Broncos defeat Knights 32-6: photos

FORMER Dally M Medallist Ben Barba emerged from an early-season slump to inspire Brisbane to a comprehensive 32-6 victory over a flat and frustrated Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
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The Broncos tackled the Knights out of the game with determined, desperate defence when they were starved of possession early on, and Barba applied the polish once Brisbane established their authority.

The former Bulldogs match-winner held up Willie Mason and Adam Cuthbertson over the line to deny the Newcastle front-rowers tries, typifying Brisbane’s gritty defensive effort, and scored a try of his own and created two others for Matt Gillett and Dale Copley.

Grabbing at his ankle after being tackled in the 78th minute, Barba sent alarm bells ringing in the Brisbane camp but he played the ball and finished the game on his feet.

The six tries-to-one victory extended Brisbane’s unbeaten streak over the Knights in Newcastle to four matches, after an 18-all draw last year and back-to-back wins in 2011 (26-6) and 2012 (24-10).

Newcastle’s frustrating night was epitomised by a five-minute stretch midway through the second half when Beau Scott lost the ball trying to offload, Barba held Cuthbertson up over the line to stop a try, and Joey Leilua knocked on trying to pass on the first tackle in front of Brisbane’s posts.

Former skipper Sam Thaiday was a late withdrawal for the Broncos but they did not miss him, as the likes of Gillett, hooker Andrew McCullough and skipper Corey Parker lifted and led Brisbane’s swarming, spoiling defence.

In one of few bright spots on an otherwise disappointing night for the Knights, 19-year-old rookie Jake Mamo made a successful NRL debut on the right wing, replacing former NSW and Australian winger Aku Uate (knee).

“You know he’s going to have a long career and I’m looking forward to sitting back and watching it,” former Knights captain Andrew Johns said in his role of Channel Nine television commentator.

Mamo was tested several times in the opening minutes but answered each challenge.

He bobbled a bomb with his first touch in the second minute but regathered and earned a penalty.

Mamo returned a kick at full speed five minutes later only to be quickly stopped in his tracks by an Alex Glenn rib-rattler, but the Gosford junior was quick to his feet and a minute later was on the spot to tackle Ben Barba in-goal.

The Knights enjoyed an early possession advantage from a 3-0 penalty count but could not convert that into points.

Having been forced to defend for the opening 15 minutes, Brisbane counter-attacked against the run of play when Matt Gillett intercepted a Chris Houston pass. At the end of the set, Jack Reed batted Ben Hunt’s cross-field kick back for Glenn to score out wide for a 4-0 lead.

It was 10-0 six minutes later after Gillett, running at full speed from close range, took an inside pass from Barba to crash through a helpless Darius Boyd and score next to the posts.

Willie Mason went close for the Knights in the 27th minute only to be held up over the line.

Brisbane extended their lead to 16-0 four minutes later when winger Daniel Vidot heaved a pass in-field as he was being tackled into touch by Mamo, and Jack Reed was on the spot to catch the ball and send Barba over for his first try in Brisbane colours.

Knights bench prop Korbin Sims crashed over from close range from an Adam Clydsdale pass in the 36th minute to cut the deficit to 16-6. Newcastle appeared certain to pull even closer one minute before half-time but Barba held Mason up over the line to deny the 34-year-old prop a try.

Mamo’s zig-zagging in-field run put the Knights on the attack two minutes into the second half, then he was on the spot to catch Jarrod Mullen’s cross-field bomb in the 49th minute only to be tackled short of the line by Vidot.

Mason was reported for a shoulder charge on Parker in the 51st minute, and the tackle will come under the scrutiny of the match review committee on Monday.

Barba, Gillett and Justin Hodges combined to create a try for Dale Copley in the 63rd minute, taking the Broncos all but out of reach with a 20-6 lead, then Parker extended that to 22-6 with a penalty goal six minutes later.

Hunt found Ben Hannant for Brisbane’s fifth try in the 74th minute for 26-6, then Josh Hoffman scored in the 79th minute from an Andrew McCullough pass.

* A late penalty goal by winger Bryce Donovan salvaged a 34-34 draw for the Knights against the Broncos, maintaining Newcastle’s unbeaten record in the National Youth Cup.

Newcastle’s NSW Cup team play Wyong at No.2 Sportsground on Sunday.

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Scenes from the Knights v Broncos game on Friday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Climate change proponents using ‘mediaeval’ tactics: George Brandis

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has stood by his comments that Australians have the right to be bigoted. Photo: Andrew MearesGeorge Brandis has compared himself to Voltaire and derided proponents of climate change action as “believers” who do not listen to opposing views and have reduced debate to a mediaeval and ignorant level.
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In an interview with online magazine Spiked, the Attorney-General also declares he has no regret for saying Australians have the right to be bigots and accuses the left of advocating censorship to enforce a morality code on the nation.

It comes as former Australian of the year Professor Fiona Stanley said climate science had been denigrated through politicisation and denial, and issued a stinging attack on the federal government for the absence of a specific department to tackle global warming.

Senator Brandis, who is driving reforms to Australia’s racial discrimination act, describes the climate change debate as one of the “catalysing moments” in his views on freedom of speech.

While he says he believes in man-made climate change, the Queensland senator tells the magazine he is shocked by the “authoritarianism” with which some proponents of climate change exclude alternative viewpoints, singling out Labor’s Penny Wong as “Australia’s high priestess of political correctness”.

He said it was “deplorable” that “one side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong”.

As examples, he points to Senator Wong and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who he accuses of arguing “the science is settled” to shut down political debate on climate change.

“In other words, ‘I am not even going to engage in a debate with you.’ It was ignorant, it was mediaeval, the approach of these true believers in climate change,” he said.

Senator Brandis also defended comments he made in the Senate, where he argued for the right of Australians to be bigots as justification for changes to section 18C and 18D of the racial discrimination act.

“I don’t regret saying that because in this debate, sooner or later – and better sooner than later – somebody had to make the Voltaire point; somebody had to make the point [about] defending the right to free speech of people with whom you profoundly disagree.”

Senator Brandis said there had been a shift in Australian politics, claiming it was now the “Tory point of view”, rather than the left, that fell on the side of liberation and free speech.

“Now, the left has adopted a reasonably comprehensive secular morality of its own, which it now seeks to impose upon society,” he said.

“And it’s prepared to impose that secular morality on society at the cost of the freedom of speech which it once espoused.”

Senator Brandis declined to comment when asked about the interview.

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A-League finals: Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC

Alessandro Del Piero of Sydney and Adrian Leijer of the Victory contest the ball during the round 25 match at AAMI Park on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images Sydney FC fans are out in numbers. Photo: Getty Images
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It’s time for the A-League finals. Glamour clubs Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC clash in an elimination final. It could well be Alessandro Del Piero’s final game in Sky Blue. Sydney fans, for one, will be hoping he’s saved his best for last.

Dominic Bossi has nominated his five players to watch for this sudden-death match: 1. James Troisi (Victory), 2. Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC), 3. Mark Milligan (Victory), 4. Richard Garcia (Sydney FC) and 5. Gui Finkler (Victory). Read more key details about the match in his Lowdown column.null

And a little bit of community service ….

We’ve got extra services for the Victory & Sydney fans heading home from Etihad tonight. Full details here: http://t爱上海同城论坛/7RlUB1aOPr— Metro Trains (@metrotrains) April 18, 2014

Must admit it’s a bit of a strange feeling in Melbourne for a Good Friday. Sports fans in the south are so accustomed to a lack of live sport in their fair city … so the existence of a cut-throat A-League final between two of the league’s glamour clubs makes for a new Easter experience.

Tonight’s teamsheets #ALeagueFinalspic.twitter爱上海同城论坛m/FJ783aejsU— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) April 18, 2014

Last time: Melbourne Victory‘s push for a top-two spot and the double chance is likely to go to the final kick of the A-League season. Likewise Sydney’s battle to secure a spot in the finals after the teams finished with a goal apiece in an entertaining contest in front of 20,447 fans at AAMI Park on Saturday night. The 1-1 draw means that Victory slips to fourth spot with 37 points, two less than Central Coast Mariners and one behind Western Sydney Wanderers.

Read more of Michael Lynch’s report.

So, Archie Thompson is in Victory’s starting 11. Doesn’t he have a remarkable background in big A-League matches? Melbourne’s substitutes are Connor Pain, Rashi Mahazi, James Jeggo, Scott Galloway and reserve ‘keeper Lawrence Thomas.

On the bench for Sydney FC are Ranko Despotovic, Matthew Thompson, Alex Urosevski, Aaron Calver and reserve goalkeeper Ivan Necevski.

The players tunnel here at @EtihadStadiumAU for @GoMVFC v @SydneyFC#ALeagueFinalspic.twitter爱上海同城论坛m/D1yG09WJRX— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) April 18, 2014

Of course the Sky Blues boast an unbeaten record against Melbourne this A-League season. What will that mean tonight in a sudden-death final? Diddly squat? Certainly the pressure is riding on Sydney to get the job done.

Kick-off is inching ever closer and the crowd is slowing filling out. Surely we won’t go past 20,000 though. Those fans that are here, however, are full of voice. There’s a pocket of Sydney fans at the northern end with large Sky Blues flags.

The big round-ball issues are discussed ….

Does anyone want to venture what the crowd figure will be tonight? Just 20 minutes or so from kick-off, the stands at Etihad Stadium are sparsely populated. At this point a crowd of 25,000 would be an excellent return.

We’re away …. Victory with the opening kick-off.

2 mins: An early moment for the highlight reel and the replays. Victory in their forward half creates a golden chance through a sublime pass from Thompson but his teammate is off-side … only marginally.

6 mins: The Melbourne outfit is dominating the early minutes. One forward foray after another. Archie Thompson is prominent and his ever-present threat to defenders is clear.

Orright. Cheering for Del Piero. Be nice to see him achieve something in the game before he retires. #MVCvSYD#toiletseat— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) April 18, 2014

11 mins: Melbourne Victory 0 Sydney FC 0

A somewhat perdictable opening overall. Both squads testing each other out. Victory has looked more threatening and slightly more creative. Archie on the park makes a huge difference.

GOAL!!!! 18 mins: Victory get the all-important opener. Archie Thompson does the finishing by scoring the goal but it was Contreras who set up the chance with a terrific steal on the halfway line. The winger took the ball forward and it was a patient Archie who awaited his chance. After a series of passes the ball was dished to Thompson near the top of the box and he expertly curled the ball into the right hand side of the net. Naturally, the crowd erupted.

Royals cause site to crash

In keeping with a long tradition of royal tours to Australia, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Royal Easter Show on the morning of Good Friday, before they headed to Manly beach to watch nippers and lifesavers in action.
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Catherine’s outfit choice on the day caused a stir when she arrived at Olympic Park –  her cream lace Zimmerman dress caused the Australian designer’s site to crash within moments of her arrival at the Show.

She accessorised with another pair of wedges – beige ones – which she kept strapped on when she stepped on to the sand at Manly, even when she attempted a beach run.

The couple made the first royal visit to the Easter Show’s Olympic Park site and were guided around by show president Glenn Dudley and his wife, Jennifer.

As the Australian Women’s Weekly test kitchen attempted to unpick the mysteries of arborio rice to an audience far more interested in the commotion behind them, the royals made their way into the Fresh Food Dome and to the ever-popular district exhibits.

The winning display, from the northern region, might have been proud of its soft Alpaca wool, but Catherine commented on the fleece for other reasons.

“The princess said [the prince] should put some on his head,” said Lyn Cregan, 67, from Glen Innes. “She pointed at him and said ‘You need it more than me.’ He laughed.”

When Ms Cregan revealed she used hair lacquer on the pumpkins to give them extra shine, the prince said he would try the trick next Halloween.

And while Prince George may be third in line to the throne, the nine-month old baby has the same taste as many an infant.

While admiring piles of root vegetables in the South-East Queensland display, Catherine told preserve maker Diana Lisle that Prince George is particularly fond of sweet potatoes.

Throngs lined the route through the hall as the couple moved through, viewing exhibits from across NSW. The displays are the largest of their kind in the world, with over 10,000 fresh pieces of produce on display.

A model skycrane whirred next to the Western District display, a nod to bushfire devastation in the region.

The couple tasted wild berry and macadamia nougat and chocolates and scores of presents were pressed into their minders’ arms, including half a dozen Easter eggs, baby clothes, fudge and tea. A trolley was brought to cope with the flow as the crowds passed books, Possum Magic and Peppa Pig toys and bouquet after bouquet to the royal visitors. More than 100,000 visitors were expected at the Royal Easter Show on Friday, while police and AFP presence was tight.

Their royal highnesses unveiled a plaque in the new Southee and Badgery Pavilion, home to the Show’s arts and crafts, fashion and style and flower and garden displays.

Introduced and thanked by NSW minister George Souris, the couple officially opened the 10,000 square metre pavilion, completed just last week.

“I thank you for your presence at the southern hemisphere’s greatest and largest event, attracting some 900,000 visitors,” said the state minister.

Catherine, a keen photographer, paid special attention to the pavilion’s photography display, stopping to view the winning photo, a black-and-white image of Florence taken by Chris Carter.

She told Alison Renwick, former chair of the arts and crafts pavilion, that she enjoys taking photos and painting and drawing. “She said she doesn’t get much time for it any more,” said Ms Renwick.

“She said she was brought up looking at crafts by her family, her grandmother in particular.”

But it was Cox Pavilion that seemed to hold special interest for William. Home to the Show’s sheep-shearing displays, the couple met Fred the six-year-old ram, who had been taught to bow for the occasion.

Fred’s owner, Jim Murray, from Wellington, said the couple were “absolutely lovely” and very interested in the wool industry.

“They fed Fred a piece of apple and were very impressed with his size and stature and how soft his muzzle was.” Mr Murray met Prince Charles in Tasmania last year. Wool from Fred’s merino fleece went into a suit that was presented to the prince on the occasion of his wedding.

The prince, who in March completed a 10-week course in agricultural management at the University of Cambridge, spoke to sheep shearers as they tackled two of 250 sheep that are sheared over the 14-day fair.

At the Wool for School exhibit, Catherine met last year’s winner, Sophie Aylward, from Kinross Wollaroi School in Orange, whose winning design was a blue woollen dress for the Duchess.

The couple were due to sign the Show’s visitors book upon leaving, but made time to receive posies from a trio of girls and finally and bunch of red and yellow roses from Jessica Badman, 30, and her one-year-old daughter Alivia, on their way out.

Ms Badman, from the Blue Mountains, said the duchess asked her whether Alivia was walking yet and said her outfit was beautiful.

“I can’t believe that just happened,” said an overwhelmed Ms Bradman. “It’s just like talking to a girlfriend, she’s absolutely lovely.”

Mike Baird dazed by elevation: ‘there’s a lot of work to do’

A local swimmer congratulates Mike Baird at Manly beach on his first day as Premier. Photo: Kate GeraghtySome mistook him for a member of the royal entourage, but nothing could tarnish newly-minted Premier Mike Baird’s sunlit stroll through the place he calls “paradise”.
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Mr Baird took to the streets and sands of Manly on Friday, shaking hands with locals and enjoying the buzz of the impending visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

He was still slightly dazed at his surprise elevation to the state’s top office.

“All of us remain in quite a shocked state, it is unbelievable to be standing here today if I’m very honest about it,” he said at Manly wharf after attending church.

“This afternoon I’ll have [the opportunity] to actually meet the royals. It’s something I never thought I’d do.”

His first word to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Mr Baird said, would be: “G’day”.

“I love the young royals, because they represent hope. We love to hear a story about a prince marrying a princess and that’s happened in this case.”

The 46-year-old – who is, incidentally, a committed Republican – has had little time to celebrate his own fairy-tale rise through the Liberal ranks.

“I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with my family, to thank them for their support. Other than that there’s a lot of work to do,” Mr Baird said.

The state opposition on Friday reiterated its three-pronged attack on the rookie Premier: a potential sale of the state’s electricity poles and wires, the influence of donors and lobbyists and unanswered questions over why Mr Baird appointed controversial Liberal identity Nick Di Girolamo to a government board.

Mr Di Girolamo, who is being investigated by corruption inquiry, gave a $3000 bottle of wine to former premier Barry O’Farrell which triggered his resignation.

Labor leader John Robertson said Mr Baird must “detail how he’s going to deal with the toxic culture within the Liberal party of lobbyists and donors”.

“After the events over the last week which has left the Liberal government and the state in disarray, the community rightly is calling for trust to be restored in government in this state,” he said.

Mr Baird pointed to Labor’s chequered record but conceded “the community has spoken on donations [and] lobbyists”.

“It is critical we retain the trust of the community and we will do everything possible to do that,” he said.

Mr Robertson claimed the Liberal party would be whirling with “factional jockeying” over the weekend as cabinet positions are considered.

“Lobbyists and donors will be making phone calls, putting pressure on to see their mates appointed to key ministerial portfolios,” Mr Robertson said.

Mr Baird insisted he would select a cabinet team that is “based on merit, that is based on experience and is based on the long-term interests of the state”.

He posed for photographs with constituents and tourists, many of whom were milling around for the royal visit.

Tony King of Belrose said Mr Baird had “a bit of ground work” to do.

“He’s very young … [and] no one knows him really. A lot of people looked at him [and wondered] who are you, with the media throng following you? They thought he was attached to His Royal Cuteness [Prince George].”

Vanessa Ballard, of Freshwater, was excited that a local had risen to the premiership.

“I said to him congratulations, but you’ve got your work cut out. It’s a big job and it’s not the greatest circumstances,” Ms Ballard said.

Burgess and Graham best mates and rivals

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Sam Burgess is unlikely to wake again in the middle of the night “panicking” about being robbed in South Africa by Ricky Gervais, and James Graham won’t have to worry any more about having a room-mate “who seems to hate wearing clothes at any time”.

With Burgess having been granted a release from South Sydney at the end of the season to play rugby union, last year’s World Cup semi-final at Wembley was almost certainly the last time the star English front-rowers will play together and the Good Friday clash between the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium is one of the few remaining opportunities for them to oppose each other.

While fierce rivals on the field, Graham and Burgess have forged a close friendship after spending seven years as room-mates in England teams and they meet up for dinner about once a month in Sydney.

“Apart from him always checking himself out in the mirror, he is a good guy to room with,” Graham said of Burgess. “I am going to miss having those times together over the next few years.”

Burgess said: “There is a lot that is different about me and ‘Jammer’, but we are honestly best of mates. He has been my roomie in England teams since 2007. When you live with someone for five weeks you get to know them pretty well and I have spent a lot of time with him away from footy, so we are proper mates.

“He has got some weird habits – he can’t sleep unless he listens to his podcasts at night – but he is a good roomie. He is good at making the cups of tea at night, so I think I will miss that.”

Ask Graham about the podcasts and he laughs as he recounts an incident during the England team’s high-altitude camp in South Africa before last year’s World Cup.

“I just have a bit of trouble switching off at night time, so I like to listen to the Ricky Gervais podcast and some of his old radio shows,” Graham explained. “I have listened to them 1000 times, so I know what is coming.

“I think I may have lost my earphones or something and I just played it on loud speaker. I thought I was being quiet but Sam panicked. He woke up and heard people talking in the room and he thought he was being robbed in South Africa.”

England coach Steve McNamara said Graham and Burgess are highly competitive, but they liked to “take the piss out of one another” at every opportunity.

Team manager Barrie-Jon Mather added: “Apart from the fact that Sam seems to hate wearing clothes at any time and Jammer has a weakness for crumpets, they did a fairly good job of covering up their activities from me in the World Cup.”

What neither attempts to hide is the fact they will do almost anything to win, as evidenced by the fact Graham and Burgess almost came to blows in a match between Souths and Canterbury in 2012.

McNamara said the pair had a “giggle” about it in the England team camp as they showed Test teammates footage of the incident.

“They are very close and they are good friends, but obviously when they come up against each other, they are as fierce as any rivals,” McNamara said.

Graham typically played down the incident, which occured after Burgess picked up a dropped ball from a kick-off and ignored the referee’s whistle to charge into his countryman at full pace.

“I don’t think it was much of a stink,” Graham said. “Sam was running it off a kick-off and I don’t think either of us heard the whistle. I tried to tackle him and boys have run in from both teams, but it was a whole lot about nothing.

“Sam plays the game hard and he is very competitive, you can see that watching him and obviously having spent some time with him you see that in his personality as well.

“He is competitive at everything he does: he is competitive at probably trying to look good, he is very competitive at trying to be the most stylish man in the team with England.

“You see it at training. He wants to be the best at everything he does, whether it be a conditioning drill or a weights session or anything else. He just wants to win and do well for his team.”

That determination to win has led to both being suspended for unsavoury incidents, Graham receiving a 12-match ban for biting Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final and Burgess this week admitting that his “squirrel grip” on Melbourne centre Will Chambers in August had tarnished his reputation.

However, their competitiveness has also made them into two of best players in the NRL: both are ranked in the top-20 players this season, according to Sportsdata’s contributor value rating system.

Burgess is No.2 overall behind Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, while Graham is 19th. The only other props in between are Canterbury’s Aiden Tolman (eighth), Wests Tigers front-rower Aaron Woods (10th) and South Sydney’s George Burgess (14th).

Sam Burgess’ performance for England in last year’s heartbreaking World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand is considered one of the best by a front-rower and he shaded Kiwis superstar Sonny Bill Williams for man of the match honours, but Graham wasn’t far behind.

“That game was the highest of highest standards, and they both showed in that game that they are two of the best players in the world in their positions,” McNamara said.

“Sam’s head-to-head with Sonny Bill got all the headlines and probably rightly so, but James was incredible,” McNamara said. “I remember a break being made by New Zealand and the cover play by himself – he ran nearly the length of the field.”

Burgess said Graham had been underrated for much of his three seasons at Canterbury.

“I think it took a while for people to realise what he brought to the club, but I always knew he would be good,” Burgess said. “James is super competitive, so it is always a good game against the Doggies. He has got great soft hands for a big fella and he does the hard yards when he needs to.

“He is a quality bloke and I love him to bits, but I always love playing against him because he is a great competitor and you always know what you are going to get from him.”

Are beards about to go out of fashion?

Illustration: Simon LetchOn the list of trend-setting publications frequented by the fashion conscious, the Royal Society’s Biology Letters would rarely make the cut.

But research by a team of Australian scientists published in the journal this week might just change that.

The study by evolutionary scientists at the University of New South Wales has lead to a startling conclusion: beards could be about to go out of fashion.

The scientists set out to explain what causes styles of facial hair to fall in and out of fashion using “negative frequency dependence”, an evolutionary phenomenon where animals gain advantage from having rare traits.

Male guppy fish, for example, have better luck mating and evading predators if they have less common colours and patterns, one of the scientists, Professor Rob Brooks, wrote on The Conversation.

With mating success, those colours and patterns become more common, eventually attracting the attention of predators and falling out of favour with female guppies.

To test the theory, the scientists compiled images of 36 men who had each been photographed clean-shaven, with light stubble, heavy stubble and a full beard.

Subjects were shown an image of each man, in a combination of levels of beardedness.

Bearded blokes were judged more attractive when presented in a series of mostly well-groomed men. Likewise, clean-shaven men were found less attractive when they were common and more attractive when they were rare.

So while bushranger-bearded hipsters may have been on a winning ticket two years ago, they might face diminishing returns now that everyone from AFL players to Hollywood movie stars have tossed away their razors.

Live NRL South Sydney v Bulldogs

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League fan … the Duchess of Cambridge asks a couple of kiddies what the halftime score is in the Bulldogs-Souths match.


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Big forwards set to collide as the traditonal Good Friday match hits Sydney Olympic Park.

ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park, Friday 4pm (AEST)

Last meeting: Rabbitohs 28 bt Bulldogs 20 at ANZ Stadium (round 24, 2013).

Head-to-head: Rabbitohs 66, Bulldogs 77, drawn 4

Referees: Shayne Hayne, Ben Cummins

TV: Live, FoxSports 1

Ladbrokes: Rabbitohs $1.80, Bulldogs $2

Betfair: Rabbitohs $1.92, Bulldogs $2.04

Michael Chammas writes: The Bulldogs have come into some good form, but so too have the Bunnies. Souths were brilliant in defence last week, without being able to show much in attack because of the wet conditions at Penrith. This is going to be a belter, but the Rabbitohs should get the job done.

Tip: Rabbitohs by 1

AAP writes: What better time for the Bunnies to get the chocolates than at Easter? However, downing second-placed Canterbury might prove more difficult than getting Bulldogs coach Des Hasler to ditch his beloved ‘‘fly under the radar’’ line. Souths have won their past two matches against the ’Dogs but Canterbury showed just why they can never be counted out in their come-from-behind, one-point last-round win over a heartbroken Warriors. On paper, they have provided another compelling reason. The miserly Dogs lead the competition for the least missed tackles (114) – albeit just ahead of the Rabbitohs (123). But it seems the Dogs’ tenacity and the unavailability of South Sydney forwards George Burgess and Ben Te’o (tripping ban) might prove too much for the Rabbitohs.

Key: Sam Burgess. The Rabbitohs’ forward has already impressed by leading the competition for metres gained (181m average per game) but will need to find another gear to make up for the absence of his brother and Te’o.

RABBITOHS: Greg Inglis, Nathan Merritt, Dylan Walker, Kirisome Auva’a, Bryson Goodwin, Josh Sutton, Adam Reynolds, Dave Tyrell, Apisai Koroisau, Luke Burgess, Kyle Turner, Chris McQueen, Sam Burgess. Interchange: Cameron McInnes, Ben Lowe, Jason Clark, Joe Picker.

BULLDOGS: Sam Perrett, Corey Thompson, Josh Morris, Tim Lafai, Mitch Brown, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aiden Tolman, Michael Ennis (capt), James Graham, Josh Jackson, Tony Williams, Dale Finucane. Interchange: Greg Eastwood, Tim Browne, David Klemmer, Sam Kasiano.

Hello, league fans. Welcome to round seven of the NRL season. ANZ Stadium co-tennants South Sydney and Canterbury are in action today. In the one change to the Bulldogs side, Sam Kasiano is back for the Bulldogs. Pat O’Hanlon is the man to drop off the bench for the Dogs.

The game hasn’t started and Des Hasler already looks unhappy. Maybe they were out of Bertie Beetle showbags when he visited the Royal Easter Show on the way to the game today. You can’t blame him. In other news, there is a great crowd on hand.

Both teams are on the field. You can’t help but feel a little bit excited about this game. Two good teams. Ideal weather conditions and a great crowd.

Souths were looking good on their first set, running the ball on the last. They seemed to have little trouble making ground in the middle of the field.

Souths kick off and we are underway.

5th minute: After a penalty got the Rabbitohs into a great attacking position, Sam Burgess made a handling error with the Rabbitohs pressing the Dogs line.

6th minute: Canterbury get bailed out with a penalty of their own. Now it is their turn to attack. It will be interesting to see if they can get their big men running at Souths No.7 Adam Reynolds.

8th minute: Another pressure-relieving penalty for the Dogs. It eventually goes out, but only after being touched by Nathan Merritt. Dogs on the attack. James Graham really looks to be in the mood today.

10th minute: Video ref time. Have the Dogs scored? They look to have scored, and the onfield ruling is try.

NO TRY. The try was denied due to the video ref ruling an obstruction play. Dessie’sd day is getting worse. First no Bertie Beetles. Now his side has been denied a try.

12th minute: Tim Lafai. What’s going on there? A simple dropped ball has given the Rabbitohs a great chance to attack.

The Rabbitohs come close but an errant pass costs them a try. A lucky escape for the Dogs. Both teams have looked dangerous in attack thus far.

Great crowd for today’s clash with @SSFCRABBITOHSpic.twitter爱杭州同城论坛m/gI4J1LKLMs— NRL Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) April 18, 2014

SPOILER ALERT. Parents, those with friends and Easter Egg lovers in general. At half time we will reveal the must-have Easter goodie for all league fans. It is pretty good, and cheap.

18th minute: On the field, the Rabbitohs have stretched the Dogs to near breaking point again but failed to come up with a try. John Sutton’s long run downfield ended with another poor play on the last.

20th minute: James Graham and Michael Ennis are both struggling after a head clash. Both men and bleeding but Graham is staying on the field. What else do you expect?

21st minute: The Dogs escape again. This time  they get a kick away on the last but Nathan Merritt leapt too early and cost his team a try. Surely the Dogs can’t keep getting away with this.

Sam Kasiano is on for the Dogs. Just in case anyone was wondering, he remains one massive human.

Poor last tackle plays are hurting both sides. The Rabbitohs have been the worst culprits, but this time it is the Dogs who fail to get a kick away. Composure gentlemen, composure.

Another lucky escape for the Dogs. A ridiculous Tony Williams pass was knocked on by Souths forward Ben Lowe. How Souths haven’t scored yet is a mystery.

The ferocity of this game is starting to be felt. Michael Ennis is getting stitches in his head, Apisai Koroisau has a should injury and now Joe Picker is down for the count. Picker is being assisted from the field with what appears a chest or sternum injury. Luke Burgess is the only fit man on the bench for Souths.

33rd minute: A scrambling play ends with Souths penalised for obstruction. The Dogs have defended very well on their own line. If they can keep that up and the Rabbitohs’ injury plight is as bad as it seems, Michael Maguire’s men may be in for a long second half. Souths 2-0

For any Sharks fans reading, finally some good news. Adrian Proszenko  reports that Paul Gallen may make an early comeback from injury to play against the Roosters tomorrow. Read the story here.

35th minute: Dogs lock Dale Finucane placed on report for a lifting tackle. No injuries of any kind but you simply can’t tackle like that anymore.

36th minute: Souths finally score. Souths isolate Trent Hodkinson in defence and Sam Burgess charges at him. Hodkinson goes low but Burgess is simply too big. His third try of the season.Adam Reynolds converts. Souths 8-0

38th minute: James Graham didn’t miss Dave Tyrrell. What a hit. Tyrrell taken off the field. He is struggling. Graham on the other hand, he loves it.

30th minute: This game is heating up. Sam Kasiano started it with an impressive charge. Both sides are ratcheting up their defence. Another penalty helps the Rabbitohs. And there’s another one. Souths take the two points and lead 2-0. Adam Reynolds makes no mistake with an easy shot at goal.

In further injury news for the Rabbitohs, Kyle Turner won’t be back after undergoing a concussion test. Dave Tyrrell will also be struggling to come back on on the evidence presented as he was taken off.

That’s halftime. Souths lead 8-0 in a brutal clash. South deserve their lead but are facing a tough second half with a mounting injury toll. The Dogs are far behind but need to stop giving away cheap penalties and improve their ball security. If they do that they can still win this game.

OK. While the teams take a breather and assess the health of their players, it’s Easter Egg time. The official egg of the NRL is back again this year, and boy is it a beauty. There isn’t a lot to it, just a football-shape mass of chocolate. But wait, there’s more. On the outside of the box is a sheet with all 16 NRL teams and room cut out ladder. Talk about value adding. At a bargain-basement price of $10 it can’t be beat.

Warning: there is also an AFL Easter egg available that looks extremely similar. Don’t buy that one, the chocolate isn’t as good.


How the runners rate in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes

BOBAN: He doesn’t really get on with wet tracks, so has had an interrupted preparation since winning the Chipping Norton Stakes six weeks ago. His only run since was a midfield effort in the George Ryder Stakes on a slow track and one on which he has never been placed in three runs. Needs it drier.

IT’S A DUNDEEL: A five-time group 1 winner, which was runner-up in this race last year. He has been in the money at each of his three runs during this preparation. In the latest, the BMW, he started last and came in second, and appears to be peaking at the right time. Should be closer in the run and will be hard to hold out.

SACRED FALLS: A dual Doncaster winner after his late charge last week and loves soft ground. He has only had the three runs for the autumn, coming in fourth in the Canterbury Stakes and George Ryder Stakes before the Doncaster. Could still be on the way up and should be thrown in trifectas.

GREEN MOON: He hasn’t won since his Melbourne Cup victory in 2012 and has never won at weight-for-age. However, he was good when fourth in the Peter Young Stakes to start his prep and then runner-up behind Fiorente in the Australian Cup. He has a good 2000m record and could cause a surprise.

CARLTON HOUSE: He will carry the royal colours in the Queen’s race and has found form at the right time. He appreciated getting to 1900m when Parramatta Cup runner-up before leading until the final couple of bounds in the Ranvet Stakes. Will be ridden from the front and is the one they will have to run down.

HAWKSPUR: Queensland Derby winner last year. Has promised much but yet to deliver. It is hard to knock his form since being back in Sydney, third in the Chipping Norton Stakes, fourth in the Ranvet Stakes, fourth in the Doncaster last week. Looking for 2000m now and will be hitting the line hard.

MY KINGDOM OF FIFE: Won a Queen Elizabeth Stakes before a 2½ year injury lay-off. Formerly owned by the Queen, but is hard to recommend on his three since returning, although each has been an improvement on the one before. Others have better credentials at present.

TOYDINI: Another galloper that has had his autumn ruined by wet tracks. He has only been placed once in five attempts on slow and heavy tracks, and looked all at sea in the Doncaster. Look elsewhere.

LE ROI: Trainer Tony McEvoy holds a high opinion of him even after he bowed a tendon in the BMW last year. He has had two runs since including a last-up win over 1600m at Moonee Valley. He should finish in the first half of the field.

SILENT ACHIEVER: The form horse of the autumn. She is unbeaten since the blinkers, winning group 1 races at her last three run-outs. She was too strong for Carlton House at the end of the Ranvet Stakes, then commanding in the BMW. Likes soft ground and can’t be left out.

ROYAL DESCENT: It has been a year since she won the Australian Oaks by 10 lengths, which has proven to be her last success. She looked the winner in the Doncaster last week only to be run down by Sacred Falls. A winner of this course and has definite each way.

DEAR DEMI: She had a tremendous spring, third in the Caulfield Cup and runner-up in the Mackinnon Stakes but has failed to hit the same highs in the autumn. Didn’t beat a runner home in the Doncaster last week and would need a major form turnaround to be a chance here.

Kiwi jumps trainer might have to shout after Sydney Cup

Who Shot Thebarman is a horse to keep a close eye on. Photo: Fairfax NZHe is a throwback to a traditional New Zealand stayer, like Melbourne Cup winner Kiwi, but Who Shot Thebarman’s trainer Mark Oulaghan is not sure if he is up to the class of a Sydney Cup in the 21st century.

There is a long history of Kiwi stayers coming off the farm and winning Australia’s biggest races, but can a five-year-old which was roaming a paddock a little over a year ago add a Sydney Cup to his Auckland Cup triumph at just his 10th start?

“I know he can stay,” Oulaghan said. “I know he has class, but I don’t know if the form is good enough against these horses. I have to say he is weighted up to his best.

“I was surprised when he got two kilos for winning the Auckland Cup. It is a long way from the $7000 maiden he was running in this time last year to be in a $1 million Sydney Cup, but he is just a dead-set stayer.”

Oulaghan only got his hands on Who Shot Thebarman as a four-year-old after he had been broken in by his owners, the O’Leary brothers. Before that he had been let run free in a paddock for a couple of years.

At first glance Oulaghan thought the son of Yamanin Vital would add to his jumping team, but that quickly changed.

“He had just been in a big paddock running around how he liked, which is a wonderful environment for a horse,” Oulaghan said. “I don’t know if it helped him but it certainly didn’t hurt him.

“I did think we might be looking at the fences with him, but once we trialled him it was obvious he was a flat horse.”

A very good one at that.

He has started favourite at all but one of his nine starts and recorded six wins and two seconds, one of which was at his home track in the Manawatu Cup three runs back.

“That was disappointing because it was at Awapuni, which is home for us, and he didn‘t have a lot of luck and just went down,” Oulaghan said.

“He has just kept stepping up and as the races have got further the better he has been.”

The on-pace stayer was back in the winner’s circle in comprehensive fashion in the Avondale Cup before being too strong for Celtic Prince in the Auckland Cup over two miles on March 3.

Oulaghan sent Who Shot Thebarman to Australia a few weeks ago but decided not to start in the Chairman’s Handicap last Saturday.

“I just thought the heavy track would be too much for him and was mindful that he would have to back up this week,” Oulaghan said.

“Thius is the race we came for and we will find out how good he is, and whether we will be back in the spring.”