Moree bulls at end of the road

THE Central North finals make-up finally has some clarity about it after Gunnedah produced a stirring effort to lock in a finals spot and effectively end Moree’s plans in front of big home crowd on Saturday.
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It was something of a red letter day for the Red Devils as they marched towards their first finals appearance since 2004 and completed a rare double against the Bulls with a 30-12 win.

Its been a long time between drinks for the Gunnedah faithful waiting to beat the Bulls twice in a season.

It had been 10 years since they’d tasted success in Moree.

The result leaves Inverell, Walcha, the Red Devils and Pirates as the top four, bar Pirates falling in a heap, which doesn’t look likely.

Now all that remains to be sorted is their exact finishing positions.

The win has put the Red Devils in a prime position to host the minor semi-final, although they have a tough couple of games to come with Pirates and Inverell their next two opponents.

But they’ll head into those matches with confidence, and backing their defence after another excellent effort on Saturday.

Like it was at Moree, the Red Devils’ defence was the key to their win.

As expected with their season on the line, the Bulls came out firing.

They had all the possession and the territory in the opening minutes and broke through the Red Devils’ defence a couple of times, but each time the Red Devils managed to scramble back or the play broke down.

Then, with their first chance with the ball, the Red Devils spread it wide and after a couple of runners had punched through, breakaway Joel McKenty busted through to give the home side first points.

They quickly had to switch back into defensive mode though, messing up the kick-off and eventually conceding a penalty, but the Bulls’ attempt at goal was unsuccessful.

From the restart a chip and chase from Bulls skipper Ben Colley got the Bulls back into good territory and created an overlap but Red Devils five-eighth Pete Henderson managed to get back and snaffle the intercept.

The Bulls missed another penalty and then found themselves down 8-nil when a breakout from inside their half from the Red Devils resulted in a penalty, which Matt Jones slotted.

It was then 13-nil with about 10 to go after Jamie Mitchell finished off an attack ignited by coach Paul Brady.

Rather than clearing to the sideline, Brady decided to take on the defence and after getting outside Bulls winger Joe Henderson, kicked ahead into open space. Dave Heyman led the chase and got the ball back before popping it off to Mitchell.

It summed up the Red Devils’ determination, which equally resonated in defence.

“Today we defended for probably the first eight minutes straight,” Brady said.

“It was important that we rode that wave of aggression out.”

Which they did, thanks to some big plays.

“There was some desperate stuff,” Brady said.

He said McKenty’s try was a massive mental boost, and likewise would have mentally hurt the Bulls, as would have Mitchell’s try.

“The other important thing was we didn’t try and play defensively,” Brady said.

They played an attacking game, but they needed to.

“I think against a side like Moree with their attacking flair, you can’t afford to play defensively,” Brady said.

It was really only scraps they had to play with though.

The second half they enjoyed a bit more possession, but were probably a bit sloppy at times, Brady said, turning the ball over when they were half-way through the line.

The Bulls finally put some points on the board after an incisive run from fullback Heath Riggs set up Simon Dunlop in space, but they had a mountain to climb by then, with Matt Hannay scoring in the first couple of minutes of the second half to push the Red Devils’ lead out to 20-nil.

Not long after, Manaia Rehu charged through and spectacularly juggled the ball behind his back before scoring and effectively ending any hopes the Bulls had of fighting back.

It’s a game they’ll rue missed opportunities from.

“I think we created a fair few opportunities but at that last pass it broke down,” Bulls coach Jamie Hardman said.

“We had all the ball and all of the opportunities and all of a sudden they came away with points.”

If Moree had taken those chances it could have been different.

“The difference was they finished and we didn’t,” Hardman said.

Matt Wannan, Dunlop and Damien Kelly were good for them, while McKenty was awesome for the Red Devils.

Mitchell and centre partner Dylan Beer also had strong games.

Moree’s Simon Dunlop tries to offload as he’s hit hard by Gunnedah’s Sam Michelsen and a Red Devils team-mate. Photo: Barry Smith 040812BSF05

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Tess’s team does a great job

TESS Gerrand’s former coach said the Australian Women’s Eight rowing team have done a great job to get to where they are.
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John Corbett said the experience and strength of their rivals make it hard for the squad to medal but said they had surprised everyone so far.

“The other teams they were up against have been rowing together for years,” he said.

“This Australian team has only recently been thrown together.

“They’ve got nothing to lose, so who know’s, no-one really gave them much of a chance in the first place and look how far they’ve come.”

He likened the Australian squad to a team of Port Macquarie, misfit, footballers, mixing it in the NRL.

“It would be like taking a rat-bag bunch of footballers to play NRL in Sydney and expect them to win,” he said.

“They definitely have that underdog tag and that will suit them to a point.

“The fact they’ve made it this far is a huge credit to them.”

Mr Corbett took Tess under his wing almost 10 years ago and said she showed instant talent.

“From the start, even at the age of 15, she had this maturity about her,” he said.

“She was tall and strong and very mature and responsible for her age.”

And he said she still displays those qualities.

“I have seen the same stuff from her that I saw six years ago,” he said.

“She hasn’t changed much at all, she’s always been very consistent, strong, smart and calm and reliable under pressure.

“I used to always say she had all those leadership qualities.”

A photo of Olympic rower Tess Gerrard taken in 2006 by her former coach John Corbett.

Tess Gerrard and her team at the London Games.

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Rueter stars in Mustangs romp

A season’s best performance from Mitch Rueter gave the Maitland Mustangs the edge in their 16-point win over the Parramatta Wildcats.
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Rueter finished the match with 42 points next to his name with an imposing 70 per cent shot percentage.

“It felt good,” he said.

“It felt as good as I have played here in Australia.

“I don’t remember missing a shot in the second half.”

The return of Kieran Gleeson took pressure off Rueter and King Cannon, who scored 19 points for the game, allowing them to play their regular positions.

Coach Luke Boyle said the Mustangs were in front for most of the match and lauded the work of young players Nick Bowe, Ash Sopher and Gerry Bray.

“We’ve been having them help us out over the last couple of weeks,” Boyle said.

“It looks as though we’ll have a fair few guys retire at the end of this year so it’s good to see them doing so well.”

The Mustangs were missing Matt Dick, which meant that Boyle had to play more minutes than he would have liked.

“We had Tim Mallon there to help us from the bench,” Boyle said.

The win propels the Mustangs into sixth place and wins from their last two games will ensure an all-important top six finish.

The Mustangs will take the home-court advantage into both games, the first will be against Manly Warringah, who beat the Mustangs away from home last week.

Their last match in the regular season is to be against the Bankstown Bruins – the team they have just deposed from sixth place.

TOP FORM: Mitch Rueter scored 42 points for the Mustangs in a season best game. Picture by MARINA NEIL 040712MN533

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Students put rivalry aside for two worthy causes

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LAUNCESTON Church Grammar School and Scotch Oakburn College did not exactly set aside their rivalry on Saturday, but at least they channelled it for a good cause.

Scotch Oakburn’s Newstead oval played host to two football matches in a Rivalry-for-a-Reason event that raised $3200.

A girls’ team and boys’ team from each school played matches to raise funds for their schools’ respective international projects.

Scotch Oakburn is helping to build a boarding school in Timor Leste and Launceston Church Grammar School supports a Save the World Foundation effort in Nepal.

A carnival atmosphere prevailed as the first teams took to the ground, neither being in the least put off as the public address system blared out Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.

For the record, Grammar won the girls’ match 4.10 (34) to 4.0 (24) and Scotch Oakburn the boys’ match 19.12 (126) to 15.11 (101).

Scotch Oakburn principal Andrew Barr said that full credit had to go to the schools’ senior students for organising the fund-raiser.

“It’s an idea of Scotch Oakburn students, who involved Grammar, and there was a great feeling of collaboration between the two schools,” Mr Barr said.

Grammar school captain Peter Archer said that similar events had happened in the past, but not for a while.

“They came to us looking for a girls’ football match and we thought it would be a great idea as well as the boys’ match,” Peter said.

Chloe Ranicar and Diana Taylor were among the Scotch Oakburn students collecting money at the event and spent the day selling admission tickets at the entrance to the oval.

The host school retains about 65 per cent of the money raised for its charity and the visitors 35 per cent, a ratio that will work in Grammar’s favour when it hosts a rematch next year.

Grammar girls’ team captains Rose Sauer and Danni Pickett and Scotch Oakburn captains Danielle Crosswell and Kathleen Deboer at Saturday’s fund-raising football match. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

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Date with destiny

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After years of training, the high-pressure selection process and all the hype around the build up to London 2012, the moment has finally arrived for Brendan Sexton.

And 24 hours out from the biggest race of his career the Maitland lad, who celebrates his 27th birthday today, said he felt ready to take on the world’s best at the Olympic Games.

“I am actually really excited,” Sexton told the Maitland Mercury. “Around the time of selection the whole idea of being an Olympian didn’t really sink in.

“I was quite anxious about the selection and a few under performances, so being named on the team was more of a relief than a thrill.

“I have been in camp in the French Pyrenees with just my coach and my training partner.

“It is somewhere I have been before and really enjoy training there, so I immediately felt at home and my motivation took off.

“That has been the past four weeks and I have really been able to enjoy preparing for the biggest race of my career thus far.

“The majority of the work is done now and I take a lot of confidence out of that.”

Sexton’s birthday is today and it seems a fitting way to celebrate such an occasion with a race around the Hyde Park course tomorrow.

“It would be a nice present [to win a medal a day after my birthday],” he said. “But more for the satisfaction of work I’ve put in over the years rather than a gift to celebrate my birth.”

The race starts at 11.30pm (8.30pm AEST). tomorrow.

Maitland triathlete is ready for the race of his life the day after his birthday.

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Shed fire destroys equipment

ORANGE police are investigating a suspicious fire at a sporting shed at Norton Park, a crime that made CYMS Junior Rugby League secretary Simone Arnold sick.
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The shed was used by CYMS Junior Cricket Club and the rugby league club to house sporting equipment and lawnmowers.

Ms Arnold said the crime was devastating to all the volunteers who put hours into fundraising for the equipment.

“We just don’t have enough money to replace all that equipment or to replace the shed,” she said.

“It’s so infuriating that you put so much work into something and someone just comes along and trashes it.”

CYMS Junior Cricket Club suffered the most. The fire was set in the right-hand side of the shed where the club had bags of equipment containing pads and bats. The bags were destroyed, along with two lawnmowers.

“There was a bag of cricket equipment on top of the lawnmowers … how they didn’t blow up is beyond me,” she said.

Ms Arnold said the blaze occurred on Friday night after the rugby league club had spent hours setting up the field for games on Saturday.

“They came in sometime after we left and tore down all the mini posts we’d set up and ripped off the pads,” she said.

“They even stuck a bit of paper through to the left-hand side of the shed in the hope that the other side would catch alight too.”

Ms Arnold said when club officials arrived on Saturday there was a bin smouldering and graffiti through James Sheahan Catholic High School.

Principal Mark Pauschmann said he was disappointed at the senseless act.

“It’s taking away facilities used by the local community,” he said.

“I feel really disappointed.”

Anyone with information on the fire can contact Orange police on 6363 6399.

SUSPICIOUS: Police are investigating a fire at a Norton Park shed. Photo NICOLE KUTER 0805nkfire

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Raiders hit high gear with 60-point victory

DUBBO Macquarie will have a week off at the start of the semi-finals after wrapping up the Group 11 minor premiership with a 70-10 win over Wellington at No.1 Oval yesterday.
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The break could be ideal for the Raiders, who were without halfback Josh Merritt (hamstring) and prop Kinni Tanaulucavu (shoulder) going into the match and spent most of the game with two men on the bench after Mason Williams (ankle) and Kyle Webb (achilles) succumbed to injury.

In total the Dubbo side raced in 12 tries to two, with coach Jade Williams crossing three times while hooker Jeremy Smith and the centre pairing of John Grey and Quentin Dickinson each bagged doubles.

For Macquarie captain Ash Conn the performance was exactly what he was looking for after the side suffered its first loss of the season the week prior at Parkes.

“We needed to hit back this week and I thought we did that well,” he said.

“To be fair, we didn’t actually play that bad against Parkes but it was good the boys were able to put that behind them and come out and wrap up that minor premiership.

“We still have a match to go before we worry about having a week off so it’s still business as usual.”

After a tight start, and a minor melee involving Macquarie’s Perry Meredith and Wellington’s Billy Stanley, the score was 12-10 in favour of the home side but a four-pointer to John Grey shortly after sparked a run of three tries in 12 minutes to see the Raiders lead 30-10 at the break.

One of Macquarie’s tries came on the back of a stunning 40/20 kick from Swade Dunn, which he launched from inside his own 20m mark and put out centimetres inside the corner post.

The pointscoring spree continued after the break as Macquarie piled on six further tries in 23 minutes before Smith, who finished with a personal haul of 30 points, scored in the dying seconds of the match.

Wellington captain Nathan Smith said his side’s 60-point loss came down to a sheer lack of numbers and some good play from Macquarie.

“We were missing our guys that work on the railway and Ali Beale pulled out just before the match so we were down a bit on players,” Smith said.

“But credit to Macquarie. They did a good job and didn’t give us much ball.

“When we did have it we just kept dropping it and they kept scoring.

“The good thing is it won’t stop us from getting into the finals in that fifth spot and we should have everyone on deck from next week so we are still a chance if we can put together a few good weeks of footy.”

Macquarie will travel to Cobar in the final round while Wellington will host Parkes at Kennard Park in their last match before the semi-finals.

Dubbo Macquarie 70 (Jade Williams 3, Jeremy Smith 2, John Grey 2, Quentin Dickinson 2, Viliame Cagibula, Swade Sunn, Etuate Gusuivalu tries; Smith 11 goals) def Wellington Cowboys 10 (Chris Daley, Kyle West tries; Lewis Stanley goal)

Macquarie lock Perry Meredith receives some attention from Wellington’s Luke Healy during yesterday’s match. Photo: JOSH HEARD

Raiders run riot over Narromine with a 60-point win

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A silver lining in the clouds of gloom hanging over London

There is an unseen silver lining in the clouds of gloom that seem to have eclipsed Australia’s sporting pre-eminence in London.
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One might even call it a cold English shower of reality. The apparent lack of success in the gold digging stakes should not be reason to overlook a dozen or so silver medals where each and every one represents a transcendent and laudatory feat. After all each represents being the second best in the world at a chosen discipline and that is extraordinary enough. But as onlookers we are a nation of winners and the gold drought cannot but help rankle.

The Australia that has grown so used to winning doesn’t like this apparent lack of distinction and would prefer to sullenly hit the remote control with dismissive curses and flick over to a sport we are unquestionably the best in the world at – because no one else plays it.

So while there is the possibility that London 2012 will hint at nothing but the ugly possibility that we are a nation of sore losers there is also the danger is that we miss a great opportunity to take a closer look at our collective sporting selves. If Sydney Athens and Beijing represented a high point in our Niobe-like hubris of triumphalism then a quick glimpse at yesterday’s medal tally brings the national psyche crashing back down to earth.

Even the trite argument about “punching above our weight” falls flat when old neighbour and rival New Zealand has more to boast of.

There has been and certainly will be lots of hand wringing and soul-searching at a national level about the cause of the “ defeat”.

But there is also potentially a deeper lesson in all this for a sport-loving race. It is an increasingly spectator nation that most demands victory.

The vicarious joy of watching our appointed proxy loses its vitality if we have to have to face up to the reality of coming second. No one likes losing but the spectator has even less to walk away with, having largely been denied the physical thrill of competing. With the looming threats of obesity epidemics and the soft allure of an increasingly convenience-driven society, those old fashioned values of “games” and simply taking part could not be more important for physical and social well being.

Who knows, a return to and revival of the grass roots participatory sport in so many ways might even increase the talent pool that has brought Australia so much Olympic glory in the past.

Near enough but judged by many in Australia as not good enough.

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Businesses dumping waste illegally

ILLEGAL dumpers have been at it again and according to Mount Isa City Council mayor Tony McGrady, it’s now an issue out of Council’s hands.
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The latest pile of rubbish dumped by locals was found by residents and local business owners Duncan and Anne Cunningham near the power station at Mica Creek.

Having been on Clean up Australia Day boards and recycling committees during his recent term as Mount Isa City councillor, Mr Cunningham said he was appalled by what he continued to find daily dumped on the side of the road.

“We got letters and documents out of the rubbish with people’s names and businesses written all over them from our recent find on a road we drive down daily,” he said.

“They’re not the brightest bunch that’s for sure and it’s a daily occurrence now.”

Mr Cunningham said he had notified Mount Isa City Council of the illegal dumping, with evidence, and was promptly told it was a matter of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s concern.

“It’s something that I wasn’t aware of, illegal dumping should and always had been a big issue to Council,” he said.

“I’m a little disappointed that it has gone over to this department, if that’s the case.”

Mr Cunningham said he had given his evidence on the matter to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection but questioned why it was no longer an issue for Council to resolve.

“At the end of the day it’s a matter which requires somebody to act and fix the issue,” he said.

Mount Isa City Council mayor Tony McGrady said he had been informed of the complaint and state government act changes were a result of recent legislation movements.

“It’s gone from one act to another and is legislation I didn’t realised had been changed,” Cr McGrady said.

“Technically, now, it is a matter for the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to deal with, as I am informed, however this situation I believe needs to change.”

Cr McGrady said as long as illegal dumping remains a public issue, the power needed to be back in the hands of Council to issue fines and put an end to illegal dumpers in the city.

“A number of these processes need to be changed,” he said.

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City lauds Virgin return

VIRGIN Australia will be given a ‘welcome back’ party when it touches down in Mount Isa on Wednesday.
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It is the first time in 11 years North West Queensland will have a second major airline service to Brisbane.

In May, Xstrata Mount Isa Mines and Virgin Australia announced a heads of agreement for to re-start the Virgin Australia Embraer E190 week day return services from Mount Isa to Brisbane.

Xstrata Copper North Queensland Chief Operating Officer Steve de Kruijff said Wednesday will mark a special day for the city.

“More competition in the skies is a benefit for everyone in the North West region and in particular the Mount Isa community,” Mr de Kruijff said.

“As a business it is important to us that our employees and their families can affordably travel to the east coast of Queensland to visit their families and friends or to holiday at a reasonable expense.”

Mr de Kruijff said research found the high cost of airfares was one of the most critical obstacles to Xstrata staff staying in Mount Isa.

“Having a second airline service the Mount Isa to Brisbane route can only mean competition in regards to the cost of airfares for all Mount Isa residents and we hope the community embraces this new service.”

Virgin Australia Group Executive Sales Judith Crompton said the services mark a new era in air services for the community.

“Our weekday services provide for the business and leisure traveller with convenient connections onto the Virgin Australia domestic, international and partner networks,” Ms. Crompton said.

Xstrata will continue to use Qantas and Virgin services to help ensure Mount Isa has two reliable and competitive airlines.

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