Cats’ AFL fans sway free kicks: Hardwick

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick is sure the Simonds Stadium crowd influenced a skewed free-kick count in their upset AFL loss to Geelong.

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The Cats held on in Saturday’s last quarter for a crucial 11.14 (80) to 9.12 (66) win that meant they took third spot from the Tigers with two rounds left.

There was plenty of pre-match speculation about whether the game should be moved to the MCG, given the importance of the game and the drawing power of the two teams.

Cats coach Chris Scott said post-match that local fans took “umbrage” to the suggestion the game should be moved.

Just as Scott heaped praise on the Geelong faithful, Hardwick was equally adamant the Cats had a big home-ground advantage and his comments about the umpiring could attract AFL scrutiny.

“The home crowd gets behind them – have a look at the free-kick count,” Hardwick said.

“It is what it is. What I will say is you have a significant home ground advantage.

“I understand what Chris is saying, I’d be playing as many home games here as I can.

“They’re an outstanding side, plus, when it comes to playing here.”

The free-kick count was 20-7 Geelong’s way at halftime and 28-17 for the match.

“Our Tiger fans are the same when we get back home (the MCG) – it’s the lie of the land,” Hardwick said.

But Richmond’s free-kick difference for the season moves to minus 74.

At the end of his post-game media conference, Scott volunteered praise for the crowd support and the atmosphere at the game.

Their VFL team beat Richmond and the Geelong women’s team also won at a neighbouring ground in Kardinia Park.

“The feedback from the players and certainly the feedback from the coaches’ box was that is the best we’ve ever heard our crowd,” Scott said.

“They took umbrage to the fact that there was any suggestion their home game should be taken away from them.

“They responded in a manner that the whole of Geelong should be proud of.”

It was Geelong’s 13th-straight win over Richmond and they did it without captain Joel Selwood, key forward Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan.

With Hawkins suspended, swingman Harry Taylor was outstanding on Richmond’s Alex Rance, surely this year’s All-Australian full-back.

Taylor kicked four goals and was best afield.

Patrick Dangerfield returned from suspension and racked up a game-high 30 disposals.

Steven Motlop also came back after being rested for two games and was much improved.

Geelong key forward Rhys Stanley suffered a calf muscle injury and Richmond’s Josh Caddy was forced out of the match in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.

Midfielder Dion Prestia had 29 disposals and was best for the Tigers.

Geelong face Collingwood at the MCG and GWS at home as they try to secure a top-four berth.

Richmond drop from third to fourth, but should still claim a double chance with Fremantle (Perth) and St Kilda (MCG) to come.

Sacked coach Eade regrets taking Suns job

Sacked Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade says he would never have taken the job if he’d known the extent of the AFL club’s issues.

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The Suns announced on Tuesday that Eade’s contract had been terminated with three rounds remaining.

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane said the decision came down to an unacceptable win-loss ratio under Eade’s leadership.

The Suns had managed just 16 wins and a draw from the 63 games coached by Eade since the beginning of 2015.

Eade on Saturday said a combination of a poor club culture, issues within the football department and a high rate of injuries had denied him the opportunity to build success.

Asked whether, in retrospect, he would still have taken the job, Eade’s response was emphatic.

“No, no, no. Not at all,” Eade told ABC Grandstand on Saturday.

“There was a lot of things that surprised me and then kept happening, I suppose. You hit another rock, and then it’s June or July and you think you’re on top of it, and then something else happens.

“I suppose the injury rate was horrible. It was a lot better this year but obviously the last five or six weeks it’s really gone south again.

“With all of those factors involved, no I wouldn’t have done it.”

The Suns had spoken of former Sydney and Western Bulldogs coach Eade being the man to take them deep into the finals when he replaced Guy McKenna at the end of 2014.

But the club was beset by disciplinary issues, struggled to retain key players and, according to Eade, was run by people who lacked insight into the myriad of problems.

“I don’t think they did know the extent of the cultural things,” Eade said.

“Probably a lot of people didn’t, but should they have known?

“I think all good clubs would know.”

China’s Xi urges restraint in phone call with Trump

Meanwhile, US military forces “stand ready” to safeguard Guam after the North threatened to fire ballistic missiles toward the American Pacific island territory, the White House said.

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It said Trump “reassured” Guam Governor Eddie Calvo in a phone call that the US military would “ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam, along with the rest of America.”

During their separate call, Trump and Xi also hailed the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution targeting the North as an “important and necessary step toward achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a White House statement read.

“The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” it added, stressing the two leaders had an “extremely close relationship” that “will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.”

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“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior,” the statement read.

It said Trump looks forward to a “very historic” meeting with Xi in China later this year.

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‘Avoid rhetoric’

President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese state media said.

China Central Television on Saturday cited Xi as saying that Beijing and Washington are both interested in the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

The report quotes Xi as saying: “At present, the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

Japanese Defense Ministry deploys PAC-3 interceptor system in Konan, Kochi Prefecture on Aug. 12, 2017, to counter against provocative missile launch. AAP

Trump has pushed China to pressure North Korea to halt a nuclear weapons program that is nearing the capability of targeting the United States. China is the North’s biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can’t compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

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‘Avoid bomb flash’: Guam’s nuke advice

Guam has posted emergency guidelines to help residents prepare for any potential nuclear attack as North Korea threatens to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory.

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Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency said on Thursday its army would complete plans in mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near Guam amid increasingly heated rhetoric over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

0:00 North Korea, the US and Guam explained Share North Korea, the US and Guam explained

North Korea did not threaten Guam with a nuclear attack, but the crisis between Pyongyang and the United States has stirred fears that of nuclear conflict in the region.

Guam’s governor said there was no heightened threat but the government has issued a preparedness fact sheet, which covers what to do before, during and after a nuclear attack.

“Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you,” it said. “Take cover behind anything that might offer protection.”

If caught outside, it says to “remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading.”

US Navy releases photo showing submarine tender USS Emory S. Land and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Topeka pierside in their home port at Polaris Point, Guam.AAP

It suggests having an emergency plan and supply kit and a list of potential concrete structures near home, work and school to serve as fallout shelters.

The fact sheet advises people to not scrub or scratch the skin, use soap, shampoo and water but avoid hair conditioner because it binds radioactive material.

It also advises parents to stay where they are and wait for instructions, even if they are separated from their children.

Guam is home to about 163,000 people and a US military base.

US President Donald Trump warned on Friday that the US military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely”.

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo said while he agreed with sending a clear message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he didn’t “want the temperature to get any higher”.

Taylor experiment pays off for Cats in AFL

Geelong’s Harry Taylor experiment has paid an AFL dividend they would not have hoped for in their wildest dreams.

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On Saturday, Taylor won his crucial duel with star Richmond defender Alex Rance and was best afield with 4.2 as the Cats scored an upset 14-point win at Simonds Stadium.

It is the biggest success by far for Taylor since the Cats’ pre-season decision to experiment with him as a key forward.

Most key forwards, let alone a swingman, never have the better of Rance.

The Tigers’ star will surely earn All-Australian selection for the fourth season in a row.

Taylor has had his struggles in attack. It was only the second time this season he had played the entire game as a key forward.

It was forced on the Cats because of No.1 key forward Tom Hawkins’ two-game suspension.

The Cats’ forwards isolated Taylor and Rance whenever possible and the tactic worked superbly.

“Harry was probably the difference today – Rancey had a disappointing day; he’s been up for a long time,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.

“Sometimes, these things happen.

“Harry had a good day and sometimes champions have a bad day … (Rance) will bounce back.”

Rance even went into attack during the frantic last quarter as the Tigers tried to buy a goal or two.

Showing his defender’s instincts, Taylor was unsure whether he should follow Rance up the other end of the ground.

Taylor said his focus was trying to limit Rance’s peerless ability to take intercept marks.

It also helped that Taylor took two early marks against Rance.

“I have been on that a number of times when opponents kick goals on you early, but he is a fantastic player, he backs himself and just does so many amazing things to help his team,” Taylor said.

“So to be able to contribute on the scoreboard and help our team was pretty pleasing.”

Cats coach Chris Scott did not want to talk about the tactical nuances of Taylor’s win over Rance, mindful the teams could well clash again in the finals.

“He might be close to the best defender of a generation,” Scott said of Rance.

“When the opposition try something different against you, those champions find a way to get past that.

“I suspect, with some trepidation, that will happen in this case as well.”