Powered by Xqcbt!

Once more with feeling: Storm face old finals foes

MELBOURNE coach Craig Bellamy isn’t silly enough to claim there will be no emotion in Friday night’s preliminary final clash against Manly.
Nanjing Night Net

The two clubs have battled regularly and – in the case of last year’s infamous Donnybrookvale clash – violently. They have also clashed in grand finals in 2007 and 2008, giving the feeling that the history between the two sides is incomparable to any NRL clubs over the past five years. Combine that with a grand-final qualifier and Bellamy fully expects emotion. Just not the variety that causes sideline brawls and send-offs.

”You’d hope that we have some emotion about it, because it’s a pretty important game,” Bellamy said yesterday. ”We have to channel our emotion into what we do out there and making sure we’re doing what helps us perform well. That’s all we’ll be concerned about.

”There’s obviously been some things in the past between the two clubs but that is in the past and that won’t matter come Friday night.”

Melbourne beat the Sea Eagles in the 2007 decider, while the Sea Eagles returned the favour in 2008. Both teams went on to win a grand final subsequently, although, as we all know, Melbourne’s two victories since 2007 are followed by a hefty asterisk.

Recent history has been more maroon than purple. The Sea Eagles are the current premiers, while the Storm were bundled out at this stage of the season last year, losing to the Warriors in the preliminary final. That led to suggestions that the Storm could not lift in the finals, that their forwards were too small and that they were too reliant on Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk. Bellamy admitted he changed his team’s routine this year in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s loss.

”We probably haven’t worked as hard as we did last year [during the break for the semi-finals],” Bellamy said. ”When I say ‘hard’, we haven’t had as many sessions as last year. We just thought ‘we’ve got the week off, so we may as well make the most of it and rest up a little bit’.”

Bellamy sees different circumstances and a different team, too.

”We’d like to think we learnt a few of things from last year. At the start of the year, we thought we needed a couple of bigger bodies in our team and we’ve done that. We just need to make sure that we train well this week and hopefully put a good performance in on Friday night,” he said.

One big difference from last year is the fact that the Storm were the standout team of the qualifying finals stage, in contrast to 2011. And they accounted for South Sydney without five players who could ordinarily demand selection – Jason Ryles (hamstring), Todd Lowrie (pectoral muscle), Anthony Quinn (calf), Will Chambers (hamstring) and Sika Manu (back). All could be set for a return against the Sea Eagles.

”Hopefully I’ll have a few headaches there,” Bellamy said. ”All of them are coming along pretty good. A couple of them, we’ll know [today] whether they’re right to play and a couple of them, we won’t know until Thursday. But we’ll give them until Thursday.

”The guys that have been out have played most of the year. We’ll pick what we think is the best team out of what comes out of our injuries.”

The Sea Eagles have not been at their best through the finals but Bellamy is wary as they historically produce their best football at this stage of the year.

”It was a tough, physical game, which is what you expect from Manly,” Bellamy said of the Sea Eagles’ semi-final win over North Queensland. ”At this time of year, they’ve got a very battle-hardened side … They know what semi-finals are about.”

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

Souths build Saturday night fever

RabbitohsA RECORD NRL finals crowd of more than 75,000 is set to pack ANZ Stadium for Saturday night’s preliminary final after South Sydney and Canterbury members yesterday snapped up 20,000 tickets.
Nanjing Night Net

The Herald was told that 8000 tickets were sold in the first 30 minutes – about the same number that had been sold by 4pm for the other NRL final at Melbourne’s AAMI Park between the Storm and Sea Eagles on Friday night.

The NRL said Manly members had bought 6 per cent or 480 tickets, with the rest sold to Storm members in Victoria. In comparison, Rabbitohs members had bought 9350 of the 17,000 tickets sold by 4pm for the club’s first preliminary final since 1971.

The breakdown of tickets sold was 55 per cent to Souths members and 45 per cent to Bulldogs members.

With members of the clubs involved having until 8pm yesterday to purchase tickets, officials estimated that more than 20,000 would be sold before they go on sale today to the general public. Based on those figures, the NRL is on track to surpass the 74,459 crowd that attended the 2009 preliminary final between Canterbury and Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.

The Rabbitohs and Bulldogs have been the two best supported Sydney teams this season, with Canterbury’s average home attendance of 21,963 second only to Brisbane.

Souths’ average home crowds of 18,904 were the fourth best in the NRL, with Newcastle third. With a similar crowd expected for Friday night’s AFL preliminary final between the Sydney Swans and Collingwood, it will be the biggest sporting weekend at ANZ Stadium since the 2000 Olympic Games.

“We are on track to move 20,000-plus tickets today in the pre-sale,” Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland said. “This great early response, plus the huge interest shown from approximately 10,000 ANZ Stadium members, has set the scene for a blockbuster crowd for Friday night’s game.”

The record crowd for an AFL finals match outside Victoria is 71,019, which was set when the Swans played Brisbane at ANZ Stadium in 2003. Sydney and Collingwood played before the biggest-ever AFL crowd outside Victoria when 72,393 watched their 2003 clash at ANZ Stadium.

ANZ Stadium managing director Daryl Kerry said: “This is potentially one of the biggest footy finals weekend in Sydney sporting history, and it is certainly the biggest since the Olympic venue was built.

”The AFL and NRL could reasonably expect crowds above 60,000 – possibly even higher – on both nights.”

The NRL grand final at ANZ Stadium on September 30 is already sold out, with 14,000 tickets reserved for members of this weekend’s winning teams.

Direct trains from Central to Sydney Olympic Park, and major event buses are in place for the AFL and NRL finals matches at ANZ Stadium this weekend.

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

Spoilt for choice

THE All-Australian team was announced last night. Hawk Josh Gibson wasn’t in it. This won’t have been a surprise to him, for he didn’t even make the short list.
Nanjing Night Net

As an oversight, it was like leaving Kramer out of a Seinfeld episode – you can get away with it but (for this year at least) the whole thing works better when he is there. As if to prove the selectors’ folly, Gibson went out a week ago and had the second most spoils in a final (16) since these statistics began in 1999. The record for most spoils in a final (21), incidentally, is held by … Gibson.

The qualifying final performance, coming as it did days after the shortlist was announced, will have left the selectors looking a little sheepish as he repelled ball after ball from forward thrusts.

Several football insiders and analysts have posited that Gibson might be the best spoiler in the game, if not the best spare defender. This is one of the vogues of the game, playing an extra man in defence to read the play and join any marking contest. Gibson knows when to leave his man and get across to help out his fellow defenders.

Matthew Scarlett, who retired last week, and Dustin Fletcher are regarded among the best defenders of the past decade, but both stopped playing on the best forward years ago. Their value was in taking a lesser player and joining other contests and being liberated to create with the ball running out of defence.

Gibson still often takes the best forward, but he can just as often take a lesser player and be available as the spare. Sam Fisher has been playing this role for St Kilda for some years, Nick Maxwell likewise at Collingwood.

“He is as effective as anyone going around at the moment because of the impact he has,” said Ben Hart, the former Adelaide defender turned Collingwood defensive coach, who saw Gibson up close in the first final and will be a keen observer as he takes on his old side this week.

“He reads the play really well and realises his man is not going to get used so he gets back and assists the other defenders,” Hart said. ”If you haven’t kept him engaged with your movement or the way you are moving the ball then you know he is going to get around there and get to the ball.

“One way [to combat him] is to use his man, but it does not always work that way because he will get in dangerous positions to get used. But the thing is to try and separate him as well. If the two key forwards can separate, he hasn’t got enough room to get across and effect a spoil.”

Gibson’s effectiveness is also in creating a rethink in the minds of opposition midfielders about subsequent attacks. When a side finds itself playing squash with the footy into the forward line, as Collingwood did in the first half of the qualifying final, it reconsiders how to go forward, which creates its own pressure on the ball carrier, giving tacklers time to move in.

The fact that Gibson punches the ball 20 to 30 metres makes it hard for sides to apply defensive forward pressure.

“I think what makes him so effective is that Hawthorn’s pressure around the footy is so great that you can’t be as precise going forward as you would like,” Hart said.

Collingwood’s defender Ben Reid also plays the same role at times, such as he did last Saturday night, but his greater effectiveness in a best-on-ground effort was to mark, not spoil.

“For me personally it is more about having the defence mindset first,” Reid said.

“You can’t think to mark it if it is not the right opportunity, it’s all about the timing and knowing when to do it and not. First and foremost it is defence first.”

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

State of mind gives Pies the wood over Swans

‘The Magpies know that it will be tough and attritional on Friday.’COLLINGWOOD’S 11-game winning streak over Sydney is a talking point in the lead-up to the preliminary final on Friday, as it should be. While it is a way off the longest head-to-head streak in the competition’s history, it is a lot of games over a long period, stretching back to 2005.
Nanjing Night Net

It would appear to indicate some kind of match-up or tactical advantage to the Magpies. Yet that can be questioned since teams change constantly and, in the past few years, both coaches have changed, too.

The rivals will talk down its significance, Sydney because the last thing it wants is for its players to fear a preliminary final; Collingwood because it does not want to be seen to be assuming anything. In the end, Collingwood half-back Harry O’Brien probably puts it best. ”The recent games have been quite close,” O’Brien told The Age yesterday. ”That 11 in a row can be quite distorted, but certainly I’d rather be on this end of it than the other end.”

In this case, it is not just the 11 straight wins that will be discussed, it is also Collingwood’s ability to win at ANZ Stadium, Sydney’s secondary home. The Pies have won the past seven encounters between the teams at the Olympic stadium. All of which means they can attack this knockout final without trepidation.

When they met in round 20, it was a dogfight. Adam Goodes had a set shot at goal inside the last couple of minutes to put Sydney in front, but missed. Travis Cloke kicked the game-winner and then in the last few seconds, best-afield Dayne Beams put the icing on it. Collingwood won by eight points and laid 90 tackles, a season-high.

The Magpies know that it will be tough and attritional on Friday. ”The games are always close,” said O’Brien. ”We know what to expect from Sydney. They play a similar brand to us, they like a contested game. It’s predictable, but we think of ourselves as predictable, too. That’s probably why Sydney has always been around the mark as a finals team.”

In 2010 it was Cloke (six goals on Heath Grundy) who proved the difference, but only just. A Tadgh Kennelly turnover in the hectic final minutes gifted Collingwood the match-winning goal. The Pies won by six points but could have argued their early inaccuracy kept the Swans in the contest.

Both teams play the contested brand of football and there are other links, such as the presence of two sets of brothers (the Reids and Shaws) on opposite sides, and personified by ruckman Darren Jolly, a premiership player with both clubs. Jolly, who crossed in 2010, is still in touch with former teammates such as Ryan O’Keefe, Goodes and Jude Bolton, whom he was intending to text yesterday with congratulations on his 300th game. ”I’ll be out to spoil the party,” he said.

The ruckman was dismissive of the significance of the streak, saying that players don’t have time to ponder it. ”Is it 11?” he said. ”Bloody hell. To be honest, I wouldn’t even know. We match up well against them, we play well in Sydney, we travel well in general. Look, we’re not going into the game thinking it’s going to happen because of that. Sydney’s a different team, it’s finals. It’s all irrelevant then. It’s external talk. We don’t talk about it internally.”

The only point he would concede was that the Collingwood players would go in optimistic. ”It gives us confidence going in, knowing we can play well there. We’ve proven that we can beat them there. It’s a little head start, but once the ball’s bounced, it’s forgotten.”

Jolly, O’Brien and defender Ben Reid made the point that Collingwood’s ability to win at ANZ Stadium was not so much an enjoyment of that venue, but part of the club’s broader love of the challenge of playing interstate.

”We’re a close group,” said Reid. ”We love getting away together and having some fun. We have a few laughs and it’s good company to be in. We enjoy the challenge of going interstate and trying to knock a team over.”

O’Brien said the Pies would come to work, literally. ”We have a great process we follow. When it’s away from home, there’s an element added. You’re on business. That’s what we talk about. ‘Come in, get the job done, forget the distractions we might have here. Just get in and out’.”

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

Cyclist’s three-year fund-raiser not over yet

IT’S been three years and about 45,000 kilometres since Chris Roach pushed a bicycle out the front door of his Newcastle home in March 2009 to cycle around the world.
Nanjing Night Net

On the way he’s survived medical setbacks in India, deserts in China, a drunken assault by a gang of youths in Kazakhstan, and bitter cold in Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.

Chris Roach on tour.

“Fortunately I managed to miss the full onslaught of winter where temperatures plummeted to minus 35 degrees in some of the places I’d been to only weeks earlier,” Mr Roach said.

With a budget of €10 a day, Mr Roach is relying on the generosity of others to help him on his way while raising money for Oxfam, an international aid agency that works with poor communities around the world to reduce poverty and injustice.

His aim is to raise $100,000, $1 for every kilometre.

Mr Roach has spent the past few days cycling from Goteborg, Sweden, to Oslo in Norway, where he will spend the next week or so earning some money for the return journey home.

The plan is to continue through Scotland, England, France, Spain, Africa, South America, North America then through Asia and back home again.

“There is still a long way to go,” he said.

“But it feels like having come this far I am more like on the way home now and that feels good.

Mr Roach said he was buoyed by the overwhelmingly positive response he has had so far.

“Of course, there are some that don’t really appreciate what I’m about, others don’t understand the journey at all – but then again I don’t expect them to,” he said. “It is all part of the adventure.”

Mr Roach said he missed his family, and being away during certain milestones, including the birth of his nephew, but he is determined to carry on.

To learn more, visit cyclestrongman南京夜网 or Facebook ‘roach.chris’.

Student amenities fee to improve Newcastle uni services

THE University of Newcastle is to undertake a massive expansion of student services on campus with revenue generated from the federal government’s student amenities fee.
Nanjing Night Net

The university has released details of how it plans to spend $2.5 million it will collect from the newly introduced Students Services and Amenities Fee.

The deadline elapsed last month for Newcastle students to pay the $263 annual fee, which is $132 a semester for full-time students.

The fee replaces revenue lost with the abolition of compulsory student unionism and can be spent on activities from sports to food services.

Students can defer payment with their tuition fees.

Students indicated in online forums they would like toilets on campus improved, in particular the “stench” around Hunter building amenities.

Other priorities were more parking, public transport routes and lockers.

Newcastle University Students Association president Heather Richards said the toilets on campus were “a bit gross, especially in the Hunter building”.

The student union will use its funds for a building upgrade, a bra fitting session, alcohol and sexual health booklets and free food event at the city campus.

To determine how to spend funds the university reviewed more than 4000 student surveys and read more than 400 Facebook comments as part of an online campaign.

The university will use $1.6 million on existing services and $900,000 on extra services.

It will upgrade the union building and prayer rooms, develop online student services, water stations, fund clubs and societies, study skills support sessions as well as off-campus accommodation advice and legal services.

A university spokeswoman said there had been upgrades to some bathrooms in the Hunter building among many around campus.

“The bathroom amenities meet high standards of cleanliness,” she said.

Among the innovations on campus are self-service kitchens called “survival stations”.

Open Foundation student Kirraly Mead said they were a good idea “as long as it’s clean all the time”.

University of Newcastle

Knights lose two local lads to Penrith

THE Knights have lost two home-grown rising stars to NRL rivals Penrith.
Nanjing Night Net

Newcastle-born forwards Sam Anderson and Ethan Cook, who will represent the Knights in the NSW Cup preliminary final against Balmain Ryde-Eastwood at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, will play for the Panthers next season.

Penrith general manager of football Phil Gould told the Newcastle Herald last night that Anderson had signed a one-year contract and Cook had been secured for two years.

Anderson, who won the Knights’ National Youth Cup players’ player and player of the year awards in 2011, knocked the Panthers back at the end of last year to sign a one-year extension after Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett spoke to him and convinced him to stay and spend the off-season training with the NRL squad.

But Anderson could not break out of the NSW Cup ranks all season and Gould was not to be denied a second time.

After meeting with Anderson’s father, Peter, in Newcastle on the night of the Knights’ last game against Souths three weeks ago, Gould convinced the West Maitland Red Dogs junior to join the Panthers.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Newcastle but I’m looking forward to the change at Penrith as well,” Anderson said last night.

“To be honest, being 21, you kind of need to make a decision, and I think the opportunity at Penrith is a lot better forwards-wise.

“There’s more of an opportunity for making my NRL debut there – in the next couple of years, hopefully – than there is at the Newcastle Knights.

“It’s all about chasing opportunity and there’s a good group of us going down there.”

Anderson and Cook will join Knights clubmates Wes Naiqama and Kyle O’Donnell among Penrith’s recruits for 2013.


Marny walks after 15 years

AFTER walking for the first time in 15 years, Marny Cringle is making slow but significant steps.
Nanjing Night Net

Ms Cringle, 42, had pioneering surgery a year ago to enable her to wear a prosthetic leg.

It followed a long search for a medical solution.

The Bolwarra Heights resident’s leg was amputated in 1996 when, while living in London, a tube train hit her.

Her femur, or thigh bone, was too short for a prosthesis.

After years searching for a solution, Ms Cringle found Sydney orthopaedic surgeon Munjed Al Muderis.

She had procedures about a year ago that used rods to lengthen the femur from 10 to 18 centimetres.

Another rod was implanted and an adaptor, for the prosthesis to attach to, was fitted to the leg.

“And I just walk,” Ms Cringle said.

Muscle wastage during the years her leg was not used, has slowed Ms Cringley’s progress.

“Because I haven’t been able to walk for 15 years, I’ve had problems.”

It was hoped that at the one year mark, Ms Cringle would walk with both feet.

She presently relies on two walking sticks, having progressed from crutches, and hopes that in another year she will walk unaided.

“I’m still progressing, going well,” she said.

“I just have to be patient.”

Dr al-Muderis said time would tell.

“All the operations have been done,” he said.

“It a matter of her body building up strength to walk again.”

Dr al-Muderis said he strongly believed Ms Cringle would have a good outcome.

Ms Cringle is sharing her experience with others as vice-president of information and support group Newcastle Amputees and Associates.

Marny Cringle with her prosthetic leg. Picture: Peter Stoop

Abe Wheelhouse walks from Jets

YOUTH coach Clayton Zane says the Jets’ door has not closed on Abe Wheelhouse despite the teenager’s shock decision to walk away from the club.
Nanjing Night Net

Wheelhouse, the younger brother of Jets A-League captain Jobe Wheelhouse, has signed to play for promotion winners Lambton Jaffas in the 2013 Northern NSW State League season.

The 18-year-old has been part of the Jets youth squad since June 2011 and played for them in the club’s maiden NNSW state league campaign this year.

Although not officially offered a new deal with the Jets to play in the National Youth League, which starts next month, Wheelhouse made it clear to Zane that he was not interested in staying with the club.

“We had a chat to him at the end of the season, because we could tell just by his body language that he wasn’t as interested in it as he probably should have been,” Zane said.

“So he wasn’t offered anything. We just brought him in at the end just to check on him and see where his head was at and he told us what we already thought was going on. We weren’t surprised by that one.”

He said he had another meeting with Wheelhouse, who reaffirmed his desire to leave the Jets.

Wheelhouse did not return a call from the Herald.

“Abe was adamant that he thought his future was away from the club, not for any particular reason,” Zane said.

“Maybe it was a bit of fatigue and I guess he probably questioned himself a little bit when the first-grade boys came back in and took his spot.

“I think he thought he would play a bit more and I think he realises the jump to the A-League is a big one.

“I said to him, ‘Just make sure you think about it carefully because once you go it’s hard to come back.’

“But then again, we wouldn’t close the door on anyone either. I told Abe to go and play good football because this doesn’t mean he’s finished at the Jets.”

He said back-up keeper Jim Fogarty, who has also signed with Lambton Jaffas, was offered a deal but chose to leave because of work commitments as a personal trainer and his university studies.

He said only six youth league contracted players – Nick Cowburn, Luke Remington, Mason Campbell, Andrew Hoole, Kale Bradbery and Blake Green – from the state league campaign remained for the NYL season.

Josh Small, Dom Bizzari, Dino Fajkovic, Maclean Nadfalusi, Jakob Williams and Alex Kantarovski were released.

The Jets Youth return to training from a four-week break on Monday.

Zane said his NYL squad was not finalised and that a couple of Sydney players would come for trials next week, although the club’s preference was to promote local talent.

He hoped to organise a trial against new club, Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Jets can have 16 players on their roster and plan to have five from the NSW Institute of Sport program as train-on players who can be promoted through the campaign.

NSWIS players Reece Papas and Andrew Pawiak have been training with the squad this year and Zane was also keen to have left-footer Josh Murray in the mix.


Mayor McCloy makes a move

JEFF McCloy will shift the Newcastle lord mayor’s office out of City Hall to work more closely with general manager Phil Pearce.
Nanjing Night Net

Cr McCloy was formally declared Newcastle’s new civic leader yesterday, reaching an unassailable lead on the fourth preference count.

Arrangements are already under way to move his new office into the roundhouse building – a move that establishes a significant shift from the approach of predecessor John Tate.

Mr Tate moved the office from the council administration building and into City Hall in 1999, citing a need to be “more accessible”.

Cr McCloy said his focus would be on policy. He held a long meeting yesterday with Mr Pearce where they discussed about a dozen priority items and said afterwards that there was “philosophical agreement” about the council’s direction on some items.

The prospect of staff cuts was raised by Cr McCloy during the election campaign, but yesterday he said pursuing that was “not high on my agenda at the moment”.

Mr Pearce has been working for the past year on an “organisational health check” that includes specifically looking at staffing levels and benchmarking them with other councils.

The general manager said that process would continue, but that the administration would also seek input from the incoming council.

“I personally think that’s sending us in the right direction,” Mr Pearce said.

“That’s not to say it can’t be worked upon and improved.”

The make-up of the new council is unlikely to be confirmed until at least Thursday. Two positions are undecided, and will be tip the balance of the chamber.

In Ward 2, Green Therese Doyle or Liberal Nicholas Stabler will win the last spot. In Ward 3, Green Keith Parsons and independent Andrea Rufo are neck and neck.

Mr McCloy said incoming councillors must have regard for the poll result and work together.

Newcastle City Council general manager Phil Pearce and lord mayor Jeff McCloy.