Month: April 2019

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Brisbane sneak into NRL finals

Brisbane became the last team to qualify for the NRL finals on Sunday night, after Parramatta and the Warriors dropped the ball in the lead up to next week’s playoffs.

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Brisbane fell into eighth spot after both the Eels and Warriors suffered last round defeats, with impressive victories to Sydney Roosters and North Queensland marking them as the teams to beat.

The premiers’ 22-18 win over South Sydney on Thursday at Allianz Stadium handed them the minor premiership after ladder leaders Manly fell 30-16 to the Cowboys in Townsville two nights later.

The win was the Roosters’ sixth on the trot ahead of Saturday evening’s first qualifying final against Penrith at Allianz Stadium.

The Cowboys, who have won seven of their last eight, including victories over top four finishers South Sydney and Manly, face Brisbane in Townsville on Saturday night in the first elimination final.

Penrith’s 22-6 win over the lacklustre Warriors on Sunday night in the final game of the regular season gave the Panthers a top four spot, with the result opening the door for the Broncos to sneak into the finals on percentages.

The Panthers’ reward is a match against the world club champions.

Penrith emerged as unlikely top four aspirants mid-season and coach Ivan Cleary, in his third year with the Panthers, said he was proud of his side heading into the finals.

“I didn’t really have any expectations (this year) apart from trying to improve,” he said.

“Eighteen months ago we were everyone’s favourites to finish last and we scratched our way up to tenth spot last year.

“The obvious one this year was to try and get in the eight and we’ve done that and I am very proud of the whole club.

“I think it is a pretty big achievement being in the top four with Souths, Roosters and Manly.”

Injury-hit Manly host Souths in the second qualifying final on Friday night at Allianz Stadium to open the finals series.

Canterbury, who limped into the finals alongside Brisbane after their 19-18 capitulation to the Titans on the Gold Coast on Sunday after leading 18-0, travel to Melbourne to play the Storm in the second elimination final on Sunday afternoon.

Brisbane’s finals fate was taken out of their own hands when they were disposed of by a clinical Melbourne outfit 22-12 at AAMI Park on Friday night.

After losing to Newcastle last week, a win over Canberra in the nation’s capital would have lifted the improved Eels to eighth spot, but the Raiders proved too good in a 33-20 win to finish their season with three straight victories.

Wests Tigers snapped a six game losing streak in defeating wooden spooners Cronulla, their first since 1969, 26-10 at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.

In the other match with no bearing on the finals, the Knights smashed St George Illawarra 40-10 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday to round out both sides’ disappointing seasons in coach Wayne Bennett’s last game in charge of Newcastle.


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McFadden frustrated by Warriors flop

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden failed to hide his frustration after his talented, but under-achieving side missed out on a gilt-edged opportunity to make the NRL finals.

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With Brisbane losing to Melbourne on Friday and Parramatta going down to Canberra on Saturday, the Warriors’ destiny was in their own hands against Penrith on Sunday night.

The Panthers needed to win to book a top-four spot, but a two-point defeat for the Warriors would have been enough to finish above the Broncos on points differential.

But it proved to be too big a hurdle as the impressive Panthers won 22-6 at Sportingbet Stadium leaving the Warriors to ponder another year where they combined brilliance and mediocrity all too regularly.

A slow start to the year saw coach Matt Elliott shown the door and although things did improve under McFadden the team was found wanting at the back end of the season.

“We didn’t really fire a shot,” McFadden said.

“We had opportunities, we didn’t take them and weren’t good enough.

“We just weren’t tough enough to get ourselves out of it.

“It’s really disappointing. We know we’ve made some real progress this year and it would have been nice to get that result and get in the eight.

“It’s a dose of reality of where we sit.”

Skipper Simon Mannering said there were no excuses for another year of failure and the time had come for the whole team to take responsibility for another disappointing campaign.

“It wasn’t an ideal start to the year but we should have given ourselves opportunities throughout the year to be there in the eight,” Mannering said.

“I guess it showed tonight we didn’t quite deserve it and we’re not good enough.

“It’s something we have to learn from for next year. We didn’t have that spark which is a shame because we had everything to play for.”


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Turkey protest horror lift deaths

Hundreds have protested in Istanbul a day after 10 workers were killed when a lift crashed to the ground from the 32nd storey of a building.

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“This is not an accident, this is murder!” the crowd of up to 1000 people, angry at Turkey’s abysmal workplace safety record, shouted as they gathered near the construction site in Istanbul on Sunday.

Authorities said an investigation had been launched into the incident at the Torunlar Centre, which is being built on the former site of Galatasaray football club’s Ali Sami Yen stadium.

Police on Sunday released eight people detained in connection with the incident, including the safety director of the site, after hearing their testimonies.

Thirty-six of the tower’s 42 floors have already been completed, local media reported.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, but there have been claims that the elevator broke down two weeks ago and workers were awaiting funds to repair it.

Labour and Social Security Minister Faruk Celik said the accident happened after a freight elevator workers used to carry construction materials derailed, with workers and building materials crashing to the ground.

“We will go after (the guilty people) if there is any negligence or shortcoming,” he was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

The building’s owner Aziz Torun denied any responsibility, as well as the possibility of a technical problem with the elevator.

“I used the same elevator 10 days ago,” Torun told a press conference.

“The elevator is supposed to carry both people and materials. It can carry 2700 kilos of freight or 28 people.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the workers’ deaths “very painful and very saddening”.

Turkey has the world’s third highest rate of deadly workplace accidents, according to the International Labour Organisation.


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Palestinians face boycott over Hamas wages

The international community has threatened to boycott the Palestinian leadership if it pays the salaries of former Hamas employees in Gaza, prime minister Rami Hamdallah says.

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Hamdallah on Sunday told AFP he had been warned he would face problems if he visited the Gaza Strip without first sorting out the salaries issue.

The densely populated Palestinian coastal territory was the target of a 50-day Israeli offensive in July and August, aimed at halting militant rocket and mortar fire into the Jewish state.

Hamdallah, who heads the Palestinian government of national consensus which took office on June 2, said the question of wages had become the main stumbling block to an intra-Palestinian reconciliation deal.

“This unity government should control both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but there are many things blocking its work,” he said.

“Putting Hamas employees on the government payroll is the main problem which is preventing the government from working in the Gaza Strip.”

Since signing the agreement in April, Hamas has demanded that the new government take responsibility for paying its 45,000 employees, some 27,000 of whom are civil servants, he said.

The rest are understood to be members of the Hamas police and security forces.

Before the Hamas government stepped down in June, it had been unable to pay their wages for months because of a biting economic crisis.

But Hamdallah said his government had been warned against channelling money to anyone employed by Hamas, which is blacklisted by the United States and Europe as a terror organisation.

“The government and the banks operating in the Palestinian territories were warned that if they make these payments to former Hamas government employees in Gaza then the government and the people will be boycotted,” he said.

“If this happens, the Palestinian banking system will face a huge problem that will threaten the Palestinian situation in general.”

The Palestinians are heavily dependent on international aid, with a boycott likely to have a devastating financial impact on its financial viability.

Hamdallah’s remarks came a day after president Mahmud Abbas lashed out at Hamas for effectively running a parallel administration and preventing the consensus government from operating in Gaza.


25/04/2019 0

Nishikori, Cilic seek glory in unlikely final

It will be the first time since the Australian Open final in 2005 that a men’s grand slam final will not feature at least one of tennis’s top three – Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer.

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Tenth seed Nishikori is the first Asian man to reach a grand slam singles final while Cilic is into his first final, less than 12 months after returning from a four-month suspension for what he said was inadvertently taking a banned supplement.

Before this year’s U.S. Open, Nishikori and Cilic boasted just one grand slam semi-final appearance between them, the Croat having made it to the last four at the Australian Open in 2010.

Nishikori leads their head-to-head meetings 5-2, including both their meetings this year, in Brisbane and Barcelona, while they split their two previous U.S. Open clashes.

But having beaten Djokovic and Federer respectively to reach their first grand slam final, they will be desperate to take chances on Monday.

“I hope there will be a lot of people watching (in Japan),” said Nishikori, who also beat third seed Stan Wawrinka and fifth seed Milos Raonic.

“I am a little bit surprised to make the final but am very happy to make another (piece) of history, the first time an Asian man is in the final. I hope I can win and make (more) history.”

Coached by former grand slam champion Michael Chang, Nishikori has added steel and physical strength to a game that always possessed flair but lacked endurance.

“He’s been really helpful,” Nishikori said. “He’s been helping me a lot from the end of last year, (especially) mentally.

“I feel my tennis is changing (to be a) little more aggressive and playing with more confidence. He’s tough, but I needed someone to push me.”

Cilic, whose victory over Federer in the semi-finals was described by his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, as “perfection”, is aiming for glory, 11 months after returning from a drugs ban that left him questioning his future.

Originally banned for nine months, Cilic’s suspension was cut to four months on appeal and the 25-year-old always maintained that he had taken the banned substance without knowing, through a tainted supplement.

The road back to the top was hard but with the help of former Wimbledon champion Ivanisevic, he has emerged a more aggressive player, using his serve and groundstrokes to stunning effect.

“For the guys that are top, (reaching the final) feels normal,” he said. “But for some guys that are making it for the first time it’s the achievement of their career.

“When I’m playing now these bigger matches I feel like if I’m going to play well I have a good chance.

“That’s a different mind-set than I used to have because before I felt that I should (try to do) more than I’m able to and then your game breaks.”

Cilic said he was looking forward to one more great battle with Nishikori.

“It’s going to be a special day for both of us, an opportunity for both of us to win a grand slam, to be a part of history,” he said.

“There are going to be definitely huge emotions on the court. We have different game styles. I think it’s going to be a good tactical match-up.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)


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