Monthly Archives: June 2019

Vixens primed for netball clash with Swift

Melbourne Vixens have vowed to make amends in a blockbuster clash with archrivals NSW Swifts when a trans-Tasman netball playoff berth will likely be settled.

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Defending champions Vixens (6-5) kept their slim finals hopes alive with a 56-48 upset win over previous competition leaders West Coast Fever on Sunday.

They were led by brilliant shooting from Karyn Bailey, who ended the match with 39 goals from 42 attempts and the MVP award, and dominant defence from Geva Mentor.

They face a crucial clash next Sunday with the in-form Swifts, the team that sent their season into free fall.

Just a fortnight ago, the Swifts handed the Vixens a record 24-goal thrashing, threatening to shut them out of the finals for the first time since 2011.

The Swifts maintained their good form with a 68-49 home thrashing of Canterbury Tactix on Sunday, with goalkeeper Sharni Layton hugely influential as shooter Susan Pettit made 31 of 34 attempts and goal attack Caitlin Thwaites bagged 31 of 33.

They hold third spot on the overall ladder – and the all-important third playoff spot in the Australian conference – with 15 points, behind the Queensland Firebirds (19 points) and West Coast Fever (17).

The Vixens are next on 12, with two rounds remaining.

Star goalkeeper Geva Mentor said the Vixens were desperate to “bin it and move on” after the last Swifts defeat and would be fired up for next Sunday’s home clash.

“In that game we were at our worst and the Swifts were probably at their best, and that’s the result you are going to get,” said Mentor.

“Next week will go in with a completely different game plan in terms of what we need to put out on the court and what we need to put out on the court from the start.”

Slow starts have blighted the Vixens’ season, but they were fast out of the blocks in front of a packed house of 5380 against the Fever.

They led 16-13 at quarter time and controlled the momentum of the match from then on.

For the Fever, Caitlin Bassett was again accurate with 35 goals from 38 attempts and Natalie Medhurst had 13 goals from 17 shots.

But Mentor at goalkeeper was strong, ending the match with three deflections and two intercepts.

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Wallabies for Naiyaravoro if the cap fits

Taqele Naiyaravoro says he’ll ditch his million-dollar deal with the Scottish Rugby Union if he is capped by the Wallabies this year.

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In a huge boost to the NSW Waratahs’ hopes of retaining the Fiji-born crowd favourite, Naiyaravoro plans to activate a get-out clause and remain in Australia rather than join Edinburgh on a three-year contract reportedly worth $1.5 million.

The blockbusting winger can only renege on the Scots if he makes his Test debut for Australia – and that looks increasingly likely given his superb form for the Waratahs.

He crossed again in Saturday night’s 33-18 Super Rugby win over the Sharks to be the defending champions’ outright top tryscorer in 2015.

“Yeah, if I get selected then I will stay here,” Naiyaravoro said.

The 23-year-old’s stated allegiance to Australia is the second piece of good news for Waratahs and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in four days.

After being grounded in Australia for two Tahs games in New Zealand this campaign, Naiyaravoro finally had his ongoing visa issues resolved last Thursday, freeing him up to travel internationally.

Naiyaravoro is set to oppose countryman Nemani Nadolo for the first time in a heavyweight match-up when the Crusaders and Waratahs clash at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, but then he’s free to tour South Africa for two games in the Republic.

“It is a very big weight (lifted). It has taken some time, but I am happy,” said the 123kg tackle-buster.

“I thought I had done everything required of me. It was just a game of being patient.”

Naiyaravoro says knowing Cheika is sizing him up for a Wallabies jumper gives him confidence, but he’s embarrassed by comparisons with All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu.

“I am way different to him,” he said.

“He has done his (career) and he is the best at it. I am just using what God gave me; power and strength.

“I respect what he has done. He was my idol but I am not really happy with being compared to him.

“I am pleased I am just finishing off what the boys started. I am just glad I can finish it.

“I still have a lot to improve on. There’s no rest yet until we achieve what we want to achieve this year, and for myself personally I think I will try to work on my defence.”

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Waratahs ready for Crusaders challenge

The NSW Waratahs suspect they’ll confront a Crusaders outfit with “a chip on their shoulder” and eyeing revenge in Saturday night’s Super Rugby final rematch at ANZ Stadium.

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The Waratahs return to the scene of their greatest triumph needing to again topple the seven-time champions to retain control of their finals destiny.

With the Brumbies sitting idle on their bye weekend, a Waratahs win would guarantee the defending champions top spot in the Australian conference entering the final three rounds of the competition.

The Tahs travel to South Africa for testing encounters with the Lions and Cheetahs before hosting the Queensland Reds in a potentially decisive final-round showdown at Allianz Stadium.

The tough run home adds to the importance of Saturday’s showdown between the seventh-placed Waratahs and a ninth-placed Crusaders side desperate to remain in touch with the top six.

“Playing the Crusaders is always a great challenge because of the class of their players,” playmaker Bernard Foley said after contributing a record-equalling 23 points in Saturday night’s 33-18 defeat of the Sharks.

“There’s so many All Blacks in that side, so whenever you get to play them it’s a great test for us.”

Foley’s last-minute long-range penalty goal clinched ah historic 33-32 win for the Waratahs in last year’s tournament decider.

The five-eighth admits he’ll be “a bit sentimental” returning to ANZ, but also knows snatching victory from the Crusaders will also have the proud Kiwis smarting.

“For sure they’ve got a bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Foley said.

“It’s one that got away. That’s the way they’ll be thinking.

“We’ve got to go there with the same attitude. We’ve got to match that because they can’t have the mortgage on the pride or the resentment to come back and hurt us.

“We’ve got to match them there and outplay them that way.”

Foley’s seven from seven against the Sharks was a timely confidence booster after his goalkicking strike rate had dipped to 50 per cent over the five previous matches.

“The last couple of weeks I haven’t kicked as well as I’d have liked or got the result,” he said.

“So it’s pleasing to know that if I stick at it, stick to my processes, that they can still fly straight.”

The Waratahs overcame the Sharks without Jacques Potgieter, but coach Michael Cheika is hopeful of having the storming forward back from a sternum injury and available for selection.

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Those who earn should be better off: PM

Federal Labor is surprised the Abbott government is hinting at changes to the welfare system, with the ink in last week’s budget barely dry.

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott says people who are working shouldn’t be worse off than those on welfare.

The budget papers show that a sole parent earning $30,000 a year with two dependent children under the age of six has a disposable income of more than $66,000 after government assistance, while a single person earning $80,000 with no assistance has a disposable income of just less than $61,000.

Mr Abbott believes any sensible government should ensure the burgeoning welfare system is better organised.

“It is to provide people with a basic level of support but … you should always be better off in work than out of work,” he said.

Treasurer Joe Hockey insists he is not trying to stir up resentment by including such figures in the budget because it is appropriate to spell out how taxpayers’ money is distributed.

“We’ve laid down evidence of where their money is going and I think that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do,” he told ABC television.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says if the government has any sensible proposals to make, it should make them, but he believes welfare policy is well targeted.

“The government has just brought down a budget, I would have thought that would entail their policy proposals,” Mr Bowen told reporters in Sydney.

Labor has opposed the proposed changes to the commonwealth’s paid parental leave scheme and cuts to family tax benefits.

But Mr Hockey says the government has to pay for $3.5 billion of extra childcare support to make the system more affordable.

Yet he is not worried whether the take-up of his new $20,000 instant asset write-off for small business in the budget might be so successful it would blow a hole in the budget.

“It is their own money going back to them over a number of years,” he said.

Neither is he buying into speculation of an election earlier than late 2016.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin believes Mr Abbott is preparing for another round of cuts to low income Australians.

“Australians don’t want another review. They want a plan for jobs, not just a plan for the prime minister’s job,” she said in a statement.

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Scott looking for answers to Cats’ fadeout

Geelong coach Chris Scott says the Cats have got a lot to look forward to despite another bewildering and alarming second half AFL fadeout.

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Sydney piled on ten goals to two after the long break to condemn the Cats to a 43-point away loss on Saturday.

Geelong have kicked at least two less second half goals than the opposition in all bar one of their seven games so far.

Fremantle and Hawthorn both kicked five more goals after the long break and Richmond four against the Cats.

“We’re going to have a look at the vision (of Saturday’s game) and work through it,” Scott said when asked for his thoughts on the problem.

“If I knew exactly what it was I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”

Scott wasn’t totally convinced it was a case of his team being out-worked though he didn’t dismiss that theory either.

“Everyone says that (work rate), it’s an easy out that one,” Scott said.

“The answer is probably (it is), but I find generally that’s something people say when they don’t really know the right answer.”

He said the Cats (3-4) were hurt by losing key forward Tom Hawkins (sore glute) before the game and Mitch Duncan (foot) during the match.

He expected Hawkins would be fit to face Carlton at Etihad Stadium next Friday, but feared Duncan might miss at least a couple of games after initially rating his foot injury as relatively serious.

Scott drew encouragement from the Cats strong first half effort, when they led by as much as 14 points in the second quarter.

“I don’t really want to dwell on the second half too much, when there is some positives from the first half,” he said.

“I thought that in some ways we’ve got a lot to look forward to, given the way we played in the first half.

“We need to play better to compete with the best sides, but it’s not all doom and gloom.”

Youngsters Jackson Thurlow, Cory Gregson and Darcy Lang all showed some promise.

“When the game was really on, I thought our guys that are developing were pretty good, working pretty well together as a team.” Scott said.

“We may have run out of legs a little bit towards the end, but I didn’t think that our inexperienced players were off their feet.”

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