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Jets steal point from Sydney FC

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 02 Februari 2013 | 16.41

Heartbreak ... Ryan Griffiths scores a last-minute penalty goal to draw with Sydney FC. Source: Tony Feder / AAP

A Ryan Griffiths penalty in the dying minutes forced Sydney FC to settle for a 2-2 A-League draw with Newcastle on Saturday.

Sydney FC, missing a host of regular starters, opened the scoring through Alessandro Del Piero, with teammate Blake Powell getting the Sky Blues' second goal.

But late drama, in which skipper Terry McFlynn was sent off for a handball, ensured Griffiths - who scored the first-half equaliser also through a penalty - grabbed the point for the Jets at a rain and wind-lashed Hunter Stadium.

P W D L GD Pts
1 Central Coast 19 11 6 2 17 39
2 Victory 18 10 3 5 3 33
3 Western Sydney 18 10 2 6 8 32
4 Adelaide 18 10 2 6 4 32
5 Newcastle 19 6 5 8 -8 23
6 Brisbane 19 6 3 10 -1 21
7 Heart 18 6 3 9 -2 21
8 Sydney 19 6 3 10 -9 21
9 Wellington 19 5 5 9 -10 20
10 Perth 19 5 4 10 -2 19

Sydney appeared undeterred by their depleted squad after coach Frank Farina was forced to make several changes. Defenders Tiago Calvano and Fabio were both suspended alongside striker Joel Griffiths, while speedy Panamanian attacker Yairo Yau was away on national duty and injured duo Brett Emerton and Jason Culina were also missing.

The Jets, undefeated in their previous four matches, stay in fifth place while the Sky Blues remain in eighth.

The Jets had the lion's share of possession in the early stages and created a few chances.

But a terrible defensive mistake from Connor Chapman allowed Del Piero a perfect shot at goal inside the box with the Italian legend making no mistake to put Sydney 1-0 up after just 12 minutes with his 10th A-League goal.

The Jets redeemed themselves only moments later when Rhyan Grant conceded a penalty after bringing down Ryan Griffiths in the box.

Griffiths stepped up to the mark, easily beating gloveman Vedran Janjetovic to level the score in the 16th minute.

Miss Something? Relive all the action in the Fox Sports A-League Match Centre.

Del Piero threatened again, this time with a superb free-kick from outside the box, forcing a spectacular save from Jets 'keeper Mark Birighetti just before the break.

The Sky Blues started the second half determined to create chances with Ali Abbas forcing Birighetti into action with his powerful header.

But it was Powell who put the visitors 2-1 in front in the 57th minute.

A sloppy Jets defence was again to blame after Del Piero, given too much space, passed the ball to Abbas, with Birighetti making a meal of the Iraqi's ensuing strike - sending the rebound to Powell's feet for the cool finish.

A Griffiths strike created a goal-mouth scramble late in the match with McFlynn red-carded for attempting to clear the ball with his arm.

Griffiths stepped up for the spot, securing the 2-2 result in the 89th minute.

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Two-try Folau inspires Waratahs win

Star ... Israel Folau has made an instant impact for the Waratahs. Source: Tracey Nearmy / AAP

Code-hopper Israel Folau has spectacularly celebrated his New South Wales Waratahs debut with two tries in their 24-16 trial win over the Melbourne Rebels in Hobart.

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Folau looked a fish back in water as he swerved to beat three Rebels and put the ball down one-handed before wildly celebrating the five-pointer with teammates in the 12th minute of the four-tries-to-two victory at North Hobart Oval.

The former rugby league international and AFL marketing tool produced the goods with just his third touch in the 15-man game.

He repeated the dose with the last play of the game, crossing in the left corner while playing outside centre.

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He might have had a third try in the 34th minute but unselfishly offloaded for winger Cam Crawford when Folau could easily have crossed himself.

And on an eventful evening for the former Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos star, Folau was yellow-carded for a 54th minute breakdown infringement, helping the Rebels score a try through Tom English two minutes later.

Starting at fullback, Folau's kicking game was non-existent as the Waratahs made good on coach Michael Cheika's new attacking mantra.

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But he got a feel for his new game with a big tackle on a flying Lachie Mitchell in just the second minute.

Folau had switched to the right wing before he was carded in the second half of the opening trial for both franchises, played in front of 9751 people, and also spent time on the left.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was one interested spectator but was reluctant to single Folau out.

"It's good to see him playing rugby," Deans told reporters.

"He's obviously playing well."

Rebels and Wallabies winger Cooper Vuna briefly sent a scare through his camp when he copped a shoulder knock but it was revealed to be a stinger, and not on his troublesome left joint.

In a four-quarter game, the Rebels led 6-5 at the first break following two penalty goals from James O'Connor.peThe Waratahs led 12-11 at halftime after Crawford's second quarter try.

They scored first in the third through Pete Samu for 19-11 before English hit back to make it 19-16.

Folau's 81st minute effort, beating two defenders, capped the Waratahs' win.

Will Folau be a Super Rugby star? Leave a comment below to have your say!

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Aussies crush Taiwan in Davis Cup

Kaohsiung ... Lleyton Hewitt returns a shot in the Davis Cup men's doubles against Taiwan. Source: AFP

Australia on Saturday swept to an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Taiwan in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania zone tie in Kaohsiung.

The dominant combination of Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione humbled the Taiwanese to win the doubles rubber in straight sets.

The pair took their Cup record to 8-0 when they overcame the Taiwanese pair of Hsien Yin Peng and Hsin-Han Lee 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-2.

Australia took a 2-0 lead into the second day after singles wins by Hewitt and Matthew Ebden.

Davis Cup coach Pat Rafter said the doubles clash had been difficult at first with the Taiwan duo playing an unorthodox style.

''It took a while for our guys to find their game plan - also the courts are so quick,'' Rafter said.

''But once Lleyton and Gooch got in the match, they were too good and the other guys couldn't keep up for that period of time.

''Our guys didn't actually face a break point in the whole match so that was great.''

Rafter said that despite being favourites, he was wary of the conditions and the opposition, who he expected to play above their world rankings of around 200.

''We were a bit nervous going in. You always get a bit tight going in because you're not sure how they're going to play.

''They can come out blasting because Davis Cup does different things to players.

''But our guys were right on and the others were outclassed which was what I was hoping for.''

Ebden and Marinko Matosevic will line up in the reverse singles on Sunday.

Matosevic is back in the team after being dropped for the tie last year against Germany due to disciplinary reasons.

''It is good for him - even though it's a dead rubber, he still has the pressure of representing your country,'' Rafter said.

''This will be another great stepping stone in his development.''

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Jedinak suffers eye injury

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 01 Februari 2013 | 16.41

Mile Jedinak ... is in some doubt for the Socceroos friendly against Romania. Source: Herald Sun

Socceroos midfielder Mile Jedinak was sent to hospital after suffering an eye injury in Crystal Palace's loss to Huddersfield Town in the English Championship.

Palace captain Jedinak copped a swinging arm from Huddersfield striker Alan Lee in the dying minutes of Thursday's 1-0 defeat.

The Australian was cleared of serious damage at hospital and coach Keith Millen said he was an outside chance to play against Charlton on Saturday.

The injury casts doubt on Jedinak's availability for the Socceroos' friendly match against Romania next week.

"He's OK, although it was a bad one,'' Millen told the Croydon Advertiser.

"He went straight to hospital after the game and they looked at him and gave him the all-clear thankfully.

"Structurally there is no damage and the main thing is that his eye has been tested and nothing is wrong.

"The main problem now is the swelling because it's keeping his eye closed."

Millen did not rule out the possibility Jedinak could wear a face mask should he play on Saturday.

The coach was angry that Lee was not punished for the incident and accused Huddersfield's players of showing a lack of remorse.

Jedinak has impressed for promotion contenders Palace and was linked with a move to Premier League side Stoke City, however he will be staying.

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Aussies dominate at world sevens

Con Foley ... scores a try as Australia win their pool opener. Source: Marty Melville / AFP

Australia crushed Scotland 29-5 to complete a surprisingly dominant opening day at the world series sevens rugby tournament in Wellington.

The young side coached by Michael O'Connor eased past Portugal 24-5 and stunned Fiji 21-12 to top pool D on Friday and reverse their previous form in the International Rugby Board series.

They were knocked out in the Cup quarter-finals of the opening tournament on the Gold Coast and failed to advance beyond pool play at Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

The previously unbeaten Scots had no answer to Australia's pressure game in defence which was also effective against Fiji.

The Australians attacked the breakdowns with vigour to dominate possession and score five tries to one.

As with their first two games, their tries were shared around. Con Foley, Lewis Holland and Allan Fa'alava'au put them 17-0 clear at halftime before Jordan Tuapau and Shannon Walker completed the second-half scoring.

James Fleming crossed for a consolation for Scotland.

Both teams upset Fiji, who failed to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals for the first time in the series' history.

Australia will face the runners-up from pool A, which could potentially be New Zealand, assuming the tournament hosts win their final game against the United States and unbeaten England beat Spain.

England toppled the series-leading New Zealanders in the opening round of matches.

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Joel Griffiths gets three-match ban

Suspended ... Sydney FC's Joel Griffiths will miss three matches. Source: Mark Evans / News Limited

An already-depleted Sydney FC have been hit with a fresh blow ahead of Saturday's crucial A-League match against Newcastle with striker Joel Griffiths suspended for abusing a linesman.

Griffiths was suspended on Friday evening after a review of an incident in the Sky Blues' loss to Melbourne Victory last weekend by a reconvened A-League match review panel.

The incident happened in the 89th minute of the round-18 fixture and Griffiths was charged with ''use of offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures against a match official''.

The 33-year-old faces a three-match suspension. He will serve a mandatory match suspension against the Jets and can appeal the additional two-game suspension.

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata condemned Griffiths' behaviour.

''Sydney FC is disappointed with what happened late in the game last weekend against Melbourne Victory that has led to Joel Griffiths receiving a three-match suspension,'' Pignata said in a statement.

''Sydney FC prides itself on setting standards in community behaviour and we expect our players to uphold those standards and set a good example.

''Joel has shown remorse for what happened and Sydney FC will consider its options in relation to appealing the severity of the suspension.''

The A-League's match review panel usually convenes earlier in the week but it's understood they did not receive information on Griffiths' outburst until midweek.

It's not the first time Griffiths has been involved in a controversy involving match officials. He appeared to punch a linesman in the groin when playing for Newcastle in 2007, but escaped further sanction on a technicality because he received a yellow card at the time.

The suspension denies Griffiths the opportunity to play alongside brother Adam and against his other brother Ryan, in what would have been the first time three brothers had played together in an A-League fixture.

Griffiths is the fifth change forced on Sydney coach Frank Farina for the match against the fifth-placed Jets who sit two points above the Sky Blues on the A-League ladder.

Socceroo Brett Emerton (back) has been ruled out of the match with the Jets, against whom Sydney have lost twice already this season. The Sky Blues also are without Yairo Yau to international duty with Panama while defenders Fabio and Tiago Calvano are serving one-match suspensions.

Goalkeeper Ivan Necevski returns from an ankle injury to take Matthew Nash's place on the bench while Terry Antonis, Peter Triantis, Nathan Sherlock, Paul Reid and Aaron Calver have been recalled to Farina's extended 18-man squad.

Farina bemoaned his continued bad luck at training on Friday before the news of Griffiths suspension.

''It's certainly had its moments (this season). We are probably five or six down from last week but that is the reality of it - we have to live with it and just get on with it. Every day in football is a challenge,'' Farina said.

''When you are on a bit of a rollercoaster ride like we have been, it tends to stay that way. We have to continue to keep working hard, take what we have got and keep battling away.''

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Wheelhouse leaves the Jets

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 31 Januari 2013 | 16.42

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Jobe Wheelhouse on the ball for the Jets. Source: Matt King / Getty Images

Newcastle Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse has announced his shock departure from the A-League club.

When the 27-year-old was told he wouldn't be re-signed for next season, he decided to leave the club immediately.

"It goes without saying that I am disappointed I won't be at the Jets anymore," Wheelhouse said in a statement.

"Over the last six to 12 months my head hasn't been it in like it should be, and this will now give me a chance to get away and plan my future.

"There is no point being at a place when my heart isn't in it and the last thing I want to do is let down my teammates.

"I am good mates with all of the boys and I wish them only the best for the future.

"Hopefully they will make the six and go deep into the finals this year."

The midfielder was expected to announce he was joining Melbourne Heart for the remainder of the season with the retirement of former Socceroo Vince Grella earlier this week creating an opening.

But Wheelhouse said he has knocked back Heart's offer and would be taking the rest of the season off.

A local boy who has played his entire career in Newcastle, Wheelhouse's future at the A-League club has been the subject of considerable speculation over the past few weeks.

The Jets had insisted they would not release their skipper mid-season but, at the same time, refused to say if he would be offered a new deal when his current contract expired.

One-club man Wheelhouse has made 105 A-League appearances for the Jets.

Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby thanked Wheelhouse for his contribution to the club.

"This hasn't been an easy process and we hoped Jobe would play out the remainder of the season," Middleby said.

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Jade North set for Roar debut

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A-League return ... Jade North will make his Brisbane Roar debut this week. Source: Robert Mckell / News Limited

Socceroo defender Jade North is set to make his long-awaited debut for the Brisbane Roar in Friday night's clash with A-League leaders Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium.

North was signed by the defending champions from Japan three weeks ago but has yet to appear as coach Mike Mulvey opted to build up his fitness.

However, Mulvey has confirmed the 31-year-old former Newcastle and Wellington player will team with Matt Jurman in central defence against the Mariners.

North will replace youngster James Donachie who has impressed Mulvey in the absence of injured captain Matt Smith.

"He's done a tremendous job,'' Mulvey said. "But with young players, you need to know when to rest them.''

PSV Eindhoven recruit Stef Nijland, a former under-23 Netherlands striker, might also make a shock appearance against Central Coast after training with the Roar on Thursday morning following a 26-hour trip to Brisbane.

"It will be tough to start tomorrow but, if I can make minutes, I'll be happy,'' 24-year-old Nijland said.

Meanwhile, Brisbane's opposition Central Coast, have suffered a blow with experienced attacker Adam Kwasnik forced to undergo season-ending knee surgery.

Kwasnik will go under the knife on Monday after sustaining the injury in the lead-up to last week's 3-1 win over Adelaide United.

The 29-year-old had stepped up in the absence of boom youngster Tom Rogic and helped the Mariners continue their dominance.

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Cronk withdraws from All Stars

Melbourne Storm are confident Cooper Cronk will be fit for the World Club Challenge despite his withdrawal from the All Stars clash due to an ongoing back injury.

The 2012 premiership-winning halfback on Thursday pulled out of the NRL All Stars side for the match against the Indigenous All Stars on February 9.

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While the Storm acknowledge the injury has interrupted Cronk's pre-season, they are hopeful he will take the field against Super League champions Leeds at Headingley on February 22.

"Everyone knows Cooper is the ultimate professional and would only play in a game of this calibre if he was 100 per cent fit," Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said in a statement.

"Cooper's back has been tightening up, particularly at the back end of sessions, therefore we will stand him down from training for five to seven days and continue a modified program with the aim to be fully fit for the World Club Challenge."

"Our medical staff, in consultation with Cooper, decided to withdraw him from the (All Stars) match as a precautionary measure to avoid any risk of further damage."

Cooper's position as Wayne Bennett's 'coach's pick' in the NRL All Stars side has been taken by Warriors' playmaker Shaun Johnson.

"It's all a bit surreal for me at the moment," Johnson said.

"It's exciting and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of playing alongside so many quality players as well as being in a side coached by Wayne Bennett.

"It's a massive honour."

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Live Blog: Mundine-Geale II

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 30 Januari 2013 | 16.41

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Live Blog ... Join us for all the action from Anthony Mundine v Daniel Geale II. Source:Fox Sports

The verbal barbs have been traded by the bucketload, and now it's time for Anthony Mundine and Daniel Geale to let their fists do the talking in Wednesday's night's blockbuster bout.

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The fuse has been well and truly lit for what should be an explosive rematch between the long-time rivals.

'The Man' took bragging rights when the pair met back in 2009, but it wasn't without controversy, with many claiming Geale should have been awarded the win.

In typical fashion, Mundine has dominated the headlines in the lead-up to the rematch, questioning Geale's Aboriginal heritage, engaging in some heated words with journalist Paul Kent and claiming racial bias against him during his rugby league career.

And at Tuesday's weigh-in, in which Geale came in slightly heavier, Mundine blew a bubble gum bubble in his opponent's face.

The normally mild-mannered Geale couldn't resist a few verbal jabs of his own, admitting he would love nothing more than to send Mundine into retirement.

We bring you all the build-up before delivering a blow-by-blow account of the fight from 9.30pm (EDT).

[View the story "Live blog: Geale v Mundine II" on Storify]

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Surfer rides record 100ft wave

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Portugal ... Garrett McNamara rides what could prove to be the largest wave ever ridden. Source:AP

The northern hemisphere's winter has historically been a bumper season for big-wave hunters.

It reached a pinnacle on Monday when Hawaiian Garrett McNamara possibly broke his own Guinness World Record with a ride on a wave some are claiming was 100ft, or about 30 metres.

A photograph of the ride started appearing on Facebook on Monday, and the footage has now been published.

It shows McNamara being towed by a jetski onto a monstrous lump off Nazare, Portugal, the same beach where he set the original record of 78ft, or 23.7m, in 2011.

"We were surfing in zones we haven't surfed, so it was a little overwhelming," McNamara told surfertoday.com.

"Personally, it was very challenging. You just have to stay in the moment, stay focused on what you're doing. We're really comfortable here, but some of those waves..."

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Nazare is a deep-water beach, which funnels storm swells that were originally generated in the north Atlantic.

A crew of similarly courageous surfers enjoyed the same swell in Ireland on the weekend.

The McNamara footage is heavily edited, and shows snippets of rides that vary between impressive and terrifying. At one stage, one of the jetski riders meant to be out there to save the surfers in case of trouble is blown off his machine by a broken wave.

Response to the footage has been mostly amazement, although one observer at Surfer magazine's forum on the topic wasn't so impressed.

"Talk about a mush burger," he said, referring to the way McNamara stayed on the safe shoulder of the wave, which didn't break properly anyway.

Earlier this month Hawaiian Shane Dorian and a couple of European big-wave specialists rode the same beach, in slightly smaller conditions, but without the aid of jetskis.

"It was super challenging, really gnarly," Dorian said. "This wave is like a big blown-up sandbar beachbreak. It's really exciting and challenging. It was awesome. The wave breaks wherever it wants. As far as intensity and power goes, it's like anywhere. The waves I saw today were enormous."

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Three strikes stay after drugs summit

Summit ... Matt Finnis, Gary Pert, Andrew Demetriou and Peter Harcourt talk drugs. Source: Joe Castro / AAP

The AFL will close a self-reporting loophole but has backed its three-strikes policy after Wednesday's drugs summit.

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AFL bosses, club CEOs, the AFL Players Association, police and medical experts met today for nine hours to review the league's controversial illegal drugs policy.

The summit was prompted by Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert speaking out at a CEOs conference late last year over his concerns about the rising use of illegal drugs by players.

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A working party will be formed to review the drugs policy each year, starting when the results of drug tests in 2012 are released.

Those numbers are not yet known but Demetriou has warned there will be a "spike" in positive tests.

The working party's first recommendation will be to close the loophole that allows players to avoid a strike against their name by dobbing themselves in.

Although one club is believed to have had 10 incidents of six players self-reporting last year, Demetriou said exploitation of the loophole wasn't rampant.

However, he conceded it had the potential to be exploited.

"Everybody acknowledged, including the players, that if there is an area of self-notification that can be closed then we will (do that)," Demetriou said.

"The general concensus is we can tighten up, that has got potential to be exploited.

"I'm pretty certain what I heard today about the self-notification that it's something we can improve pretty quickly."

But Demetriou said there was overall support for the three-strikes policy - under which positive drug tests are not made public until a player tests positive for a third time.

"We have got external experts reinforcing to us, including Victoria Police and Federal Police, what an outstanding illicit drugs policy we have," Demetriou said.

"It's not without its flaws.

"We have opened ourselves up to other improvements."

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The working party will consist of three club representatives - Pert, Essendon CEO Ian Robson and Gold Coast president Travis Auld, plus a club doctor, the AFLPA and external experts

Demetriou said other key findings included a commitment to provide clubs with more information.

Pert suggested he would push for clubs to be better informed to help players with drug issues - under the current policy only the club doctor is informed after a second positive test. But AFLPA boss Matt Finnis was adamant players would not budge on the issue of confidentiality.

"The players remain committed to the policy because they feel ownership of the policy. And the players remain committed to the policy and the key pillars of the policy that we believe are integral to its success and that is the welfare of the players and confidentiality," Finnis said.

"We believe the policy successful in helping players who make bad decisions alter their behaviour."

Pert said clubs were now much better informed about the drug culture that affected their players.

"We don't know the exact numbers (of how many players are using drugs) but every CEO is concerned about what's happening now and what potentially can happen in the future," he said.

"We had presentations today about young people in that 18-21 year age bracket, taking illicit drugs is just a big part of their lives and obviously our players fall into that demographic and a lot of their friends outside the club lead that sort of lifestyle."

After the summit the AFL medical officers association released a statement supporting the three-strikes policy.

"The use of illicit drugs is primarily a health and social issue and is best managed through a medical model based on counselling, education and treatment of the underlying mental health and addiction problems," executive officer Dr Hugh Seward said.

"The current code provides an appropriate balance between this medical model and a the more punitive approach after a third offence.

"Illicit drug use is a major social issue amongst young members of our society and AFL footballers encounter these problems on a regular basis.

"The AFL Players Association accept that the players will submit to this testing, which is rare in the sporting world (as distinct from the performance enhancing drug code that all sports are subject to through WADA). In doing this they acknowledge that AFL footballers are leaders amongst their peer groups and can set an example against illicit drug use."

Dr Seward said doctors also supported strong moves to better manage alcohol use by players.

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'Race on for World Cup 2015 spots'

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 29 Januari 2013 | 16.41

Looking ahead ... Mickey Arthur wants a stable one-day squad. Source: Tom Hevezi / AAP

At first glance, Australia's upcoming five-match one-day series against the West Indies seems fairly meaningless.

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But for some of Australia's fringe international cricketers, their hopes of gaining selection for the 2015 World Cup could be riding on it.

The series against the West Indies, which starts at the WACA Ground on Friday, will be Australia's final hit-out in the 50-over format before June's ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales.

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And with Australia selectors eager to settle the national squad ahead of the World Cup, coach Mickey Arthur said players who gain selection for this year's Champions Trophy would be given every chance to hold their spots until the 2015 showpiece event.

"When we select the Champions Trophy squad, (we will) stick with that squad for a year to give them every opportunity of getting continuity and trying to build a winning culture to take us into the 2015 World Cup,'' Arthur said.

"A couple of guys have really put their hands up and some haven't taken that opportunity.''

Australia's batting vulnerability in the 50-over format was exposed in the recent 2-2 drawn series against Sri Lanka.

Although Phil Hughes struck two centuries, Australia's batting was largely underwhelming, with their embarrassing total of 74 in the third ODI the biggest concern.

Arthur is confident in the depth and quality of Australia's bowling stocks. But the same can't be said for the batting lineup, which is yet to be fully settled.

"The problem is we've got one great player in Michael Clarke and we've got a couple of really good players who are starting to step up - (David) Warner and (Matthew) Wade,'' Arthur said.

"And then we've got a bottleneck of batters and we weren't quite sure who were the next best.''

Veteran David Hussey, who has been dropped for the first two one-dayers against the West Indies, appears unlikely to be in the selectors' plans for the 2015 World Cup.

But KFC T20 Big Bash League hero Aaron Finch has another massive chance to prove his worth on the international stage, despite failing to fire for Australia in the recent ODI and Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka.

Off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who is yet to take a wicket in seven ODIs, is another player who will be aiming to impress against the West Indies, especially with a spot in the Test team also up for grabs.

Tasmanian all-rounder James Faulkner could make his ODI debut in the series opener on Friday after replacing Moises Henriques (finger) in the squad, while skipper Clarke is set to return to the side after overcoming an ankle injury.

And although West Australian Shaun Marsh missed selection for the first two games, he could be called up later in the series after a sizzling summer with the bat in T20 ranks.

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PM XI batsmen tear Windies apart

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Clash ... Jono Dean and Tino Best exchange some words in the middle. Source: Rick Rycroft / AAP

The Prime Minister's XI have set West Indies 334 runs to win in their 50-over day night match against West Indies at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

ACT Comets captain Jono Dean and fringe Australian Test player Usman Khawaja opened the batting at Canberra's Manuka Oval, with Alex Doolan and Ponting playing first and second drop respectively.

Dean scored a classy half century at the top of the order while Test hopeful Usman Khawaja (69) and Alex Doolan (87) also starred with the bat.

Power striker and crowd favourite Chris Gayle was a notable omission from the West Indies XI, ensuring his feud with PM's XI vice captain Brad Haddin won't take centre stage.

PMs XI: Ricky Ponting (capt), Brad Haddin, Fawad Ahmed, Jono Dean, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Alister McDermott, Gurinder Sandhu, Ashton Turner, Nick Winter (12th man).

West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (capt), Dwayne Bravo (vc), Kieran Powell, Johnson Charles, Darren Brown, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Kieron Pollard, Devon Thomas, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tino Best, Jason Holder (12th man).

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Force to unveil new look combo

New look ... Alby Mathewson will form part of a 9-10 combo for Western Force. Source: Lukas Coch / AAP

Western Force will unveil their new-look 9-10 combination in Friday night's Super Rugby trial match against the Brumbies in Darwin.

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The Force overhauled their backline following last year's disastrous 3-13 win-loss campaign, but it's the new halves combination that holds the greatest intrigue.

Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson and South African playmaker Sias Ebersohn will be handed starting roles against the Brumbies, with the pair in the box seat to cement their places in the side for the season opener against the Melbourne Rebels on February 15.

New Force coach Michael Foley said the chemistry between Mathewson and Ebersohn has been impressive at training, but he wants to see how it holds up under the heat of battle.

Injured Wallabies scrum-half Brett Sheehan, who is set to miss at least the first four weeks of the season with an ankle injury, will battle Mathewson for the No.9 jersey once he recovers, while Ebersohn will have to fight off the likes of Kyle Godwin, Sam Norton-Knight and Sam Christie for the five-eighth role.

Foley said the trial games against the Brumbies and a select Tongan XV would go a long way towards helping him decide the best starting XV for the season opener.

"We've definitely got a 15 in mind that will run out against the Rebels, but there's opportunity for a number of players to stake claims over the next two weeks,'' Foley said.

"There are a number of positions that are very close and combinations will be important.''

The match against the Brumbies will pit the Force up against their former skipper David Pocock, who left the Perth-based franchise at the end of last season.

"I guess everyone's mates off the field, but when you do battle on the field, everyone's enemies,'' new Force centre Jayden Hayward replied when asked about the presence of Pocock.

"I guess they won't treat him differently. They'll treat him like an enemy.''

The match will be broken up into 20-minute quarters, with each team allowed rolling substitutions.

Force winger Nick Cummins, who was part of Australia's spring tour squad, will be rested from the trial, while hooker Ben Whittaker (foot), Norton-Knight and Sheehan are others who won't take part.

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Gayle, Haddin put feud behind them

Written By Unknown on Senin, 28 Januari 2013 | 16.41

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Dwayne Bravo ... says Chris Gayle and Brad Haddin have put their feud behind them. Source: Gregg Porteous / News Limited

West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo insists Chris Gayle and Brad Haddin have put their ongoing feud to bed as the Prime Minister's XI prepare to host the West Indies in Canberra on Tuesday.

Sydney Sixers captain Haddin initially sparked the big row last month when he questioned Gayle's value to the winless Thunder.

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Gayle used Twitter to retaliate with a tirade the next day.

However West Indies all-rounder Bravo on Monday said both his fellow countryman and Haddin had put the disagreement behind them for the Manuka Oval match on Tuesday night - Canberra's first ever day/night match.

"We are all teammates we are all friends," the West Indies vice-captain said.

"Chris is a very easy going guy, a fun loving person.

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"And I was fortunate to be led by Haddin when I played for the Sixers last year. He's a lovely guy also.

"It's something they have both put behind them."

Bravo also jumped to the defence of Gayle's form, saying he was only one innings away from being back to his devastating best.

"We all know Chris is one of the best players in the world, you can't hide that, and these conditions suit him," Bravo said, referring to Gayle's 146 off 89 balls against the PM's XI three years ago.

"I know obviously he had a bad Big Bash this year but the previous seasons he did o.well with the bat. I hope that people remember that and know that he's still dangerous."

Haddin was also quick to play down the row with Gayle.

"I think it will be all good," he said.

"That was about a month ago. We're here to celebrate the PM's XI. That's not in my thoughts anymore."

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Rodgers rages at misfiring Reds

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Brendan Rodgers ... hits out after his side were sent packing from the FA Cup. Source: PAUL ELLIS / AFP

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was disappointed with the young players he handed a chance to as they crashed out of the FA Cup at League One side Oldham.

Rodgers was left bemused by a below-par effort from a mixed Liverpool side in the 3-2 fourth-round defeat at Boundary Park as they were hardly in the game in the first half.

Things improved a little when he brought on added experience in the second period, but Joe Allen's 80th minute goal came too late to turn around a Sunday afternoon the red-faced Liverpool manager would rather forget.

Ties to be played on February 16-17:

Huddersfield Town or Leicester City v Wigan Athletic

Milton Keynes Dons v Barnsley

Oldham Athletic v Everton

Luton Town v Millwall

Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers

Manchester City v Leeds United 

Manchester United v Reading 

Middlesbrough v Brentford or Chelsea

"We are bitterly disappointed. We started the first half poorly and we started the second half and got punished," Rodgers said. "We've got a big week of games but our mentality in that opening period was poor and it ended up costing us.

"I was disappointed with the young players today I've got to be honest.

"We are trying to give them experience and let them see what it was like to play for Liverpool. It is not just about playing for Liverpool, you have to be competitive and be part of a group that is going to challenge for trophies.

"It is not enough to play for Liverpool and get up for the Arsenal and Manchester City games because if we are going to win trophies you need to be able to come to places like Oldham and win and we weren't good enough for that."
Brendan Rodgers Quotes of the week

"I thought how we reacted to that and how we performed, knowing that is what we are looking for, was disappointing.

"We were just too much on the back foot early on, you really have to be aggressive. These are different games to the Premier League: Premier League games are nice, you go in and teams will pass the ball and give you time to get your shape.

"These games are a different type of football, you have to roll your sleeves up be strong and aggressive and unfortunately for us there were too many who weren't.

"It is just a different type of football where you have to stand up and be counted. It is great to put young players in but you have to have personality and the young players disappointed."

Read more: http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11669/8447258/Liverpool-s-young-players-face-the-wrath-of-boss-Brendan-Rodgers

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'Cheika can bring success to NSW'

Talking tough ... Cheika isn't too impressed with the ARU's idea. Source: Gregg Porteous / News Limited

Ewen McKenzie believes new Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is tailor-made to reawaken the sleeping Super Rugby giant that is NSW.

Former Waratahs mentor McKenzie, who took the underachieving province to two grand finals in four seasons before being cut adrift in 2008, is wary of a NSW uprising under his long-time Randwick teammate.

Now aiming to guide Queensland to a third straight season on top of the Australian conference, McKenzie knows the task will be tougher with Cheika ensuring a cultural overhaul within a Wallabies-laden roster.

Despite their obvious depth of talent, the Waratahs won just four matches last season and coach Michael Foley quit to link with the Western Force.

''Cheika will culturally get them focussed,'' McKenzie told AAP.

''He's very motivated, he understands team culture and will do a good job.

''And all the players have enjoyed the highest representation in the Wallabies so those two things together will make some sort of difference and that will be good for Australian rugby if the Waratahs are out there.''

McKenzie led NSW to the 2005 and 2008 deciders as well as the 2006 semi-finals but well knows the pressure that comes with the Waratahs job following an injury-hit 2007 and subsequent axing at the end of his five-year contract.

''A lot of people like to contribute,'' he said of the environment.

''In the end Cheiks has a good personality for all of that.

''He doesn't suffer fools, he's pretty much his own man, he'll articulate that and no one will be left not understanding about what's required.

''When you've got that you can drive a team ethos and culture in a certain direction.

''I'm sure they will make good progress.''

Ironically, Cheika - who coached Irish club Leinster to the European Cup before heading to Stade Francais - will make his Super Rugby coaching debut opposing McKenzie when the Waratahs play the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on February 23.

Cheika has quickly earned a reputation for adding a harder edge to the Waratahs through a tough pre-season training campaign, and also admitted bringing cultural change was a major part of his job.

''Ewen knows that more than anyone because he was the last person to be able to put the right identity into the Waratahs jersey,'' Cheika said.

''They had a strong culture then and it's up to us to make sure we have that uncompromising nature about us no matter who plays.

''You know it's a difficult challenge that every coach must meet.

''You just have to make your own page with the guys and get the buy-in with the way we want to do things. So far that's the case.

''I've really enjoyed myself so far.''

Halfback Brendan McKibbin has emerged as a captaincy contender and will lead the Waratahs in their opening two trials, starting Saturday against the Rebels in Hobart.

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Blues rue another Shield washout

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 27 Januari 2013 | 16.41

FOR the third time this summer, NSW were left cursing the elements which robbed them of the chance to secure an outright Sheffield Shield victory over Western Australia.

The Blues' clash at Blacktown International Sportspark ended in a draw on Sunday when persistent rain washed out nearly all of the final day.

With WA resuming at 8-211, holding onto a second-innings lead of just 109 runs, the Blues were confident of getting a result before they were confronted by a soggy outfield.

On six occasions the covers were removed, only to be put back moments later as the drizzle persisted.

The players eventually took to the field for 10 overs, with no wickets falling and the Warriors adding just eight runs through Ashton Agar (34) and Jason Behrendorff (seven) to finish 8-219.

NSW claimed first-innings points, thanks to classy half-centuries from Test hopefuls Steve Smith (72) and Moises Henriques (71) that gave them a 102-run first-innings lead.

But the missed opportunity to claim the maximum six points from the game will irk them and Blues coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted the draw was a "hollow" feeling.

"We were in a good position to get the four points. But you can't do anything about Mother Nature," he said.

Perhaps the most frustrating factor for the luckless Blues is that Mother Nature hasn't been on their side all summer after bad light denied them outright victory against Tasmania in September.

Two months later against Victoria they were denied a chance of forcing a result with the Blues holding onto a 157-run lead on day four but rain and bad light meant just five overs were bowled.

The Blues move to 15 points with a game in hand, but drop to fifth on the Shield ladder following South Australia's one-wicket victory over Victoria on Sunday.

Th Redbacks climbed into third place behind equal leaders Victoria and Queensland who are both on 20 points.

The Sunday washout also denied players a final chance at pushing their Test cases, with the squad for next month's four-Test tour of India expected to be announced on Thursday.

Blues captain Stephen O'Keefe, considered an option to be picked as the back-up spinner to Nathan Lyon, did his chances no harm with match figures of 8-102 to take his season tally to 17 wickets.

Warriors coach Justin Langer said he sympathised with the Blues.

"I'd say it would be particularly frustrating for NSW, they had a great day (on Saturday) and had us really on the back foot," he said.

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'Nobody ready for Hussey's spot'

Irreplaceable ... Mike Hussey's retirement from international cricket has left a gaping hole. Source: AAP

Former Test opener Justin Langer says no one is banging down the door to replace Mike Hussey in the Australia team, lamenting the lack of depth in batsmen and spinners across the country.

Hussey retired from international cricket following the three-Test sweep of Sri Lanka earlier this month, opening up a middle-order spot in the Test, one-day and Twenty20 sides.

Queensland's Usman Khawaja is considered the front-runner to claim Hussey's spot in the team for Australia's four-Test tour of India next month, though his Shield average of 39.81 this season doesn't suggest he is dominating at domestic level.

Victorian Rob Quiney was given a two-Test audition, Tasmania's Alex Doolan has been spoken about and budding allrounder Glenn Maxwell is well liked.

But, with champion batsman Ricky Ponting also retiring in December, Langer said there is a dearth of quality batsmen looking to step into Hussey's shoes but nominated former opener Shane Watson as the man to step in in the short term.

''I would say no, there's no one smashing the door down,'' Langer, who until recently was also Australia's batting coach, said.

Western Warriors coach Justin Langer joins Brendon Julian, Allan Border, Stuart MacGill and News Ltd journalist Malcolm Conn on Inside Cricket this week.

The former champion Australia opener will talk about the challenges he faces as he looks to turn around the fortunes of Western Australian cricket.

Plus we'll get JL's take on the state of the game, including the controversial rotation policy and the upcoming tours of India and the UK.

Inside Cricket – 6:30pm EDT, Monday January 28  on Fox Sports 2HD.

''Shane Watson will obviously come back in but I'm not sure who they're going to go with.

''But the reality is no one's really been so good they can't be ignored and that's what we have to get in Australian cricket.

''The lack of perceived depth means there's unbelievable opportunities for kids out there who want to work hard and improve their technique and be mentally resilient.

''Imagine being a youngster now if you're a spinner or a batsman, it'd be awesome.''

Of the other names mentioned to step into Hussey's shoes, Blues allrounder Steve Smith earned praise from Langer.

Langer, as coach of Western Australia, saw first hand Smith's revitalised game as the 23-year-old compiled an impressive knock of 72 on a low, slow Blacktown wicket in their drawn Sheffield Shield match which finished on Sunday.

Smith's patient innings helped secure the Blues first-innings points and certainly caught Langer's eye.

''I thought Steve Smith batted well, whether he comes back in for Test selection I'm not sure,'' he said.

''But I thought he played quite well and in Indian conditions he might get an opportunity.

''I was impressed with how patient he was on a tough wicket and he seemed to have tightened up his game ... (he) showed good discipline.

''He's very talented and I love his work ethic.''

Catch Justin Langer in an exclusive interview on Inside Cricket at 6:30pm EDT on Monday on Fox Sports 2HD.

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Sydney claim second W-League title

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Sky Blue champions ... Sydney win their second W-League title. Source:FOX SPORTS

Sydney FC captain Kyah Simon praised her young side after they powered to a 3-1 win over Melbourne Victory to claim their second W-League championship.

Two second-half goals ensured victory for the Sky Blues in what was a hard-fought encounter at AAMI Park.

Melbourne had their chances to secure a maiden grand final win after midfielder Petra Larsson cancelled out Nicola Bolger's opener for Sydney in front of 4181 spectators.

However, goals at either end of the second half from star forwards Sam Kerr and player of the match Simon got the Sky Blues home.

Simon, the only survivor from Sydney's 2009 championship-winning team, was delighted that a youthful Sky Blues side rose to the occasion despite the unavailability of regulars Emma Kete and Ellyse Perry.

Dual international Perry is in India with the Australian cricket team, while Kete was suspended after being sent off last week.

"We lost some crucial players but we have a lot of depth in our team, and all credit to our girls that they stuck in there and played some good football,'' she said.

"The girls did great, doubly so given they are so young and inexperienced but they proved everyone wrong that age doesnt matter.

"There is no better feeling than winning the championship.''

After a tense opening Sydney defender Renee Rollason forced Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Brianna Davey into a superb sprawling save midway through the opening period.

The league's tightest defence, however, was soon breached in unusual fashion as Rebekah Stott's under hit backpass allowed Bolger to charge down Davey's attempted clearance.

On the back foot for periods of the first half, the Victory came back strongly and drew level thanks to a perfectly executed free-kick from Swede Larsson four minutes from the break.

Kerr gave the Sky Blues the ideal start to the second half powering a spectacular diving header into the net after profiting from Simons smart cross.

Sydney goalkeeper Sham Khamis produced an excellent point-blank save to deny Enza Barilla, while at the other end the impressive Davey was at full stretch to keep out Simons powerful strike.

The match remained an open affair with play swinging from end-to-end and both sets of player looking weary as the contest wore on.

Melbourne's hopes were extinguished four minutes from time as Maika Ruyter-Hooley was sent off after bundling over substitute Larissa Crummer which allowed Simon to coolly sweep home the resultant penalty.

Melbourne Victory co-captain Danielle Johnson said her side can continue to build after reaching their first W-League decider.

"I think they (Sydney) did really well in the midfield and it was hard breaking them down,'' she said.

"You learn a lot when you lose so hopefully we can take a lot away from this experience.''

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