Knights blunder before Lamb’s NRL shank

Newcastle have admitted to blundering the decision over who would take the crucial penalty kick which could have sent their thrilling NRL loss to Canterbury into golden point.

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The Knights were shattered after giving up a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining in their 20-18 defeat to an emotion-charged Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday.

After the Bulldogs snatched the lead with a minute remaining thanks to a Moses Mbye runaway try, the Knights had a chance to save it after the bell when Josh Reynolds was penalised for pushing Chanel Mata’utia off the ball from the restart.

Trent Hodkinson had kicked three from four but decided to hand over the resulting attempt at a penalty conversion to Brock Lamb.

Hodkinson — who has been plagued with chronic knee issues throughout his career — was worried he couldn’t make the distance.

He revealed he had misunderstood how far out the kick was to be taken from, thinking the penalty had been blown 40 metres from the goals posts, a distance he didn’t think he could make.

In fact the mark was 30 metres out, a range he felt he could make comfortably.

Afer Lamb’s shocking kick sailed low and left of the uprights to cap a memorable Bulldogs win, Hodkinson said he was wrong not to pull rank and step back in to take the shot.

“I thought the penalty was on the 40 metre line and obviously Lamby has the bigger boot,” Hodkinson told Triple M.

“He slots them over at training all the time.

“When he lined it up it was on the 30 (metre line) and I didn’t want to take it off him. He was zoned in.

“I probably should have taken it. I’m filthy I didn’t.”

Lamb has kicked at 82 per cent this year and is considered a reliable boot.

However the 20-year-old seemed to suffer a case of the yips under the extreme pressure after coming up with the kick which led to Mbye’s game-winning try just minutes earlier.

“My message was if Hodko thinks he’s got the distance in him then take it, if he doesn’t then go with Lamby,” Knights coach Nathan Brown said.

“Lamby actually strikes the ball really, really well.

“What happened before probably played a part in how he struck the ball. He’s kicking goals at nearly 90 per cent.

“As hard as it is to take, it’s just part of the journey these kids are on. I can see the makings of a really good side.”

Buckley, ‘Pies will welcome AFL trip north

A mid-winter escape to the Gold Coast has extra meaning for Nathan Buckley as speculation ramps up about his AFL future.

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The Suns will host Collingwood this Saturday and the Magpies coach will appreciate the trip for a lot more than just the weather.

Whatever happens at Metricon Stadium, the away match will give Buckley and his team a couple of days respite from the intensity of the game’s Melbourne heartland.

The Magpies have lost their past four matches and are languishing in 15th place with a 5-10 record, their finals chances shot.

Buckley felt that Saturday’s loss to arch rivals Essendon was a tipping point for his underperforming team.

“The job now is to spend the next 48 hours having a look at how we can possibly refresh, energise, change up a few things, re-frame and give the players something to achieve over the next seven weeks,” he said.

Asked about his own future, Buckley said he was “pragmatic but not defeatist” and would continue to focus on improving his team.

The off-contract coach admitted the ongoing speculation about his job had taken a toll on his players.

“They’re only human, and there’s no doubt that it does impact in some shape or form, but that’s the reality and it ain’t changing,” Buckley said.

“We need to make sure that we understand that, look after the things that we can control and prepare as well as we can for next week.”

Club president Eddie McGuire is overseas and there are ongoing reviews of club operations.

McGuire brokered the controversial 2009 agreement where Mick Malthouse handed over the senior coaching role to Buckley two years later.

The Magpies finished fourth in 2012 but their win-loss record has worsened every year since.

This will be the fourth-straight season where they finish outside the top eight.

Power’s Ryder a walk-up for All-Australian

West Coast coach Adam Simpson reckons Paddy Ryder is a lock for All-Australian selection this season after the Port Adelaide ruckman played a starring role in Sunday’s 32-point win over the Eagles.

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The Power looked to be in trouble after West Coast booted seven unanswered goals to open up a 24-point lead in the second term.

But Ryder put on a rucking masterclass to inspire Port Adelaide to the 18.12 (120) to 13.10 (88) win.

Ryder finished with 17 disposals, 39 hit-outs, six tackles and two goals in a best-on-ground display.

His herculean performance helped Port Adelaide’s midfield dominate when the game was there to be won, with the Power dominating the inside-50m battle 37-14 in the second half.

Ryder missed all of last season to serve a doping ban emanating from Essendon’s 2012 supplements scandal.

It meant 197cm utility Jackson Trengove was forced to shoulder most of Port’s ruck load in 2016.

But Ryder has made up for lost time this year, playing a crucial role in Port Adelaide’s surge into fourth spot.

Simpson conceded his team’s ruck pairing of Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy had their colours lowered in the ruck by Ryder.

“Ryder is the No.1 ruckman in the comp at the moment,” Simpson said.

“He would be an All-Australian straight up walk-in selection in my eyes.”

Power coach Ken Hinkley was equally glowing in his praise of Ryder.

“He’s a pretty special player. I love him,” Hinkley said.

“He’s the best ruckman in the competition and we’re lucky to have him back in the team this year.

“He is dominating games week in, week out.”

Port Adelaide went some way towards shaking off their ‘pretenders’ tag with their fighting win in Perth.

But Hinkley knows there’s still plenty of work to do if his side is to secure a top-four finish.

Port Adelaide host North Melbourne on Saturday, before facing off against finals aspirants Melbourne, St Kilda, and Adelaide in the following three weeks.

Young midfield gun Sam Powell-Pepper is expected to face the Kangaroos despite injuring his right shoulder against the Eagles.

Powell-Pepper was clearly distressed while he sought medical attention in the second quarter after laying a heavy tackle.

But he was able to return to the field in the second half without any issues.

Maroons’ Holmes ready for Suncorp debut

There’s no place like home for Queensland in State of Origin.

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But Maroons flyer Valentine Holmes admits he won’t be so familiar with his surroundings in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider in what will be his first game at Suncorp Stadium as a senior footballer.

Remarkably Cronulla star Holmes has never played at the Maroons’ spiritual home since he ran out for the Queensland under 20s in a 2014 Origin curtain raiser.

In just his second Origin, Queensland winger Holmes hopes to help extend the Maroons’ stunning run at home in crunch games and seal their 11th series triumph in 12 years.

Overall the Maroons have won the past three series deciders held in Queensland and claimed the past four Origin III matches at Suncorp Stadium.

Queensland may have made themselves at home at Suncorp Stadium but Holmes admits he had never had the pleasure as a senior player.

“I honestly haven’t played there since I was 18 before the main Origin,” Holmes said.

“There were only a few thousand people but I was at that (Origin) game watching later and it was a massive crowd.

“They’re very passionate the Queensland supporters and talking to a few of the boys they’re excited by it and they said it’s the best field to play at.

“But I haven’t played a first grade game there so I don’t really know what it’s like.”

Test winger Holmes made his Origin debut in Queensland’s game two win in Sydney, scoring a try after tiptoeing down the sideline.

Holmes said he would now try not to get too overawed by the prospect of running out on to Suncorp Stadium in the famous Maroons jersey.

“The greats Queensland had with Darren Lockyer, Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Wally Lewis and all those guys, you want to put on that jersey that they all threw on,” he said.

“And everyone here is telling me how good that stadium is, one of the best stadiums they say in the world to play at.

“I’m excited to get out there on Wednesday.”

Overall Queensland have dominated Origin deciders, winning 12 – including the past six – compared to NSW’s four.

The Blues haven’t won a decider since 2005.

Marchionne sends ‘laggard’ Raikkonen a warning

“I think Kimi has got to show a higher level of commitment to the process,” he told reporters before the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday.

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“There are days when I think he’s a bit of a laggard, but we’ll see. I am going to talk to him today, we’ll see what happens.”

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion with Ferrari and now 37 years old, is out of contract at the end of the season and has not won a race since he was with Lotus in 2013.

While four times champion team mate Sebastian Vettel, also out of contract at the end of the year, has won three of eight races and leads the championship by 20 points from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the Finn is fifth overall.

Raikkonen’s best result of the season so far was second in Monaco in May and he finished fifth on Sunday after starting from third place. Vettel was second behind Mercedes’ winner Valtteri Bottas in Austria.

Vettel, with 171 points, has scored more than twice as many as Raikkonen (83).

“Obviously I want to do well,” the Finn told Reuters after the race. “I can only do the best that I can. It’s not like I’m not trying. Unfortunately, it’s not been very straightforward sometimes but that’s part of F1.

“We keep pushing and I’m sure things will get better.”

VERY SATISFIED

Marchionne said he was very satisfied with the team’s performance, after a dismal 2016 season in which they failed to win a race, and also with Vettel despite the German’s recent ‘road rage’ controversy with Britain’s Hamilton.

“It’s not perfect, I think we (have) still left a lot of potential gains on the track. We can make that difference up. I still think that Mercedes has a slight edge over us,” said the Italian.

“I am happy with what Sebastian is doing, just in case anybody is wondering.”

Vettel was handed a 10 seconds stop-and-go penalty during the race in Azerbaijan last month for deliberately banging wheels with Hamilton while they were behind the safety car.

The German was then summoned to a hearing at the sport’s governing FIA (International Automobile Federation) in Paris last Monday, which decided to take no further action after Vettel apologised and accepted full responsibility.

FIA president Jean Todt said on Saturday that the Ferrari driver would face “very severe consequences” if there were any further such incidents.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

McGuire ready to be Qld Origin enforcer

Not content with looking like his idol Michael Crocker, Queensland lock Josh McGuire is ready to act like him and step up as the Maroons enforcer in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider in Brisbane.

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Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace has revealed McGuire adopted his trademark head tape as a tribute to his hero, former Maroons hard man Crocker.

But after witnessing McGuire’s Origin II heroics, Wallace said McGuire was ready to make a name for himself at Suncorp Stadium as Queensland’s next hit man.

“Crock was a massive inspiration for Moose (McGuire),” Wallace said of Crocker, a no nonsense Maroons backrower who played 13 Origins from 2003-09.

“He just loved him. Crock wore head tape and he (McGuire) pretty much said that’s why he wears head tape.

“Crock was aggressive, a Queensland legend. He was always there when they needed a big shot or aggression.

“At the end of the day Moose is probably that player for us when it comes down to it.”

McGuire showed he was ready to do his best Crocker impersonation in the decider with an inspirational hand in Queensland’s game two win over NSW in Sydney.

The 27-year-old ripped into the giant Blues pack that monstered Queensland in game one, running 117m, making a team high 49 tackles and nabbing a line break as the Maroons came back to win from 16-6 down.

Wallace said McGuire was ready to produce more of the same in a bid to inspire one of Queensland’s most inexperienced packs in 20 years.

Wallace and fellow starting prop Dylan Napa have played a total of three Origin games between them.

“Moose will definitely be foaming at the mouth and big Naps doesn’t mind chucking a shot on here and there,” Wallace said.

Maroons bench forward Josh Papalii believed McGuire had stepped up as a pack leader after taking over the Queensland No.13 jersey from retired great Corey Parker this year.

“Out of the big blokes, Moose is definitely the most experienced in there,” he said of McGuire.

“So he’ll do a bit of talking. But you’ve got Naps there who likes that kind of role as well.”

Maroons centre Will Chambers said McGuire’s game two effort had set the yardstick for what was expected from everyone in the Queensland side.

“It’s about doing your job for the team and making sure that you keep giving 100 per cent and that’s what he does really well,” he said.

Slater inspires Holmes’ Qld No.1 hopes

Lessons learned from State of Origin great Billy Slater have stoked Valentine Holmes’ hopes of one day taking over from his idol as Queensland fullback.

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But Holmes doesn’t think that will be any time soon despite Slater going down with an ankle injury at Maroons training ahead of Wednesday night’s series decider in Brisbane.

Queensland officials confirmed Slater rolled his ankle during an opposed session at their Gold Coast camp on Sunday and would be monitored in the lead-up to game three — potentially the veteran fullback’s final Origin.

Off contract Slater, 34, is yet to decide whether he will play on in 2018 ahead of his 29th Origin.

As a result, Cronulla No.1 Holmes said he had soaked up as much information as he could from Slater at Queensland training.

“I’ve learned a lot from him this camp. He’s my biggest idol. As a kid I always used to watch him and (North Queensland’s) Matty Bowen play,” he said.

“He was one of my favourite players growing up so to be able to play alongside him is great. Even playing against him is awesome.”

However, Holmes believed Melbourne’s Cameron Munster — the debutant originally named at five-eighth — would be on standby at fullback for Slater.

Munster spent the best part of two years filling in for Slater as Melbourne No.1 while the veteran battled two shoulder reconstructions.

“It would be anyone’s dream to play (Queensland) No.1 if you’re a fullback playing for your club so it’s definitely something that I’d love to play in,” Holmes said.

“(But) I don’t think they’d be calling upon me. (It would be) Cameron Munster at fullback and me and Gagai on the wings.

“If they asked me I wouldn’t turn it down but I am just being realistic here.”

Still Holmes believed he would leave the Queensland camp a better fullback thanks to Slater.

“He’s very vocal out on the field and he’s like that off it,” Holmes said.

“When we are doing video he’ll always pull me aside and let me know what I’m doing right and what I need to work on which is what I want to hear.

“I’m fullback at clubland so that’s something that I’ve got to take back with me.”

Aust captain demands better from bowlers

Australia skipper Meg Lanning has ordered her bowlers to improve their control if they want to secure a seventh Cricket World Cup success.

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Lanning’s side lost by three runs to England at Bristol on Sunday, after failing to chase down the home side’s 8-259 — finishing 8-256 in reply.

Australia had England on the ropes at 6-174 before an 85-run stand between Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn for the seventh wicket helped them to a defendable total.

But Lanning was upset at the side gifting England 32 runs in extras as they slipped to their first defeat of the competition.

After an opening partnership of 56 between Beth Mooney (31) and Nicole Bolton (26), the visitors appeared on track when Elysse Perry (70) and Lanning (40) combined to get to 3-129 in the 32nd over.

Perry’s innings was the 19th time she has passed 50 in her last 30 ODI innings, although she is still chasing a maiden international century.

However, with the required run rate climbing, the fall of regular wickets, including those of Alex Blackwell (21 from 17 balls) and Alyssa Healy (14 from six balls) left Australia needing 16 from the final over.

Jenny Gunn held her nerve for the hosts and even took the wicket of Ashleigh Gardner for 11 to end a 24-year wait for an England victory over Australia at the World Cup.

“The period of overs 30 and 40 was what cost us in the end,” Lanning said.

“We did well towards the end to make a game of it but we left ourselves with too much to do.

“Me and Pez had established a good partnership then I got out which wasn’t ideal and we lost a bit of momentum.

“We’ve spoke about it a fair bit as a bowling unit trying to minimise those extras.

“Thirty-two is way too many and something we are going to have to improve on as we would be chasing a much smaller total.”

Despite their result, England spinner Alex Hartley insists Australia are still the team to beat.

“Definitely,” Hartley said.

“We’ve got to play a semi-final before we get to final hopefully.

“Every team in this tournament is capable of beating each other, the results in this tournament over the past couple of weeks have shown, India beating us then South Africa beating India yesterday.

“They’re (Australia) the team to beat but everyone capable of beating each other.”

Tammy Beaumont top scored for England with 49, while part-time medium pacer Elyse Villani was Australia’s chief wicket-taker with 3-42 from five overs.

Lewis joins elite company as Windies beat India in Twenty20

West Indies won with nine balls to spare, making 194 for one off 18.

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3 overs in reply to India’s 190-6 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Lewis clinching the victory in style by sweeping spinner Ravindra Jadeja over the boundary rope.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian became the third player to score two T20 international centuries, after Gayle and New Zealander Brendon McCullum.

Only Australians Aaron Finch (156) and Glenn Maxwell (145 not out) have recorded higher scores.

Gayle, in his first appearance for West Indies since they won the World Twenty20 15 months ago, compiled a relatively subdued 18 off 20 balls, while Marlon Samuels chipped in with 36 not out.

West Indies might have become easy-beats in test cricket, but they showed on Sunday they are a different in the shortest version of the sport, especially with the bat.

“Five games in a row, in the ODIs, I didn’t do well but I kept believing in my ability and today I came out trumps,” Lewis said, referring to his slim pickings in the one-day international series that preceded the one-off T20.

West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite revealed he had offered his batsmen a sweetener.

“Yesterday we asked for the batters to go out and express themselves,” Brathwaite said.

“I gave them the captain’s incentive, whoever goes and gets a fifty gets half my match fee. We wanted to put smiles on the faces of the fans.”

India captain Virat Kohli scored 39 off 22 balls as his team wrapped up their short Caribbean tour on a sour note after they won the ODI series 3-1.

“West Indies have a good T20 team,” Kohli said. “They have carried on with the same team for a couple of years, and in experimental stage we’d have up and downs.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond)

Submarines project will need ‘cathedral’

Australia will need to build a massive “cathedral” to kick off the biggest defence project in the country’s history.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined France’s Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly at the opening of the Australian Future Submarines design office in Cherbourg, west of Paris, on Sunday.

The office will be known as Hughes House after late Rear Admiral Owen “Oscar” Hughes, who spearheaded the Collins class subs project.

In December last year, Australia and France formally sealed a $50 billion agreement under which French naval contractor Naval Group will build a new fleet of diesel-electric submarines based on its nuclear Barracuda.

Speaking at the Barracuda facility, Naval Group CEO Herve Guillou told Mr Turnbull and guests: “This is a sort of cathedral … and Australia is now here.”

The massive assembly hall, which will be required in Adelaide when work begins on the Australian submarines in 2022, allows for one submarine on the finishing line and another on the assembly line.

A workforce of 2,800 people will be needed in Adelaide.

The Cherbourg design facility will receive its first personnel later this year, who will work with Naval Group on the design of the next generation submarine.

Mr Turnbull said it was important in the long-term Australia not only construct the submarines but operate them and sustain them, rather than rely on another country.

“Australia must be the master of her own destiny,”

He expected the project to not only deliver a new defence capability but “act as a magnet” for other industry.

Ms Parly linked the project with the need for a stronger military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

“France like Australia considers that the Indo-Pacific zone is of capital importance,” she said.

“There are 1.6 billion people living there so the regularity of our naval presence including in the Sea of China – the objective of that is not just to defend the rights of the sea but also to contribute to regional safety.”

She said oceans were the “stage of political expression of power”.

“A strong marine is an instrument of sovereignty that is paramount to manage, master and protect one’s areas.”

The project has the strong endorsement of French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Mr Turnbull on a flight from the Hamburg G20 summit to Paris on Saturday and discussed the project over dinner.

“It is not simply a contract,” Mr Macron said.

The decision had national, international and strategic outcomes and provided work for Australian industry and as president he would do all he could to ensure the contract was met.

The project has not been without controversy.

In early 2016 DCNS was left reeling after details from more than 22,000 pages of documents relating to submarines it is building for India were published in The Australian newspaper, leading to concerns about the company’s ability to protect sensitive data.

Ms Parly said she would ensure the “sensitivities” around the designing of the submarine would be protected.