Australian News

Reopening Qld border to ACT will help LNP with PM allowed to campaign

The Queensland Government’s decision to reopen the state’s border to the ACT will be a huge fillip for the LNP with Prime Minister Scott Morrison now able to go on the hustings at the state election, says a senior political commentator.

Labor on Friday changed its long-held position of only reviewing border closures at the end of each month when Deputy Premier Steven Miles announced the state would welcome visitors from the ACT from next Friday.

However, they can only arrive by plane and must have remained solely within the ACT for 14 consecutive days beforehand.

Griffith University’s political commentator Dr Paul Williams said if federal politicians had not been on the hustings it would have severely hurt LNP leader Deb Frecklington’s chances of toppling Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the October 31 election.

He said the PM had a good rapport with country voters, as did Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. He said opposition leader Deb Frecklington had failed to cut through in regional areas.

Mr Morrison showed his appreciation for Queenslanders after his shock election victory in May last year when he trumpeted: “How good’s Queensland?” at his victory speech to the chants of “Queensland! Queensland! Queensland!” from supporters.

“Morrison obviously has pulling power across the country because of his increased esteem from case management of the pandemic, especially in regional Queensland where he is still very popular,” Mr Williams told NCA NewsWire.

“If Morrison, Frydenberg and a couple of other high performers couldn’t campaign in regional Queensland it would be problematic for Deb Frecklington.

“There would be a struggle for traction even in regional Queensland where the party doesn’t struggle, but she does.”

He said Labor’s federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese would not have “the same pull” on the hustings for Ms Palaszczuk.

Ms Palaszczuk told reporters that Mr Morrison “can come if he wants, it doesn’t worry me’ to campaign on behalf of the LNP.

Had the borders remain shut and no federal politicians were on the hustings then that would have worked more in Labor’s favour, Mr Williams said.

Even though federal politicians are permitted to travel to Queensland from the ACT, provided they have spent 14 consecutive days in the nation’s ‘capital’, it would not necessarily add a lot colour to the election campaign.

Mr Williams believes the state election will be as vanilla as the March Brisbane City Council election when pre-poll and postal voting was massively high.

Almost four times the number of voters had visited pre-poll stations in the first two days they were opened compared to the first two days of the 2016 local government elections.

Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) has already opened applications for postal voting.

“It‘s going to be a very boring campaign, not to dissimilar to the BCC campaign,” Mr Williams said.

“The ECQ is saying up to 60 per cent but I probably wouldn’t go that high, maybe 50 per cent pre-poll and postals combined.

“Early voters tend to be engaged voters who are probably rusted on voters, and especially those who have an axe to grind against the Palaszczuk government.”

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Richie Porte set for Tour de France podium as Tadej Pogacar crushes rival in thrilling penultimate stage

In an incredible climax to the Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar crushed his fellow Slovenian, Primoz Roglic, in the last stage before the finish in Paris.

Pogacar is now poised to win the Tour de France after claiming the overall leader’s yellow jersey after clocking 55 minutes, 55 seconds in the time-trial stage.

Pogacar not only secured the yellow jersey in the time trial, he won the stage too. Roglic had started with a lead of 57 seconds over his countryman.

The upset comes as Australian Richie Porte is poised to take third place on the podium in Paris.

He’s the second Australian to achieve the feat since Cadel Evans in 2011.


The Tasmanian, who was sitting in fourth place, leapfrogged Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez into third place overall by finishing the 20th stage in third spot.


Pogacar’s win all but guarantees the 21-year-old will become the youngest victor in more than 100 years, since Henri Cornet in 1904.

“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Pogacar said after Roglic laboured to the finish, no longer in the race lead.


Stage 20 was a 36.2-kilometre individual time trial between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles.

Pogacar won the solo effort against the clock as Roglic cracked in the uphill section, a 5.9 kilometre climb at an average gradient of 8.5 per cent.

A person on a bicycle in lycra rides in the tour de france.
Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar wins and takes the overall leader’s yellow jersey as he crosses the finish line of stage 20 of the Tour de France.(AP: Thibault Camus)

“I don’t know what to say, it’s a dream,” said Pogacar, who now leads second-placed Roglic by 59 seconds ahead of Sunday’s final stage, a largely processional ride to the Champs Elysees in Paris where only the final sprint is contested.

“Getting the yellow jersey on the final day, we were dreaming of it since the start. I knew every corner on the road, thanks to the work of my team.

“I think that my head is going to explode.”


A raw talent who holds no fear, Pogacar, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Monday, now holds three distinctive jerseys — the yellow, the white jersey for the best under-25 rider and the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.

The upset echoes that of the last day of the 1989 Tour de France when American Greg LeMond won the race by eight seconds over France’s Laurent Fignon after starting the time-trial 50 seconds off the pace.

After losing all hope of overall victory following a crash in the opening stage, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot rode through impressive crowds and smoke in his hometown of Melisey, where the roads had his name and that of his goat Kim painted all over them, adding to the sense of surrealism on the day.

Porte says third place ‘feels like victory’

Porte said his brilliant time trial ride to all but claim third spot on the penultimate day of Tour de France felt as good as winning the race.

The Tasmanian started the 99 seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez in fourth, but produced the time trial of his life to finish 1:21 behind Pogacar’s stunning 55:55 to leapfrog the Colombian.

Australia's Richie Porte wearing white rides up a French peak, mouth open as another cyclist smiles from behind.
Richie Porte is now poised to claim third place in the Tour de France.(Reuters: Stephane Mahe)

Porte has endured so much disappointment over the years, including an untimely puncture early in the 2016 Tour that eventually cost him a likely podium finish.

He also crashed out in 2017 and 2018.

But aside from a puncture scare inside the final 8km of the 14th stage last week, where he was forced to jump on teammate Kenny Elissonde’s bike to stay in touch with the main group, Porte has enjoyed a largely trouble-free Tour.

“This means so much to me,” Porte told ITV Sport.

“I came here without any real pressure. In the lockdown I didn’t even think this race was going to happen.

“There’s been so many years of disappointment, crashes and whatever and dramas.

“We’ve had dramas here like in Leon with Kenny’s bike the other day with the puncture so to come away with the podium is amazing.

“It’s no secret that I will be leaving Trek-Segafredo … but the way they have got around me this year and supported me has been fantastic.

“I had the world champion as my bodyguard and all of the boys have played their part it’s incredible.”

Porte’s involvement in the delayed running of the race forced him to miss the birth of his daughter Eloise last week in Monaco and he admitted he’d considered missing the race altogether but was persuaded to take part by wife Gemma.

“I missed the birth of my second child but my wife told me to race and said if she saw me sulking at the back of the peloton she would be upset with me,” he said.

“So to come here and finish third … this is sweet.

“I am over the moon, this feels like a victory for me.”


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Remember Lauren Burns, Tom King and Belinda Stowell? They won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics too

You remember where you were when Cathy Freeman won gold in the 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics.

You watched Ian Thorpe win the 400 metres freestyle in world record time on the first night of competition.

Australia won 58 medals at the Sydney Games: 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze — its biggest haul.

The massive build-up and the unprecedented focus on gold medals ensured the team had its rock stars: Freeman, Thorpe, Hackett, Perkins and O’Neill. All won gold.

But, so did many others who were never under that intense spotlight.

Now, 20 years on, those athletes are reflecting on their 15 minutes of fame. Some are sanguine, while others wonder why they didn’t get more recognition.

Lauren Burns: Women’s taekwondo 49kg division gold medal

A woman stands on a balcony holding a cup or tea and looks at the camera.
Burns won the first medal in taekwondo, which was making its Olympic debut.(ABC News)

Lauren Burns seemingly came from nowhere to win gold in taekwondo in her 49kg division. It was the first medal in the sport, which was making its Olympic debut.

Burns’ moment of fame was boosted by the incongruous connections that media love to make. She’s the daughter of the singer and songwriter, Ronnie Burns, who was a household name in Australia in the 60s and 70s.

But aside from starting taekwondo because her father and brother were doing it, Burns was entirely her own woman.

The fact that it was a new Olympic sport meant she had barely any official funding.

“I had a sponsorship with an organic vegetable shop,” Burns said.

“My first tournament was in New York (in 1993). It was actually at Madison Square Garden, which was pretty crazy. But we had to pay our way, we paid part of our flights, we paid for our tracksuit.”

However, the financial hardship was outweighed by the sheer delight that after more than a decade in the sport, taekwondo finally had a place in the Olympics.

“There was never really an expectation like ‘oh I should have that much attention or our sport should have that sort of spotlight,’ because we’d never had it,” she said.

The final itself went off without a hitch as Burns beat her Cuban opponent Urbia Melendez by four points to two.

A coach lifts a woman and they both smile.
Burns and her coach Jin Tae Jeong after winning the gold medal.(Reuters: Kimimasa Mayama)

“I just had this incredible, single-minded, myopic focus on winning gold — so that was what I was really there to do,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I came off and my coach grabbed me, and I was running around the stadium, and it was it like ‘Yes, I did it’.”

The next day was a blur as the media interviews came thick and fast.

“I did so many that I lost my voice,” she said.

“I ended up getting some strapping tape and I just put it over my mouth because I needed people to see that I just couldn’t speak.”

Burns retired straight after the Olympics and threw herself into numerous projects — particularly public speaking.

“I was on such a high and it was like I was on the hamster wheel and I said yes to everything. Write a book? Great. Finish a uni degree? I’ll do that.

“I always had a bag in the hallway because I was travelling interstate all the time and never really knew where I was.”

It took five years for her to slow down.

“I stopped and went ‘woah’, and that’s when I kind of had that reflection of you know, who am I without my sport? Who am I if I’m not Lauren the taekwondo girl?”

Burns finished her degree in naturopathy and nutrition, and continued her public speaking career — which has only now been curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tom King: Sailing 470 class gold medal with Mark Turnbull

A man stands in front of a tree and smiles for the camera.
King and Turnbull’s gold medal was overshadowed by walker Jane Saville’s disqualification from her race.(ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

Tom King and his crewmate Mark Turnbull didn’t so much fly under the radar as sail under it.

Australia hadn’t had a competitor in the 470 class at the Olympics since 1984, so King and Turnbull did well just to make the team for Atlanta in ’96, where they finished 23rd.

But by 2000, King knew they were good enough to win gold.

Unlike some of the other high-profile medal chances, the pair deliberately chose to stay incognito.

“We weren’t doing it for media profile and fame and fortune, we were training to try and win the Olympic gold medal because that’s what we wanted to achieve,” he said.

It was all about executing a plan. During nine races across more than a week, they did that perfectly — achieving victory in the final race of the regatta.

“We had our highlight about halfway through the race when we managed to catch the American team who won silver, right off Bradley’s Head, in front of a very big crowd,” he said.

“For us that was an extraordinary experience because we’d never had a crowd attend any of our events.”

Two men smile while on a sailing boat on Sydney Harbour.
King and Turnbull after taking gold in the men’s 470 fleet race.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But their moment in the spotlight was short lived, as another event stole the headlines. The Australian walker, Jane Saville, had been disqualified from the 20 kilometre race just as she was about to enter the Olympic Stadium to claim gold.

“It certainly frustrated me a little bit. I think I felt we were deserving of more recognition than we got,” King said.

“There were some experiences in the days that followed in the aftermath of the games that were pretty disappointing in terms of the lack of acknowledgement when the media was being dominated by the swimmers and other athletes.”

It’s a bugbear for King, who says he was conscious of an “us and them” mentality within the Australian Olympic team.

“That’s not to say that many of the swimmers aren’t deserving of that attention … but there are so many other athletes that have achieved similar levels of success in their disciplines whose achievements for some reason haven’t received the same kind of attention. That’s been sad in a way.”

King retired from sailing after the Olympics and struggled with depression as he tried to find his place in the world outside of the rigid confines of elite sport.

“I found it very difficult. It took me really five or six years to get comfortable or confident in a business environment,” he said.

Post-athletic career welfare remains a passionate topic for King, who served for a time as the chairman of the Australian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and the AOC board.

Now he’s a successful fund manager and looks back with immense pride at what he achieved, not only in winning gold at the Sydney Olympics, but in paving the way for a generation of sailors who came after him.

“It was an extraordinary event for Australia,” he said.

Belinda Stowell: Sailing 470 class gold medal with Jenny Armstrong

Two women look at each other and smile in front of sailing boats at a marina.
Belinda Stowell (left) says the lack of recognition at the time didn’t phase her.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Belinda Stowell won her gold medal with crewmate Jenny Armstrong, just hours before Tom King. It was an incredible day for Australian sailing at the Olympics.

Stowell’s journey began in her native Zimbabwe when she was just four.

“You’re out sailing, and hippos are making their noises in the bay,” she said.

“In some ways I guess it probably made me really observant.”

She emigrated to Australia when she was 19 and took up sailing seriously, deciding in 1995 that winning a gold medal would become her sole focus.

“I was probably obsessive about winning gold — probably to prove something to myself to be the best in the world,” she said.

“Being able to have that one driver almost helps you lift yourself off the canvas. There were definitely ups and downs — and significant downs at moments.”

The lack of money was one.

“I slept on people’s floors … from Cronulla to Palm Beach,” she said.

And she battled for years with a chronic injury to her shoulder — arguably the most important joint in the body for a sailor.

“My shoulder was subluxing (partially dislocating) about five or six times a race.

“From 1998 I saw a surgeon and he said, ‘you’ve got to have seven months out to have an operation, your shoulder is like ice on a plate’. And I said, ‘I’m about to go into my Olympic trials so it’s just not an option.’ I remember on the bus home from the surgeon just bawling my eyes out.”

She opted against the operation until after the Games and won gold with the help of a team of physios and the support of her crewmate, Armstrong.

Two women sit on a competitive sailing boat on Sydney Harbour.
Armstrong and Stowell during the race in which they won gold for Australia.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

“We had the glorious moment of winning the last race and winning the regatta at the same time,” Stowell said.

Like King, her moment in the sun was partially eclipsed by Jane Saville’s disqualification.

But that lack of recognition compared to the star athletes and swimmers never mattered to Stowell.

“I didn’t really mind, because I looked up to those athletes so much and used them for inspiration,” she said.

“I thought I was the bees’ knees, because I also got a stamp with my head on it and we got $10,000 from Australia Post.”

Unlike Burns and King, Stowell continued in her sport, sailing at the 2004 Olympics in Athens — where she and Armstrong finished 14th. She even made a comeback to compete at the 2012 London Games, finishing 7th.

For the last 16 years she has coached sailing at the Western Australian Institute of Sport.

As for her gold medal?

“It means that I was the best in the world for two weeks,” she reflected.

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Ricki was one of Australia’s first out transgender sportswomen, the treatment she got may surprise you

In the early 90s, Ricki Coughlan graced magazine covers, made newspaper headlines and appeared on TV talk shows.

The unassuming gym manager from Sydney’s south became an instant celebrity — and it was because she was one of the first out transgender women in Australian sport.

A transgender woman on the cover of ITA magazine from 1993.
Coughlan was on the cover of ITA magazine in 1993.(Supplied)

“When people talk to me about being an icon, a pioneer and all of these things, it’s kind of odd to me because back in those days, I didn’t think there would be anyone following me,” the former middle-distance runner says.

“And my main concern was that people were thinking I was a cheat of some kind and I felt that my honesty was being questioned, and my commitment to women’s sport was being questioned.

Ricki is now 62 and still runs every day, sporting her trademark plaited pigtails and baseball cap.

But the running coach barely registers a second glance from passers-by these days, a far cry from the attention that surrounded her when she was outed.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Ricki Coughlan on ABC TV’s Live and Sweaty in 1992

‘I am sex change athlete’

Ricki’s first introduction into the sport and exercise world came after she transitioned in her early 20s.

She started by going to a weight training gym, then became an aerobics instructor, and eventually she discovered running — competing at club and state level in the 800 and 1,500 metres.

A woman runs down an athletics track.
Coughlan competed at club and state level in the 800 and 1,500 metres.

“I hadn’t told anyone about my story and my past because this was already like 10 years old by 1991, and I’d really moved beyond that and it wasn’t a thing in my life,” she said.

“Now and again I would think, well would there be a problem if someone found out about my past while I was racing?

“I thought maybe some people might think it wasn’t good, but I didn’t think it would become the affair that it did.”

Ricki believes someone leaked some of her personal medical information, and soon word spread around the local athletics community that there was a transgender woman competing.

That’s when her quiet life in the suburbs became national news.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story stating “female athletes in NSW are gathering a petition and have vowed to fight to prevent a transsexual from competing in women’s events during the domestic season.”


Ricki fronted up to Athletics NSW and Athletics Australia, who cleared her to continue competing domestically.

If she wanted to compete at a higher level, that would have been a matter for the international federation, but by her own admission she “wasn’t going to be that good”.

But there was still a desire from the media and the sporting world to uncover her identity — so she decided to tell her story publicly.

The front page of the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
Coughlan’s ‘coming out’ was splashed on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph.(Supplied)

“If you were transgender, my understanding was that you would just melt into society and never be seen or heard of again and you would just get on with your life.

“And now all this intimate information about my life was coming out and the whole world was going to know it, and I didn’t know how the world would accept me.”

Ricki’s ‘coming out’ was splashed on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph, as the story proclaimed ‘I am sex change athlete’.

The reaction from her fellow athletes and the general public shocked her.

“I thought I was going to experience oppression and shaming and marginalising and othering, and it was completely the opposite.

Has Australia gone backwards?

When Ricki reflects on her experience, it was overwhelmingly positive.

But nearly 30 years later, she feels the situation is worse for the current crop of transgender sportswomen, like former AFLW hopeful Hannah Mouncey.

“I had a different experience to Hannah Mouncey in that I was shaking hands and signing autographs for a couple of years, and Hannah Mouncey was defending her existence and her identity,” she says.

A woman on a running track on a headland.
Coughlan’s experience was overwhelmingly positive, compared to that of her peers today.(ABC News: Amanda Shalala)

“It’s become full of assumption and it’s become full of parties defending rights and arguing their rights above the other.”

Ricki is careful to point out there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

“We still don’t have a big enough body of facts for any one group to be able to say unequivocally, ‘This is fair or unfair’. And so I think at this time we are best to start from a position of inclusion.”

Ricki knows how much it means just to participate.

“Some of the greatest days of my life were when I was competing in just interclub at Sydney athletics field through those late-80s and into the mid-1990s,” she said.

“I just hope that women will continue to be able to go out and participate in their sport, do their best and enjoy the experience.”

This story is part of a women in sport series called In Her Words. Head over to ABC iview to watch all episodes.

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Sam Kerr’s FIFA 21 rating second behind only Megan Rapinoe

Australian star Sam Kerr is the second-highest-rated women’s player in the FIFA 21 video game yet again.

For the second straight year in the EA Sports video game, Kerr’s rating of 92 has her behind only American Megan Rapinoe on 93.

The Matildas striker’s rating remained steady at 92 from FIFA 20, which was a jump up from 89 in FIFA 19.

Rapinoe has become the most famous face in women’s football thanks largely to her star turn as the United States won their fourth Women’s World Cup in 2019.

She has also regularly spoken out about social issues — particularly LGBT+ rights, equal pay for women and systemic racism, putting her front and centre.

Sam Kerr wearing a yellow Matildas team shirt kicks a soccer ball on the turf of a sports arena.
Sam Kerr recently completed a move to Chelsea in the Women’s Super League.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

When her place at the top of the pile was criticised on social media, she admitted she may not be the best player, but being the most prominent helped her top the ratings.

“I am not the best,” she tweeted, adding that she was definitely among the top players.

“We need more games on TV, bigger budgets, and fairer coverage by the media.”

Kerr is the only Australian in the top 15, with Rapinoe one of four Americans alongside Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz.

There are also three Frenchwomen in the list — Wendie Renard joins Kerr on 92, Amandine Henry on 91 and Eugenie Le Sommer on 90.

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Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom to miss AFL finals series due to family reasons

Steele Sidebottom will miss Collingwood’s upcoming AFL finals campaign to remain in Melbourne with his family.

Sidebottom’s partner Alisha gave birth to the couple’s first child — a daughter named Matilda — last week.

The All-Australian midfielder has not played since round 13 after leaving the Magpies’ travel bubble.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley on Saturday said Sidebottom and his young family had indicated a desire to join the team in Queensland.

But logistical issues around COVID-19 quarantine protocols, combined with the uncertainty of finals fixturing, have since seen them decide to remain in Victoria.

“Steele and Alisha have made a call that is completely understandable and one we wholly support,” Collingwood football manager Geoff Walsh said in a statement.

“Their comfort and security as a family was always the most important consideration.”

An AFL player wheels away in celebration with his fists clenched after kicking a goal.
Sidebottom made nine appearances for the Magpies this season.(AAP: Darren England)

Under current Queensland COVID-19 restrictions, players entering the state must quarantine for 14 days before training with teammates and playing matches.

It meant Sidebottom, the Magpies vice-captain, would have been unlikely to return until at least the second week of finals.

He also would have had to contend with a compromised training program while in quarantine.

The Magpies will play an elimination final in week one but are still waiting for their final ladder position and opponents to be determined.

A win over top side Port Adelaide on Monday night would secure sixth spot for the Magpies, giving them the right to select the venue for a ‘home’ final.

They could slide as low as eighth with a loss to the Power.

Sidebottom only played nine matches for the Magpies this season.

He served a four-match suspension earlier in the season for breaching the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols.


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Brisbane Lions beat Carlton ahead of AFL finals as Richmond, Melbourne secure wins

Brownlow Medal favourite Lachie Neale has helped the Brisbane Lions give themselves the chance of finishing in top spot on the ladder with a 17-point win over Carlton at the Gabba.

The prolific Lions midfielder was shadowed by Ed Curnow for most of Saturday night but racked up possessions at will in his side’s 11.12 (78) to 10.1 (61) victory.

While the Lions already had a crucial top-two spot sewn up, their seventh successive win sent them to the top of the ladder ahead of Port Adelaide’s final match of the home-and-away season.

The Lions will claim their first McClelland Trophy — something Leigh Matthews’s famed triple-premiership team never achieved — if the Power loses to Collingwood on Monday night.

A win over the Magpies will be enough for the Power to clinch top spot, as they have a superior percentage to the Lions.

There was movement elsewhere inside the top eight on Saturday when Richmond beat Adelaide by 44 points to lock down third place, while the Demons gave themselves a chance of playing in the finals with a 19-point victory over Essendon.

At the Gabba, Neale had 29 disposals and five clearances, and defender Daniel Rich impressed for Brisbane with two goals and 22 disposals.

Brandon Starcevich, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko were also important for the Lions, who dominated general play for large periods after quarter-time.

Lincoln McCarthy, Cam Rayner and Mitch Robinson each kicked two goals.

Carlton veteran Kade Simpson copped the brunt of an accidental head clash with Daniel McStay in the opening exchanges of his final appearance.

The 36-year-old veteran had 19 disposals and kicked the first goal of the second half to spark a full-team celebration.

But Simpson did not get the result he sought before being given a guard of honour by both sides alongside fellow Blues retiree Matthew Kreuzer.


The Blues could have rolled over in their final match of the year but stuck it out despite being outclassed by the Lions.

Sam Walsh was their best with 31 disposals and a mammoth 21 contested possessions.

Matt Kennedy and Curnow also found plenty of the ball, while Harry McKay kicked three goals.

Tigers claim top-four spot

Dustin Martin’s stunning 17-disposal first-half underpinned the Tigers’ 12.5 (77) to 4.9 (33) triumph at Adelaide Oval.

The reigning premiers will finish third on the ladder and meet Brisbane or Port Adelaide in a qualifying final.

The Crows’ loss in Adelaide meant they collected the club’s first wooden spoon since entering the competition in 1991.

The Tigers booted three majors to two in the opening term then added two more while holding Adelaide goalless to take a 14-point lead at half-time, 5.0 to 2.4.

Martin was significant in that gap, his first-half feats including three inside 50s and a goal. He finished the match with a team-high 28 touches.

A Richmond Tigers AFL player runs as he gives a high five to a teammate after kicking a goal against Adelaide.
Dustin Martin played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ triumph in Adelaide.(AAP: David Mariuz)

The Tigers accelerated in the third quarter with four goals to one to effectively seal the result.

Richmond midfielder Shane Edwards made a seamless return in his first match since round five, with his 18 disposals featuring eight clearances.

Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien capped his breakout season with 19 disposals, seven marks and 29 hitouts.

Midfielder Brad Crouch, now a free agent considering offers from rival clubs, gathered 27 disposals and eight clearances in what could be his last game for the Crows.

Former Crows captain Taylor Walker became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer, passing Tony Modra’s tally of 440 with a first-term major.

Walker achieved the feat in his 203rd AFL match, while Modra took just 118 appearances.

Demons stay in finals contention

The 10.8 (68) to 7.7 (49) victory over the Bombers lifts the Demons to eighth, a position they will retain if the Western Bulldogs lose to Fremantle in Cairns on Sunday night.

The Bulldogs will leapfrog the Demons into eighth place, however, if they can beat or at least draw with the Dockers.

Both the Bulldogs and Demons sit on 36 points, but Melbourne has a superior percentage.

The Demons have already turned their attention to the Bulldogs-Dockers clash, cheekily backing Fremantle to get up for the win.


Saturday’s defeat marks the end of John Worsfold’s coaching reign at the Bombers, with the 51-year-old finishing with 45 wins from his 107 matches at the helm.

Assistant coach Ben Rutten will take over at the Bombers, who won just one of their final 10 matches of the season and last triumphed in a finals match way back in 2004.

A Melbourne Demons AFL players handballs while being tackled around his upper body by an Essendon opponent on his right.
Melbourne’s Jack Viney (right) was under the Bombers’ defensive watch throughout the afternoon.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Jayden Hunt kicked four goals for the Demons, while Bayley Fritsch booted three as Simon Goodwin’s team did their bit despite a fourth-quarter fightback by the Bombers.

Melbourne appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win with a 34-point lead in the third term but a goal after the three-quarter time siren to James Stewart sparked the Bombers into life.

Stewart collected two more goals, and Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel all kicked fourth-quarter majors as the Bombers closed the gap to seven points.

With Melbourne’s chances of playing in finals hanging by a knife edge, Fritsch stood up with two late goals to halt the Bombers’ momentum and secure the win.

Stewart finished with three goals for the match, with Melbourne’s Alex Neal-Bullen (two) another multiple goalkicker.

Former Bomber Mitch Brown had 13 marks, while a trio of Bombers — Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett and Shiel — topped the disposals tally with 25 touches each.

Demons star Christian Petracca was the leading possession winner for his team with 23 disposals and he also kicked a bomb of a goal in the second quarter from outside 50.


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Pensioners will get payment boost but no JobSeeker decision

Older Australians on the age pension will reportedly get a payment boost within weeks but those relying on unemployed benefits won’t learn if they will get a permanent increase to their payments for months.

More than 1.6 million people on JobSeeker payments will likely have to wait until closer to Christmas to find out if the Morrison Government will extend the coronavirus supplement into next year.

To deal with the pandemic, Morrison Government boosted the base fortnightly unemployment benefit of about $560 with a $550 fortnightly supplement this year but this is due to end on September 24. After this time a reduced supplement of $250 a fortnight will be paid until December.

Many were hoping the government would reveal in the October Budget whether it would increase the rate of the unemployment benefit permanently, providing certainty about payments next year, however, this now seems unlikely.

While Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was “highly likely” the coronavirus supplement will be extended, the government is expected to hold off making a decision until closer to Christmas.

Senator Rushton did reveal the October Budget would include a boost to the age pension. This could be in the form of a one-off payment or ongoing increase, although this has not been confirmed.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia has urged the Morrison Government to provide an extra $750 stimulus payment to pensioners after it was revealed that lower costs of living meant pension payments would not rise in September because the indexation rate was falling.

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However, COTA has pointed out that pensioners were covering increased costs because of the coronavirus, due to a reduced number of “specials” or “discounts” to the ticket price for many food items, as well as extra costs of home delivery.

“While the CPI (consumer price index) has gone down because of the impact of items like childcare this does not help age pensioners,” COTA chief executive Ian Yates said.

“There are range of other pressures on low income people in this pandemic, such as transport costs when it’s not safe to travel on public transport. Pensioners live very close to the poverty line, and in private rental, below it.

“And while the two previous $750 payments have been very welcome, pensioners have ended up with less income in this period than people on the increased level of JobSeeker.

“Accordingly, we urge the Government to provide an additional $750 stimulus payment as part of your economic stimulus measures, for the benefit of both pensioners and the economy.”

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Sydney Roosters defeat Sharks ahead of NRL finals, Shaun Johnson suffers serious injury

Cronulla is set to be without Shaun Johnson for its NRL finals campaign amid fears the star halfback snapped his Achilles tendon in a tough 34-18 loss to the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.

Johnson went down untouched clutching his lower right leg in the 48th minute and was soon after carted from the field.

He gave the thumbs up to the crowd from the back of the medicab before reports emerged of the season-ending injury.

Adding to the Sharks’ injury woes, prop Royce Hunt dislocated his right knee cap in the second half and Josh Dugan was taken off late with a knee ailment.

With just one match left before the finals, losing Johnson — who leads the NRL with 22 try-assists this season — is a disaster for the Sharks who will not have a second chance in week one.

And while the Sharks’ injury crisis dominated the second half, the opening 40 minutes was all about the Roosters.

Roosters players tackle Ronaldo Mulitalo
The Roosters’ defence had the measure of the Sharks in the 16-point victory.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

It was a magical night for Mitch Aubusson, who scored a brace in his 303rd NRL match for the club to become their most-capped player.

The first was a short ball from Joseph Manu to crash over just five minutes after Aubusson led the team out as captain through a guard of honour.

But the second was more dubious.

Chasing through a grubber from Angus Crichton, Aubusson appeared to knock the ball on but replays showed he trapped it between his leg and hand.

The stroke of luck landed the milestone man his double and put the Roosters ahead 24-6 before they conceded late in the half.

After seven first-half errors the Sharks still managed to score twice with just 42 per cent possession, as they were steered around by Johnson before he went down.

Ronaldo Mulitalo and Siosifa Talakai scored in the first half but a third try to Braden Hamlin-Uele further punished the disjointed Roosters’ defence.

The premiers had enough class to polish off the win, even while missing some of their biggest stars.

James Tedesco, Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner all watched from the stands as the Roosters ran in six tries, including a double to Luke Keary.

All are set to return to play South Sydney on Friday night.

Storm post half-century

Two Melbourne Storm NRL players embrace after scoring a try against Wests Tigers.
Storm captain Cameron Smith had plenty of reasons to smile during his side’s win.(AAP: Regi Varghese)

Melbourne has sealed a top-two berth ahead of the NRL finals after claiming a comfortable 50-22 win over the Wests Tigers on the Sunshine Coast.

The Storm ran in nine tries against the Wests Tigers, with wingers Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr each chipping in with doubles.

Captain Cameron Smith, Nicho Hynes, Jahrome Hughes, Justin Olam and Tino Faasuamaleaui also crossed for Storm tries.

The comfortable victory featured a comical moment between Smith and Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

The Storm were leading by 16 points late in the match when Smith kicked ahead for himself to claim the 47th try of his career.

Smith’s tally surpassed the total achieved Bellamy during his 150-match career with Canberra between 1982 and 1992.

Smith instantly directed his celebration towards the coach’s box on the Sunshine Coast, before Bellamy responded by giving Smith the finger in jest.


It was a vintage performance from Smith, who finished the night with a try assist, seven conversions from nine attempts, and 30 tackles.

Rookie Asu Kepaoa scored two of the Wests Tigers’ four tries.

The Storm will finish second on the ladder to Penrith, who wrapped up the minor premiership with a victory over the Cowboys on Friday night.

Trbojevic injured in loss to Gold Coast

A Manly Sea Eagles NRL receives treatment from a trainer during the match against the Gold Coast Titans.
Injury-plagued Tom Trbojevic (left) was forced from the field in the Sea Eagles’ loss.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Tom Trbojevic sustained a shoulder injury in his long-awaited return for Manly, who went down to Gold Coast in a crushing 42-24 defeat at Brookvale Oval.

Playing his first match since June after being sidelined with a troublesome hamstring injury, Trbojevic was hurt attempting to make a tackle on Titans fullback AJ Brimson during the second half.

Brimson crossed for a try, with Trbojevic left with his right arm dangling by his side before he later departed the field.

Manly officials were initially hopeful the injury was only a stinger, but it comes at the worst possible time for Trbojevic.

Including Saturday’s loss, he had just two matches to impress New South Wales coach Brad Fittler before the end-of-season State of Origin series.

Trbojevic looked particularly rusty at the back on Saturday afternoon in both attack and defence, with two of his four errors coming after the shoulder injury.

His presence in attack helped Manly score one try as he drew in two defenders off the ball, while he also helped chase down Titans flyer Treymain Spry Sprei to deny him a 90-metre intercept try.

But on other occasions his injury lay-off showed, such as his failure to shadow a grubber dead that allowed Kevin Proctor to score and his fumbling of a poor Tevita Funa pass in the lead-up to another Titans try.

Regardless, the Sea Eagles were completely outplayed by the Titans, who posted their equal-highest score in their 14-year history.

The Titans have now won four straight matches for the first time since 2014. They are ninth on the ladder after being tipped by a number of commentators to collect the wooden spoon.

Brimson scored two tries, including an 80-metre effort that left referee Matt Noyen with an injured hamstring after Young Tonumaipea found his teammate from a 20-metre tap.

Tonumaipea also claimed a brace, making the most of a 60-metre intercept from Corey Thompson for his second.

Thompson finished the match off with a hamstring injury after earlier scoring a try, while Sam Stone and Spry scored the Titans’ other tries.

The result means Manly will finish the season with just one win from seven matches at its home ground Brookvale Oval.


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David Maddocks jailed for setting man on fire

A Melbourne man was asleep in his car when a nemesis doused him with petrol and lit him on fire in a cruel attack just days after Christmas.

Phillip Payet felt the cold liquid seconds before he was engulfed in flames outside his Frankston home in the early hours of December 27, 2016.

The 39-year-old survived the shocking crime despite his severe burns and his attacker, David Maddocks, was jailed for a decade this week.

“The facts in this case are horrific. Your behaviour was despicable and cruel,” Victorian County Court Judge Rachelle Lewitan told Maddocks.

While neighbours rushed to help the victim, who was screaming in the street, his 32-year-old attacker fled along with accomplice Clinton Phillips.

Prison letters suggested Maddocks believed his victim had “dobbed” him in over another crime and he even wrote a chilling warning letter before the attack.

“I just want you to know I’m going to get you one way or another and I will wait 10 years if I have to,” Maddocks wrote.

His victim was put into an induced coma with 68 per cent of his body covered in burns, and there were fears he wouldn’t survive. When he did wake up, he was put on suicide watch because he could not deal with what had happened.

He feels he is a burden and “looks like a freak show”, Mr Payet told the court in a statement.

Maddocks pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury over the shocking drug-fuelled crime but is already in custody serving a separate sentence.

He was jailed for ten years but will be eligible for parole after serving seven-and-half-years.

His co-offender, Clinton Phillips, 41, has already been sentenced to seven years in prison.

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