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Rugby World Cup 2015: Michael Cheika v Richie McCaw – Will Super Rugby history repeat?

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RWC Schedule: When is the Rugby World Cup final?Full coverage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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LONDON: Remember when a Michael Cheika-led team overpowered Richie McCaw and Dan Carter in a grand final?

Or when the Queensland Reds ran rings around New Zealand rugby’s golden boys in 2011?

The jersey colours might be different and the stage much, much bigger, but the Wallabies can call on winning Super Rugby experience to break down the All Blacks aura in the World Cup final.

Cheika is swapping sky blue of NSW for Wallabies gold in the final against New Zealand at Twickenham in one of the biggest trans-Tasman battles in history. But while Wallabies players and coaches boast grand final wins against All Black champions, Bernard Foley says it won’t have a bearing on the result.

The Wallabies and All Blacks are competing for a slice of World Cup history, with the winner to become the first country to lift the Webb Ellis Cup three times. The All Blacks boast a squad full of World Cup-winning experience. But the ns can draw on their Super Rugby triumphs to chase victory.

Almost half of the Wallabies’ 31-man squad have beaten McCaw and his Canterbury Crusaders in Super Rugby finals. Cheika led the Waratahs to victory last year, with Foley booting a last-minute penalty to secure the first Super Rugby title in NSW history.

Four Queensland Reds players were part of the 2011 championship-winning side that also beat McCaw’s men. Super Rugby battles will arrive on the biggest stage of all as Foley takes on Dan Carter, Michael Hooper fights McCaw and Kane Douglas clashes with Sam Whitelock.

Foley says those experiences are nice to have, but won’t help the Wallabies rise to World Cup glory.

“You can draw on those big games for sure and it’s great to win those, but you can’t really compare that to this week or the momentum,” Foley said. “What we’ve done as a side here has been great, we’ve really enjoyed it and what we’re trying to do is be really proud to go out there and put on a display for all ns getting up in the middle of the night. I don’t think you can compare [the Super Rugby final and World Cup final], but you can take confidence that you’ve been in those games before. But this is a new magnitude.”

Foley’s boot will be crucial in the match and he has proved he’s the man with ice in his veins in kicking into the final. He scored 28 points against England and booted a winning penalty in the last minute to beat Scotland in the quarter-final.

The five-eighth says working with World Cup-winning playmaker Stephen Larkham has helped develop his game even further.

“Steve’s been really good with the way he manages games as a player and as a coach,” Foley said. “He’s very strategically sound with the way he goes about managing games and about his preparation, what he wants to do and how he visualises games unfolding.

“I’ve really learnt from that and also the basic skills he’s had that have been drummed into me – the passing and kicking game he was so sound at. He’s got a really smart rugby mind and he looks at it from a really creative angle.”

Larkham labelled Foley’s opposite number, Dan Carter, the No.1 five-eighth in world rugby.

“Dan Carter will be No.1 in the pantheon. Clearly No.1,” Larkham said. “Probably over here in England Jonny Wilkinson will be No.1, but in the southern hemisphere Dan is ranked No.1. He’s shown really good composure during this tournament. His skills haven’t dropped off at all, he picks and chooses when he wants to run and he does that really well.”

The Wallabies will name their team on Thursday night with prop Scott Sio in contention to make a comeback from an elbow injury. 

Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay

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Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) and Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) in a scene from Freeheld Photo: eOne Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell) in a scene from Freeheld. Photo: eOne
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This is Steve Carell as you’ve never seen him before – angry, activist and very gay.

In this clip from the drama Freeheld, based on a true story, Carell plays Steven Goldstein, a lawyer and gay rights activist in New Jersey who acted in a landmark case for police lieutenant Laurel Hester (played here by Julianne Moore) and her partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).

Hester had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to leave her estate, including her police pension, to Andree, but the elected officials of Ocean County – known as freeholders – refused to allow her pension to pass to a same-sex partner.

“What these freeholders are doing is unconscionable,” he tells Andree, Hester and fellow cop Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Goldstein floats the idea of a gay pride parade, to “show them we’re a force to be reckoned with”.

When Wells tells him he doesn’t understand the conservative nature of this community, calling him “Steve”, Goldstein responds: “It’s Steven, with a V – as in very gay – and when people disrespect my gay brothers and sisters, I rain terror on them. Shock and awe. Shock and awe.”

Zach Galifianakis – like Carell, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live (though Galifianakis joined as a writer and lasted only two weeks) – was originally slated for the role of Goldstein but dropped out last August due to a scheduling conflict.

The real Goldstein told New Jersey’s The Auditor he was delighted with the casting decision.

“I’m so glad Steve Carell is playing me in Freeheld, rather than The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” he said.

Though this is the most out-and-proud role Carell – who is married (to a woman) and the father of two children – has played, technically speaking it isn’t his first gay role.

In 1996, he and Stephen Colbert provided the voices of Gary and Ace in an animated superhero comedy series called The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In 2006 he played a gay Proust scholar recovering from a suicide attempt who is forced to go on a family road trip to a juvenile beauty pageant in the downbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine.

And in 2014, he starred in Foxcatcher as John E. du Pont, the mega-wealthy wrestling enthusiast who shot and killed Dave Schultz in 1996, and whose relationship with his protégé Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) in the film is tinged with a repressed homosexuality.

Freeheld, which is based on an Oscar-winning short documentary of the same name from 2007, opens in Thursday November 5.

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The two Chinan girls and their mother living in ‘jail’ at Villawood detention centre

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Villawood detention centre in Sydney. Photo: Jessica Hromas’Dad, why are we here?’ No life and a baby on the way on Nauru
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Salwa Abas stands out in the busy school drop off: she is the only child escorted by a guard. Classmates tease the five-year-old for living in a “jail” and when she returns home, each pocket of her bag is searched.

Salwa and her sister Yasmin, 3, are n citizens. But they have been living with their mother behind locked gates at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre for almost a year, after the federal government cancelled their mother’s visa.

In doing so, the government acknowledged the decision was not in the children’s best interests. Their mother Zahra, who is pregnant with her third child, has begged Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene.

“They were happy n kids, why [did the government] do this to them, they don’t deserve to be here,” she told Fairfax Media from inside the detention centre.

“[My children] are really upset inside and they are asking me ‘What are we doing for Christmas, are we getting out? Why are we here?'”.

Ms Abas, originally from Iraq, arrived on a boat from Indonesia in 2009 with other family members. They were taken to Christmas Island then granted protection in .

Her father, known as Captain Emad, arrived in in 2010. He fled two years later, after ABC’s Four Corners program alleged he was running a people-smuggling racket from Canberra.

The case cast a spotlight on his family, and the Department of Immigration determined Ms Abas, who was 19 when arriving in , had falsified information on her visa application, including the reason why she needed protection.

Ms Abas said this week her father was “abusive, controlling and angry” and told the family to lie to immigration officials about their names and background.

“In Indonesia he wanted to break my legs because I wanted to run away from him, and he took a hammer and hit my leg and I got stitches from it,” she said.

“He told us to tell un-genuine information and I did, but my intention wasn’t anything bad, I just wanted to live [in] freedom without him abusing me any more.”

Under the former Labor government, the department said while Ms Abas had breached her obligations under migration law, her visa would not be cancelled.

But in December last year when the Coalition was in office, then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison personally intervened to cancel Ms Abas’ visa. She was informed on Christmas Eve.

In a letter to Ms Abas, the veracity of which the department did not dispute, Mr Morrison wrote that she had been living in Malaysia for many years, rather than in Iraq where she claimed to have suffered persecution, and should not have been granted a protection visa.

He said there was no evidence she was under duress from her father when applying for a visa.

“Notwithstanding that the best interests of the dependent children would be served by a decision not to cancel the mother’s visa, this is outweighed by the seriousness of the non-compliance,” Mr Morrison wrote.

Ms Abas was taken into detention in January, and lives in residential-style housing. Her n citizen husband suffers medical problems and depression after an accident and cannot care for the children, forcing them to live with their mother at Villawood indefinitely.

Ms Abas’ husband visits the family in detention and she is 21 weeks pregnant. She is also severely depressed and fears for the future of her unborn baby and young daughters.

Salwa, once a bubbly child with many friends who loved the film Frozen, is now lonely and suffers nightmares. Yasmin has become unhappy and clingy.

“Every day [Salwa] says ‘I had a really bad day, I hate this school, I hate you, I hate this place’, and then she goes in her room and cries. She doesn’t want to go out, she doesn’t want to eat,” Ms Abas said.

“It’s like a jail – you have no freedom, no control over your life or your children’s life.”

Mr Dutton and the Department of Immigration refused to answer questions regarding Ms Abas, or explain why she was the only family member being detained. A spokeswoman for Mr Dutton said his department was “managing” the case.

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Mafia history of Gino and Mark Stocco’s alleged victim Rosario Cimone revealed

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Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Gino Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Mark Stocco is led to a prison vehicle after appearing in Dubbo Local Court via video link. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station on Wednesday. Photo: Nine News

Body of Rosario Cimone found on remote property​How the Stoccos evaded police​The tip-off that led to the final hide-outWill o’ the wisps in Kelly Gang country

The long-awaited capture of father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco has taken another bizarre twist as links have emerged between their alleged victim and the Italian Mafia, long-term cannabis cultivation and a fatal electrocution last year.

The pair, who had been on the run for eight years, were charged on Thursday morning with the murder of Italian-born farm caretaker Rosario Cimone, 68, on October 7.

They did not appear in Dubbo Local Court on Thursday and magistrate Andrew Eckhold ordered they remain behind bars until their case returns on January 20.

Mr Cimone’s decomposed body was discovered in a shallow grave at Pinevale, a remote property near Dunedoo, in central western NSW, just hours after police captured the Stoccos in a dramatic, covert operation on Wednesday morning.

The elusive pair had worked on the extremely isolated property with Mr Cimone, who was reported missing to Green Valley police by his daughters, Maria and Vicenza, on October 8.

When a white ute, similar to the one allegedly stolen by the Stoccos, was spotted in bushland behind the property on Tuesday, police had their “final pieces of the jigsaw” and descended on the 385-hectare spot.

Fairfax Media can reveal Mr Cimone, from Green Valley, was a cannabis cultivator with a string of past convictions and a long history with the Calabrian Mafia in .

His son, Phillip, 35, was also convicted in 2013 of cultivating more than 1000 cannabis plants on a remote property near Bundarra, in the northern tablelands,

Rosario, known as Ross to his friends, was charged with cultivating substantial cannabis crops in the early 1980s, charged with the sale of cannabis in the mid-1980s and convicted in 2003 of a $30-million cannabis operation at a property in Nimmitabel, in far southern NSW.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for growing 14,000 cannabis plants and possessing unauthorised firearms.

He was one of a group of prisoners to be given early release, in exchange for bribes, under the corrupt 1980s prison boss, Rex Jackson.

One of his seven co-accused in the Nimmitabel drug gang, Mario Cataldo, 58, was killed in October last year when he was electrocuted by an illegal hydroponic set-up in Bringelly, on the western outskirts of Sydney.

He lay dead in a shed for two days, and his body was eventually found when his family called an ambulance because they had not heard from him.

Former friend, Giuseppe Mammone, said Mr Cimone was “a nice man” who used to own a butcher’s shop in Edensor Park in the 80s and loved going to the Marconi Club when he was in Green Valley. 

Former assistant police commissioner Clive Small, who is writing a book on the Calabrian Mafia in , said Mr Cimone played a “mid-level” role.

He had been working in the Dunedoo area in recent months but it is not known whether drugs were being grown on the rugged, isolated property, described by locals as a “perfect hideout”.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Fairfax Media that she had made calls to CrimeStoppers in recent years to report suspicious people working on the property, that had no farms.

It’s not known whether the Stoccos had direct involvement but Mr Small said they would most likely have been considered too unreliable by the Mafia.

They were erratic, conspiratorial characters who were known to move frequently, barely staying on farms for more than a few weeks.

“When [the Mafia] are recruiting people to be pickers or cultivators … or crop sitters, that is, people who might go there to plant the crops under supervision with others and just sit there and make sure no one steals it, they tend, generally, to deal with people they have had experience with in the past or whose families they know.”

He said the Mafia was well and truly alive in and had a violent but little-known history.

“There are probably a number of reasons why they’ve been able to get away with it,” he said. “If you deny it’s existence, then you don’t have to do anything about it.”

In addition to murder, Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, are each charged with 17 NSW offences, including shooting with intent to murder, dishonestly obtaining property by deception, police pursuit and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.

Wanted for a string of property and violent offences in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, the men became the focus of a large-scale manhunt after police were shot at during a high speed pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16.

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Baby drought as China’s fertility rate falls to 10-year low

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is effectively in the middle of a baby drought. The fertility rate has dropped to 1.8. Photo: ABS
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The average number of babies n women are havinghas fallen to the lowest level in 10 years –the level it was when the federal government introduced a baby bonus to boost population growth.

The national fertility rate has dropped to 1.8 children per woman, down from 1.88 children last year.

“This rate has been declining since 2008, though not reaching the low recorded in 2001,” said AJ Lanyon, the regional director atthen Bureau of Statistics.

Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013.

The country’sfertility rate started increasing in 2002 and sat at two children per woman from 2007 to 2010,coinciding with the peak of the mining boom.

However, it has all been downhill since 2010,despite the introductionof government-funded paid parental leave in early 2011.

Demographer Peter McDonald said it was “impossible” to know ifthe baby bonus, child care rebate and tax rebates introduced after the 2004 election caused the spike. He believes it wasdue to women in their 30s deciding not to delay having children any longer. The recent decline was because those women had finished having their children.

The extra government support”may have helped people in making their decision to go ahead with the first birth”, Professor McDonald said.A rate of 1.8 was normal for and not a cause for concern, he added.

Meanwhile, a 9.3 per cent decline in births in NSW has been attributed to a clerical lag, with the state’s birth rate expected to return to normal. This means the national rate couldactually be around 1.85, according to Professor McDonald.

Overall, women aged between 30 and 34 were the most fertile, recording 120 babies per 1000. They were followed by women aged 25 to 29, with 95 babies per 1000.

Teenagers and women over 40 now have roughlythe same fertility rate -12.9babies and 14.4 babies per 1000 women respectively. This is a historical low for teen pregnancies, which fellfrom a peak of 55 babies per 1000 girls in 1971.

For the first time the ABS mappedbirth rates andfound families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceedstwo children.

Piers Greville with son Lucien Greville-Mac. Photo: Luis Ascui

Artists Piers Greville and his wife Bridget Mac still live close to Melbourne’s CBD and are anexample of families choosing to haveone child.

Lucien Greville-Mac was born in early 2012 when the national fertility rate was at 1.9, just slightly higher than it is now.The couple were living in Berlinbut returned home when Lucien was born. Mr Greville saysthey are content with one child and he has”a feeling that there is enough people in the world without [us] contributing to a population explosion”.

“We thought one child might allow us some of the lifestyle we hadbefore having a child,” Mr Greville explains.

It also gives them a chance to concentrate on raising one person, rather than being stretched by two. Friends with multiple childrentell him that two children were harder than one.

Asked whether Lucien might miss having siblings, Mr Greville says they try hard to socialise with other families as often as possible.

Baby Bjay abuse warning email delay

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Bjay Johnstone’s grandmother Hellen Dykstra arrives at the inquest on Thursday.AN EMAIL telling the Health Department baby Bjay Johnstone was being abused sat in departmental inboxes for more than a day before reaching Child Protection in the North-West.
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By then, the Railton baby had received further injuries and was in hospital, an inquest into his death heard on Thursday morning.

Bjay’s grandmother, Hellen Dykstra, told the inquest, in Devonport, she sent the email via the department’s website on the morning of November 1, 2012.

Crown counsel Paul Turner said Ms Dykstra sent the email at 9.57am, and it reported concern about Bjay and injuries he had, including a black eye and bruising.

Ms Dykstra at 10.44am that morning posted on Facebook: ” … I have a funny feeling about today.”

”Something is going to happen.”

She confirmed to Mr Turner that meant she expected something to happen in relation to the email.

Mr Turner established the email was sent to the department’s general inquiries inbox, and that Ms Dykstra had not used the section where child abuse could be reported directly to Child Protection by email, or used the emergency and notification phone numbers on the website.

When Mr Turner said nothing happened because she did not use the other methods listed on the department’s website, Ms Dykstra said: ”I wondered why they never responded.”

She went on to give evidence she and Bjay’s mother, Fleur Atkin, took the boy to hospital on the afternoon of the next day after they noticed a problem with his eyes.

Mr Turner said the email was forwarded to Child, Youth and Family Services early in the afternoon of the day after it was sent by Ms Dykstra.

Late that afternoon, Mr Turner said, it was forwarded to Child Protection in the North-West.

Bjay died from his injuries, aged 45 days.

Ms Dykstra had given evidence Bjay’s father, Simon Johnstone, would hurt him.

Earlier in the inquest, she labelled Mr Johnstone a baby killer.

Seven announces dating show ‘Kiss Bang Love’ where people snog their way to love

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Seven have announced their new dating show Kiss Bang Love, where contestants will kiss – and potentially sleep with – suitors on national TV. Photo: Supplied Sam Frost and Sasha Mielczarek in the finale of The Bachelorette, one of the biggest ratings hits of 2015. Photo: Ten
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Farmer Wants a Wife will be back on Nine in 2016, starring former Married at First Sight farmer Lachlan McAleer. Photo: Supplied

Bachelorette Sam Frost tipped to join 2DayFM Bachelorette fans unleash fury over spoilerSeven Network unveils its show highlights for 2016

Would you watch a television show where contestants kiss and fornicate their way to love? Channel Seven certainly hopes so.

Following the huge success of Ten’s Bachelor and Bachelorette, Seven are jumping on the dating show bandwagon with a daring new program where people attempt to kiss, and sleep, their way to the perfect mate.

From the creators of Married at First Sight, the show crudely dubbed Kiss Bang Love will match 10 single ns with 15 potential suitors – translating to a lot of on-screen action.

Surprisingly, there is scientific merit behind the “provocative” new show which smacks of a strange blend of Bachelorette and Jersey Shore and was unveiled last week Channel Seven detailed plans for 2016.

According to the production company behind Kiss Bang Love, the average person kisses 15 people and has two one night stands before falling in love.

But how to make that into a program?

Over each episode, one blindfolded contestant will kiss 15 potential suitors. Most will be strangers, some will be acquaintances, and some may even be former lovers.

The top five suitors will get a second kiss, without the blindfold. From there, two people will be selected to spend a night in a luxury hotel with the contestant.

After the one-night stands, the contestant then has to choose a final suitor to take on a romantic holiday.

Forget awkward group date encounters à la The Bachelor – Kiss Bang Love promises to skip the dates and go straight to the making out.

Channel Seven is currently casting for the program – to be filmed in early 2016 – touting it as “a show designed to help single girls and guys find their perfect partner – in a very unique way”.

“Kissing is a powerful tool in our search for the right mate – but can it find love? This is your chance to find out.”

Reality dating programs are emerging as the zeitgeist of n television, with The Bachelorette emerging as one of the biggest ratings hits of 2015.

The Farmer Wants a Wife will return to Nine later this year, while Married at First Sight, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette return in 2016.

Victoria Derby 2015: Tarzino the one, but play at your peril

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Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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There are few straighter shooters in racing than Mick Price. In an era of inflated stud deals and constant self-promotion, the racing hyperbole is usually at its peak at this time of year when the tyres of would-be champions are at their most inflated.

If Price’s horse is going like a busted, he won’t mince words. Going well? You will get the vibe in his down-to-earth way, too. And there can be little doubt Victoria Derby favourite Tarzino is doing just that. It may not have been a $3 million race, but there was an eye to a bigger fish to fry when Craig Newitt snagged the colt back to last from a horror draw in The Vase last week.

An extra 50 metres and the horse wins after running a slashing third. An extra 500m of the gruelling Derby trip? You wouldn’t think it would a pose a problem. That is usually what sifting through a Derby field is generally like, one big head scratcher. Rough results are common and the horse thought most likely is often found in reverse down the unforgiving Flemington straight the second time of asking.

On Saturday Tarzino should start the shortest priced Derby top pick in 13 years and barring any awful luck will hold most hard earned. But at $2.40 in a race for early spring three-year-olds, the money should stay in the pocket. Use him as a roving banker in all trifectas.

Finding an obvious danger is difficult. West n Kia Ora Koutou ($8) is a compelling case. A month between runs is a worry, what is not was his last start beating of older horses, albeit moderate, over 2200m rather than the traditional Melbourne lead-ups of a mile-and-a-quarter. Lizard Island ($12) has the class factor and should be in all exotics and the Derby always produces a horse that has moderate form, but will stick all day. Palace Tycoon ($41) might be it and should be thrown in as the other option.

The rest of the best card in n racing has much more betting appeal. You can throw a blanket over a vintage Mackinnon Stakes field. It looks a mighty difficult equation to solve.

The country’s best colt Exosphere should win the Coolmore Stud Stakes at long odds on, but the last of the four group 1s in the Myer Classic should have value shoppers salivating.

Stay With Me is a top class filly with no weight on her back and Royal Descent has class on her side despite being eased out of the Caulfield Cup, but Solicit is the value play.

Set for this race second up, where she performs at her best, the $19 in an even field looks juicy. Granted, the mile and group 1 level have always tested, but the days of the breeding barn beckoning are over and the older legs still have the zest for racing and quite possibly the yearning for this trip.

The Lexus Stakes? The noises from the Godolphin camp suggest Elhaame is a very bright prospect. Saeed bin Suroor wouldn’t bring him all this way if he didn’t think he would be competitive in a Melbourne Cup, let alone the race’s last chance saloon. The $7.50 will do.

* Odds supplied by Ladbrokes

WEEKEND SELECTIONS

Flemington (Saturday)

Race 3: Disposition $4.20

Race 5: Elhaame $7.50

Race 8: Solicit $19

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

Tim Southee laid low as New Zealand bowlers hammered in tour match

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Off early: Tim Southee. Photo: Hagen HopkinsNew Zealand’s preparations for the first Test hit a sizeable speed hump on Thursday, and that was before Aaron Finch and Ryan Carters plundered their attack to all parts of Blacktown International Sportspark.
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This was supposed to be Tim Southee’s first big hit out in but the Black Caps swing man delivered just three overs before leaving the field.

A New Zealand spokesman said Southee was suffering from a tummy bug. Though it will not have any impact on his availability for the first Test it is far from the ideal preparation for such an important bowler. Southee has played just one first-class game since May and will need to get plenty of overs under his belt on Saturday or risk heading to Brisbane in need of a gallop. But the Kiwis are confident that will not be the case.

In the absence of Southee and Trent Boult, who was rested, the Black Caps attack failed to take a wicket as Finch and Carters batted all day to take the Cricket XI to 0-376 at stumps on the first day.

Finch finished the day unbeaten on 214, his maiden first-class double century, while Carters was on 156.

The Black Caps’ impotence with the ball will raise questions about the depth of their bowling ranks and give confidence that they can prosper so long as they can negotiate the dangers of their leading strike weapons. Short of getting time on their legs, as the Blacks Caps put it, they gained very little.

For starters, the flat and lifeless wicket could not be any more different to the fast and bouncy conditions that will greet them at the Gabba, rendering this match as close to a waste of time for them.

The only positive for the tourists was they were able to give Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and spinner Mark Craig the overs they needed though part-timers were required so they were not overtaxed. Even Brendon McCullum, who started his career as a wicketkeeper, rolled his arm over.

For Finch, this was just the tonic ‘s World Cup-winning opener needed after being surprisingly overlooked for Victoria’s shield team following a lean Matador Cup.

Although an experienced player on the international stage in the limited-overs formats, Finch is yet to make his mark in the red-ball game. But innings like this will give him confidence it’s a matter of when not if.

“To play games in a row in one format is pretty crucial and I suppose when you’re chopping and changing formats it can be hard and it does disturb your rhythm a bit,” Finch said. “At the same time I’m a professional cricketer that should be able to adjust a bit better than that.”

Randwick’s Highway Handicap brings Steven Cummins to town with first city runner

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Life is a highway: Samantha Clenton pilots Bulls ‘n’ Bears to victory in last week’s instalment of the Highway Handicap series at Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos上海龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing Follow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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Perhaps the best advertisement for a young trainer is to take on a problematic horse and show you can get results with them. Steven Cummins could not have asked for a better start.

Lion Of Africa was the first horse in his stable when stewards stamped his training papers and he didn’t end up making it to the racetrack until he was a five-year-old.

“When I picked him up he had sesamoiditis so he was turned out to the paddock for 12 months when we got him and it was just a matter of nursing him back,” the Moruya-based Cummins said. “But he’s as good as gold now and he’s had a couple of small injuries in the paddock.

“He went through a couple of fences twice. It was just a matter of nursing him and getting him through, but he’s good and solid now.”

The results tend to suggest that. Lion Of Africa has been racing for less than a year, but has already been placed seven times from just 12 starts, including a first-up win at Nowra this campaign.

It was enough to convince the former John Marzol pupil, whose partner also works as a vet down on the South Coast helping tend to the team of six, to bring Lion Of Africa to Rosehill to become his first metropolitan runner in the Highway Handicap on Saturday.

“He’s definitely taught me a lot,” Cummins said. “For the right horses I would take more on, but you’ve just got to find the right ones.

“Short-term I’m just aiming at these races in the next six to eight weeks and we’ll see how he measures up. Last prep he was getting to the front early and not putting them away, but [apprentice] Josh [Cartwright] rode him that little bit quieter the other day and his work between the 300 and the 100 was really good.

“He coasted to the line a little bit and he needs to keep stepping up, but if he does we’ll reassess down the line.”

Cartwright will again have his work cut out from barrier 14 in the Highway Handicap, where Greg Bennett’s Invienna, a runner-up in the inaugural staging of the race, will launch from barrier six.

“Josh is a good rider and he’s in good form,” Cummins said. “He knows the horse well and I spoke to him earlier [on Wednesday] and I said, ‘I don’t mind where we possie up, just make sure we’ve got cover’. The horse needs further anyway and if I’m two or three off the fence it’s not going to affect him.”

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