Damien Birkinhead of Australia finishes 10th in Rio Olympics shot put final

Finished 10th: Damien Birkenhead. Photo: Glenn HuntRio de Janeiro:  Australian Damien Birkinhead says nerves may have got the better of him in the Olympic shot put final.
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Birkinhead was eliminated after failing to make the top eight following three throws.

The Victorian’s best attempt of 20.45m left him outside the positions to advance to the last three throws. Birkinhead, 23, was unable to match his best effort from qualifying earlier in the day of 20.50m, and finished 10th in the 12-man final.

The US had a quinella with Ryan Crouser’s reaching an Olympic record of 22.52m to earn gold, with compatriot Joe Kovacs (21.78m) second.  New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh won bronze with a best effort of 21.36m. With the crowd behind him, Brazilian Darlan Romani threw a national record of 21.02m to come fifth.

Birkinhead’s first throw was his best of the final as he fouled his second and could muster just 20.02m with his third.

He though the occasion might have played a part in his performance.

“I felt pretty confident [after the first throw]. I was really looking forward to the next two throws, and I don’t know [what happened],” Birkinhead said.

“[I was] a little bit nervous and maybe rushed a few things.

“As you can imagine. People are throwing 22 metres and 21 metres. I obviously tried to throw harder and it didn’t work out for me.”

Still the Australian thought he could take plenty from the experience.

“[It was] pretty unreal. A much bigger crowd than this morning, and much louder as a result.

“It’s exciting times.”

He will also gain confidence from making the final on his Olympic debut.

“I’ve got what it takes to hopefully get up with them in the next couple of years. I’m looking forward to the next comps.

“Hopefully I’ve got another 10 years in me.”

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Australian decathlete Cedric Dubler nearly hurts cameramen during javelin throw

Australia’s Cedric Dubler makes an attempt in the javelin throw. Photo: Matt DunhamRio de Janeiro:  Cedric Dubler isn’t the first Australian athlete to apologise during these Olympics, but his reason for doing so is probably the most unusual.
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The decathlete’s Olympic debut took an unfortunate turn on Thursday night when during the penultimate event of his competition – the javelin – Dubler’s second throw went askew and nearly struck a cameraman.

“He nearly took out some cameramen here, I’m not even joking,” 2008 Olympic pole vault medallist Steve Hooker said on Channel Seven’s coverage.

“You can see there in the background a few cameramen are congratulating each other on still being alive.”

Dubler was distressed in the immediate aftermath, but could see the funny side of the incident come night’s end

“It didn’t go as planned,” Dubler said of his throw.

“My body was starting to shut down. I don’t know what happened. The tail sort of hit the ground, it sort of spun out and almost hit a cameraman. So a little bit embarrassing, but I apologised to him and he was good.”

Dubler recovered well, finishing strongly by running a personal best of 4:32.12 in his 1500m heat, and ended up 14th in the field with 8024 points.

American world record-holder Ashton Eaton defended his crown from London four years ago, taking gold with an Olympic record 8893 points. Frenchman Kevin Mayer (8834) won silver, while Canada’s Damian Warner (8666) took bronze.

Dubler, 21, said he was proud with the way his competition wrapped up.

“We had a little bit of time to go back…put the headphones on, have a bit of a massage just to try and get the body moving a little bit. I guess that time allowed me to focus on what I needed to do, reset the goals and focus on what I needed to do in the 1500,” he said.

“I needed 4:35 to break the 8000 point barrier. After a few of the events didn’t go quite right I had to sort of readjust the goals so 8000 became the goal for the competition.”

He said that overall his Games had been a relative success.

“I’ve learnt a lot. Some of the events didn’t go quite as planned but I was pretty happy with how I was able to re-focus on certain events.

“Overall I’m very happy with the experience of the competition, and I’m very happy with how myself and all the other decathletes have gotten along.

“I’m excited to go back, go back to the drawing board, see what we can improve on with an even better result.”

He also said his preparation had been compromised by a transport delay following day one of the two-day event.

“I didn’t pull up from day one as well as I would have liked to. We had a little bit of a wait for the bus after the competition,” he said.

“I didn’t actually get to sleep until 1am, and I had to be up at 5:15.

“It was an 18-hour day yesterday.”

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Rio Olympics 2016: Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova forge Boomers success at AIS

Patty Mills in the centre at the front and Matthew Dellavedova at the back on the far right during their days at the AIS. Photo: AISBefore they were NBA millionaires or Olympic Games medal contenders, the Australian Boomers were schoolkids at the AIS in Canberra trying to kick-start their careers.
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But the man who helped shaped Australia’s golden generation of basketballers, Marty Clarke, says the groundwork on campus at the AIS has set them up to chase an historic medal.

Ten of the 12 Boomers at the Rio Olympics went through the AIS program that Clarke played a major role in from 1998 to 2010.

Canberra star Patrick Mills was initially overlooked for an AIS basketball scholarship in 2005 and was only included in the program when Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury instead chose the AFL.

Mills then handed the AIS captaincy to Matthew Dellavedova and now they’re both NBA champions with the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers respectively.

Add to that Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and David Andersen and the nucleus of the Boomers side has its roots in the capital.

So if anyone knows if the Boomers can break through for their first Olympic medal, it’s Clarke.

“Those main guys are going back for a second and third time, so this year and the next one are huge windows of opportunity for Australian basketball,” Clarke said.

“They have proved that they’re there not to participate, they’re there to win. And they’re doing a great job of it.”

The Boomers have drawn accolades from all corners of the world after their stellar run at the Olympics, including pushing powerhouse the United States and beating Lithuania in the quarter-finals.

They play Serbia on Saturday morning with the winner to advance to the gold-medal match and the loser to play for bronze.

Australia’s style has been punctuated by an electric offence and hard defence, and Dellavedova attributed the combinations they’re executing to their formative years training and playing together at the AIS.

Clarke said their friendships and bond on the court were “the most important thing” and it was the one area where Australia are better than the rest of the word.

“Our willingness to do what is good for the group rather than what’s best for the person. That was something we worked on every single day; we met about it, we talked about it, we worked through it every day.

“Because most of these guys are institute players they have had that drilled into them from a young age and hopefully they have remembered it.”

NBA champion centre Bogut has led the way with his trademark aggression and been vocal in his determination to take on the world.

Before the Boomers played the US he criticised other teams for overly idolising the Dream Team.

“Teams who ask the Americans to autograph their shoes are beaten before the game begins,” Bogut said. “But that’s not us and we think we can win.”

Clarke said it is this attitude and team-first mentality that sets the Boomers apart.

“You need to take that approach because otherwise you end up getting the autograph and that’s not what you go for,” he said.

“It’s always been my philosophy of Australian basketball, that’s our competitive advantage; it’s not going to be size, it’s not going to be in the athleticism.

“We’ve made great strides in skill and when you do that and you’ve got your base of great teammates, now they have a real chance in being able to compete with the rest of the world.”

He said the professionalism ingrained in the players through the AIS, combined with the friendships forged, underline both the sudden success of the Boomers but also the championship-winning contributions in the NBA.

“We used to play probably 30 to 35 international games a year against men, and then they would play their junior stuff as well,” Clarke said.

“I know things change and that’s just the nature of the beast, but when these guys were at the institute they were getting significant international competition against men, they were playing domestically against men, and they were practicing every day against really good players.

“They had great facilities, all the support and infrastructure around the institute, nutrition, psychology, bio-mechanics, skill acquisition, all the bits and pieces that go in to making a professional athlete.

“It’s hard work, but 10 years down the track for some of them and it’s really shown some benefits.”

One corner of the globe where the success of the Boomers is no surprise is St Mary’s College in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Clarke is an assistant coach.

The NCAA Division I basketball college is intimately connected with Australian basketball, having been home to many players and coaches from Down Under, most notably Dellavedova and Mills.


Saturday: Australia v Serbia, 8am.

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‘I really thought I was going to lay there and die’: Wombat mauls woman walking dogs in Canberra

Banks woman Kerry Evans was attacked by a wombat while walking dogs Murphy and Pirate (pictured) in the suburban street of Tom Roberts Avenue in Banks, ACT. Photo: Karleen Minney One of the bites Banks woman Kerry Evans sustained when she was attacked by a wombat. Photo: Dave Evans
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Wombats have a reputation for being cute and cuddly but a woman mauled by one in Canberra has warned others to stay away from the marsupials.

Kerry Evans suffered more than 20 bites and lacerations across her body after she was attacked by a large wombat while walking her dogs in a suburban street in Banks, in south Canberra, on Monday night.

She toldFairfax Media she was taking her two English springer spaniels along their usual route on Tom Roberts Avenue about 7.30pm when she saw what appeared to be a “large boulder” ahead in a front yard.

“I thought ‘I don’t remember seeing this before’ and I got quite close to it and I saw it move and all of a sudden it dawned on me what it was,” Mrs Evans said.

The wombat charged her dog, Murphy, which began yelping and tried to flee.

In the chaos, Mrs Evans became tangled in the leads and was knocked to the ground.

That’s when the wombat turned on her, she said.

“I was laying screaming for help, I couldn’t get away from it, every time I managed to get up it attacked me and bit me and knocked me to the ground,” she said.

“I really thought I was going to lay there and die that night because I just couldn’t see how I was going to get way from it, it just wasn’t stopping its attack.”

A neighbour and nearby driver were able to intervene, an act Mrs Evans said may have saved her life.

“One woman screamed ‘let go of the dogs’ and I wouldn’t because my dogs were terrified, I was scared of them running off in the dark so both ladies approached from different angles and grabbed the dogs off me and got away pretty quickly because they were scared of being attacked themselves,” she said.

“Then I managed to get to my feet and get away to the lady who was screaming ‘come here, come here’ and the wombat just disappeared.”

Paramedics were called and Mrs Evans was taken to hospital. An ACT Health spokeswoman confirmed she was treated at Canberra Hospital on Monday night.

Three of the large, slit-like bites from the wombat’s “buck teeth” required stitches, but Mrs Evans said the real problem was the potential for infection.

“When I was in hospital I had to have quite a few bags of IV because they don’t know enough about the risk of infection from wombats,” she said.

“They even had to go and make sure I didn’t have rabies. I know that sounds silly in Australia but the doctor actually had to go and check on that.”

Mrs Evans reported the attack to ACT Parks and Conservation but rangers were unable to find the wombat, she said.

“The ranger I spoke to said he’d actually contacted a wombat carer and she said to him although she hadn’t heard of attacks, she’d seen them attack other wombats and that they could be very vicious,” Mrs Evans said.

“So she could imagine my description how it could have happened because once they start attacking, they just keep attacking and they don’t stop.”

While rare, wombat attacks on humans are not unheard of.

In 2010, a Victorian man was hospitalised after a ferocious encounter in which the animal repeatedly bit, scratched and knocked over the Black Saturday survivor.

An ACT Parks and Conservation spokesman said it was the first wombat attack they were aware of in Canberra.

“Without knowing the full details of what happened it is likely that the presence of dogs meant that the wombat felt threatened,” he said.

However, Mrs Evans said neither she nor the dogs approached the animal.

“I certainly know the dogs didn’t threaten it but whether it felt threatened I don’t know, who knows what a wombat thinks,” she said.

“The ranger did actually say to me it was really unusual because most wild wombats would get away.

“They wouldn’t let anyone get as close to it as what I did, so whether or not it was sick with mange or had been injured or was an aggressive wombat or whether it was a female with a joey in its pouch, I don’t know.”

Her message to others?

“If you see a wombat, turn around and go the other way. Do not approach it in any shape or form,” Ms Evans said.

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Live exports controlled by ‘small band of multinational companies’, say Bidda Jones and Julian Davies

Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist and her partner, novelist Julian Davis: “The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies”. Photo: Christopher Pearce Cattle bound for live export on Tipperary station, Northern Territory. Photo: Glenn Campbell
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In March 2011 Animals Australia investigator Lyn White visited 11 abattoirs in Indonesia to assess the live export trade. Image shows distressed, roped Australian steer vocalising prior to slaughter on MLA installed equipment. Photo: Animals Australia.

Aesop’s​ foibles, or how government reacts to animal cruelty.

Fable 1: Mike Baird dispatches the greyhound racing industry with alacrity in the belief owners killed nearly 70,000 dogs.

Fable 2: Barnaby Joyce believes more asylum seekers arrived by boat after Australia suspended the Indonesian live cattle export trade.

Bidda​ Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist, blew the whistle on Indonesian abattoir workers cruelly hacking to death Australian cattle.

It was early March 2011 when Jones walked into the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters with a DVD.

The footage, by Animals Australia investigators, showed Australian cattle being dispatched with extreme prejudice at 11 Indonesian abattoirs. Jones had watched some 50 killings, replaying each one four times, sometimes in slow motion. One steer was shown hacked to oblivion after it stumbled. Death took more than three minutes to arrive.

“The steer is thrashing his head, blood spraying from the gaping wound, as the slaughtermen move away, their job apparently complete,” Jones writes in her co-authored book, Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports.

“The rope is untied from around the steer’s neck, and the slaughterman puts his foot on the steer’s head and makes more cuts at the steers throat. He vocalises in response, his eyes rolling, mouth moving and tongue hanging out.”

Two months later, when the footage was shown as part of an award-winning Four Corners program, “A Bloody Business”, the federal government briefly suspended the trade. Five years on, live cattle export is back bigger than ever in Indonesia, and Vietnam. China is the latest market to be targeted.

Jones and her partner, novelist Julian Davies, have written Backlash partly as a counter to powerful interests they believe have successfully stymied the taste for reform of the live export trade that followed the national furore in 2011.

“There was a lot of optimism that change would really happen,” she says. “But things got slightly ahead of themselves. The hope that change will happen remains, but the people benefiting from the industry have got hold of the agenda and there has been a backlash. The book is aimed at showing what happened, the extraordinary political back story, and dispel the myths that have grown since about animal welfare.”

Only about 12 per cent of the giant Australian meat industry is involved in live export. There is little information on how much of that business is foreign-owned but it is a hugely costly undertaking, involving ships and overseas regulations.

Jones and Davies are an unlikely pair to take on such powerful interests.

They live with their two teenage daughters on a property outside Braidwood in the NSW southern tablelands. She was born in Liverpool, UK, he in Melbourne. They met as children in England, got together in the 1990s and built their house on the block of land Davies had carved out of the bush for himself as a twentysomething.

Spruiking their book, they agreed to meet at Cafe Morso​ in Pyrmont. She chose the corn and gruyere souffle tart with capsicum relish, poached egg and avocado, he selected the beetroot cured salmon.  A working lunch, both went with water.

A zoologist, Jones worked for the British RSPCA before coming to Australia.

Several decades ago, when most people connected the RSPCA with cats and dogs, farm animal welfare remained a minority concern. When Peter Singer’s book on the ethical treatment of animals was published in 1975, battery hens and sow pens were not yet public issues. Even so, the fate of live cattle is far from a new concern, the Howard government suspending sending live cattle to Egypt in 2006 following television footage showing mistreatment of the animals. And pity the poor sheep: they’ve been suffering poor conditions and high mortality on their way to the Middle East ever since the live sheep trade cranked up in the 1980s.

Today, animal welfare is mainstream; but proponents are routinely dismissed as members of the “meat is murder” brigade.

Jones chose to address such cliches thus: “Most Australians eat meat and will continue to. We’re not fighting against that. What we’re about is trying to ensure that those animals are treated as well as possible in that process.

“In my work I meet a lot of people who are vegan or vegetarian and there’s quite a lot of attention to ethical food concerns today, but I’m not vegetarian. It’s partly because as a zoologist I’ve always thought that the idea that it is intrinsically wrong for an animal to eat another animal is unrealistic, if not slightly bizarre.”

Jones says she was amazed at the craven greed of the meat industry in chasing the Indonesian live export trade with little thought for the consequences for the animals or Australia’s trade reputation

“There continue to be huge investments in live export ships unaccompanied by an improvement in standards so desperately needed,” she says.

“In Indonesia cattle are smaller, and highly domesticated, and easily led by a rope to slaughter. By contrast our Brahman steers are large, frightening, frightened animals raised on huge properties, free ranging and seeing people little more than once a year. Then, they are mustered, herded onto a boat and sent off to Indonesia to be slaughtered by people totally unused to handling such animals. We Australians created that situation.”

Davies says it is easy to understand the fear that reform engenders in meat producers.

Living in the bush, he says, is to be constantly reminded of the stark realities of farm life: “There are booms and busts. It’s tenuous and therefore quite hard to be punctilious about animal welfare when there is a constant fear of going broke. But this is exactly why we need to further a sustainable, high-quality, high-reputation, meat-only trade.”

Perhaps the Australian meat trade has always been in the hands of the few. The days of LordVestey and Sidney Kidman may have passed but the sense of entitlement and the ethos the cattle kings fostered still rules.

“The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies,” Davies says.

“If you actually looked at where the money in live export is going it would be really interesting: They – the governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – talk about the need to increase farm gate prices but who are the main beneficiaries of live export? The people at the top of the pile are very wealthy people, people who don’t want their wealth eroded by having to pay more to ensure the welfare of the animals they make money from.”

Davies says it would be far better if the government – primarily held back by the National Party flank – pushed for the slaughter to be done in Australia and thereby ensure welfare standards while increasing employment in our own country.

“[Nationals leader] Barnaby Joyce is talking about opening up the live trade to China. Chilled meat exports to China have rocketed as its middle class develops a taste for beef. But the Chinese want quality and don’t like bad publicity. A scandal in the live trade, like the sledge hammering slaughter of cattle in Vietnam, could destroy the large, lucrative chilled meat trade to China.

“So what are we doing? We’re risking shipping jobs off to China, when we have a successful, clean, ethical meat industry here. The powers that be want to undermine that by sending cattle off to China. Incredible.”

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Queensland earthquake: Aftershocks will be felt for ‘weeks’

The location of an earthquake that struck off Bowen early on Friday morning. Photo: Geioscience AustraliaThe aftershocks from Thursday’s earthquake off the Queensland coast will be felt for “weeks”, a seismologist says, after a smaller earthquake hit near Airlie Beach on Friday.
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Thursday’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake was recorded about 70 kilometres off the coast, north-east of Bowen, caused six aftershocks, including a magnitude 4, in the following hours.

Three schools and Cairns airport were shut down temporarily, while several buildings in Townsville’s CBD were evacuated.

On Friday, residents and tourists at Airlie Beach woke to a magnitude three earthquake that occurred nearby at 7.37am.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate said the aftershocks would continue for weeks.

“We would expect the aftershock sequence from yesterday to continue for a while, a few weeks at least, but apart from that we really can’t predict if there is going to be another sequence somewhere along the coast,” he said.

Mr Bathgate said the aftershocks were the result of fault lines readjusting back to equilibrium.

“You get the main shock that is a really big movement of the faults and the period after that is the fault readjusting itself back to equilibrium state,” he said.

“If you move something really quickly and then let it go it takes a bit of time to reach an equilibrium state so these are all just small adjustments to get it into a point where the fault will start again to build up some stress on that fault and lock together until it goes again some time in future.”

Earthquakes occur in Queensland due to the Australian plate moving northward, about seven centimetres a year, and colliding with the Pacific plate.

This causes stress to build up, which is released by earthquakes that Mr Bathgate said could not be predicted.

“It is something we don’t know, we can’t predict where it is going to occur or when so at the moment it is just a matter of monitoring the area,” he said.

“We are sending out some extra monitoring equipment over the next week to deploy on some of the islands and along the coast line to get a better idea of where the activity is occurring and get a better idea of what is causing it.”

Mr Bathgate said the region near Bowen had been quite active over the last 18 months.

“In terms of what we have recorded, it has been active over the last 18 months, the area does have a history of activity, but it has not been as frequent as it has,” he said.

“We know the area gets earthquakes but they are generally not that common.”

The Bowen area was also hit in 2011 with a magnitude 5.3 earthquake that was significantly closer to the coast than yesterday’s incident.

Queensland’s largest recorded earthquake was a magnitude 6 in 1918 that originated near Lady Elliott Island and was felt from Mackay to Grafton.

The state’s second largest was Thursday’s earthquake, followed closely by a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in 2015 that was recorded east of Fraser Island.

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Eade says sleepover had nothing to do with huge defeat

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has rejected suggestions that the Suns’ defeat on Saturday night was directly related to the side remaining in Melbourne for the past week.
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After the injury-ravaged young side were defeated by Essendon last week, club hierarchy decided to keep the side in Melbourne for the week leading up to the Collingwood game.

However, Eade said that the week-long stay in Melbourne had little to do with the Collingwood thrashing on Saturday night.

“It had nothing to do with it. I don’t see the relevance, to be honest. I said ‘we’re fatigued’ coming into the last week’s game,” Eade said.

Some quarters of the AFL community were doubting the wisdom of having the side away from home.

“Weather you sleep in a different bed, how does that make a difference? Because it’s the end of the season, we know the guys are fatiguing and it was just to change it up and give them different stimulus,” Eade said.

“If we were back on the Gold Coast, we would have done something different, too, like going to paintball or something to actually change it up.

“They’ve given as much as they can for the last eight or nine weeks and especially since all the midfielders have gone out, which has been the last five or six weeks. You couldn’t ask any more.”

However, Eade preferred to focus on the mounting number of injuries in his young side.

“We needed to use the ball as well as we could but we struggled in that area as well. We’re struggling for run,” he said.

“[Callum] Ah Chee​ shouldn’t be playing. Tom Lynch is carrying a little bit at the moment. All our markers on a few of our guys show we would be resting about six or seven of them. But we can’t so we just have to push on and get up for the next week.”

And the injury list continued with defender Sean Lemmens​ concussed after being on the end of a strong bump by Collingwood’s Jesse White. After Lemmens collided with White’s shoulder he was taken from the ground on a stretcher and remained off the ground for the remainder of the game.

And Eade told the media on Saturday that reports that Gold Coast were talking to West Australian champion Nat Fyfe were incorrect.

Reports are circulating that the Fremantle star will examine all his options when his contract ends at the end of next year.

“We’d be interested in any quality player. I’m 100 per cent certain that we have not spoken to Fremantle,” Eade said. “I don’t know for a fact, but list managers talk to player managers all over. Those conversations would be going on so I imagine something has been flown and unfortunately probably one of the managers has said that. It’s a fact of life.”

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Eagles and Hawks’ reaction to ruck losses part of the riddle

Rohan Connolly will be here blogging live from midday on Monday. Jump in now to leave your question early or come back at noon to join the conversation.
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It seems like every year for a long time we’ve continued to debate the importance or otherwise of ruckmen to modern football. Perhaps 2016 will be the season that settles the argument.

Certainly, in terms of that discussion, there’s been no more critical five minutes this season than the period during the third quarter at Domain Stadium on Friday night in which both West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Hawthorn’s Jonathon Ceglar seriously injured knees.

The Eagles played arguably their best football of the season, but the mood in their rooms post-match when West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis was interviewed was sombre indeed, even before scans had confirmed Naitanui would require a reconstruction.

Ceglar, in contrast, might be a blip on the AFL profile radar compared to “Nic Nat”, but Hawthorn at least would instantly have been aware of the potential ramifications of his loss, too.

The critics haven’t held back on that front, either, several commentators immediately pronouncing both teams’ premiership aspirations finished off the back of the injuries.

A day later, almost rubbing it in for the Eagles and Hawks, Sydney were getting the job done against North Melbourne with Kurt Tippett back in harness after more than two months out with a hamstring injury. He made a pretty good fist of his ruck responsibilities with Sam Naismith, and his work up forward was good.

Here, also, was some interesting evidence for the ruck debate, the Swans’ ruck pair up against reigning All-Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein, and having the better of him in the hit-outs and, as a tandem, around the ground.

Goldstein hasn’t been nearly the same force since injuring his knee against Sydney first time around this season in round 10. Is it merely coincidence that the Roos have lost nine of their 12 games since that injury?

But then, if you’re looking for evidence that ruckmen don’t necessarily have to provide the answer to this season’s premiership puzzle, the Western Bulldogs are happy to help you out.

Their most technically adept ruckman, Will Minson, can’t even get a spot in the 22, playing just one game this season. Instead, the Dogs have gone essentially with pinch-hitters in Jordan Roughead and a combination of Tom Campbell and, more recently, Tom Boyd.

In pure hitout terms, the Dogs average fewer than all bar two other clubs. But the Dogs’ young goers have a capacity to physically grind down their ruck opponents and reduce their effectiveness. Testament to the strategy is clearance numbers which have the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 on the differentials.

So does the loss of Naitanui and Ceglar have to prove fatal for West Coast and Hawthorn? Interestingly, when West Coast were without Naitanui from rounds 13-19, they nevertheless won five of those six games. How good those wins were, however, is debatable.

They smashed stragglers Brisbane and Essendon, had an impressive home victory against North Melbourne, scraped home against Carlton and Melbourne, and lost to Collingwood.,

In every one of those games bar one, they lost both the hitouts and clearances. Intriguingly, the one exception was the Eagles winning the stoppages against Melbourne in round 18. Up against the AFL’s best in Max Gawn, West Coast, for the only time in that period, went with a double-pronged ruck set-up with Scott Lycett and Jonathan Giles.

The Eagles were only narrowly beaten for hitouts (44-46) and won the clearances (42-38). That may be a pointer to what is to come, with a potential pinch-hitter in Jeremy McGovern badly needed in defence, particularly this week against Adelaide’s forward height.

The longer-term indicators, though, aren’t good. West Coast were ranked No.1 for hitouts and fifth for clearances in 12 games before Naitanui hurt his Achilles, and 17th and 18th respectively when he was absent.

They’ve also depended heavily upon stoppage work for their scoring, ranked third in the AFL on differentials for scoring from clearances.

Ceglar and Hawthorn? Well, he and Ben McEvoy form not only a ruck pairing, but have also been important contributors up forward. Ceglar had booted 14 goals in his 19 games, and like McEvoy when off the ball, at the least help create a contest.

And yet, in that sense, the Hawks do at least have options in back-up ruckmen Jack Fitzpatrick, who has had four games back at VFL level after missing six weeks with concussion, and the far-less-experienced Marc Pittonet.

They also have another forward option in Ryan Schoenmakers, who has played two VFL games after returning from a groin injury. The Hawks could conceivably bring in both a ruckman and the forward.

And while lack of senior game time might be an issue, there’s at least some comfort in knowing that Hawthorn create the vast bulk of their scores from pressure turnovers rather than stoppage work, the Hawks ranking only 13th for scores from stoppages.

That’s a different approach to West Coast, whose modus operandi is different again from Sydney, Adelaide and the Shane Mumford-led ruck presence of Greater Western Sydney. All totally different from the Bulldogs, who continue to prosper despite in traditional ruck terms, not having a lot.

And it seems pretty likely that whichever team ends up prevailing this finals series will also go a long way to resolving the perennial ruck debate. Photo: Michael Dodge

So we’ve been denied that last round fight for a spot in the final eight, Melbourne failing to keep their end of the bargain, losing to Carlton and rendering North Melbourne safe. Like St Kilda, the Demons fall just short. Yet, in the cold light of day, like the Saints, missing out may actually have done Melbourne a favour. When you’ve been as deprived of finals action for as long as the Demons, falling into a spot in the eight can be viewed more favourably than perhaps it should. Who knows whether either club’s younger brigade might have sub-consciously been too satisfied with that minor achievement? Now, at least, there’s no false economy, and no excuse for either St Kilda or Melbourne not to attack next pre-season with everything.


Intent scrutiny: Umpires turned mind-readers during the St Kilda Richmond clash. Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media

There’s barely been a week this season that hasn’t featured either controversy or at least some spirited debate about the harsher interpretation of the deliberate out-of- bounds rule, umpires having to become mind-readers about players’ intent, players more than occasionally penalised simply because of a crooked bounce. There were several more examples at the weekend, and a good point, too, raised by Fox Footy commentator Brad Johnson at the Richmond-St Kilda game as a kick which could have been kept alive was allowed to dribble out in the hope of drawing a free kick. If the spirit of the rule is about keeping the ball in play, how is allowing it to cross the boundary line when there’s plenty of time to pick it up any less deliberate?


Faint praise: David Mundy’s banner ‘celebrating’ his 250th game. Photo: Fremantle Dockers/Twitter

We know cheer squads love their clubs and work hard to offer them support. We know making the run-throughs takes time and effort. But to say Fremantle damned their captain David Mundy with faint praise on the occasion of his 250 th AFL game would be an understatement. “Well done David Mundy 250 solid games” might have been underselling the Dockers’ skipper a tad given he’s now behind only Matthew Pavlich on Freo’s all-time games list, leads the club, and is a best and fairest winner and an All-Australian. If that’s merely solid, Freo fans certainly have high expectations. It makes you wonder what Pavlich can expect in his farewell game next weekend. We hope it’s something a little more enthusiastic than his successor as captain got for a significant milestone.


Want-away forward Hayden Ballantyne looks on as coach Ross Lyon addresses the team. Photo: Paul Kane

While we’re on the subject of Freo, another week, another insipid performance. We’ve written it several times already, but even allowing for injuries, the Dockers’ 2016 has been little short of disgraceful. Let’s recap. From a preliminary final, to 10 successive losses, just three wins, and now another eight straight losses, the last four by a ridiculous average of 75 points. And again, Saturday’s pathetic 92-point belting at the hands of GWS featured a team containing 14 of those same players who lined up against Hawthorn last September for a spot in a grand final. Coach Ross Lyon can dress it up anyway he wants, but no team as well-performed as the Dockers were one season ago should be as hopeless as they are now.

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Alleged abuse at youth detention centres: D’Ath orders independent review

CCTV images appear to show a teenager with ankle-cuffs being held down at the Townsville centre. Photo: SuppliedQueensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has ordered an independent review into the state’s youth detention centres after released internal government reports show the alleged mistreatment of children.
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The government’s Ethical Standards unit quarterly reports from Queensland’s two youth detention centres, Cleveland Youth Detention Centre and Brisbane Youth Detention Centre, dated between 2010 to 2015, were released under Freedom of Information laws on Thursday.

Within the reports were allegations of the mistreatment of children, including CCTV images showing a teenage boy, 17, handcuffed and ankle-cuffed, being restrained on the floor by five guards before being allegedly carried into an isolation cell where his clothes were cut off.

Amnesty International, which obtained the 1000-page documents, said the reports showed a “culture of abuse and secrecy going back many years”.

While calls have been made to have Queensland’s youth detention centres included in the Royal Commission into Youth Detention in the Northern Territory, Ms D’Ath said the situations in the state and territory were different.

“The images are confronting, but it is important to note these images were contained in an Ethical Standards unit report that is provided quarterly where recommendations are made and actions are taken on an ongoing basis,” she said.

“This is not a situation like the Northern Territory where concerns were raised and potentially no action taken, or views were expressed where things were hidden.

“I have confidence in our system and in our youth justice system, but I need to make sure the community has confidence in our system and the best way to do that is to have an independent review.

“These are serious allegations that affect our community, that damages the reputation and the confidence that the committee has in our youth detention centres and it affects the staff who operate in these centres.

“I believe it would be damaging to allow these allegations to continue to be made and not to be able to respond to them which is why I am conducting an independent review.”

Amnesty International welcomed the independent review, but called for any staff involved in any alleged mistreatment to be suspended.

“As a first priority, Amnesty International urged the Queensland government to ensure the safety of all children currently in detention, including suspending any staff alleged to have been involved in abuses,” a statement read.

Amnesty International Indigenous rights campaigner Roxanne Moore called on the Queensland government to learn from the process of establishing the Northern Territory royal commission when setting up the terms of reference for the review.

“The abuse of children in detention is an issue that has lurked under a cloak of secrecy for many years, under successive Queensland governments, and we welcome the Queensland government’s swift response,” she said.

Ms D’Ath said she could not comment on any specific incidents but said some staff had been dismissed.

“What is important and what the people of Queensland expect from us is where an employee uses force inappropriately, or unauthorised force or excessive force, that it is reported, that it is investigated and that action is taken,” she said.

“We have zero tolerance to excessive force and, as we have said, staff have been terminated for inappropriate behaviour in the past and we will continue to do that.

“Without the express consent of those individuals involved, including any former employees who were terminated, I am unable to address in any meaningful way the substance of these allegations.

“It is clear that while these allegations continue to be made and consent has not been provided to respond to them fully, an independent review is the appropriate mechanism to address all allegations that have been made and any additional allegations that may come forward.”

Ms D’Ath said she was looking for two people, a man and woman, to head the investigation who would have a detailed knowledge of the youth justice system, cultural awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience and legal knowledge.

“The government will shortly release the full terms of reference for the review, but the focus will firmly be on the practices, operation and oversight of Queensland’s youth detention centres, specifically referring to the allegations raised last night,” she said.

“The review will report back to me by November.”

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said more could be done to make sure youth detention was the last resort.

“Early intervention programs offer one avenue for reducing the prison population overall,” he said.

“There is good evidence that treatment of drug dependence is an effective way of reducing reoffending.

“There is also good evidence that it is possible to rehabilitate offenders using methods such as conferencing, cognitive behavioural therapy or training in basic life skills.

“We accept that detention may be needed in some cases, but they are a very small minority of those who are detained at present.”

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Most comprehensive booze injury study ever undertaken in Australia

Crowds in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley on a weekend. Photo: AFRAs debate about lockout laws continues, researchers from across Australia are working on the most comprehensive studies ever conducted into reducing alcohol-related injuries.
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They’ll examine closing times, preloading, education, policing, ID scanning, patron banning and a host of other option in research stretching for four years.

The health experts started gathering early data at the beginning of this year but weren’t expecting to have initial results available until early next year.

Respected sociologist Professor Peter Miller is leading the research along with researchers from James Cook University, the universities of Queensland and Newcastle and several others.

They’re looking at prevention strategies from 11 different angles, including economic impact, foot traffic, patron experiences and hospital and police data

“This is going to be undoubtedly and by far the biggest and most comprehensive study of this type,” Professor Miller said.

Previous studies pointed overwhelmingly to a reduction in trading hours resulting in a reduction in harm to late-night revellers.

But the hotel industry raised concerns new laws introduced in Queensland would devastate the late-night economy in nightspots such as Fortitude Valley.

Six weeks on from the Palaszczuk government winding back closing hours to 2am (3am in entertainment precincts) and banning shots and other “rapid intoxication drinks” after midnight the effect was still impossible to judge, according to Professor Miller.

Completely anecdotally, police said assaults appeared to have gone down after a couple of weeks and hoteliers said takings were down in the first weekend.

When asked how much stock could be put in those assessments, Professor Miller was straight to the point: “None”.

The Deakin University Professor of Violence Prevention and Addiction Studies said he expected it would take six months at a bare minimum to see any meaningful trends emerge post law change.

“We see that change takes time,” he said.

“People don’t immediately change what they do and certainly we’ve been out interviewing for a while and we saw quite a few people pushing back and those people are purposely not changing their behaviour.”

His team began gathering data on the night-time economy – things like foot traffic and patronage – in January, with the study beginning in earnest mid-year.

“We’re out on the streets talking (to people) about their perceptions,” he said.

“We’re going to be doing web-based studies into people’s’ experience and of course, all of the hard data, all of the core stuff around assaults and deaths and injuries and ambulance attendances.”

He expected an interim report to be available in September or October next year.

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West End not-for-profit Mu’ooz could expand interstate

Saba Abraham has trained more than 140 people through her West End restaurant, Mu’ooz. Photo: Bradley KanarisSaba Abrahams knows a thing or two about the troubles refugees can face as they adapt to life in Australia.
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Almost a quarter-century ago, Ms Abraham fled Eritrea, in the midst of a bloody battle for independence with neighbouring Ethiopia.

She had found herself on the wrong side of the authorities and came to Australia as a political refugee in 1992.

And while she has found a safe haven, Ms Abraham never forgot her past.

That was why, through her West End not-for-profit restaurant Mu’ooz, she had helped more than 140 people, mostly refugees, receive training, education and employment to make the most of their opportunities in Australia.

And now, Ms Abraham is looking at expanding interstate.

“We try to help a lot of people, including some Australians who have some difficulty in their lives – they might be homeless people, for example,” she said.

“I try to talk to them, find out their problems and try to give them hope and, of course, at the same time I feed them.”

Ms Abraham said she had been in touch with women in Canberra, Sydney and Perth about extending her foundation to those cities.

“My dream is these restaurants will be sustainable and grow not only but interstate as well, because there are a lot of women who can benefit from this foundation,” she said.

Ms Abraham opened Mu’ooz in 2008 and has offered hospitality and language courses, traineeships and employment to needy women since.

Most recently, Ms Abraham employed and trained 18 women from Eritrea, Burundi, Congo, Fiji and other backgrounds in Certificates I, II and III in Hospitality at Mu’ooz.

The restaurant name came from Ms Abraham’s native tongue.

“In the Eritrean tradition, when you eat food and you really feel good about it, you say ‘oh wow that’s mu’ooz’, which means it’s something really tasty and your body’s accepting it as well,” she said.

Ms Abraham’s story was part of a State Library of Queensland exhibition, Tradition NOW, which showcased 12 diverse Queenslanders through objects, photographs, art and memories – an involvement she was thrilled with.

“I really feel great, very happy and very valued,” she said.

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Science on a soapbox comes to King George Square

Doctor Megan Saunders spoke about how rising sea levels will change coastal conditions. Photo: Robert Shakespeare Professor Vickie Clifton from the Mater Medical Research Institute discussing the effects of stress in the womb. Photo: Robert Shakespeare
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In the age before mass communication, standing atop a soapbox in public places was one way the citizenry was able to make a point to an audience.

In the post-digital age, women at the cutting edge of technology are going back to 19th century methodology to talk science and challenge gender stereotypes.

Soapbox Science co-organiser Alienor Chauvenet said it was all about demystifying science and, importantly, bringing it to the people.

And Dr Chauvenet said she had no trouble finding volunteers to spend their Saturday afternoons on a King George Square soapbox, even with the threatening grey skies.

“We have 12 speakers today and we had 57 applicants,” she said.

“So 57 women said ‘this is a new event, I’ve never heard of it before, and I want to get on a soapbox and take my science to the public; to tell them what I do and show them that scientists are quite diverse’.

“So no, it’s actually very easy to convince people to do it.”

Dr Chauvenet said Soapbox Science started in 2011 at Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park in London.

“Every year since then, 12 women scientists were selected to get on soapboxes,” she said.

“I was in London as a volunteer for two of those events and, when I moved to Australia, we agreed I would bring it here.”

Soapbox Science had proven popular in London, Dr Chauvenet said, and she hoped to see that success replicated in Brisbane.

“Usually, we’d get between 2000 and 15,000 people walking through the event and so it’s quite a big crowd,” she said.

“From conducting a few surveys, we know that people tend to stay for a few minutes and families stay a bit longer.

“There has only been positive feedback – there has been absolutely no negative feedback – so I’m hoping for the same thing in Australia.”

Dr Chauvenet said the hardest thing about organising the first Soapbox Science event in the southern hemisphere was whittling down the speakers.

“We looked at trying to get a diverse range of subjects, because this represents science,” she said

“So we went for a range of subjects and a range of career stages.

“We have professors, lecturers, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students, so we tried to represent a good mix of things.

“We could have picked another 12 women and it would have been just as great.”

There were four soapboxes in King George Square, with each speaker having one hour to speak about her research over the three-hour event.

Within minutes of the first speakers getting on their soapboxes, a small crowd was already starting to stop and see what was going on.

For Dr Chauvenet, that was a welcome early sign.

“It’s great, isn’t it,” she said.

“It’s about bringing science to the people and showcasing the diversity of scientists we have in Australia.”

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Victorian weather: Ski fields receive dumping of snow as Melbourne faces wet week ahead

Early morning at Mount Hotham on Sunday. Photo: Karl Gray Wrapped up: A girl and her dogs run along the pier in Williamstown on Sunday. Photo: Jason South
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Victoria’s ski fields received a dumping of snow over the weekend, to the delight of those venturing to the mountains to catch the end of winter.

On Sunday morning Mount Hotham had about 113 centimetres of  “very good” snow cover, with 85 centimetres at Mount Buller. Mount Baw Baw had about 11 centimetres, Buffalo 13 and Dinner Plain 12.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Dean Stewart said the ski fields would get more snow in coming days.

“It appears they’ve all had reasonable dumpings of snow over the last 24 hours. Mount Buller received a fairly good amount and there will be further snow showers up there tomorrow. It will be pretty isolated if anything on Tuesday, but then there will be further snow showers Wednesday and even into Thursday and Friday as well – not huge dumps on any particular day but some scattered snow showers up in that area.”

Winter certainly isn’t over yet. Melburnians should prepare for a wet working week ahead; rain is predicted for most days bar Tuesday.

“There will be passing showers today, tomorrow, and further showers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” Mr Stewart said on Sunday.

“The temperatures will sit around the mid-teens this week, so we’re back to very wintry weather.

A weak trough of low pressure moving across Victoria could bring thunderstorms to Melbourne on Monday, he said.

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