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.”

Roos laments late lapse against Saints

Paul Roos lamented Melbourne’s inability to defend a lead with extra players behind the ball after Melbourne suffered a last-gasp loss to St Kilda on Sunday.

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The Demons looked set to end their 10-game losing streak against the Saints when Jeremy Howe gave his side a two-point lead with his goal with 41 seconds left to play, but they couldn’t stop Leigh Montagna kicking the match-winner with just 19 seconds on the clock.

A week after Roos was criticised for pointing the finger of blame at his players for aspects of their loss to Collingwood, the coach took responsibility for the heart-breaking defeat.

“We couldn’t get it done by putting a number behind the ball or two numbers or three numbers behind the ball,” Roos said.

“So obviously as a coach you take responsibility – if you can’t get it done you can’t get it done.

“Normally in those situations that’s what would happen.”

Melbourne now haven’t won a game at Etihad Stadium since round 19 of the 2007 season – a sequence of 21 matches.

“I don’t even think about the venue – it’s more about the game itself,” Roos said.

“In terms of the venue – that was brought up during the week – but I don’t think there’s ever a coach that says, ‘We haven’t won here for ‘x’amount of times’ or ‘We haven’t beaten this team’.

“It’s not like it’s an issue.” The loss leaves the Demons 15th on the ladder with a 3-8 record.

Despite the disappointment of the narrow defeat, Roos is still confident that his side is improving.

“Obviously it’s really disappointing to lose the game but there are certainly a lot of positives to come out of it,” he said.

“You’ve just got to be careful on the back of a disappointing loss. I think if you strip away the result – which is hard to do – ‘yes’ (we’ve improved) but having said that you lose the game.”

10 die in Tbilisi floods as lions roam

Lions, tigers, bears and other animals have escaped from a zoo in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, adding to chaos caused by flooding that killed at least 10 people.

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Police and soldiers were hunting down the animals, recapturing some and shooting others dead, while rescuers airlifted scores of people trapped by the floods.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili called on Tbilisi residents to stay indoors while the animals were still on the loose.

He said the damage to the city’s infrastructure was “substantial” after the River Vere burst its banks after hours of torrential rain.

A spokesman at the State Security and Crisis Management Council said 10 people, including rescuers, had been killed in the flood.

He said the number of missing people was still being established, and at least 36 people had been hospitalised, including 16 with multiple fractures.

The floods turned the streets and squares into raging torrents, sweeping away cars and flooding houses.

Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze told the InterPressNews agency that three dead bodies had been found on the grounds of the zoo, including two employees.

“Search for animals continues, but a large part of the zoo is simply non-existent,” she said. “It was turned into a hellish whirlpool.

“Some 20 wolves, eight lions, white tigers, tigers, jackals, jaguars have either been shot dead by special forces or are missing. Only three out of our 17 penguins were saved.”

Rustavi 2 television broadcast footage showing a hippo swimming in the flooded Heroes’ Square in downtown Tbilisi as rescuers struggled to capture the animal.

Pictures circulating on social media showed a huge alligator wading past parked cars and a bear perched on an air-conditioning unit on the side of a building.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili sent his condolences to the victims’ families as he visited the affected area to observe the clean-up operation.

“The human losses that we have suffered are very hard to tolerate,” he told local TV. “I express my condolences to all the people who lost their relatives.”

Several main thoroughfares in the city of 1.2 million were covered with thick layer of mud and hundreds of fallen trees.

The main damage was done when the Vere river – which flows through the park containing the zoo in the centre of the city – burst its banks.

Mayor David Narmania called on Tbilisi residents to help take part in the clean-up operations that are underway throughout the city.

Qld man charged over shoe throwing protest

A Queensland protester who threw his shoes at Immigration Minister Peter Dutton during a refugee welcoming festival says he has no regrets after being charged by police.

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Mr Dutton was in Annerley on Sunday to attend Welcomefest – an event designed to acknowledge Australia’s newest citizens from countries including Somalia, Myanmar and Congo.

The minister was just about to deliver a speech when David Sprigg, 33, stood up and yelled at Mr Dutton before throwing his shoes to protest the government’s refugee policies.

Mr Dutton reportedly caught one of the shoes and brushed off the incident.

Mr Sprigg was charged with public nuisance and taken to the Brisbane watch-house.

“I think he should be ashamed for what his government is doing and how asylum seekers are being treated in detention centres,” Mr Sprigg told AAP after walking free on Sunday afternoon.

“When they use language like `queue jumpers’ and `illegal arrivals’, I think they’re really just turning the public against refugees.”

Mr Sprigg accused Mr Dutton of hypocrisy over the government’s policy of turning back asylum seeker boats.

“Here he is welcoming refugees, but his government isn’t welcoming refugees at all – they’re doing the absolute opposite,” Mr Sprigg said.

He said he didn’t regret his spur of the moment protest.

“The people in detention are just suffering so much and to be publicly shamed by having shoes thrown at you seems insignificant compared to how many refugees are locked up and mistreated every day.”

Mr Sprigg will face court on June 30.

Mr Dutton’s office has been contacted for comment.

Hulkenberg wins Le Mans in Porsche one-two

The German, driving the number 19 works Porsche he shared with New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Briton Nick Tandy, took the chequered flag for the marque’s first win at the Sarthe circuit since 1998.

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It was Porsche’s 17th Le Mans triumph, extending their own record.

The number 17 Porsche of Australian Mark Webber, New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley and Germany’s Timo Bernhard finished second.

Audi’s defending champions Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Faessler completed the podium places in the 83rd edition of the endurance race.

“I’m speechless right now, to be honest,” said Hulkenberg before lifting the heavy trophy with the help of his team mates.

“It’s amazing to come here, first attempt. Super happy…we wrote history today,” added the 27-year-old, the first active F1 driver to win since Britain’s Johnny Herbert in 1991.

“We couldn’t expect such a thing,” said the German, who arrived in Le Mans straight from the Canadian Grand Prix and will be heading to Austria for next weekend’s race after a few days off.

The winning trio were the least experienced of the three Porsche works crews, with Hulkenberg completely unfamiliar with Le Mans until testing two weeks ago.

Tandy, the only one of the three with prior Le Mans experience, became the 30th British winner of the event.

“I couldn’t think of two guys I’d rather share the car with,” said the Englishman. “I could retire from racing tomorrow and look back on today and I am sure I would be happy for the rest of my life.”

Bamber was only the third New Zealander, following in the footsteps of Formula One drivers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in 1966, to win Le Mans.

Audi had won 13 of the last 15 editions but Porsche, who returned with a full factory effort last year, had looked dangerous from the moment they swept the top three grid places in qualifying.

There had been little to separate the two Volkswagen stable mates going into the night but things started to unwind for Audi after daybreak.

Fassler had to pit when a large part of bodywork flew off without warning, costing seven minutes for repairs. The number nine and eight Audis also suffered mechanical problems.

Webber led at the quarter distance but fell back when Hartley collected a one minute ‘stop and go’ penalty for overtaking through a slow zone imposed around the Mulsanne corner during the third safety car interlude.

The safety cars came out for a fourth time around the 17 hour mark when an Aston Martin crashed heavily.

The safety cars, three of them to cope with the long Le Mans lap, made their first appearance after the first hour when a three car collision dumped oil on the track at the first chicane.

There was a much longer safety car period at the end of the third hour, when Frenchman Loic Duval spun and hit the barriers in the number eight Audi at the Indianapolis corner.

Denmark’s retired nine times winner Tom Kristensen had waved the 83rd edition of the race away in bright sunshine on Saturday, watched by a crowd of around 250,000 spectators enjoying a festival atmosphere.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Pritha Sarkar)

Great Britain scoop sailing golds

Great Britain have secured three gold medals at the Sail for Gold Regatta ISAF World Cup in Weymouth and Portland.

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There were also three silver and four bronze finishes for the host nation in topping the medals table, with New Zealand second ahead of Australia.

Giles Scott, Nick Dempsey and 470 pair Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark delivered victory on Sunday, adding to the British successes of the Paralympic classes on Saturday in the fourth leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series.

Tom Squires and Bryony Shaw took silver in the men’s and women’s RS:X windsurfing competition and bronze went to 49er duo of John Pink and Stuart Bithell.

World champion Scott was Britain’s first gold medal of the day, recovering from a yellow flag penalty to hold a six-point lead over New Zealand’s Josh Junior going into the final Finn race.

Scott has not lost for some 18 months but will remain focused on the run in towards the Rio 2016 Olympics.

He said: “Everyone’s getting better all the time, and there’s still a long time to go to the Games so I certainly can’t rest on my laurels at all.

“I really just have to try and concentrate on getting better myself. That’s exactly what everyone else is doing.”

Mills and Saskia Clark, meanwhile, defeated London 2012 gold medallists Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie.

“We have been close several times over the last few years but we’ve always just lost out. To finally nail it, in what was a great race as well, is just awesome,” said Clark.

Mills says the pair are also focused on Rio, where they will bid to add Olympic gold to their silver from three years ago.