Ararat Rats ready for Wimmera elimination clash

Ararat forward Tyler Cronin kicked a game high three goals last weekend against Stawell and will be important to the Rats’ fortunes in Sunday’s elimination final.THE Ararat Rats will compete in Sunday’s do or die clash at Horsham City Oval against the team which helped them qualify for their first Wimmera Football League finals’ series in four years.
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Minyip/Murtoa’s win over reigning premier Dimboola in the final round of the home and away season opened the door to the top five for the Rats and they completed the final piece of the puzzle with a hard fought 10-point victory over rival Stawell.

Joint-coach David Hosking said after 16 rounds of highs and low it is a relief to be featuring in week one of the finals.

“We left it to the absolute last moment and had to rely on other results just to get there, so yes relief is a good word,” he said.

“Given the club has had a lean spell in the last couple of years it is good to make the finals and it is an achievement, but at the end of the day there is no point being there to just make up the numbers.”

That ‘lean spell’ of finals’ appearances stretches back more than 10 years, with only skipper Alan Batchelor and Jake Williamson the remaining senior players of the team that lost the 2010 elimination match.

When it comes to senior finals’ campaigns the Rats have been part of the September action on just three occasions over the past decade 2006, 2008 and 2010 for a return of zero wins, five losses.

To notch up a victory you have to flick back through the record books to the first semi-final of season 2003, where the side smashed Horsham United before falling short of a grand final berth the following week by just two points to arch rival Stawell.

“It is time we improved that record,” Hosking said.

“That is pretty poor when you consider that we are a club from the second biggest town in the league, to have that as our recent finals’ record, is not good enough in anyone’s eyes.”

With only a handful of players in Ararat’s line-up experiencing senior finals football, Hosking said those players will need to lead the way.

However, he is also adamant that the only way his team will defeat the Burras is with 21 contributors.

“The obvious ones are the players that have done it before, the likes of Cosson, Mendes, Batchelor, Williamson and Searle — they know what is required,” he said.

“They are players that I guess have a bit of an X-factor. They also have this type of experience and know what needs to be done.

“What I’d also add to that is that we have some blokes who I reckon have got a real ability to have a major impact in games like this too. Guys like Liam Cavanagh and Brady Miller can perform in big games.”

Burras’ leading scorer Clinton Midgely is coming off the back of an eight goal haul last weekend against Dimboola, however in round 11 Miller held the full forward to just one major.

Hosking believes this match-up will be one of the most important to Ararat’s fortunes on Sunday.

“Anyone who can kick eight goals in a game is obviously pretty dangerous, so if Brady can keep him quiet it is going to go a long way to winning us the game,” he said.

“What it is also going to come down to is how well they restrict our delivery into the forwards and how well we restrict their ability to deliver it into their forwards.

“Whichever team has a midfield that is able and prepared to work hard defensively will have the advantage.”

Ararat and Minyip/Murtoa share one win each for the two previous encounters this season.

The Rats claimed the first scalp in round four with a 19-point win, before the Burras turned the tables seven rounds later with a 58-point victory.

Missing from the round 11 clash was Cavanagh and Beau Cosson to VicCountry duties, while injury/illness struck Mick Fratin and Batchelor early in the contest.

Three out of those four players are fit and firing for Sunday’s match.

“I’m not sure the result would have been different in the second game, but it certainly would have been closer if we had have had all those guys available,” Hosking said.

“I take some comfort from the fact that I know we can beat them, we have done that this season and you hang your hat on that a little bit. We were certainly minus a few key players in the second encounter, so that didn’t help our cause, but we didn’t help it either by kicking ourselves out of the match early with six behinds.”

Hosking said he and Andrew Louder have spent this week drumming into their players the need for intensity from the opening bounce.

If the Rats can replicate their early season form and produce a four quarter effort there is no reason the side can’t progress into week two of the finals.

“Expect the same, but at a higher intensity — that is the point we have made to them during the week, that the basics remain the same,” Hosking said.

“To win in finals you have to be at your best for longer.

“They have just got to go out there and play footy the way Andrew and I know they can.

“They’ve got to be true to themselves, that’s it. Don’t try to be anything you’re not.”

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$971k facelift for Capalaba College

CAPALABA State College will undergo a major spruce up after receiving $971,407 from the state government for school maintenance projects.
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Capalaba MP Steve Davies says Capalaba State College will receive $971,000 for repairs and maintenance programs.

It was the largest one-off allocation under the final round of the three-year School Maintenance Backlog grants scheme.

In the first round, the school received $160,000 and $390,000 in the second round.

The total for all Capalaba electorate schools this round is about $1.6million.

Capalaba MP Steve Davies said the money would be used to give the school a much-needed facelift and denied it was pork-barrelling in the lead up to next year’s state election.

He said the college was earmarked for increases to maintenance funding before the 2012 election.

“Of the final $100million under this program, Capalaba State College received nearly $1million – so it’s a great outcome for the school which desperately needed repair work,” he said.

The college will use the money to fix broken doors, windows, drains, downpipes,paint rooms, and make the school safer.

The Newman Government allocated $300million to the school maintenance program when it took office in 2012 and so far $200million has been spent.

Alexandra Hills State High School will get $294,409, Alexandra Hills State School $52,376, Birkdale South State School: $52514; Birkdale State School: $51,405; Coolnwynpin State School: $51,238; Hilliards State School: $53585 and Vienna Woods State School: $48,770.

In the electorate of Redlands, seven schools will share in $591,454 to repair footpaths, replace carpet and repaint.

Victoria Point State High School received $243,400, the largest slice of the funding.

Redlands MP Peter Dowling said the money allowed schools to use local tradespeople to carry out the maintenance.

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Students’ art then, now and beyond

Aris Ioannou-Marsh and other students from Elonera Montessori High School will show works in the Then, Now, Beyond exhibition. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN Young artist Aris Ioannou-Marsh has learned a lot about art in the last two years.
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The fruits of the year 12 student’s labour will be clear to see in Then, Now, Beyond – a student exhibition at Red Point Gallery in Port Kembla, showcasing work from Elonera Montessori High School.

A candidate for the visual arts course in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, Ioannou-Marsh is required to curate an exhibition of artwork produced in his senior years which allows him to experience the processes of art-making, exhibiting and to become actively involved in the art world.

This led to Then, Now, Beyond – which opens on Friday, August 29, from 6.30pm at Red Point’s premises at 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, and runs until September 5.

Ioannou-Marsh’s work on display includes watercolours, photography and video.

“I have really enjoyed the process of creating a large body of work over the past two years, which explores themes concerning the self and sense of place,” he said.

“Working freely with these themes has allowed me to experiment with various techniques and materials and create a multi-dimensional and multi-thematic collection of works.”

Selected works from other high school students will be exhibited along with exceptional works by year 11 visual art students Miles Myjavec and Marianne Gillespie.

The students have been working under the instruction of Sharon Loney and Kathryn Orton.

Art teacher Ms Orton said the school in Mount Ousley was tremendously proud of this inaugural event.

“The range of processes on display in the exhibition include drawing, collage, papier mache, mixed media, digital arts and multi-media films show the students’ inventive explorations into art making and self-expression. Everyone is welcome to come and see this exciting, creative beginning,” she said.

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Air strikes in Syria: a reality check

The US military is strong – but there are limits to what it can achieve in the Mideast. Pictured: an FA-18C Hornet land on the USS George H.W. Bush. Not always the answer: a US drone patrols the skies.
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While talk of a new “coalition of the willing” to tackle the threat posed by the militants of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has already generated a flurry of activity in Western capitals including Canberra, there are a number of significant obstacles in the region itself to any large-scale military action and even to an expanded campaign of air strikes.

1. Getting Arab states on board

Both Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel have spoken out on the need for neighbouring Arab states to become part of any solution to the crisis represented by the military progress of Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. However this doesn’t address the disconnect between autocratic leaders and their publics in many of these countries in the wake of the 2011 “Arab Spring”.

In Saudi Arabia, a country where beheading is still part of the penal regime and there is a history of destruction of religious sites that do not conform with the government’s strict reading of Sunni Islam, there are many Saudis keen to support what they see as a just religious war against the godless Assad regime and its Shiite backers in Iran. This has meant that Saudi Arabia is fighting an enemy within on the question. Jordan, another likely Western ally, has also seen internal discontent with the ruling class expressed as support for IS.

Almost every regime in the Arab world already feels its grip on power is fragile. This will temper their enthusiasm for signing up to any initiative that comes out of Washington.

2. The trouble with drones

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, has said that IS cannot be defeated unless it is engaged in Syria, however at present neither he nor US President Barack Obama appear to envision a ground offensive in that country. Instead, any strikes are likely to be from the air, notwithstanding the admitted limits of US intelligence-gathering and drone access inside that country.

Even if drones of the low-flying, weapons-carrying type used in Pakistan’s tribal areas, Afghanistan, Yemen and Africa over recent years were to be deployed, this would create new challenges at both the military and political levels. As Fairfax’s Middle East Correspondent Ruth Pollard has reported from the Gaza Strip, a campaign of air strikes in populated areas can result in tremendous human suffering. US politicians have already been told by those living on the ground in Yemen of the radicalising effect on populations of drone strikes that go awry, and public opinion around the world – while rightly outraged and repulsed by the atrocities committed by IS in recent weeks – might also find it difficult to stomach scenes of destruction caused in the countries targeted.

3. Once bitten, twice shy

In all the countries which the US relies upon for support in the Middle East, memories are still raw over the way in which the Obama administration created an expectation that it would strike the Assad regime in Syria, only to step back from the brink.

Saudi Arabia, already dismayed by Mr Obama’s decision to stand aside as protests toppled key US and Saudi ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2011, saw the failure to strike Syria and the continuing talks with Iran over its nuclear program as proof that Washington was no longer a reliable partner in the region. One symptom of this relationship breakdown is the decision by Egypt’s current regime and the United Arab Emirates to carry out air strikes of their own in Libya without consulting the US.

For Saudi Arabia in particular, which is financing the Egyptian regime, cooperation with Western powers in Syria and Iraq will raise the question of what it might expect in return on the question of Iran’s nuclear program. Shiite-ruled Iran, the nemesis of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, enjoys huge political influence in Iraq and supports the continued existence of the Assad regime.

4. Beating IS is not the whole story

As was the case in Libya in 2011, Iraq in 2003, and Afghanistan in 2001, there is no question that the US and its allies have the military means to defeat their opponent in a direct confrontation. But what happens next? The overall structure of power in the Middle East has been severely shaken by successive Western interventions and their consequences. Should IS be destroyed and the Assad regime be left standing, many young Sunnis who have watched the daily carnage inflicted by the Syrian military on its own population will feel that there is a double standard at work. The ability of the traditional Sunni elite to manage this anger will be further eroded. There are already strong signs of this problem in Lebanon and Iraq.

There is also alarm both among Arab states and Arab populations at the prospect that military intervention might fuel Kurdish efforts to carve out an independent state of their own across Iraq and Syria. This makes questions such as Canberra’s response to a plea for support from the Kurdish Regional Government a political minefield, at a time when Kurds are increasingly acting independently of Baghdad in areas such as oil sales.

Maher Mughrabi is the Foreign Editor for Fairfax Media

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Black barista Nilson Dos Santos finds work after being refused job at Darlinghurst cafe

All-comers welcome: Nilson Dos Santos at Coco Cubana, where he has found full-time work. Photo: Nick Moir Lights out: the Forbes & Burton cafe, where Mr Dos Santos was refused work, has closed. Photo: Thomas Poberezny-Lynch
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Closed for business: Inside the Forbes & Burton Cafe on Thursday. Photo: Michael Koziol

It’s an outcome that might be called karma. The cafe owner who refused to employ a black man has closed his business; the man he wouldn’t hire has found full-time work.

Nilson Dos Santos, 37, made international news last week when he was denied a job at Darlinghurst cafe Forbes & Burton because he was black.

“My customers are white and they don’t like to have black people making coffee for them,” owner Steven He told him.

Now Mr Dos Santos has found work at a less discriminatory employer, taking a barista job at Taylor Square bar and cafe Coco Cubano. Thursday was his first day and he said he was happy and excited to be back behind the machine.

“I feel comfortable and [I’m] just really looking forward to a new beginning. I’m very positive about the future,” he said.

Mr Dos Santos is Brazilian but has worked as a barista in Australia for nine years. He was out of full-time work for three months and struggling with bills when he was rejected by the Forbes & Burton cafe. When he told customers what had just happened, some walked out immediately, joined by a member of staff.

Since the news broke, Mr Dos Santos has had about 40 job offers from cafes all over the city.

“I’m really happy to have a new job. I know what it looks like when you don’t have a job,” he said.

Forbes & Burton has now apparently closed and Mr Dos Santos wants to help its former staff members find employment.

“I just felt really, really sad because I keep stopping [to] think about how many people lost their jobs,” he said. “I just broke down and cried because I was really emotional about it.”

Coco Cubano manager Steve Sosah said he was happy to have Mr Dos Santos join his team, which welcomed all-comers.

“Nilson’s got such a great and positive energy,” he said. “It’s all about bringing your own personality to the table, no matter who you are. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings.”

Mr Dos Santos is now enjoying a dose of celebrity in the Darlinghurst area. He has been recognised by many people on the street, including an Aboriginal woman who congratulated him for speaking out against discrimination and asked to take him out to lunch.

“I love you, I’m so proud of you,” she told him.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating Mr He’s conduct. Meanwhile, Mr Dos Santos is looking forward to putting the unpleasantness behind him. He will soon move to Paddington to live with his best friend and is content to be back in the job he loves.

“It’s much more than just the coffee – it’s about working with people, having a friendship with them, making them happy,” he said.

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Martin Scorsese to direct Ramones film: report

The Ramones. Johnny, Tommy, Joey and Dee Dee. Photo: Roberta Bayley/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images Martin Scorsese: Linked to a Ramones film, but when will he fit it in?
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Maybe he just wants to have something to do, but Martin Scorsese has reportedly added to his already full dance card with plans to direct a movie about The Ramones.

According to Billboard, the 71-year-old Scorsese will helm a movie about the seminal New York band who first started performing with a line-up consisting of Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone in 1974 (none of them were related; they adopted the surname, and the leather biker jackets, as part of a “gang” identity; all are now dead).

The Ramones were arguably the first genuine punk band, though Johnny Thunders and the rest of the New York Dolls might quibble with that, as could a certain Mr Pop and a few other contenders from Detroit.

At any rate, their 1976 debut album Ramones was the first to take this raucous new form of rock’n’roll to the airwaves. It didn’t make much of a dent on the charts, but it did provide much-needed impetus for English bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols, who took punk to the masses the following year.

Scorsese’s feature would, according to Billboard, be released in 2016, timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the band’s debut album.

But don’t start pogoing just yet. The report is short on details about the film, noting only that it “is just one of several projects in the works”. Among the others are a documentary, a play and a book.

At first glance, the idea of old man Scorsese directing a film about a bunch of young punks might seem far-fetched, but that is, arguably, pretty much what his entire career has been about: young punks. The period and setting make perfect sense, too, harking back to his breakthrough films Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976), both gritty tales of strivers in the tough milieu of a depressed New York City.

The real hurdle in all this is how busy Scorsese is. According to imdb南京夜网, his planned projects over the next two years include an “untitled Bill Clinton documentary” (in post-production), an “untitled HBO/Rock’n’Roll Project” (filming), the Japanese missionary film Silence (in pre-production) and a Frank Sinatra biopic (announced).

He is also attached to three other projects as executive producer. And on top of all this is the mooted TV adaptation of his 2010 film Shutter Island, reported this week.

All of which suggests that if he really is to do a Ramones film, Martin Scorsese has one hell of a blitzkrieg ahead of him.

And when it’s all over, he may just wanna be sedated.

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The strange case of the missing millions that grew

No strings attached: Once in a while a windfall can come from an unexpected source. No strings attached: Once in a while a windfall can come from an unexpected source.
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So rare is it that a government does you a favour unless there’s a vote in it, I just have to tell you about the one time it has.

Yet if anything, it’s been a vote loser.

Remember how Wayne Swan decided to raid savings accounts that had been dormant for three years as a way of pushing the budget into a surplus that never came within cooee of ever happening?

As would be expected, the outrage was palpable. The elderly, those who’d just lost their jobs, exasperated executors of estates, harassed bank tellers and drought-sticken farmers were all victims and forgive me if I’ve left anybody out.

It’s not just piddling amounts involved either. The minimum inactive balance has to be $500 before Canberra scoops it up.

The wonder is he didn’t bother with lost super accounts while he was at it, but in case Joe Hockey is reading this and looking for ideas, better say no more.

But far from being a raid it turns out Swan did savers a favour, quite by accident, I suspect. Nor was it ever the case that somebody’s hard-earned cash was being confiscated, even if it made a good headline.

It’s more like a compulsory loan that can be called in once you notice your money has gone AWOL, all the while the Government hoping you don’t. Swan just shortened the hibernation from seven to three years though it may as well have been three days for the flak he took.

Not that your money was probably doing much anyway. Left in the bank it would have been earning little or no interest while being whittled away, perhaps by fees and certainly inflation.

But once embraced by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) lost bank accounts are treated like royalty.

Just be prepared for all to see your particulars on ASIC’s website which, in a rather idiosyncratic interpretation of freedom of information laws, publishes your name, address and how much is there.

For a start the balance is being indexed to inflation quarterly. Since the consumer price index is used – the proper one, not the lower adjusted version the Reserve Bank and a certain geek you know likes to use – the interest rate fluctuates between 2.5 and 3 per cent.

Not bad but here’s the clincher: “No tax is paid on the interest you earn,” as ASIC’s website explaining how to get your money back points out.

Er, why would you want to? Interest at almost 3 per cent government guaranteed and tax free is better than any bank can offer.

There’s an idea. Put any spare cash into an online account (term deposits are explicitly excluded) and leave it alone for three years so it’s whisked off to Canberra.

Oh hang on, you must be wondering how you get it back.

Admittedly there’s some paperwork: You have to go to the bank, building society or credit union armed with an Original Transaction Number (suitably capitalised to prove it’s important) you’ll get fromwww.moneysmart.gov.authen wait “up to 28 days” once lodged for your money to materialise.

Still there’s probably less rigmarole than opening the account in the first place.

Anyway, under the new management Treasury is re-considering the whole thing. The banks are tired of being blamed for accounts suddenly disappearing and no doubt would prefer to have the money at their disposal for longer. And since Swan’s change was so misunderstood in the first place, the Government would probably get kudos for reverting back to seven years while helping the banks without appearing to. I can just see him offering it to Clive Palmer’s party as a budget peace offering.

So if you suspect you’ve lost an entire bank account, check outwww.moneysmart.gov.aubut should you find it, think twice about reclaiming it just yet.

It couldn’t be in better hands.

@moneypotts

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Sydney’s big wet leaves leaves punters a puzzle for Golden Rose dress rehearsal

Unbeaten: Hallowed Crown scores during The Championships at Randwick in April. Photo: Anthony JohnsonHallowed Crown and Scratch Me Lucky might be first-up in Saturday’s Run To The Rose at Rosehill but have proven wet-track form from the sodden Championships meeting in the autumn to recommend them. Paul Perry was conservative when appraising the chances of Scratch Me Lucky, which was runner-up in April’s the Sires’ Produce Stakes, as he starts an ambitious spring campaign. “We go there knowing he handles it, which is an advantage on some of the others in the race,” Perry said.  “He is not 100 per cent wound up for this race, if he was I would be very confident. He has had enough work to run a race. He has had a couple of trials and won his last one at Newcastle on the heavy, but it is as much about getting ready for the seven [furlongs or 1400 metres] of the [Golden] Rose as anything else on Saturday.” Meanwhile, the unbeaten Hallowed Crown, which won the Kindergarten Stakes on the same day as the Sires’, has pleased co-trainer James Cummings after his two trials going into the 1200m group 3 for three-year-olds. “He has done enough and can handle the heavy going, but it is a very tough race,” Cummings said. “History says it takes a very good horse to come out and win it first-up. He is giving away a bit of match fitness to some very smart horses and that could prove crucial because it is going to be run in very testing conditions. “The form he has from the autumn is the right form because he beat Washington Heights at his last start, but we are like everyone else, guessing a bit because of the heavy track.” Unbeaten J.J. Atkins winner Almalad is topweight under the set conditions and penalties, and also top pick in betting for The Run To The Rose, which is the last chance for a couple of high-profile three-year-olds to lift themselves into the Golden Rose. Godolphin has two runners but trainer John O’Shea says Sarajevo, which has to win to assure himself a spot in the Golden Rose, was the best chance for the blue army because he has had a run, whereas Kumaon is first-up. Godolphin’s Ghibellines was scratched on Thursday. Chris Waller has a trio accepted, including Law and Sniper Fire, but is concerned about the wet with Atkins runner-up Brazen Beau, which has similar form references to last year’s Golden Rose winner Zoustar. “He didn’t handle a slow track at his second start and finished out of a place,” Waller said. “And even in his trial last Saturday, Hugh Bowman said ‘only fair’,  so if he’s showing those signs in a trial, it’s normally exaggerated in a race.” It might be left to Scratch Me Lucky to provide a surprise. He had nine runs as a juvenile and although his only win came in a restricted race at Canterbury on a slow track, he has won more than $300,000 in stakes and had group 3 and group 1 seconds on heavy surfaces at Rosehill and Randwick. Perry also has Modoc in the The Run To The Rose, but admits he is not in the same class as his stablemate Scratch Me Lucky, which holds an entry for the Epsom as well as the the Golden Rose, Spring Champion Stakes, Caulfield Guineas and Cox Plate.  “We think Scratch Me [Lucky] is a nice horse that will get over a mile and further, so we have put him in everything,” Perry said. “The Epsom is a race that he might get into with no weight and could be worth a crack. We will know more after Saturday, and then we can build from there, but it always this race then the Rose to start with. I think everyone is in the same boat because of the weather, which has made it tough to get them ready this early in the spring.”
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‘Suspicious’ powder at Brisbane Supreme Court a drug

Emergency services outside the Supreme Court complex on George Street in Brisbane’s CBD. Photo: Marissa Calligeros Emergency services outside the Supreme Court complex on George Street in Brisbane’s CBD. Photo: Jonathan Lea/Ten Eyewitness News
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Emergency services outside the Supreme Court complex on George Street in Brisbane’s CBD. Photo: Natalie Bochenski

Police and fire crews have left Brisbane’s Supreme Court after rushing to the discovery of suspicious white powder in the toilets.

Emergency services were called to the George Street court at 12.33pm and cordoned off both the toilet and a small area at the front of the court.

Three Queensland Fire crews attended the scene

At 2.24pm the situation was resolved when the substance was found to be a drug.

Queensland Police said they were yet to identify the exact type of drug.

No one required treatment by paramedics, a Queensland Ambulance spokewoman said.

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Wounded Magpies face ‘brutal’ realities

Round 23 teams 
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Experts tips

Three years ago, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury was part of a ladder-leading side that lost by 96 points to Geelong on the eve of finals – and he’s hoping Hawthorn may be similarly lacking in hunger on Friday night.

The Pies need to win, and Richmond loses to Sydney, to make the finals.

“I can’t speak for Hawthorn, but I know personally they are tough games to play because you’re projecting forward,” Pendlebury said on Thursday.

“The last thing anyone wants is to see a Hawthorn player go down tomorrow night. It is in your mind and you don’t want that to happen because you’ve worked hard all year to get into finals.

“They’re in a position now where I think they’re locked into second or third regardless of what happens.

“After that game [against Geelong], there wasn’t a real feeling of disappointment, it was like we’d just got one out the way.”

Hawthorn, though, doesn’t seem to be singing from the same songbook – and even Pendlebury admits Collingwood’s attitude against Geelong in 2011 was not ideal. “It probably wasn’t the right way to approach that game,” he said.

The Hawks have left out captain Luke Hodge with knee soreness for the clash, but otherwise have opted against resting anyone.

“All our guys are out here training and if they all pull up fine from the training session they’re going to play,” coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“Other clubs choose to do it in a different way, but the formula for us is usually if we keep our players together that’s usually a good preparation for our finals campaign.

“We’ve got a great opponent in Collingwood who are fierce competitors and have been great opponents of ours for a long period of time. They’re currently fighting for a position in the eight. Irrespective of the personnel they’ve got available … we know they’re going to come out fighting … which is fantastic for us because we want that sort of challenge leading into finals.

“The last two weeks we’ve had games against other finals aspirants in Fremantle and Geelong. We’ve performed OK in those games without doing it really well.”

Hawthorn defender Josh Gibson and forward Jack Gunston have been cleared of injury and have been named. As expected, Matt Suckling will miss the game with a knee injury but should be back for the Hawks’ first final.

Jonathon Ceglar has again been picked ahead of ruckman Ben McEvoy, who is an emergency.

Pendlebury has manfully skippered a side that has threatened to collapse at every turn this season. The injury-ravaged Magpies have called in ruck-forward Corey Gault, Paul Seedsman and Heritier Lumumba to replace injured trio Brent Macaffer, Clinton Young and Dane Swan.

“Corey’s a big forward with great hands, runs all day,” said Pendlebury, who reiterated that injuries were no excuse.

“You’re worried about the next opportunity and who can help you. As brutal as that sounds, the guys that fall off or you lose for the rest of the season, you’re more focused on getting the other guys up to speed as quick as you can and focusing on the challenge ahead.

“Once new guys get a taste of senior football they’re not going to want to hand their jumper back to someone coming back [into the side].”

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Hardwick upbeat about challenge in Sydney

The Tigers have ridden an incredible late-season surge. Photo: Getty Images Tigers players at training during the week. Photo: Getty Images
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Damien Hardwick says Richmond’s finals-defining clash away to Sydney on Saturday is “one more bridge to cross to get, hopefully, where we deserve to be”.

Of the five teams vying for a finals berth, the Tigers are the only team that do not require other results to go their way. Coach Hardwick hailed this is “an enormous opportunity” for the club to secure its first back-to-back finals appearances for almost 40 years, since 1974-1975.

“Our destiny’s in our own hands, obviously, and we play an outstanding outfit in Sydney. We go up there and we’ll take the game on, we’ll play our way,” he said on Thursday, before the club’s training session at its ME Bank Centre headquarters.

“If we’re good enough we’ll come away with the four points, but there’s no better place you’d rather be than having your destiny in your own hands.”

The coach reiterated his satisfaction his players had not resigned themselves to a finals-free season after winning only three matches in its first 13. The Tigers are currently on an eight-match winning streak, with the first-placed Swans the last team to beat them.

“We stated earlier [in the year] we were a better side than what our record indicated. The win-loss column was the easy thing to look at but we knew we weren’t far away, needed a couple of things to go our way obviously,” he said.

“The guys have been really resilient. They could have easily put the cue in the rack, but credit to them [for not doing that]. They’ve played hard, tough, Richmond-style footy, which has managed to get results going our way.”

While the Tigers are three wins and about 15 percentage points behind where they were before last year’s final round, the coach said they had “absolutely” improved. He praised recruiters Francis Jackson and Blair Hartley for having “unearthed some talent” among players past their teens. The prime example has been prolific possession-winner Anthony Miles, although the coach also praised Nathan Gordon and Sam Lloyd.

Ty Vickery was available after completing his four-match suspension but the Tigers kept faith with Ben Griffiths, the 22-year-old who impressed as the Tigers’ replacement number-two forward target in Vickery’s absence.

“He’s been terrific, played really well,” the coach said, before the Tigers’ team was confirmed.

“He played some good football for us [in the] early part of the year, had a flat patch probably mid-point through the season, but we’ve been really impressed. He’s a really good contested mark, athletically he’s very gifted – and he can kick the ball a mile too.

“We’ve been really pleased with how he’s played, and defensively he really adds something also.”

Richmond’s next opponent, Sydney, is feted for its forward-line firepower, given the presence of not only Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett but also Sam Reid and Adam Goodes. Nevertheless the Swans ranked third in scoring this year, with their average of 98.1, inferior to Hawthorn (111.3) and Port Adelaide (99.2). Defensively, the importance of less-heralded key-position players such as Heath Grundy and Ted Richards is reflected in a league-best record of conceding only 67.6 points per match, better than Fremantle (69.5) and Essendon (77.6).

“They’re very good. Offensively, they control the ball very well, they play a system of play that helps them defensively also. They’ve got a capacity to win a lot of one-on-one contests … that’s what they base their game around,” Hardwick said of Sydney.

The coach said the Swans boasted many players adept at winning one-on-one contests, and that it was imperative the Tigers players “have just got to make sure we win them or don’t get beaten”.

“It’s going to be a really good test for our players,” he said. “We think we match up pretty well against them. We’re both very good contested-ball sides, both got forwards that are dangerous but also … our defenders are quite capable also, so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

Hardwick confirmed Alex Rance would be given the job of quelling Franklin. He said that despite Franklin’s status as the “matchwinner” in the teams’ last clash – he kicked four goals in a low-scoring match – his full-back had still impressed against the Coleman Medal leader.

“They’ll have a great contest. It was probably one of the best match-ups we saw this year. I think they had a truckload of one-on-one contests. ‘Buddy’ was the matchwinner in the end but I thought Alex handled himself really well in that contest,” he said.

“We’ve just got to make we [force Sydney to deliver] some dirty ball inside 50 … [because] if the ball use is good, Alex is going to struggle. But we back Alex, day-in, day-out.”

Veteran Chris Newman was the only current player on Richmond’s list when it last played at ANZ Stadium, in 2002, and was dropped for that match. Consequently, the only current Tigers to have played at the venue are Bachar Houli, once for Essendon in 2008, and out-of-favour forward Aaron Edwards, once for North Melbourne in the same year.

Hardwick said the players would attempt to familiarise themselves with the stadium by having “a bit of a kick and a catch” there on Friday.

“It’s very similar to, I think, Adelaide Oval’s dimensions, which we played well at,” he said.

The coach said he hoped the excitement generated by its winning streak would persuade many Richmond supporters, which he hailed as “louder than most opposition supporters”, to travel to the match – and hopefully be rewarded for doing so.

“Our fans have had a tough ride this year, there’s no doubt about that, and we hope to reward them with some finals footy,” he said.

“If we can get 10,000 people up there they’ll make the noise of 30,000, I guarantee you. The more we can get up there the better.”

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Steve Roach sacked by 2GB

Dumped: Steve Roach has been sacked by 2GB following a bullying complaint. Photo: Mick TsikasSteve Roach’s 13-year association with 2GB is no more after the radio station sacked him over allegations of intimidating behaviour towards a producer.
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The former Balmain Tigers, NSW State of Origin and Australian front-rower confirmed on Thursday that his contract with the Macquarie Radio Network had been terminated as a result of a bullying complaint made by a younger male colleague.

Roach’s exit from the station stems from an incident nearly a fortnight ago when he was alleged to have verbally attacked a producer in the lead-up to 2GB’s coverage of the all-Sydney blockbuster between Canterbury and Parramatta at ANZ Stadium.

A source with knowledge of the altercation said the 52-year-old responded with a heated outburst to an innocuous comment by the staffer, before then turning his rage towards a senior member of the commentary team when they jumped to the defence of the producer.

Roach then had a fiery exchange the next day with long-time caller and Continuous Call team host Ray Hadley in a meeting before that program went to air, and was absent from the show when it began at midday after being stood down for a day.

He returned to the airwaves 24 hours later for the Sunday version of the program. The Herald was told that Roach issued an apology to the employee he had abused on the Monday, only for an official complaint to subsequently be made to management about his behaviour.

On Thursday Roach was sacked but declined to expand on his axing when contacted. “I’ll talk at another time. I don’t really want to talk about it now. I’ll talk when I get the chance,” Roach said.

The station’s decision was believed to be partly motivated by a desire to take a strong position against bullying after Hadley himself was embroiled in a high-profile episode last year. Hadley settled for an undisclosed amount after claims he bullied and harassed 2GB’s website manager but did not lose his job.

Macquarie Radio Network managing director Russell Tate said the station had cut ties with Roach but would not comment on the nature of the former international’s outburst.

“I’ll confirm that the contract has been terminated but I won’t make any further comment. It’s an internal matter,” Tate said. “Steve can comment on whatever he wants to. It’s a matter that’s internal and it will remain that way.”

Roach, who continues to work on the coaching staff at Wests Tigers, made a successful transition from playing to broadcasting with the Nine Network before making the switch to radio after being sacked in 1999.

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Police to enforce zero tolerance on trains

Police officers will travel on Friday and Saturday evening V/Line services to stamp out disruptive behaviour. ANTI-social behaviour on Gippsland and Pakenham bound trains will be targeted by police in a bid to restore passenger confidence in public transport.
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Victoria Police Transit Safety Divisions Senior Sergeant Troy Andrews said each Friday and Saturday evening, plain clothes police officers would board the train in Melbourne and travel though to Traralgon.

Snr Sgt Andrews said police would have zero-tolerance for offences such as indecent language, open alcohol or drunkenness, spitting and feet on seats.

“We want people to know it’s a privilege, not a right, to use the trains,” Snr Sgt Andrews said.

“People need to be able to ride the train at any time of day or night and feel safe.

“Drunk and offensive behaviours undermine people’s perceptions of safety.”

Snr Sgt Andrews said it was also important to stamp out the behaviour because it often led to more serious offences.

“What we’ve found with anti-social behaviour, is it is a key driver to assaults against the community and police and PSOs (protective service officers),” Snr Sgt Andrews said.

Snr Sgt Andrews said with some offences carrying fines of up to $360 and the offending passengers often ejected off the train, it could become an expensive evening.

He said his metropolitan unit was working with its counterparts in Warragul, Moe, Morwell and Traralgon, plus PSOs, to ensure the enforcement continued at the railway stations.

“All police stations will also be out to give visible police presence,” Snr Sgt Andrews said.

“If you rock up to a train stations exhibiting that behaviour you will be given infringements for relevant offences and (could include) banning notices and being removed from the area.”

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