Monthly Archives: March 2019

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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.

EARLY BITE

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.

CHANGING TACTICS

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.

NO THANKS, SAYS LETHAL

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

MATCH STATS/AS IT HAPPENED

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.

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

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