Over-35s make history with win

The Tasmanian over-35s men’s hockey team yesterday created history when it defeated Victoria to claim the state’s first national division 1 master’s hockey title.
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In a fast-paced final, Tasmania downed Victoria 4-2 in front of a vocal home crowd at the national titles in Hobart.

Fired up after losing to Victoria in the round robin phase, Tasmania was slick, direct and full of run in the opening half that produced three classy goals.

Jonathon Stebbings celebrated his 36th birthday by claiming two goals, with Phil Sargent snaring the third to give the home side a comfortable 3-0 half-time lead.

Victoria hit back with a quick goal, but Tasmania restored its buffer with Sargent grabbing his second goal of the game.

A converted Victorian corner 14 minutes from the end kept the contest alive at 4-2, but Tasmania controlled play as the clock ran down.

For Tasmania, none was better than Sean Carey at left half, who controlled and marshalled the defence all game.

Up front, Tasmania had several strong contributors in Glenn Lucas, Josh Corney and brothers Jonathon and Jeremy Stebbings, who relished playing together again.

After the game, co-captain and coach Stephen McMullen vowed Tasmania would be back next year in Sydney to defend its title.

”The team has bonded fantastically well this week and we’re keen to make sure were not a one-hit wonder, he said, accepting the trophy from national masters co-ordinator Peter Sweeney.

In other action yesterday, the Tasmanian over-40s division 2 side continued its winning run with a 4-2 win against Victoria.

The over-50s division 2 side went down to Queensland 4-0, with the over-55s division 1 side also falling to Queensland 3-1.

In the curtain-raiser to the over-35s final, the over-65s side fought out a nil-all draw against Western Australia.

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Lights out for Sydney’s inner west

A picture via Twitter of Parramatta Road during the blackout.Emergency crews are working to restore power to about 25,000 homes in Sydney’s inner west.
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Homes in Newtown, Petersham, Marrickville, Stanmore, Leichhardt and Dulwich Hill are reporting a blackout after a power outage struck about 7pm tonight.

Ausgrid took to social media to tweet it expected power to be back on by 9pm tonight.

Petersham resident and Greens MP Cate Faehrmann told the Herald in a tweet “all calm in our street in Petersham.

“Candles and gas lights have been brought out. And the silence is lovely!”

Earlier today, 2500 Ausgrid customers near Edgecliff, Bondi Junction and Bellevue Hill suffered a blackout after a cable fault.

Sunanda Creagh tweeted: “Traffic orderly in Marrickville, families calmly coming onto streets to find out what’s happening. The royal exchange hotel on Marrickville rd still lit. Must have a generator. TAB sign the brightest thing!”

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Red-letter day, but it’s grey for Sky Blues

Here’s the good news. Alessandro Del Piero hasn’t lost his class. The trick is his teammates must now learn to find him.
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Queries over match fitness aside, the Italian loomed ominously in his A-League debut at Westpac Stadium last night. Every time he touched the ball, the game stood still. It is a quality held by few and revered by all.

The bad news? His teammates need to get up to speed and fast. On a typically frosty Wellington night, the Phoenix executed a mission of stealth. They were more organised, smarter, fitter and determined from the opening whistle.

If nothing else, it’s a huge wake-up call. Perhaps it’s one Sydney needed. As great as Del Piero is, he only has the power of one and all hopes cannot be pinned on him. Perhaps, like Melbourne Victory 24 hours before, the expectation an individual could evoke collective change was misplaced.

Either way, they need to perform significantly better for the rest of the season, starting next Saturday night against Newcastle at home.

The Phoenix were typically combative from the opening. Snarling at tackles, pressing hard and – as they did in all four of their wins over the Sky Blues last season – creating more opportunities.

Alex Smith put Ivan Necevski on notice after just eight minutes when he connected with a bullet header that forced a reaction from the keeper. When Jeremy Brockie later found himself with time in the box to contemplate, only to shoot over, the warning signs were all there.

Frustrations soon boiled over for Sydney. Terry Antonis tried to slide a pass into the clear for Kruno Lovrek, but it lacked finesse. Seconds later, Antonis was picking up a yellow for a crude tackle on Louis Fenton.

Critically, the visitors could not get their foot on the ball nearly often enough to give Del Piero and the other forwards, Joel Chianese and Lovrek, enough opportunities. At the other end, the Phoenix were finding room in the right places and might have won by a greater margin.

Fittingly, it was another European striker making his A-League debut who broke the deadlock. Stein Huysegems, a former Belgian international, snuck behind the defence just before half-time and with great composure slid his shot past Necevski. It was the least Wellington deserved.

Wellington only grew in confidence and chased a second goal to kill off the game. They found it, too, when Fenton – another making his A-League debut – powered a header past Necevski from Manny Muscat’s cross.

That capped an outstanding game from the 19-year-old, who looks an instant fit at left midfield with his pace and willingness to dribble. The Phoenix academy graduate has the makings of a home-town hero.

Muscat, too, was indomitable from his position in the heart of midfield. His relentless efforts to break down the opposition and set up his teammates were qualities Sydney badly lacked. Behind him, Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund held together a defence seldom breached.

The redeeming features for Sydney? There were few, if any. The passing game that coach Ian Crook preaches was laborious at times, though they at least tried to execute it. However, all too frequently play collapsed in the build-up. This was not a fluid performance.

Not having any friendly matches in the past month has clearly hurt the Sky Blues. The lesson here is that a team cannot travel to the league’s most hostile venue without being battle-hardened.

Westpac Stadium, under the gloomiest of skies, a torrent of rain and enveloped by that ubiquitous icy wind, is a nasty place. Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has set out his stall to accommodate such conditions. His formation remains tight and they play direct, simple football. It remains highly effective.

But Sydney should know that now. They lost here three times last season. Even with a megastar in the ranks, some things stay the same.

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Trampolinists aim high at championships

Seven Tasmanian trampoline gymnasts chosen to represent Australia at next week’s Indo-Pacific Championships at Sydney’s Olympic Park made their final preparations at a training camp at Launceston PCYC yesterday.
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This will be the fifth Indo-Pacific competition for Launceston’s Tasmanian Institute of Sport scholarship holder and Olympic squad member Jack Penny, who will compete in the senior international men’s individual event and the synchronised event with long-term synchronised partner Jarrod Spear, of Queensland.

The reigning national synchronised champions will be looking for another podium finish in Sydney.

”Jack is in great form leading into this event, increasing his height and technique after a recent visit to the National Training Centre,” state coach Ben Kelly said.

Trampoline gymnastics has added a new variable called time of flight or jumping height, which is added to the judges’ scores, making the overall height of the routine an important aspect of the sport.

International gymnasts are now completing 20-second routines scaling 10 metres high and Penny hopes to match some of the world’s best.

Tasmania is sending a strong contingent of juniors to the competition.

National champions Hugh McConnell and Aidan Collins will compete in the under-17 men’s individual trampoline and double-mini tramp, before teaming up for the synchronised event.

McConnell is the national champion for both junior and under-17s trampoline, while Collins holds the crowns for the double-mini.

Kelly believes both are strong contenders in Sydney.

Damien Axelsen will rejoin the Australian contingent in the 17+ events after a four-year absence because of injury.

Newcomers to the team Makonnen Brown (under 15s), Matthew French (under 13s) and Ryan Williams (under 17s) will make their Australian debuts.

Kelly will operate as assistant coach, Leigh Oswin as judge and Jo Penny as team manager.

Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Thailand will also attend the October 13 to 20 event.

Matthew French, 12, (at front) with Aidan Collins, 16, Hugh McConnell, 15, Ryan Williams, 15, Makonnen Brown, 14, and Damien Axelsen, 19. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

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Restaurant review sites: are they trustworthy?

ONLINE reviews have a growing influence on where we eat, sleep and shop – but can we really trust them?
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Many Australian and international tourists now look to online reviews by members of the public on restaurants, products and attractions, referring to popular peer-review websites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Beanhunter.

But Devonport admin worker Reharn Morris said she would never trust online reviews again, after accepting a job writing reviews for restaurants and products she had never tried.

Ms Morris said she responded to an online advertisement for freelancer南京夜网, asking people to write reviews.

“In the initial brief it indicated that I would be directed to a website and then receive info for the review – I then started to realise that I was being asked to complete fake reviews,” she said.

“I was asked to join a company and write one article per day as a minimum – and I was to be paid $1 per 500 words.

“The jobs ranged from product reviews, company service reviews, and information pages for websites.”

Ms Morris said she ended up turning down the work, as it paid little and was playing on her conscience.

“I don’t like writing stories, customers read these product reviews in good faith . . . as an online consumer I rely on customer reviews when I purchase products, but now I know those reviews cannot be believed,” she said.

Aaj India restaurant manager Ajay Kumar said the peer-review website Tripadvisor had become hugely important to his Launceston business, with many tourists using the website to make decisions on where they ate.

“We get so many customers from it, we have a lot of tourists coming into town look it up and come to us – a lot of people say they came in after reading about us on Tripadvisor,” he said.

“Our high rating is very important to us because we worked really very, very hard to get it.”

However, Mr Kumar said peer-review websites could also have their downsides for businesses, with rivals and competitors known to post negative reviews on their Tripadvisor page.

Amelia Espresso owner Amelia Padgett said she too had noticed an impact after becoming the highest rated Launceston restaurant on Tripadvisor.

“It makes a difference in terms of attracting tourists – I maybe get five to 10 people a day who come in because they heard about me on Tripadvisor . . . and it’s search engine optimised, so when people search `best coffee in Launceston’ it pops up because some customers have said it in Tripadvisor reviews,” she said.

However, Ms Padgett said she was hesitant to embrace or encourage the use of peer-review websites, as she was fearful of the downsides.

“I’ve only had 12 reviews, it’s just that all of them are good – if I get one negative review I’ll go right down the list,” she said.

“Also, people can get others to write reviews for them . . . even if somebody’s never been to my shop they can write a review.”

Aaj India restaurant manager Ajay Kumar hands out Tripadvisor cards to his customers. Mr Kumar says the peer-review website has brought plenty of business to his restaurant. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

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‘Tassie dollar’ may give boost

COULD a Tasmanian dollar be the answer to helping boost the local economy?
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Both Devonport and Smithton already have their own currency, which locals swap with Australian dollars to use for shopping and services in their community.

And by all accounts it’s a success.

Devonport Mayor Steve Martin said the council introduced Devonport Dollars to boost the local economy and encourage people to shop locally about six years ago, over a set two- to three-month period each year.

He said the currency was bought dollar for dollar from the council and Devonport Visitor Information Centre, and once it’s used in the community, business people return it to collect Australian currency.

“It’s very successful, there’s probably only six or seven businesses in Devonport who don’t take part in it,” Alderman Martin said.

“Devonport people are about supporting Devonport people, but it’s not only supporting the businesses, it’s also keeping locals employed in Devonport and that’s a benefit to us.”

Circular Head Progress Group Business co-president Tania Brown said they started a similar scheme in June with a local club raffling off $1000 worth of Smithton Dollars, and it is now available to everyone.

Mrs Brown said about 35 businesses were involved, so those winning or buying the vouchers had access to a wide range of stores and services.

“In the past the club might have just purchased a TV or something and it benefited one store, this way we’re finding that people are spending a little money here and there, so more businesses are benefiting,” Mrs Brown said.

Although Launceston does not have its own dollar, Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Michael Bailey said it was a concept that had worked elsewhere in the country.

“I’m in favour of anything that we can do to try and encourage people to shop locally – it’s worth investigating,” he said.

CityProm executive officer Vanessa Cahoon said it was something that they would have to see if there was any interest in from businesses.

“I do think the concept has merit and would love to see us do something similar down the track,” Ms Cahoon said.

“Encouraging communities to buy locally is critical to supporting local jobs and investment.”

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Lead-foot mum loses licence

A woman has lost her licence for six months after she was allegedly caught driving 53km/h above the speed limit with a child in the car.
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Police were patrolling the Augusta Highway near Port Germeinon Friday night when they allegedly clockedthe woman travelling 163km/h in a 110km/h zone.

The woman, 39, from Whyalla Playford was stopped around 7.30pmand fined $960.

She also lost nine demerit points and her licence was suspended for six months.

“She was travelling towards Whyalla with a young child in the vehicle,” police said.

“This is a timely reminder to all motorists travelling on South Australian roads during this school holiday period that you should take extra care and report any unroadworthy activity to 131 444.”

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Del Piero project still needs plenty of work

ADP, welcome to Australia. And just to introduce you properly to our league, we have on offer the one football assignment most antithetical to your long and decorated experience in Serie A – Wellington Phoenix away. What a way to treat a valued guest.
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The graveyard of Australian teams seeking success, and also of the beautiful game in a place where the fight is valued more than the ball.

Alessandro Del Piero’s debut was predictably complicated with sporadic moments of class as he came to grips with a different style, and to working with different players.

Ian Crook decided to start the Italian star, rather than spare him for a more open game in the second half. Just as well, too, because he was the only Sky Blues player who looked threatening and capable of unlocking an obdurate Phoenix defence.

His role was to play as a No.9 with the freedom to drop into the second line where Krunoslav Lovrek would rotate into the forward role. However, it didn’t take long for ADP to realise he needed to drop deeper to get involved.

This was for two reasons. Firstly, the early forward runs were too often not seen by his teammates and, worryingly for Sydney, they could gain no control of the game. That meant they failed to gain the kind of field position that would have allowed their star recruit to work in between the lines of attack.

The direct and aerial play of Sydney was not to the Italian’s liking – and it took him only nine minutes to make the point to his teammates, by telling them to play to his feet.

After half an hour, the arms began to be thrown in the air in frustration at poor decision-making and an inability to recognise where their illustrious teammate was positioning himself.

The first Phoenix goal was a perfect example. By midway through the first half, Del Piero was dropping all the way back into No.6, as Dwight Yorke once had to do, to begin the build-up. But having offered himself again, the ball was lost, a counter-attack launched, and the game was over. Del Piero was left clutching his head.

Clearly, it will take all parties time to adjust to each other before we will see the best the Italian has to offer.

When Del Piero did touch the ball, though, it was beautiful. A gorgeous turn was followed by a lovely through ball. A nice nutmeg and feint preceded a shot over the bar; hopefully a sign of things to come.

Each time he came short, the touch was perfect, the awareness too good. The trouble is there was too little movement around him to allow Del Piero to express his magical creative gifts.

Once Lovrek went off, ADP moved to the No.10 role and was able to exert a greater influence, and it would appear most likely that Crook will look to use him in this capacity. This is where his awareness can best be used to direct the game.

In summation, Del Piero’s class was evident and, once the players around him better understand his capabilities, there will be some tremendous quality in store.

In truth, Sydney’s problem was not how to best utilise the Italian, but how to play effectively as a team – and that is far more worrying.

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Swift’s bold move: Young Eagle leaves footy to study medicine

Young West Coast midfielder Tom Swift has stunned the club by walking away from the AFL to study medicine.
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The 22-year-old told the Eagles of his decision on Friday, only hours before the club’s best-and-fairest count, won by Scott Selwood.

Swift, who has played 34 games after being picked by the Eagles with a second round draft selection in 2008, will study at the University of Western Australia next year.

Swift is out of contract at the Eagles but is believed to have been on the verge of receiving a one-year extension offer.

“The opportunities I see myself having outside of football outweigh the benefits I’m going to gain from a football career,” Swift told The West Australian.

“A change in lifestyle is something I’ve always desired and following my academic pursuits and making the most out of them.

“I feel like I’ve come to a bit of a crossroad where if I let too much time elapse I won’t have those opportunities any more.

“You never make a decision being 100 per cent sure. There’s still a voice in the back of my head saying I’ve made the wrong decision, but it’s something I’ve got to live with now.”

West Coast coach John Worsfold admitted the news came out of the blue.

“It hit me between the eyes this afternoon with his ambitions, and the very noble ambitions that he has,” Worsfold told the AFL website.

“It’s a mark of his character, no doubt the tough decision that he’s had to make. I wish him all the best.”

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Ashby files ribald texts with Slipper

THE man who has accused Peter Slipper of sexual harassment first advised the suspended parliamentary speaker to manoeuvre for the position well before he started working in his office.
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Fairfax Media has obtained 200 pages of new text messages that reveal James Ashby and Peter Slipper had a ribald relationship with frequent use of coarse language, discussions about Mr Ashby’s sexuality, dismissive references to female genitalia and political war gaming to ”destroy” Mr Slipper’s rival, Mal Brough.

The documents also reveal Mr Ashby developed a long and close relationship with Mr Slipper and his family before he was employed as a media adviser in December.

The new evidence shows Mr Slipper was supportive of Mr Ashby’s sexual orientation, sending him a message that said: ”You motivated me to see some ladies who have gay kids seeking a change in [gay marriage laws].”

In an another exchange, Mr Slipper told the openly gay Ashby: ”What I like bout you is your absolute honesty and openness. By comparison we politicians live in a closed secret world.”

The text messages were filed by Mr Ashby’s legal team in the Federal Court on Friday but have not yet been made public.

Mr Slipper has made an impassioned plea to the court to throw out a sexual harassment case brought by Mr Ashby, saying the lawsuit was ”dressed up” as a sexual harassment case but was really designed to ”hurt my political career, hurt me financially, destabilise the government and destroy my marriage”.

Mr Slipper also believes Mr Ashby ”was placed” in his office or ”contrived a situation where he was able to come to my office” as part of a political conspiracy driven by the Liberal National Party as payback for Mr Slipper accepting the Speaker’s position last November.

Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered the 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against Mr Slipper’s claims that the staffer was ”grooming” the Speaker, not the other way around.

Mr Lee read a small selection of messages to the court and tendered the rest into evidence, saying that, shown in their full context, it was clear Mr Slipper was not set up.

The affidavit, obtained by Fairfax Media, includes every text message – notated with the words ”read” or ”sent” accompanied by remarks by Mr Ashby’s legal team.

The new messages also reveal:

■ Mr Slipper was enraged after hearing of a video Mr Ashby had made for a LNP state candidate, telling his aide: ”In this job you are no longer a free agent and I get held to political account for whatever you do …”

■ Mr Ashby first met Mr Slipper in July last year while attending an LNP event on the Sunshine Coast and was asked to dinner at the Slipper residence that evening.

■ Mr Ashby and Mr Slipper’s problems within the LNP, in particular the threat of Mal Brough – who the pair referred to as a c— in the documents – winning preselection for Mr Slipper’s seat of Fisher.

■ Mr Slipper asked Mr Ashby for a drink at a well known gay bar, only for Mr Ashby to advise ”you don’t want to be seen there”.

Mr Ashby’s legal team tendered the view ”that Mr Slipper knew a great deal about gay subculture and [Mr Ashby] was increasingly concerned that he had been hired because Mr Slipper had known of his sexual preference”.

In October, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership, but the documents reveal Mr Ashby did not understand the requirements of the speakership.

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