Magpies better than 2014: Buckley

Nathan Buckley is confident he’s coaching a better Collingwood team than the 2014 version that threw away a hot start to the AFL season.

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The Magpies are in the box seat to return to finals after beating Greater Western Sydney by 42 points at the MCG on Sunday.

Buckley’s men are fourth on the ladder, a game clear of the fifth-placed Giants.

Collingwood also started the 2014 season with an impressive 8-3 win-loss record, but faded after the bye and failed to make the finals.

“I don’t know if we’re playing better footy (compared to then),” Buckley said.

“But I think we’re a more mature group.

“We’re a better team and we’re a better club than we were 12 months ago.”

Buckley insisted nobody at the club was going to get too excited about Sunday’s result, the Pies’ final game before their mid-season bye.

“The environment around the place is really solid, we’re not getting carried away one way of the other,” he said.

“If we have a loss, it’s not the end of the world. If we have a win, we’re not the champions that everyone might tell us we are.

“We’re maintaining our composure well as an organisation and that’s going to stand us in good stead.”

Premiership favourites Fremantle and Sydney continued their strong starts to the season in round 11, but in contrasting fashion.

The ladder-leading Dockers managed just 6.17 (53) against cellar dwellers Gold Coast, but it was enough to get over the line by seven points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

The Dockers banked their 10th win, while the Swans shored up their hold on second spot with a ninth victory.

Sydney were regularly challenged by an impressive North Melbourne outfit, but prevailed by 16 points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

In Saturday’s other match third-placed West Coast dismissed Essendon with ease, crushing the Bombers by 50 points.

The only concern for Eagles coach Adam Simpson was Jeremy McGovern’s corked thigh, with the defender in doubt for Friday night’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.

Rebounding defender Xavier Ellis, who returned from injury against the Bombers, could also miss the match against the Tigers depending on how the match review panel assess the way he slid into a contest.

“I think he’s got a case to answer to it’s not what you want to see,” Swans legend Jude Bolton told Seven’s Game Day.

Meanwhile, Geelong moved to within striking distance of the top eight with their 23-point win over Port Adelaide on Friday night.

Round 11 wrapped up on Sunday night when St Kilda recorded a thrilling two-point win over Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.

Cheika names Hunt in train-on squad

Former NRL star Karmichael Hunt is among five uncapped players named by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in a 22-man preliminary train-on squad for the opening round of the Rugby Championship.

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All of the players named on Sunday are from teams not involved in the upcoming Super Rugby finals, with Hunt joining Reds teammate and centre Samu Kerevi, Melbourne Rebels props Paul Alo-Emile and Toby Smith along with Western Force lock Adam Coleman as the uncapped players in the squad.

Australia begin their Rugby Championship campaign against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18 as the Wallabies begin the countdown to the World Cup in September-October.

Utility Hunt’s inclusion comes after a turbulent season off the field for the code-hopper who has a shot at becoming a dual international after playing rugby league for Australia.

In March, the 28-year-old was given a back-dated six-week ban and fined $30,000 by the ARU and QRU after he pleaded guilty to four counts of cocaine possession in the Southport Magistrates Court where he copped a $2500 and escaped a conviction.

The Reds have the strongest representation with 12 players, including veterans Will Genia and James Horwill, while James O’Connor, who suffered a groin injury in Saturday night’s loss to NSW, has also been named.

The Rebels and Force have five players apiece with crowd-pleasing winger Nick Cummins among those from the Perth-based side.

Selected players will assemble in Brisbane from Monday 22 June and train out of Ballymore, before their first official camp on July 5 in Caloundra on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Additional players from the Brumbies and NSW Waratahs will be confirmed at the end of their respective Super Rugby seasons.

Cheika has also given overseas-based players some extra time off, indicating they will join the squad after the Super Rugby final in three weeks.

The Wallabies mentor has spoken to European-based stars Matt Giteau, George Smith and Drew Mitchell and they have all indicated they are available from the outset of the Rugby Championship.

“They’ll be considered for selection for the first game. They’ve just finished seasons over there – they don’t need to come back now. If they were to come back … if they were selected, they’d be coming back after the Super Rugby final when the full team comes together,” Cheika said.

Wallabies train-on squad: Paul Alo-Emile, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Jones, Sean McMahon, Toby Smith, Quade Cooper, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Liam Gill, James Hanson, James Horwill, Greg Holmes, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, James O’Connor, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Adam Coleman, Nick Cummins, Tetera Faulkner, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson.

Ashwin takes five as rain-hit match ends in draw

Ravichandran Ashwin was the only bright spot on another wet and rain-curtailed day as the off-spinner completed his 10th five-wicket haul in tests.

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Bangladesh were bundled out for 256 in their first innings and with 30 overs left in the final session, Tamim Iqbal (16) and Imrul Kayes (seven) batted out 15 overs to reach 23-0 before the teams shook hands for a draw.

A steady drizzle washed out the morning session as Bangladesh, resuming on 111-3, continued to bat positively with little time left in the test match.

Ashwin, who had picked up two wickets on Saturday, dismissed Shakib Al Hasan (nine) in the second over of the day when the left-handed batsman got a thick top edge to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha while attempting a cut shot.

Opener Imrul Kayes (72) was beaten by the flight and bounce from experienced Harbhajan Singh who got the left-hander stumped for his second wicket in his first match in over two years for India. The 34-year-old finished with 3-64 with the wicket of Mohammad Shahid towards the end.

Kayes and Soumya Sarkar (37), who chopped on Varun Aaron to give the only wicket to a paceman in the innings, added 51 runs for the fifth wicket.

Shuvagata Hom (nine) became Ashwin’s fourth victim and fell in the final delivery before the tea break, getting caught at short leg.

Debutant wicketkeeper Litton Das played a quickfire knock of 44 from 45 balls before giving Ashwin his fifth wicket for his first five-wicket haul in an innings outside India.

The teams will now play a three-match one-day international series, with the first match in Dhaka on Thursday.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Julian Linden and Pritha Sarkar)

Ashwin stars as India-Bangladesh draw

Ravichandran Ashwin grabbed a five-wicket haul as India enforced the follow-on before the rain-ruined Test against Bangladesh ended in an inevitable draw in Fatullah on Sunday.

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After the entire morning session was washed out, India bowled out Bangladesh for 256 in their first innings to gain a lead of 206 runs over their own effort of 6-462 declared.

Given 30 overs to bat a second time, the hosts were 23 without loss after 15 overs when both sides agreed to call off the match at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali stadium.

Ashwin and fellow off-spinner Harbhajan Singh shared eight wickets to lead India’s brave bid to win a match in which bad weather interrupted play on all five days. The entire second day was washed out.

The duo took centre-stage after Shikhar Dhawan (173) and Murali Vijay (150) had shared an opening partnership of 283 and Ajinkya Rahane made 98 after India had won the toss and elected to bat.

For Bangladesh, star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan picked up four of the six wickets before opener Imrul Kayes top-scored with 72 and debutant Litton Das made 44.

When play resumed after lunch on the final day, Bangladesh added 10 runs to their overnight score of 3-111 before Ashwin broke through by having Shakib caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha for nine.

Saha was in action again when he stumped Kayes off Harbhajan, before Soumya Sarkar was bowled by Varun Aaron to make it 6-176.

Shuvagata Hom added 43 for the seventh wicket with Das before he was caught at short-leg by Rohit Sharma to give Ashwin his fourth wicket.

Das lived up to his promise as a batsman, but fell six short of a half-century when he became Ashwin’s fifth victim through another catch by Sharma.

Harbhajan removed Mohammad Shahid through a catch in the deep before Jubair Hossain was run out to end the innings.

Tamim Iqbal (16) and Kayes (seven) played out time in the second innings before the game ended.

The two teams are scheduled to play three one-day internationals in Dhaka on June 18, 21 and 24.

Last-minute Saints stun Melbourne

Leigh Montagna kicked a goal with 19 seconds left in the game to propel St Kilda to a stunning two-point win over Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

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Jeremy Howe put the Demons in front with just 41 seconds remaining with the first goal of a tense final term, only for Montagna to run onto a loose ball in the goal square to hand the Saints a 12.13 (85) to 12.11 (83) win.

“It’s probably as emotional as I’ve been after a game,” coach Alan Richardson said.

“When Joey scored we knew how long there was to go.

“There is a tendency with our guys, and rightfully so with a minute to go, for our guys to think that one’s probably got away from us but to their credit … they kept fighting.”

The result extended Melbourne’s losing streak against St Kilda to 11, with the loss their 21st in a row at the Docklands venue.

Paul Roos lamented his team’s inability to get numbers behind the ball to defend their lead in the dying seconds.

“We’ve just got to do a better job in those situations,” Roos said.

Montagna was outstanding with 28 possessions and 10 tackles in a team total of 98, with Nick Riewoldt also important with four goals and 10 marks.

“We’ve got some really strong, experienced leaders that are still playing really good footy,” Richardson said.

“Every club needs their leaders to be strong and that was the case for us again tonight.

“When your team lays (98) tackles they’re going about it the right way.

“We want to be aggressive in that space, so that was pleasing.”

Jesse Hogan enhanced his reputation as a superstar in the making with a career-best five goals for Melbourne, while Bernie Vince (38 possessions) and Nathan Jones (32) were influential.

Richardson’s side led by one point as quarter-time and quickly extended that lead to a game-high margin of 24 with the first four goals of the second term.

But Hogan hit back with two goals as the Demons sliced the deficit to just six points at the main break.

The intensity of the contest lifted another notch in the third with neither side able to break the game open. Jimmy Toumpas edged Melbourne out to a two-goal lead halfway through the quarter, but Tim Membrey’s miss after the siren levelled the scores once again.

A tense final term produced plenty of errors from both sides, but St Kilda did most of the attacking without being able to land the decisive blow.

It looked like it would finally be the Demons’ day when Howe slotted a tough set shot late in the game, only for Melbourne hearts to be broken seconds later.

“It was probably a game that you’d expect between two teams who are really similar,” Roos said.

“It was a good contest.

“Both teams were hard at it, both teams probably turned the ball over a fair bit and at times didn’t take opportunities.

“At the end of the day it just came down to the bounce of the ball and Montagna kicks a goal.”