Dockers primed for AFL flag assault

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has declared his team will fear no one during the AFL finals series after they secured a top-four berth with a fighting eight-point win over Port Adelaide.


The Dockers’ flag hopes were hanging in the balance after they fell 12 points behind early in the third quarter of Saturday’s clash at Patersons Stadium.

But nine unanswered goals from Fremantle turned the match on its head, with the home side running out 16.9 (105) to 14.13 (97) winners to lock down a coveted top-four berth.

The result means Fremantle will now play an away qualifying final in the first week of the finals, instead of an elimination final.

Last year, the Dockers beat Geelong in a qualifying final at Simonds Stadium to set up a dream run to the grand final.

Lyon says his team is well placed to again thrive in the finals cauldron – even for the away games.

“Everyone has been on a long, hard, arduous season and the reward at the end is we get a double chance,” Lyon said.

“We’ve won a significant amount of games. It’s pleasing for the playing group that they get to have a genuine assault again.

“We go into (the finals) in good form.

“We’ve beaten Hawthorn, we beat Port, we ran Geelong to a kick and we haven’t played Sydney for a long time.

“We respect everyone, but nothing really holds any fears for us.”

Fremantle lost to Sydney by 17 points at the SCG in round five this year, but the Dockers beat the Swans in last year’s preliminary final in Perth.

The Power’s fifth-placed finish means they will now face a sudden-death elimination final against the in-form Tigers at Adelaide Oval next week.

Richmond shape as the ultimate dark horse of the finals series after producing a nine-game winning streak to snatch eighth spot.

Under the current finals format, no team has won the flag from outside of the top four.

But Power coach Ken Hinkley has urged his team to give it one mighty crack in an attempt to buck that trend.

“As we know now, she’s cutthroat. One mistake and you’re gone – season over,” Hinkley said.

“I would say right now we are playing as good a footy as we have played all year.

“I think we have prepared ourselves pretty well.

“We know what finals are about. We had a little taste of it last year.

“Today is perfect preparation.”

Fremantle defender Michael Johnson was clearly hampered by a sore back against the Power, but Lyon said the All-Australian would be fit to play next week.

The Dockers will also welcome back star midfielder Nat Fyfe from a two-match suspension.

Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow, who was thrust into the side just two weeks after breaking his thumb, tallied 27 possessions against the Power in a brave effort.

But it was ground-level forwards Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Walters and Chris Mayne who kicked the Dockers into gear, with the trio combining for seven goals during their side’s nine-goal blitz.

Power forward Jay Schulz stood tall with six goals, while Robbie Gray (33 possessions, two goals) was also influential.

Eels not giving up on NRL season

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur defiantly declared his side’s NRL season was not over despite a 42-12 thumping at the hands of Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.


Needing wins in their final two games to guarantee a place in the top eight, the Eels led 12-8 at halftime but were blown away in the second half by the 14th placed Knights.

Newcastle took the lead in the 50th minute when five-eighth Jarrod Mullen went through some flimsy defence to run 20 metres to score.

It sparked a five-try blitz from the hosts in the space of 16 minutes as they added Parramatta to their list of recent victims at home which already included the Warriors, Melbourne and Sydney Roosters.

Winger Chanel Mata’utia grabbed a hat-trick, first scoring in the 53rd and 59th minutes before Beau Scott and Joey Leilua exposed woeful Eels defence in front of a crowd of 18,558.

Mata’utia then showed great agility in the 79th minute to bring down a bouncing ball just inside the deadball line to seal his treble.

The loss leaves Parramatta needing to beat Canberra on the road next Saturday and require other results to go their way if they are to make the finals.

Newcastle had the advantage of a strong breeze in the second half but Arthur said his side lacked intent throughout and paid the price.

The ninth-placed Eels will be 10th on 28 points after this weekend if the Warriors beat the Titans on Sunday.

The Broncos and the Cowboys, who host the Sharks on Monday night, are also on 28 points but Parramatta have the worst for-and-against of the group by a fair margin.

Arthur was confident they could bounce back in Canberra and give themselves a chance of making the play-offs.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to do much this week,” he said.

“The boys’ pride is hurting and they realise it was a lost opportunity.

“We don’t want to finish the season with a performance like that.

“Our season’s not over.”

Knights captain Kurt Gidley said it was enjoyable to watch everything go right for his side after a season of setbacks and distractions.

“We haven’t had too many of those days,” Gidley said.

“We’ve been on the other side of it a few times.

“I thought we were under the pump a bit in the first 20 minutes, they were coming at us hard and fast.

“But we were prepared to roll up our sleeves and work really hard into the wind.”

Parramatta forward Ben Smith was put on report in the 78th minute for a crusher tackle on Chanel Mata’utia.

Groth hoping for Davis Cup call-up

Sam Groth is awaiting a phone call from Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter after showcasing his credentials and competitive fight in a respectable second-round US Open loss to Roger Federer.


Groth went down swinging in a 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat at Flushing Meadows on Friday night before putting his hand up to potentially replace the injured Bernard Tomic for next month’s World Group playoff against Uzbekistan in Perth.

With Tomic quitting the Open with a hip problem and saying he’s uncertain if he’ll be fit for the September 12-14 grasscourt tie, Rafter is weighing up his options.

Groth’s explosive power game is tailor made for grass – as was evident by the 26-year-old reaching his maiden ATP semi-final last month in Newport.

He and teenage prospect Thanasi Kokkinakis are the frontline contenders for a promotion.

Davis Cup coach Josh Eagle was among the first in the Flushing Meadows locker room to congratulate the world’s fastest serve on his breakthrough Open campaign.

“I think there’s a chance. Josh’s got to speak with Pat, so they’ll come up with a decision together and hopefully I’ll hear from Pat in the next day or so,” Groth said.

Tennis Australia said Rafter had already left New York to return to Australia to begin preparations for the playoff, but Groth hoped he’d already shown the skipper enough to warrant inclusion in the four-man team.

Groth has won six doubles titles in 2014 with Chris Guccione, who has routinely played with Lleyton Hewitt in Davis Cup, while also breaking into the world’s top 100 in singles.

“I want to be in a position that I can play both so I’ve made that an option for the team,” Groth told AAP.

“I’d love to be a part of things and, if they feel like I fit into the team, then I’ll make myself available to be a part of things.

“There’s four guys out there and you want to have options over the three days.”

Groth earned rave reviews from Federer and tennis great John McEnroe for his daring serve-volley game and the strapping one-time Australian rules footballer vowed to continue playing in such an entertaining fashion.

“I grew up idolising Pat (Rafter) and Mark Philippoussis, who were the two guys coming through at the top of the game at that stage,” he said.

“I grew up on grass in Australia. I always sort of serve-volleyed, came to the net.

“Ever since I was young, I always rushed the net. It hasn’t always worked for me, but I think I’m getting better at it.

“I think it’s what I’ve got to do. I’m a big guy. I’m never going to be the quickest guy around the court.

“”I’ve got an aggressive style of game. I think that’s the best way for me to play, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Crows wants fast AFL start against Saints

Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson wants just one thing: a fast start against St Kilda in Sunday’s AFL encounter at Adelaide Oval.


The Crows are out of the hunt for the finals, but Sanderson is demanding his outfit finish their season in style against the likely wooden spooners.

“Our focus will be to start well against St Kilda no matter what,” he said.

Adelaide’s finals aspirations hinged on Collingwood, Richmond and West Coast losing.

The Crows had the first leg of that trifecta, with the Magpies losing to Hawthorn on Friday night.

But Richmond’s gallant three-point triumph against minor premiers Sydney on Saturday night consigned to Adelaide to being finals spectators, irrespective of the result of West Coast’s away game against Gold Coast on Sunday.

Sanderson’s desire for a quick start comes amid sluggish opening from his Crows, who have won just nine opening quarters this season.

That statistic galls the third-year coach, given only four clubs – flag fancies Sydney, Hawthorn, Fremantle and Port Adelaide – have won more quarters overall than Adelaide.

“The trouble is, when we have a bad quarter, we get scored heavily against,” Sanderson said.

“Defence is an area we have to improve.”

Sunday’s fixture will be St Kilda great Lennie Hayes’ final AFL game, with the respected Saint retiring.

Hayes is the hero of Adelaide’s acting captain Rory Sloane, who supported the Saints when a lad.

Sloane will chalk his 100th AFL game against his childhood idol.

“There’s a bit of romance in that it’s Lenny Hayes’ last game, Rory Sloane’s 100th,” Sanderson said.

“I think Sloaney will jog over and shake his hand before the game because he does love him.”

Australia’s terror alert remains medium

Australia’s terror alert will remain at medium despite the United Kingdom increasing its assessment of risk from substantial to severe, the second-highest level.


The alert level is regularly reviewed by authorities and would be increased to high “if it were deemed that a terrorist attack is likely to occur,” Attorney-General George Brandis said in a statement on Saturday.

Senator Brandis said the government was seriously concerned that about 60 Australians were fighting in Syria and Iraq and another 100 were believed to be involved.

“We remain in close contact with the United Kingdom and other partners about the threat from terrorist groups active in Syria and Iraq, and from returning foreign fighters,” he said.

The UK’s terror level was on Friday boosted to severe but Home Secretary Theresa May said there wasn’t any specific threat.

“This move by the United Kingdom indicates the significance of the threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq,” Senator Brandis said.

The medium terror alert means that a terrorist attack could occur.

It’s still safe to travel to the UK, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.

“So long as Australian people abide by any warnings or suggestions they have in place, they should be able to travel there quite safely,” he said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and when there is a need to make a change we will. But at this stage we will take the advice and act when or if it becomes necessary.”

Mr Truss said Australians have been shocked by what they’re seeing on their TV screens.

“And any suggestions that this kind of activity could come to Australia absolutely appals our country, and so we do have a responsibility to take action and make sure that doesn’t happen.”

No headgear can help Thai boxers to two golds in Incheon

The International Amateur Boxing Association opted to remove headgear in men’s bouts last year with many fighters getting their first chance to box without them at the Sept 19-Oct.


4 Games in Incheon.

Thailand Boxing Association head Pichai Chunhavajira said the move will aid his team of seven male fighters in South Korea, with all having grown up practising other combat sports, like Muay Thai, without using headgear.

“The lack of headguards gives us the edge,” Pichai told the Nation newspaper on Saturday.

A change in scoring will also favour the Thais, Pichai said, adding he thought bouts would be more exciting.

“In the past we have rarely seen knockouts but with the new rules there will likely be KO’s after a few rounds,” he added.

“If they can make it clear they are better right from start, then it’s very unlikely that the judging will go against them. But at the end of the day, you have to be really good to win.”

Pichai has high hopes for light welterweight Wuttichai Masuk, flyweight Chatchai Butdee, light heavyweight Anawat Thongkratok and welterweight Sailom Adi.

Wuttichai looks most likely to deliver having beaten Cuban world number one Luis Oliva in the final of the AIBA’s President’s Cup in June. The 64 kilogramme fighter also beat home favourite Almasbek Alibekov en route to victory in Almaty.

“Judging from recent results, we have boxers who are potential Asian Games gold medallists,” Pichai said.

“Wuttichai in particular won the President’s Cup. It’s not easy to beat a home fighter in a boxing powerhouse like Kazakhstan.

“We also have Sailom, Anawat and Chatchai, who have Olympic experience. These boxers have been in good form and have a good draw. They are capable of producing gold-medal-winning performances.”

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Sri Lanka rout Pakistan to clinch ODI series

Fawad Alam’s unbeaten 38 was the highest score in their embarrassing batting capitulation that saw only three batsmen reach double digits.


Set a revised 101-run victory target in 48 overs following a rain-intervention, Sri Lanka lost three wickets before romping home with Tillakaratne Dilshan (50 not out) scoring with the kind of fluency none of the Pakistani batsmen could display.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was left to rue his decision to bat first at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium as his team lost the top half of their batting order to reach 55 in the 19th over.

Dhammika Prasad dismissed openers Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad cheaply to deny Pakistan a strong start and Lasith Malinga trapped Mohammad Hafeez leg before to further wreck the top order.

Hafeez was not convinced by the umpire’s call and asked for a review but could not get the decision overturned and the visitors slumped to 14-3 in the eighth over.

Their innings never got any momentum but Misbah and Alam at least offered some resistance which was broken by Dilshan’s accurate throw from point that sent back the Pakistan captain.

Umar Akmal hit Perera for a six but the bowler exacted revenge with the next delivery which the batsman could only top edge to perish.

Perera destroyed Pakistan’s middle order with his four-wicket burst while also taking a smart running catch to send back Shahid Afridi, who had stepped out to hit leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna.

Reeling at 81-8 from 26 overs, the respite for Pakistan finally came in the form of rain which forced the players off.

Their resistance, however, did not last long once play resumed and spinner Rangana Herath rearranged Mohammad Irfan’s stumps with a flighted delivery to end their innings.

The defeat marked the end of Pakistan’s disappointing tour of Sri Lanka where they lost both the tests preceding the one-day series.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Patrick Johnston)

Lyon, Clarke, Cutting in for Australia

Australia have realised they must utilise spin more effectively if they’re to win the one-day tri-series in Harare, with Nathan Lyon recalled to face Zimbabwe on Sunday.


Selectors have made three changes from the side that suffered a seven-wicket loss to South Africa earlier in the week, with captain Michael Clarke to also make his return from a left hamstring injury which sidelined him from the first two matches.

Clarke comes in at the expense of Steve Smith, Lyon replaces the rested Mitchell Johnson and bowling allrounder Ben Cutting gets his first opportunity of the tour in place of Kane Richardson.

In a batting reshuffle, Clarke will come in at No.3 pushing allrounder Mitchell Marsh back to No.6 for the match which can guarantee Australia their place in the final against the Proteas.

Lyon’s axing for the Proteas clash has been shown up to be a mistake and his return allows Johnson to freshen up for the business end of the round robin tournament, which concludes with a final on Saturday September 6.

Clarke says the five overs bowled by Australia’s part-timers Smith and Glenn Maxwell against South Africa simply wasn’t enough in the slow conditions, and Lyon will take on a sizeable responsibility.

“I think the selectors have got to think about the conditions we’re playing in and what they think is the right attack to beat South Africa and Zimbabwe in these last two games,” Clarke said.

“We’ve got to use our spinners a bit more than what we have so far.”

Australia’s decision to drop Lyon was made to look even more misguided in hindsight by the fact Zimbabwean spinner Prosper Utseya claimed a five-wicket haul – including a hat-trick – against the South Africans on the same pitch two days later.

Zimbabwe bowled South Africa out for 231, with eight wickets taken by spinners, and although the Proteas rallied to win the match, Australia were given an insight by the hosts into the tactics required to be successful in Harare.

“We tend to prepare wickets that are slow and that turn,” said Utseya, who will be tested next month in Cardiff after being reported for a suspect bowling action prior to this series.

“So we’ll always try to play to our strengths when we’re playing at home.”

Smith is the unlucky man to miss out for Clarke, meaning Phil Hughes retains his place opening the batting.

With Smith’s leg-spinners out of the equation, Glenn Maxwell will be utilised as a part-time option, and Clarke says he’s also fit to bowl his left-arm orthodox if required. Australia: Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.

Arruabarrena takes charge at ailing Boca Juniors

Arruabarrena, a former Boca, Villarreal and Argentina left back, was appointed on Friday to succeed record title-winner Bianchi, who led the club to nine trophies a decade back, but had to go after a dismal 18-month third spell in charge.


“It’s a matter of pride and a great responsibility to be the coach at this club for which everyone knows the strong feeling I have,” Arruabarrena, 39, said at his unveiling.

“We’re going to try to pull out of this situation, I have faith in the squad,” he said of a team he has inherited lying near the bottom of the standings with three points from four matches.

“I can talk a lot (about what I want from the team) but they’re just words…We have to work hard,” added Arruabarrena, who won league and Libertadores Cup titles under Bianchi at Boca.

“The players are hurting, they feel rage and the best way to get out of that is to try to lift their spirits and I’m confident we can do that,” said Arruabarrena, whose previous coaching experience is with Tigre and Uruguay’s Nacional.

Boca president Daniel Angelici’s decision to prematurely end Bianchi’s tenure was not popular with club members who chanted at an assembly for his and the board’s resignations.

Angelici, however, moved after Boca’s third defeat of the season, 3-1 away to Estudiantes on Wednesday after last weekend’s 3-0 loss to modest Atletico Rafaela at La Bombonera.

“This is the best moment to play against Boca,” Velez’s Uruguayan goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa said as the leaders look to extend their perfect start with a fifth successive win.

Boca’s arch-rivals and title holders River Plate, in stark contrast, will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in second place away to newly crowned South American champions San Lorenzo (0030 Monday).

River have rediscovered their long-lost identity as an attacking team under their former midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who took charge as coach when Ramon Diaz resigned after his side won last season’s “Final” championship in May.

Sunday also marks the return of the Avellaneda derby, second only to the Boca-River “superclasico” with promoted Independiente at home to Racing Club (1815).

The derby was not played last season after Independiente’s first ever relegation and Racing are favourites for their first away win over their big rivals in 13 years.

(Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Day third at Deutsche Bank

Jason Day is three shots off the lead in a tie for third after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts.


The Queenslander fired a five-under-par 66 in the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs led by American Ryan Palmer who rolled in nine birdies on his way to a round of eight under.

Palmer leads compatriot Keegan Bradley by two shots while Day is joined on 66 by Americans Webb Simpson and Chesson Hadley.

The 37-year-old Palmer is aiming for his fourth career US PGA Tour win after finishing runner-up earlier this year at the Honda Classic and the Humana Challenge.

“It’s been great the past couple of months,” Palmer said.

“My short putting has been phenomenal.

“I’m making a lot more putts inside six feet. When you get the putts going from 15 (feet) and in, especially for birdie, it makes for good days.”

Palmer’s round was lowest score at the Boston course and comes after he missed the cut in his past two appearances in the event.

He started on the back nine and made bogey on the 10th. He erased that mistake with a 13-foot birdie putt on the 11th.

He capped his round with a birdie putt from 18 feet on the ninth, his last.

“I’ve had that good feeling (with my putter) since the Open Championship,” said Palmer, who needed just 21 putts in his first round.

“I took a small tip from (Shawn) Stefani, who was talking about his putting changes. I took a little something from that.”

Ian Poulter, who shared ninth here last year, posted a four-under 67.

He was joined in sixth place by Sweden’s Carl Pettersson, Bill Haas, Scotland’s Russell Knox and Jordan Spieth.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson opened with a one-under 70 and is tied for 26th, along with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy.

The world No.1 McIlroy got off to a quick start making birdie on three of his first four holes but then cooled off with four pars and a bogey to finish the front nine.

McIlroy mixed two birdies and three bogeys over his final six holes.

The top 70 players on the FedEx Cup points list after the Deutsche Bank tournament will advance to the BMW Championship in Denver.