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Brilliant Buddy pops Power’s bubble

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 14 Juni 2014 | 16.42

Sydney key forward Lance Franklin, left, celebrates a goal with Adam Goodes. Picture: Matt King. Source: Matt King / Getty Images

LANCE Franklin almost single-handedly ended Port Adelaide's eight game winning streak at the SCG on Saturday, kicking three sensational final quarter goals to help the Swans escape with a four point win.

The Power had taken everything Sydney could give for three-and-a-half quarters and looked like adding another famous come from behind victory to their growing list.

But Franklin refused to let his team lose, banging through some miraculous long range goals to help the Swans close within one game of Port at the top of the ladder.

"I think that's why you pay him a million dollars," Port coach Ken Hinkley said.

Some had billed the clash as Port's "Judgement Day".

Despite the Power's victories at Adelaide Oval against Geelong, Hawthorn and Fremantle, there was a perception Hinkley's side needed to perform against the Swans in Sydney to prove its premiership mettle.

For anyone who watched the game — which was described by Brisbane Lions midfielder Daniel Rich as "a little taste of finals footy in June" — there's no doubt Port has what it takes to be a major player in this year's finals series.

The signs were there in the opening term when the Power refused to fold in the face of a Swans onslaught.

Sydney has killed teams off with blistering starts on several occasions this season and looked to do the same to the Power.

Midfielder Brad Ebert was among Port Adelaide's best. Picture: Toby Zerna.

Kieran Jack kicked the opener in his 150th and Jarrad McVeigh clean bowled Jackson Trengove on the goal line after smothering Alipate Carlile's kick.

But after conceding the first couple Port — led by exceptional midfield duo Brad Ebert and Robbie Gray — dug in and quickly stopped the bleeding.

The Swans inaccuracy certainly helped. Franklin kicked 0.3 of his side's 2.8 in the first quarter as Sydney missed the opportunity to jump out to a big lead.

The door was open for Port to climb quickly back into the game and they did so in the second as Matt White put his stamp on the contest.

The Power started finding space where they couldn't in the first term and took a surprise lead midway through the term.

Suddenly realising they were at risk of wasting their early dominance the Swans responded. Adam Goodes burnt Jack Hombsch for three second term goals and Sydney led by seven points at the main break.

Port's chances took a dive in the third term because of two crucial individual errors.

First Kane Mitchell tried to bump Josh Kennedy when he should have tackled, allowing the Swans midfielder to curl in a dribbled goal.

Then, after the Power had battled back into the game, Jasper Pittard missed a one metre handball in the centre of the ground, coughing up a possession which would end in a goal to Franklin.

It allowed the Swans to regain control of the game despite Matthew Lobbe's dominance in ruck.

The final term was Port versus Franklin.

Despite seeing Hamish Hartlett subbed off with an ankle injury, the Power midfield took control and willed their team back into the game.

Ebert and Gray were everywhere and the Swans struggled to respond because Kane Cornes had Daniel Hannebery under lock and key.

But just when you thought the Power was on top, Franklin would bob up with another goal and Sydney did just enough to escape with the points.

Port will look to quickly bounce back against the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval this Saturday before a round 14 Showdown against Adelaide.

But it will wake on Sunday knowing it has the game to beat anyone this season.

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Chile reception, but Socceroos have bold new future

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A FROG puckering up to a princess and getting an air kiss. A size six glass slipper when the Australians take a size seven. It was agonisingly close but there would be no fairytale for these Socceroos.

Yet despite the worst Australian start since Shane Kelly's foot came out of the pedal at the Atlanta Olympics, a 3-1 defeat by Chile was not the grim reality this recently assembled team of veterans, decent journeymen and untested youngsters was supposed to face.

Instead their performance was brave, almost epic. A triumph of spirit and will, but, despite some incredible efforts and heartbreaking near-misses, no triumph at all.

After 13 minutes the Socceroos had conceded two goals and it appeared the most pessimistic forecasts would be proven. As Chile attacked, Australia skated on ball bearings.

In those moments you could not help fear for Ange Postecoglou's outfit. Both because of the brilliant and suddenly emboldened opposition they faced and the hostile environment in which they were being asked to perform.

Socceroos champion Tim Cahill celebrates his goal against Chile, having now scored in three World Cups. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: News Corp Australia

An hour before the game it was apparent the Australians didn't just face the Chilean team, they confronted Chile itself. Australia's band of travelling fans was vastly outnumbered by the red-shirted Chileans who made a deafening noise when their heroes walked on to the pitch. And this was just for the warm-up.

Then the Australians lined up on the pitch and endured an incredibly passionate, even spine-tingling rendition of the Chilean national anthem roared by chest-thumping fans, while getting a close look at their potential tormentors.

Alexis Sanchez plays for Barcelona and Arturo Vidal plays for Juventus. Ivan Franjic plays for Brisbane Roar and Matthew Spiranovic plays for Western Sydney Wanderers.

This time, it seemed, reputations would count for everything. When Sanchez and Vidal kicked off, Vidal crossed himself before darting after the ball. Thirteen excruciating minutes later on Friday the 13th (Brazil time), it seemed Australia didn't have a prayer.

Perhaps Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan could have plucked the ball from Charles Aranguiz's feet. Perhaps Mile — "Call me Mike'' — Jedinak could have won the ball in the air. Certainly Sanchez should have been marked. But his goal was sharp, and ignited both Chile's fans and Australia self-doubts.

Alexis Sanchez of Chile scores the opening goal against the Socceroos. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: News Corp Australia

Yes, the defenders should have been in the same post-code as Jorge Valdivia when he caressed the ball over Ryan's head for the second.

Australia's defensive weakness was exposed, which no doubt brought knowing nods from some who will reflexively bemoan the absence of some of "golden era'' stars.

Chile once celebrated the rescue of miners trapped underground for 69 days. The Socceroos seemed to be in an even deeper hole.

Which of course meant Tim Cahill scored a goal with his head. The man's skull should one day be on display in the National Museum beside Phar Lap's heart.

It was a goal that changed the momentum of the game. It might be one that changes the momentum in Aussie football.

Bravery, of course, will be no consolation. So despite a noble effort it now seems certain this will be the World Cup Australia had to have. The one where the wheel is turned and the ship slowly changes course.

The Socceroos defence stands distraught after conceding Chile's first goal. Source: Getty Images

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All Blacks rally to edge England again

All Blacks winger Julian Savea on the charge against England at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Source: Marty Melville / AFP

THE All Blacks have held off another strong challenge from England to run out 28-20 winners in the second Test at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

NEW ZEALAND 28 (Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Ben Smith tries Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden cons Cruden 2, Barrett pens) bt ENGLAND 27 (Chris Ashton, Mike Brown, Marland Yarde tries Owen Farrell 3 cons 2 pens) at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Referee: Jaco Peyper.

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Young gun Martin close to return

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 11 Juni 2014 | 16.42

Jack Martin after being injured in the opening game of the season. Picture: Darren England. Source: Darren England / News Corp Australia

THE excitement factor at the Gold Coast Suns could soon go up a notch with the impending return of young gun Jack Martin.

Cruelly injured less than 10 minutes into his AFL debut against Richmond in the opening round at Metricon Stadium, Martin is primed for a comeback.

The highly rated on-baller is hoping to return via the Suns' reserves side against Redland in the last weekend of June.

"I started contact work this week, there'll be some more next week and hopefully I'll start playing after that," said the 19-year-old, who dislocated his shoulder after landing heavily attempting to take a low mark.

Martin said he had taken similar marks countless times on much harder grounds in his home state Western Australia.

Jack Martin works as a runner for the Suns' NEAFL side. Picture: Adam Head Source: News Corp Australia

"Obviously at the time it was devastating but that's just the way footy goes," he said.

"I didn't want to get too down about it so I tried to keep positive and now I feel the time has passed quickly. It's 10 weeks now post-surgery."

Martin further built his fitness via a stint out as Suns NEAFL runner last weekend.

"That was the first time I've been a runner," he said. ""It was just good to be running around out on the ground again."

Suns football manager Marcus Ashcroft won't rule out Martin returning straight to the AFL.

"His rehab has been seamless, very thorough,," Ashcroft said.

"We will also be mindful of the fact that Zac Smith came straight back in after a year out."

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‘Umps trying to shape playing style’

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COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley has implored umpires to blow the whistle and stop trying to shape playing style.

Buckley said umpires had put the whistle away this season in a direct attempt to reduce stoppage numbers and curb stop-start football.

The Collingwood coach said the best way to clear the ugly packs that are frustrating fans was to call a ball-up.

"At the moment (there is) the willingness to try and let the play unfold in a scrimmage rather than blow the whistle and ball it up," Buckley said.

"It seems like we are wanting to reduce the stoppage numbers and let that sort of evolve.


"When I'm watching that grates with me.

"If it's locked in there just blow it (whistle) and then throw it up and that will actually invariably (result in) a clearance and you can get your hands on it at the next opportunity and a clearance will spread us out."

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Buckley's comments came a day after his Melbourne counterpart Paul Roos scolded the umpiring department on similar grounds.

Roos said umpires were overlooking free kicks as part of what he described as a philosophical drive to create a more aesthetically-pleasing free-flowing game.


Roos was angry only five free kicks were paid in Collingwood's dull Queens Birthday win over Melbourne.

But AFL umpires boss Wayne Campbell supported his men and declared they "performed well" in the game. He said five free kicks were missed, but another two were awarded incorrectly.

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Campbell did however concede a pre-round emphasis on holding the ball, which had been conveyed to clubs, had missed the mark.

In May new AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he would speak to coaches to encourage more exciting footy. But Buckley said that meeting had not yet taken place.

The aesthetics of the game are under increased fire with North Melbourne great Sam Kekovich declaring fans were turning their backs on the ugly state of modern footy.

"You watch and that (Queen's Birthday) and wonder how long our product can stand up? How long spectators will continue to go to games," Kekovich said.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse also took aim at umpiring standards after several contentious calls in the Blues' loss to Geelong on Friday night.

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Malthouse said he and coaching director Rob Wiley were set to meet AFL umpires coach Hayden Kennedy today to discuss concerns over decisions made in the Blues' past two losses to the Brisbane Lions and the Cats.

"I think it would be fair to say we all praise the difference between (paying) 'tiggy touchwood' (free kicks) to letting the game go, but we're now increasingly frustrated with the consistency on a week-to-week basis and umpire-to-umpire interpretation," Malthouse said.

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said he would rather umpires "miss a couple" rather than "guess and get one wrong".

"I get really frustrated when the umpires guess," Scott said.

"Paying the obvious free kicks makes a lot of sense to me.

"I don't have a concern with the umpires. They make some mistakes for your and they make some mistakes against you. It all evens out in the end, you hope."

He admitted that he joked to AFL football operations manager Mark Evans recently that he would like to throw the ball to the umpires and have Drew Petrie tackle them to show how difficult it can be to make a legitimate attempt.

"When you have three big guys on top of you, with your arms pinned, other than trying to headbutt the ball, I am not sure how you can make a genuine attempt."

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Socceroos chase fame in Brazil’s wild west

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THE first question those in Brazil's more cosmopolitan cities ask when you tell them you are going to Cuiaba is "Why?''

The infamously hot, dusty regional capital is in the far west of the country 1600 kilometres from Rio and in the exact centre of South America. It is, like Bourke or Canberra, the kind of place you only visit with good reason.

A view of Cuiaba. Source: News Corp Australia

Once that was to try your luck in the Brazilian gold rush. More recently it was to profit from the region's prosperous agricultural industry. For the Socceroos, Cuiaba is also the unlikely place where fortunes could be made.

Having spent most of their time in the beachside splendour of upper middle-class Victoria, the Socceroos will arrive on Friday (EST) in what the adventurous traveller might call "real Brazil''.

The team bus will travel on a pot-holed road from the airport through mostly dilapidated suburbs into a city where even the pavements around the relatively quaint town square are cracked and broken and the roads rutted.

The Arena Pantanal is in what you might consider, somewhere else, a rundown neighbourhood.

Across the road smoke billows from the Sutil Restaurant e Gourmet, which smells anything but.

Once you are through the stadium gates, however, and past the surprisingly lax security, you find a far more elaborate stage has been set for the Socceroos' than is usually the case for visitors to Cuiaba.

Despite grim reports of poor construction, the new stadium is in mint condition.

The site that will greet the Socceroos in Cuiaba on Saturday morning (EST). Source: News Corp Australia

Indeed, poorly serviced Sydney, in particular, would be envious of the eye-catching, functional and intimate arena in which the Socceroos will kick-off their campaign.

When there was a fire on the construction site in November and several deadlines for completion came and went with the jack hammers still pounding, it was feared the game might be played amid rubble. But the Arena Pantanal is a demonstration of the Brazilian habit of leaving things until the last minute.

Four days before the game only the finishing touches were required. A FIFA official supervised with a measuring tape while the groundsman marked out the pitch on a pristine surface.

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While the stadium has been completed despite the gloomiest forecasts, one forecast cannot be defied. Hot humid conditions are expected for the 6pm (local time) kick-off.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has put a premium on fitness over performance in the lead-up games. A disappointing last 60 minutes against South Africa in Sydney, he said, was partly the consequence of a heavy workload.

Even with the players enjoying light sessions in the last few days, their stamina will be severely tested. Especially against a wonderfully skilful Chilean team playing in familiar conditions – or conditions that stars such as Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) and Arturo Vidal (Juventus) were used to before they joined some of the world's great clubs.

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The home continent advantage means Chile will have a band of fans at least as large and, judging by their chants and singing at the airport, even more raucous than the 16,000 Australians expected at the game. The Socceroos can only hope the Chilean team's under-rate them as badly as their fans.

One Chilean fan was asked if he thought Chile might win, say, 2-0. "No, no,'' he replied with a broad grin, holding up both hands with fingers outstretched to indicate Chile would win 10-0.

The Socceroos would delight in wiping the smile off that confident face. That is one very good reason to come to Cuiaba.

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