Monthly Archives:December 2018

Closed

ROSARIO: On this night, at this venue, on this occasion, the Wallabies could easily have lost their way. A team with its fair share of novices and new combinations would not have been used to such a zoo-like atmosphere, with a baying crowd perched right on top of the tourists, urging on the confrontational home side and even using a laser beam to put the Australians off the task at hand.
Nanjing Night Net

So raucous was the crowd the players could barely hear each other. They were almost forced to resort to sign language to communicate. The high humidity made the ground slippery and the football was near impossible to hold. On top of that, the dimensions of the ground were such that the playing area was several metres too short. It was claustrophobic. Not a spot for anyone who is a bit sensitive, immature or paranoid.

However, a battered Wallabies line-up, nearly a second XV, stood up to this massive challenge and achieved one of Australian rugby’s most courageous triumphs in recent times by defeating the Pumas in a grim, gritty Test at Gigante de Arroyito stadium.

Apart from saving their coach Robbie Deans, the Wallabies again showed they are the masters of excelling when everything is seemingly against them. They are the ultimate backs-to-the-wall merchants.

Their task in Rosario was not easy. They were short of many key players, and had endured a demanding travel schedule just to get there after a week in South Africa, which ended with them being bashed by the Springboks in Pretoria.

A week on, they ran onto the field with raw combinations and a back line more or less thrown together. They were being asked to somehow stop a rampant Pumas outfit pursuing its first win in the Rugby Championship while being urged on by 40,000 screaming, excitable supporters.

To stay ahead took discipline, which the Wallabies showed in abundance. Mike Harris kept his head down, ignored all the distractions, and contributed 20 points with his accurate goal-kicking boot, taking advantage of an ever-pedantic South African referee Craig Joubert going through his usual tedious routine of endlessly whistling away. The only shot the fullback missed coincided with him being lasered by someone in the crowd as he ran in to kick the ball.

The Wallabies’ defence remained solid, holding the Pumas out until the 77th minute, while they earlier had finished off one of their few proper attacking chances when Digby Ioane scored a well-crafted try that involved attacking decoys and a delayed pass from his five-eighth Kurtley Beale. And so many inexperienced players were up to the challenge. Young flanker Michael Hooper was a standout, producing one of the few Test highlights when he scampered 60 metres down field after grabbing an opposition lineout throw on the Wallabies line in the second half.

The Pumas were hoping to score from that attacking lineout, but instead Hooper had them frantically back-pedalling.

Ben Tapuai and Nick Cummins were near mistake free, while Beale had his second accomplished Test performance in a row at five-eighth. Nick Phipps controlled proceedings well at halfback, while Harris was as assured in general play as he was lining up for kicks when the lasers were not aimed in his direction.

The Wallabies forwards also kept their opponents at bay, even taking them on in the mauling department. But most important, when under siege, they showed pride in the green and gold.

As their captain, Nathan Sharpe, explained: ”The character and the intensity was outstanding. That provided the platform for our victory. The field was a lot smaller than what we were used to, it was one of the wettest balls we had ever played with, and one of the most hostile crowds I had encountered in my career. And we got the job done.”

When a level head was required it came from the newcomers.

”It would have been very easy for us to lose our cool out there,” prop Ben Alexander said.

”The humid weather and the narrow pitch probably didn’t suit how we like to play. So tonight was a big step up for us, because for a change we started well and built pressure on the opposition, rather than the other way around.”

There was high drama in the final minutes as replacement Brett Sheehan was sent to the sinbin, and the Pumas were on the charge requiring a converted try to win. But the Wallabies again stuck solid, knocking over every Argentinian who came their way, for a victory of which every member of the touring party should be proud.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Closed

Gai’s riding pair put a smile on her dial

December 29th, 2018 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

Hoopla: Gai Waterhouse has a strong relationship with her regular jockeys Nash Rawiller and Tommy Berry.GAI Waterhouse left Randwick racecourse on Saturday elated at her record-breaking day and confident she had an unprecedented grip on Melbourne’s spring carnival.
Nanjing Night Net

In fact, no trainer, on the eve of Australia’s most celebrated five weeks of racing, has ever shaped to have so much influence.

Waterhouse has pre-post favourites in the Cox Plate and the Caulfield and Melbourne cups, and prepares the shortest-priced favourite in Caulfield Guineas history with Pierro at $1.30.

Waterhouse’s remarkable mare More Joyous will also be favourite for the group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday, as she has her last run before being one of three runners that the Sydney trainer intends to start in the Cox Plate.

While jockey managers across Australia have Waterhouse’s phone number prominently displayed, she yesterday spoke of her relationship with stable rider Nash Rawiller who will shoulder the bulk of her hopes this spring.

”I asked Robbie [Waterhouse’s husband] a few years ago to give me the name of the best heavyweight jockey and the best lightweight. He came back with Blake Shinn and Nash Rawiller,” she said.

”Shinn got straight on a plane to Sydney to speak to me, but Nash wanted time to discuss the proposition with his wife.”

While a relationship with Shinn was successful for several seasons before coming to an end, Rawiller’s continues to flourish and the pair remain one of racing’s most dominant and strongest partnerships.

But Waterhouse admitted she had doubts even until the end of the first 18 months. ”What most [jockeys] don’t understand is that I train differently to many other trainers. While they like to get them ready with a run or two, my horses are ready to go from the start.

”I like them to be dominant, I like them to be on the pace, and some jockeys don’t get it. But after a time Nash and I worked out a good relationship with the team.”

Waterhouse’s father, the late Tommy Smith, was one of Australia’s finest horse trainers and had, seemingly to the public, a strong relationship with former jockey George Moore. The duo won hundreds of major races.

”No, I didn’t follow on that style that dad did. Dad and Moore were pretty feisty customers. They had many arguments and I didn’t see the need for a trainer-jockey relationship to be as confrontational as theirs was.

”I’m not a yes person, but confrontations can be negative and if I find a person like that in my system, I weed them out.”

Rawiller was known to be a patient and old-style jockey who liked his horses to settle and come home late. Waterhouse says Rawiller has refined that and rides as she wants, but takes his input on board.

”He’s a deep thinker and I’m also a thinker, and it’s a good way to be as we’re always working towards the best for the horses. I know some of my jockeys think, ‘here she comes again with another idea’, but that’s the way it’s got to be; looking ahead and getting the best out of horses.

”Again, I’m a bit different from dad whose jockeys were worked hard as he believed they were extremely well paid, better than any horse trainer, so they had to do their share.

”I let Nash cut his cloth to suit himself. He probably rides three mornings a week and he’s a terrific worker, but I’ve always got to remember that a jockey’s lifestyle is not easy and they are wasting to get down in weight and it’s got to tell on them.”

Two years ago Waterhouse saw a jockey whose talents she believed could be moulded into the upper echelons of Australian riding ranks.

At the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, Waterhouse approached local Sydney jockey Tommy Berry and offered him a position at Tulloch Lodge.

On Saturday, that belief materialised into Berry winning the Epsom Handicap and Metropolitan double.

”Tommy is another who has fitted in well. His instructions [on Saturday] were to be positive and what happens, he’s successful on both after he went whoosh at the top of the straight.”

In the next five weeks, Waterhouse could have upwards of 15 horses leave Sydney for Melbourne.

She said yesterday she wanted to let the dust settle on making premature plans for horses, but it would appear she will have a mixture of horses ranging from speedy two-year-olds to stayers this spring.

But Waterhouse maintains that her two jockeys will fly in and out of Melbourne on the one day during the spring carnival.

”They’re only an hour away, they can come in, ride and go home, sleep in their own bed, be with their families and their routine is unaltered. I worry that jockeys coming down to Melbourne for all that time will live in a fishbowl existence.

”They’ll eat too much, drink too much and party too much, and it’s like having a flower in a hothouse, it’s a pressure you don’t need.

”They’ve all got diets and they’ve all got set ways of going about things, so I’m happy for them to stay at Randwick.”

If, according to corporate bookmaking firm Centrebet, Waterhouse is a $61 chance to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup this spring, her efforts at grooming jockeys will well and truly be worth it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Closed

Artist’s digs show spring in markets

December 29th, 2018 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

DEVELOPERS were absent at the auction of artist Murray Walker’s North Fitzroy industrial compound, at the weekend, as confident homebuyers put their hands up.
Nanjing Night Net

The 480-square-metre property at 1 Hopetoun Place, squeezed behind St Georges Road and Brunswick Street, fetched $2.05 million after bidding from three parties, all potential home-owners.

There was a buoyancy to the weekend real estate market not seen for more than two years, pushed along by a 25-basis-point interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the prospect of more to come.

There is also some evidence the bottom might have passed, with research house RP Data-Rismark unveiling a 1.4 per cent increase in Melbourne’s median house price in September (4 per cent since May).

And the auction clearance rate hit a healthy high of 66 per cent from 497 auctions, according to the results collected by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

Agents and buyer’s advocates all reported increasing numbers at inspections as a wave of new stock hits the market in late October and November.

Mr Walker’s Hopetoun Place compound, formerly stables and a warehouse, passed in at $2 million but was bought afterwards by a family with plans to use it as a town base and home for their children.

The island site is surrounded by nearly 20 properties and locals were concerned they would be overshadowed by a future development. But Nelson Alexander auctioneer Arch Staver said it was too difficult and too expensive for developers.

”We put it to developers, but they thought there was too much overlooking into people’s backyards,” he said.

”It would be tough to get the density that would have made it worthwhile for the $2 million our vendor wanted.”

But developers were engaged in tough competition in St Kilda for a block of art deco flats at 7 Belford Street, auctioned by agents Gary Peer on Thursday for $2.45 million.

The flats are on a 472-square-metre parcel surrounded by modern multistorey developments and face demolition.

Advantage Property director Frank Valentic said two developers were ”punching out” bids of $5000 and $10,000. ”It was a massive result. It was on the market at $1.9 million and sold $550,000 over reserve,” he said.

”That’s positive for the market. There’s a sentiment swing in the air.”

RT Edgar agent Glen Coutinho, who auctioned the top house on Saturday at 29 Callantina Road, in the Scotch Hill precinct of Hawthorn, said there was a change in mood at the weekend. ”The market was showing signs of good confidence and everyone was talking about the interest rate cuts. Even though not all the banks have passed on the full cut, it gave the market an injection of confidence and people are expecting more,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Closed

Southern Stars crowned T20 world champions

December 29th, 2018 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

IT CAME down to the last ball, but Australia’s Southern Stars last night celebrated a monumental upset against England to claim back-to-back World Twenty20 crowns.
Nanjing Night Net

Jess Cameron, a laconic and powerful 23-year-old from Melbourne, starred with the bat, lifting her team to an intimidating total of 142. The semi-professional English, raging favourites to win the tournament, fancied a chase and sent Australia in, but fell agonisingly short.

The match was tense until the very end, with 16 needed from the last over.

It was bowled by Erin Osborne, and her nerves showed. A full toss, a no ball, a squirt to third man, a misfield and a run-out followed. With six to get from the last ball, England’s Danielle Hazell failed to get hold of a full toss, handing Australia a four-run victory. It was England’s second loss in 26 matches.

Fast bowler Ellyse Perry, an expert in pressure situations at world cups, made the the all-important breakthrough when Sarah Taylor, widely regarded as the best female cricketer in the world, chased an outswinger and was caught behind for 19.

It was a match-turning moment, exceeded only when Alex Blackwell launched herself forwards at full stretch at cover to grasp a low catch to rival any in the tournament, men’s or women’s.

The Australians dropped three catches but Blackwell’s blinder to dismiss Danni Wyatt reduced England to  6-90 in the 15th over. Still, the English would not succumb.

Perry’s breakthrough came at the halfway mark of the innings, with captain and opener Charlotte Edwards already sent back to the dug-out by Lisa Sthalekar for an excellent 28 from 23 balls.  Edwards had put together an ominous opening stand with Laura Marsh, which was broken when Julie Hunter was brought into the attack and held onto a return catch smashed at her by Marsh.

The grin Cameron wore during her innings of 45 from 34 balls turned to a grimace when she was struck in the knee while fielding, and limped off after the first over.

She scooped, reverse-swept and smashed her way to the highest score of Australia’s campaign, sharing a 51-run partnership with Sthalekar, who turned over the strike while Cameron took on the English attack.

She was both audacious – a six heaved over mid-wicket would have cleared the men’s boundary rope – and inventive. One of her five fours was a delicate reverse paddle against the off-spin of Marsh, and another was ramped over the wicketkeeper’s head off the medium pace of Anya Shrubsole.

Cameron, who was part of Australia’s winning World Cup campaign in 2010, fell before she could finish the job, picking out a fielder a long-on in the 17th over, leaving Sthalekar and Blackwell to push on to a strong total.

Openers Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy set a brisk early pace and Lanning, taking a liking to Emily Brunt’s seamers, carved 25 from 24 balls.

She made her runs with late cuts and cover drives, taking 16 off one Brunt over, but chipped a return catch to Holly Colvin before she could cash in her bright start. Healy was bowled in the 10th over for 26.

Not a single Australian batsman has made a half-century in the tournament and the Southern Stars had failed to defend 144 in their earlier group game against England. This time, the Australians overcame the superpower of women’s cricket.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Georgina Robinson: It’s been a tough couple of months for Australian rugby – its players and its fans. Losses, injuries, controversy and now you’ve slipped to No.3 in the world. Tell us why there is still hope.
Nanjing Night Net

James Horwill: Well, I think every cloud has a silver lining, you have to make sure you’re positive about things, and I think certainly there’s some guys that have been playing who probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity if everything had gone according to plan. I think a guy that’s a good example of that is a guy like Michael Hooper – obviously he’s been outstanding, and if Poey [Pocock] had have been fit you probably wouldn’t have imagined at the start of the year that he would have got as much football as he has. [Sitaleki Timani]’s another one [and] Dom Shipperley.

David Pocock: It has certainly given players an opportunity and this should add to the depth of the Wallabies in years to come. It has been a tough year. We had injuries in the June Tests but managed to win the series against a spirited Welsh team, but to beat the All Blacks and Springboks you have to be on top of your game and we have fallen short against them. I don’t think it is due to a lack of effort, we have just not been good enough on the night and it is a steep learning curve at that level.

GR: Can you get back to No.2 in the world?

JH: Definitely. There is no doubt we can. I think we all need to keep performing, keep focusing on things we do well. [The Springboks Test] wasn’t a great outing and we didn’t play as well as we could have and it’s always disappointing when that happens because you always want to play to the best of your ability and the guys are probably the first to admit that we didn’t do that. But we still have guys in the team who have great ability and we’ve got guys who are hopefully coming back soon to bolster the ranks.

DP: I think the short answer is yes, but I’d preface that by saying that it will take a lot of hard work and some very good player management during the Super Rugby season to ensure we have as many players available for selection as possible come the June Tests and then later in the year. New Zealand are clearly the best in the world at the moment and that has been evident in this tournament – that is the challenge – to close the gap and become more deserving.

GR: Is the No.1 ranking a pipe dream?

JH: I don’t think it’s a pipe dream at all. We know that we as a country, on our day, have the ability to beat any country in the world. Being No.1 in the world is a by-product of performing well all the time in every outing that you have.

GR: Which means it’s a by-product also of beating the All Blacks. Some people say there’s daylight between the teams. Is that true?

JH: We get an opportunity in [one] week’s time to prove that we can match it with them and I’m confident we can. While they’ve been playing excellent rugby with an exceptional amount of depth in all areas of their game, they’re not unbeatable. I talked about consistency, even when they have an off day they are still able to grind out a win. They are an amazing side but I still don’t think they’re that far ahead of everyone else. It’s not a bridge too far, so to speak.

GR: David, it seems a long while since the Wallabies beat the All Blacks. If you can cast your mind back to those victories, what did it take to beat them then and what will it take to do it again?

DP: Accuracy. Taking our opportunities, and a good team performance. We are certainly capable of it but playing against a team like New Zealand you have to take your opportunities. They haven’t scored many tries against us in the close games but we have not capitalised on opportunities that we’ve created. And that’s crucial.

GR: James, on Twitter a little while ago you posted a video clip for a song called Don’t You Worry Child under the ”Team Rehab” hashtag. I’m going to read you a few lines of that song: I was a king I had a golden throne / Those days are gone, now the memories are on the wall … Should we be worried about you, James?

JH: No, I don’t think so. I’m just a bit of a Swedish House Mafia fan, it was their last ever song and I just loved the video clip. I like my house/dance music and it’s a song that goes on quite loud in the gym.

GR: So journalists should lay off the psychoanalysis?

JH: Yeah, I think we’re looking too much into the words there. I just like the beat.

GR: David, do you have an anthem or anything helping you get through the post-op/rehabilitation period? I won’t go ferreting for lyrics.

DP: [Hip hop artist] Lupe Fiasco has been blaring out the speakers for the three boxing sessions I’ve done with [Brumbies winger] Joe Tomane this week. It’s been great. Boxing with Lupe and a whole heap of others – I’ll have to start sharing a few of my Spotify playlists.

GR: Does it take a certain measure of faith to come back from serious injury?

JH: You need to make sure you don’t leave anything to chance and you’ve got to have faith in the people around you and their expertise. The surgeons, the physios etc. But a lot of it does come down to your individual desire and commitment to it. It is not a nice place to be, it’s boring and never fun, especially early on, when you think, ‘How did I ever do that, that used to be me running around, running into people, and now I can hardly walk’. You have to have faith in your individual ability and then you have to set short-term goals to get you to the long-term goal.

DP: Yeah, that’s an interesting way to put it but it probably does. By the time you get back to playing you’ve done so much work with the medical team and strength and conditioning coaches that you just have to trust the program and that you have done the hard work and are good to go. There are always a lot more nerves than usual that first game back but you wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so exciting getting back to training and playing with the group. You really miss it.

GR: Has it been frustrating watching your friends struggle and the game go through a tough period, without being able to contribute in the way you usually do?

JH: It’s extremely frustrating. Every time I’ve always wanted so badly for them to do well and it’s never nice to see things not go their way or them not play as well as they want to. You do your bit and try to help them and so forth but when things don’t go according to plan it’s tough, feeling helpless.

DP: It is always frustrating not playing. As for the game going through a hard period, I think it’s important we maintain some perspective. There are a lot of guys … getting their first real taste of rugby at this level – that is so important for us as a group going forward. The learnings, both individually and as a team, over the past few months are crucial if we are to build as a team.

GR: Will Genia told me that since he’s been injured he sometimes messages the assistant coaches a few tips at half-time, from the comfort of his couch at home – are you guys as hands-on?

JH: I text occasionally, but it’s a bit difficult to do that. I try and stay in contact but sometimes you have to give them their own space. Will’s been more involved than me unfortunately this season, I’ve missed much more. I often text the players though but you’ve got to give them their own space as well.

DP: No, that’s not my go. I think it’s important to support the team and stay in touch, but I haven’t tried to add my say in things while I have been injured – they have enough going on without that.

GR: What’s your game ritual been like at home – do you watch the matches live or record them, at home, with friends, etc?

JH: I watched the Springboks game live, certainly it’s very frustrating being so far away and I really struggled to get back to sleep after that one. I was a bit riled up and a little bit frustrated with the way things were going. You never like watching the guys suffer. I also try and watch it on my own. My girlfriend is sometimes brave enough to watch it with me. But I’m not really one for watching it in a group, I get a bit vocal and start yelling stuff and get a bit frustrated.

DP: I watch them live. The game against Argentina on the [Gold Coast] was a couple of days after Emma and I moved to Canberra, so we didn’t have a TV but figured most pubs would show it. Wrong – not when the Raiders are in the finals! We finally found a uni pub that had it on and watched quietly in the corner and then left straight after it finished. I get really nervous watching and stay very quiet. On a positive note, I have really enjoyed watching guys getting opportunities. I think Michael Hooper has been superb this tournament. He has had a huge work rate.

GR: You have both been mentioned as possibles on the end-of-year tour. What chance are you both in a percentage sense?

JH: I dunno, there’s still things I need to do. It’s hard to tell a percentage because I don’t really know. As I keep ticking the boxes it might get easier to say that with confidence. I’m certainly running and starting to do more rugby specific stuff, which is important. I guess I’m confident if it keeps going the way it is then I should be OK.

DP: My injury is a bit different to James because it isn’t muscular. I have got through a lot of work over the past month and a bit – it has been a bit of a mini pre-season, which is great. It’s improving slowly but at this stage it’s hard to put a definite time frame on it.

GR: If you both end up on tour, who will be captain?

JH: That’s probably not for me to decide, it’s a decision for the coaching staff. And you just concentrate on getting back. It’s too early for me anyway to worry about that.

DP: That doesn’t concern me at all. The priority is just to get on the trip and back to playing.

GR: What’s something you wish fans and supporters understood about life in the Wallabies?

JH: I think the main thing is that every player goes out there giving his all for his country and there’s never someone who goes out there and doesn’t put everything they’ve got on that field. We all make mistakes and things don’t always go our way but it’s not through a lack of effort or commitment. I’m not saying everyone does but there are times people say [players] don’t care about what they do or this and that. But knowing our group and knowing what it takes, playing for your country is a huge honour for everyone.

DP: For me, it’s important that fans know how much we appreciate their support. Twenty-two players get to pull on the jersey but they represent so many more – and it wasn’t long ago we were fans and shared that elation and disappointment watching at stadiums or on TV. Our time as players is short so we need to be doing everything we can to leave a legacy for the future players and living and playing in a way that brings pride to our fans and supporters.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.