from catching up to Ford and Holden, which have dominated for 20 years.

But while he faces another character-testing struggle to threaten the top 10 in V8 Supercars’ first event in the US at the Circuit Of The Americas just outside Austin, Texas, on Sunday and Monday mornings (Australian time), Kelly is fulfilling a fantasy by racing in the Lone Star State.

”Racing a V8 Supercar over here is a dream come true,” he said. ”I can do what I love in America, which is a place I really like. I’ve always loved coming over here.”

Kelly, 30, once had ambitions to pursue a career in American stock cars, visiting NASCAR teams in 2007 – the year after he won the V8 title – in search of an opportunity to compete in a starter series.

Even though fellow former V8 champion Marcos Ambrose had successfully graduated from truck racing to NASCAR’s second-tier stock car competition, there was no interest from NASCAR teams in giving another Australian road racer a chance.

Kelly’s disappointment at not being able to get his foot in the NASCAR door will be forgotten when he races his Jack Daniel’s Racing Nissan Altima in the four-race Austin 400, which he regards as ”a big moment” for V8 Supercars.

Kelly’s enthusiasm for the States meant he had no qualms about coming over early for a two-day promotional tour in Tennessee for his team’s major backers, Jack Daniel’s and Nissan, both of which have major operations outside Nashville.

After accepting that his American dream wasn’t going to come true, Kelly joined his brother Todd – also a leading V8 driver – in the even more ambitious goal of establishing their own V8 Supercars team.

They became teammates in their own operation in 2009 and this year are running Nissan Australia’s return to racing, fielding four Altimas under the new Car Of The Future regulations that have opened the sport to new makes.

It’s been a struggle for both Rick and Todd as they try to fast-track the development of their all-new Altimas while spending most of the races battling to finish in the top 15.

In the first four events, they routinely qualified in the bottom third of the 28-car field, a rude awakening for former factory Holden drivers who have, between them, won a V8 championship, three Bathurst 1000s and made regular appearances on the podium.

Rebranded Nissan Motorsport, the family-owned Kelly Racing team’s best result so far this season was a strong seventh for Rick in one of the four races at Pukekohe, near Auckland, last month.

The Altima V8 racer – which uses a production-based V8 against the bespoke competition engines of Ford and Holden – is trailing in straightline speed in the early stages of its development.

While Kelly accepts that qualifying near the back of the grid and racing in the mid-field is inevitable in the early stages of the development of a brand new entry, he says the experience has been frustrating.

”I built myself up mentally to go out and have a shot at being at the front,” he said.

”And so when the reality hit that we were behind in a couple of areas and needed to develop the engine, it really hit me hard personally.”

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Goss at ease with review of team doping protocols

CHERASCO: Matt Goss has welcomed the handing down of the report on an independent review of his Orica-GreenEDGE team’s anti-doping processes.
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He also said he found assisting the investigation was no different to undergoing a dope test, except ”they just see less of your body”.

”I’ve always been on teams with anti-doping systems. You are always under scrutiny. We are always being tested. Answering a few questions is no different to doing a [drug] test I guess … they just see less of your body,” Goss said before Friday’s 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia from Busseto to Cherasco.

Asked about the report soon after its release in Australia on Friday, Goss said he had yet to absorb all the report’s findings submitted by anti-doping consultant Nicki Vance, who was commissioned by the Australian team late last year to carry out the inquiry.

It was launched after the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s findings in the case involving Lance Armstrong, who has been banned for life, and included evidence from former Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director Matt White, who admitted to doping as a rider. White lost his job with Orica-GreenEDGE, and with Cycling Australia as the national men’s road team coach. Recently, White revealed that the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had handed him a six-month retroactive ban dating from October 13. With the ban having expired on April 13, he is free to resume work in the sport, although his future at Orica-GreenEDGE hinged on the Vance report.

Vance’s findings recommended he be reinstated to his position on the team, while also recommending that sport director Neil Stephens be kept on and not be penalised for his involvement as a rider in the 1998 Festina doping scandal.

As part of her probe, Vance interviewed all Orica-GreenEDGE’s riders, staff and management. Although, how many of her recommendations are actually implemented depends on a meeting between her and team owner Gerry Ryan and general manager Shayne Bannan in Australia next week.

Goss is focused on trying to win a stage at this Giro, despite again missing out on the action in Friday’s 13th stage won British sprinter Mark Cavendish (Sky) from Italian Giacommo Nizzoli (Canndondae), Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Argos) and Australian Brett Lancaster (Sky).

But Goss knows with his recovery from a virus incomplete, and the Giro to finish in Brescia next Sunday, there are really only two more chances left for him – stage 17, 214km from Carravagio to Vicenza, and stage 21 from Riese Pios X to Brescia over 197km on Sunday.

”I’m not feeling that great, but I’m getting through. I’ve been sick since the start of the race,” Goss said after finishing 167th at 16 minutes 32 seconds to the first group.

”I wasn’t too bad, but then three days ago, I just blew up and buckled. And the last few days I have been on antibiotics, just trying to get rid of it so I was better before here [stage 13]. I was really fatigued in the muscles when I wanted to go [for the sprint].

”I feel I’m getting better. I just have to wait for my body to recover a little bit. There are two more stages in the last week that can be opportunities.”

Watch stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia – 150km from Cesana Torinese to Col du Galibier – live on Eurosport, Ch 511 Foxtel from 10.30pm on Sunday, or on SBS 2 from 10.45pm. Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Eurosport.

Twitter: @rupertguinness

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