Sydney FC motivated by big losses to Brisbane Roar, says Sebastian Ryall

The memory of two thumping defeats this season will provide ample motivation for Sydney FC against league leaders Brisbane Roar on Friday night, says defender Sebastian Ryall.
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The Sky Blues were demolished 4-0 at Suncorp Stadium in round two and 5-2 at Allianz Stadium in round 12, two results that aptly demonstrated the gulf in class between the two sides.

Ryall admits it is difficult to separate Brisbane’s overwhelming attacking talent – which includes the likes of Besart Berisha, Thomas Broich, Dimitri Petratos, Matt McKay and Liam Miller – and their defence, which has conceded less than a goal a game on average (20 goals in 22 games) this season.

“You can’t really pinpoint any one of their players; they’re a great side and they’ve shown that against us this season already,” he said. “They’ve absolutely killed us in the two matches we’ve played, so we’re expecting a tough match. But we’re at home, we’ve got the fans behind us.”

Sydney at least appear in better form this time around, having won three of their past four matches. And Ryall says they’ve done their homework on Mike Mulvey’s side, who outwitted the in-form Adelaide United 2-1 last week.

“We’ve analysed Brisbane, we’ve got our game plan and obviously we’re going to be playing a different kind of game to the last one when it didn’t work,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to play against the top team. It’s going to be a tough match, but we’re prepared for it.”

The Roar are 10 points clear of second-placed Western Sydney and are now red-hot favourites to win their third league title, which would make them the only A-League club to have won a trio of championships.

“For sure, they’re the best team in the league and I think they’ve proven that this year,” Ryall said. “They’ve got a great squad and play really good football. It will be a good test for us and I think we’re up for it.”

However, the Sky Blues can’t be discounted on form, last week’s dramatic come-from-behind 3-1 win in the Sydney derby delivering a huge shot of self-belief.

“With five matches left, after getting a result against Western Sydney, it’s a confidence boost and every match from now on is vital and we need to pick up maximum points if we can,” Ryall said.

“It’s such a tight competition and we’ve been a bit hot and cold throughout the year. We’ve had some tough periods, but it’s a good squad that we have here and coming into the last matches, we’ve got some big games.

“Beating Western Sydney has been good for everyone here. We’re a tight group and we’ve got the confidence in each other and anything can happen from here on in.”

Only five points separates the second-placed Wanderers from seventh-placed Newcastle, meaning the finals puzzle is far from complete, and seemingly changing each weekend.

Incredibly, a win for Sydney FC could hoist them as high as second, a remarkable possibility considering the side went into the Sydney derby outside the top six.

“We’re taking it each match at a time, because you if you look at the ladder, it’s so close between second and way down to eighth,” Ryall said. “It’s just a matter of picking up points each week and after a good performance against Western Sydney we need to bounce back from that and pick up something again.”

Ryall says his teammates have spoken about the major talking point of last week’s derby – Ali Abbas’ accusation of being racially abused by a Wanderers’ player – but that it was now in the hands of the governing body.

“We have spoken about it, but it’s not really for me to comment right now,” he said. “It’s for the FFA and they’ll look after it.”


WA scientists capture 12 billion-year-old explosion

The 12.5 billion-year-old ‘GRB 140311A’ explosion has been captured by WA scientists. The 12.5 billion-year-old ‘GRB 140311A’ explosion has been captured by WA scientists.
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This is the 12.5 billion-year-old ‘GRB 140311A’ explosion captured by WA scientists.

A West Australian telescope has captured images of a far away star blowing up about 12.5 billion years ago.

Professor David Coward told WAtoday爱上海同城论坛 that the recording of the event, known as a gamma ray burst, was significant as he believed it to be the oldest image of its kind to be captured.

“When you look at space, you look back in time,” he said.

The Zadko Telescope, located in Gingin and operated by the University of Western Australia’s School of Physics which operates robotically, is designed to capture flashes in the sky.

It received an alert from a NASA satellite that had been orbiting at about 5.30am on Wednesday that prompted the telescope into action.

Within less than a minute of receiving the alert the telescope began recording images of the sky where the satellite had been pointing when it picked up the light.

Professor Coward said there had only been a short space of time where conditions would allow the activity to be captured.

“With only 18 minutes before daylight, the pressure was on,” he said.

“But out of the blackness, with only minutes to spare, emerged a glowing mysterious source that continued to brighten.

“This was tantalising evidence of a massive star that was undergoing the cataclysmic death throws before collapsing to a black hole.

“Ironically, although appearing faint in the image, the explosion was so bright it totally outshone its host galaxy, which could not even be detected in the images.”

Professor Coward said lucky timing allowed the Zadko telescope to capture the event at its brightest.

The event was given the name GRB 140311A.

Professor Coward said while staff at the university initially had no idea how far away the explosion had occurred, with the help of information from telescopes worldwide, they had since been able to measure the distance to the event.

“It turned out to be so far away, the light from the explosion took 12.5 billion years to reach Earth,” he said.

“The explosion occurred when the Universe was only a small fraction of its present size.”

He said this could be the oldest event captured by Australian scientists.

“The images of the explosion is analogous to lighting a candle in a dark room filled with treasures from the past, and quickly taking photos before the candle goes out.

“This kind of science is like cosmic archaeology.”

An international team, consisting of researchers in Australia, France and China, are using the data to understand these explosions and the early Universe.

“We’ll combine data with others to try to begin to explain how and why this occurred,” he said. Follow WAtoday on Twitter


Missing Malaysia Airlines jet: Investigation paying ‘special attention’ to Chinese Uighur passenger

Plane may have flew for four hours after vanishingConfusion over missing plane has shamed Malaysia
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Police investigating the backgrounds of all 239 people aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are paying “special attention” to a 35 year-old Chinese Uighur man who undertook flight simulation training, according to a report in a leading Malay language newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

The Uighurs Muslim ethnic minority group from the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang have been battling for independence since they were brought under Chinese control in 1949, claiming they are oppressed by China’s authoritarian government and face religious restrictions and widespread discrimination.

Earlier this month the Uighurs, who make up 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, were blamed for a violent attack at a Chinese train station.

At least 100 people have been killed in the past year in violent clashes between Uighurs and Chinese security forces.

The Harian Metro newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying the man is not a suspect over the plane’s disappearance but that investigators were delving into his background.

According to the source the man has a PHD from a university in Britain was recently worked as a lecturer at a university in Turkey.

The source said he undertook flight simulation training in Sweden in around 2006.

Malaysian officials have not confirmed the information.

No group has claimed responsibility for the plane’s disappearance.

Police are checking the psychological and personal backgrounds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew, including chief pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah whose house has been raided by police.

Police questioned his family about his behaviour over the days before the plane’s disappearance, the same as they plan to do for all who were on board.

Mr Zharie is a veteran pilot with 18,000 flying hours.

Police say they are investigating the possibilities of hijacking or sabotage.


Griffiths expected to return for F3 derby

LONG WAIT: Joel Griffiths has not played in an F3 derby since 2008. Picture: Simone De PeakJETS striker Joel Griffiths faces a final fitness test today but is set to play in his first F3 derby in more than five years at Gosford tomorrow night.
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Griffiths was a last-minute withdrawal before last week’s win against Melbourne Heart after aggravating a rib injury in the warm-up.

Scans have cleared the 34-year-old of structural damage and he was reported to have trained well yesterday.

If he can get through a final ball-work session this morning without any setbacks, it is expected Jets coach Clayton Zane will reinstate Griffiths to his starting side for the crucial clash with Central Coast, the reigning champions.

Craig Goodwin would be the likely candidate to drop back to the bench.

Griffiths last played in a derby against Newcastle’s traditional rivals on Boxing Day, 2008, scoring from a penalty in the 2-1 loss at home.

His most recent appearance at Bluetongue Stadium was in October, 2008, when the Jets lost 1-0.

Since rejoining Newcastle in January, after five years playing in China and a brief stint with Sydney, Griffiths has played in three games, in stints of 27, 29 and 70 minutes.

His combination up front with English veteran Emile Heskey and Adam Taggart in the 2-0 win against Western Sydney two weeks ago suggested the Jets were still very much alive in the race for the playoffs.

With five rounds remaining, they are one point behind the sixth-placed Mariners and could climb as high as fourth tomorrow if they rack up their third successive win.

Gosford, however, has been anything but a happy hunting ground for Newcastle.

They were beaten 3-0 there on January 25 and have won only once in 13 visits to the Mariners’ fortress, in January, 2008, when Griffiths scored the winner in a 2-1 victory, just six weeks before Newcastle beat their arch enemies in the A-League grand final.

Jets squad: Mark Birighitti (gk), Kew Jaliens, Ben Kantarovski, Zenon Caravella, Andrew Hoole, Ruben Zadkovich (c), Emile Heskey, Craig Goodwin, Joey Gibbs, Josh Mitchell, Josh Brillante, James Virgili, Sam Gallaway, Ben Kennedy (gk), Adam Taggart, David Carney, Mitch Oxborrow, Joel Griffiths.


Henry Speight surprised by depth of rivalry between Brumbies and Waratahs in Super Rugby

Ready for rivalry: Henry Speight at Brumbies training on Thursday. Photo: Katherine Griffiths Ready for rivalry: Henry Speight at Brumbies training on Thursday. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
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Ready for rivalry: Henry Speight at Brumbies training on Thursday. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight says he is an “outsider” in the bitter rivalry with the NSW Waratahs.

But the flying Fijian has vowed to continue his mission to repay the Brumbies for giving him a Super Rugby chance, declaring “I’m a Canberran” and that he is desperate to score on Saturday night.

Speight will play his 50th game for the Brumbies in the Australian conference blockbuster at Canberra Stadium.

It is a milestone Speight thought he would never reach when no Super Rugby team was willing to give him a chance – until the Brumbies offered him a contract.

The Brumbies and Waratahs share a rich history of hatred, stretching back before Super Rugby started in 1996.

”As an outsider coming here, I knew nothing about the [Brumbies’ hate for the Waratahs],” Speight said.

”Then in my first ‘Tah Week’, first thing on Monday morning you get guys freakin’ screaming in your ears that it’s Tah Week.

”I was thinking, ‘what the hell is happening here’. But I’ve come to appreciate how important these derbies are, what it means to the team and to Canberra. I’m deadset on Tah Week as well, I’m a Canberran.”

Speight was the top try-scorer in Australia last season, but has failed to cross the line in three games this year.

The Brumbies’ cult hero has scored three tries in his past four games against the Waratahs and hopes he can open his account this week.

The Brumbies signed Speight for the 2011 campaign after star centre Christian Lealiifano spotted him playing in the New Zealand provincial competition with Waikato.

The Fijian-born speedster will be eligible to play for the Wallabies in September.

The International Rugby Board delayed his Australian Test eligibility because of a brief return to New Zealand to play for Waikato, despite Speight being based in Canberra for four years.

”He’s played 50 games for the Brumbies but he’s still not eligible to play for Australia … it’s a bit ironic. We’re lucky to have him,” Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.

The Brumbies have won their past two games and the Waratahs started their season with back-to-back bonus-point wins.

”You have to be careful how you build up a game, you don’t want to come in with too much anticipation and lose energy worrying about the game,” Larkham said.

”We learnt a lot from the [Super Rugby final] last year and guys know how to approach big games now.”


Michael Dobsonhas a point to prove

THE chance to prove himself in the NRL before it was too late was the catalyst for former Raiders halfback Michael Dobson joining the Knights.
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Dobson and another former Raider, hooker Travis Waddell, are set to play key roles for Newcastle in Sunday’s round-two games against the Raiders at Hunter Stadium.

Dobson will wear the No.7 jersey and Waddell is likely to be on the bench to relieve Kurt Gidley.

After he established himself as one of the premier playmakers in the UK, Dobson signed a one-year deal with the Knights. He had already played 20 games with the Raiders in 2007-08.

An injury to first-choice half Jarrod Mullen opened the door for Dobson, 27, to take on a more substantial role at the Knights after his stint in the UK with Hull Kingston Rovers.

‘‘I wanted to come to the NRL while I was still young enough to give it a good crack, and Newcastle gave me the best opportunity for that,’’ Dobson said.

‘‘I had a great time over in England but 5 years is a long time away.

‘‘I played the Raiders in the trial. I had some good memories from when I was there but it’s just another game.’’

Dobson grew up in Junee, Riverina, and completed his schooling at Erindale College while he advanced through the Raiders’ junior system.

He played 18 games in his rookie season but was limited to just two appearances the next year as he struggled for selection ahead of Terry Campese and Todd Carney.

‘‘I had fallen behind Toddy and Campo, who were obviously great halves, and I wanted more of an opportunity,’’ Dobson said.

Former Raiders captain Clinton Schifcoske says Dobson will relish the extra responsibility.

‘‘He’s more of an organising halfback, which is what they’re probably going to need this weekend, Newcastle,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s when he plays at his best because that’s what he did at Hull KR. Everything revolved around him.’’

Schifcoske described Dobson as ‘‘one of the top two or three halfbacks’’ in the Super League who enjoyed a challenge.

Waddell was a part of Canberra’s premiership-winning under-20s team in 2008 alongside Josh Dugan, Shaun Fensom and Jarrod Croker.

RETURNING: Michael Dobson plays his former club on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll


Reza Barati murder arrests expected within days

Manus Island police say they are poised to charge several men with the murder of Reza Barati, the asylum seeker killed in a violent confrontation at the island’s detention centre.
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Despite concerns about tensions in the centre, some of the suspects in Mr Barati’s death are believed to be still working there alongside many other staff thought to have taken part in the violence.

The revelations came as further claims emerged about the clashes, including how desperate asylum seekers tried to tie bed sheets to the door handles in their rooms to prevent their attackers getting in.

In an account obtained by Fairfax Media, an Iranian asylum seeker said two detainees were blinded, one had his eye ”removed” and one machete victim was ”cut so badly all around his neck like they meant to cut his head off”.

Manus Island provincial police commander Alex N’Drasal said on Thursday he hoped soon to arrest three to four men and charge them with murder.

”Hopefully either this week or early next week, we are going to make arrests,” he said. ”We are looking at three to four guys to be arrested and charged. We’ll probably charge them with murder.”

He declined to say who the men were, including whether they were locals or foreigners, or whether they were local staff at the centre.

He said he believed most local staff were back at work, including security staff, a direction that contradicted statements by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Asked whether this included the three to four suspects, Mr N’Drasal said he was not certain but added: ”I believe they are still there working.”

He said he had given instructions that none of the detention centre staff should leave Manus Island while the police investigation was running and therefore it was proper they should continue working.

Mr Morrison said through his spokeswoman: ”I am advised there are no locally engaged staff deployed as security officers within any of the compounds.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said letting workers involved in the violence back into the centre was a ”recipe for disaster”.

A recording of the Iranian detainee’s statement on Tuesday and an English translation described disturbing new details about the incident. The material was provided by Senator Hanson-Young and by a second, independent source.

The detainee said Mr Barati’s alleged killer was a local Salvation Army worker.

He said machetes and guns had been used in the clashes, and that ”people were attacked in their beds and their heads were cut open”, leaving ”blood on closets, pillows and walls”.

He told of a detainee being carried to safety by an Australian guard when he was hit on the head with a pole by a local guard.

”As he lifted his head up, the PNG guard recognised him as a friend who had been giving him his cigarettes every day. He was shocked and said, ‘Sorry, sorry my friend.”’

with Michael Gordon and Rory Callinan


James O’Connor’s rugby future could be in red

Queensland is emerging as the most likely destination for former Wallaby James O’Connor.
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O’Connor was in advanced talks to join the Western Force before his departure to Europe last year, and it was widely assumed the two parties would pick up where they left off. But the Breakdown understands that while the Force remain open to a reunion, the Gold Coast-raised O’Connor is leaning towards the Reds and his former coach at the Force, Richard Graham.

The 44-Test outside back will leave Premiership club London Irish for Toulon in coming weeks, where he will join fellow former Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.

In an interview in England last week O’Connor reaffirmed his desire to pull on the gold jersey again.

“My goal is to play for Australia, and a World Cup is the pinnacle. There’s the Lions and the World Cup, and if you win one of them during your career you’ll be satisfied,” he told The Rugby Paper.

“I took a risk coming here but it’s something I needed to do to refresh myself. I’d been lucky to experience six years of Super Rugby and five of Test rugby, and I wouldn’t change it, but last year was tough personally so to come here and experience a different lifestyle and rugby has been a breath of fresh air.”

ARU left at sixes and Sevens

One month after the outrageous success of the NRL Nines tournament in Auckland, this column was fascinated to learn of an aborted ARU plan to stage a cross-code Sevens tournament in Sydney every January.

The idea was to field a Sevens team from every Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby side and invite five or so NRL clubs to take part in the two-day event at Allianz Stadium.

The ARU wanted it up and running for January 2012, and had secured the support of then-NRL boss David Gallop. It ran into trouble with the Australian Super Rugby sides, with a number of head coaches believing it would interrupt their pre-season preparations.

But imagine the profile Sevens rugby would have now had the first tournament gone ahead featuring players such as Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Nick Cummins, Tevita Kuridrani, Henry Speight, Robbie Fruean, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis?

Australia boasts the number one women’s Sevens team in the world right now and a men’s team that is capable of much more than their recent results suggest.

The Gold Coast Sevens tournament – the first of nine legs in the IRB World Series – is an excellent event, and Pulver is serious when he says winning Olympic gold in Rio will be the ARU’s biggest priority in 2016, over and above the Bledisloe Cup, Rugby Championship and Super Rugby titles.

But Australian rugby fans have not taken the game, or the teams, into their hearts the way they have the Wallabies and Reds, for example.

Rio de Janeiro is just around the corner. The ARU – key players in securing sevens an Olympics berth in the first place – needs to win Australian hearts and minds.

Cheika chooses bright side

Michael Cheika always has something interesting to say. Last week The Breakdown asked him if anything had surprised him during his first 18 months back in Australia after eight years away, and he responded with the following: “I’m a little bit disappointed about the negativity around rugby.”

When asked to clarify, he said: “There’s a big negative vibe about the state of the game. There are still a lot of positive things coming from the game as well, but in Australia, we concentrate far too much on the negative sides of the game for some reason.

“There are so many good things about the game that we should be enjoying them, instead of of worrying. Just get on with it, do your best and enjoy the good bits. That’s what sport’s about. It’s not often you can get that many people together with everyone having a good time, watching the game and enjoying themselves, forgetting about their worries on a day-to-day basis. I think we’ve got to get some perspective on those things.”

It is a sentiment this column hears echoed a lot around the traps recently, from Queensland to Western Australia, and appears to refer to the oft-repeated “We’re broke” line coming out of the Australian Rugby Union.

Which is not to say it is not true. But ARU boss Bill Pulver has delivered the painful reality check, and now needs to nurse the game back to health in the public eye while he tries to do the same behind the scenes.

The constant doom and gloom messages are wearing thin on interstate administrators. And a few prominent coaches as well, it turns out.


Essendon in no rush to find new footy boss

Essendon will start the new season without a new football operations boss, but the club says it is in no rush to fill the crucial position.
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The Bombers are some way off finding a redefined general manager of football following the exit of Danny Corcoran despite having approached and interviewed several candidates, with the club looking to complete its significant off-field restructure.

The club is still speaking with some potential candidates working at sporting organisations overseas, and would rather wait to find someone with enough seniority, experience and authority to lead its football department than rush to fill the role.

The new GM of football will become the boss of coach Mark Thompson and suspended coach James Hird, upon his return in August.

Essendon approached Geoff Walsh last year, before he returned to North Melbourne to head up its football department, and more recently spoke with Fremantle’s list manager Brad Lloyd about applying for the position. Lloyd will remain with the Dockers, where he recently signed a new contract.

”It’s taking a long time to fill the role, but it was always going to take a long time because this is a really important role. We want to talk to a lot of people, we want to find the right person and we’re prepared for it to take a decent amount of time,” said Essendon’s chief operating officer, Xavier Campbell.

”It’s a particularly important role for us, the sort of strong leadership we’re looking for is unique and we’ve been looking well outside AFL circles as well.

”It’s a crucial role for us, it’s a tough role, a very senior role, and we need to get it right.”

The Bombers’ football department is currently being run by football operations manager Steve Alessio, with the Bombers also drawing on Neil Craig’s experience at Adelaide and Melbourne. Craig joined the club as head of coaching and development strategy when Thompson was appointed interim coach at the end of Essendon’s tumultuous 2013 season.

The club is closer to appointing its first integrity and compliance manager – it has drawn up a shortlist of 10 people – and has advertised for a new general manager of people and culture to head up its human resources department.

The integrity officer will work across the club but most particularly in the football department, to avoid the sort of oversights that led to the AFL and ASADA’s investigation of its supplements program in 2012. The club has received applications from people with backgrounds in law, law enforcement and auditing/compliance roles and expects to fill the position soon.


Canny Kiwi pinhookers plunder a bullish Adelaide Magic Millions sale

Top Kiwi pinhookers Mark and Shelley Treweek were in action at the Adelaide Magic Million sales this week and four yearlings are booked to cross the Tasman, including the $140,000 top-priced colt by leading sire Snitzel.
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The Treeweeks operate Lyndhurst Farm at Cambridge and are regular buyers at the main Australian sales, searching for yearlings which they believe can be improved. This invariably happens and the Treeweeks have picked up many smart buys in the past decade to sell at the main auction held in New Zealand, the Karaka Premier, each February, often for big profits.

Mark Treeweek described his Snitzel buy as: “A lovely balanced colt who has a great colour as well as a lovely head and eye.” Snitzel is leading the Australian stallions’ premiership by almost $1million. Their other buys were an Equiano colt for $80,000 and Lope De Vega colts for $50,000 and $26,000.

Dean Hawthorne and trainer Lisa Latta were other Kiwis in Adelaide and the former bought four lots – two by Husson and one each by Written Tycoon and Beneteau – for $183,000; Latta’s buy was a Lookin At Lucky colt for $51,000. Eight yearlings sold for $100,000-plus compared with just one last year – a pleasing result for the Magic Millions – and the average was a healthy $32,104 for the 207 lots sold on session one.

Magnus popular

The progeny of group1-winning sprinter Magnus were once again in demand after a filly offered as agent by Eliza Park topped the Adelaide sale on Monday night at $155,000. Magnus is well bred, being by Flying Spur from the great producing mare Scandinavia, which has Black Caviar and All Too Hard prominent on her pedigree page. At the recent Melbourne Premier sale, Magnus’ three lots in session one fetched $170,000, $120,000 and $240,000 giving him a $176,666 average. Magnus had two fillies on the first night in Adelaide and they made $115,000 (the top lot) and $110,000. Overall, he averaged $80,625 for four sold.

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