Monthly Archives: September 2019

England will be weaker without Pietersen, says Clarke

Pietersen was sacked by England last year following the 2013-14 trip to Australia during which he was accused of being disengaged from the team as the tourists crashed to a 5-0 defeat.

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Despite being England’s most prolific batsman in all forms of the game and going back to score runs in county cricket, the 34-year-old was told last week he would not be part of the side for the Ashes this year.

Clarke, speaking on Sunday before his departure for a two-test tour of the West Indies that precedes the Ashes, said he had sympathy for Pietersen but that his absence would make Australia’s task easier.

“There’s two sides for me — there’s the personal side where I feel for ‘KP’ because I get on well with him and I’d love to see him back playing cricket for England,” he told reporters at Sydney Airport.

“His form has been outstanding, he’s still a great player, I know he wants to play for England so I feel for him on that side.

“On the other side, we go there soon to play against England. Any team without Kevin Pietersen won’t be as strong, I think his statistics speak for themselves. He’s been a wonderful play for a long time and he’s still in career best form.”

Clarke said it was important that Australia’s players were not distracted by the circus surrounding Pietersen’s exclusion, which has enjoyed widespread coverage Down Under.

“I’ve tried to stay quiet and keep out of it. The last thing we want to do as a team is get caught up in what’s happening in England or West Indies or anywhere else,” he added.

“We need to stay focused and make sure we’re as well prepared as possible.

“England will be tough. When we get there, no matter what 11 players they put on the field, they will be tough, they know their conditions really well.”

Clarke said it was also vital that the team focused on performing well in the two tests in Dominica and Jamaica next month and did not dwell too much on the prospect of winning the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001.

“It’s been a long time but … we’re being really focused on doing all the right things so we can perform at our best,” he said.

“We’ll be really dedicated and disciplined with this trip to West Indies. Hopefully individuals will get some form behind them for England, and we’ll worry about that when we get there.”

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Benched Luke still needed at Redfern

MELBOURNE – The Warriors may wish they could fast forward Issac Luke’s arrival but the benched hooker remains a key part of South Sydney’s NRL title defence.

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Luke was key to a Rabbitohs’ second half charge that almost pegged back a 14-point deficit in their 16-12 loss to Melbourne on Saturday night.

The New Zealand Test rake has been on the bench for the last two rounds, sparking rumours he’s on the outer at Redfern after signing a three-year deal to move to the Warriors next season.

The Warriors were no doubt wishing it was next week after their hooker Thomas Leuluai appeared to suffer a season-ending knee injury in their 17-13 win over Parramatta.

While Luke started on the pine, with Maguire preferring Cameron McInnes, he came on midway through the first half and took over at hooker for the rest of the match.

He made 20 tackles in a busy performance going head to head with Storm and Australian captain hooker Cameron Smith.

Maguire said he always intended for Luke to play the bulk of the match.

“Yes, pretty well,” Maguire said. “It depended how the game was going and that was how it played out.”

Maguire has insisted Luke isn’t out of favour and his impending departure has nothing to do with the decision to leave him out of the starting side, which was based on form.

The coach was happy with Luke’s contribution in the tight AAMI Park loss.

“He’s performing very well for us,” Maguire said.

“There’s areas that we all as a group will be looking at to continually improve on our game.

“Issac and I talk about his game all the time so he’s looking at areas where he can improve for himself.”

While their season record is a mediocre 5-5, Maguire felt the defending champions were tracking well, despite the loss being their 12th in succession in Melbourne.

“There were a lot of things to like about our game and we will learn a lot from it,” he said.

“We had opportunities that we didn’t take so we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”

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Seattle flotilla protests Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

Hundreds of activists in kayaks and small boats fanned out on a Seattle bay on Saturday to protest plans by Royal Dutch Shell to resume oil exploration in the Arctic and keep two of its drilling rigs stored in the city’s port.

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Environmental groups have vowed to disrupt the Anglo-Dutch oil company’s efforts to use the Seattle as a home base as it outfits the rigs to return to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, saying drilling in the remote Arctic waters could lead to an ecological catastrophe.

      

Demonstrators have planned days of protests, both on land and in Elliott Bay, home to the Port of Seattle, where the first of the two rigs docked on Thursday.

      

Kayakers on Saturday paddled around the rig yelling “Shell No.” (The protest was called ‘sHellNo’) Others unfurled a large banner that read “Climate Justice.”

       

Environmental groups contend harsh and shifting weather conditions make it impossible to drill in the Arctic, a region with a fragile environment that helps regulate the global climate because of its vast layers of sea ice.

       

Allison Warden, 42, said she traveled from Alaska to represent her native Inupiaq tribe, which makes its home in the Arctic. She said whales central to the tribe’s culture are particularly vulnerable to oil spills.

       

“I don’t know what our culture would be without whaling. It’s at the center of everything we do,” she said. “It’s a different relationship than just going to the grocery store. The whale feeds the entire community,” she said.

       

Opponents of the rigs docking in Seattle, a city known for its environmental causes, include Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council.

       

Shell was bringing in the rigs and moving ahead as planned despite the opposition and a ruling earlier this week by the city’s planning department that the port’s agreement with the company was in violation of its city permit.

       

“The timeline now is just to make sure the rigs are ready to go,” said Curtis Smith, a Shell spokesman.

       

The second rig is expected at the port in the coming days.

      

Earlier this week, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management gave conditional approval to Shell’s resumption of fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic, which was suspended after a mishap-filled 2012 season.

      

The decision was met with approval by some Alaska lawmakers, who said it would bring money and jobs to the state.

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Brumbies hoping Toomua injury not too bad

The Brumbies are hopeful this week’s bye is all the rest Wallabies star Matt Toomua will need to recover after re-injuring his ankle.

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Toomua’s injury was the only blemish in a tough 30-20 bonus-point win over the much-improved Lions at Ellis Park, Johannesburg that lifted the Brumbies back to the top of Super Rugby’s Australian conference.

Returning at inside centre after five weeks on the sidelines, Toomua limped off after just 24 minutes with a recurrence of the same high-ankle injury.

The Wallabies playmaker will likely have scans on Monday when the squad return to Canberra, but team management were optimistic that Toomua – following a week’s rest for the bye – will be fit to face the Bulls at home the following round.

Toomua’s availability will be crucial over the final three rounds against the Bulls, Western Force and Crusaders, with the Waratahs set to leap the Brumbies on the table if they beat the Crusaders on Saturday night.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham was thrilled with the turnaround after a disappointing loss to the Stormers in Cape Town.

“Yeah, a thousand times better than last week,” Larkham said.

“I thought the boys played really well in the first half. Our defence was solid, we created a few turnovers there, and we capitalised on those turnovers in the first half.

“We did a lot of defending and the altitude hit us in the second half, but the boys pushed through really well.

“The last fourteen minutes was a blur for most of the boys. We tried to slow the game down as much as possible, but they really pushed hard.

“The effort this week, the preparation from the boys was fantastic, and they got the result they deserved.”

Christian Leali’ifano opened the Brumbies’ account with a 15th-minute penalty and a dominant period followed for the visitors.

Centre Tevita Kuridrani scored in the 18th minute after several phases of sustained pressure and Ita Vaea crashed over only a few minutes later after a Jesse Mogg counter-attack put Henry Speight into space down the right flank.

Leali’ifano then left the Lions shell-shocked, intercepting a pass on the Lions’ 22m line and scoring under the posts to push the Brumbies’ lead out to 22-6 after 27 minutes.

The Brumbies’ four-try bonus point came in the 72nd minute after Mogg put winger Joe Tomane in the corner.

Mogg slotted a late penalty from 55 metres to seal the win, having earlier pushed two long-range kicks wide, including one from 62 metres.

Hard-working Lions backrower Jaco Kriel was rewarded with a second-half try, while fullback Andries Coetzee scored a late consolation try.

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Mixed fortunes for Aussie Sevens in London

Australia’s women’s Sevens team have all but qualified for next year’s Rio Olympics while the men’s side will need to take a longer route following a dramatic day of action in London.

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Australia’s women snatched victory over Canada 20-17 in the final with the last play of the decider to win their first title of the season.

Trailing 17-5 with five minutes remaining, Australia rose to the occasion with tries to Charlotte Caslick and Nicole Beck before Ellia Green surged over for the last-gasp match-winner.

The triumph moved Australia to equal-second on the overall standings, meaning only a dismal event in Amsterdam next weekend in the final round of the women’s world series would deny them their place in Rio.

“Game by game we progressed and just got better. Hopefully it’s just another step to where we want to be,” said Australia’s coach Tim Walsh.

It was a huge turnaround for Australia given they’d finished seventh at the Canada Sevens last month that included losses to Russia and the United States.

Their 24-5 win over New Zealand in the semi-finals in London ended the Kiwis’ four-from-four tournament record this year.

It ended a tournament of mixed emotions for New Zealand, who became the first team to guarantee a spot at the Olympics.

New Zealand also take an unassailable 20-point lead over Australia and Canada at the top of the series ladder to claim a third title in succession.

Meanwhile in the men’s competition, Australia missed out on automatic qualification for Rio despite winning through to the quarter-finals.

Victories over Japan 41-0 and Wales 19-14 assured Australia’s progression in London, going through as the No.2 team in Pool B following a 24-10 loss to New Zealand.

However, England secured the fourth and final Olympic qualification berth by also moving into the last eight.

That means Australia’s next chance to book a spot for Rio will come at the Oceania Regional tournament in Auckland in November.

Australia face Scotland in Sunday’s quarter-finals, while in the other Cup match-ups, series leaders Fiji meet South Africa, New Zealand take on England and the United States play Canada.

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