Sport News

Bravo to the administration hierarchy and PR department at Essendon Football Club.

In case you haven’t heard, the powers that be have decided to throw their “full support” behind former coach and star player Mr James Hird, whom it appears has suffered a complete emotional breakdown.

I’m no M.D., but it would seem that the feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and total self-hatred concealed by the monumental effort of putting on a brave face every second of every minute of every day, have finally joined forces and tunnelled their way to the surface triggering Mr Hird’s breakdown and subsequent hospitalization.

How honourable…how utterly and completely noble of the very institution which is responsible for Mr Hird’s current condition to lend him their “full support”.

What a hollow declaration.

Thank God he didn’t die.

Even so…you have blood on your hands Essendon.

Every person’s situation is unique but having been in a similar mindset to where it would appear Mr Hird is now I sincerely offer my condolences and support and the reassurance that once the brave face has been discarded, the healing may begin.

Make no mistake, a person in such a condition categorically believes that their life is over and that self-obliteration is the only way out of the pain and to rid the world of their unworthy existence.

The road to recovery will not be a short one Mr Hird, but you have what it takes.

It was my privilege to meet you personally just prior to the commencement of your ordeal and when your smile came naturally.

God bless, James Hird and may you completely separate your identity from football and rediscover the goodness within yourself which your true supporters know never disappeared.

 hird

 

Gabrielle Therese Flanagan is currently studying for her Master of Arts degree specialising in Writing and Literature with Deakin University. She has a strong interest in poetry and creative fictional writing and has chosen to specialise in the field of Literary Studies.  Gabrielle also obtained her Bachelor of Arts (majoring in English Literature) with La Trobe University and Bachelor of Education (Primary School Teaching) postgraduate degree with Australian Catholic University.Gabrielle recently acted as Guest Poetry Editor for Issue #18 of SWAMP Magazine where she enjoyed assisting other writers in their creative pursuits.

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Email: gabrielle.flanagan@theaustraliatimes.com.au

diwali

To all members of our TAT family, readers and contributors, who celebrate Diwali..

We wish you Safety, Good Health, Happiness, Prosperity and Good Fortune.

May they all be with you in the coming year.

   HAPPY DIWALI!

Emirates Marquee - Exterior

To mark Emirates’ milestone of 20 years of operation in Australia, Emirates has aptly announced Australia as the theme of its highly anticipated Birdcage marquee at this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Emirates will welcome guests through the doors of its classic Australian homestead inspired marquee, taking inspiration from its local destinations – Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney – into an interior filled with vibrant flora and fauna including eucalyptus mint, waratahs, kangaroo paws and cockatoos – a true nod to our diverse countryside.

“Emirates wanted to mark its 20-year anniversary of operations in Australia and what better way than bringing Australiana to The Birdcage. We are excited to celebrate the home of the Melbourne Cup Carnival as part of our 13th year as Principal Partner of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, and 19th year of involvement with the Victoria Racing Club,” said Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Vice President – Australasia.  

DESIGN

To create the design, Emirates has collaborated with Head Designer of Bazmark Inq, Silvana Azzi Heras, who has worked alongside Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin for the past 18 years, to create a classic Australian homestead for Emirates’ guests to enjoy.

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grow race

Support our friends at Street Organics to help raise funds for GROW FOUNDATION 

street organis logogrow logo 

Information Courtesy of Kristen Morrison from Street Organics

Street Organics is proud to support Grow Foundation – a unique Melbourne-based charity which offers support  & natural health solutions to families of children with special needs.

For the past 5 years, a small group of kids has participated in the Melbourne Marathon to raise funds for Grow Foundation.

This year, a group of our staff will be running with a group of over 50 kids – and we would love your help!

These kids run 3km, 5.7km or 10km – because they want to help other children who can’t run, walk, see or speak like they can.

Some of them even set up their own fundraising efforts to help raise more – amazing!!

The team’s target is $20,000-  We are nearly half way there!

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The Melbourne Vixens have retained six of their talented young stars from this year heading into the new netball league in 2017. Liz Watson, Kate Moloney, Jo Weston, Chloe Watson, Emma Ryde and Emily Mannix are all returning the Vixens for 2017 despite the team losing many of their experienced players.

The Vixens have lost their captain Madison Robinson and young up-and-coming shooter Alice Teague-Neeld to new cross-town rivals the Collingwood Magpies, Karyn Bailey to the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Geva Mentor, who is rumoured to be heading to the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Along with the six-member core group the Vixens today announced three new additions to their team, with the 10th member to be announced next week. Tegan Philip will be returning to the team after missing all of the 2016 season with a serious knee injury, teaming up with new recruit Mwai Kumwenda in the shooting circle. Kumwenda, a player from Malawi, has played the last three years in the ANZ Championship with the Mainland Tactix and now returns to Melbourne where she played in the ANL with the Victorian Fury.

The third new player to join the team is mid-courter Khao Watts, who has played with a number of ANZ Championship teams, including the winning Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic in 2012, the West Coast Fever and the Adelaide thunderbirds.

Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis said she extremely proud of the team the Vixens have put together. “We’ve been building as a group for a number of years now and it’s time for us and these girls, after a couple of years with us, to really step out there and make a name for themselves out there on the big stage,” McKinnis said. “I think in managing to keep this core group together, we’ve done exceptionally well…These guys are fearless, they dare and they’re ready to take anything on, and you know what, the stage is set for them now.”

McKinnis is also looking forward to having two Melbourne teams in the same competition, and believes that the Vixens have the ability to challenge the star-studded Magpies and any other team in the competition. “There’s a lot of work for us to do, there’s no doubt about that, but they’re up for it, they’re up for a challenge and they have no fear about anything else that’s out there, they’re willing to take risks, we’ve got exciting additions to the team,” McKinnis said. “It’s going to be a different Melbourne Vixens, but it’s going to be dynamic, fearless and bloody super competitive.”

More team announcements have also been made over the last couple of days, with the Sunshine Coast signing Diamonds’ prolific shooter Caitlin Bassett and Swifts’ shooter Stephanie Wood; whilst the GWS team have signed Susan Pettitt and Kimberlee Green as well as English players Serena Guthrie and Jo Harten.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

The Collingwood Football Club have today unveiled their inaugural team in the new national league, complete with the new name, logo and a star-studded team line-up.

In front of a packed room of media, junior netballers and special guests, Collingwood President Eddie McGuire spoke of the importance of having a club for everyone and introduced the new team name, the Collingwood Magpies, and logo, which represents a netball going through the ring and the team.

The Magpies lured a number of high-profile athletes from different states to the team, including five current Australian Diamonds players who played in the recent Quad Series.

Magpies coach Kristy Keppich-Birrell said that it was a really competitive process selecting the 10 players for the team, and that the girls selected displayed that winning culture and wanting to be a part of history.

“It was really important to try and find that blend of experience, performance players and also potential and then also moulding that into getting the right kind of people, so the people that were prepared to do the hard yards, not just for themselves, but for the team,” Keppich-Birrell said.

Sharni Layton is one of big names who will be joining the team, having been rumoured to join Collingwood since it was announced that they would form a team in the new league. Layton, an avid Collingwood supporter, left the NSW Swifts after three years, and almost 10 years away from her home in Victoria. She is joined by fellow Swifts’ player, Caitlin Thwaites, who also returns home to Victoria after playing in Sydney and New Zealand.

Joining them is former Swifts and Melbourne Vixens player Micaela Wilson, who didn’t play in the ANZ Championship this year. Three 2016 West Coast Fever players have also joined the Pies, with their captain Ashleigh Brazill, defender April Brandley and midcourter Shae Brown, whose brother-in-law Nathan Brown plays AFL for Collingwood, leaving the west for a new venture.

Adding to Brazill and Brown in the midcourt are two of the Diamonds starting midcourters, centre and two-time ANZ Championship premiership player Kimberley Ravaillion, and Melbourne Vixens captain Madison Robinson, who has crossed town to join the team. Fellow 2016 Vixen Alice Teague-Neeld is also a new member to the Collingwood team after a breakout season this year.

Rounding out the 2017 team is Cody Lange, who was coached by Keppich-Birrell at the Adelaide Thunderbirds this year until an ACL injury ended her season. The players will then come back together in November, after the Constellation Cup, where they will decide who will be the captain of the team.
“You don’t have to have a badge to be a leader. Each one of them has been a leader in their own right for many years so it’s a matter of finding which one bests represents them as a group,” Keppich-Birrell said.

The Queensland Firebirds unveiled their 2017 team also, with a new-look team compared to their back-to-back premiership winning team of 2015/2016. The most noticeable absences from the team is their formidable defensive duo of Clare McMeniman, who retired, and Laura Geitz, who has stepped away from the 2017 season to have a baby.

Whilst in South Australia, the Adelaide Thunderbirds announced that former Vixen Karyn Bailey and Central Pulse midcourter Chelsea Locke will be joining their 2017 team.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

soccerjoeys logo

Innovative Soccajoeys Next Step program caters to children with additional needs to help them reap the benefits of sports in their development

 

September 14th, 2016: Childhood development experts have long said that participation in sport can have a huge impact on a child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive well-being1 – but too often, children living with disabilities are faced with a lack of appropriate sporting options. Enter the Soccajoeys Foundation, which tailors its Next Step program to provide a well-rounded, holistic approach in delivering the five “F’s” of team sport – Fun, Fitness, Function, Friends, and Future – to Aussie children with additional needs.

 

“Regardless of their ability, every child should have the opportunity to participate in team sport,” says Soccajoeys Foundation’s founder and former professional soccer player, Jose Bello. Bello formed the Next Step program to allow children diagnosed with additional needs, such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Global Development Delay, and other less common diagnoses, to use soccer as a way to make incredible improvements in their social, physical, cognitive and emotional development.

“When it comes to making positive changes in kids with additional needs, the key lies in the five F’s of team sport,” advises Bello. “Rather than trying to ‘fix’ each child to perform in the exact same way, the Next Step program uses the areas of function, fitness, fun, friends and future, to help make a positive impact on kids’ development,” Bello says.

Here, Bello highlights how the Next Step program provides the perfect platform for these children to grow and shine:

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Australia_v_England_netball_2008

 

The Australian Diamonds team to contest the 2016 quad series have been named, and there a quite a few changes from the world cup winning side of last year.

The squad of 18 has been reduced down to a team of 12 for the upcoming quad series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns, England Roses and South Africa Spar Proteas.

 

The start of a new cycle

With the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 Netball World Cup done and dusted, it’s time to start preparing for international netball’s next biggest event, the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The quad series offers the coaching panel a chance to blood new players ahead of their next major competition.

Developing the next generation of players is important in the two years between events, as older players retire and players come in and out of form.

Five players from the 2015 world cup did not play in the previous world cup in 2011, with the end of the world cup signalling the end of the four year international netball cycle.

 

Meet the new players

April Brandley: many may also remember her as April Letton. Brandley is not a debutant to the Diamonds, but has only played three test matches for Australia to date. Brandley has had a rapid rise over the past two years since moving to the West Coast Fever in 2015.

KristianaManu’a: Manu’a’s induction into the team may come as a surprise to many, simply because many people did not realise that she was eligible. Manu’a has made her name in netball playing in New Zealand franchise the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic as a New Zealand player. Manu’a is a young gun, just 20 years of age, and was ninth in the 2016 ANZ Championship season in deflections with 47, and second for intercepts with 28.

Gabi Simpson: Gabi Simpson has been on the cusp of playing for Australia for many years, and finally made her debut in October last year. A dynamic wing defender who has the ability to shut down her opponent and create crucial turnovers. Simpson finished 10th in the ANZ Championship season for intercepts with 23, and 12th for deflections, with 44.

Liz Watson: Liz Watson is another player who made her debut in January. Like Simpson, Watson has been close to selection on many occasions. She was 12th in the ANZ Championship this year for goal assists, 153, and also has defensive ability, claiming 10 deflections for the season.

Stephanie Wood: Stephanie Wood has burst onto the scene this year, impressing in both wing attack and goal attack with the Swifts when given an opportunity. The only reason she is not continually getting a start with the NSW team is because her three positions are taken by veteran players Caitlin Thwaites, Susan Pettitt and Kimberlee Green. Wood has demonstrated her ability to play against the best defenders in the business when she is required, and has been a game changer at times, saving the Swifts from defeat a number of times this season.

 

Notable absences

Laura Geitz: The first noticeable absence from the team is Diamonds captain, Laura Geitz. After captaining the Diamonds in two successful campaigns, in the Commonwealth Games and World Cup, and captaining her ANZ Championship side, the Queensland Firebirds, to back-to-back premierships, Geitz has been rested for the upcoming series.

Susan Pettitt: Susan Pettitt is one of the most discussed absences from the Australian team over the last few years. Based on her current form, in which she was named the ANZ Championship All-Star Goal Attack three years in a row, many believe she should have been in the team. However given that now is the time to develop new, young talent, it is no surprise that Pettitt was not included in the team.

Paige Hadley: Paige Hadley is an interesting omission. Given she is a young player, it would make sense for her to play this series. However she has proved herself at the international level, playing in the World Cup winning side last year.

Gretel Tippett: Another young gun to be omitted from the team. Tippett adds a different dynamic with her lay-up shots at goal. Tippett scored 225 goals from 305 attempts this year in the ANZ Championship at 73 per cent.

Erin Bell: Erin Bell has had a tough season in the ANZ Championship. The Adelaide Thunderbirds were struck with injuries, illness and missed their captain, Renae Ingles, for the season while she was pregnant with twins. With the difficulty of captaining an injury-riddled team, and having her shooting combination with Carla Borrego interrupted during to Borrego’s ongoing injury, Bell didn’t make the team for 2016.

 

Australia’s competition

New Zealand Silver Ferns: Australia’s arch rivals on the netball court, the New Zealand Silver Ferns have had a rough patch in the last few years, losing both the Commonwealth Games and World Cup finals to Australia. The Diamonds have had a recent dominance over the Silver Ferns, however the Ferns will be out for redemption – so expect some more close matches between the world’s best.

South Africa Spar Proteas: The Proteas are an emerging talent in world netball. Taking out fifth place in last year’s world cup over Malawi, South Africa are continually improving. Although none of their players have ANZ Championship experience, their coach, Norma Plummer, has, coaching the Fever in the Championship as well as the Diamonds themselves.

England Roses:England are on the rise. They are catching, and significantly challenging the world’s best two teams each time they play, and have been close in the last two years to knocking Australia and New Zealand out of the finals of major competitions. Having many of their players involved in the ANZ Championship over recent years, the Roses have become more and more competitive, and with Australia’s young team, will be real competitors in the quad series.

 

Australian Diamonds Quad Series Team

  • Caitlin Bassett (GS)
  • April Brandley (GD, GK)
  • Sharni Layton (GK, GD, WD)
  • KristianaManu’a (GD, GK)
  • Clare McMeniman (GD, GK)
  • Natalie Medhurst (GA, GS)
  • Kimberley Ravaillion (WA, C, WD)
  • Madison Robinson (WA, C)
  • Gabi Simpson (WD, C)
  • Caitlin Thwaites (GS)
  • Liz Watson (WA, C, WD)
  • Stephanie Wood (GS, GA, WA)

Australian Diamonds Squad

  • Laura Geitz (GK, GD)
  • Paige Hadley (WA, C, WD)
  • Caitlyn Nevins (WA, C)
  • Susan Pettitt (GS, GA)
  • Gretel Tippett (GS, GA, WA)
  • Jo Weston (GD, GK, WD)

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

The last ever ANZ Championship finals series is underway, with four teams taking place in the do-or-die elimination finals.

The first round of the finals showed a distinct jump from the first and second placed teams in each country, to the third placed teams, with the margins from the weekend’s two games blowing out to over 14 goals each.

The NSW Swifts continued their recent dominance over the Melbourne Vixens, overpowering the Melbourne side, 67 – 53. A huge 20 goals to 12 second quarter by the Swifts set them up for the win, with the lead escalating to 21 goals in the third quarter.

With the game almost beyond reach in the final quarter, Vixens’ coach Simone McKinnis took the opportunity to introduce some of the team’s youngest players to finals netball, with 11 of their 12 players getting a run on court.

The second game of the elimination finals was played between the Northern Mystics and Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, with the Magic running out 16 goal winners, 63 – 47 and securing themselves a place in the conference final.

The Swifts will now move on to challenge the reigning premiers, the Firebirds, in the Australian Conference Final next weekend. The two grand finalists from last year have played twice this season, and are sitting at one win each, setting up for what will be a hard-fought battle between the two sides.

There is a wealth of mouth-watering match-ups throughout the court, from the ferocious pairing of Kimberlee Green and Gabi Simpson to the battle of the young-guns at centre between Kimberley Ravaillion and Paige Hadley.

There is however two combinations that will be key to the match, and they are at either end of the court. The first match-up is between Swifts’ shooter Caitlin Thwaites and Firebirds captain Laura Geitz. In recent encounters, Geitz has had the advantage over Thwaites, restricting her to just 10 goals for the first half in their last encounter, resulting in Thwaites being benched for the second half of the game. This match-up will have a crucial bearing on the match, with the Swifts needing Thwaites to fire if they hope to defeat the fast-scoring Firebirds.

Down the other end of the court the other key match-up is between Firebirds’ shooter Romelda Aiken and formidable Swifts’ defender, Sharni Layton. Aiken is the go-to player under the goals, scoring 571 of Firebirds’ 796 goals for the year, whilst Layton is one of the hardest and most athletic defenders in the competition, leading the competition in intercepts with 52 and deflections, 95.

The winner of the match will go on to verse the loser of the New Zealand Conference final between the undefeated Southern Steel, and the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic, whilst the loser of the Australian Conference final will take on the winner.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

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“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, so said the entertaining heavy-weight boxer Muhammed Ali. He also professed, “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was”.

The man born Cassius Clay would go on to win 56 boxing matches and lose only five before retiring in 1981. Despite his sometimes humorous speeches, often used to intimidate his opponents, Mohammad Ali had an earthiness about him which attracted many followers from around the globe.

“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others”, he said.

Ali died in hospital, aged 74, after Parkinson’s disease complicated a respiratory illness which led to septic shock. Born Cassius Clay, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali after he befriended Malcolm X and converted to Islam. Yet, it was not his religion, but his personality and fighting ability which won him millions of fans world-wide.

Soon after Muhammad Ali retired from boxing, his mother reminisced how, as a precocious 18-month old, he swung his hands in the air and accidently knocked-out one of her teeth. Such was the baby built to become the man who would win his first world heavy-weight title against the formidable Sonny Liston in 1964.

His two prized fights, famously known as “Rumble in the Jungle” and the “Thrilla in Manilla” catapulted his career into the world spotlight. Ali won the fight against George Foreman, or the “Rumble in the Jungle”, by tiring Foreman with the ‘rope-a-dope’ technique before knocking him out (KO) with a left-right combination by the 8th round in 1974. The following year in 1975, Ali fought Joe Frazier in the Philippines for the “Thrilla in Manilla” contest. It was this fight which many people speculated contributed to Ali’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, following brutal head-blows in a fight that lasted almost fifteen rounds against Frazier. Muhammad Ali won on a technical knock-out (TKO) when Frazier’s chief-second Eddie Futch called it quits after seeing Frazier nearly blind. Muhammad

Ali tried to intimidate his opponents with witty poems and fast ‘dancing’ feet, tiring them with quick reflexes in the beginning before mowing them down with brutal energy. Though his first trainer Joe Martin said Ali’s secret was his unusually fast eye speed. “It was blinding. The only other athlete I ever saw who had that kind of eye speed was Ted Williams. When he started fighting, Cassius was so fast with his eyes that you could give a guy a screen door and he wouldn’t hit Cassius 15 times with it in 15 rounds” Mr Martin said.

For most people though, it is not easy to watch two grown men punching each other until blood spurts from their noses, eyes and cuts inflicted on each other in the ring. Yet, boxing is a sport with rules, regulations and a culture of self-respect, with fighters often showing even more respect to their opponents outside of the ring. However, it was not always this way. In ancient Greece, opponents would often maul each other to death while wearing steel-studded gloves called cestus. In the late 19th century London established the Queensberry Rules after a few other trial-rule runs. It meant fighters fought for 3 minutes with a 1-minute rest in-between. Hugging, spitting, below-the-belt punches, hair-pulling, and shoes with spikes or springs were banned. A trained referee watched the fighters closely. Those fighters unable to get up within ten seconds were considered out. Fighters were also matched according to their weight.

Though many health professionals today advise against children boxing, Cassius Clay was only twelve when he was first introduced to this brutal sport with all its rules and regulations. After somebody stole his new bicycle, Cassius boasted how he would beat-up the thief if he ever found him. The local policeman Joe Martin, who was supervising the local boxing ring at the time, suggested Cassius learn how to box first before making threats. Thus began a six-year amateur career in boxing under his first trainer Joe Martin.

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The Melbourne Vixens have entered the top three of the Australian conference after a gutsy, come-from-behind win over the formerly third-placed West Coast Fever, 54 – 53.

The Vixens, who trailed for nearly the entire match, have taken over Fever’s spot in the top three, meaning that they are currently placed to proceed to the finals at the end of the season, if their position remains the same. However, for most of the game it was looking like it would be the Fever who would maintain that third-place. It was an arm-wrestle game from the get-go, with the biggest lead of the match being six. There was a turnover within the first five seconds of the game, with the Fever scoring the first after a string of turnovers for both the teams.

The Vixens defence of Geva Mentor and Jo Weston had no answer to the Fever’s attack early in the game, unable to stop the Australian Diamonds shooting pair, Natalie Medhurst and Caitlin Bassett.

The second quarter saw the Fever get a mini run, however they weren’t able to completely shake a persistent Vixens, who clawed their way back from a six goal deficit to a two goal deficit at one stage.

At half-time it would be a four goal difference between the teams, with the Fever in the lead. It looked to be another Fever-dominated quarter in the third, but the Vixens rallied late to level the scores at 35 all.

With the scores tied at 40 at the three-quarter-time break, the Fever fell away and only lead for a small period in the last quarter. Vixens captain Madison Robinson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last time she ventured to the west, was named MVP for the match, with 16 goal assists, 28 feeds and an intercept.

The Vixens now face the struggling Adelaide Thunderbirds, who have been devastated by injury and illness this season, and are sitting winless on the bottom of the ladder.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

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The Melbourne Vixens have been beaten at home, succumbing to the NSW Swifts for the second time this year, 59 – 51. The Vixens have now lost the last five games against the Swifts, and have lost the Sargeant – McKinnis Cup for the second year in a row.

The Vixens were able to run with the Swifts for a half, leading by three goals at quarter-time, and trailing by just one goal at the main break. However the home team were blown away by the Swifts in the third quarter, with the visitors outscoring them 15 – 9.

The bookends for the Swifts were the backbone of their win, with Sharni Layton and Caitlin Thwaites dominating. Goal keeper Layton was ferocious early, however her best plays came in the second half, when she dominated Vixens shooter Karyn Bailey and kept her to just three goals for the third quarter. Layton finished with four intercepts, 11 deflections and five gains.

Down the other end, Thwaites finished the match with 35 goals from 39 attempts in her MVP performance, scoring more goals than anyone else on court.

A rattled Vixens made a wealth of changes going into the last quarter, including giving youngsters Emily Mannix and Chloe Watson a run in GD and WD. With 12 minutes left on the clock the Vixens managed to reduce the margin to six, however could not get any closer to the Swifts, who powered away to a 10 goal lead before the Vixens brought in back to eight with a late goal from Kim Commane.

Vixens’ coach, Simone McKinnis said that consistency is still a real issue for the Vixens. “We haven’t got that four quarters, and you can’t play two and a half – three quarters against the Swifts and think that you’re going to get a [good] result,” McKinnis said post-match.

“It was a loss in round one, and it was a loss now. I thought we played well, particularly in that first half, I thought there was some good quality netball across the board, I thought that we played smart, strong but we didn’t continue that on through the whole four quarters.”

A defining factor of the game for the Vixens was their shooting, having just one less attempt at goal than the Swifts, but losing by eight. McKinnis was not impressed by the Vixens’ shooting for the match, which sat at 78 per cent, as opposed to the Swifts’ 89 per cent. “That’s not high enough,” McKinnis said.

She did also identify that it’s the defence’s job to make sure the shooters get enough ball to convert.
“[As defenders] you’ve got to give them as many opportunities as they need – if they need one hundred more, you’ve got to find a hundred more balls for them and if you don’t, well, you’re not doing your job.”

The Vixens now head west to take on the team keeping them out of the top three, the West Coast Fever.
“It’s super critical, but every game here on in for us it, and we have to win.”

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

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The Melbourne Vixens have made it two wins in a row against New Zealand teams, after defeating the Mainland Tactix 69 – 48 in captain Madison Robinson’s 100th ANZ Championship game.

After defeating the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic convincingly last week, the Vixens continued their good form to secure two wins in a row. The Vixens lead he entire match, scoring the first goal in 15 seconds and extending the lead to 20 goals before the final siren.

The Tactix struggled to find a flow in their attacking end, with Melbourne defender Geva Mentor menacing in defence, finishing with three intercepts and seven deflections for the match.

The Tactix made changes in every quarter to try to stop the damage of the Vixens’ attack and mid-court, however were ineffective with the visitors on fire, playing possibly their best game of the year.

A nasty fall by Vixen Jo Weston, caused concern throughout the Melbourne team’s camp in the third quarter, however the defender was able to finish out the quarter before moving to the bench halfway through the final term.

With the game all by won with an 18-goal lead, the Vixens were able to give younger players a run on court, with Emily Mannix, Chloe Watson and Kim Commane getting a chance to impress in the later stages of the game. The Vixens also celebrated the return of shooter Karyn Bailey, who missed the last two games with a foot injury. Bailey didn’t miss a beat in her return game, scoring 50 goals for the match. The connection between her and the rest of the attacking line made it look like they hadn’t missed a beat.

Robinson was another player for the Vixens who impressed, proving unstoppable in her 100th game, and she was rewarded by being given MVP of the match for her efforts. Robinson finished the match with 21 goal assists, 35 feeds and 29 centre pass receives, and forced the Tactix to change their wing defence constantly throughout the match.

The win temporarily moved the Vixens into third spot on the Australian conference ladder, however they were pushed back down to fourth after the West Coast Fever defeated the Magic later that night.

The Vixens now head home in a rematch with the NSW Swifts, who defeated the Vixens by 15 in the opening round of the season.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

The Melbourne Vixens young attacking line have shone in their 57 – 34 win over the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic.

The Vixens are missing their two star shooters, with Tegan Philip out for the season with a serious knee injury whilst Karyn Bailey has missed the last two games after injuring her foot.

These injuries leave an inexperienced trio of shooters for the Vixens, made up of Alice Teague-Neeld, Emma Ryde and Kim Commane, who have impressed in recent weeks against the world’s best defenders.

It took both teams a long time to settle into the match, with neither team scoring a goal for nearly five minutes.

It would be Ryde for the Vixens who settled first, scoring the first four goals of the match, and 11 for the quarter.

The Vixen’s full-court defence were able to keep the Magic scoreless until the halfway mark of the first quarter. Teague-Neeld found her form in the second quarter, with the combination between her and Vixen’s captain, Madison Robinson, at wing attack began to flow seamlessly.

Commane entered the match three minutes before half-time and was the star for the Vixens, scoring more goals than anyone else in the match, including prominent English shooter, Jo Harten. Commane scored 25 goals from 29 attempts and four rebounds, rebounding the shots she missed.

Not to be outdone however was the Vixens’ defensive end, who are starting to find their feet after the retirement of team captain, Bianca Chatfield, last year. English defender Geva Mentor was effective against her national teammate, Harten, resulting in the shooter being benched after half-time, whilst Jo Weston was able to get some valuable intercepts to stem any flow the Magic could find. Between the two, they finished with 13 gains, three intercepts and 10 deflections.

The Vixens’ led from the opening goal of the match, never relinquishing their lead. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Vixens had an unassailable 20-goal lead, and the Magic had no answer, making changes to their on-court seven to no avail.

Vixens coach, Simone McKinnis was full of praise for Commane after match. “To have that option there for Kim [Commane] to come on to provide that movement; she’s strong, she’s tough, she creates the opportunity just by taking the balls that are not even good balls sometimes. She wants it and she demands it and that grows confidence with the players that are around her.”

The Vixens now turn their sights to the Mainland Tactix, who are a much improved side from last year, sitting second on the New Zealand Conference ladder.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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The Werribee Racing Club held its annual Multicultural Race Day on the 2nd of April 2016, with a fantastic array of international food vendors, music, performances, international stalls, and of course a full day of horse racing. The event highlighted not only our nation’s multicultural influences, but also the incredibly authentic and diverse cultures of Wyndham and surrounding suburbs’.

Race-goers enjoyed the exceptional racing, made use of the relaxed picnic setting on the lawns and took advantage of the entertainment and local produce. Patrons swapped their fascinators and suits for a sun hat and open neck shirt and shorts while soaking up the sun on the lush lawns and venturing through all the activities on offer. Guests were kept busy with plenty of free entertainment, whilst international live music acts, marquees and international fashions on the field attracted plenty of attention.

Ron is a fashion and sports photojournalist by passion and been doing freelance since 2010. Indeed a simple down-to-earth guy who's easy to get along with, well organised and communicate well with people. He has done and continue to do model shoots, covering fashion shows and sporting events including special occasions. Some of the celebrities and major fashion and sporting events he had covered are: The Sound of Music, Black Swan, Jennifer Hawkins, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics Australia, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Kooyong Classic, Swimming Victoria, Hyundai A-League, Netball Victoria, Australian Ice Hockey League, Netball Australia, Miss Universe Australia, Miss World Australia, among others.

Profile: View Ronald's profile here

Email: ronald.quinonez@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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The Melbourne Ice have got their 2016 campaign off to a winning start in the Australian Ice Hockey League. They defeated the Melbourne Mustangs 3-0, in front of a sold out crowd at the O’Brien Group Arena in the first Melbourne Derby for the year.

At the end of the second, the Ice were up 1-0 with the lone goal scored by Joey Hughes in the opening minutes of the game.

In the third, the Ice ramped up the attack, with goals coming from Matt Armstrong and Tommy Powell to finish off the Mustangs in their season opener.

“A huge shout out to all the fans who made it to last night’s epic Derby!” The Ice posted on their Facebook page. “It was great to see a packed house of hockey supporters and even better to walk away with the opening win!”

Ron is a fashion and sports photojournalist by passion and been doing freelance since 2010. Indeed a simple down-to-earth guy who's easy to get along with, well organised and communicate well with people. He has done and continue to do model shoots, covering fashion shows and sporting events including special occasions. Some of the celebrities and major fashion and sporting events he had covered are: The Sound of Music, Black Swan, Jennifer Hawkins, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics Australia, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Kooyong Classic, Swimming Victoria, Hyundai A-League, Netball Victoria, Australian Ice Hockey League, Netball Australia, Miss Universe Australia, Miss World Australia, among others.

Profile: View Ronald's profile here

Email: ronald.quinonez@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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Bruno Fornaroli has helped Melbourne City book their spot in the Hyundai A-League semi-finals, after a superb double which sealed a 2-0 win over Perth Glory.

The Uruguayan foot baller netted a superb bicycle kick and later a free-kick to steer City into the last four of the Finals Series.

This Friday, City will be heading to Coopers Stadium to face newly crowned Premiers Adelaide United for a place in the grand final.

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The Melbourne Vixens gone down to the Queensland Firebirds [47-58] in Round 3 of the ANZ Championship at Hisense Arena.

It was a strong start for the Firebirds, with star import Romelda Aiken opening up a three-goal lead early in the game. However, Vixen’s Emma Ryde and Alice Teague-Neeld helped them fight back to 9-all midway through the first quarter with some strong work in the circle.

The resilient Vixens showed they were up for the challenge with an evenly contested first half. Geva Mentor was tested up against Aiken in the second quarter, but it was Mentor’s two intercepts that helped keep the hosts in the game leading into halftime.

Kim Commane replaced young-gun Alice Teague-Neeld mid-way through the 3rd quarter, making an instant impact on the scoreboard for the Vixens. However, the Firebirds out-scored the Vixens to hold a 46-35 lead at the last break.

The defending champions had to show all their class and composure to eventually fend off a stirring final quarter effort by the never-say-die Vixens. In the final minutes of play, the Vixens fought back to get within seven goals of the lead, before the Firebirds cruised to an 11-goal victory.

Ron is a fashion and sports photojournalist by passion and been doing freelance since 2010. Indeed a simple down-to-earth guy who's easy to get along with, well organised and communicate well with people. He has done and continue to do model shoots, covering fashion shows and sporting events including special occasions. Some of the celebrities and major fashion and sporting events he had covered are: The Sound of Music, Black Swan, Jennifer Hawkins, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics Australia, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Kooyong Classic, Swimming Victoria, Hyundai A-League, Netball Victoria, Australian Ice Hockey League, Netball Australia, Miss Universe Australia, Miss World Australia, among others.

Profile: View Ronald's profile here

Email: ronald.quinonez@theaustraliatimes.com.au

The Melbourne Vixens have recorded their first win of the 2016 ANZ Championship season, after defeating the struggling Adelaide Thunderbirds on Sunday, 59 – 44.

The Vixens dominated three quarters of the match, with the Thunderbirds staging a comeback in the third quarter to turn a 17-goal deficit into just eight.

The Thunderbirds, undermanned following the loss of captain, Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) prior to the season while she is expecting twins, and defender Amy Steel, who is out with glandular fever, were dealt another blow with what looks to be a devastating knee injury to rising shooter, Cody Lange. Lange joined the game halfway through the second quarter when the Thunderbirds were down by eight goals, however her appearance was short lived and she was stretchered off after just 40 seconds on court. It was later confirmed the incident has effectively ended Lange’s breakthrough season. She ruptured her Anterior Cruicate Ligament and lateral meniscus and will require a knee reconstruction.

The game was a career best for young Vixens’ shooter, Alice Teague-Neeld, who scored 21 goals from 23 attempts in just her second full ANZ Championship game. Her shooting partner, Karyn Bailey, was on song again after struggling against the NSW Swifts last week, scoring 38 goals from 46 attempts and controlling the shooting circle.

Both teams have a tough round next week, taking on two of the three undefeated teams left in the competition. The Vixens will go up against the reigning premiers, the Queensland Firebirds, whilst the Thunderbirds turn their sights to the NSW Swifts.

Round Wrap
The NSW Swifts again dominated their opponents, defeating the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic 78 – 50 and solidifying their position as favourites in the competition. Kimberlee Green was strong again in her second MVP for the season, finishing with 17 goal assists.

The first draw of the season occurred between the Southern Steel and Mainland Tactix, despite the Janiele Fowler-Reid’s 50 goal haul for the Steel. The teams were locked on 58 goals each, with Fowler-Reid scoring all but eight of her team’s goals.

The West Coast Fever continued their good start to the season, defeating the Northern Mystics in New Zealand, 54 – 44. Shae Brown was again named MVP for the Fever, with 140 possessions and 134 passes, whilst Bassett was on song with her shooting, scoring 40 goals from 44 attempts.

The Central Pulse travelled over to Queensland to take on the reigning premiers, the Firebirds, with three Pulse players, Jacinta Messer, Chelsea Locke and Ameliaranne Wells, formerly playing for the Firebirds. The trio didn’t have success on their return to Brisbane however, with the Firebirds defeating the visitors 61 – 45.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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The Revolutionary Self-Inflating Stand Up Paddle Board Is Making Paddle Boarding Simple And Fun While Saving Time

Check out the video here

SipaBoards, the company that designed the world’s first electric SUP has launched a new Kickstarter campaign, this time introducing the super simple self-inflatable.

The brand-new SipaBoards AIR stand up paddleboard is the most easy-to-pump  inflatable ever. The fully integrated pump ensures that the SUP is inflated to a perfect pressure in less than 5 minutes, all at the touch of the magnetic switch. Electric compressor is run by a removable battery that will inflate the board three times with one charge. In words of its founder Sebastjan Sitar “this highly advanced SUP was designed to get paddleboarders on the water more quickly, more easily and more often.”

The new SipaBoards Air product line comes in 3 board shapes, namely the All Rounder, a great board for the whole family, the Cruiser, ideal for longer paddleboarding trips, and the Balance (yoga) model, for tons of stability and serenity on the water. The sleek and smart design provides users with the absolute best paddling experience.

 

The design team led by Jaro Jelovac who, also works with ski manufacturers Elan and Fischer, has already picked up a prestigious Red Dot Award 2015, taking the honors in the competition’s highest category – the Best of the Best. This year, SipaBoards received honors by becoming ISPO Brand New Award finalist.

 

The SipaBoards AIR video material is available for download in HD quality, as well as a full press kit with hi-res photos. Contact Nina Čavž at nina@sipaboards.com for more information and test-drive inquiries.

 

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The 2016 Victorian Open Championships, Victoria’s premier event of the year in swimming, took place on the 22-24 January 2016 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

A stack of Australian Dolphins Swim Team members competed, with one eye on the road to Rio. The Championships acted as a tune-up meet for some and part of the comeback trail for others. Former World Champion and Olympic silver medallist James Magnussen opened his summer of swimming with a win in the men’s 100m freestyle finals, after a nine month break from racing while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

Also impressive on the opening night of finals and making her debut on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team at the Perth Aquatic Super Series in just a few weeks’ time, 18-year-old Georgia Bohl, proved her potential after clocking a speedy 1:06.98 for the 100m breaststroke. Bohl’s time was quick enough to move up the ranks in the Australian all-time top ten for the event from 10th to sixth overall, mixing it with the best in the business and putting her name down for serious contention in the race to Rio.

There seems to be no stopping dual World Champion Mitch Larkin who won twice to take two titles on the second night of finals. Larkin demonstrated his versatility when he started the night with a win in the men’s 200m individual medley. Then not long after, Larkin was back in the water for a crack at his pet event, the 200m backstroke. In typical Larkin form, the St Peters Western swimmer was streaks ahead of the field and touched the wall over two seconds clear of his fellow World Championship teammate Josh Beaver, while the bronze medal went to Keelan Bridge of Sydney University who finished over five seconds behind Larkin.

In the women’s 100m backstroke it was Larkin’s training partner Madison Wilson stopped the clock at 59.22 to get the better of local Victorians Belinda Hocking and Hayley Baker, setting the only sub-one-minute time in the field. Wilson, the silver medalist from this event at the 2015 World Championships, along with Hocking were originally disqualified from the event after the heats and were then re-instated after officials analysed the video footage.

Olympian Alicia Coutts announced her return to form with a win in the women’s 200m individual medley. Coutts dug deep to hold off a chase from fellow London Olympic teammate Blair Evans and take first place in a time of 2:12.05, with both girls only just off the Olympic A qualifying time of 2:11.39.

Image courtesy of Reniel Torres

Ron is a fashion and sports photojournalist by passion and been doing freelance since 2010. Indeed a simple down-to-earth guy who's easy to get along with, well organised and communicate well with people. He has done and continue to do model shoots, covering fashion shows and sporting events including special occasions. Some of the celebrities and major fashion and sporting events he had covered are: The Sound of Music, Black Swan, Jennifer Hawkins, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics Australia, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Kooyong Classic, Swimming Victoria, Hyundai A-League, Netball Victoria, Australian Ice Hockey League, Netball Australia, Miss Universe Australia, Miss World Australia, among others.

Profile: View Ronald's profile here

Email: ronald.quinonez@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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With a draw featuring six current and former top 15 players and an expanded 12-man field, this year’s Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic promised to be bigger and more spectacular – and didn’t disappoint!

“The Kooyong draw features four top 20 players so there’s no better place to see the players up close than Melbourne’s original home of tennis,” said tournament director Brian Cooney. “If you want to watch some of the biggest names in the sport prepare for the start of their Grand Slam season, Kooyong’s the place to be.”

Thanks to Canon Australia, TAT Sport was able to capture the action between Nicolás Almagro and Paul-Henri Mathieu on Day 1 of the matches scheduled on the 12th January 2016. The Classic was eventually won by David Goffin.

The Kooyong Classic is firmly established as the premier lead up event for the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific, the Australian Open. As part of the summer of tennis in Melbourne, Australia, each year in January, twelve of the world’s top male players grace Kooyong’s historic centre court, maintaining a long and distinguished tradition as the ‘spiritual home of tennis’.

Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt is the only one of seven Australian winners to have been crowned the Kooyong Champion more than once (2011, 2013). Michael Chang, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick co-hold the record for most titles with three victories each. Other champions include Roger Federer, Mark Philippoussis, David Nalbandian, Fernando Verdasco and Bernard Tomic.

This boutique event provides an intimate setting for fans in a fun and friendly environment, whilst allowing them to watch the world’s top players at their best!

Photograph taken by Ronald Quinonez.

Ron is a fashion and sports photojournalist by passion and been doing freelance since 2010. Indeed a simple down-to-earth guy who's easy to get along with, well organised and communicate well with people. He has done and continue to do model shoots, covering fashion shows and sporting events including special occasions. Some of the celebrities and major fashion and sporting events he had covered are: The Sound of Music, Black Swan, Jennifer Hawkins, Heidi Klum, Serena Williams, Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classics Australia, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Kooyong Classic, Swimming Victoria, Hyundai A-League, Netball Victoria, Australian Ice Hockey League, Netball Australia, Miss Universe Australia, Miss World Australia, among others.

Profile: View Ronald's profile here

Email: ronald.quinonez@theaustraliatimes.com.au

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By Jess Fagan

After a 17-year drought – Australia has once again claimed the Hopman Cup title, thanks to the heroics of ‘Australia Green’, Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova.

To put that into perspective, the only other time Australia has lifted the trophy, when Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic teamed up to take out the crown in 1999, Kyrgios was just 3 and his partner Gavrilova was 4.

20-year-old Kyrgios was in sparking form all week, undefeated in all his singles matches, including an impressive win over world number 2, Andy Murray. The young pairing also enjoyed an unbeaten run in the doubles.

But it was Gavrilova, who only received her Australian passport a few weeks before the event, who got the team off to the perfect start against Ukraine in the final, with a straight sets win over No. 19, Elina Svitolina. Kyrgios then completed the victory with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Having known each other since their junior days, the win obviously meant a lot to the rising stars and Gavrilova was lost for words when it came time to accept the trophy.

“Thank you everyone for supporting us once again!” She said on Twitter after the tie. “Big thanks to @TennisAustralia, @NickKyrgios you were amazing, thank you!”

It’s also a positive sign for both players leading into the Australian Open. Kyrgios’ dismantling of Murray will have sent a strong message to the rest of the field.

Image courtesy of Nick Kyrgios’ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/nkyrgios/?fref=nf)

The Australian Diamonds have suffered a shock loss to the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the third game of the Constellation Cup in Melbourne, going do 50 – 47.

The Diamonds, who are missing many of their World Cup stars from earlier this year, took the opportunity to debut two new players, Ashleigh Brazill and hometown girl, Joanna Weston.

Despite missing the likes of Julie Corletto, Kimberlee Green and Rebecca Bulley, who retired after the world cup, and Laura Geitz and Renae Ingles (nee’ Hallinan) who were rested, the Diamonds did not miss a beat in the opening quarter.

Brazill was named in the starting seven for her first Australian Diamonds appearance and played the whole game, producing some exciting intercepts, whilst young up-and-comer, Weston, made her debut in the final three minutes of the match.

Natalie Medhurst, acting captain in Geitz’s absence, was outstanding in the first quarter, from snatching intercepts to shooting long-bombs.

Her form in the first quarter prompted a change in the New Zealand defensive end, with Katrina Grant getting the nod to try to minimise the goal attack’s effect.

Gretel Tippet, who made her debut just last week in New Zealand, proved to have an engaging tussle with New Zealand’s Kayla Cullen.

The unconventionally tall wing-attack brought a different dynamic to the Diamonds’ attacking line and took New Zealand half of the game to contain.

Australia wasn’t the only team not at full-strength, the New Zealand’s star shooter, Maria Tutaia, missing the series also.

A slow start earlier in the first quarter did not hinder the Diamonds, leading 15 – 9 at the end of the first period.

Changes made by New Zealand going into the second quarter, with Grant taking the court in goal defence and Jodi Brown making her way in at goal attack, did not immediately have an impact on the game, with the margin increasing by one goal going into the main break.

Australia’s first change of the game was made going into the second half, with Caitlin Bassett being benched after a foot injury and Caitlin Thwaites taking the court at goal shooter.

Bassett scored 24 goals from 25 attempts for her half of netball.

The move however disrupted Australia’s momentum in attack, as New Zealand closed the gap to four.

Sharni Layton was outstanding in the early parts of the third quarter, with her hard work against New Zealand’s Bailey Mes starting to provide dividends.

Not to be bettered, Mes came out after an injury-time out to shoot eight goals in a row, five before three-quarter time to equal the scores, and three after.

In a last effort bid to counter New Zealand’s Casey Kopua’s dominance in defence in her 100th test match, Australia inserted Erin Bell into the game in goal shooter to pair-up with Medhurst.

Bell shot beautifully in the last quarter, scoring eight goals from nine attempts.

Despite the move, it was New Zealand who rallied first and gained three-goal lead that Australia could not regain in the final minutes of the match.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said the most disappointing part of today’s game was letting their nine-goal lead slip away in the third quarter.

“I think we should’ve and could’ve won and gone on with it in the second half and it was very disappointing,” Alexander said.

“That’s what’s most disappointing; that we didn’t put the foot down in the second quarter.”

Bailey Mes was named MVP for the game, after scoring 29 goals from 40 attempts, however was shocked after getting named the most valuable player.

“I was a little [shocked]. Obviously the first half wasn’t amazing but definitely was good to be able to push on,” Mes said.

“I think I made it a little harder for myself in that first half.”

The final test will be played in Perth on Friday and will determine the winner of the Constellation Cup.

I am currently a second-year Sports Journalism student at Melbourne's La Trobe University campus. I have a passion for sport, mainly netball, basketball, AFL and cricket.

Profile: View Aimee's profile here

Email: aimee.dawson@theaustraliatimes.com.au

Norm Smith medalist Cyril Rioli

By Justin Lemmon

On a record breaking day it wasn’t just Melbourne that cranked up the heat but Hawthorn also – melting away any semblance of Eagle’s resistance on their way to a third straight premiership.

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Words: Jess Fagan

Australian Jason Day has soared the top of golf’s word rankings with victory at the BWM Championships.

 

Day’s 4th win from 6 starts saw the 27-year-old become just the third Australian, after Greg Norman and Adam Scott, to hold the No. 1 ranking.

 

The Aussie took to Twitter this morning to share his joy at realising his childhood dream.

 

“How sweet it is,” he said, before thanking his team and those involved in running the tournament.

 

“#WorldNo1 Been amazing ride! Onward to more!”

 

We’ll have more on Jason Day’s incredible rise to the top in this month’s TAT Sport magazine.

 

Image courtesy of  Twitter.

Jess' first love is tennis, but she is very much a general sport lover so enjoys the opportunity to write about different things as they come her way. Jess started contributing to TAT Sport in 2013 and it has helped her develop her writing skills and broaden her sporting horizons. She feels lucky to have the chance to fill the editor position with such a great team around her and has learnt so much from everyone who's written articles for the magazine.

Profile: View Jess's profile here

Email: jess.fagan@theaustraliatimes.com.au

Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour 2015 Pretoria Taka Higashino (JPN), Tom Pages (FRA), Clinton Moore (AUS)

Tom Pagès of France and Clinton Moore of Australia delivered a Final for the ages on Saturday in front of 17,000 wild fans at the return of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour to Pretoria, South Africa. Pagès claimed the top step of the podium with Moore in second, while Taka Higashino of Japan took third.

PRETORIA, South Africa – France’s Tom Pagès, the innovator who has changed the game in freestyle motocross, shook up the 2015 World Tour standings as well with an electrifying triumph in the Red Bull X-Fighters return to Pretoria, South Africa on September 12. Pagès faced the man who has clung to the top of the overall leaderboard all season, Clinton Moore of Australia, in a flawless Final where both riders served up tricks that were unimaginable in seasons past.

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Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2015 Polignano a Mare - Andy Jones - ...

Hunt and Simpson win Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series stop in Polignano a Mare, Italy, on September 13, 2015.

The 31-year-old Englishman pulled off five 10s in three rounds of competition and finished with a running take-off and a personal best of 548.20 points, making it six out of seven victories this season. On his heels in the penultimate stop as well as in the overall standings is Colombia’s Orlando Duque in second, closely followed by Jonathan Paredes from Mexico only 2.45 points behind.

In the 2015 Women’s World Series American Rachelle Simpson defended her overall title by taking her second victory in three competitions in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 55,000 Italian cliff diving aficionados.

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champions

 TAT  Sports Reporter Aimee Dawson                                                                                                                 Image: netball.com.au

 

The Australian Diamonds have claimed the 2015 Netball World Cup title for the third time in a row, after defeating the New Zealand Silver Ferns 58 -55.

The Diamonds not only recorded their highest world cup netball score against New Zealand in regular time, but it is also the first time any team has won back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold and World Cup gold since 1999.

Australia only won the first quarter of the match, but it was enough to give them a maintainable lead, with New Zealand scoring more goals in the last three-quarters.

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By Amiee Dawson

The Australian Diamonds will play in tomorrow’s gold medal match of the Netball World Cup, after defeating the Jamaican Sunshine Girls in a record-breaking match.

The Diamonds won by 11 goals, 67 – 56 in front of a world-record-breaking crowd of 16, 244.

The Diamonds will face the New Zealand Silver Ferns in the gold medal match, who defeated England earlier today, also by 11, 50 – 39.

The Diamonds, who smashed Wales yesterday 89 – 24, were fast out of the blocks, scoring five goals to one in the opening minutes of play.

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By Aimee Dawson

 

The Australian Diamonds have pushed into top spot of the Pool F Ladder, after defeating South Africa convincingly, 66 – 31.

Australia are now one game clear, followed by England and South Africa on one win each, and Wales with zero wins.

The Diamonds opted to go with a different line-up to usual, with many of their starting seven including Caitlin Bassett, Natalie Medhurst, Kimberlee Green and Julie Corletto not taking part in the game.

Despite this, Australia still dominated, scoring a phenomenal 23 goals to five in the first quarter.

South Africa started to find their form in the second quarter, however were unable to stop Australia’s attacking line, who still scored 15 goals in the quarter to South Africa’s seven.

Australian captain, Laura Geitz, was injected into the game in the third-quarter, moving formidable defender, Sharni Layton, out to goal defence for the remainder of the match.

Layton regained her form, finishing with seven intercepts and five deflections for the game, whilst Erin Bell and Caitlin Thwaites shared the shooting load, scoring 33 goals each.

Results

Trinidad and Tobago, 75 defeat Singapore 32

Fiji, 48 defeat Barbados, 37

Scotland, 59 defeat Sri Lanka, 27

Samoa, 55 defeat Zambia, 53

England, 78 defeat Wales, 33

New Zealand, 57 defeat Malawi, 49

 

Standings

Pool E

  1. New Zealand, 2 wins
  2. Malawi, 1 win
  3. Uganda, 0 wins
  4. Jamaica, 0 wins

Pool F

  1. Australia, 2 wins
  2. England 1 win
  3. South Africa, 1 win
  4. Wales, 0 wins

Pool G

  1. Trinidad and Tobago, 2 wins
  2. Samoa, 2 wins
  3. Zambia, 0 wins
  4. Singapore, 0 wins

 

By Aimee Dawson

 

The Australian Diamonds are back on the winner’s list at the Netball World Cup in Sydney, defeating world number three, England in their first qualifying round match.

After suffering a preliminary round shock loss to rivals, the New Zealand Silver Ferns, Australia bounced back to lead at every break and defeat England, 51 – 41.

Australia’s defence was firing early, however the home team were unable to convert, losing the ball in the attacking third.

Luckily for the Diamonds, the defensive duo of Laura Geitz and Julie Corletto were able to turnover enough ball to give Australia the edge going into the first break, leading by three goals.

Australia continued this momentum, increasing their lead over England at every break to finish 10 goal victors.

Captain Geitz was one of the best for the Diamonds, finishing with four gains, three intercepts and seven deflections for the match, whilst shooter Jo Harten was crucial for England, scoring 30 goals from 33 attempts.

Corletto, who was playing in her 50th test for Australia, highlighted the importance of a full-court defence in their victory.

“We knew it had to be full court pressure to get the job done and it’s a great feeling to get the win,” Corletto said.

Australia will now play South Africa tonight, whilst England will take on Wales.

Results

Samoa, 46 defeat Singapore, 39

Trinidad and Tobago, 66 defeat Zambia, 39

South Africa, 68 defeat Wales, 40

Malawi, 59 defeat Uganda, 53

Fiji, 77 defeat Sri Lanka, 31

Scotland, 37 defeat Barbados, 34

New Zealand, 55 defeat Jamaica, 48

 

Standings

Pool E

  1. New Zealand, 1 win
  2. Malawi, 1 win
  3. Uganda, 0 wins
  4. Jamaica, 0 wins

Pool F

  1. South Africa, 1 win
  2. Australia, 1 win
  3. England, 0 wins
  4. Wales, 0 wins

Pool G

  1. Trinidad and Tobago, 1 win
  2. Samoa, 1 win
  3. Singapore, 0 wins
  4. Zambia, 0 wins

 

Pool H

  1. Fiji, 1 win
  2. Scotland, 1 win
  3. Barbados, 0 wins
  4. Sri Lanka, 0 wins

By Aimee Dawson

 

The favourites to take out the Netball World Championship, the Australian Diamonds, have suffered a shock lost to arch-rivals, the New Zealand Silver Ferns.

Australia never looked like winning as New Zealand found their form that has been missing for the past two years.

New Zealand lead at every break to take the win, 52 – 47.

The Diamonds started the match fast, causing a New Zealand turnover in the opening minute, however lost the lead just a minute later and would never regain it.

New Zealand go-to shooter, Maria Tutaia, was shaky early, shooting at only 60 per cent for the first quarter, however found her radar in the second quarter and proved troublesome for the Diamonds to contain.

Tutaia shot 34 goals from 48 attempts in the game, whilst her shooting partner, Bailey Mes, was also impressive, shooting 18 goals at 85.7 per cent.

Vice-captain, Kimberlee Green, was the best for Australia in the first quarter, with 10 goal assists and 24 feeds, however New Zealand held a three goal lead at the first break.

Julie Corletto was injected into the game in goal defence in the second quarter, her first game time since the opening match of the competition.

Despite a temporary comeback in which the Diamonds levelled the score, the Silver Ferns were still ahead by three-goals at the main break.

The margin continued to blow-out in the second half, with the difference growing to eight goals mid-way through the third quarter.

New Zealand defence was on-top, with Australia’s attacking line and midcourt looking rattled under the formidable defensive duo Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin.

It was do-or-die for Australia going into the final quarter, and they did not back down, scoring quickly to reduce the margin from six goals to just three before New Zealand called a time-out.

The Silver Ferns came out of the time-out the better of the two teams and put the win beyond doubt with a Laura Langman intercept late in the quarter.

Kopua was outstanding for the Silver Ferns in their win, finishing with three gains, two intercepts and five deflections.

The loss ends Australia’s 21 match winning streak and puts their goal of winning a home World Cup in jeopardy.

Australia will have a day break before taking on world number three, England, on Tuesday.

Day 3 Scores

Wales, 71 defeat Zambia, 44

Trinidad and Tobago, 55 defeat Barbados, 39

England, 85 defeat Samoa, 34

Malawi, 75 defeat Singapore, 31

 

Standings

Pool A

  1. New Zealand, 3 wins
  2. Australia, 2 wins
  3. Trinidad and Tobago, 1 win
  4. Barbados, 0 wins

Pool B

  1. England, 3 wins
  2. Jamaica, 1 win
  3. Scotland, 1 win
  4. Samoa, 0 wins

Pool C

  1. Malawi, 3 wins
  2. South Africa, 1 win
  3. Singapore, 1 win
  4. Sri Lanka, 0 wins

Pool D

  1. Uganda, 2 wins
  2. Wales, 2 wins
  3. Fiji, 0 wins
  4. Zambia, 0 wins

By Aimee Dawson

 

The Australian Diamonds are sitting steady on top of their pool ladder, after a solid second-day win over Barbados.

The Diamonds were victors in their high scoring affair, defeating Barbados 83 – 16.

After their shaky start in yesterday’s match, the Diamonds were fast out of the blocks, scoring six goals before Barbados scored their first.

Renae Hallinan was dominant for Australia in the first quarter, and instrumental in keeping their opponents to just three goals for the quarter.

The Diamonds continued their run into the second quarter and it took six minutes for Barbados to score their first goal for the quarter.

With three minutes left in the first half, the Diamonds edged out to a 30-goal lead, and led by 31 at half-time, 38 – seven.

The Australians again made massive changes to their team at the main break, with all players except for their captain, Laura Geitz, changing positions on court.

The players took little time to adjust to however, with the margin continuing to edge out to 50 at the three-quarter time break.

A tired and fatigued Barbados fought hard in the final quarter, however were unable to keep up with the Diamonds’ speed and experience at the international level.

The shining lights for Barbados in the final quarter however were their two shooters, Sheniqua Thomas and Shonica Wharton, who are 17 and 19 years old respectively, pairing up in the goal circle to showcase the future of netball in Barbados.

Australia ran out convincing winners by 67 goals, sending them to the top of the Pool A ladder.

Defender Julie Corletto was the only player for the Diamonds to not take the court in the win, with the coaches opting to rest her for the match.

The Diamonds now face their biggest challenge of the competition on Sunday, playing against arch-rivals, the New Zealand Silver Ferns, in the match for top-spot in their pool.

Day 2 Scores

Uganda, 61 defeat Fiji, 40

New Zealand, 74 defeat Trinidad and Tobago, 38

Scotland, 47 defeat Samoa, 36

South Africa, 69 defeat Singapore, 21

England, 54 defeat Jamaica, 50

Malawi, 101 defeat Sri Lanka, 18

 

Standings

Pool A

  1. Australia, 2 wins
  2. New Zealand, 2 wins
  3. Trinidad and Tobago, 0 wins
  4. Barbados, 0 wins

Pool B

  1. England, 2 wins
  2. Jamaica, 1 win
  3. Scotland, 1 win
  4. Samoa, 0 wins

Pool C

  1. Malawi, 2 wins
  2. South Africa, 1 win
  3. Singapore, 1 win
  4. Sri Lanka, 0 wins

Pool D

  1. Uganda, 2 wins
  2. Wales, 1 win
  3. Fiji, 0 wins
  4. Zambia, 0 wins
Michael Clarke, image courtesy of Wikipedia (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Pm_cricket_shots09_5995.jpg)

By Justin Lemmon

 

In the midst of what has been a disastrous Ashes campaign for Australia, the cost is already beginning to be felt – the urn is back in English hands and Australia’s captain Michael Clarke is the first playing casualty.

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By Aimee Dawson

 

The Australian Diamonds have made a successful start to their Netball World Cup title defence, defeating Trinidad and Tobago 73 – 32.

It was a shaky start for the Diamonds, who opted to begin with a different starting line-up than has come to be expected, with Erin Bell getting the start at goal attack over Natalie Medhurst, and Sharni Layton beginning in goal defence.

The nervous start gave Trinidad and Tobago the opportunity to take the front at 6 – 5, however a missed goal gave the Australians the opportunity to manufacture a lead.

After scoring 11 goals in a row late in the first quarter, Australia took a 16 – 5 lead into the first break.

Finding their stride, the Diamonds continued their run into the second quarter, scoring 19 goals to Trinidad and Tobago’s 11.

The Diamonds made a wealth of changes to their side going into the second half, giving players the opportunity to play at world cup level, and ensuring players are rested for future games.

The team took time to settle to the new changes, however by the final quarter, the team were firing and playing their best netball of the tournament, to bring the margin to over 40 goals.

The Diamonds claimed their 20th straight win, defeating Trinidad and Tobago by 41 goals.

Diamonds defender Sharni Layton was menacing in defence, finishing with four intercepts and six deflections, making her claim to be given a starting spot in the team against the best opponents.

The shooters were also on song, sharing the scoring between all four goalers.

Caitlin Thwaites, who is playing at her first World Championships, was the highest scoring, shooting 26 goals from 32 attempts.

Australia now sit second on their pool ladder, with New Zealand leading the pool by percentage.

Australia will play Barbados tomorrow.

Day One Scores

Wales, 59 defeated Fiji, 52

Jamaica, 90 defeated Samoa, 44

Singapore, 56 defeated Sri Lanka 43

Malawi, 58 defeated South Africa, 51

Uganda, 74 defeated Zambia, 38

England, 60 defeated Scotland, 19

New Zealand, 73 defeated Barbados, 28

Wallabies captain with ball

#Pass4Prostate tackles men’s health issues via social media

 

Thursday 6th August 2015 – Sydney, Australia – The Australian Wallabies are using their historic match against the USA Eagles on their way to the 2015 Rugby World Cup as the backdrop to launch a campaign that aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

 

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and match sponsor Astellas  have teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia (PCFA) and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research group to launch #Pass4Prostate.

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Sport is something we participate in, write about and watch because we enjoy it. For many of us, the pursuit of success and passion for our chosen sport exceeds all else. However it’s important to remember there are downsides and dangers to the sports we love.

The dangers and risks posed by motorsport are extreme and today we are all reminded of just that. F1 driver Jules Bianchi, having been hospitalised after a crash in Japan, passed away as a result of his injuries, never regaining consciousness. It is a sad day for his friends, family, Formula 1 team mates and opponents as well as all F1 fans.

It is terrible to see someone leave us while simply pursuing their passion and we here at TAT Sport send our best wishes to the Bianchi family, the Manor F1 team, the rest of the F1 drivers and teams and the F1 world.

Vale and thank you Jules.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons: Henry Mineur

 

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By Michael Luxford

 

Heading into a decider in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium, New South Wales were going to have to be at their best if they intended on coming away as Origin champions.

The match started in typical Origin fashion, with both teams taking the two points on offer after receiving penalties close to the line. NSW took a two point lead after just five minutes, when Trent Hodkinson kicked a penalty goal from close in front. Some lazy work around the ruck allowed Jonathan Thurston to level the scores after Queensland were awarded a penalty also opting to take the penalty goal.

This would be the closest that NSW would get as Queensland mounted an onslaught. In his debut match Dane Gagai crossed for the first try of the match, after some second phase plays and a long pass from Corey Parker presented him with an open line.
Josh Papalii was the next to cross for the home side. Snubbed for the first two matches Papalii was bought into add some much needed size, and the bulking back rower did just that. Queensland rolled down field and a short ball from Thurston allowed Papalii to go through almost untouched.
Queensland would go into the break leading 22-2 after Greg Inglis crossed the line late in the half. This try also gave Inglis the record of most Origin tries, he has now scored 17 in 27 matches for Queensland.

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By Nathan Weller

 

Welcome to “Money in the Bank,” Tonight’s PPV dedicated to the late, great Dusty Rhodes who passed away during the week. Every WWE superstar is out on the stage to pay their respects.

Tonight is the night the WWE universe finds out if Seth Rollins can do it by himself, or will Dean Ambrose capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? It is a night in which Kevin Owens looks to expose the lie that is John Cena, or will Cena avenge his loss from the Elimination Chamber? Which superstar will ascend to their destiny as they climb the ladder and grab the money in the bank contract, earning themselves a championship match whenever they choose?

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By Amiee Dawson

The 2015 ANZ Championship Grand Final will be an all-Australian affair, with two Aussie teams to face-off for the Championship.

The Queensland Firebirds and NSW Swifts will play in the grand final this Sunday, leaving New Zealand out of the grand final for the third consecutive year.

Both teams come into the grand final with completely opposite teams.

For the Firebirds, it is a team that knows finals, with all players except for shooters Gretel Tippett and Beryl Friday, involved in a grand final in the last three years.

The Swifts on the other hand come in having not made a grand final or won a game in the finals prior to this year, since their premiership back in 2008.

There is very little in terms of list separating the two teams; the Firebirds have gun goal keeper Laura Geitz, but the Swifts also have in-form GK Sharni Layton; both players of which are leading the competition for intercepts and deflections. Both have young up-and-comers in the midcourt, with Kimberley Ravaillion and Paige Hadley respectively, and both shooting lines, although vastly different in their techniques, are strong and difficult to stop.

Both teams have a distinctly different attacking style – with the Firebirds opting for the quick long-bomb into tall shooter Romelda Aiken, whilst the Swifts work the ball around and share the shooting load between the two shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Susan Pettitt.

The Firebirds and Swifts finished first and second respectively on their conference ladder at the end of the regular season, and were

When last they meant, back in the conference final, it was the Firebirds who would be victors over the fast-starting Swifts.

The Swifts however had a much harder run into that game, having played an elimination final just two days before that game, whereas the Firebirds had a week.

The grand final will be played in front of a sold-out Brisbane Entertainment Centre at 12:00pm on Sunday the 21st of June.

Image courtesy of Adelaide Now

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By Jamie Apps

 

As I opened my eyes and awoke from my sleep I immediately realised this day was special, because I was going to see my beloved Chelsea Football Club live and in the flesh for the first time.

 

I began my day like any other with a hearty breakfast before I started work, thankfully it would only be a half day which flew by. As the hours ticked by excitement levels rose as I started seeing photos all over social media from fellow Chelsea supporters decked out in their jerseys and scarves. Come 1pm it was time to enjoy a quick pitstop for lunch before embarking on my journey to ANZ Stadium for the clash.

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Image: Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac

By Justin Lemmon

Less than a month after becoming the longest serving coach in AFL/VFL history, Carlton coach Michael Malthouse has been sacked. The side’s disastrous start to the season – securing just one win from eight rounds, had seemingly made Malthouse’s position untenable, but a dramatic interview on Melbourne radio hastened the decision.

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By Aimee Dawson

The Melbourne Vixens were unable to bring the fairytale ending to captain Bianca Chatfield’s final game, being defeated in their final home game of the season by arch rivals, the NSW Swifts.

Today’s loss rules out the Vixens’ chance of making the 2015 finals series and becoming back-to-back premiers.

In a fitting end to retiring Chatfield’s last home game, a guard of honour was made by current Melbourne Vixens and NSW Swifts players, as well as ex-teammates including Liz Boniello, Natasha Chokljat and Sharelle McMahon.

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By Jonathon Momsen

A strategic error from Lewis Hamilton has gifted the Monaco Grand Prix to his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

The win is Rosberg’s third straight win in Monaco, a feat managed by only three other drivers: Graham Hill, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton led for the majority of the race but a late safety car saw the championship leader diving for the pits and a fresh set of super-soft Pirellis.

Planning to keep the lead and defend on the superior rubber, Hamilton was too slow and exited the pits in third behind Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg opened up a comfortable margin over Vettel and easily claimed what looked like an unlikely victory with 20 laps to go.

Despite scrambling behind the obviously slower Ferrari, Hamilton was not able to pass on the tight street circuit meaning he was soon under pressure from Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

Ricciardo eventually had to hand fourth place back to Red Bull Racing team mate Daniil Kvyat as he was given the position under team orders but didn’t gain any more positions out of the favour.

With both Red Bulls in the top five, Monaco has been the most successful weekend for the Renault powered machines that have been scraping into the points for the first five rounds of 2015.

The safety car that caused this frantic run to the finish was triggered by an incident involving Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean on the 64th lap.

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By Aimee Dawson

The Melbourne Vixens of old have returned to the court, notching their first win since round nine and knocking off top-of-the-ladder West Coast Fever.

The Vixens, who have suffered large defeats of 24 goals and nine at the hands of the NSW Swifts and Queensland Firebirds over the last few weeks, beat the West Coast Fever 56 – 48 in front of a packed Margaret Court Arena crowd.

Defence was firing from the beginning, with the two goal keepers; Geva Mentor for the Vixens and Josie Janz-Dawson for the Fever, menacing late in the first quarter, attacking the ball and putting immense pressure on the shot.

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By Jonathon Momsen

Nico Rosberg has hit back at team mate Lewis Hamilton by winning the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona overnight.

The German won his first race of the season in dominant fashion leading from pole to chequered flag with nobody able to contest the lead.

With this win, Rosberg closes to within 20 points of Hamilton in the race for the 2015 World Drivers’ Championship, while Mercedes extends its lead in the World Constructors’ Championship to 70 points.

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Caulfield RSL. 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick

EXTENDED UNTIL SUNDAY MAY 3RD

“There was no peace for men, only murder, cruelty, brutality.”
James T. Farrell, Studs Lonigan

 

Thirty five Melbourne and Richmond footballers lost their young lives in WW1.

 

To honour these fine sportsmen, their families, descendants and friends, key members of both clubs are gathering at Caulfield RSL, 4 St Georges Road on Tuesday April 21 ahead of their inaugural Anzac Eve clash at the MCG.

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By Aimee Dawson

 

Whether it be because of her on-court brilliance, her leadership, her team-oriented attitude, her humble personality or her ability to overcome setbacks, Bianca Chatfield is a hero to many young netballers, myself included.

On court, I always admired Bianca’s ability to read the play, her vision down the court and her ability to lead and support her teammates.

Off the court, it was her determination to continuously improve, her confidence and the way she could always take positives from situations.

When I was younger, my mum would call me to the television whenever the Melbourne Phoenix would be playing, and would always say, ‘when you’re out on the court, do what Bianca does’.

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By Jonathon Momsen

Lewis Hamilton has won the Bahrain Grand Prix taking him 27 points clear of the field in the race for the 2015 F1 Drivers’ World Championship.

Hamilton was never in doubt as he cruised home ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Riakkonen in second and teammate Nico Rosberg in third.

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By Paul F Carr

 

The 2015 Super Rugby Season has reached the half way point. It’s time to look at how the Australian teams are progressing.

 

For Australian fans the table after Round 9 is depressing. On a total points basis the top two teams are the unbeaten Wellington Hurricanes and the Waikato Chiefs. They are followed by the ACT Brumbies and the Otago Highlanders. The Northern Bulls and Western Stormers round out the top six.

 

On a conference basis, which actually determines the final six placings, the Brumbies move into second followed by the Bulls. The three wildcard places are currently held by the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Stormers.

 

The rest of the Australian Teams are further down the table with the Western Force second last and the Queensland Reds last. The NSW Waratahs are 10th with the Melbourne Rebels one place behind them. The Waratahs and Rebels have a game in hand over the Brumbies, but even so the Brumbies would still be on top of the Australian conference.

 

In Round 9 the Brumbies lost away to the previously winless Auckland Blues and the Waratahs blew a terrific opportunity to make up ground on the Brumbies by submitting at home to the Stormers. The Force were beaten away by the Cheetahs and the Reds were smashed in Pretoria by the Bulls. The Rebels had a bye so the Australian Conference avoided a clean sweep of losses.

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By Paul F Carr

The Perth Glory Salary Cap saga came to a dramatic conclusion this week with the resignation of CEO Jason Brewer and the later acceptance by the club to accept the FFA decision and sanctions.

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By Aimee Dawson

The West Coast Fever continue their undefeated start to the 2015 ANZ Championship season after overcoming multiple comebacks by the reigning premiers, the Melbourne Vixens.

The win is only the second time in the history of the competition that the Fever has defeated the Vixens, the only other time being in 2010.

The win not only elevates the Fever to four points clear at the top of the Australian conference ladder, but they also retain the Challenge Trophy, which will next be on the line in round nine against the Wakaito/ Bay of Plenty Magic.

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By Jonathon Momsen

 

Sebastian Vettel has upset championship leader Lewis Hamilton to win the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. In doing so, the German has won Ferrari its first Grand Prix in 34 races.

 

A decision on just the sixth lap of the race to stay out proved the difference as Vettel completed the 56 lap race pitting only twice compared to Mercedes’ three stops.

 

“We beat them fair and square,”  said Vettel, securing his first GP win since 2013. “It was a fantastic achievement.”

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By Lukas Raschilla.

New Zealand teen sensation has lit up the LPGA, claiming another title and sitting atop the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. The 17-year old has won two tournaments in the past month, and recently finished runner-up behind Inbee Park at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

Last year in her debut season on the LPGA Tour, Ko won the LPGA Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and earned a US$1 million bonus for claiming the inaugural Race to the CME Globe points title. In 2014, Ko also became the youngest LPGA player to surpass US$2 million in career earnings and made the cut for all 26 events she played in.

Ko claimed her sixth career LPGA victory earlier this month at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at historic Royal Melbourne, with an impressive 9-under 283 in only her second start as world number one, and has been named the season’s first Kia Most Compelling Performance award winner. A week later, she returned home to New Zealand and won the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Club by four strokes.   In her last seven starts, Ko secured two victories and posted five additional top 10 finishes dating back to last year. With her Australian Open victory, she became the youngest player in history – male or female, to achieve 10 professional wins.

Ko has taken the 2015 LPGA season by storm, recording a Tour win, two runner-up finishes and a season-long streak of under-par rounds. Perhaps more importantly, she continues to lead the Race to the CME Globe. In addition, Ko has held the No. 1 spot on Rolex Rankings for six consecutive weeks.   As the season continues, Ko will need to remain consistent as contenders such as South Korea’s Inbee Park surge. Park claimed last week’s HSBC Champions in Singapore, edging out Ko by two strokes and in the process propelling herself to second place in the Rolex Rankings.

Ko has been busy promoting the upcoming Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic tournament at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco, which kicks off on April 23. Ko is defending champion and looking to claim back-to-back titles.  Next up on the LPGA Tour is the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix that starts on March 19, where Aussie Karrie Webb heads in as defending champion.

The KIA classic is held a week later in Carlsbad, California before the first major of the season, the ANA Inspiration tournament, held in Rancho Mirage, California over the Easter weekend, kicks off on April 2. With a purse of US$2.5 million and 625 CME Globe points at stake, Ko will have her eyes set on claiming her first LPGA major.

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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By Aimee Dawson

The Melbourne Vixens have claimed a convincing win in their opening game of the 2015 season, defeating the highly regarded Central Pulse by 24 goals.

Australian Diamonds player Tegan Philip (nee Caldwell) starred for the Vixens, continuing her good form from 2014, shooting 35 goals from 41 attempts to be named most valuable player (MVP) for the match.

Philip also became the Vixen’s highest ever scoring player, overtaking former Vixen Caitlin Thwaites’ total of 1186 goals.

In what was a shock to many netball fans, legend Irene van Dyk began the match on the bench for the Pulse, with former Australian shooter Amerliaranne Wells and Jodi Brown getting the start.

The Vixens’ experience as a team showed during the opening quarter, whilst the Pulse struggled with their new on-court combinations.

However van Dyk did take the court after quarter time, due to the Pulse’s slow start, which saw them down by 13 goals to two at one stage in the first quarter.

Van Dyk’s introduction into the game helped to settle the away team in attack, where in the first quarter they were rushed and chaotic.

The Vixens continued to extend the margin, with their attacking line of Karyn Bailey, Tegan Philip and Madison Robinson combining flawlessly.

The third quarter was the crucial part of the match. At half time the Pulse were down by just 11 goals and had a chance to pull back the margin for a big fourth quarter.

However it was the Vixens’ who capitalised in the premiership quarter, scoring 17 goals to the Pulse’s 11 and extending the lead to almost 20.

Basic errors in the last quarter by the Pulse allowed to the Vixens to slowly edge the margin above 20 goals.

Philip finished out the game with a goal on the final whistle, leading the Vixens to a convincing 64 – 40 win.

Vixens’ captain Bianca Chatfield was brilliant in defence, finishing with one intercept and nine deflections, whilst van Dyk was the star for the Pulse, shooting half of the Pulse’s goals for the match in just three quarters.

The Vixens will return home again next weekend for their match against the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

In other games this round, the Adelaide Thunderbirds lost to the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic by one goal, the West Coast Fever recorded an away win over the Queensland Firebirds, The NSW Swifts were victorious over New Zealand’s Southern Steel and the Northern Mystics defeated the Canterbury Tactix.

Image courtesy of Tom Griffiths

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Nathan Weller reviews the latest edition of WWE RAW, as well as looking back on Sunday’s first ever Fastlane pay-per-view.

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With WWE Fastlane taking place this Sunday, Nathan Weller gives his insight and reviews this past week’s edition of WWE RAW, live from Orlando, Florida. Continue reading

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By Jess Fagan

 

After an impressive start to their 2015 Super Rugby campaign, the ACT Brumbies have been dealt a major blow. David Pocock, who captained the side in their win over the Reds, has been ruled out of Friday’s clash with the Chiefs, after he suffered a grade-one syndesmosis injury.

 

He was brilliant for the Brumbies in a man-of-the-match performance on Friday night, but didn’t train with the side on Monday. Having spent so long on the sidelines, Pocock admitted it was a disappointing outcome, but he’s confident he’s in good hands with the Brumbies medical team and the injury is treatable.

 

Coach Stephen Larkham was quick to point out the injury wasn’t related to Pocock’s knee problems. The star flanker will be assessed every week until he’s fit to return to action.

 

It’s disappointing for the Brumbies, but they will take plenty of positives away from their dominant, six tries to none win over the Reds. The Canberra side got off to a quick start and kept up the momentum, running in 47-3 winners. They leave for New Zealand on Wednesday.

 

In another all-Aussie clash, the Western Force proved too good for the NSW Waratahs. The Waratahs will be looking to bounce back quickly as they now prepare to face the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

 

The Rebels scored a 20-10 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch in round 1, their first win on foreign soil.

 

Image curtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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TAT Sport’s guest cricket expert Josh Giblin continues his preview of the cricket World Cup, this time focusing on Pool B where arguably the most talented, yet underachieving team lie in wake.

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By Josh Giblin

The cricket World Cup is just around the corner. Josh Giblin previews each team, their chances of glory, and the standout players. We start with Australia’s side of the draw – Pool A, where Josh weighs up two cricket heavyweights.

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By Colm Boohig

 

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, certainly not in the entertainment world. In that case, Sydney’s 2SM radio DJ John Laws has done himself proud. The veteran radio jockey conducted a bizarre and awkward interview with Socceroo legend and general all-round nice chap, Tim Cahill.

 

It has been a big few weeks in the life of Cahill. With the exception of those sleeping under a particularly large set of boulders, every Australian has been basking in the glory of the Socceroos’ recent Asian Cup triumph. Cahill, as usual, was central to all things positive in the Australian camp as coach Ange Postecoglou led his side to a first ever men’s major senior championship.

 

Then, this past week, Cahill parted ways with his club New York Red Bulls, swapping the Big Apple for Shanghai Shenhua. This is where our pal Mr. Laws comes in. Cahill was a guest on Laws’ show where the DJ quizzed the 35-year-old on his move to China, focusing especially on the Aussie’s reported $10million contract.

 

“I don’t speculate on figures, that’s what people have been speculating,” said a clearly perplexed Cahill, who was introduced by Laws as “a very rich man.”

 

“For me, I don’t talk about numbers. I’ve had big contracts my whole career, I just don’t like talking about numbers if they’re real or not real … whatever offers I’ve had, I always keep it private.”

 

Despite Cahill’s professional and polite warning to change the subject, Laws persisted with the same line of questioning. This forced the Socceroo on the defensive once more.

 

“I’m someone who doesn’t like to talk about money, prefer to focus about what I do on the pitch.”

 

The final straw came when Laws said, “champions of Asia? It’s a big call, Asia’s got a lot of people.” Laws was met with dead air as Cahill decided to take the high road.

 

After the curious incident, Laws bore the brunt of the listeners’ criticism. However, the DJ was in unapologetic humour.

 

“Well, let’s forget it. I said I don’t think either of us are short of a dollar, and he hung up. Bloody rude.”

 

The re-match should neither be ruled out, nor missed.

 

Image courtesy of ninemsn

 

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By Dave O’Regan

Superbowl XLIX is done and dusted and the New England Patriots won the Vince Lombardi trophy in the most dramatic of circumstances. The game came down to the very last minute and will go down as one of American Football’s classic encounters.

The Worst Play Ever Called

It’s the last minute of the Superbowl and the Seattle Seahawks are half a yard from scoring what will surely be the championship-winning touchdown. All season long your team has boasted the most potent rushing attack in the league. Max Unger and the ‘Hawks offensive line have been enjoying a solid performance against Vince Wilfork and company. Marshawn “BEAST MODE” Lynch is in the backfield having already racked up 102 yards and a TD on the ground. Averaging 4.25 yards per carry in the game (and 4.7 ypc all season), the world was waiting for #24 to punch the ball in and secure back-to-back Superbowl wins for Seattle… but it never happened.

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Jessica Fagan

Novak Djokovic fought off a mysterious injury and an out of sorts Andy Murray to claim a record-breaking 5th Australian Open title on Sunday night. It means the Serbian Number 1 now has the most championship wins of any man in the open era.

 

Murray didn’t make it easy for his opponent early on. The pair played out two long, intense sets that both ended in a tiebreak. The Scotsman managed to claim the 2nd to level things up, but from there Djokovic was able to produce his best tennis when he needed it most.

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By Jess Fagan

 

And then there were two. Novak Djokovic will fight Andy Murray for the 2015 Australian Open title, after he squeezed past Stan Wawrinka in five sets.

 

The semi-final clash between the Serbian number one and defending champion from Switzerland had the potential to be another classic, but instead it was a strange, error-riddle contest with both players struggling to take control.

It was the first time Wawrinka had arrived at a Grand Slam as the defending champion and he looked impressive as he quietly made his way through the opening rounds, but he confessed after his loss to Djokovic that he was already mentally spent when he walked on court and had ‘no battery’.

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By Colm Boohig

 

Substitute James Troisi will never have to pay for another schooner again as his extra-time goal brought Asia’s biggest prize to Australia for the very first time. In what was a thrilling Asian Cup final, stoppage time goals proved to be a regular theme. Socceroos’ player of the tournament Massimo Luongo gave the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time, before Son Heung-min’s 91st minute leveller pushed the game into extra-time. Troisi’s finish in the last kick of the first period of added time delivered sheer ecstasy to the home faithful.

 

In a final that produced a frantic finale, the game actually started quite slowly. Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak’s early free-kick went narrowly over, and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that the game came to life. Kwak Tae-Hwi should have done better with his header from Ki Sung-Yueng’s cross, with Australia responding immediately through Tim Cahill, but his shot was well saved by Kim Jin-Hyeon.

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By Colm Boohig

 

The time has come. Tonight, the Socceroos face one of the biggest matches in their history. The aim is to take home Asia’s most prestigious prize in front of what is sure to be a raucous and partisan Sydney crowd. The tie could not be more finely poised; it is the tournament’s top scorers (with 12) in the shape of Australia against the tournament’s meanest defence (zero conceded) in the form of South Korea.

 

The Socceroos run a tight defensive line themselves, having only shipped two goals in the five games so far – and one of those was in the 1-0 defeat against the Koreans in the final game of Group A. That seems like quite some time ago now as the Aussies have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the knockout rounds. A clean bill of health appears to have blessed the team going into the final, with the only decision needed to be made at right-back.

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By Jess Fagan

 

The top two seeds will face off against each other in the women’s final at the Australian Open, after Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both won their semi-finals.

 

Serena is through to her sixth final at Melbourne Park after she managed to dismiss rising American star, Madison Keys, 7-6 6-2. It was a spirited performance from 19-year-old Keys, who broke in the very first game and finished with 12 aces and 27 winners.  Williams admitted that her younger opponent pushed her and she had to dig deep mentally to get through the first set. She even tipped Keys to win the Australia Open very soon.

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By Jess Fagan

 

The final at Manuka Oval got off to a very slow start for a Big Bash game. The Sixers lost a couple of early wickets and boundaries were hard to come by, leaving the crowd of just over 11,000 a little subdued. But if the game took a little while to get going, the thrilling end more than made up for it.

 

With the Perth Scorchers chasing 148, it came down to the final ball, fittingly bowled by superstar Brett Lee in his last game of professional cricket.

Lee claimed two quick wickets to be on a hat-trick, but couldn’t quite get the fairytale ending. The Sixers missed a run-out opportunity and the Scorchers managed to get a single and claim the title for the second year in a row.

 

The side from Perth dominated early on, but a superb 77 from Sixers captain Moises Henriques managed to steady the ship and get his side back in the match.

 

But by far the biggest cheer was reserved for Brett Lee.

 

The crowd went wild when he knocked off Coulter-Nile and Sam Whiteman in the final over. It looked as though he might even be able to get Sixers over the line, but in the end they fell just short.

 

Lee was quick to congratulate the Scorchers after the game. He said he was still shaking after the dramatic final ball, but he was ready to move aside after spending the last few months playing with such a great group of guys.

 

His team-mates were full of praise for the popular star. Henrqiues pointed out that he’s had a fantastic career, but was also such a humble man and good human being.

 

But in the end, it was the Scorchers who re-affirmed their dominance of the Big Bash League. Both teams who played in the final will now represent Australia at this year’s Champions League tournament.

 

Image courtesy of Sydney Sixers

www.sydneysixers.com.au

Trent Sainsbury scored the opening goal against the UAE

By Colm Boohig

 

For the second Asian Cup in a row Australia will appear in the final, courtesy of a 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in Newcastle. Within a quarter of an hour Australia were two goals up thanks to defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson – their first goals for the Socceroos. After that, the result was never really in doubt as, for the second time in this tournament, Australia and South Korea will come face-to-face, this time in the showdown.

 

The hosts could not have dreamt of a better start when with just three minutes on the clock, Sainsbury headed in the opening goal. The defender jumped totally unopposed from Massimo Luongo’s corner to head into the unguarded far corner of the net. The UAE responded admirably and in the 10th minute they created their best chance of the match. Sanqour skipped past the challenge of Davidson on the right before squaring to Ahmed Khalil, whose first time shot hit the left post.

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By Colm Boohig

 

The Socceroos are on track to where they want to be, just not how they imagined it would happen. A semi-final destination was expected but the venue and opposition was not. The United Arab Emirates provided the shock of the Asian Cup so far by beating the defending champions Japan on penalties in the quarter-final. Couple this with Australia losing top spot in their final Group A game defeat to South Korea and a pre-tournament semi-final prediction in Sydney against Japan now becomes Newcastle and the UAE.

 

Australia are firm favourites here to progress to the final with a chance of winning a maiden Asian Cup crown. The squad is strengthened too by the return of key defender Matthew Spiranovic, who missed the last eight victory over China due to suspension. Ivan Franjic and Mathew Leckie sat out a part of a recent training session as precaution, but coach Ange Postecoglou is confident with the options available to him for this encounter.

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By Brian O’ Connell

 

The pick of the fourth round in the women’s draw was the tie between former champion Viktoria Azarenka and Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. The diminutive Slovakian was fired up for this one and was able for everything the Belarussian threw at her. She looked to have the edge over Azarenka from the start as she had her opponent running all over the court, dictating the majority of the points in the first set, which she won 6-2. What the 5ft 3 inch Slovakian lacks in size, she makes up for in power, as she consistently overpowered Azarenka in rallies that often hit double figures in shots played.

Although the Belarussian clawed her way back into the match, winning the second set 6-3, Cibulkova showed she had the hunger to win, and after two hours of play, she closed out the final set 6-3. The huge smile on her face at the end was evidence of how important the match was in her quest to go one step further than last year’s runner’s up place. She’ll need to recover fast in order to be ready for the number one seed in the quarter-finals. Serena Williams has a 4-0 record against her and they last met in Brisbane only a short couple of weeks ago, where the American won out in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.

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By Barney Gumble

 

Pro wrestling fans can be some of the hardest to please. On one hand we crave change, while on the other we desire to experience the same people and things we have seen before. It seems we as fans are never content with the present. We are constantly focused on the good times of the past or attempting to project our own opinion of the future onto any ear that will listen. Last night at the Royal Rumble, the WWE made a decision on their future and frankly the fans didn’t seem to enjoy it.

The match had an interesting start with The Miz lining up against one of his former tag team partners in R-Truth. However, things got quite exciting next when Bubba Ray Dudley entered and after a flurry of nostalgic moves eliminated both men. Over the next three entrants we saw the former members of the Wyatt family reunite and collide – this is where the Rumble’s base was truly established in Bray Wyatt. Wyatt dominated the Rumble’s early moments having entered in at #5. He eliminated The Boogeyman, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder, among others, before being faced by an old foe and fan favourite in Daniel Bryan – who entered at the #10 spot.

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By Brian O’ Connell

 

The highlight of the second round of matches was arguably the match between Rafael Nadal and US qualifier Tim Smyczek. Conditions were tough and the tennis was top notch as fans were treated to a five-set thriller on the Rod Laver Arena. You could have been forgiven for thinking it would be a uniform win for Nadal after he took the first set 6-2. As we would find out later, from that point on, the third seed was not only battling the opponent on the other side of the net, he was also in a titanic struggle against his own limited fitness.

Nadal made no secret of his physical condition before the tournament started but it wasn’t clear just how much it had deteriorated before this stage. Even for Rafa, the amount of sweat pouring out of him at the end of every point was strange to see. After it looked like he had expended every ounce of energy he had left, Nadal came through to win the fifth set 7-5. He had come from two sets down and it had taken over four hours of tennis to do so.

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By Colm Boohig

 

The Socceroos delighted the home faithful by defeating China 2-0 at the Suncorp Stadium and progressing through to the semi-final of this year’s Asian Cup. Tim Cahill was the match winner with two magical second half moments, the first of which is a serious contender for goal of the tournament. A meeting with Japan or the United Arab Emirates now awaits, with a repeat of the 2011 final on the cards should the Japanese win.

 

The match started tamely and for the first 25 minutes China was the better side, controlling the pace and tempo against a nervous looking Australian team. Mark Bresciano earned his first start of the campaign, while key men Jedinak, Cahill and Kruse all returned. However, the Chinese initially had the better of it with Wu Lei, in particular, causing the hosts serious problems on the break.

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The skipper is expected to return for Chinese clash

By Colm Boohig

 

Australia faces China tonight at the Suncorp Stadium in the quarter-final of the AFC Asian Cup. The defeat to South Korea in the last game of Group A means that the Aussies now face the more difficult task of usurping the Group B winners, who have beaten the Socceroos in their last two meetings.

 

The match in Brisbane could potentially be the most viewed football game in Australian history thanks to the massive Chinese support. At one stage in their recent contest with North Korea over 50 million Chinese nationals tuned in. Add to that the couple of million Aussies guaranteed to catch this tie and suddenly the players will never have a greater stage to showcase their talents. This truly is an exciting evening in store.

 

Ange Postecoglou’s men are expected to recall some key players for this evening’s showdown. The likes of Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie can all anticipate a start, while captain Mile Jedinak is expected to return from the injury he sustained in the opening win of the tournament against Kuwait. The manager has a decision to make at centre-half, with Matt Spiranovic suspended for this encounter. Alex Wilkinson is touted to deputise.

 

The Australian camp has been speaking positively ahead of the contest. Swindon Town midfielder, and arguably Australia’s player of the tournament so far, Massimo Luongo is raring to go and has also been quick to dismiss the much publicised criticism that the Brisbane surface has received.

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By Brian O’ Connell

 

There were few upsets to report after the first round of the men’s draw came to a close on Tuesday night. All of the top ten seeds cruised into the second round with straight sets wins being the order of the day.

Roger Federer defeated Yen-Hsun Lu 6-4 6-2 7-5 in what was a relatively easy contest for the 17-time Grand Slam winner. Federer will next face Simone Bolelli of Italy in the second round.

Novak Djokovic also coasted through to the second round with a win over the Slovenian Aljaz Bedene. Up next for the Serb is Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.

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By Colm Boohig

 

Conor McGregor destroyed Dennis Siver during Fight Night 59 in Boston. The 26-year-old defeated the Russian-German just two minutes into the second round by TKO. The victory confirms the title decider with world champion Jose Aldo, expected to take place in May in Las Vegas.

 

The result was never in doubt with McGregor leaving Siver bloodied and bruised after the first round, before finishing the contest with a series of ground punches in the second. Almost on a par with the bout itself was McGregor’s actions afterwards. “The Notorious” leaped over the octagon to confront Aldo, where the Brazilian was sitting ringside to watch the fight.

 

Aldo’s decision not to enter the cage after the fight (as had been planned) prompted the Irishman to take matters into his own hands. He also had these words for the champion.

 

“Hold on and I will get my spit bucket,” he said. “I am going to give him (Aldo) my spit bucket so he can spit clean my belt and bring it back to me when I win.”

 

In the press conference that followed UFC chairman Dana White confirmed that McGregor and Aldo would face each other later this year in what is undoubtedly one of the most hyped fights in UFC history.

 

While there has been continued speculation that the fight will take place in Dublin – McGregor’s hometown – White and fellow UFC executives have decided that, logistically, Vegas is a better bet for a fight of this magnitude. It is a decision that has not bothered the new number one contender for the Featherweight Championship.

 

“We discussed big business and big business is done in Viva Las Vegas. We are going to go to Las Vegas and one more head will be collected.”

 

Expect many more memorable soundbites from both men over the next four months.

 

 

Image courtesy of My MMA News

www.mymmanews.com

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By Colm Boohig

 

This evening sees “The Notorious” Conor McGregor take on Russian-German stalwart Dennis Siver in Boston. McGregor knows that a victory over the 35-year-old Siver will land him a fight with Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight Championship.

 

The Dubliner has snatched the UFC limelight since bursting onto the scene in 2013 and has won his first four fights, most recently demolishing Dustin Poirier in a first round KO.

 

McGregor has continually talked about taking the title off Brazilian Aldo and the UFC president Dana White has confirmed that should the 26-year-old defeat Siver in Boston then his much coveted title shot will be guaranteed.

 

Siver is a dangerous fighter, though. He has endured a mixed bag of results (losing seven of his 18 bouts) but possesses a penchant for spinning back heel knockouts. He has also been the source of major controversy within the sport, having failed a drugs test just over a year ago.

 

It is a fact that has not been ignored by his opponent in the build-up to the bout. “He has cheated in the past, that’s another thing I will use to get in and put him out a bit more”, said McGregor.

 

“He was caught with the stuff that hides it. That’s how deep he was in that. How deep was he in that game that he was actually using stuff to hide it from the testing. That, to me, I don’t respect that in a bit.”

 

No surprise then that there has been a significant amount of tension between both men since the fight was announced. Siver’s motivation is clear – to silence to loudest mouth competing in MMA combat today.

 

McGregor has predicted a two-minute finish here, his coach John Kavanagh thinks the fight will be even shorter than that. While many will be tempted to look ahead to the potential McGregor v Aldo showdown, it would be foolish to completely write-off Siver – a former ‘Knockout of the Night’ winner.

 

Undoubtedly, all the pressure here is on “The Notorious” with the main challenge being whether he can focus all his energy on Siver and not look ahead to the promise land of Aldo.

 

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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By Colm Boohig

 

Australia will face China in the quarter-finals of this year’s Asian Cup after losing 1-0 to South Korea in Brisbane. The defeat means that the Socceroos missed out on winning Group A and so will now battle against the Group B victors in the last eight.

 

As expected, Ange Postecoglou made a few changes to his line-up in order to maintain squad freshness, with Mark Milligan captaining the side. Initially, chances were few and far between, with Australia dominating possession but South Korea combating this threat with assured and calm defending.

 

Tomi Juric forced a save from Kim Jin-Hyeon on the quarter hour mark, before the only goal of the game came in the next chance, on 32 minutes. Lee Keun-Ho’s dribble and cross from the left was met by Lee Jeong-Hyeop who toe-poked in to the far corner at the near post.

 

The Socceroos looked to have made an immediate response when just four minutes later Massimo Luongo’s superb run down the right found James Troisi in the area who turned his man and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way but only found the side-netting. Speculative efforts from Matt Spiranovic (who will miss the quarter-final due to picking up another booking), Troisi and Nathan Burns failed to test the Korean goal as the sides went into the half-time break.

 

A one-two between Juric and Ivan Franjic in the 53rd minute saw the former smash over from close-range, while substitute Mathew Leckie’s turn and shot in the area was dealt with easily by Jin-Hyeon in the Korean goal. No doubt, the best chance of the game for the hosts’ came in the 88th minute when another replacement, Robbie Kruse linked up brilliantly with Juric on the right before finding himself through one-on-one with Jin-Hyeon. The goalkeeper was in inspired form though and fantastically saved Kruse’s effort.

 

Matt Ryan had to be alert to keep out a late South Korea counter-attack but the visitors held on to come away with all three points and a top spot finish in Group A. Afterwards, Postecoglou was keen to defend his decision to change his starting XI for the third game in a row.

 

“We didn’t rotate players tonight, we had a team we thought were capable of winning the game,” the coach said.

 

“We have three games in eight days and we knew tonight was going to be a difficult game because of the (hot) conditions.

 

“We had some fresh players and we thought they’d give us the best chance of victory.”

 

 

South Korea will now play the runners-up from Group B, either Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia, in Melbourne. Meanwhile, the Socceroos will stay in Brisbane (and its much criticised pitch) to face the Chinese on Thursday night in the second quarter-final.

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By Colm Boohig

 

Australia and South Korean face-off tonight in Brisbane in the final game of Group A at this year’s Asian Cup. With both nations safely through to the quarter-finals this match will determine the winner of the group. The ball is very much in the host’s court in this endeavour with the Socceroos knowing a point will do, having possession of far superior goal difference.

 

When pressed by the media to adapt a more defensive approach by introducing an extra holding midfielder in order to ensure the above, coach Ange Postecoglou was quick to dismiss such a suggestion.

 

“I just think it’s the best way we play our football so if we start getting conservative now because we’re supposedly getting into the more difficult challenges, then well … I didn’t see Kuwait and Oman as easy games, far from it. We analysed them to death and we made sure we’re ready for the toughest possible games and same with Korea,” said the coach, ensuring his team will maintain its attacking philosophy.

 

Captain Mile Jedinak is still a doubt for the game due to a minor ankle injury picked up against Kuwait in the opening match. If Jedinak is indeed absent then Melbourne Victory skipper Mark Milligan is set to continue is his place having impressed so much against Oman, getting on the score sheet in the process.

 

Postecoglou’s men have been mightily impressive in the opening couple of matches, winning on an aggregate scoreline of 8-1. While the fantastic Matt Ryan has been kept busy in the Aussie goal, it’s the quality and varied finishing that has so far set the Socceroos apart from their opponents.

 

South Korea, meanwhile, has taken a far quieter route to the last eight, winning both matches to-date 1-0. With a couple of more changes anticipated in the Australian line-up in order to maintain squad freshness, expect a much sterner test this time around for the goal-happy Socceroos.

 

While the qualifiers from groups A and C are already finalised going into the last round of matches, it is still all to play for in the other two groups. Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan will have a straight play-off to determine who will be joining China out of Group B and into the last eight.

 

Japan’s progression from Group D is assured but it’s still all to play for between Iraq and Jordan. Iraq will face the wooden-spoons Palestine, while Jordan faces the group leaders.

 

Each game from the final round of group matches will kick-off at the same time, starting with tonight’s matches from Group A.

 

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Australian-Open

By Brian O’Connell

 

The firm favourite in the men’s draw is again Novak Djokovic, who will be bidding to win his fifth title Down Under. It’s no surprise the Serb is well fancied to win the first Grand Slam of the year as the hard courts of Melbourne Park are well-suited to his hard-hitting baseline game.

Roger Federer has had a stunning start to the year, having just won his 1000th ATP tour match in the Brisbane final. The 33-year-old Swiss beat emerging talent Milos Raonic in three hard fought sets, showing he can still compete with the best on the tour. Last year’s champion Stanislaw Wawrinka also comes into the tournament in good form, with another tour title victory at the Chennai Open in India on Sunday.

 

The home favourite this year will be Nick Kyrgios, who announced himself as a future Grand Slam contender in 2014, with big wins over Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet at the Wimbledon Championships. Joining the 19-year-old in the draw on Friday will be fellow rising Aussie stars James Duckworth and Thanasi Kokkanakis.

 

Meanwhile, the women’s draw sees Serena Williams as the number one seed. Although the American has won the tournament five times in her career, she doesn’t go into this year’s competition in great form. Her recent 6-2 6-1 defeat by Canadian starlet Eugenie Bouchard showed her to be sluggish, and at times, disinterested in the game.

 

On the other hand, we’ve seen this all before from Williams, who at times seems to decide when she wants to hit top form. If her mentality is right it seems no one can touch her in any of tennis’ major competitions.

 

Other contenders for the women’s title are Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and the aforementioned Eugenie Bouchard. Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland is still searching for the first Grand Slam title of her career, and although not considered one of the favourites, the 25-year-old is simply too talented not to win a major. She has brought Czech legend Martina Navratilova in to her coaching team, and has got off to a great start in 2015, winning the Hopman Cup in Perth with compatriot Jerzy Janowicz. Expect big things from the Pole this year.

 

Sadly, this year’s Aussie Open looks set to be missing some of the biggest hitters to grace the game in recent times. Among those who have already withdrawn are US Open champion Marin Cilic and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Rafael Nadal was doubtful about his participation as he has struggled to get back to full fitness following months on the side line. However, the Spaniard has arrived in Melbourne and is now expected to compete. Caroline Wozniacki is another on the injury list as she suffered a wrist injury in this week’s Sydney International.

 

The other big news in the build-up to the Australian Open are the changes to the tournament’s extreme heat policy, which took major criticism last January for allowing players to play in what some called ‘inhumane’ conditions. This year, tournament organisers consulted with several players to come up with a solution to the problem. The tournament referee will still make the final call on when to suspend play, but strict guidelines are now in place as to when that intervention will take place. Once the temperature reaches 40C, the playing conditions and the state of play are taken into consideration before the match is suspended.

 

Last year, Maria Sharapova spoke of feeling ‘delusional’ on court while playing in her first round match against Camille Pin. Argentine David Nalbandian said that he suffered intense headaches and dizziness as a result of the heat. And Canada’s Frank Dancevic even collapsed on court from heat exhaustion. With temperatures expected to hit the high thirties and low forties in the first week of the tournament, let’s hope common sense prevails and the player safety is given top priority.

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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By Colm Boohig

 

Australia can look forward to a place in the last eight of the AFC Asian Cup after a comfortable victory over Oman at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Qualification from Group A has been assured with a game to spare courtesy of a terrific performance from Ange Postecoglou’s men on Tuesday night.

 

In order to maintain squad fitness Australia made three changes to the side that beat Kuwait on Friday night. However, it initially looked like the Socceroos would in particular miss their injured captain Mile Jedinak as Omani wing-back Raed’s thunderous drive from distance forced a great stop by Mat Ryan.

 

It took the Aussies about 20 minutes to settle and eventually take control of the game. A couple of trademark headers from stand-in skipper Tim Cahill provided the warning to the visitors until the Socceroos eventually broke through in the 27th minute. Trent Sainsbury’s header from a corner was flicked in from close range by Matt McKay.

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Oman was given no time to respond when just three minutes later the hosts doubled their advantage. Robbie Kruse and the once again impressive Massimo Luongo played a gorgeous one-two before the former coolly slotted passed Ali Al-Habsi to make it 2-0.

 

There was just time to add a third before the interval, albeit in rather bizarre circumstances. Jedinak’s on-the-night replacement Mark Milligan thumping volley from six yards found the roof of the net but curiously the referee instead decided to give a penalty for a foul on Cahill. In any case, Milligan stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and the Melbourne Victory captain virtually secured all three points on the stroke of half-time.

 

The second-half was predictably played at a much slower tempo, with Postecoglou taking the opportunity to substitute some key players. One of the replacements, Tomi Juric, demonstrated the Socceroos’ strength in depth by adding a fourth goal in the 71st minute. Mathew Leckie’s superb dribble and outside-of-the-right-foot cross from the left was clinically finished by Juric to leave the final score 4-0.

 

Spirits are high in the Australian camp with eight goals scored in just two games and Postecoglou has been quick to praise his squad’s unity and determination.

 

“The most pleasing thing is seeing the whole group really embrace what we’re doing and embrace this challenge. There hasn’t been a person who has not been a contributor,” said the coach.

 

“For us to have any success in this tournament, it has to be a collective effort. We’ve got another big game on Saturday and it’s another big game we want to win and want to improve.”

 

Earlier on Tuesday South Korea secured their passage to the knockout stages with a narrow 1-0 victory over Kuwait in Canberra. Australia and South Korea play each other on Saturday night in Brisbane with the Socceroos needing only a point from that game to secure top spot in Group A.

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By Colm Boohig

 

The Socceroos continue their quest for Asian Cup glory in Sydney tonight as they entertain Oman at the ANZ Stadium. Confidence is high after the 4-1 drubbing of Kuwait, but that victory came at a cost with captain Mile Jedinak picking up an ankle injury. The Crystal Palace midfielder is definitely ruled out of this evening’s game and is a serious doubt for the crucial final Group A contest with heavyweights South Korea.

 

Speaking to the media yesterday, coach Ange Postecoglu said he is keen to make some alterations to his side ahead of the second game in order to avoid the burnout his side succumbed to at last year’s World Cup.

 

“We learned pretty clearly at the World Cup that by the third game against Spain we were pretty spent as a group because we relied on a fairly core group of players,” Postecoglou said on Monday.

 

“And not just for those games but even in the lead-up and we don’t want to fall into the same trap. We want to do well in all three games and tomorrow night is a very important game for us.”

 

Melbourne Victory captain Mike Milligan is the favourite to replace Jedinak tonight, with Tim Cahill set to wear the armband. Milligan is just one of a handful of changes expected. Oman has proved to be frustrating opposition for the Socceroos in recent times – holding them to consecutive draws during the last World Cup qualifying campaign as well as securing a famous victory in this fixture in 2013.

 

A narrow defeat in the opening game against South Korea shows that Oman can be dangerous and so must be taken seriously by the Socceroos. No doubt, all Australian sporting eyes will be on Sydney tonight.

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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By Nathan Weller

 

Jon Jones took the UFC by storm when he made his debut in the octagon, at UFC 87 on August 9th 2008. Jones holds the current UFC record of 21 wins from 22 fights, and becoming the youngest champion in UFC history when Jones won the Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 128. The American is still the current Light Heavyweight Champion. However, that all seemed to come crashing down around him when his pre-fight drug test failed, as he tested positive for cocaine.

Heading into the UFC 182 PPV, Jones had a very heated build-up with his opponent Daniel Cormier. Jones defeated Cormier via unanimous decision after the two battled it out through five rounds.

On January 6th 2015, three days after the Jones vs. Cormier fight, it was made publicly known that Jones was entering a rehab facility for drug treatment. He had tested positive for benzoylecgonine, otherwise known as a metabolite in cocaine. Jones released the following statement.

“I want to apologize to my fiancée, my children, as well as my mother, father, and brothers for the mistake that I made. I also want to apologize to the UFC, my coaches, my sponsors and equally important to my fans. I am taking this treatment program very seriously. Therefore, at this time my family and I would appreciate privacy.”

UFC also released a statement, “We support UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’ decision to enter a drug treatment facility to address his recent issue.” UFC went on to say, “While we are disappointed in the failed test, we applaud him for making this decision to enter a drug treatment facility. Jon is a strong, courageous fighter inside the Octagon, and we expect him to fight this issue with the same poise and determination.”

Dana White, the president of UFC, also commented on the situation, “I am proud of Jon Jones for making the decision to enter a drug treatment facility,” White said. “I’m confident that he’ll emerge from this program like the champion he truly is.”

Drugs in professional sport is a raging topic worldwide. Whether drugs are used as performance enhancers or substance abuse, it is something that every sport is trying to stamp out. Today I wrote a piece about the rise and fall of Jon Jones who seemed to have it all; a bright future, youngest and current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, a fiancée and children.

So ask yourself this question; why risk all that success?

Some may say Jones is to be commended for seeking help by entering himself into a drug treatment facility. Jones believes he will come back better and stronger with the support of his family and everyone around him.

Yet here we have another super sports star, nationally publicised for drug misdemeanours. What is really concerning here is the unknown affects these drug-using “sports idols” are having on the minds and attitudes of our future sports stars?

 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Tim Cahill set the wheels in motion for the Socceroos in Melbourne

By Colm Boohig

 

The hosts got off to a perfect start at this year’s Asian Cup in the Rectangular Stadium with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Kuwait. However, the Socceroos did not always have it all their own way.

 

As early as the 8th minute the visitors shocked the partisan Melbourne crowd when defender Hussain’s superb diving header from a corner gave Kuwait the lead. This wasn’t in the script and the Aussies struggled to break down the stubborn opposition thereafter, relying on questionable penalty calls to get back into the game. It took nearly half an hour after going behind, but eventually Australia restored parity.

 

And who else to do the honours other than the living legend himself, Tim Cahill, who smashed in Massimo Luongo’s cut back to make it 1-1. Luongo wasn’t finished there and in the 44th minute the Swindon Town midfielder put his side in front with a Cahill-like bullet header from Ivan Franjic’s cross.

 

The Socceroos dominated the opening period of the second half and were presented with a fantastic opportunity to extend their lead after the tricky Robbie Kruse was fouled in the area. Up stepped skipper Mile Jedinak to take the resulting penalty and he make no mistake, making it 3-1 just before the hour mark.

 

James Troisi found time to add another in injury-time, thumping home at the near post following an impressive dribble by Mathew Leckie, who earlier was unlucky to see his thunderous 20-yard effort come crashing off the crossbar.

 

Matt Ryan had to stay alert in the Aussie goal as Kuwait proved dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the second half, but overall Australia’s superior quality shone through in a 4-1 victory.

 

After the match coach Ange Postecoglu praised the performance of his players as well as the impact made by the lively home support.

 

“The crowd was fantastic they made plenty of noise and the boys got a lift. We want everyone behind us.”

 

It is a great start in a tournament where Australian expectation is high. Up next for the Socceroos in Group A is Oman on January 13th in Sydney.

 

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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By Jessica Fagan.

Australian basketball superstar Kristi Harrower has announced her retirement after a professional career that spanned more than two decades.

The four-time Olympic medalist has confirmed she’s 16 weeks pregnant and will bow out of the WNBL this weekend.

She’ll suit up for her beloved Bendigo Spirit in Sunday’s game against Adelaide, but might not take to the court.

Spirit coach and Kristi’s father, Bernie, was emotional as he paid tribute to his daughter.

He described Harrower as Australia’s greatest point guard and said she ‘makes her teammates better’.

It’s hard to argue when you look at Harrower’s impressive statistics.

Along with her Olympic medals, the 39-year-old has notched up a World Championship gold medal, three WNBL Championships and stints in the WNBA and Europe.

She’s played 328 games in the WNBL and 266 for Australia, including 49 at junior level.

Harrower made her Opals debut back in 1993 and finished up her international career at the 2012 London Olympics with a bronze medal.

She leaves the WNBL a champion too, having helped the Bendigo Spirit to back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.

The diminutive 162cm point guard stood out in game known for the height of its players.

She inspired many with her on-court smarts and hard work and will be sorely missed by the Australian basketball community.

 

Image curtesy of Wikipedia

Australia first nation outside of Asia to host Asian Cup

By Colm Boohig

 

The 2015 AFC Asian Cup begins this evening as hosts Australia face Kuwait in Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium. It is the first time that Australia has hosted the Asian Cup, and the first time that the tournament has been staged outside of the geographical continent of Asia. Australia has been part of the Asian Confederation since their 2007 switch from Oceania and the Socceroos will be looking for redemption at this year’s Asian Cup, having lost 1-0 to Japan in the 2011 final. Continue reading

2015 a big year for Australia's Daniel Ricciardo

By Jonathon Momsen

Christmas is gone and summer is here, which means the Formula 1 Championship will begin building towards the Australian Grand Prix coming up in March. After such a strong year in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo’s future will be one of a champion, but whether or not 2015 will have an Australian winner remains to be seen. Continue reading

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By Basil Naimet.

Australian golf tournaments in 2014 have had record television audiences with all four majors covered by free-to-air provider Channel Seven.

Of the four events that were televised, which included; the ISPS HANDAPerth International, BetEasy Masters, Emirates Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, the Emirates Australian Open performed extremely well with average weekend audiences of 566,000.

Two weeks later at the Australian PGA Championship with a three way play-off between fellow Aussies Adam Scott, Greg Chalmers and Wade Ormsby the numbers peaked for the play-off with an audience of 960,000 for metropolitan viewers only, and a weekend average audience of 478,000. Sunday alone averaged 682,000.

PGA Australia CEO Brian Thorburn said the increased numbers meant sports fans responded well to major tournaments being played in Australia.

“These viewer numbers are outstanding, and a true reflection of the Australian public’s love of golf and our major events.

“It was an exciting finish to the PGA Tour of Australasia season with the three way play-off, and with the audience peaking at almost a million metropolitan viewers to watch the finale it was a real coup for the Tour.

“We must thank Channel Seven for their support and commitment to golf, and it highlights the strength of golf in Australia. Overall, the Australian PGA Championship was up 35% on 2013 ratings which is a credit to all involved.”

Channel Seven’s Head of Sport Saul Shtein remained confident Australian fans would see more of the same next year.

“We’re committed to bringing the best of Australian sport into lounge-rooms around the country, and it’s no surprise that the quality and drama of the golf this year has been matched by terrific TV audiences. We look forward to another great year in 2015.”
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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By Nathan Weller.

In a history making move, Australian female duo; Bec Rawlings (25) and Alex Chambers (36), are the first Australian women to fight in the UFC. A few years ago there was only a handful of Australians within UFC, however none of them were female. Fast forward to 2014 and the extreme sport is enjoying an increase in the number of Australian fighters, and now we have our very own Aussie females entering the octagon.

The UFC began in 1993, and has become one of the fastest rising sports. The maiden UFC event was in Denver, Colorado on November 12th 1993. The UFC only included male fighters inside the caged octagon. However, on November 16th 2012, UFC President Dana White confirmed that UFC would now also consist of women with the signing of their female fighter Ronda Rousey. On December 11th 2013 UFC signed eleven female fighters to fill their 115 pound weight division (Strawweight Division).

Proud Queenslander Rawlings said in an interview that, “It’s amazing that the UFC is starting to embrace Australia and that Australia is embracing UFC with open arms.” Rawlings went onto say “Once the UFC announced that they were introducing women into the sport then it was only a matter of time until they brought in our weight class.”

During an interview with Jason Tulio, Rawlings spoke openly about her domestic violence issues that she has had to deal with in the past. Rawlings said she believes that her past has shaped into the fighter that she is today, and both the domestic issues and rough upbringing has moulded her.

She started her MMA career in Launceston, Tasmania in 2010 before relocating to Brisbane, Australia. Rawlings has a professional mixed martial arts record of five wins and four losses from nine fights, with three of her victories coming by submission. Rawlings joined the UFC on December 11th 2013, after the Strawweight division was created. Rawlings’ first fight after The Ultimate Fighter was against Heather Jo Clark  on December 12th 2014. She lost the fight by unanimous decision.

Alex Chambers, from New South Wales, has also made her way to the UFC. Chambers said that she is so excited to make her UFC debut in Las Vegas. She went onto say that she was excited to be leading the next generation of female athletes at the same time. She thinks that this is a great opportunity for Australia, and that it proves that if you have a dream to pursue it.

Chambers will take on the octagon cage name of Alex “Astro-Girl” Chambers. She has a degree in astrophysics and is completing a degree in mechatronic engineering. In a dramatic life-changing event Chambers has decided to turn her back on robotics, to peruse her dream in mixed martial arts. She said in an interview, “It can be seen as a sacrifice, but I don’t see it that way I see it as a chance to follow my dreams.”

Chambers has her third Dan black belt in karate and her purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She also has a mixed martial arts record of four wins and two losses from six fights, with two of her wins coming by knockout and one by submission. Chambers signed with the UFC on December 11th 2013 to compete in the strawweight division. Chambers competed in her fight against Aisling Daly on December 12th 2014, and lost the fight via submission in the first round.

The UFC is becoming one of the most watched sports worldwide. It has a winning combination of mixed martial arts, and entertainment value attributed to some of the top-ranked fighters in the sport.

Today, I share the ground-breaking story of two Australian women, Bec Rawlings and Alex Chambers, who have set the benchmark for Australian women to fight within the UFC octagon. These two women have made history and are paving the way for more Australian females to join this popular martial arts sport. They have done our country proud, and this is an encouraging story for everyone who has a dream that, no matter what it is, you can achieve it. Bec Rawlings and Alex Chambers have shown us dreams can come true, as they debut in the UFC octagon cage.

 

Image Courtesy of Card Girl

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The wrestling and MMA worlds were shocked by retired WWE wrestler CM Punk’s announcement that he has signed a multi-fight deal with UFC.

CM Punk, real name Phil Brooks, has been a long time fan of mixed martial arts, having previously trained in both Kempo Karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with Rener Gracie. Punk’s in-ring style has been known to incorporate elements of MMA, including kicks, high knees and a submission style.

Punk has stated that “this is my new career 100-percent”and he’s considering both the Middleweight and Welterweight divisions, with a definitive answer to be made following a test weight cut. He currently weighs around 205 pounds, after losing 15 pounds as he commenced MMA training.

During his time with WWE, Punk was able to train with Rener Gracie in multiple two-week intensive camps roughly six months apart. According to Gracie, he has progressed extremely well and is “in the top-tier of students as far as retention, athleticism and ability to train for long periods goes.”

During a post-UFC 181 press conference, Punk said that he intends to consider all possible fight camps and to eventually join the one he feels has the best chance of making him as well-rounded as possible, because he “has so much respect for all of the fighters”and wants to commit to this properly.

Punk recently made headlines within the wrestling community after appearing on Colt Cabana’s (a long time friend of Punk’s) Art of Wrestling Podcast for a tell-all interview regarding his departure from the WWE. In the interview Punk pointed out that he had been dealing with multiple health issues such as an untreated and potentially fatal MRSA infection, broken ribs, injured knees and multiple concussions. Along with these he had started to becoming disillusioned with the creative process and wrestling in general, which all contributed to his abrupt departure from the company.

The signing of Punk to UFC could potentially be a masterstoke for Dana White, in a similar vein as the signing of Brock Lesnar. During his time on the independent circuit and with WWE, Punk built up a cult following and they’ll likely tune in to see his first MMA fight.

 

Image courtesy of Bleach Report

PGA

By Basil Naimet.

The summer of golf hots up this week with the Australian PGA championship to be played at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, December 11-14.

This year’s event will see some 80 Australian golfers taking part. Players from 13 different countries, including; China, Korea, Thailand, Canada and Argentina will also take centre stage at the refurbished RACV Royal Pines Resort.

AmericansBoo Weekley, Scott Stalling and Zimbabwe’s Brendon De Jong will also be taking their place on course, as will the recently turned professional Cameron Smith. Smith, who turned pro in 2013, has performed well on the Asian Tour this year and is currently fourth on the Asian Tour of Merit with nine starts in 2014.

World number three Adam Scott finished fifth at the Australian Open last month. He sat behind Greg Chalmers, Brett Rumford and Rod Pampling respectively on the leader board and will also take to the field with the trio. Pampling, the best of the Aussies, finished five shots behind the eventual winner Jordan Spieth.

But there are others who could also be in for a big chance of claiming part of the $1million that’s up for grabs. Marc Leishman and John Senden have both had a successful year in the US and are coming into the PGA on a run of good form.

A special mention must go to Victorian Jarrod Lyle. The Aussie has twice fought and twice defeated Leukaemia and is expected to take to the field this weekend.

Earlier this year he finished tied 31st in the frys.com Open in California where fellow Aussie Steven Bowditch (who will also play in the Australian PGA) was runner up to Korean Sang-Moon Bae.

Lyle told golf.com that he looked forward to playing in the Australian summer where the crowds were always supportive.

And as for coverage of the event, Channel Seven will be covering it with millions expected to be tuning in.

A spokesperson for the tournament said the Australasian tour covered the Asia Pacific region, and as a consequence, the reach was potentially enormous.

“The Australian PGA Championship will be broadcast through Channel 7 and internationally through the OneAsia broadcast platform. The OneAsia platform extends to the wider Asia-Pacific region and has a potential reach of over 400 million homes across 40 countries.”

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The cricket world is in mourning today after Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes tragically passed. Just 2 days ago, Hughes was 63 not out and playing for a spot in the Australian cricket team after being shortlisted to take Michael Clarke’s position.
Hughes was a talented 25 year old, and holds the record for the youngest man ever to score two centuries in a test match, a feat he achieved against South Africa in 2009.

The TAT Sport team’s thoughts are with his family, friends, and fans in this rough time; and also with Sean Abbott, the luckless young bowler whose world has flipped upside down after his bowl resulted in the freak accident.

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By Colm Boohig.

 

Tennis is having a new year’s makeover by attempting its own version of Twenty20 cricket, and two of the biggest stars in the men’s game will test it out.

 

In the build-up to The Australian Open – the first grand slam of the year – Roger Federer and Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt will have a battle with a twist on January 12th in Sydney.

 

This particular match will be a best-of-five sets affair, but will actually be shorter and faster than the usual format. Unlike your traditional contest, there will be no advantage scoring, no service lets, tie-breaks will occur at three games all and the first to four games wins.

 

It is an experiment proposed by Tennis Australia and is actually targeting the amateur game. Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley explains;

 

“The new format is a game changer and is set to revolutionise the game of tennis, particularly at club and social levels. 

“Time today is precious and this new fast format is perfect for any player who wants to fit their tennis matches into a busy lifestyle.

“To have Roger and Lleyton, our own great Australian champion, showcase the format for the first time is not only special for Sydney and Australia, but for the sport around the world.”

 

No doubt, it is a bold move and only time will tell if the idea will be a success. Certainly, it has all the makings of a winner on paper. The popularity of the sport in Australia as a leisure activity is well documented and this new format could make all the difference to busy professionals who love to have a knock around.

 

All eyes will be on long-term rivals and good friends Federer and Hewitt come January 12th in Sydney and those in attendance may be treated to some unprecedented on-court entertainment.

 

Images courtesy of ABC and Public Radio International

FIFA

A-League caught out by the international break, and a Socceroo legend up for a big award

By Colm Boohig

Scotland and the Republic of Ireland meet at Celtic Park this evening in their Euro 2016 qualifier. In a group that contains the world champions Germany, Scotland and Ireland have both performed above expectations so far. Ireland lie in second, having amassed seven points from a possible nine, including a 1-1 draw away to Germany, while Scotland sit in fourth place in Group D, level on points with the Germans.

 

With the European Championships increased from 16 to 24 nations for the 2016 tournament in France, this is a wonderful opportunity for both of these countries to qualify. Considering their respective form, the tie is already exciting enough on paper but the week’s build-up to the game has provided extra anticipation.

Continue reading

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By Basil Naimet

Crystal Palace and World Cup Socceroo captain Mile Jedinak has been ranked the fifth best footballer in Europe by fantasy game developer Oulala.

This is no joke!

In fact, according to the statistics, Jedinak is the top performer in the English Premier League. The hard working midfielder polled 397 points, ahead of the likes of Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard and striker Diego Costa, who polled 320 and 315 points respectively.

This is an amazing feat for Jedinak, whose Crystal Palace side are expected to be in a relegation scrap for the duration of the season.

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By Jess Fagan.

 

The Diamonds may have just earned the title of Australia’s most dominant sporting team.

They made it through 2014 undefeated, after overcoming England 54-47 in Canberra on Wednesday.

It stretches the Diamonds’ winning streak to 19 tests, dating back to September last year.

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By Colm Boohig

 

Following weeks of turmoil, Michael Cheika has been appointed the new coach of Australia. Cheika replaces the under fire Ewan McKenzie, who suddenly resigned following Saturday’s narrow defeat by New Zealand.

 

From the get-go it was reported that Cheika was the outstanding candidate and it seems as though the ARU have got their man. Cheika signs a three-year deal with the national side, having led the Waratahs to Super League triumph earlier this year. He will double-job in 2015, continuing with the Waratahs while also making preparations for next year’s World Cup.

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By Aimee Dawson.

The on-fire Australian Diamonds have stretched their winning streak to 18 games, defeating the English netball team by 18 goals in Bendigo.

A crowd of 2494 came to Bendigo Stadium to watch the first game of the two test series, and the Diamonds didn’t disappoint.

Australia lead from the start, swiftly scoring the first three goals of the match.

Fast ball movement by both teams saw Australia thrive under the speed, whilst England were guilty of many turnovers, costing them a good start to the game.

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PGA

By Basil Naimet.

Two of Australian golf’s rising stars are confirmed starters for this year’s Australian PGA Championship at the Royal Pines Golf resort on the Gold Coast in December.

World number 50, John Senden, is one; the other is Steven Bowditch.

Senden won the Valspar Championship in March, and tied for 8th at the U.S Masters. He comes to Australia brimming with confidence and is looking forward to the event; especially with the support local players receive from fans.

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By Jess Fagan.

 

Troubled Wallabies star Kurtley Beale’s Australian rugby career is in doubt after it was revealed he sent crude text messages about former business manager, Di Patston.

 

A text message exchange between Beale and Patston has been leaked to the media.

 

It suggests Beale accidently sent Patston two humiliating messages that made reference to her, and then showed remorse and begged for the business manager’s forgiveness.

 

Patston reportedly agreed not to tell coach Ewan McKenzie or the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) about the messages, after the pair met face to face to talk things through.

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By Michael Luxford.

On Wednesday the NRL community was shocked as yet another star of the game announced he is leaving the NRL. Dally M player of the year Jarryd Hayne has pulled out of the upcoming four nations and confirmed he’s leaving the Parramatta Eels to pursue a career in the NFL.

In an emotional press conference, Hayne made it clear that this is something he has been thinking about for two years. The Parramatta Eels released their star number one and captain on the condition that if he ever returns to the NRL, it will be with the Eels.

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by Aimee Dawson.

The Australian Diamonds have continued their fine form with a victory over the New Zealand Silver Ferns last night in Melbourne.

The win makes it 15 wins in a row for the Diamonds, the last three being against fierce rivals the Silver Ferns, who are without their star shooter, Maria Tutaia.

Australia lead the entire match from the opening minutes of the game with a lead that stretched out to 10 goals in the third quarter.

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NRL

#5. ASADA Strikes:

It took one and a half years, but finally ASADA ended their investigations, resulting in 17 players serving suspensions. However, for most of them this meant missing a mere three rounds after receiving back-dated suspensions (to November 23rd, 2013). It capped off a dismal season for the Cronulla Sharks and ruined the chances of Jonathan Wright playing in the finals for the North Queensland Cowboys.

#4. Ricky Flops:

For the second year in a row Ricky Stuart has been considered the saving grace and for the second year in a row he has failed to live up to expectations. After leaving the Parramatta Eels with the wooden spoon in 2013 he returned to Canberra as their new head coach. Fans were delighted to see one of their favourite sons return and overlooked the fact that Stuart has a winning percentage of less than 50% since leaving the Sydney Roosters in 2006.

Stuart has come out several times this year and suggested that in order for the Raiders to be successful they will need to attract ‘rep’ players to the club. But after watching what Ivan Cleary has done with a ‘moneyball’ style roster at the Penrith Panthers, we all know that this is not the case.

#3. Dynasty Diminish:

For the past 10 years the two dominate teams in the NRL have been the Manly Sea Eagles and the Melbourne Storm. But is their time at the top limited? It might be too early to suggest that either of these teams are no longer the premiership force they once were, but it is obvious that the tides are turning and both clubs are going through a transition stage.

Melbourne are known for their clinical performances and have always been the team to watch in the finals. But this year it became more evident that with the ageing of the Big Three (Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk) there is a need for someone else in the Melbourne side to step up. Jesse Bromwich has established himself as the leader of the Melbourne forwards, but despite the talent in their backline no one outside of Slater or Cronk have put their hands up. Signing or developing a young half will also be important to Melbourne’s success as they head into the unknown – a life without the Big Three.

Manly, on the other hand, are a bit of a mixed bag at the moment. They’re clearly still a premiership force but issues inside the club and player retention is set to take its toll. Manly finished second throughout the regular season but were bundled out of the finals in straight sets, going down to the South Sydney Rabbitohs 40-24 and then to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in golden point, 18-17. Manly have already lost the services of Glenn Stewart and may well see Anthony Watmough exit the club, leaving them with a somewhat inexperienced back-row. But the real issues will come once Kieran Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans come off contract at the end of 2015, as both players can and will demand big money from the club.

#2. A Year to Forget:

The West Tigers started 2014 with high hopes. They had released the inconstant Benji Marshall and were looking to the future with Luke Brookes. The 2014 season started off well for them despite losing their first round clash with the Cronulla Sharks. By round five they had comprehensively beaten the eventual premiers, the Rabbitohs, and the runners-up of 2013, Manly, but it was all downhill from there. Off-field drama once again caused issues at the club, affecting their on-field performances.

Coach Mike Potter was fired prior to the completion of the NRL season. The West Tigers then appointed Jason Taylor as head coach. Taylor, despite having a reasonable record as a coach, will be up against it in his attempt to turn this struggling club’s fortunes around.

 

#1. We’ve Waited a Long Time for This:

It has been 43 years in the making but on October 5th, 2014, at approximately 9:30PM, the Rabbitohs claimed their 21st Premiership, defeating the Bulldogs 30-6.

For 57 minutes the game was in the balance, until a barnstorming run from George Burgess sparked the Rabbitohs as they claimed the 2014 NRL Premiership.

The game truly showed what Rugby League is all about, highlighted through the Clive Churchill-winning performance of Sam Burgess. The English international was not only the first non-Australian to claim the prestigious award, but he also played 80 minutes with a fractured cheek bone, cementing himself in Rabbitohs and Rugby League folklore. Although Souths’ will see a number of players depart this year, Sam will no doubt be their biggest loss. He came to Australia in 2010 to help Russell Crowe fulfil his ambition of restoring Souths’ to their former glory, and in 2014 he achieved that very aim.

NRL-GRAND-FINAL

By Jess Fagan.

The final game of the NRL season is almost upon us. It’s an historic moment for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who’ll be part of the action on Grand Final day for the first time in 43 years. They’re set to take on the Canterbury – Bankstown Bulldogs, who came from 7th on the ladder at the end of the regular season to secure their spot in the decider.

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By Basil Naimet

The holy grail of team golf will take place from September 26-28, when the 40th Ryder Cup is played out in the Gleneagles Hotel at Perthshire in Scotland.

The world’s top performing players will form two competing teams – Europe and the United States – as they go head-to-head during three days of intense golf.

Former US Tour champion Tom Watson, who is no stranger to success – winning 39 PGA tours and 8 majors including 5 British Opens – will go up against Europe’s Paul McGinley. A former European Ryder Cup competitor, McGinley defeated Jim Furyk to win the cup for Europe in 2002.

This is set to be a fascinating affair. Boasting 4 of the world’s top 10 players, team Europe is formidable. They are also in red-hot form in 21st century Ryder Cup action, having won 5 of the last 6 meetings. No doubt, Watson will have his work cut-out deciding which of his US chargers will get them off to a winning start and who can ultimately stop world number one Rory McIlroy, with the Northern Irishman having won back-to-back majors this year. However, in Ricky Fowler and Jordan Spieth the US arguably have the 2 best young golfers in the world at their disposal.

Historically the teams were chosen by a ‘selection committee’, but over time it evolved into performance-based selection.  In this year’s cup the top 9 players have been automatically selected to represent each team, with a further 3 being selected as ‘wild cards’ or ‘captain’s picks’.

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