Monthly Archives: March 2019

Etihad Stadium surface ‘dangerous’: Lyon

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon labelled the Etihad Stadium surface “dangerous” after star playmaker Nat Fyfe was reported for tripping in Sunday’s tense win over the Western Bulldogs.

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The Brownlow Medal favourite went into the umpire’s book after he clashed legs with Koby Stevens while attempting a tackle in the pocket on the city side of the ground at the Coventry End.

Lyon was unwilling to comment directly on the third-quarter incident, but was happy to air his views on the stadium’s turf. “What I can talk about is the side of the ground it happened,” Lyon said.

“The left-hand side’s as dry as a chip, the other side people are slipping and sliding and slipping over like sprinklers have been on an hour before the game.

“I’m not sure, but it was very confusing when I walked the ground, and that far side is wet and slippery and the other side’s as dry as a chip. If someone can explain that to me?

“That far end, you can see everyone was slipping and sliding and this one was dry. (I’m a) very confused AFL coach at how that ground can end up in that state.

“I think it’s quite dangerous for players when one side’s as dry as a chip and the other side is like a slippery slide.

“Anyone that slipped on that side, Western Bulldogs or Fremantle, I think they’ve got a fair contributing factor.”

Fyfe faces an anxious wait before finding how the AFL match review panel assesses the incident, with any suspension ruling him out of Brownlow contention for a second year running.

Stadium management, however, defended the state of the turf, which had not been watered after Saturday’s Carlton-GWS game or on the day of the Dockers’ clash with the Bulldogs that took place with the roof closed.

“Whilst there was a small amount of dew on the eastern side of the arena during the early stages of today’s Western Bulldogs-Fremantle match, it is not unusual for a venue of our size,” CEO Paul Sergeant said via a statement obtained by AAP.

“The field needs a constant supply of natural light, air and water. If there’s not an expectation of rain overnight before AFL events, then the roof needs to be left open.

“Etihad Stadium supports the AFL’s decision to close the roof for today’s match. We always endeavour to move the roof prior to the opening of the venue to the public.”

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge had no issue with the surface, which he said was “in great condition”.

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Lions stun Port with second AFL win

Brisbane have reinforced growing queries about Port Adelaide’s AFL premiership credentials with a stunning 37-point upset win.

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After starting the season with five losses, the Lions posted their second-straight win and added to Carlton’s woes by relegating them to the bottom of the ladder.

The 15.12 (102) to 8.17 (65) loss leaves the Power with a 3-4 record.

Two barnstorming seasons under coach Ken Hinkley meant Port started this seasons as one of the main premiership fancies.

But rivals have worked out how to blunt their fast-paced game style.

Port’s next opponents are Richmond, who posted their best win of the season so far in a pulsating five-point thriller against Collingwood at the MCG.

Coach Damien Hardwick lauded captain Trent Cotchin, who was best afield in the 16.9 (105) to 15.10 (100) win.

It featured 10 lead changes and will go down as one of the games of the year.

“Trent Cotchin’s game was unbelievable,” Hardwick said.

“He stood up when it counted.

“He was trying to come to the bench at the end, we sent him back on with four minutes to go and he willed us over the line.

“It was a great captain’s game.”

There were growing criticisms of the Tigers after three-straight losses.

But Sunday’s win also broke a seven-game losing streak against the Magpies.

The much-improved Western Bulldogs threatened to pull off another major Sunday upset when they pushed unbeaten Fremantle at Etihad Stadium.

Scores were level with six minutes left.

But the Dockers held their nerve, kicking the last two goals of the game to win 15.11 (101) to 14.4 (88).

Fremantle’s Brownlow Medal favourite Nat Fyfe is on report for tripping, but if he is found guilty his most likely penalty would be a fine.

Under the new tribunal rules, a financial sanction would not make him ineligible for the medal.

Sunday’s boilovers and thrillers were in stark contrast to Saturday’s series of beltings.

West Coast thrashed undermanned Gold Coast by 92 points, while GWS had their biggest winning margin (78 points) and kicked their highest score (19.21) at Carlton’s expense.

Hawthorn also flexed their considerable muscle and dismantled Melbourne by 105 points.

St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt was taken to hospital with concussion as his side lost to Adelaide by 46 points.

Sydney kicked 10 goals to two in the second half on Saturday night, blowing Geelong away by 43 points.

On Friday night, North Melbourne beat Essendon by 11 points.

It completed a bad week for the Bombers, after WADA announced an appeal last Tuesday against the AFL anti-doping verdict that cleared 34 current and past Essendon players.

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Brumbies must play waiting game

The Brumbies must play a waiting game with a bye leaving the NSW Waratahs in tenuous control of the Australian Super Rugby conference.

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The Brumbies remain leaders of the local brigade after besting the Lions 30-20 in Johannesburg.

The win came at a cost with Wallabies back Matt Toomua re-injuring his ankle and forced off the field after only 25 minutes.

Two points clear of NSW, they return home to Canberra for a bye week, effectively handing their immediate fate over to the Waratahs, who hosts the Crusaders on Saturday at ANZ Stadium in a sequel to their pulsating 2014 final.

The Waratahs kept their title defence on track with a hard-fought 33-18 win over the Sharks in Sydney.

But the Melbourne Rebels blew their chances of making an impact on the Australian front-runners with a 46-29 loss to the lowly Queensland Reds, who pulled off a major form reversal their first game under newly-appointed coaching consultant John Connolly.

The Brumbies will leave South Africa in good shape after their narrow loss to the Stormers was followed by a bonus-point win over the Lions.

Toomua appeared to suffer a recurrence of the problem that required surgery and kept him out of action for over a month.

However a team spokesman said they were hopeful he’d be right for their home clash with the Bulls following the bye.

Skipper Stephen Moore said while the ladder was tight, the week off would help with their recovery to make a charge to the finals.

“We need a week off because we’ve had two really tough games,” Moore said. “We needed that win to keep in the hunt so I’m very proud of the boys.”

As well as hosting the Crusaders in a replay of last year’s gripping final, the Waratahs’ road to glory looks bumpy.

They face the improved and unpredictable Lions in Johannesburg followed by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and then a derby against the Reds at Allianz Stadium.

NSW coach Michael Cheika said the ninth-placed Crusaders were a team on the rise, proven in their recent 41-point thrashing of Queensland last round.

He thought the Crusaders, who had the bye this round, would arrive in Sydney full of self-belief.

“When they’re on, they’ve demolished a couple of teams big time,” Cheika said.

“I genuinely think they fancy themselves to come here and beat us.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us, a big physical battle.”

Mathematically, the Rebels remain a chance but they play two games in South Africa, where they are yet to win a match in eight attempts, as well as the Bulls and Western Force, and need all four wins to have any hope.

The Hurricanes continued their stunning surge at the top of the table with a 22-18 win over the second-placed Chiefs.

Now 13 points clear of their nearest rivals, the win all but wrapped up a Super Rugby home play-off.

The Bulls climbed over the Stormers to lead the South African conference by a point after picking up a losing bonus point in their surprise loss to the Blues.

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Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan is on – coach

The tour, the first in six years by a test-playing nation to Pakistan, was throw in doubt last week when a terrorist attack on a bus killed 47 people in Karachi.

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“The tour is going ahead and we leave tonight,” Whatmore said via telephone from Harare before reconfirming his belief the tour would be successful and that security measures put in place by Pakistan will be adequate.

Zimbabwe will play two Twenty20 internationals, starting on May 22, and a three-match one-day series that begins four days later. All the matches are in Lahore.

Zimbabwe Cricket released a statement on Thursday saying a decision had been reached not to tour on the advice of the country’s supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

The SRC cited concerns over the safety of the squad.

However, just minutes later the statement was withdrawn and Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman Lovemore Banda said discussions were still ongoing.

It is understood that concerns also emanated from the players themselves, some of who were reluctant to travel but have now been persuaded to tour after additional security measures were announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Those were still deemed not good enough for the International Cricket Council, though, which released a statement on Sunday saying they would not be sending match officials for the series.

They cited a report by a security consultant who advised against sending a team of officials to the country.

The ICC said the PCB would have to appoint its own officials, but that this would not affect the status of the games which would remain as full internationals.

Zimbabwe are the first test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since a 2009 gun attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore left six Pakistani policemen and a van driver dead. Some players and a local umpire were injured.

(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)

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‘Pies query Cloke frees after AFL loss

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has again questioned the umpires’ treatment of key forward Travis Cloke after the pulsating five-point AFL loss to Richmond.

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Buckley stressed Cloke’s free-kick count was not the main issue out of the match for the Magpies, who lost 16.9 (105) to 15.10 (100) on Sunday at the MCG.

But it has been a recurring theme throughout Cloke’s career and the Magpies are mystified.

After a week of scrutiny about his goalkicking, the key forward was high among the Magpies’ best with 10 marks and three goals.

Cloke’s free-kick count was one for and four against.

“He dead-set gets nothing from the umps – I don’t know what it is,” Buckley said.

“He gets nothing when it looks like he’s been infringed and he only has to sniff to give a free kick away.

“I really admire the job the umps are doing, but we need to understand what Clokey’s done wrong, because it’s not working for him.

“It’s not the issue of the game, but it’s something on-going.”

After an outstanding clash that featured 10 lead changes, Buckley was left lamenting Collingwood’s tackling inefficiency and a disappointing second term.

Richmond trailed by 25 points late in the first term, but kicked eight goals to three in the second for a 12-point halftime lead.

“It was a breakdown of the way we want to play,” Buckley said of the second term.

“We’ve had 15-20 minute periods in almost everyone of our games, even Anzac Day.

“That’s our challenge, to become a 120-minute football side.”

Midfielder Dane Swan was best for the Magpies, who are now 4-3.

Coming off three-straight losses, the Tigers took several risks and ultimately were rewarded for their daring.

They played two first-gamers – Liam McBean and Conor Menadue – and started second-game defender Todd Elton on Cloke.

Elton’s unexpected role freed Alex Rance to play in the midfield.

Key forward Jack Riewoldt also had some time at the centre bounces on the way to starring with four goals.

Maligned ruck-forward Ty Vickery also returned to form, kicking three goals, while Brett Deledio capped his strong game with two crucial goals in the last term.

Tigers captain Trent Cotchin was best afield, willing his side home with a mighty last quarter.

“When you’re losing games, the first people to cop it in the neck are your leaders from the media’s point of view,” said Tigers coach Damien Hardwick.

“Trent, by his own admission, has had an okay start to the season.

“But I think today was a game that really defines the value of him to our football team.”

Richmond play Port Adelaide away next Sunday and Hardwick said they must put the win over Collingwood behind them quickly.

“We don’t want to get too carried away, it’s a great win against a great side,” Hardwick said.

“But … they handed us a fair beating last year and we’re looking forward to an opportunity to go over there and provide a really good contest.”

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