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Big George Rose ready for oncoming Storm

George RoseMelbourne may be his former club, but Dragons big man George Rose admits he has little to offer his new teammates in the way of inside knowledge ahead of their round-one clash on Monday night.
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Rose managed just nine games for the Storm last year after winning a premiership and player-of-the-year gong in an eight-year career with Manly.

He hasn’t had to wait long for a crack at his former club after earning a starting berth for the season opener. He’ll be one of three former Storm players lining up for the Dragons alongside Gareth Widdop and Dane Nielsen.

For many years coaches have wondered how to stop the big three of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater but Rose – famously self-deprecating – said he had little to offer new coach Paul McGregor.

‘‘I was a bit ordinary there last year and didn’t know half the plays anyway,’’ Rose joked.

Jokes aside, Rose admits last season was not his best and he’s entering 2015 with a point to prove; though he has no grudge against the Storm.

‘‘Going against your old teams it’s always a little bit of an extra motivator,’’ he said. ‘‘But I’ve really put last year behind me and I’m more focused on the season ahead.

‘‘I’m just thinking about what we’re doing as a group and winning games with this team rather than holding any grudges or anything like that.’’

Rose will enter the season high on confidence after picking up the highest individual honour of his career when he was named man of the match in the Indigenous All Stars’ 20-6 win over their NRL counterparts.

‘‘It was definitely one of the best moments of my career,’’ Rose said.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve had too many man-of-the-match awards in my career and to get one one in that arena, in that game, obviously means a lot to me.’’

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Teenager wins Black Opal

Ballarat’s Liam Procaccino marked a career-high as he won Sunday nignt’s Bendigo Bank Black Opal 400m at the Bendigo International Madison.
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The 17-year-old said his victory in the country’s richest 400m was a “dream come true”.

PHOTO FINISH: Liam Procaccina, blue, lunges to win the Black Opal final. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

After starting on the 14m mark, Procaccino was able to catch limit marker Michael Voumard (38m) right on the line.

The race winner was mobbed by stablemates from the POD squad at the line.

“Sam Baird from our stable won this race two years ago. He’s an inspiration,” Procaccino said.

Teenager’s Black Opal triumph

The latest Black Opal champion said trainer Peter O’Dwyer was a great influence.

“I have developed a lot more this season. There’s been more work on technique and greater intensity at training.”

Those gut-busting workouts at training paid off, especially in the dash on the Tom Flood Sports Centre home straight.

“At 200 metres to go I was still a fair way behind. The 120 is a sharp bend and the lactic acid was building.”

Procaccino won in a time of 45.97 seconds from Voumard, 46.01, and Dion Paull (25m) in 46.12.

A year 12 student at Ballarat Grammar, Procaccino has sights set on the Stawell Gift carnival at Easter.

The night’s athletics action included victory by Catherine Hibberd in the Flack Advisory-backed Bendigo Thousand Women’s Vase (120m).

Hibberd started off limit of 21.25m and could not be caught.

“The key was to get away to a good start and run as fast as I could.

“The wind picked up, but it meant I had less wind to run in than the others.”

Hibberd won the final in a time of 14.12 seconds ahead of Samatha Hargreaves (19.75m) in 14.19, and Ruby Klemm (17.25) in 14.22 seconds.

SPEED DEMON: Catherine Hibberd, pink, takes out the Bendigo Thousand Women’s Vase. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

The Women’s Vase champion said trainer Angela Phillips had played a big role in the lead-up to Bendigo and to other meets on the Victorian Athletics League circuit.

The 30-year-old from South Yarra was rapt to have won the sprint duel at one of the most prestigious athletics meets in the country.

Hibberd sizzles in Vase

Away from the athletics track, Hibberd is an orthopaedic surgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital.

She will aim to keep the winning run rolling at Euroa, Ringwood and Stawell.

Other winners on the athletics across the Bendigo International Madison carnival included Tim Potter, open 70m; Dylan Moore, under-20 120m; Scott Shillito, masters 300m; Meg Deane, novice 400m; Tom Hecimovic, frontmarkers 800m; and James Colllier, backmarkers 800m.

Strathdale’s Jacob Nolan put in a brilliant run to win the frontmarkers mile.

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Separate courtplanned for domestic violence

LAUNCH: Sophie Cotsis, fourth from left, and colleagues mark International Women’s Day. Picture: Jonathan CarrollA COURT specialising in domestic violence and sexual assault will be trialled in the Hunter if Labor is elected.
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Opposition spokeswoman for women Sophie Cotsis, armed with the region’s five women candidates and Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison, unveiled the party’s plans to stop domestic violence and improve support for victims in Newcastle on Sunday.

Ms Cotsis said unveiling the plans on International Women’s Day confirmed the party’s desire to prevent violence against women with policy that ‘‘catches victims at every step’’.

Labor would spend $14.5million to support women’s refuges, counselling services and programs focused on preventing violence and helping men to change their behaviour.

A Premier’s Council for Women would be set up to advise the government, and the Office of Women would again become part of the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The plans would also bring stronger penalties for breaching apprehended violence orders, and protection for victims under the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Ms Cotsis said the party introduced five days’ paid domestic violence leave in 2009, and would double it to further support victims.

‘‘Domestic violence and sexual assault takes over their life psychologically, mentally, socially … We’re looking at this from a co-ordinated approach – increasing the awareness that we need to change behaviour and stop violence against women,’’ she said.

Cricket: VRI takes time for 17 runs

ALEX Wallis and lower-order bat Lachlan Isbister relished a chance to relax and make some runs for VRI Delacombe on Saturday.
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VRI was well and truly in control against fellow finals contender Ballan when play resumed at Delacombe in Ballarat Cricket Association district division one.

All VRI needed was 17 runs to claim victory and polish off the minor premiership. VRI lost its fifth wicket in the process but, once victory was secure, chose to bat out the afternoon.

Wallis, who guided his team to the win, reached a half-century and Isbister reinforced his own batting form with 41.

VRI captain James Nichols said the win was a great all-round confidence boost leading into finals.

Anthony Creati nabbed 3-30 off 8.5 overs and Lachlan Isbister claimed 3-4 off 5.1 to blow apart Ballan on day one.

Blues’ bowler Michael Snaith headlined the opposition attack, taking 5-52 in reply.

Wallis and Jeromy Johnston formed a 49-run partnership for the sixth wicket that safely guided VRI past the Blues’ tally.

Division one competition is notoriously tight and while VRI tops the ladder at the regular season’s end, Nichols knows his team is far from safe.


VRI DELACOMBE 51 premiership points, 1.3156 percentage; BURRUMBEET 42, 1.4458; BALLAN 40, 1.0699; LUCAS 30, 0.9280; Buninyong 27, 0.8240; Dunnstown 24, 0.6010.

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Mudfest tickets on sale

Tickets for the 11th annual MudFest Short Film Festival on Saturday, March 21 are now available. For the past 10 years the Mid-Western region has laughed, cried and loved thanks to filmmakers from around Australia and around the world at the annual MudFest short film festival.
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Now in its 11th year, the outdoor event will be held on the grounds of Bunnamagoo Estate on Saturday, March 21.

This year is set to be the biggest yet and will feature the largest screen ever used to show Mudfest entries.

Guests will be treated to 15 short films chosen by the committee from more than a 100 entries that will span genres from comedy and humour, to drama, documentaries, and thrillers.

In the past 11 years, MudFest has become an international occasion with the festival attracting attention from more than 36 countries including Spain, France, the UK, the United States, and of course, Australia.

MudFest was the first international short film festival outside of Sydney when it began, with 50 guests crammed into the Butcher Shop Cafe on Church Street. Since then it has screen BAFTA Award winning films, and was featured at the Australia Day G’Day Week Celebrations in Los Angeles on more than one occasion.

“Mudgee Region has always been an avid supporter of the arts, and creating our very own film festival is a strong example of this. We’ve featured some amazing films in the past but this year has one of the strongest line-ups we’ve ever presented” MudFest Co-Founder Mike O’Malley said.

With the films split into two screening sessions, guests at the event are able to sample some of Bunnamago’s best wine and taste test dishes from some of the region’s best cooks throughout the night while deliberating on the best movie shown so far.

Cara George, CEO of Mudgee Region Tourism, said the event was the ideal setting to showcase the country charm that Mudgee is well known for.

MudFest tickets cost $30 per person, and gates will open at 5 pm.

The evening will begin with live music, followed by a screening that is set to run for approximately two hours.

Guests may purchase food or bring a picnic dinner and rug along and festival directors are encouraging everyone to bring along a jacket for when the sun goes down.

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Redbacks pip Old Boys at top

NORTH Tamworth claimed the minor premiership with an outright win over City at Chaffey Park as Bective beat Old Boys at No 1 Oval to allow the Redbacks to reclaim their spot at the top, while South Tamworth showed they are still a force when they outrighted a dismal West Tamworth at Dick Edwards Oval.
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Ben Middelbrook puts his back into this one as he tried to hit Old Boys back into minor premiership contention on Saturday to no avail. Photo: Gareth Gardner 070315GGE07

The final day of the final round games was drama- packed across Tamworth’s questionable wickets, where 150 is now a winning total and the bowlers are enjoying more success than they were allowed at the start of theseason.

Last week the Redbacks had their foot on City’s throat, having them 6-23 at stumps chasing 156, and they didn’t let it off this week.

It didn’t get any better for City as they were bowled out for just 43 in the first innings, Terry Kampe top-scoring with just seven.

Their position was made worse by the fact that they were only playing with ten as Redbacks skipper Michael Rixon sent them back in.

Only the two Dans, Whale (41) and Lawrence (31), put up any resistance and managed a decent partnership but had no other support whatsoever.

Four fours, three ducks and a one made up the rest of the book, and summed up City’s inconsistent year as they crashed out of finals contention and the season, all out for 105.

Across the river at No 1 Oval, current premiers Old Boys only needed first innings points to sew up another minor premiership.

They resumed at 1-30 also chasing 156, but soon ran into trouble as Col Smyth got some wind in his sails.

Smyth took Aaron Hazlewood’s wicket last week and had Abel Carney caught behind soon afer play resumed.

Lachie Davidson chimed in, trapping Adam Lole in front, and then a stroke of luck changed the game.

When Simon Norvill was run out by Justin Kellett for one run, Old Boys seemed to lose momentum and, despite a desperate and inspiring effort from Ben Middlebrook to get them going again, Smyth kept answering the question, eventually finishing with 6-67 from 22 overs after bowling right through.

Middlebrook finished with 64 although, like City, there were only two batsmen with double figures as they were all out for 120.

Bective went back in and occupied the crease to finish at 6-113, content to take the confidence and momentum of beating the premiers into the finals.

Wests were another side that fell cheaply, with the game barely going an hour into play this week before Souths claimed the outright.

Wests resumed at 4-16 and 66 chasing 143 and were toppled again to be all out for 54, Tim Kensell’s 32 not out the only shining light and the only score above 5, as Angus McNeill routed them to also finish with six.

The results mean that Bective will play South at Dick Edwards Oval in the minor semi next weekend, while minor premiers North will meet current premiers Old Boys at No 1 in the major semi.

Both games will be played Saturday and Sunday, with play starting at 1pm both days.

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We need to lift, says East Armidale skipper

EASTS captain Sam Uphill had a frank message for his troops following a first innings loss in the last two-day round game against Hillgrove on Saturday.
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Easts captain Sam Uphill was disappointed in the way the minor premiers played in their loss to Hillgrove on Saturday.

“If we were playing in a final today we would have lost it,” Uphill said.

As it was they lost on first innings points anyway, but the message was clear.

“We bowled all right but our fielding wasn’t good enough and we were terrible with the bat,” Uphill said.

Easts resumed nine down and still needing 40 runs to beat Hillgrove’s first innings total of 142.

They failed to add to the scorebook before being bowled out in the second over of the day and sent back in.

The second time around they did a lot better, with a couple of batsmen getting starts and at least seeing the bowlers off to be 6-150 when the game was called off.

Hillgrove will play City next week for the chance to play Easts in the final, but the Easts skipper said they have plenty of work to do if they want to compete.

“Hillgrove are very hard to beat and would be harder still in the final because they have some big-game players,” Uphill said.

“We stopped and had a chat and the message is that we need to turn up wanting to win the final.

“Whoever wants it more will win it.”

Stand-in City captain Brad Smith said the exact same thing of next week’s preliminary final after they finished off second best against Ex-Services who pulled out a good performance in their final match of the year.

“It will be whoever wants it more on the day,” Smith said.

After dismissing Ex-Services for 126 the week before, City resumed at 2-38 and matched Ex-Services before sending them back in to try for an outright in order to finish second in case it rains next week.

Ex Services captain Cody Graham made 102 not out in double time as he thrashed the ball all over the ground.

His opening batting partner, Will Green, was also not out at the end of play, on 15.

“There was a plethora of dropped catches and wickets off no balls today,” Smith said.

“Hillgrove have had the wood on us this season but I would back us in next week.

“We have a good attack and just need to score some runs.”

The final will be played over Saturday and Sunday next weekend at the Sportsground, starting at 1pm.

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Same-sex ad discord

MARRIAGE equality advocates have criticised an ad opposing same-sex marriage for being harmful to children.
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The ad, sponsored by the Australian Marriage Forum, began running on commercial television channels on Saturday night, and claims that allowing same-sex couples to marry would force a child to miss out on having a mother or a father.

Australian Marriage Equality director Rodney Croome said the ad was harmful to children of same-sex couples.

Rodney Croome

‘‘According to the Bureau of Statistics, tens of thousands of Australian children are currently in the care of same-sex couples, and these children deserve the same opportunities as other children, including the opportunity of having married parents,’’ he said.

‘‘I assume the launch of this campaign on the same day as the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade is meant to be provocative, but actually it just highlights how out of place anti-gay prejudice is in our increasingly inclusive and respectful society.’’

Australian Marriage Forum president David van Gend said he did not agree with Mr Croome that the ad could be harmful to children of same-sex couples, saying it was ‘‘complete speculation’’.

‘‘The aim is to re-frame the debate on same-sex marriage from the child’s perspective,’’ he said.

‘‘As a family doctor, I know that a child’s relationship with their mother and with their father is irreplaceable and vital.’’

The ad screened on channels 7 and 9, but was pulled from broadcast by SBS.

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O’Brien stars in McDonald Lawson’s shock upset over Paragon in minor semi-final

STAND OUT: McDonald Lawson’s Jamie O’Brien shows this ball he full face of the bat during his match-winning knock of 83 at Cahill Park on Saturday. Photo: Col Boyd 070315 FirstGrade 596McDonald Lawson all-rounder Jamie O’Brien has starred in his side’s shock upset of Paragon Hotel in their Mudgee District Cricket minor semi-final.
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Bulls veteran Greg Parker admitted before the clash his side was a “one-man band” referring to O’Brien, with his words proving prophetic in their 45-run victory at Cahill Park on Saturday.

O’Brien crafted a well-made 83 with the bat to be the rock of his side’s innings as others chipped in and held up an end on the way to a total of 140.

The all-rounder continued to show his worth to the side as he took 4-26 off 10 overs with the ball to help bundle Paragon out of the running for the 2014-15 first division title.

Parker said O’Brien amazingly continued to step up to the pressure of being the focal point of the side even in a must-win game.

“He’s one of the best cricketers in the town so it was great he was able to play well again for us,” Parker said.

“He scored pretty freely and he was able to get some pretty good support from the others who batted with him

“But we fielded pretty well when it was our time as well, so that kept the pressure up.”

With O’Brien setting the tone for his side at one end, Paragon off-spinner David Edwards worked wonders with the ball to wrap up the tail of the innings, finishing with 4-9 off three to ensure his side were not chasing even more.

McDonald Lawson got the start they were after when they secured their first wicket with just 15 on the board before Will Lindsay and skipper Steve Knight started to right the innings.

“I really didn’t think 140 was going to be enough,” Parker admitted.

“Steve and Will started to put on a pretty good partnership at the top of their order and I started to think it might have been slipping away from us a little then.

“But when we got them out, they were always going to be the key wickets, but we had to not get ahead of ourselves too much.”

Both Lindsay (32) and Knight (21) became victims of O’Brien as he broke through to stop the promising partnership at 46.

Wickets began to tumble with Paragon losing 8-28 as their chances of victory evaporated in front of their eyes with Seton Croake providing O’Brien with excellent support with the ball to finish with 3-7 off 10 overs with four maidens.

Paragon captain Knight was left to wonder what might have been from season 2014-15 but admitted his side did not make the most of the chances it created in its last game for the season.

“Credit to Jamie for how he batted for them, but we dropped him four times,” Knight said.

“Catches win matches, and I won’t lie it was a pretty disappointing finish for our season but we didn’t capitalise as well as we should have.”

Despite his side being bundled out in the first round of the finals, Knight said there were still plenty of positives for the side moving forward, the bowling of Guy Hammond being one.

“We’re a side that was put together pretty quickly at the start of the season so Will (Lindsay) and I got things going and I have not been able to question the effort from the guys all season,” he said.

“But a couple of results didn’t go our way, but I think most of the guys will be keen to have another crack next season.”

Knight warned Lawson and Woolpack to take the Bull’s lightly at their own peril, saying their disciplined bowling attack has the potential to take them to a shock grand final victory.

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Dragon Mitch Rein keen on match-up with Smith

Mitch Rein is relishing the chance to play a full game in the key role against the Melbourne Storm in the 2015 season opener. Picture: ROBERT PEET
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Dragons hooker Mitch Rein hopes to use a first-up test against the game’s best No 9 – Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith – to prove his days of sharing dummy-half duties are over.

Smith has been named to make an early return from an ankle injury to lead the Storm in their season-opener against the Dragons at Jubilee Oval on Monday night despite a limited preseason due to off-season surgery.

Rein was expected to again share dummy-half duties this year with veteran recruit Heath L’Estrange but, with four forwards named on the bench, Rein will need to go the distance against the Storm.

It won’t be the first time he’s done the journey and the 24-year-old is keen to make it a regular occurrence in 2015.

“In the last couple of years I’ve done 80 minutes a handful of times,” Rein said.

“With age comes a bit more experience. After sharing the hooking role in the past, I’d try to play 80-minute games the same way – getting carried away, trying to get in every tackle and every run.

“You just can’t sustain that amount of energy for 80 minutes so it’s just about being smart and managing yourself on the field if you want to play that full game.

“The more practice you get at it the better you get at being an 80-minute player.”

Smith was expected to be out of action until round four after carrying the ankle injury sustained during last year’s Origin series through the NRL season and Four Nations before undergoing surgery. It’s limited his time on the training paddock but Rein doesn’t think it will limit his impact on Monday.

“It doesn’t matter how much training or preparation he’s done in the off-season, he’s had ankle surgery and all the rest, but he always performs,” Rein said.

“He’s the best hooker in the world and we all know how good he is and how he controls the game so we’ll have our hands full.”

Coach Paul McGregor endorsed Rein as the club’s fittest man this week and said his early season form will have a big bearing on the Dragons’ style of play in the opening weeks.

“A lot will depend on Mitch’s form there in the next couple of weeks,” McGregor said.

“You take it one week at a time and you don’t know what you’re going to need week three or week four but for right now Mitch [playing 80 minutes] is what we need.”

Melbourne have won their past 10 season-openers and McGregor isn’t buying talk that they are a side on the wane.

“Everyone’s writing them off and saying they won’t make the eight but I find that very hard to believe.”

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