Eagles to put pride on the line against familiar foe


Reigningpremiers Albion Park-Oak Flats will have a testing assignment when they host last year’s grand final opponents Gerringong at Centenary Field tomorrow.

The Eagles were defeated 36-24 on home turf by the Jamberoo Superoos in their season opener a fortnight ago.

Michael Cronin’s Lions will be trying to reverse the result of last year’s grand final which the Eagles won 16-14 on this same ground, Centenary Field, to claim their eighth premiership in 14 years.

While 2013 is a brand new dawn, expect plenty of typical intensity and commitment from both the Eagles and Lions.

“We hope it is a close game. We’re pretty underdone as far as match time goes,” Eagles coach Steve Johnston said.

The Eagles had only one practice match in the pre-season and a couple of trials did not go ahead

The Eagles have only got four or five players from last year’s grand final but the senior group is leading by example.

“A lot of things have changed so we’ve got to bring in some new things, try and bring some players through and battle on,” Johnston said. “Even though we’re a different squad, they [Gerringong] are pretty much as they were in the grand final except for one or two changes.”

Club pride is something Johnston aims to instil in his squad. “It doesn’t matter who we put out there, as long as we play aggressive and show a bit of fight. That’s what I’m after,” he said.

“We’re a lot smaller, a lot younger. All the older fellows are still awesome.

“They’re training the house down and they try to impose their will on the young blokes to try to get them to be where they should be. The experienced blokes have been unreal for us. You can’t ask for much more from them.”

All Group 7 games were washed out last week so all the teams should be fresh for round three, with much more favourable weather forecast for this weekend.

Follow @mercury_sportsReigning premiers: Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles players (left to right) Sean Jenkins, coach Steve Johnston, Gary Breakspear and Simon Pimanovs at training this week. The Eagles host Gerringong at Centenary Field tomorrow. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

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‘Slow’ response to code 1 calls

FREEDOM of information documents obtained by the state opposition have given rise to claims one in four ambulances failed to meet the government’s own target of responding to life-threatening code 1 calls within 15 minutes.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the freedom of information figures, from the second half of 2012, show ambulances were taking longer to reach car accidents and heart attack victims needing emergency assistance.

“Under Dr Napthine, the number of ambulances arriving at the scene of a life-threatening emergency within 15 minutes has dropped to 74.8 per cent, a blow-out of almost 6 per cent since 2010,” Mr Andrews said.

“Not one metropolitan ambulance branch has improved the code 1 average response time since the government was elected in 2010.”

Ambulance Victoria metro west manager Simon Thomson rejected the opposition’s claims, saying while caseloads continue to climb, there is continuing improvement in patient outcomes and their ability to return to normal life.

“The increase in demand for ambulance services and the time taken to transfer patients at hospitals can impact on our ability to respond to triple-0 calls,” Mr Thomson said.

“Response times are not the only measure of a quality ambulance service (though) and we are seeing improvements in the important measures of whether people live or die, and the quality of their life, for cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke and head trauma patients.”

Mr Andrews blamed the government’s $616 million health funding cuts for ambulance delays and said paramedics were stretched to the limit. He also said delays in handing over patients at hospitals were taking ambulances off the road longer.

“Our ambulances are increasingly being used as pop-up emergency departments for hospitals that are struggling to cope with the Napthine government’s savage health cuts.”

Mr Thomson conceded ambulances were often held up from getting back on the road after delivering patients to emergency wards.

“The ambulance ramping crisis is a window into just how gridlocked our hospitals have become. We need our ambulances available to attend emergencies, not sitting in queues created by a lack of hospital beds. We know it can be frustrating for our paramedics to have to wait at hospitals and we work closely with them to minimise our time required at emergency departments with patients.”

Barraba Bulldogs wary of Kootingal Roosters

BARRABA has been unbeatable so far this season but captain-coach Tim Coombes reckons today’s trip to Kootingal will be the biggest test of his side’s Group 4 Second Division credentials.

That’s because not only are the Roosters also two from two this year, but the Bulldogs are missing one of their key men while Kooty has recruited a star of its own.

Dogs fullback Joey Latham is out and he has been one of the side’s stars since joining from Bingara in the off-season.

“He’s got a wedding,” Coombes said.

“You can’t really replace someone that good because he has that attacking flair.

“You just need to find someone to do the job.

“It will be a test.”

It will also be the first away trip for the Dogs.

They have beaten Dungowan and Quirindi at home in the first two weeks and done so with relative ease.

But Kooty is a side Coombes has always held a healthy respect for.

“It’s another big one,” he said.

“Kooty are always good and we won’t have Joe there.

“We’ll have to bring our A game.

“We never have an easy game against Kooty.

“It’s a long time since they haven’t been in the top three.”

Kooty also understands the challenge it is up against.

But the Roosters are taking a philosophical approach.

“It will be hard,” Kooty coach Stuart Dines said.

“But we’ve got to play every side.

“We’re looking forward to it, to the challenge.”

In a major boost for the Roosters, former West Lion, Group 4 rep and Country rugby union player Nathan Hamlin has been cleared to play for Kooty.

The Kooty junior has been fighting West for a clearance for several years without success because of an unpaid fine imposed by the Lions in 2009.

But that clearance has finally been granted and Hamlin is free to play today.

It will also be the first outing for the Kooty league tag side.

Barraba won its first game against Dungowan comfortably but the Kooty girls might be harder to beat.

The Roosters are keen to make a full day of it at Kooty Oval now that the girls are on board.

“When the juniors start we’ll have the juniors here, the girls and us,” Dines said.

“It will be a whole day.

“That’s our aim anyway.”

The girls will start at 1pm before the main game at 2.30pm.

In the other games, Quirindi hosts Werris Creek in a local derby, Dungowan welcomes Walcha and Boggabri is at home for the first time against Bendemeer.

Dungowan and Walcha will also play a women’s game, which will also be Walcha’s first.

Young Barraba prop Jock Mallise takes on Kootingal today. Photo: Grant Robertson 090313GRD30

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To stay on learning curve, a wider angle for parents

Parents Tracey Mitchell and Zeynep Yestlyurt will be as familiar with campus as Roxburgh College students Shakeel and Belinda under a new initiative to actively involve parents as partners in lifelong learning. Picture: Michael CoppTEACHERS, students and parents will gather around the table today at Roxburgh College to put in place a plan to build an extended family approach to learning.

The ‘Connecting Parents, Schools and Community for Student Success’ summit is organised by the Hume middle years working group, which includes 23 local education and community sector organisations.

There are 11 community hubs in Hume primary schools, some of them more than seven years old.

Roxburgh College is the first secondary school to adopt this model and the first to employ a community liaison officer to focus on involving parents in their children’s learning and enhancing both school and home as learning environments.

The summit aims to use the community hub model to build pathways from primary to secondary schools through engaging families and connecting communities.

Hume mayor Geoff Porter says the focus of the initiative is to explore why it is so crucial to successful education to have parents closely involved, and how schools can improve student outcomes by building family and community engagement into their programs.

Research shows that greater parental involvement in education encourages more positive attitudes towards school, improves homework habits, reduces absenteeism and dropout, and enhances academic achievement.

The summit, funded by the federal Department of Human Services, will be addressed by Human Services Minister Jan McLucas. Educational consultant Mary Tobin will talk about schools as key sites for building social cohesion.

For information, call Cemile Yuksel, Hume Whittlesea LLEN partnership broker, on 9309 5500 or email [email protected]苏州美睫培训.au

Valley Water keeps a lid on steep price rise

HOME owners will not be slugged the full 35.8 per cent price hike projected by Yarra Valley Water for the next financial year.

Instead, a 25.8 per cent hike should raise average household water bills from an average $907 a year to $1204 in 2013-14 — $100 less than Yarra Valley Water was proposing.

The Essential Services Commission (ESC) last week rejected price increase proposals by all metropolitan water retailers.

Releasing the Price Review 2013: Greater Metropolitan Water Businesses Draft Decision, chairman Ron Ben-David said the ESC’s draft measure cuts by an average of 10 per cent the prices proposed by all four water authorities.

The proposed average residential tenant bill was due to rise from $528 to $727, but is now pegged back to about $670.

Dr Ben-David said the decision to peg price rises would go some way to address community concerns about affordability.

“The commission proposes to allow an additional $5 million for metropolitan retailers in 2013-14 to assist low-income and vulnerable customers to manage the impact of the proposed price increases,” he said.

The ESC decision also pegged subsequent price increases over the next four years to the inflation rate, which is now around 2.5 per cent. Its pricing report says the major areas of adjustment the water industry needs to target are lower financing costs, reduced operating expenditures, productivity improvements, and reduced or deferred capital programs.

YVW managing director Tony Kelly welcomed the ESC’s acknowledgement that help for hardship customers will be maintained and increased, with YVW’s component of the hardship increase due to be about $2 million.

Mr Kelly said YVW’s existing hardship program was acknowledged ‘best practice’ and was well respected within government, private and community support sectors.

“We are looking to further increase our early identification and intervention strategies, such as getting customers onto affordable payment plans, such as SmoothPay, before their debt increases,” Mr Kelly said. “We will be working through the details of [the ESC’s] draft decision and responding with comments in May.”

Mr Kelly said YVW would consult closely with key stakeholders, interest groups and customers during its review of the draft decision, all outcomes of which would be publicly available.

Written submissions need to be lodged by May 20 or by attending public meetings in Melbourne or Sunbury (April 30) and Frankston (May 1).

Details on public meetings and submissions information are available at esc.vic.gov.au. The ESC’s final decision will be taken in June and new prices will take effect from July 1.

MPs release their Hume wish-lists

ROADS and education are the focus of Hume politicians ahead of the state budget on May 7.

Yuroke MP Liz Beattie and Broadmeadows MP Frank McGuire cited the rail link from the city to the Melbourne Airport, widening of the Tullamarine Freeway and duplication of Somerton Road as major projects they want to see funded.

Ms Beattie is also hoping for funding for stage five works at Mount Ridley P-12 College, extra car parking at Craigieburn railway station, and completion of the Craigieburn Road duplication.

“These projects are all worthy of funding; some are of state significance and with the enormous growth in the northern suburbs are vital,” she said.

“I’m sure Hume Council would endorse all these projects.”

Mr McGuire’s top priority for funding is to “fix the ongoing issues” at Dallas Brooks Community Primary School.

He also wants funding for an aviation academy, Broadmeadows station redevelopment, duplication of Johnstone Street, and the Broadmeadows Health Services Super Clinic.

Macedon MP Joanne Duncan called on the state government to reinstate funding in the health and education sectors.

The Macedon electorate includes Sunbury and parts of Bulla.

“There are a range of projects we would like to see funded as well as seeking to have funding reinstated for a number of services specifically in health, education and emergency services,” Ms Duncan said.

“We are also seeking to have restoration of Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL), TAFE and Take a Break funding, as well as the cuts to the CFA.

A range of other education programs have been cut including the education maintenance allowance and school start bonus.”

Ms Duncan also called for traffic lights in Sunbury at the intersection of Horne Street and Gap Road and funding for car parking at Sunbury train station.

Hume chief executive Domenic Isola also supported calls for transport funding. “We are committed to work in partnership with local members of parliament, government agencies, business and community groups and other stakeholders to attract investment in Hume.

“Most recently, this work has been in the form of our involvement with the interface councils and the One Melbourne or Two? report, but we’re also pushing for road funding, car parking space for Craigieburn and Sunbury railway stations, and investment in higher education and leisure facilities.”

Art, the universal passport for crossing the divide

A thousand words: Pakistani refugee Rhubaba Haider’s art tells the story of her harrowing experiences.YOU have escaped the political instability in your country, you’ve passed the ASIO security threat assessment, you’ve been welcomed into the community . . . but fitting in is easier said than done.

You thought escaping the regime would be difficult but didn’t realise the harrowing experience of starting from “square zero”.

You need a universal language which “connects people in so many ways”. That language for Pakistani refugee Rhubaba Haider is art.

Art tells her story, of a Pakistani refugee who escaped in 2009 because of political and religious insensitivity, and of the Sudanese, Taiwanese, Eritrean and Scottish communities that her story touches.

Haider uses art to express emotions she doesn’t normally share with people. “Even in painting I don’t want to be totally transparent. I keep it abstract so it’s hard to get to the bottom of the puzzle,” she says of her artistic style.

Haider found it difficult to adapt, make new friends and master the language, but the hardest challenge was “working from top to bottom within the art scene and trying to make [her] mark”. When she isn’t painting she is studying criminal justice at RMIT University. “That is similar to art: you have to be unbiased, observe people and [try to decipher their motives], which I also take on in my artwork.”

Haider has entered the Heartlands Refugee Art Prize (HRAP) three times since her arrival and is planning to submit another artwork this year. She won first prize in 2010 and a new arrivals’ prize in 2011.

HRAP is calling on refugees to enter its 2013 art competition by May 10. Details: 9188 3681

Trainer pins faith in rookie on Tamworth Cup favourite

BATHURST trainer Jeff Brasch has shown remarkable faith in young Tamworth apprentice Jordan Grob by booking him to ride race favourite Ideal Position in tomorrow’s $65,000 2TM/92.9 Tamworth Cup (1400m).

Brasch had no hesitation in handing the teenager the plum ride on the $5 Cup favourite despite his young age and inexperience.

Grob outrode his four kilogram claim when he won at Warialda last week and will claim 3kg off Ideal Position’s 54kg weight tomorrow.

“Jordan rode Juste Heaven Sent for me up there a couple of weeks ago,” Brasch explained.

“He rode her really well. She can be a tricky mare but he listened to everything I said and then went out and did what I asked of him.

“I’m more than happy to put him back on.

“It’s a great opportunity for him to ride a good horse in a good race.

“Hopefully he will get a good result for all of us.”

The young apprentice only joined Sue Grills on loan at Tamworth a few months ago and he rode his first winner at Armidale, for Grills, at the March Armidale Cup meeting.

It would also cap a remarkable rise for five-year-old gelding Ideal Position.

The son of Snippetson has won eight of his 21 starts and earned $129,155 in prizemoney.

“We only bought him for $1100,” Brasch said.

“He was an unraced three-year-old and then won eight of his first 15 starts and was placed in a Listed Race. He’s been a terrific horse for us.”

Brasch owns the bulk of Ideal Position while Muswellbrook mines worker Jessie Dinham has a quarter share and Sydney’s Sue Small another share.

Brasch said his last run in the 1600m Orange Cup was an excellent effort.

“He only got beaten a half length,” he said.

“He got held up on the turn and couldn’t get out otherwise he would have been right in the finish.

“1400m is his best distance too.

“It won’t worry him dropping back from 1700m and 1600m for this.

“He’s done it before.

“But this is a strong race.

“ When I first saw the noms I thought it would be real strong.

“There’s some very good country horses in it. I’m going up expecting a real tough race.

“It’s going to be a big day of racing and will take a handy horse to win the Cup.”

While Ideal Position is race favourite, Walcha Cup winner Pitt Street, Walcha Maiden winner Bonsai and ultra- consistent Star Of Dubai share equal billing as $7 second favourites.

Star of Dubai has won four of his past six races and is part of a huge Cup weekend for Scone trainer Luke Griffith and owner-breeders Peter “Gabby” and Helen Wauch.

They also have I Love Legs in today’s $15,000 RBS Morgans Merriwa Cup (1350m).

Patrick Lo will ride the grey I Love Legs and claim 2kg in the Merriwa Cup while Matthew Paget rides Star of Dubai in the Tamworth Cup.

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Revved up for GT Nationals

FORD fans from across Australia have converged on Bathurst, bringing hundreds of iconic GT Falcons along for the ride.

They will be out in force this weekend as the annual Falcon GT Nationals are staged at Mount Panorama.

Club president Stuart Hansen said more than 400 entrants were in town for the event, with cars coming from far and wide.

He says the Nationals, which are in their 35th year, are held every two years and it is the fourth time the event has been held in Bathurst.

“The fact the event is being held at Mount Panorama is a massive drawcard,” Mr Hansen said.

“We’ve got a lot planned and 420 entrants, which for a single-make, single-model car club is huge,” he said.

Mr Hansen said scrutineering was held on Thursday and Friday, with the judges looking at all entries and awarding either bronze, silver or gold status.

The gold cars, which are certified the best overall, will be on display this morning.

Last night members cruised around the famous motorsport track before a special welcome function at Rydges Mount Panorama.

“Saturday will be an opportunity for car fans to come and have a look at the cars close up, with the display behind the pit area beginning at 9am. Entry is by small donation with all funds going to a local charity,” Mr Hansen said.

In addition to the cars, there will be plenty of fun things for the kids to do including rides, a jumping castle, wrestling and face painting, which will be on all day.

SHOW AND SHINE: Sue Verlin with her 2007 Ford Falcon GTP, president of the Falcon GT Owners Club of NSW Stuart Hansen and Ian Watson with his 1970 Ford Falcon XY GT. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

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Inverell backlash could sting Tamworth Roos

TAMWORTH Kangaroos can expect a devil of a time when they head to Varley Oval to tackle the Inverell Saints in their third-round Essential Energy TAFL clash today.

The Saints have their first home game of the season and will be extra keen to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Nomads in front of their home crowd.

They have recruited well, with Hayden Chappel impressive in the midfield so far.

Coach Jason Gobbert has also introduced the Reid brothers, Mick and Simon, and they have done well so far too.

Mike Gould kicked a career-best 13 goals in the first round but couldn’t kick a six-pointer in the loss to an under-strength Nomads.

He will be looking for a big haul at home.

Saints-Roos games have been grand final epics and major showdowns the past half dozen years.

New Roos coach Brett Douglas has played in many of them.

“It’s a tough road trip,” he said after his side had come from behind to beat the Swans in a local derby last week.

“We do have a few out and a few with niggling injuries but also hopefully will have a couple coming back.”

Alex Hudson was one of the Roos’ best last week while Matt Hodge and Mitch Douglas controlled the ball around the middle.

The Roos’ defence was also strong, with Col Daye and Daniel Johnson leading the way.

Muswellbrook Cats are on the road again today, with Werriman Field still out of action.

They go to Armidale to play Tom Granleese’s Nomads at Bellevue Oval.

The Nomads are in ominous form and, with uni holidays about to finish, will be returning to full strength.

Granleese has unearthed a couple of new stars this season, with newcomer Jed Ellis-Cluff and Toby Marchart outstanding last week.

Dave Graan has also started his season impressively while Benji Julien has been a star in defence.

Add in “twin towers” Simon Stubbs and James Boatfield and the Nomads have a formidable side.

Brian Martin, Jackson Bower and Cameron Davis have been best for the Cats.

Gunnedah Bulldogs will host the Swans at Wolseley Park today, with new coach Scott Hardy leading the way.

Andrew George, Mitch Swain and Troy Sands all earned plenty of plaudits last week while the Swans gave Andrew Donohue plenty of hope after a stirring display against the Roos.

He was wrapt with their efforts and hopes to continue that against the Bulldogs.

Alex Hudson was flying high against the Swans last week, leading the Roos to a tough win in the local derby. Jordan Sharpe dogs the talented young Roo. Photo: Barry Smith 200413BSC02

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