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.”

More heat on Henry, Hayne as Titans flop

Gold Coast captain Ryan James challenged teammates to rally around Neil Henry after St George Illawarra heaped more pressure on the embattled Titans coach.

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The futures of Henry and Jarryd Hayne at the club were again questioned after the under-performing superstar once more failed to fire a 42-16 drubbing at OWI Jubilee Oval on Saturday.

Sacked by North Queensland four years ago, Henry is fighting to save his job again following four-straight heavy defeats.

The Titans have leaked 96 points in their past two losses alone.

Henry, though, is remaining stoic amid talk he won’t see out his contract.

“It’s media banter,” he said.

“Coaches are under pressure all the time. I’ve got to get on with my job and that’s to prepare my team with my assistant coaches as best we can each week and we’ll continue to do that.

“I can’t stop the speculation. It’s up to all of us to play some decent footy and to get on with our jobs..

“I don’t need to make decisions around the governance of the club.

“I’m contracted for next season and that’s how I’m preparing.”

Henry’s relationship with Hayne is said to have been frosty for much of the season.

After initially offering “no comment” when asked if the issue was becoming a distraction, Henry suggested the NSW State of Origin star needed to lift.

“He’s a player in the team and we talk and we converse as we do all the time,” Henry said.

“There’s been a lot of media about him … the thing that makes the media go away is his performance, for the team and for individuals, and that will take care of things.”

Asked to assess Hayne’s performance against the Dragons, Henry said he needed to check the tape.

“I thought he had a couple of strong touches early and brought the ball back,” he said.

“It’s very hard to get into a game when you haven’t got a lot of possession.”

James said it was unfair to blame the coach for the Titans’ woes.

“He’s not the one out there taking hit-ups or making the tackles so everyone’s quick to chuck the blame on someone else,” the front-rower said.

“But it falls on the players. We’ve talked to ourselves and we know we’re not playing good enough footy.

“So fair enough if ‘King’ was out there kicking the ball or making the tackles, but he’s not.

“So it’s up to us as a group to come together and play some good footy.”

Storm need to improve to win title: Smith

They have one hand firmly on the NRL minor premiership but Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith said there wasn’t too many happy faces in the Storm sheds following their last gasp 16-13 win over the Sydney Roosters.

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The Storm snatched the three-point win an enthralling and at times bizarre contest fitting of a top-of-the table clash at AAMI Park.

Melbourne only need one more win from their remaining three matches to secure the JJ Giltinan Shield but Smith said the near-miss was a reminder the premiership race was far from over.

“It shows we’ve been a little bit consistent and that’s why we’re six points ahead,” Smith said.

“Sitting in the sheds I know everyone isn’t completely happy with where we’re at with our performances and we know that that result could have gone either way.

“We’re at absolutely no stage thinking that it’s us and then daylight, absolutely no way.”

Second-rower Joe Stimson, in his debut NRL season, was the man-of-the-moment, scoring in the 77th minute for his team to regain the lead.

The Roosters hit the front for the first time in the match four minutes earlier thanks to a Luke Keary field goal.

But in typical Storm fashion, the match was far from over.

The Roosters were on the wrong end of a 9-3 penalty count in the first half which had them trailing 10-6 after a penalty try, with the bunker ruling Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu had been taken out by Mitchell in the race to the tryline.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it shouldn’t have been awarded.

“I thought there was too much doubt for it to be a penalty try,” he said.

Melbourne’s lead was out to 12-6 until the 61st match when Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell converted Mitch Aubusson’s try from the sideline.

That tryscoring opportunity came when Vunivalu collected a kick and then attempted an unorthodox hurdle of two Roosters players, ending up on report which had Storm coach Craig Bellamy perplexed.

“I’m not quite sure what Suli was trying to do there … it was probably a bit of a brain fade,” Bellamy said.

“They scored on the end of that penalty so hopefully he learns a lesson and he doesn’t do it again.”

With Roosters co-captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend back in the line-up after long injury spells Robinson felt there was a lot of upside.

“I thought we played well and it was an improvement on last week but if we wanted to win the game we should have finished it off a bit better,” he said.

Inquiry into deadly Egypt train crash as death toll rises to 40

Under floodlights, rescue teams combed wrecked carriages all night for casualties, also using torches on their mobile phones.

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The toll from Friday’s accident when two trains hurtled into each other near Alexandria has risen to 40 dead and 123 wounded, said health ministry spokesman Khaled Moujahed, as local media said the number of fatalities was likely to rise.

People view the wreckage after two passenger trains collided in Alexandria, Egypt, 11 August 2017.AAP

The crash on the route to Cairo, derailed the engine of one train and two cars of the other, the Egyptian Railway Authority said.

A railroad switching error was the most likely cause of the collision, according to a security source. 

Workers used cranes to lift four knotted sheet-metal carriages blocking the normally busy Cairo-Alexandria line.

Transport ministry officials, quoted on state television, have said the crash in farmland on the outskirts of Alexandria was probably caused by a malfunction in one train that brought it to a halt.

The other train then crashed into it.

One train had been heading to Alexandria from Cairo and the other from Port Said, east along the coast.

Egyptian President: ‘hold accountable’

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sent his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered a probe to “hold accountable” those responsible for the disaster.

It was the deadliest train accident in the North African country since a train ploughed into a bus carrying schoolchildren in November 2012, killing 47 people. 

That accident jolted the government which ordered an investigation and sacked the transport minister and the head of the railway authority.

The accident was blamed on a train signal operator who fell asleep on the job.

The probe, however, did not prevent further accidents. Just months later, a train carrying military conscripts derailed, killing 17 people.

Around a year later, a collision between a train and a bus killed 27 people south of the capital.

They had been returning from a wedding when the train ploughed into their bus and a truck at a railway crossing.

Chronic transport problems

Egyptians have long complained that the government has failed to deal with chronic transport problems, with roads as poorly maintained as railway lines.

There have been many other fatal crashes on the busy rail network.

In July 2008, at least 44 people died near Marsa Matruh in northwestern Egypt when a runaway truck hurtled into a bus, a lorry and several cars waiting at a level crossing, shunting the vehicles into the path of a train.

Army attend the scene of a train collision just outside Egypt’s Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.AAP

At least 58 Egyptians were killed and 144 injured in August 2006 in a collision between two trains travelling on the same track.

In the wake of that crash, a court sentenced 14 railway employees to one year in prison for neglect.

The deadliest accident on Egypt’s railways dates back to 2002 when 373 people died when a fire ripped through a crowded train south of the capital.

Different coach, same result for AFL Suns

Different coach, same result for the besieged Gold Coast AFL club.

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Brisbane took a step toward avoiding the wooden spoon with a thumping 58-point win on Saturday at home, as an injury-hit Suns began life after sacked coach Rodney Eade just like it ended – with another loss.

There was no doubt Suns interim coach Dean Solomon faced a huge job to unite the team after Eade revealed on Saturday he would never have taken the Gold Coast job if he knew the full extent of their problems.

Eade’s three-year tenure came to an abrupt halt when axed on Monday night with three regular-season games left.

But even Solomon might be surprised by the enormity of the task he faces. The Suns faded badly in their 22.10 (142) to 12.12 (84) Gabba loss.

“I am going to do everything I can to turn this around,” Solomon said.

“The only way we will get out of this is hard work, galvanising and believing in what we have in place and turn it around.

“We can’t sulk, we can’t mope. We have to get back to work on Monday morning.”

But it seems it will take some time to reverse their fortunes based on Eade’s revealing claims on Saturday.

Asked if he would have accepted the Suns’ job if he had known the club’s issues, Eade told ABC radio: “Not at all, no.

“There’s a lot of things that surprised me and then keep happening.

“You turn over another rock and, whether it’s June or July, and you think you’re on top of it and something else happens.

“There’s a few things that got out publicly but there’s a lot of things that were kept in-house as well that people don’t know about.”

But Solomon tried to put on a brave face when asked how hard it was to get up after Eade’s sacking.

“It wasn’t hard (to get up). It’s AFL footy. Unfortunately, it’s a ruthless business,” he said.

“We’ve got to stop talking about who is out and talk about who is in as a football club.”

Despite being without Pearce Hanley (hamstring), Gary Ablett (hamstring) and Tom Lynch (knee), Gold Coast began full of energy and led by 22 points in the second term after Jack Martin (four goals) cut loose.

Lions skipper Dayne Beams (four goals, 32 touches) stood tall during the early Suns onslaught, before sparking Brisbane’s brutal response in front of 17,772 Gabba fans.

Brisbane kicked 17 goals to four from the second quarter to boost their hopes of dodging the wooden spoon.

The Lions (5-15 tally) are on 20 points along with Carlton and North Melbourne, but have played an extra game.

Nobel laureates urge Saudi to hold off on execution of 14 Shiites

Fears are mounting of the imminent mass execution of the 14 Shiites convicted of charges linked to protests in 2012, including rioting, theft, armed robbery and armed rebellion.

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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Saudi authorities of coercing confessions which were later retracted in court and of failing to grant fair trials to defendants, including juveniles. 

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Signed by anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi and former East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta, the letter released late Friday urged King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his son, to “extend the hand of mercy” and refrain from ratifying the death sentences. 

“Mujtaba al-Sweika, a bright 18-year-old student in Saudi Arabia, was on his way to visit Western Michigan University in 2012 when he was arrested in the airport in Riyadh. Among his charges is starting a Facebook group and posting images of a demonstration online,” read the letter. 

“Another defendant, Ali al-Nimr, was charged with setting up a Blackberry page named ‘The Liberals’ and posting photos of the demonstrations, inviting people to participate,” it added. 

Other signatories to Friday’s letter include US anti-landmine activist Jody Williams, Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, South African former president F.W. De Klerk, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, Polish labour rights activist Lech Walesa and peace activist Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland. 

Saudi Arabia: 14 Shia at Risk of Imminent Execution 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/uku7ekAkhi

— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) August 10, 2017

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest rates of execution. This year alone, it has so far executed 75 people.

In July, the supreme court upheld the death penalty for the 14 men, all Saudi citizens. The sentences must be ratified by the king or the crown prince for the executions to go ahead. 

The 14 are all linked to protests in Qatif, an eastern province home to most of the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s Shiite minority, who have long complained of marginalisation.

The east is also the source of most of Saudi Arabia’s oil. 

Saudi authorities, who have regularly cracked down on protests in Qatif, this week seized control of the town of Awamiya after increasingly frequent clashes between residents and police. 

Authorities have said drug traffickers and “terrorists” were behind the unrest in Qatif.

Awamiya was the epicentre of a short-lived Arab Spring-inspired protest movement in 2011, partly led by Nimr al-Nimr, a senior Shiite cleric from the town. 

Nimr was executed in January 2016 on a “terrorism” indictment.