‘I know how to win’: Mark Renshaw to make most of Mark Cavendish’s absence and go for broke

Interactive: Pull of the pelotonTour indexLive coverage
杭州桑拿网

LILLE: Mark Renshaw never ceases to be amazed by the vagaries of cycling, especially when he looks at his position in the Tour de France where he is now his team’s lead sprinter.

Now the NSW rider’s opportunity has come, with British teammate and star sprinter Mark Cavendish sidelined by his injuries, including a dislocated collar bone, sustained in a crash at the finish of stage one at Harrogate, Britain.

Renshaw smiles when asked how his career has changed – from being Cavendish’s lead-out rider, to trying his hand at being another team’s main sprinter, to returning to Cavendish’s side in his old role, and now facing the chance to win again.

Since his elevation, Renshaw has placed third in Monday’s third stage from Cambridge to London and seventh in Tuesday’s 163km fourth stage from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille – both won by German Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

The win by Kittel on Tuesday, in which he beat Norway’s Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and French champion Arnaud Demare into second and third places respectively, took his career tally of Tour stage wins to seven from two Tours.

“It’s really crazy, a cyclist’s career. Things can turn on their head pretty quick,” said Renshaw (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

“I’ve seen both sides of the coin – the good and the bad of last year [as protected sprinter on the Belkin team], two years ago having a big crash in the Tour of Turkey.

“Now ‘Cav’ is on the other side of the coin and is looking to come back. But that gives me an opportunity. I’ll take it with both hands and see what I come up with.”

Renshaw, whose opportunity to race for himself in bunch sprints should last beyond the Tour and into the second half of the year as Cavendish rehabilitates, said he had been in regular contact with the Briton since he left the Tour.

“We have spoken a lot since he stopped,” Renshaw said. “[The Tour was] the season goal for him, so obviously he is finding it quite hard watching the [race on] TV, but we have all been there.”

Renshaw also realises that beating Kittel, who now has three stage wins, will be a “big ask”, especially as he is not gifted with the German’s speed.

However, the Australian believes a stage win is still possible should the stars align – and there is no shortage of opportunity, with Thursday’s sixth stage followed by stages 7, 15, 19 and 21 into Paris suited for the sprinters on paper.

“The tactics are simple. We need to catch him offguard and we need some luck,” Renshaw said, adding that believes more time in the role as his team’s sprinter can only help.

“I didn’t have the preparation to beat Kittel in the sprint [on stage there], but I have the experience for the positioning,” Renshaw said.

“I know how to win, but this year has been dedicated to Cavendish – and more about me leading him out with a progressive long sprint rather than a short and sharp effort.

“I think I can beat Kittel but luck needs to swing my way and he needs to be unlucky.

“So a lot of things need to happen for me to win a stage, but I’ll keep trying. I know where I am in relation to these guys, but it’s a big ask to win a stage.”

Renshaw is candid about saying that for him or anyone to beat Kittel, they will need the German to make an error – or his teammates in their lead-out for him in the sprint.

“We need Giant-Shimano to make a couple of mistakes to have him out of position,” Renshaw said.

THEATRE: Trench angels saluted

TOUGH TIMES: Kate Skinner as Sister Florence Whiting in Through These Lines.WHEN writer and producer Cheryl Ward toured NSW last year looking for venues to stage her World War I play Through These Lines, her immediate Newcastle choice was Fort Scratchley.
杭州桑拿网

She walked into a casemate, a vaulted concrete chamber beneath the late 19th century fort’s gun emplacements that was intended for use in sheltering troops and stores.

It was a perfect setting for the play’s story, which shows an Australian nurse moving from one battlefront to another to care for wounded soldiers between 1914 and 1918.

The nurse, Sister Florence Whiting, is stationed at various times in concrete bunkers and on hospital ships, interacting with her nursing colleagues and the military men she meets and treats. Florence and a soldier who was wounded at Gallipoli fall in love while he is hospitalised.

Through These Lines is being staged at Fort Scratchley from July 24 to August 5 as part of the Civic Theatre’s subscription series.

While the Civic’s subscription works are generally staged in its 1500-seat theatre or the adjacent and smaller Playhouse, Cheryl Ward submitted her Through These Lines script to the management and received the go-ahead to use Fort Scratchley.

Many of the NSW seasons will be in RSL clubs, but other historic buildings with a military connection will also house the play.

The Trial Bay Jail at South-West Rocks, near Kempsey, where German nationals were interned during World War I, is a venue. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory, like the jail now a museum, is another. Brought into operation in 1912, the Lithgow facility manufactured rifles and bayonets for Australian forces during World War I.

Cheryl Ward was inspired to write Through These Lines after former concrete munitions tunnels at Sydney Harbour’s Middle Head were opened to the public in 2008.

Ward grew up near the locked tunnels and, with other teenagers, managed to climb into them on occasions.

When they became available for public arts works, she looked for a theatre subject, with photos of nurses in a concrete-walled room in France during World War I leading her to research their lives and work and to develop the first version of Through These Lines.

The play had a sold-out three-week season in one of the munitions rooms in 2010, with audience members often in tears as they heard the nurses talking about their experiences in words taken verbatim from letters World War I nurses had written.

Ward has reworked the script since that initial staging and, in her words, ‘‘it has become a much more personal journey for Sister Florence Whiting’’.

‘‘It is a more human story,’’ she said.

‘‘The nurses behind the battlefronts were almost anonymous people. They treated thousands of patients, but half the time they didn’t know their names.’’

The cast is led by Kate Skinner as Florence Whiting, with the other actors playing three or more roles.

Cheryl Ward is one of the actors, with her characters including the matron in charge of the story’s nursing team. The other players are Rebecca Barbera, Gareth Rickards, Gary Clementson, and Christian Charisiou. Mary-Anne Gifford directs.

The Fort Scratchley casemate will hold 60 audience members.

Ward said the 80-minute work, which is played without an interval, makes extensive use of stretchers and has props including tents, wooden huts and ship features as the story moves between a troop ship taking soldiers and nurses to Europe, Cairo, a hospital ship, Lemnos and the Western Front.

The audience will be greeted at the casemate door by the actors at the starting time and brought into the venue. Latecomers won’t be admitted.

Through These Lines, a co-production by Turnaround Productions and No Rest for the Wicked, has a preview at 7.30pm on Thursday, July 24. There will be performances from Friday, July 25, to Tuesday, August 5, with shows each Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm, Monday at 7.30pm, Tuesday at 3pm and 7.30pm, and Thursday at 7.30pm. Tickets: $38, concession $32, subscriber $28, with a preview price of $25. Bookings: Civic Ticketek, 49291977.

The Lorica gladiator suit takes the pain out of armed combat

“Creating an entirely new sport:” The Lorica suit. Photo: Unified Weapons MasterMany would say the allure of Game of Thrones lies in the blood and gore, the swords and staffs and the battles in armour.
杭州桑拿网

These days weapons-based combat in television, film and gaming leaves fans mouth-watering and blood thirsty for the next hyper-violent battle scene.

So it was only a matter of time before someone developed the technology to physically step inside the armour, brandish a weapon and feel those blows.

Australian start-up, Unified Weapons Master, has created the Lorica; a gladiator-style combat suit built to withstand and record the full force of martial arts weapons.

“Our vision is to reignite interest in weapons-based martial arts that have been practised and developed over thousands of years,” said Unified Weapons Master CEO, David Pysden.

He said the Lorica suit is the first opportunity to see some of the most ancient weapons-based martial arts showcased in the modern era.

“These arts are slowly dying because they can’t be practised for real because of the dangers. We wanted to create a forum for martial artists to be able to showcase their skills,” he said.

The carbon-fibre suit has in-built sensors which track and store data on the impact of martial arts weapons to an unprotected body.

In recent battle testing the most forceful strike recorded was a blow to the head from a tomahawk with almost 600kg of force.

The data is recorded in the 40 sensors placed near the head and torso which measure the force and location of strikes to the armour in real time.

Whilst Pysden said their core application for the suit is in weapons-based martial arts, there are always long term goals, such as in military and law enforcement training.

“It is going to be possible for us to look to training armour, and we’ve already received an overwhelming response online, from people into gaming, average people, and professionals. People just love the idea of putting on a suit of armour and fighting with weapons.

“In the longer term we could see this even going into gyms,” he said.

Research and development of the Lorica suit have been funded by private investors. At what cost, Pysden would not say, though he said the price tag to date was not insignificant.

With a plan to launch the first competition battle events using the suits by next year, Pysden said the most exciting part will be seeing different weapons from different cultural histories in competition.

“There are 96 weapons-based martial arts and we are putting together a forum where they can all compete.

“What we’re excited about seeing is who comes out on top; for example a Japanese Samurai sword champion, versus a Chinese Shaolin staff master,” he said.

Family first as PJ Ellis plans to hand over coach role

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Maitland Pickers captain-coach PJ Ellis at training. Picture: Stuart ScottMAITLAND captain-coach PJ Ellis appears likely to hang up the clipboard at the end of this season.
Shanghai night field

While the veteran hooker is not 100per cent certain about quitting, he said family commitments with three young children made coaching difficult.

The 37-year-old had planned on retiring from playing but remaining as coach next season. He said he was now more likely to continue as only a player.

‘‘I probably won’t have the time to coach, and you don’t have that down time a player might have with the kids,’’ Ellis said. I’m still undecided. I’m not 100per cent.’’

■ Matt Lantry has a handshake agreement to continue coaching Central next season, which is expected to be signed off on next week.

Butcher Boys secretary Terry Bryden and Lantry made the verbal agreement a fortnight ago and have been formulating the club’s budget for next season.

‘‘It’s a handshake agreement and we’re rolling forward for next season, there’s just a few things to tidy up before I sign on the dotted line,’’ Lantry said.

Once Lantry signs, retaining most of his squad is his top priority.

‘‘One thing I have noticed in the last six weeks, that obviously winning helps, but the culture among the club has really galvanised as a team on and off the field,’’ he said. ‘‘That always takes time to happen, your successful teams stay together for a long period of time.’’

■ As expected, Cessnock five-eighth Riley Brown has withdrawn from the NSW Country tour of Hawaii due to family commitments.

Brown’s place is taken by Berkeley Vale’s Alex Moore.

The Country squad fly out for Honolulu tomorrow, with Brendan Hlad, Chris Adams (Cessnock), Jake Finn, Callan Richardson, Simon Williams and Peter Mannion (Wests) the Newcastle representatives in coach Jamie Feeney’s squad.

Knights tip crowd will rise for Alex McKinnon

KNIGHTS officials will be hoping the #RiseForAlex round can prove the catalyst for a much-needed reconnection with the Novocastrian community.
Shanghai night field

Newcastle’s home clash with the Gold Coast on Sunday week will signify the first time Alex McKinnon has returned to Hunter Stadium since the terrible accident that left him with a career-ending broken neck.

While it has not been decided if the 22-year-old Aberdeen junior will appear on the field before the game so that fans can pay their respects, a bumper turnout is anticipated nonetheless for what shapes as one of the most emotional days since the Knights were founded in 1988.

A host of other activities, including a post-match concert headlined by Jessica Mauboy, will ensure it is a special occasion and a season-high attendance is expected.

The Knights would welcome a revival in home-ground support.

In six games at Turton Road this season, their average crowd is 17,151, which represents a decline of 9.8per cent on last year’s average of 18,836.

Last year’s attendances were down 9.9per cent on their standard 2011 turnout of 20,919.

So, in the space of three seasons, Newcastle’s home crowds have slipped by an alarming 17.5per cent.

Poor performances have undoubtedly been a contributing factor, but many believe the Knights also lost touch with their traditionally loyal fan base during the three tumultuous years under Nathan Tinkler’s ownership – despite Tinkler’s initiative to cut the price of season tickets.

Knights officials felt the NRL draw did them no favours earlier in the season, but they apparently have no complaints about the scheduling of their final four games, which was confirmed last week.

A statement on the club website said ‘‘the Knights are overall pleased’’ with home fixtures against Melbourne (Saturday, August 9, 5.30pm), the Warriors (Sunday, August 17, 2pm), Parramatta (Saturday, August 30, 3pm) and St George Illawarra (Sunday, September 7, 2pm).

Barring horrendous weather, it is hard to imagine their crowd figures will not improve significantly over the last third of the season, starting with the #RiseForAlex round and finishing with the annual Old Boys reunion day at the last home game.

■ Never before has there been such a disparity in the experience of two rival coaches.

Veteran Knights tactician Wayne Bennett will control his 700th top-grade game – a competition record – when Newcastle face Cronulla at Remondis Stadium on Sunday.

His opposite number will be interim Sharks coach James Shepherd, who made his NRL debut in last week’s miraculous win against the Roosters.

Incidentally, NRL chief executive Dave Smith has thrown his support behind the retention of Bennett, whom he described as ‘‘a wonderful man and been a wonderful part of the Newcastle team’’.

“Hopefully he chooses to stay, but ultimately that’s up to Wayne. We need to make sure we do all the right things to make [Newcastle] stronger,’’ Smith said this week.

■ The debut of former Canberra prop Sam Mataora was a rare highlight for Newcastle’s NSW Cup side in their 26-0 loss to Illawarra Cutters last weekend.

Mataora (114kilograms) is a comparative lightweight compared to coach Rick Stone’s starting props Toka Likiliki (134kilograms) and Pat Vaivai (120kilograms).

Last week’s result left the Knights clinging to eighth and they will be hoping to bounce back against struggling Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.

■ Newcastle’s under20s can take a further step towards the National Youth Competition minor premiership with a win against the Sharks on Sunday.

The Knights are joint leaders with Brisbane after both teams have posted 11 wins, one draw and three losses from 15 games, but Newcastle have a superior for-and-against record.

Cronulla are third last and are winless in their past five starts.

The Knights have won three successive games. They also have the best away record (7-2) in the competition.

SEVEN DAYS: July 3-9

PERSUASIVE: Tariq Sims’s partner and model Ashleigh Sudholz.TODD Carney’s reputation might be mud on the east coast of Australia but on the other side of the Nullarbor, the punters are cheering his name in absolute delight.
Shanghai night field

In remote Pinjarra, a town with a 4255-strong population situated 86kilometres south of Perth, Carney – a three-year-old bay gelding – wins a 1400-metre maiden and delivers a dividend of $5.70.

Apparently Carney wins by three-quarters of a length.

There is surely a double entendre in that, just waiting to be exploited, but it would be in poor taste. A bit like urinating in your own mouth.

THE Knights confirm the NRL’s worst-kept secret by announcing they have signed North Queensland forward Tariq Sims to a two-year deal.

This is a great boost and Seven Days fearlessly predicts Sims will realise his potential in Newcastle and represent NSW and Australia next season.

But there is one aspect of this coup I find slightly confusing.

A number of media outlets have reported that Sims asked the Cows for a release because his partner was ‘‘unsettled’’ in the tropical north and wanted to move nearer to family after the birth of their first child.

It gets me to wondering who wears the pants in this relationship – the big, fiery back-rower or his better half?

A quick trawl through the internet soon solves the mystery, shortly before my computer overheats and short circuits.

Sims’s partner just happens to be Ashleigh Sudholz, the Ralph Australian Swimwear Model of the Year in 2008 and the 2009 Miss Indy winner.

If Ashleigh reckons Newcastle is the best place to work on her suntan, I’m not surprised Tariq agrees with her.

Meanwhile, I read with interest where Robbie Farah declares ‘‘it hurts every time when people say [Cameron Smith] is a better hooker than me’’.

Given Farah apparently rates himself the greatest dummy-half of all time, he is not surprisingly still filthy about suggestions he was lucky to be picked for last year’s World Cup tour ahead of premiership-winning Roosters rake Jake Friend.

‘‘Some people didn’t even think I should have been in the last [Kangaroos] squad,’’ he says. ‘‘Some dickhead journalist in Queensland … I’d love to see him for a couple of minutes on a footy field.’’

Yeah, good one, Robbie.

I’d love to see a dickhead footballer trying to file a 600-word match report within minutes of full-time to meet a Friday-night deadline.

THE hapless Cronulla Sharks defy their basket-case reputation to somehow secure a major sponsor for the rest of this season and possibly next year.

The new backer is a company called Labour Health, whose website claims: ‘‘We implement rigorous substance abuse checks … to ensure your workplace remains alcohol and drug free at all times.’’

Hopefully this will ensure Cronulla players are squeaky clean and nobody makes the mistake of taking horse steroids on the advice of some blow-in sports scientist.

Rumours that the recently unemployed Todd Carney has been offered a job as sample collector – no beaker required – are unable to be verified.

Buoyed by the good news, the Sharks produce their second rope-a-dope stunt in as many weeks to stun the Chooks 30-28.

Following last week’s successful game plan of giving the Broncos a 22-0 head start, Cronulla let the Roosters rack up leads of 24-0 and 28-6 before stiffing them 30-28.

The result is a triumph for James Shepherd, who in the space of a week has upgraded his LinkedIn profile from ‘‘Remondis Stadium security guard’’ to ‘‘NRL super coach’’.

In a triumphant Shire, people rejoice in the streets with a stirring rendition of the time-honoured Psalm: The Shepherd is my Lord.

THE Sunday Telegraph reveals the NRL’s plan to ‘‘clean up the game’s grubby image’’ by appointing at least one female director on every club board.

‘‘The best companies I have worked with have had females at senior and board levels because they bring genuine skills to the table,’’ NRL boss Dave Smith says.

‘‘Having more female representation will also enable clubs to better grow the game.

“We want more women at games, we want more women to play the game – and we recognise that will only occur if we have more women making decisions.’’

Seven Days is 100per cent behind this proposal, and the Knights are the ideal club to test the waters, given that they are still in the process of assembling a new board.

The obvious candidate, in my humble opinion, is our own Jennifer Hawkins.

Glamorous, well connected, an astute businesswoman … and able to fill in at short notice if any of the cheerleaders pull a hamstring.

If our Jen is unavailable, perhaps Ashleigh Sudholz would suffice.

Or why not both?

CRONULLA are becoming so confident in their new guise as the NRL’s miracle men they are boldly eyeing the greatest escape of them all.

Last on the NRL points table after four wins from their first 15 games, the Sharkies reckon they are still in the race for the playoffs.

‘‘Anything’s possible in this comp,’’ fullback Michael Gordon declares.

In normal circumstances, this would be laughable but, given their past two results, maybe the $51 on offer for Cronulla to make the top eight is worth a flutter.

Mind you, there is still plenty of smart money riding on them at $2.20 to collect the wooden spoon.

DISGRACED former Canberra and NSW centre Blake Ferguson seems determined to drag his public image even deeper into the gutter.

If it is not enough that Ferguson has been convicted of an indecent assault and likes hanging around with Anthony Mundine and Josh Dugan, news breaks that the wayward star has completed a referees course.

‘‘He performed really well and showed a real interest in it … refereeing isn’t the most glamorous of things to be involved in, but it’s a very crucial part of the game,’’ former ref Greg McCallum says.

All I can think is that by hanging around refs – the only people in rugby league more unpopular and maligned than Ferguson is – it somehow bolsters his self-esteem.

McCallum reveals John Hopoate undertook a similar course several years ago after he was involved in an incident at a junior match.

The mind boggles.

Hoppa as a referee. That’ll do me. Talk about lunatics running the asylum.

NSW collect the State of Origin shield for the first time since 2005 and I am reminded of why they no longer sell beer in cans at sporting arenas.

It was at the same venue – Lang Park – in 1987 that the locals started lobbing tinnies on the pitch when King Wally Lewis was sent to the sin bin.

No doubt the Cane Toad faithful would love to have showered Paul Gallen and company in XXXX just as they collected the spoils of victory.

Plastic cups don’t quite have the same impact.

Prabowo Subianto and Joko Widodo both claim victory in Indonesia’s presidential poll

Joko Widodo decisively asserted his claim to Indonesia’s presidency in a speech to supporters last night which repudiated his opponent’s tactics and warned him not to tamper with the count.
Shanghai night field

Mr Joko and opponent Prabowo Subianto have both used quick counts of ballot papers carried out by private companies to claim victory in the poll.

Mr Prabowo again refused to concede in a late evening appearance on the TV station owned by his coalition partner. But he urged his supporters to “exercise patience, cool down” and respect the final count of the Electoral Commission.

ANU academic Ed Aspinall said Mr Joko’s claim to victory was legitimate, whereas Mr Prabowo’s was based on numbers from survey organisations that were “rather disreputable outfits” which had “a history of inflating” Mr Prabowo’s numbers.

As evening fell on election day, Mr Joko went to the symbolically important Proclamation Monument, built on the site where Indonesia’s first president Sukarno declared republic independent of the Dutch in 1945, and announced his victory to screaming supporters.

He began his speech by saying that all the six survey organisations which showed him as the winner — by around a 52 to 48 per cent margin — were “accurate” and had been accepted by all parties in the past.

Then he spoke as the president-elect.

“Today, Indonesia has decided its course. All of us want a better Indonesia. An Indonesia in which people are healthy, people are smart, civilised, prosperous, and enjoy justice,” he said.

“Today, a new history has been made: a new chapter for Indonesia … this is a victory for the Indonesian people.”

Mr Joko, who has spent most of the campaign avoiding any criticism of Mr Prabowo, then subtly criticised his opponents campaign tactics, which involved paying large numbers of people to attend rallies, and offering financial inducements, or even ministries in his government, to groups in return for expressions of support.

“The real victory is of the people and has been achieved through participation, not through mass mobilisation. It was achieved through hard work, day and night, not by promising rewards,” Mr Joko said.

He urged his supporters not to relax, and to “guard” the rest of the counting leading to the announcement of the official result, which the election commission has said will be available on July 22, in case anything left a “stain” on the will of the people.

Mr Joko thanked his opponents, saying Mr Prabowo and running mate Hatta Rajasa were “patriots” who would “still contribute to Indonesia”.

In his speech, Mr Prabowo again hinted at a xenophobic thread running through his campaign, saying, “The truth cannot be bought by any nation … our power cannot be hired out to foreign powers”.

He said his supporters should maintain their strength, but “be patient, abide by the law, try to be polite”.

“We don’t need to show off; the real patriot does not need to show off. A strong man does not need to show off,” Mr Prabowo said.

Earlier in the day, Mr Joko and his political patron, Megawati Sukarnoputri, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, had declared less than two hours after polling booths closed that they were confident of victory.

Mr Joko’s mother Sujiatmi Notomiharjo came on shortly afterwards saying in the Javanese language, “Do your duties wisely, now that you’ve become president, son”.

But about an hour later, Mr Prabowo, more equivocally, also claimed victory.

Mr Prabowo told supporters: “We are grateful that from all the incoming data, we … received the support and mandate of the people. But we will wait until all the data comes in, and after 90 per cent of the data comes in, we will declare our position”.

Worryingly for those who hoped the election might produce a clear result and a peaceful process, both men asked their supporters to “guard” the voting process.

“We ask all members of the coalition parties, the red and white coalition, to guard this victory until the KPU [the election commission] announces the official result,” Mr Prabowo said.

Local reports suggest Mr Prabowo has trained more than 1000 paid scrutineers at his ranch near Jakarta, and deployed them around Indonesia this week.

Dr Aspinall said it was a “major concern” that Mr Prabowo might try to manipulate the count and “bribe or coerce their way into power”.

However, he said with the release of credible polls, that would be difficult to achieve.

Mr Prabowo’s supporters made the best of their claim to victory, but, in contrast to the unrestrained joy at Mr Joko’s speech, Mr Prabowo’s supporters looked grim-faced.

A quick count by company, LSI, showed Mr Joko and running mate Jusuf Kalla with 53.38 per cent of the vote against opponent Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Rajasa with 46.62 per cent. CSIS had Mr Joko up 52.2 per cent to 47.8 per cent. On the streets of Jakarta earlier in the day, voters said they had picked either Mr Prabowo for his toughness, or Mr Joko as the man of the people.

“Jokowi is for the people, a leader who is born from the people and he’s for the people,” said Hery Wijaya, sitting with friends in inner-city Glodok.

“I voted for Prabowo because I know Prabowo follows Suharto,” says Tanah Abang market stallholder Eti. “He’s firm, he’s military. I want Indonesia to revive, be spirited, not just lame, so I want a firm leader, not a lame one.”

Brad Scott hopeful elusive winning streak

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says there is no need for him to remind his players of the importance of notching consecutive wins for only the third time this season when the team faces St Kilda in Hobart on Saturday.
杭州夜生活

The seventh-placed Kangaroos’ bid to snare a top-four birth were boosted last weekend when three teams above them lost, one of them (Hawthorn) beaten by the Roos.

The club’s consistency has criticised because its winning streaks this year have been limited to three matches between rounds two and four and back-to-back wins in rounds 11 and 12.

Of the Kangaroos’ last seven opponents, only one, Geelong, is in the top eight.

Scott acknowledged expectations of North may have risen after it knocked over reigning premier Hawthorn and Port Adelaide and Collingwood lost, but downplayed the significance of its improved standing in the eight.

“Top four is going to be talked about for the next seven games I imagine, but we can only hold up our end of the bargain and try to gather some momentum in the back half of the year – and certainly search for the consistency that’s so far eluded us this year. That’s our primary focus,” he said on Wednesday, before the club trained at its Aegis Park headquarters.

“As soon as we start looking at potential ladder positions, I think we take our eye off what’s really important.

“I still don’t regard us as a genuine top-four side, one, because we’re not there, and two, because top-four sides consistently back up good performances, and we haven’t done that yet.”

The coach said his players were “well aware of” their inability to string victories together regularly this season, and as such did not need to be reminded of the importance of doing so in the final third of the season.

While last-placed St Kilda has endured an awful run of form and injury this season – influential midfielder Jack Steven has ruled out for a month – Scott insisted the club would do its “usual [level of] due diligence” on the Saints.

“Lenny Hayes is probably likely to come back in, and he’s still playing at an elite level in my view. (David) Armitage runs through their midfield, (Leigh) Montagna [too], (Nick) Riewoldt is still probably in the top one, two or three key forwards in the competition, so we’ve got respect for what they’re capable of doing.”

Scott said Jack Ziebell, who missed the Hawks’ match with a knee injury, “ran really well” on Monday and he was optimistic he would return against the Saints, provided he passed a fitness test likely to be held on Thursday.

The match on Saturday will be North’s first at Blundstone Arena since round six last year, and its first there against a Victorian team. While a single-figure temperature is forecast, Scott disagreed the cold, drizzly training conditions on Wednesday were an fitting preparation.

“We’ve played four games in Hobart since the deal was struck and the weather’s been pristine every time we’ve been down there. In the middle of July, you expect some pretty average weather in the southern states,” he said.

Scott said untried draftees Trent Dumont, 19, and Mason Wood, 20, were “closer” to senior selection based on VFL form. He said Dumont, a midfielder from Norwood taken with North’s second pick in last year’s draft, was in contention to debut as early as this weekend, depending on Ziebell’s availability.

Defender Aaron Mullett was also rated a chance to play after a good showing in the VFL.

Scott said long-term injury victims Daniel Wells (foot) and Nathan Grima (foot) were “closer” to returning, but was unable to give a more precise indication of when that was likely to occur.

“They’ve still got some hurdles to jump, but both [are] improving week by week,” he said.

“I feel a bit for our medical guys because everyone in this industry wants a return date and a lot of the time they’ve got to guess. Once they’re in full training we can put a return date on them.”

He said Wells, who has not played since round five, had been “very frustrated, but he sees light at the end of the tunnel now … feels like he’s in the home stretch and not far away from joining full training”.

Scott welcomed the tribunal’s decision on Tuesday night. It wiped the 125 carry-over points levied on Drew Petrie by the match review panel, for contact to the face of Hawthorn’s Brian Lake as the pair scuffled last weekend.

“I think it was pretty important in the whole context of the incident,” he said. “We wanted to defend Drew at the tribunal and make sure that he went into the back half of the year without points hanging over his head, so the result was good for us.”

Asked about the four-match penalty given to Lake for grabbing Petrie’s throat, Scott replied: “I’ll reserve my opinion – for once, keep it to myself.”

Linda Meech to celebrate 100 winners with her Kiwi mum

Linda Meech jets off home to New Zealand on Friday to take a well-earned break.
杭州夜生活

She promised her mother that if she clocked up 100 winners nationally this season she would head across the Tasman for her birthday, and she hit the century mark on June 28 at Flemington.

Meech is understated and underrated. She is ranked fourth in the Victorian premiership on 96 winners, behind Brad Rawiller (142), Dean Yendall (131) and Damian Lane (96). But she remains humble, despite hitting the ton for the fourth time in her career and riding her 1000th career winner at Mortlake in November, and she believes she can do better.

The 33-year-old came to Australia on a working holiday in 1998 and never went home. “Racing is a lot better here than New Zealand, the quality and prizemoney just doesn’t even compare,” Meech said.

Meech is modest about her abilities; “I would have liked to have ridden 100 winners in Victoria already, but there’s not much I can do. Just work harder next year.” She has collected 10 winners in town this season, her best to date. November was a good month for her – she also rode five winners at one meeting at Echuca.

“I would like to start riding in town more frequently,” she said. “But in racing there are no guarantees, you can drive yourself mad trying too hard because there is no guarantee you’ll get on a horse that’s good enough to win and it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’ve got to have a bit of luck.”

Meech was in the saddle before she could walk. Growing up in “steep, hilly” New Zealand terrain meant most of the stockwork was done on horseback.

“I don’t know where it came from but I always wanted to be a jockey,” Meech said. “Before I started school, when I was about four, I told my mum I didn’t need school because I was going to be a jockey.”

Meech said she owed a lot to Peter Moody. “He is my biggest supporter and I ride for lots of good trainers in country Victoria as well, which helps get the numbers up,” she said. “I have ridden more winners in town this season but I don’t get a lot of rides in town, so it’s nice to have a good strike rate.”

Meech said it was encouraging to see the likes of Michelle Payne and Katelyn Mallyon getting the opportunities and results at the metropolitan meetings.

“There were some great female jockeys when I was young, just as good as the girls today, the difference is the girls now are getting the opportunities that the likes of Therese Payne and Maree [Payne] didn’t get,” she said. “Therese was a superstar jockey and at the same time Linda Jones and those riders were competing against the men, and it has just taken a long time to all catch up.”

Meech said punters could expect to see her in the saddle for many years to come. She is fit and healthy and “there is no reason why I can’t keep riding for a long time”.

She returns to Australia on July 17 and will head to Darwin for the Northern Territory Derby.

MUSIC: Kingswood country

BE THERE: Catch Kingswood at The Cambridge Hotel on September 18.KINGSWOOD fans are being treated this winter. Not only is the debut album from the Melbourne four-piece finally being unleashed, but a national tour has been announced.
杭州夜生活

The rock outfit first made waves in 2009 and have since gained fans for their all-out rock sound, with songs like She’s My Baby, Suckerpunch, Yeah Go Die and Ohio.

In the years since they’ve toured with the likes of The Living End, British India and The Saints and chalked up numerous festival appearances, including Splendour In The Grass, Queenscliff Music Festival and Pyramid Rock.

Their debut album – from which we’ve already heard singles Suckerpunch and the most recent and more chilled I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me – was recorded at the renowned Blackbird Studios in Nashville. Called Microscopic Wars, the album was recorded with big-name producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Kings Of Leon) and will be released on August 22.

Catch Kingswood at The Cambridge Hotel on September 18. Tickets at bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

ASH GRUNWALD

BLUES-ROOTS troubadour Ash Grunwald’s career is a lesson in diversity.

His music is founded in traditional blues but over the course of his career he’s also explored far and beyond. He’s worked with hip-hop names t.z.u, Funk Oars and Urthboy, Spiderbait’s Kram, played alongside acoustic singer songwriter Pete Murray and the much-loved Joe Camilleri of Black Sorrows fame.

More recently he teamed up with Scott Owen and Andy Strachan of The Living End on their collaborative album Gargantua.

But now Grunwald has come full circle, back to his solo blues roots and back to touring Australia. Catch him at The Cambridge Hotel on October 2. Tickets at yourcambridge杭州后花园m and bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

CHINGY

US rapper Chingy – who had hits with One Call Away and Right Thurr – plays Finnegan’s Hotel next week.

The first release of tickets for the July 17 gig sold out, but the second release is still available as well as VIP tickets, which include the chance to mingle with the rapper after the gig and have a photo taken.

Visit finneganshotel杭州后花园m.au.

GET ready for a road trip with the Crooked Mountain Concert at Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in November.

The festival on November 8 will feature Aussie legends Dragon (April Sun In Cuba, Are You Old Enough, Rain, Speak No Evil and Young Years), The Capulets, The O Trio and Smith and Jones.

The festival is BYO picnic rug, chairs, food and alcohol, but locally-produced food and non-alcoholic drinks will be available on site. Music and kids’ activities kick off from 5pm.

Festivalgoers can stay for the weekend and explore the beautiful Warrumbungle National Park, with powered and unpowered campsites available in the park. If camping isn’t your thing, there is accommodation in Coonabarabran, Tooraweenah and Coonamble. Those travelling from Coonabarabran can pre-book the concert bus for $12 return.

Tickets on sale now on 13000PARKS on 1300072757 or visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au.

NEWY’S own The Owls will launch their third EP Own The Streets with a national tour and hometown show at The Cambridge Hotel in October.

Their first EP, Swamp Love, was released in 2012, followed by Ocean and Own The Streets, which was released last week. In between the three EPs, the boys chalked up plenty of gigs including supporting the likes of The Cribs, Wolfmother and DZ Deathrays.

Catch the four-piece at The Cambridge on October 11.

Visit facebook杭州后花园m/theowlsonline. Tickets at bigtix杭州后花园m.au.

JOE Camilleri this year celebrates 50 years in the music business. And with 45 albums under his belt, he is showing no signs of slowing down. The writer of milestone Australian songs such as Harley and Rose, Chained To The Wheel and Never Let Me Go is the frontman of The Black Sorrows and Jo Jo Zep and The Falcons.

Album number 17 from the Sorrows, Certified Blue, is being released as a CD and as a limited edition, coloured 12-inch vinyl LP. The songs draw upon the diverse palette of Camilleri’s musical tastes and influences – blues, jazz, country, roots, r’n’b, and Americana. Fans have the opportunity to meet Camilleri and hear him perform tracks from Certified Blue at JB hi Fi, Glendale, at 1pm on Saturday.

HOT on the heels of fellow Beatles act Bootleg Beatles’ show at Wests in June, The Fabulous Beatle Boys are coming to Newcastle.

The group’s visit marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ one and only tour of Australia in 1964, with The Fabulous Beatle Boys recreating the ’64 tour, right down to the song set, the outfits, the instruments and even the atmosphere.

The Fabulous Beatle Boys play at City Hall on November 14. Tickets at Ticketek.

Canberra to host a leg of the Australian Athletics Tour in 2015

Australian sprint queen Melissa Breen. Photo: Jeffrey ChanCanberra is home to the fastest woman in Australian history, so it only makes sense the city is back on the Australian Athletics Tour for the first time in five years.
杭州夜生活

ACT sprint queen Melissa Breen and London Olympic Games competitor Lauren Boden are set to headline a star-studded local contingent against the best in the country at the Canberra Track Classic on February 7 next year.

Canberra has not been a part of the Australian Athletics Tour since the Australia Cup was disbanded in 2010.

Breen proved exactly how quick the track at the AIS was when she smashed Melinda Gainsford-Taylor’s 20-year-old 100m women’s record, stopping the clock in 11.11 seconds at the ACT championships earlier this year.

Athletics ACT executive officer Ben Offereins said having the Australian Athletics Tour back in Canberra would be a massive boost to the region.

”We’ve felt a little bit neglected over the past couple of years because we haven’t had a tour meet and it’s something we’ve always wanted to get back,” Offereins said.

”It’s a pretty strong athletics community in terms of love of the sport, so it was something they wanted to work towards.

”It’s good we’ve been able to work with Athletics Australia and get a meet back here.”

Offereins has campaigned strongly for the event since he joined Athletics ACT earlier this year.

The 28-year-old moved from Perth to link back up with his former coach, Aaron Holt, as the 400m runner aims to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Offereins won a bronze medal with the men’s 4x400m relay team at the 2009 world titles and won the 400m at the Australia Cup in Canberra.

He is hoping to compete at the Canberra Track Classic, joining the likes of Breen, Boden and Paralyampic gold medallist Evan O’Hanlon.

”We’ve got a lot of athletes we want to showcase to the community,” Offereins said.

”It will be a good opportunity for the people of Canberra to see the Canberra athletes compete against Australia’s best.

”One thing that’s known around Australia is that Canberra is a fast track.

”It’s something even athletes outside of Canberra have been calling for because of how fast it is, and Mel proved that this year.”

The Canberra Track Classic is one of nine stops on the 2014-15 Australian Athletics Tour.

The season will finish in Brisbane, with the national championships to be held in Queensland from March 26-29, the first time in the state since 2009.

Halle Berry stars in new TV drama Extant

Golden girl: Halle Berry as Molly Woods in Extant and her “android” son.With the mesmerising manner of an old-school film star, Halle Berry seems the very personification of the dramatic migration of film actors, writers and directors to television, the new wave which has caused the so-called ‘‘golden age’’ of television.
杭州夜生活

And Berry, the star of a new ‘‘event’’ television drama, Extant, about a female astronaut, Molly Woods, who returns pregnant from a year-long solo space mission, comes to the point very quickly: ‘‘First and foremost it was story, story, story,’’ she tells The Guide. ‘‘This was one of the best things I have ever read.’’

‘‘Quite honestly, I have read lots of pilots, lots of films, and when I read this it just jumped out at me,’’ the star of Monster’s Ball and the X-Men franchise says. ‘‘I related to this character in a very profound way. I understood her. I thought I had the wherewithal to breathe some life into this character.’’

Berry says she loved the science fiction aspect of the story. And then there is the imprimatur of Steven Spielberg, who is an executive producer of the project.

But the conversation comes back to the inescapable point: if one of Hollywood’s most bankable film actresses has joined the great migration from big screen to small, is this the final nail in film’s coffin? Or merely proof that Kevin Spacey’s declared ‘‘golden age’’ is indeed that.

‘‘There are so many reasons why one has to start abandoning their concepts about film versus television,’’ Berry says. ‘‘It’s a grey world, it’s not longer black and white where you do one or the other. I think today, as artists, we go where the good work is, where the good characters are.

‘‘Nobody can dispute that television has some of the best writing you will read. The best filmmakers, producers, directors, are doing television, so it’s no mystery that actors would then follow.’’

In Extant, unanswered questions – such as a chunk of missing video log – and unexplained events suggest there is a conspiracy at work. But what? And why?

While the story is, in one sense, writ large from the science fiction playbook: space stations, unexplained encounters and the possibility of alien impregnation, it also taps a provocative vein of moral and ethical questions, in particular about women’s ownership of their bodies.

Berry says those ethical and moral themes were never far from her mind. ‘‘How did Molly get pregnant? Was it right, was it wrong? Now that it’s happened, what does it mean? Is she a mother? Is she not a mother? What rights does she have? What does she do about it, morally and ethically? Where does she stand? She’s having to ask herself those questions.’’

The series also stars Goran Visnjic as Molly’s husband, John Woods, and Pierce Gagnon as Ethan, their  ‘‘son’’ – an android child whose humanity, or the implied lack of it, is one of the show’s most potent story threads.

‘‘One of the questions that the series poses is can this robot become human? Can we teach it to love? Can we give it free will? Will it act as human beings act over time?’’ Berry says. ‘‘And we, as humans, can we love something that is not real, that is sort of fabricated?

‘‘What intrigued me about this series is to try to discover the answer to that. Can we teach someone to be human? Hopefully by the time we finish this series, we might have a better answer. We might be able to intelligently talk about it but I think that’s what is exciting all of us right now. We are asking ourselves those questions.’’

The series was created by writer Mickey Fisher who conceived it, he said, as an antidote to all of the poor writing he had given female characters over the years.

‘‘Like a lot of male writers, I short-changed a lot of my female characters over the years; out of a desire to write someone who is complex and interesting and faced with an extraordinary situation, I set out to write this,’’ he said.

Right off the bat, Berry says Molly is complicated. ‘‘That was the first thing,’’ she says. ‘‘[When I read the script I saw] she was a woman who was extremely complicated. Right away the woman who goes to space for a year by herself, she’s complicated, because that’s not what most people would ever think of doing or want to do. She was complicated and she was strong.’’

On Fisher’s point – that he had short-changed a lot of female characters – Berry agrees that great writing in film for women, and for women of colour in particular, is tough to find.

‘‘It’s been really hard throughout my career to find roles for me to play,’’ she says. ‘‘I think, give me an opportunity to give all that I think I am capable of doing, and many times I have had to, I like to say, make lemonade out of lemons, because you have to keep going.

‘‘The option of laying down and dying, or switching careers, never seemed possible. So I have done the best I could with all the limitations I have been faced with and I think I have done OK for myself.”

And she has an Emmy and a Golden Globe, for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, and an Oscar, for Monster’s Ball, to show for it.

‘‘But there has always been a shortage of good roles for women, and for women of colour there is even less there and we just have to keep trying to find a way out of no way, and stay a part of the industry that we love. And television now gives us another outlet to be able to do that.’’

Extant’s trailer, and the stunning space effects achieved on an ambitious television budget, have brought early comparisons to Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron’s stark film epic. Coupled with Spielberg’s name in the credits, it is easily labelled science fiction, but Berry points out that the high-tech elements of the story quickly give way to something far simpler.

‘‘It’s a human story about a family,’’ she says. ‘‘The fact that Molly goes to space and things happen up there, that’s part of it, but it’s more about when she comes back, what is she dealing with, what is the aftermath of that.

‘‘It’s really about this family and these people, and how they relate to one another, and how they solve this mystery. And what is love? What does being human mean? Can they live as a normal family with everything else happening around them?’’

Extant, Sunday, Ten, 9pm.

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3PHOTOS

State of Origin 2014: The lead-up to Game 3 | PHOTOS State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images
杭州夜生活

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

State Of Origin III, 2014 – QLD v NSW. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

NSW Blues’ captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

Queensland Maroons captain’s run. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images

TweetFacebookIt’s the game of the rugby league season. Can NSW make State of Origin 2014 a clean sweep?

Check out the pre-game photos fromSuncorp Stadiumhere.

Check out what people are saying on social mediabelow.

Footy fans get set to the final match of the 2014 State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium. Pic by Bradley Kanaris, Getty Images