Archive for January, 2019

Sydney Kings import Josh Childress shouldn’t expect any favours from referees

By admin | 杭州桑拿

It’s an unwritten rule in the NBA that the big names get the superstar calls. Should Josh Childress expect the same treatment in the NBL? On the basis of evidence presented in the early rounds of the season, there’ll be no special treatment for the former NBA forward. On the floor.
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Let’s be honest, the Sydney Kings’ marquee import got off lightly off the court at the tribunal for his hit on Perth forward Jesse Wagstaff. A one-game ban and another match suspended plus a $7500 fine which will hardly break his bank considering he is receiving $7 million from the Phoenix Suns this season not to play for them.

On the court, the NBL referees have not given any extra leeway to Childress, or any of the several other NBA fringe players in the NBL this season.

It’s an impossibly fine line for the refs. They can’t be seen to be handing out preferential treatment to anyone, however the NBL won’t want the likes of Childress, Perth’s Toronto Raptors draftee DeAndre Daniels or Philadelphia 76ers’ Melbourne United loaner Jordan McRae, to be roughed up by some of the more physical teams in the league. That kind of word spreads. The NBL doesn’t want NBA team officials to think there’s an increased risk of injury if they go the Down Under option for players they’ve invested in.

And Childress was definitely targeted by the Wildcats in Perth. It looked like the Kings were dished up a hefty serve of home cooking in that game. It would be hard for refs not to be swayed by the fans at Perth Arena. It’s easily the most hostile NBL arena, with an intimidating crowd upwards of 12,000 fans for most games.

The Perth players know they can get away with more on their home floor. Who could blame them? It truly is a home-court advantage in every sense of the term and the other seven sides would kill to have that kind of atmosphere in their own building.

Childress was clearly frustrated after being pinged for an iffy offensive foul called when Wildcats veteran Damian Martin slipped in front of him at mid-court but it’s highly dubious that he had position before the Sydney star made contact. Then when Wagstaff flattened him while setting a screen and the refs swallowed their whistle, he sought retribution.

His act of revenge did two things – it showed the refs and opponents in the NBL that he would not be pushed around but it also showed rival teams he can be put off his game if confronted with physical play.

Ironically, the referees this season seem to have been doing a much better job of limiting rough play and allowing matches to flow. If Childress was in the NBL a few years ago he could have expected a far rougher time of things.

Points totals have been better than last season and the extra spacing has allowed the likes of Daniels, Breakers guard Cedric Jackson and Cairns hot shot Scottie Wilbekin to display their extraordinary athleticism, a crucial factor in the NBL’s attempts to boost crowds.

Childress, who it must be said has handled the adverse publicity like a seasoned professional and unfortunately had to put up with some cowardly attacks on social media, makes his return in Wollongong on Friday night against a desperate Hawks team which has slumped to a 1-7 record and last place on the ladder.

The Hawks racked up four wins from as many meetings with the Kings last season by employing a robust style of play which got under the skin of Sydney’s previous big-name NBA signing, Sam Young.

With the back-court combination of Kendrick Perry and Ben Madgen yet to click into top gear and a young front-court which wilted in crunch time last weekend in Cairns, the 1-3 Kings need their biggest name to get the job done against the Hawks and then back it up in Sunday’s home clash with Adelaide.

All eyes will be on Childress to see if he contains or maintains his rage.

Taking it to the poll … 

The NBA Eastern Conference poll  attracted more than 1000 votes with 35% of votes for Cleveland, ahead of Chicago at 32% with Miami a distant third with 9%.

The Western Conference poll had 1808 votes and delivered resounding confidence in San Antonio (36%) to win again with the LA Clippers at 14% the next best.

Bennett lure a factor in Folau’s future

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Israel Folau, left, has given Michael Cheika his seal of approval as Wallabies coach.
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Israel Folau, left, has given Michael Cheika his seal of approval as Wallabies coach.

Israel Folau, left, has given Michael Cheika his seal of approval as Wallabies coach.

Israel Folau, left, has given Michael Cheika his seal of approval as Wallabies coach.

CARDIFF: Wallabies fullback Israel Folau says he would love to be coached by NRL guru Wayne Bennett, admitting he faces an agonising choice over his sporting future in the next 12 months.

But Michael Cheika’s appointment as Australia’s Test mentor could sway the cross-code superstar, with Folau likening Cheika to a combination of Bennett and Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy.

The 25-year-old declared Cheika “exactly what we need” as the Wallabies prepare for their first Test with Cheika in charge on Sunday morning.

Folau’s ARU contract expires after the World Cup next year and he is weighing up opportunities in the NRL, Super Rugby and Europe as his next frontier.

Folau has ruled out joining former Parramatta captain Jarryd Hayne in a bid to break into the NFL and says he will not walk away from rugby until he believes he has conquered all his challenges.

He has been coached by some of Australian sport’s greatest minds in Bellamy and AFL legend Kevin Sheedy, but he is yet to team up with returning Brisbane Broncos leader Bennett.

“Everyone would love to play under Wayne, they all say good things about him and he’s certainly a great coach,” Folau said.

“But more so everyone says he’s a great person and always has time for everyone.”

Folau also said the Wallabies had moved on from Kurtley Beale’s off-field woes and he was “missed” in the Australian set up.

“I’m there to support him. If he needs a helping hand I’m just a good mate,” Folau said. “For him being a footy player probably comes second. I’ve spoken to him and he’s in good head space.

“It will just take time for him to get things right … the boys miss him in this team environment. I think the most exciting thing would be playing footy and just getting away from it. Hopefully he gets a chance to come over.”

Cheika was thrust into the Wallabies job when Ewen McKenzie quit two weeks ago.

The NSW Waratahs championship-winner has had just two weeks and a handful of training sessions to prepare the Wallabies for a gruelling four-Test spring tour of Europe.

But Folau has no doubts he is the man for the job as the Wallabies lay the foundations for World Cup success next year.

“[Cheika’s] a bit of both [Bellamy and Bennett], he’s definitely hard but fair,” Folau said. “The way he brings out his messages to the group is similar to coaches I’ve had in the past.

“Cheika’s a great coach and he’s got a different style, the intensity is good and the boys are buying into it. It’s exactly what we need.”

The ARU is desperate to retain marquee man Folau after an outstanding transition to the sport in less than two years.

Folau played against the British and Irish Lions last year, won a Super Rugby title and the John Eales Medal this year and is a certainty to play at the World Cup, barring injury.

He ruled out a chance to join Hayne in the NFL, saying he did not have the passion to learn the game.

But French rugby is circling with cash to burn, and the NRL is also a prospect for the former Greater Western Sydney Giants, Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm star.

“There’s no timeline [for a decision]. Sometimes you do get sick of asking the same question but it doesn’t affect whether I’ll make it quicker or later,” Folau said.

“I’ve played rugby league, that could be an option. Playing rugby in Australia or elsewhere … there’s options everywhere. I don’t know.”

A relaxed Folau will be hoping to end a five-Test scoring drought when the Wallabies play Wales in Cardiff.

For most players five Tests without a try would not raise eyebrows. But such is Folau’s uncanny knack to sniff out a five-pointer, the powerful fullback is determined to cross the line again.

Folau says he will not walk away from rugby if he feels he has unfinished business, whether that is his goals for team success or individual improvement.

“It’s more fulfilling my potential and ability to play the game, there’s a lot of improvement there,” Folau said. “Once I feel that’s fulfilled, I’ll look to achieve other goals. It’s not anything to prove, I just want to improve.”

Australia crushed in T20 series opener

By admin | 杭州桑拿

As it happened
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It did not have the lingering sting of a Test series mauling but Australia’s margin from victory was, allowing for the change in formats, nearly as wide as it was in the United Arab Emirates as its international season began with a Twenty20 mauling by South Africa.

Fringe batsman Rilee Rossouw, with a one-day average of 10.33 after six matches, benefited from Proteas’ policy of resting its elite players to earn selection.

On Wednesday night he also benefited from a dropped catch, from Nathan Reardon when he was on five, to exceed his entire one-day run tally with a commanding 78.

His lusty hitting, from just 50 deliveries, fuelled a century partnership with Quinton de Kock (46) that was the basis of the visitors to coasting past Australia’s skinny total of 6-144 with an over to spare in front of 26,370 at Adelaide Oval, to get on the board first in the three-match series.

That both set batsmen fell within deliveries straddling the 15th and 16th overs slowed South Africa’s march to victory but did never threatened it, winning by seven wickets with acting captain JP Duminy (4 not out) and David Miller (9 not out) at the crease.

Openers Aaron Finch and Cameron White gave Australia a healthy start with 0-27 after three overs but slowed, and then departed, in the second half of the powerplay.

White fell for 24 after Farhaan Berhardien’s spring from cover was just enough to prevent the ball sailing over the inner ring to the unguarded boundary. It was arguably the best of a handful of fine catches claimed by the Proteas fielders in the match.

The only time captain Finch struck the ball characteristically fiercely was his first delivery, which was technically a dropped return catch by the excellent Kyle Abbott (3-21) but more so an endorsement of his reflexes that eh was able his hands up so quickly.

Finch was one of two key batsmen to depart steering a catch straight to cover. His was in the fifth over for 14; the latter was Shane Watson for 47, in the 18th over right when Australia needed to accelerate sharply.

James Faulkner, with an unbeaten 41 from 33 deliveries, produced the only innings of substance beside Watson’s.

Debutants Ben Dunk and Reardon found the boundary on 80 occasions in the recent Matador Cup, form which sealed their international promotion. On Wednesday night the left-handers produced none between them, falling respectively for two and four.

The catch which claimed Reardon rivalled Berhardien’s for skill. The Queenslander top-edged an attempted glide through slips off Abbott, after which wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock overcame his lack of height by jumping and successfully thrusting his left hand into the air to pluck the chance.

The Proteas bowlers deserved credit for limiting the home team to only five boundaries after the initial six-overs powerplay.

The last came in the 16th over when Watson launched the third of his signature bombs over the mid-wicket fence. Australia’s inability to mount a late-innings surge was influenced by selecting only one specialist middle-order batsman: Reardon. Dunk typically opens while Faulkner and Ben Cutting (8 off 8) were, at six and seven respectively, were arguably batting a rung too high.

In South Africa’s innings Reeza Hendricks continued the dirty night for debutant batsmen – excepting Rossouw, who making only his Twenty20 debut – by edging the third delivery of the match, from Doug Bollinger, behind to Dunk, who caught smartly low to his right. Bollinger should have claimed another victim in his second over when Rossouw skied a cut towards deep point when on five, but back-pedalling Reardon was unable to get a hand on it.  Australia was made to rue that blunder, especially Bollinger after the left-hander thumped him for a six and two fours to start his third over, the fifth of the match.

The Proteas easily found the boundary more regularly the Australians – and did so with their biggest hitter, Miller, still in reserve until the game was all but won.

The sense that Australia had picked one bowler too many was reinforced by Pat Cummins, playing his first international in two years, and Cutting only bowling one over between them in the first 11 overs.

Hard time for justice in clogged Newcastle District Court

By admin | 杭州桑拿

THE wheels of justice have never creaked more slowly in Newcastle District Court with statistics showing that it has gone from being the best-performing district court in the state to among the worst in just two years.
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More and more cases are languishing for months, causing a backlog that has resulted in some defendants now receiving trial dates as far away as August next year.

Only 35 per cent of defendants had their cases disposed of within six months last year – a drop from 55per cent in 2012 and a state-best 68per cent in 2011, the NSW District Court’s annual review has revealed.

That six-month period does not include a case’s journey through the local court, which in itself can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year.

Across the state the figures are just as bleak with the percentage of trial matters finalised within six months dropping from 50per cent in 2011 to 47per cent in 2012 and 33per cent last year.

Criminal barrister Peter Harper said the court’s judges and support staff were working harder than ever, but an increase in the number of cases going to trial – instead of defendants pleading guilty – and the complexity of those trials was behind the delays.

‘‘I can assure the community that the Newcastle District Court is working at least as hard if not harder than previous years,’’ he said.

‘‘Judges are still sitting full days and inevitably taking work homewith them to complete overnight and on weekends.’’

Mr Harper noted that judges were constantly squeezing in sentencing hearings and appeals around criminal trials.

‘‘While judges prioritise trials over all other matters, the end result is that there is only so many hours in a working court’s week and completing these short matters means that trials must be interrupted,’’ Mr Harper added.

‘‘And it appears to me that as time goes on crimes alleged seem to be generally getting more serious in nature, meaning that often a higher proportion of matters can only be dealt with in the District Court meaning the queue is necessarily getting longer.

‘‘As a general rule, the more serious the matter the more complicated the evidence – for example DNA and crime scene investigation – and the more complicated the evidence the longer the trial.’’

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said the government was trying to reduce delays by increasing pre-trial discussions between prosecutors and defence lawyers.

‘‘The changes seek to reduce the length of criminal trials by encouraging parties to identify issues in dispute as early as possible,’’ the spokeswoman said.

‘‘Legal Aid NSW, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Public Defenders Office have set up a working group in Newcastle to explore the potential to finalise cases earlier.

‘‘Legal Aid NSW has also established an internal committals monitoring committee, which will aim to increase the number of committals dealt with in-house,’’ she said.

‘‘Matters dealt with in-house by Legal Aid at the committal stage have a higher rate of plea negotiation and guilty pleas.’’

Newcastle Bar Association president Peter Cummings SC noted these improvements, but said it was still obvious that the various agencies working in the criminal justice system needed more resources.

‘‘The statistics in terms of the downward trend in the percentage of trials disposed of in accordance with the criminal trial standards are alarming,’’ he said.

‘‘It is positive that a working party has been established between the public defenders, Legal Aid and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to attempt to address the delay. Ultimately, however, what is needed is greater judicial resources.’’

Coal operator convicted after worker crushed

By admin | 杭州桑拿

A HUNTER Valley coal operator has been convicted of a workplace safety offence after a miner was knocked unconscious and crushed between two pieces of heavy machinery.
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Bulga Underground Operations had pleaded not guilty to the offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after the incident at its Beltana coalmine on April 23, 2010.

The miner was knocked unconscious and was crushed between the toe of an automatically advancing roof support and the side of a continuous armoured face conveyor, the NSW District Court heard on Wednesday.

The worker was found semi-conscious on the ground with ‘‘severe’’ crush injuries and a large piece of roof stone lying across his thigh.

His helmet had been knocked off and he had no recollection of what had happened, Judge James Curtis said.

Just five weeks earlier another worker had been struck on the head and shoulder by a large piece of coal that was thrown towards him after it fell from the coal face while he operated a shearer.

There was also evidence that another miner had suffered crush injuries during an incident in 2008.

Bulga Underground Operations argued that the risk to the miner in the 2010 incident was not foreseeable.

Judge Curtis disagreed.

‘‘Notwithstanding the matters raised … I have concluded that the circumstances in which [the miner] came to be injured were foreseeable to a reasonable person standing in the place of the defendant,’’ he ruled.

‘‘The defendant failed to mitigate the foreseeable risk by taking the reasonably practicable measure of employing the services of an additional miner in the crew, whose sole task was to observe the drum operators and stop the advancement of roof supports if the drum operator became disabled.’’

The mine will be sentenced at a later date.