Archive for October, 2019

Newcastle’s Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei hungry to fight on

By admin | 杭州桑拿

KNOCKOUT: Newcastle’s Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei will fight in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Getty ImagesHAVING a change of opponent just three weeks from fight night causes chaos for most fighters, given they’ve spent months scouting their opposition, tailoring training to work on a specific fight plan.
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But Newcastle-born Soa “The Hulk” Palelei is so focused he’s only concerned with the things in his control, and given the shape he’s in, whoever steps into the UFC Octagon at Allphones Arena in Sydney will be hard pressed to stop him.

Originally scheduled to fight tough Daniel Omielanczuk from Poland, he’ll now face American Walt Harris at UFC Fight Night 55.

Speaking to Palelei from Thailand, where he’s preparing, you can tell he’s all business.

“I’m here to train and focus on training. All you do here is wake up, train, go home, sleep, eat, wake up, train . . . so there’s no distraction.”

The 36-year-old, who was raised in Mayfield, is training at the Thai arm of the famed A.K.A. – home to current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and light-heavyweight title contender Daniel Cormier – and “The Hulk” is in career-best shape.

Today, November 8, he meets a man who he knows will be desperate.

Harris was cut from the UFC after tasting consecutive defeats to Jared Rosholt and Nikita Krylov. But an injury to Omielanczuk saw Harris granted a reprieve – something Palelei knows a thing or two about.

Palelei had his first taste of the UFC in 2007 when he arrived in the promotion with much fanfare before suffering a disappointing third-round TKO defeat to Eddie Sanchez.

The loss saw the UFC send Palelei packing at a time when the Australian was going through a turbulent period of his life.

But it was a loss that changed everything.

“A lot of things happened in 2007, just with family and things like that,” he said. “After that fight, I went back to Perth and sat on the couch for a couple of years and I woke up one day and thought, I don’t want to be 50 years old and thinking to myself, ‘I should have given it another shot’.

“That’s when I started pushing and training hard, and here I am.”

The long climb back to the UFC began, with the fighter splitting his time between several local promotions, before 10 wins in 11 fights saw Palelei given his chance at redemption.

His second stint in the promotion began well, with a TKO victory over Nikita Krylov, a man who has previously vanquished his UFC Fight Night 55 opponent Harris.

He followed that win with a first-round demolition of Pat Barry, repeating the dose in his next bout with Ruan Potts.

But in June this year, the plan came unstuck. Jared Rosholt brought Palelei’s climb up the rankings to a halt with a unanimous points victory. It ended Palelei’s 11-fight win streak.

But it won’t derail his dream: “It’s not really a setback; you just have to keep going forward. If you lose, you lose. You just have to get back on the horse and that’s what I’ve done.

“You’re going to lose, everyone has their losses, and it’s a wake-up call. After that fight it made me not want to lose again and that’s why I’m in Thailand. A lot of my camps were done in Australia but I’ve changed everything now and made the move over to Thailand and we’ll see what happens on November 8.”

For now, Palelei’s aim is to continue to climb the UFC heavyweight rankings to his MMA dreams, with defeats ensuring his UFC contract hangs in the balance.

“I want to make the top 10. I want to get the gold strap, but I want to keep pushing and keep improving and I’m excited for this fight, especially being in Sydney.”

Brosque to face late fitness test

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Wanderers bring fresh legs for NZ tripAdelaide City v Sydney FC: The lowdownWellington Phoenix v Western Sydney Wanderers: The lowdown
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Sydney FC star Alex Brosque will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness for Friday night’s clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh, after badly rolling his ankle in last week’s win over Central Coast.

Brosque suffered the injury in the final few minutes of the 2-0 victory and grimaced in pain as he headed for the bench. The expectation was the left-sided forward would miss one or even two weeks.

However, he was quickly cleared of any serious damage and after some light work on the training ground this week, coach Graham Arnold said he was not ruling Brosque out just yet.

“He’ll travel down with us and have a late fitness test,” Arnold said at training on Thursday. “His ankle is not as bad as first thought and then we’ll take it from there. I’d say he’s 50-50 at this stage. He’s done some work in the pool. He’s moving around. He’s much better than what he was. Everyone else is good.”

Unbeaten after four rounds and equal top of the table, the Sky Blues are positive about their prospects of going to Hindmarsh and taking on one of the league’s other in-form teams.

“The mood is good and everyone is always happy when you’re winning, but it’s only round four,” Arnold said. “We’ve had a good start to the season but Adelaide away is a tough test. Everybody is talking about them being one of the favourites this year. We have the experience of playing against them a couple of weeks ago in the FFA Cup, so hopefully we learn from lessons from that game and we look forward to tomorrow night.”

The experience of stifling Brisbane Roar – another possession-oriented team – at Suncorp Stadium a fortnight ago holds Sydney in good stead to repeat the dose against the Reds.

“We need to make sure we play to the game plan and make sure we make it difficult for Adelaide,” Arnold said. “There’s going to be big crowd and it’s a wonderful stadium to play at.

“We’ve shown this year we’ve got two or three ways of playing. You saw against Brisbane we pressed the hell out of them up there and we forced their turnovers up high in the first half against the Mariners. But we’re also capable of dropping off, defending in our own half and hitting teams on the counter.

“Whichever way will come up tomorrow, we always come up with plan A, B, and C. Whichever plan we need to win the game, we’ll use.”

Asked if there was any “revenge factor” after being knocked out of the FFA Cup by Adelaide a few weeks ago, Arnold said: “No, not at all. You can’t get revenge on referees, can you?”

The coach said he had done something that night he “would never have done” in the league – switching to a back three late as they chased the win, despite being down to 10 men after Nikola Petkovic’s dismissal.

“When he got sent off I went man-on-man at the back because it’s all about trying to get a result in a Cup competition,” he said. “In a normal league game, I’d have brought on another central defender and kept a back four. They ended up getting us in extra time, but that’s Cup football. They capitalised on that night, but it’s up to us to change that on Friday.”

Meanwhile, the Sky Blues have also been celebrating a huge week for Terry Antonis. After being called up to the national team on Wednesday for this month’s friendly with Japan, he was named as October’s young footballer of the month on Thursday.

Arnold hailed the youngster as “outstanding”.

“I think Terry’s got all the qualities to be an international footballer,” Arnold said. “Technically he’s outstanding, physically he’s getting better, tactically he’s still got things to learn. “But the best thing about Terry is he’s very open-minded and willing to learn. He’s always asking for more information and looking for players to model himself on.”

Nikita Rukavytsya and Seyi Adeleke poised for Western Sydney debuts

By admin | 杭州桑拿

“It’s obviously not nice when you don’t play and just train but I’m excited now”: Nikita Rukavytsya. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
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“It’s obviously not nice when you don’t play and just train but I’m excited now”: Nikita Rukavytsya. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

“It’s obviously not nice when you don’t play and just train but I’m excited now”: Nikita Rukavytsya. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

“It’s obviously not nice when you don’t play and just train but I’m excited now”: Nikita Rukavytsya. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

The Western Sydney Wanderers could welcome two new faces to their line-up against Wellington on Friday night, with Nikita Rukavytsya and Seyi Adeleke a chance of making their club debuts.

Rukavytsya and Adeleke boarded a flight to New Zealand with their Wanderers teammates on Thursday night, poised to make their first appearance for Western Sydney five days after the club’s Asian Champions League triumph.

Rukavytsya may even start up front for Tony Popovic, with Brendon Santalab due to undergo surgery on the shoulder he injured in the first leg of the ACL final at Parramatta Stadium.

“Everything is good,” Rukavytsya said.

“I couldn’t play last game because of registrations stuff but finally I can play. I don’t know if I’m in the team. It’s obviously not nice when you don’t play and just train but I’m excited now. I couldn’t do anything but it was still nice to get more training with a few of the boys. I’ve been very impressed with the team, the boys and the coaching staff.”

Vitor Saba is out through suspension after he copped a red card in the Sydney derby in round two, which will likely see Mark Bridge in the middle, Labinot Haliti on the left edge and Romeo Castelen on the right.

It is believed Shannon Cole and Kwabena Appiah didn’t travel with the team to New Zealand, which could allow for Adeleke to make his first appearance in the red and black.

The Nigerian signed with the Wanderers in August but was unable to travel to Australia until his visa application was approved due to strict immigration quarantine measures relating to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Wanderers might still be flying high after being crowned the kings of Asia, but back home they have their work cut out for them trying to kick-start their A-League campaign.

They are glued to the bottom of the ladder after failing to pick up a point in their first two matches against Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.

Their cross-town rivals are having no such difficulty, enjoying an unbeaten start to the season, and will take on Adelaide United away from home in a top-of-the-table showdown at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

Sydney FC, Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory are all equal on top of the ladder with 10 points from four games, winning three and drawing one of their first four matches.

The Wanderers have two games in hand but have a difficult week to follow after their long trek to Saudi Arabia last week.

They had only three days to recover before flying out to Wellington on Thursday night, and will next week have a tough trip for their Saturday night clash against Perth Glory on the other side of the country.

Those two away games will be followed by four consecutive matches at home, before they fly to Morocco for the FIFA Club World Cup.

“We concentrated on Champions League but now that it’s finished, we’re back concentrating on the league,” Rukavytsya said.

“Only two games is not a big deal. It is a long season and we still have time. We are really concentrating on this game tomorrow. It should be good.”

Set Square repays trainer Ciaron Maher’s faith with Victoria Oaks triumph

By admin | 杭州桑拿

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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Ciaron Maher, with those unmistakable long curly locks and sunglasses straight out of a highway patrol officer’s console, is never going to be missed in a crowd.

As unconventional as he looks, some will say it is nothing compared with the unfashionable horseflesh which thrives under his care. Stayers, jumpers, anything he can patch together and he get over some sort of trip is the Maher forte.

But cuddling a horse from a Donald maiden in September to win a Victoria Oaks over a gruelling 2500 metres at just her fourth start, surely that is about as funky as it can get?

“She’s been one out of the box,” Maher said, with more than a hint of understatement after nabbing his second group 1 win seven years after his first. “I didn’t actually think she would get to the races this time around, because as she started getting into her preparation she started to lighten off a little bit.”

As Maher tells the story, he was close to pulling the plug on Set Square’s maiden preparation without even booking a float to take her to the races.

“I told that to [part-owner] Ken King and as soon as I did she just thrived,” Maher said. “It’s unbelievable.”

And what is even more unbelievable is how the least experienced filly, in an Oaks field brimming with depth if the main protagonists were to be believed, just kept on running away from her rivals on Thursday.

So meteoric has been the rise of Set Square, Maher had not even bothered to pay up for the Oaks and later had historians scrambling for the record books. But after the daughter of Reset streaked away with the Ethereal Stakes last start, he thought they better fork out the $55,000 for the late-entry fee.

How that looks like chicken feed compared with the $600,000 bounty in the bank on Friday morning.

“We obviously didn’t enter her and we thought if she could win the Ethereal Stakes [we might], but the way she won that race and the way she came on from there [made it an easy decision],” Maher said. “Every time we put a saddle on her she just seems to get better.”

The win capped a Flemington roller-coaster for jockey Hugh Bowman, who chalked up his second Victoria Oaks win after Samantha Miss sizzled in 2008.

Bowman was set to miss most of the most important week of the year after being outed for improper riding on the Maher-trained Moonovermanhattan in the Caulfield Classic. He appealed and had the ban reduced.

It did not prevent him from losing the Victoria Derby-winning ride on Preferment, but Nick Hall’s decision to abandon Set Square in favour of eventual Oaks favourite Lumosty was small compensation.

“Racing is a funny game and you’ve got to keep putting yourself in the positions and it’s an honour to get the opportunity,” Bowman said. “I’ve had limited opportunities this week, but I thought I had some nice rides today. I thought she was a really good chance and she delivered.”

Opting to settle his filly well back in the field, Bowman weaved a passage when the tiring leaders turned for home at the top of the straight.

Hall looked to have a lapful of horse underneath him with Lumosty, but once she got to the lead could not let down. It allowed Bowman and Set Square to pounce, eventually sinking John Sargent’s bid for back-to-back Oaks with Wakeful Stakes winner Thunder Lady.

She was 1-1/2 lengths away in second, while Robbie Laing’s Golconda snuck up the inside to be a further neck back in third.

“There was no question at all [she would stay],” Maher said of the winner. “I train a lot of stayers and jumpers … and she always had a good constitution. She breathed [well] and had that real staying type action. There was never any question with the trip, it was whether she had the experience to win a race like this.”

As for Smerdon’s highly spruiked trio, led home by a tiring Lumosty in sixth, in front of more than 64,000 racegoers?

“It was clear Lumosty didn’t stay, but we can’t forget she had very good two-year-old form and we’ll look forward to the autumn trying her at 1600-metre events,” Smerdon said.

“And you can’t forget she raced through the end of the winter into the spring, so she’s done a good job and so has Crafty. She, too, has had a long campaign and just felt the ground today. But she will go to Sydney for the Oaks and there’s always the likelihood of a bit of cut in the track, which will help her no end.”

Meanwhile, Damien Oliver’s week took a turn for the worse after he was banned for 10 meetings for careless riding after his winning ride on Onemorezeta in the third at Flemington on Thursday.

Oliver, who had a group 1 double on Derby day and also booted home Vain Queen on Oaks day, will miss the Sandown Cup meeting next week. He will be able to return for the stand-alone Ballarat Cup meeting.

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Trevor Chappell adds fielding expertise to NSW Blues

By admin | 杭州桑拿

New South Wales have turned to the youngest of the cricketing Chappell brothers in an effort to hone their fielding skills in the defence of their Sheffield Shield title.
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Trevor Chappell’s career was unfortunately overshadowed by one of the game’s greatest controversies – the underarm delivery he bowled against New Zealand more than 30 years ago, at the instruction of his brother and captain Greg – but the former Australian all-rounder was also a brilliant fieldsman.

It is a skill that let Australia down in the past fortnight in the United Arab Emirates – they dropped 11 catches in their 2-0 series hammering by Pakistan – and Chappell hopes his fielding expertise can rub off on the Blues.

“It doesn’t help when you’re dropping catches as well,” said the 62-year-old, who joined the NSW squad at training on Thursday at the request of acting head coach Geoff Lawson. “If the bowlers are struggling to get wickets, they need all the help they can get.

“I think it’s one of those things – when you’re under pressure, the fielding can lapse as well and when every wicket is important the fielders are under a bit more pressure.

“It’s great to be involved at this level again.”

A former national coach of Bangladesh, and fielding coach with Sri Lanka, Chappell’s fielding process was honed playing baseball, a game his decorated brothers Ian and Greg also loved before going on to captain Australia.

“I really enjoyed fielding myself,” Chappell said. “We all used to play baseball as well, up until they changed it to a summer game in the late 60s and that aspect of baseball I loved too, the fielding.

“It’s a vital part of cricket … and with the shorter versions of the game now you just can’t hide anybody anywhere. You can’t afford to have a weak link in the field really. Baseball has always been like that. You couldn’t have a weak second baseman or shortstop – you’ll keep letting people get on base. The same has probably always applied in cricket, but probably the last 30 years the importance of it has been shown. And the shorter the game gets, the more important the fielding gets.”