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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.