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Live: Storm v Dragons

Written By malwan milad on Senin, 14 April 2014 | 16.42

Monday night football: Melbourne Storm v St George Illawarra Dragons. Source: FoxSports

MELBOURNE will be looking to bounce back from their controversial loss to the Titans last week as they host the Dragons at AAMI Park.

St George Illawarra's Gareth Widdop returns to Melbourne looking to outshine the players he was once overshadowed by at the Storm.

For both sides, poor discipline and defence was an issue last week and they will have to improve in these areas if they are to turnaround their fortunes on the field.

FOR THE MATCH CENTRE CLICK ON THE GAME IN THE SCORE PANEL ABOVE

For rolling updates, polls and exclusive pictures follow the action in our blog below:


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Muscat turns heat up on ACL opponents

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MELBOURNE Victory coach Kevin Muscat says the eyes of the football world will be on Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday, expecting the defending Asian Champions League champions to advance past the group stage of this year's competition.

But with things delicately poised in Group G with two games to play, Muscat is confident his unfancied team can shake up the established order at Etihad Stadium.

Victory trails Guangzhou and Jeonbuk by three points, meaning a loss will likely end its ACL campaign.

JOIN FOXSPORTS.COM.AU FOR A LIVE BLOG OF VICTORY'S ACL CLASH WITH GUANGZHOU ON TUESDAY NIGHT FROM 7.30PM (EST)

But Guangzhou left Italian international Alessandro Diamanti and Chinese superstar Gao Lin out of its travelling party, whereas Victory has almost a full squad to choose from with Kosta Barbarouses (ankle) and Pablo Contreras (hamstring) expected to be available.

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Only Tom Rogic (groin) has been ruled out.

"If Melbourne Victory doesn't qualify for the knockout stage then I dare say that wouldn't make too many headlines," Muscat said.

"But if Guangzhou don't get out of this group stage then there'll be huge headlines, so I've got no problem saying the pressure is on them tomorrow night.

"We'll put pressure on ourselves internally to go out and win the game because we want to qualify, but there'll be a lot more pressure from the outside - not only internally - on their camp."

Muscat declared his side's first half in China on February 26 - in which it went up 2-0 against Guangzhou before conceding four second half goals - as one of the most impressive performances of any of the 32 teams in the Champions League this year.

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And buoyed by that performance, as well as the gradual improvements made by his team since, Muscat said he is aiming to take all three points ahead of next Tuesday's final group game against Jeonbuk in Korea.

"Of course we're confident," he said.

"I think as well, we're losing a little bit of perspective here. They're a very, very good team. They're in this competition to go back-to-back, there's no two ways about it.

"The way they've spent, they've been very aggressive in improving their squad, they've got a better squad than they did last year when they won the tournament.

"We went across there (in game one) and for 45 minutes played outstanding football. The second half obviously wasn't great from our perspective, but we've learned a lot and we've improved on that.

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"Without doubt we've got no fear going in to the game."

Muscat said he didn't care that Diamanti or Lin haven't travelled, saying: "I've got my own issues selecting a team for tomorrow night".

Victory's front four of Gui Finkler, James Troisi, Archie Thompson and Barbarouses produced a dominant display in the 4-1 win over Wellington on Saturday.

Finkler is ineligible for the Champions League, but Muscat said there is no reason why a similarly fluid performance can't be produced against Guangzhou.

Finkler's likely replacement is Jesse Makarounas.

Italian coach Marcello Lippi is looking to coach Guangzhou to back-to-back ACL wins. Source: AFP

"We can sit here and admire all of the attacking third moves and the combinations, but for me the most pleasing thing (against Wellington) was that our structure was very good and that allowed us to go out and attack, maintain possession and (launch) wave after wave of attack.

"It's great for those boys in the final third, but there's a hell of a lot of work being done behind them by their teammates that they do appreciate without doubt.

"From my perspective, if I'm doing my job right, the person that comes in and replaced Gui ... should understand what's required of them. I have no doubt that that's the case as it has been in the four games in this competition prior to this."


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Jack: ‘I need to stand up’

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SWANS co-captain Kieren Jack has made the brutally honest admission that he is not handling the extra attention from rival taggers this season.

With the Swans languishing in 13th spot with one win after four rounds, pressure is mounting on the 2012 premiers and Jack is at the forefront.

"I need to stand up, I put pressure on myself, I haven't been performing as well as I would have liked," he said.

"And the same goes for the rest of the team.

"We're 1-3, individually a lot of players need to lift.

"I am getting more attention now, that's part and parcel of AFL football.

"I've individually got myself to a level where teams are starting to look at me, which is different to the past when I've been the tagger.

"So that's something I need to learn to work through.

"It is a midfield versus midfield battle and if your midfield gets on top, generally it doesn't matter if you're getting tagged or not.

"We lost some key battles in the midfield and it doesn't help when your outside players like myself and Dan Hannebery and Lewis Jetta can't get on the end of it because we're not winning the midfield battle inside."

After a fourth-quarter fade saw them defeated by North Melbourne last weekend, the Swans need to execute a massive swing in form to defeat Fremantle at the SCG this Saturday.

Aside from Jack, millionaire star signing Lance Franklin must lift if the Swans are to climb back up the table.

Jack conceded that Franklin would be feeling the heat.

"He might be, we're all feeling pressure," Jack said.

"We're 1-3, we need to perform. He's a focal point up forward, he knows that, he's a big signing, I'm sure he is (feeling pressure).

"He's only human.

"He's not alone. He didn't play well [on Sunday], I don't think there were many that did."

But Jack denied there are any internal rumblings around Franklin.

"There's no frustration with individuals, there's frustration from a performance point of view," Jack said.

"We're going to stick together and get through it as a group.

"The midfield use we're giving [Franklin], it's scrappy, it's not where he wants it.

"Our forwards probably are letting the players drop off too many times to not go and support him, not getting in to help him.

"That's why he's getting left one on two or three, it's tough for him.

"He needs to work through that as well."

As a result of last Sunday's defeat, the Swans have plunged in the betting markets.

Having started the season as a $5.50 favourite to win the flag, Sydney has drifted out to $13 with the TAB.

They are now also $2 outsiders against Fremantle, the first time the Swans have not been favourites in a match at the SCG since losing to Hawthorn in round 22, 2012.


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Live: Tigers v Pies

Written By malwan milad on Jumat, 11 April 2014 | 16.42

LIVE: Richmond v Collingwood. Source: Supplied

RICHMOND and Collingwood have experienced indifferent form so far in season 2014 and enter Round 4 with just one win each.

Both sides have demonstrated when playing their best football they can beat anyone, but both sides have also shown lapses in concentration can be costly.

FOR FULL LIVE HQ COVERAGE WITH SUPERCOACH SCORES CLICK ON THE GAME IN THE SCORE CENTRE ABOVE OR HERE IF YOU ARE ON A MOBILE DEVICE

Collingwood has been outstanding since a humbling Round 1 defeat against Fremantle, with a strong win over Sydney on the road and a narrow loss to Collingwood restoring confidence.

Richmond has been breathtaking and dismal in the first three rounds and often showing this Jekyl and Hyde football within the same quarter.

PANIC ROOM: PIES PLAYING HURT

Losses to Gold Coast and Western Bulldogs would have been pencilled in as wins when the fixture dropped and a strong win against the struggling Carlton came in between.

The game brings some interesting subplots with Travis Cloke playing his 200th AFL game and needing to find form, as does Dane Swan whose profilic ball-winning ability and explosive pace and eluded him so far this year.

Richmond will again be missing Brett Deledio as he battles a achilles injury, but welcome back big man Shaun Hampson, while Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams will play despite struggling with soreness during the week.

FINAL TEAMS: NO CHANGE

SUBSTITUTES

RICHMOND: Matthew Arnot

COLLINGWOOD: Josh Thomas

RICHMOND v COLLINGWOOD

Friday, April 11 at the MCG, 7.50pm (EST)

TIGERS

B: T. Chaplin, D. Astbury, D. Grimes

HB: B. Houli, N. Vlastuin, S. Morris

C: S. Grigg, D. Jackson, R. Conca

HF: D. Martin, T. Vickery, S. Lloyd

F: S. Edwards, J. Riewoldt, B. Griffiths

FOLL: S. Hampson, M. Thomas, T. Cotchin

I/C: M. Arnot, B. Ellis, N. Gordon, C. Newman

EMG: M. McDonough, N. Foley, O. Stephenson

IN: S. Hampson, S. Lloyd, M. Arnot

OUT: R. Petterd, O. Stephenson, J. King

MAGPIES

B: A. Toovey, L. Keeffe, N. Maxwell

HB: H. Lumumba, J. Frost, A. Fasolo

C: S. Sidebottom, S. Pendlebury, C. Young

HF: B. Macaffer, T. Cloke, J. Blair

F: J. Elliott, J. White, T. Goldsack

FOLL: B. Grundy, D. Swan, D. Beams

I/C: J. Thomas, T. Langdon, J. Witts, L. Ball

EMG: M. Clarke, Q. Lynch, B. Kennedy

IN: J. Thomas, J. Witts

OUT: S. Dwyer, T. Adams


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Meet Brisbane’s new Berisha

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THIS is the man Brisbane Roar have earmarked as their new Besart Berisha.

Mike Hanke, a 30-year-old forward who played for Germany at the 2006 World Cup, is the Roar's preferred option to replace star striker Berisha, according to Fox Sports.

Berisha is next season defecting to Melbourne Victory on a marquee deal worth more than $1.5 million over two years.

Hanke, who played alongside Roar star Thomas Broich for Germany's under-21 team, is currently on the books of Bundesliga outfit SC Freiburg.

The 185cm attacker has scored three goals in 22 appearances, of which 13 have been off the bench, in all competitions for Freiburg this season.

A-LEAGIE PREVIEW: FINALS COUNTDOWN

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However, Hanke has not played since coming on as a substitute in his club's 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim on February 8.

Hanke last year joined Freiburg on a free transfer from Borussia Monchengladbach, where he spent the best part of three seasons.

He has also played for in Bundesliga for Wolfsburg, Hannover 96 and Schalke 04, where he was part of the 2002 German Cup-winning squad.

Hanke, who made the last of his 12 appearances for Germany in 2007, was one of three European players the Roar had been scouting in their search to find a suitable replacement for Berisha, widely regarded as the A-League's most feared marksman.

Berisha, who has scored 46 goals in 73 A-League appearances for Brisbane, returns from suspension on Saturday night to spearhead the Roar's attack against Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium in the last round of the regular season.

Besart Berisha is ending his time at the Roar after this season. Picture: Darren England. Source: News Corp Australia

While the Roar have already won the premiership and earned a rest on the opening weekend of the finals series, the Mariners are among host of teams vying for second place.

But by the time Saturday night's match kicks off, second spot may already be out of reach for the Mariners depending on results of other matches.

Central Coast coach Phil Moss also has his side's AFC Champions League clash on Wednesday against FC Seoul in Gosford to ponder in deciding on who will start tonight.

"We've got a massive game on Wednesday night. That certainly plays a part (in selection)," Moss told The Courier-Mail on Friday.

"But we're going up there to really make a game of it and try to spoil Brisbane's party."

Moss said his team would revel in its underdog status against a Roar side that are 13 points ahead of the Mariners on the ladder.

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"No-one gives us a chance. I read somewhere that we're seven dollars outsiders. That's basically 1000 to one," he said.

"All the talk's been about Brisbane and how many goals they'll put on us and how much momentum they'll take into the finals.

"That suits us. We'll just go up there quietly, go about our business and do what we always do, and make a game of it and see how we come out the other end."

Moss said there were no secrets about how the Mariners would approach the task against Brisbane and knew that Roar coach Mike Mulvey had planned accordingly.

"As Mike said in the media, we'll sit back and we'll defend on our two banks of four and our two strikers and try to catch them on the counter — he knows our game plan," the Mariners boss said.

"We've just got to execute it as well as we can.

"We know how Brisbane play as well. We have to nullify their threats and we certainly believe there are some areas we can try to exploit."


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High hopes for tough Bulldog pup

Bulldog Jack Macrae has slotted into the midfield. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: Colleen Petch / News Corp Australia

THE talkback caller had been following the Western Bulldogs for 45 years, which added a fair bit of weight behind his opinion of Jack Macrae.

"Macrae is as good, maybe a little bit better, than Doug Hawkins at the same age."

Out Footscray way, any comparison with Hawkins is as big as it gets. Dougie is royalty at the Whitten Oval and for a second-year player to be mentioned in the same sentence says a lot.

Macrae is the hottest youngster in the game, averaging 28 possessions in the opening three games of the season and including a match-turning performance against Richmond last week.

Former North Melbourne premiership star David King coached Macrae at Carey Grammar for two years and he hears the Hawkins comparison and then offers a big one of his own.

"He is a silent assassin," King says. "He reminds me a lot of Arch (Glenn Archer), just with the way he is.

"He is a lovely kid and all that stuff but get him out on the footy field and he wants to hurt you, he wants to kill you and he definitely wants to embarrass people which I think is a great trait."

Macrae is a classic cas of "don't judge a book by its cover".

He speaks with a soft voice, his answers are thoughtful and intelligent which makes it hard to believe it's the same person who the story goes recently ripped through former captain Matthew Boyd on the field for not being accountable.

"I save my voice for the weekend I guess," he says.

He was born in Kew, a mad Hawthorn supporter — he wore Shane Crawford's number on his back — who didn't know much about the western suburbs, let alone its football team.

"Probably my earliest memory was when Brad Johnson was under the speccy from Gary Moorcroft."

His obvious maturity for a 19-year-old can be traced back to his upbringing and the extended family in which he was given more responsibility than most teenagers.

Macrae's parents divorced when he was three and his older brother, Tom, was six.

A few years on the family grew with his father, David, who is in the retirement village industry, having two more children, Finlay and Lucia, while his mother had another son, Harrison.

Macrae dishes off a handball under pressure. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: News Corp Australia

"Having two families has been really great for me," he says. "Growing up my parents were pretty honest with me and gave me a lot of responsibility for how I wanted to be seen.

"Footy for me was always my No. 1 priority but having that younger family, having to be more of a role model, made me mature more quickly.

"When Tom moved to the Gold Coast I was the sole older brother but I have lots of fun with them and it's good to be looked up to."

His junior career wasn't the smooth sailing you'd expect from a No. 6 draft pick and he battled to get a look-in for representative squads and at TAC Cup level with the Oakleigh Chargers.

King takes up the story.

"When I first got there (Carey Grammar) I had to try and talk Oakleigh Chargers into playing him and they wouldn't play him which was a real frustration for me," King said.

"He averaged something like 35 possessions in Year 11 and that just doesn't happen. Year 11 kids don't do that, the Year 12s do but the Year 11s just don't.

"The endeavour and arrogance he plays with is great. There were a couple of times where he ran the full length of the ground, it was like he was in the Under 9s, he'd baulk someone, run 30m, baulk someone again, run 20m, and then baulk again."

Over the summer leading into his final school year, Macrae hired a kicking coach, former Carlton premiership player Ian Aitken, to work on his deficiencies.

"I did a bit of work on my ball drop and becoming a more damaging kick," he explains. "In the summer I didn't really do anything other than footy.

"Getting drafted was a priority and even though I wasn't on a lot of clubs radars, I was really keen on getting there."

He quickly did that and produced one of the performances of the U/18 championships, kicking four goals in a quarter to turn the game for Vic Metro against Tasmania.

By the time he led the Chargers to the premiership Macrae was being hailed as top ten material. The Western Bulldogs pounced and also grabbed a schoolmate in Nathan Hrovat at No. 21 in the 2012 draft.

After 13 games in his debut season, the 191cm Macrae — he has grown 3cm since arriving at the Dogs — spent this summer living out of the pocket of new development coach, Geelong's three-time premiership hero Joel Corey.

Corey's best piece of advice?

"Any player can have a good game but the best players do it each week, no matter who the opposition is. That's something I've really taken from him."

While he is confessed footy head who watches as many games as he can on the weekend, the recent hype about his rise doesn't register.

"My little brother likes to tell me after each game how I went in his Supercoach team but I'm not fazed by it all," he says. "I'm a bit embarrassed by it if anything.

"I'm not fussed whether it comes or not, I've just got to please the coaches and my teammates."


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Key Matilda injured in win over Brazil

Written By malwan milad on Rabu, 09 April 2014 | 16.42

Michelle Heyman of Australia celebrates her goal against Brazil with teammates. Source: Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

AN injury to Tameka Butt soured Australia's stirring performance in the second women's football international against heavyweight Brazil in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

Butt was carried off on a stretcher in the second half after injuring her leg in the 2-1 against the world's No. 6 ranked side.

A clinical finish from Michelle Heyman handed victory to the Matildas who are ranked No. 11 and will now head into the Asian Cup title defence with renewed confidence.

Tameka Butt of Australia is taken from the field on a stretcher injured. Source: Getty Images

The Matildas were clearly the sharper of the two outfits for the majority of the game and should have had more to show for their dominance than captain Kate Gill's first half header.

Australia's midfield trio of Butt, Elise Kellond-Knight and Katrina Gorry were energetic and creative but the home side paid dearly for indecisive defence when Brazil's Tamires Gomes equalised shortly after half-time.

Australia had the upper hand for all but five minutes of the first half.

Matildas co-captain Clare Polkinghorne thanks supporters after the match. Source: Getty Images

They had their first chance after only a minute when it took a great save from Brazilian keeper Thais Picarte to deny Butt.

Pinpoint delivery from the midfield and the speed of Lisa De Vanna and Gorry opened up space for the Matildas in behind the Brazilian defenders.

Gill had three opportunities but it took her until the 40th minute of the first half to put the Australians in front.


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Live Boxing: Mundine v Clottey

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ANTHONY Mundine faces his toughest challenge yet, fighting former IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey for the WBA international light middleweight title in Newcastle.

Mundine is desperate to gain the international recognition he needs and gets him closer to his dream of facing Floyd Mayweather, with a win against Clottey bringing him one step closer.

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Mundine is currently ranked the No.4 contender for Floyd Mayweather's WBA world super-welterweight title.

However the 38-year-old has his work cut out for him.

Clottey, 36, boasts an impressive record. With 37 wins from 42 fights, his only losses have been at the hands of world champions Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Carlos Baldomir.

Clottey has claimed 21 of his 37 wins by knockout and has never been put on the canvas, while Mundine has been knocked out on two occasions, most recently by Australian Garth Wood in 2010.

Follow all the action from the Newcastle Entertainment centre by following our blog below:


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Dangerfield doubts eased

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ADELAIDE is confident "bruised and battered" midfield star Patrick Dangerfield will play in Sunday's crunch clash against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

Dangerfield is nursing a sprained left ankle and a sore body which saw him train just lightly today.

After the session he was limping slightly on the heavily bandaged ankle he twisted in last Saturday's 63-point loss to Sydney at Adelaide Oval.

Will Port Adelaide have more members than the Crows by the end of the season?

But teammate Daniel Talia tipped Dangerfield to play against the Saints while stressing the Crows players had to do a better job of looking after him during matches.

"He'll be fine," Talia said, stressing how badly 0-3 Adelaide needs a win.

"I'm not sure what's even wrong with him, Patty, he's always sore.

MORE: CROUCH RECOVERY ON TRACK

"He's been getting a bit bruised and battered lately and I think he's been a bit sore from that.

"So as a team we need to do a bit more to help him out."

Adelaide expects its other trio of sore players — Scott Thompson (corked thigh), Sam Kerridge (poke in eye) and Mitch Grigg (adductor) — to also prove their fitness.

Kerridge is the one in most doubt.

Agile forward Tom Lynch is considered an outside chance to resume in the SANFL from a dislocated shoulder.


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NFL star backs game Down Under

Written By malwan milad on Selasa, 08 April 2014 | 16.42

Drew Brews celebrates winning Super Bowl XLIV Source: Getty Images

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has thrown his support behind a petition to get an official NFL game played in Australia.

The petition has prompted several key Australian figures in gridiron to back the initiative, including former NFL punter and ex-AFL player, Ben Graham.

Similarly, Brees responded enthusiastically to the request to bring the game to Aussie shores.

Known as one of the game's elite play-callers, in 2010 Brees led the Saints to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl XLIV against Indianapolis. He was also named MVP in that pulsating match, facing the then Peyton Manning-led Colts.

Coming off the back of the hugely successful MLB Opening Series which was played in the revamped Sydney Cricket Ground, diehard American sports fans in Australia are hoping the NFL are inspired to make the trip over too.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman met with NFL executives in New York last month, urging the league to consider playing a game in Brisbane at the 52,000 capacity Suncorp Stadium.

"We will get them to Queensland," the Premier said.

"We'll show them the venue and the venues and we'll talk about what's possible."

In recent years the NFL has played popular showpiece games as part of the regular season in London, England.


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