BFL Netball Indigenous and Multicultural Round and CHFL Netball.

BFL Netball Indigenous and Multicultural Round and CHFL Netball. BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Lauren Jew (East Point)Pic Lachlan Bence.
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BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Monica Van Dyk (East Point)Pic Lachlan Bence.

BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Marcelle Geljon (East Point)Pic Lachlan Bence.

BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Cassandra Peace (Redan) Pic Lachlan Bence.

BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Ruby Parry(Redan) Pic Lachlan Bence.

BALLARAT Football League Indigenous and Multicultural Round.Redan V East Point.Emma Henry (Redan) Pic Lachlan Bence.

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Child injured in quad bike accident at Veresdale

A seven-year-old girl was airlifted to the Mater Children’s Hospital after a quad bike accident at Veresdale on Saturday. Photo courtesy of RACQ CareFlight Rescue.A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD girlwas airlifted to hospital with suspected head, spinal and abdominal injuries following a quad bike accident at Veresdaleon Saturday afternoon.
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The girl was injured aftercomingoff the quad bikeand falling about one metre to the ground at about 12.30pm.

Beaudesert fire fighters, police, two ambulances and the advanced care unit attended the scene.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter airlifted thechild to Mater Children’s Hospital in a stable condition.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s Toowoomba helicopter was dispatched from the Clive Berghofer CareFlight Centre shortlybefore 1pm.

The crew landed at a private property at Veresdale within 30 minutes.

The Critical Care Doctor and Flight Intensive Care Paramedic on-board the chopper assessed and treated the girl’s injuries on scene and reported her to be in a stable condition.

A seven-year-old girl was airlifted to the Mater Children’s Hospital after a quad bike accident at Veresdale on Saturday. Photo courtesy of RACQ CareFlight Rescue.

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Popular Mount Clay picnic and camping area re-opened.

The Sawpit Picnic area and campground has been re-opened after it was burnt during April’s Bushfire. Picture: ROB GUNSTONEA POPULAR picnic and camping area in the Mount Clay State Forrest has re-opened after being damaged in April’s bushfire.
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The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) re-opened the Sawpit picnic area and camping ground in the Mount Clay State Forest, north-east of Portland on Friday.

It had been closed since April 2, when a bushfire tore through the state forrest and threatened nearby Narrawong.

DEPI acting planning manager for the far south-west James Downie said saftey concerns had kept the area closed.

“We’re really pleased that all sections of the camping area, including the toilets, shelter and fireplace facilities, are now open,” he said.

“Whaler’s Lookout Walk is also open but the Mount Clay Mountain Bike Track is still temporarily closed.”

Visitors to the area are asked to observe and follow any signage about remaining restricted areas, as well as being mindful of potential dangers such as falling trees.

“While there’s lots to enjoy that’s accessible, much of the area is still fire-affected, so we ask that visitors not leave the designated campsite areas or formed walking tracks for their safety,” Mr Downie said.

“Visiting Mount Clay State Forest promises not only beautiful scenery but a chance to see how our forests recover after a fire.”

For more information contact DEPI on 136 186.

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Newcastle Hunters defeat Norths Bears 78-66

Bennie Murray in action last week. Picture Jonathan Carroll THE Newcastle Hunters continued their mid-season revival with a polished 78-66 victory over Waratah Basketball League heavy hitters Norths Bears at Broadmeadow on Saturday night.
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Improving to a 6-6 win-loss record, it was Newcastle’s second victory over Norths (9-4) in the space of a fortnight and third win from their past four games after the Hunters hammered Illawarra 93-40 seven days earlier.

The Hunters started strongly against the 2012 WBL champions to lead 40-29 at half-time then resisted several Bears rallies during the third and fourth quarters.

‘‘Our team is finally demonstrating their potential, and last night was a wonderfully balanced team effort,’’ Hunters coach Trevor Gallacher said yesterday.

‘‘Norths were playing under-strength, and we are mindful not to get ahead of ourselves. But we are getting better each week and the players are believing in our system, working together and demonstrating great determination and unselfishness.

‘‘Our next challenge is to build consistency, which is developed at practice. We are more hungry than ever.’’

Bennie Murray led the Hunters with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal but Gallacher said there were substantial efforts across the board, particularly in the paint on defence, where Newcastle had 10 blocked shots.

Big men Jon Howe (13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and Steve Davis (nine points, five boards, three blocks) made their presence felt inside and young gun Ryan Beisty was busy at both ends with 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Newcastle’s women’s team notched its most impressive victory of the season, stopping previously unbeaten Norths 72-62 to make it a winning double for the Hunters.

Ending their own three-game losing streak, the Hunters improved to 4-5 for the season and ended the Bears’ run of 10 straight victories.

Setting a fine example for the men’s team, Newcastle hit the ground running to lead 27-17 at quarter-time then consolidated that effort by holding Norths to just eight second-quarter points for a 41-25 half-time advantage.

Newcastle’s lead blew out to 23 points with less than four minutes remaining in the third term, then Norths rallied with a 22-7 run to trail 62-54 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Hunters held their nerve in the final five minutes.

Veteran floor leader Cheryl Willis tallied 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a classic captain’s knock, and was well supported by Susi Walmsley (10 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals) in her first game since returning home from her college stint in Hawaii.

Sophie White (10 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots) and Charlotte Bull (13 rebounds, six points, four assists, three steals) also made valuable contributions.

Former WBL Most Valuable Player Mitch Rueter (29 points, seven rebounds, five assists) was one of five Maitland players to score in double figures as the Mustangs snapped a four-game losing streak with a comprehensive 84-62 victory over Sydney Comets at Maitland Federation Centre on Saturday night.

The win reversed a 91-80 loss to the Comets at Alexandria two weeks earlier and kept the Mustangs in touch with the top six with a 6-7 record.

Sydney beat the Mustangs 79-53 in the women’s game at Maitland.

Andy Blair hopes Port to Port win leads to Games selection

Andy Blair hopes Port to Port win leads to Games selection RELIEVED: Andy Blair is first across the line at Nobbys Beach in the inaugural Port to Port race. Picture: Ryan Osland
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Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

Port to Port Mountain bike stage race. Day 4. Picture Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookPort to Port Mountain Bike race gets muddy: Day 2 photos

PORT to Port mountain bike race winner Andy Blair is hopeful he will be celebrating Glasgow Commonwealth Games selection later this week.

Yesterday the 34-year-old from Canberra became the inaugural winner of four-day Port to Port by an overall time of 29 seconds from Bendigo teenager Chris Hamilton.

Blair won the 45-kilometre stage four from Swansea to Nobby’s, which journeyed through Blacksmiths Beach and Glenrock reserve, in a time of one hour, 44 minutes and 48 seconds.

There was a seven-man sprint to the finish line with also included the Hunter’s top cyclist, Wangi Wangi’s Chris Aitken.

Aitken was fourth in stage four and finished fifth overall, 14 minutes behind Blair.

While the Port to Port is not part of the Commonwealth Games selection criteria, Blair said the victory was invaluable practice.

‘‘I don’t know if I’m going to get a call up yet, but this has formed part of my preparation,’’ Blair said.

‘‘It’s really good training, this sort of event, where you’re racing day in day out. It’s really good intensity.’’

Blair’s victory was set up on day one when won the first stage at Nelson Bay by almost three minutes from Hamilton.

On day two Hamilton beat Blair by a second in a sprint to the line.

Blair’s lead was then shaved to just 28 seconds following the third stage where he finished seventh and 2.22 minutes behind Hamilton.

That meant it was vital Blair finished in the lead group on stage four.

‘‘It was a relief,’’ he said yesterday.

‘‘Yesterday really ate up my margin for safety. Any little problem could have been really bad with just a small lead of 28 seconds.’’

Blair’s partner Jenny Fay won all four stages in the women’s to be the overall series champion by almost 40 minutes.

TRICIA HOGBIN: Organic resolve firm

CHOICE BACKED: Recent literature reveals the preference for organic food isn’t misguided. Picture: Tricia HogbinI GROW my own veggies organically and often buy organic food.
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There are many reasons why I favour organic. I prefer my food be free of pesticide residues and I’d rather support small, sustainable farmers than large-scale industrialised agribusinesses. But the main reason I buy organic is that it’s better for the environment.

Or is it? Robert Paarlberg, in his book Food Politics, suggests that my preference for organic food may be misguided.

I read Paarlberg’s 2010 book recently and it had me scrambling to double-check the environmental benefits of organic farming.

For me, it’s important to know the story behind my food. Permaculturalist Nick Ritar suggests that ‘‘every bite of food is a reflection of your ethics’’.

‘‘That doesn’t mean becoming a food snob who is a pain in the arse at every dinner party, but it does mean that when you buy something, you exercise your power by taking the time to understand what you are giving your money to.’’ Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. Instead, natural processes are embraced. Soil fertility is maintained using compost, crop rotation and manures. Weeds are controlled using mechanical cultivation, mulch and cover crops. Insect pests are kept at bay using a range of techniques including relying on ‘‘good bugs’’ to eat the ‘‘bad bugs’’.

Whether or not organic farming is better for the environment overall has been hotly debated for years. The focus of the debate has been on whether or not decreased yields from organic farms could have the unfortunate result of increasing the total area of land under agricultural production, resulting in more widespread deforestation and biodiversity loss, and thus undermining the environmental benefits of organic practices.

This argument is increasingly being dismissed as over-simplistic. Yields can be increased through improved farming practice and careful selection of varieties. Yield is also only one of many factors to consider when balancing the benefit of organic farming.

What is clear is that organic farms are better at protecting biodiversity than conventional farms. A recent study by Oxford University found that organic farms support 34per cent more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms. It also found that the benefit was most pronounced for organic farms in intensively farmed regions and that small farms do a better job of protecting biodiversity. The benefit of organic farming was most pronounced for pollinators such as bees, with organic farms supporting 50per cent more pollinator species.

Pesticide use is having a particularly devastating impact on bees. Recent research from Harvard University has confirmed that pesticides, neonicotionoids in particular, are likely to be responsible for the massive colony collapse disorder happening in honey bees.

The environmental benefits of organic farming extend beyond biodiversity and bees. Conventional farming is dependent upon large amounts of inorganic fertiliser. The manufacture of synthetic fertilisers is energy-intensive, uses large amounts non-renewable natural gas and contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emissions. Synthetic fertilisers also dissolve in water more readily than organic fertilisers and can leach through the soil and pollute groundwater, nearby waterways and ultimately, the ocean.

So after wading through the recent literature, I’m confident that my preference for organic food isn’t misguided. My resolve to support small local sustainable farms is stronger than ever. Introducing organic farms into already intensively farmed landscapes can boost biodiversity, provide a pesticide-free haven for pollinators, and play a major role in halting the loss of biodiversity.

Tricia Hogbin shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints南京夜网 and on Instagram (TriciaEco)

Exemplary service calling to other men

DENIS YOUNG
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Camp Quality volunteer

FUN TIMES: Naite Skidmore, left, and Jordan Doran with long-term volunteer Denis Young. Picture: Lily Ray

DENIS Young has spent almost half of his 60years volunteering for Camp Quality.

The 60-year-old from Tenambit this month won Camp Quality’s Gillard Volunteer Award for his 24years of service. The award, named after one of Camp Quality’s longest-standing board members, is awarded to one person per state per year who is dedicated to helping children with cancer.

Mr Young was in his mid-30s with a good job, healthy family and comfortable life – in his words, ‘‘just pottering along’’ – when his life changed.

He was visiting a friend’s son who was living with a brain tumour when the child’s Camp Quality companion turned up.

‘‘This young bloke was of exceptional character,’’ said Mr Young.

‘‘I thought, ‘What a wonderful thing to see, a young guy at uni doing stuff like this’.

‘‘He made an impact on me, so I got in touch with the local Camp Quality office in Newcastle and never looked back.’’

Mr Young said the programs Camp Quality provide make a difference.

‘‘I’ve got physical proof that the services and programs provide many benefits for children and their family,’’ he said.

‘‘Going to my first camp, I didn’t know what to expect, but any fears or doubts I may have had just flew out the door when the kids arrived.

‘‘The kids just blew me away when I saw their happy and excited anticipation at arriving at camp.

‘‘It helps them forget the weekly grind of treatment and takes them away from that environment. It also gives mums and dads some relief.

‘‘You see how much fun they have rekindling friendships with kids they haven’t seen for months, or since the last camp, or treatment at the hospital.

‘‘It’s kids networking with other kids who have had similar issues.’’

Mr Young said another great part of the program was working with other volunteers and staff.

‘‘They’re just a really good bunch of people and so supportive of each other,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re good people to be around and they all come with the right motives and focus.’’

He said his family has been behind him 100per cent of the way.

‘‘I hope it’s helped with their development and understanding and how they approach life,’’ he said.

Since retiring four years ago from his job in Commercial Services at the University of Newcastle, Mr Young has been working in the local Camp Quality office at least one day a week on top of his other volunteering commitments.

‘‘Retirement has allowed me to do extra work for the organisation such as administrative tasks, volunteer recruitment and training, among other things,’’ he said.

He encourages more men to take part in the program as camp companions and volunteers.

‘‘It’s a very rewarding experience and after camp you connect with all the new people you’ve met,’’ he said. Volunteer adviser Tegan Davies said Mr Young was ‘‘a true superstar’’, and hoped he would inspire other men in the Hunter to step up and volunteer.

Female volunteers number 67, with males at just 31.

To register as a volunteer visit campquality.org.au/volunteer or phone (free call) 1300662267.

1000 people make whale outline on Shoal Bay beach

1000 people make whale outline on Shoal Bay beach Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.
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Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.

Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.

Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.

Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.

Human Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.

TweetFacebook Human Whale photo shootHuman Whale on Shoal Bay Beach on June 1. Pictures courtesy of Ray Alley.A HUMAN humpback slowly materialised on Shoal Bay Beach on Sundayas more than a thousand locals and tourists gathered to celebrate the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean.

For the second straight year, the human whale made for a spectacular sight from the skies on a reasonably clear day in Port Stephens.

Human whale co-ordinator Frank Future said an amalgamation of whale watching cruise operators gathered the masses to acknowledge the International Court of Justice’s ruling to ban the Japanese government from whaling in the Antarctic.

Last year, more than 600 people gathered on the beach to form a shape of a Humpback Whale to acknowledge 40 years since whales were last hunted in Australia.

Mr Future, the Imagine Cruises skipper, said the humpback population in waters off the east coast of Australia had boomed ever since, a rare conservation success story and something that should be celebrated.

‘‘We had a great turn-out, considering the forecast was for rain,’’ Mr Future said.

‘‘It’s a celebration of the fact that we still have whales, it’ one of the few success stories we can celebrate.

‘‘When I was a kid you never saw any whales, there was only 1800 humpbacks in waters of the east coast about 19 years ago.

‘‘Now there are nearly 20,000, which is about a 10 per cent annual increase.’’

Mr Future said the ‘‘peak run’’ of migrating whales was approaching, with hundreds expected to be spotted near the coast in the coming weeks.

The human whale was organised by Port Stephens Tourism and whale watching cruises Imagine, Moonshadow and Tamboi Queen.

‘‘We work together to promote whale watching, it’s important to Port Stephens tourism and injects more than $10 million to the port every winter,’’ he said.

Mr Future said there were plans to create a human whale every year in winter as the whale watching season begins.

Stephen Moore to be Wallabies captain

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: Stephen Moore poses during an Australian Wallabies portrait session at Sanctuary Cove on June 1, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) Photo: Chris HydeThe ACT Brumbies have endorsed Stephen Moore’s Wallabies captaincy potential. Coach Stephen Larkham said the 91-Test hooker is the ”ideal man” to lead Australia to a successful World Cup campaign next year.
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Moore is expected to be unveiled as the Wallabies’ new captain on Monday, taking charge of the team as it prepares for a three-Test series against France and the build-up to the World Cup in England.

Outgoing Test skipper Ben Mowen says he will be ”insanely jealous” when the Wallabies run out in the series opener in Brisbane on Saturday night, but insists he is ”content” with his decision to quit the role to move his career to France at the end of the year.

Highly respected Moore will get his chance to lead the Wallabies almost a decade after starting his Test career. Larkham believes the 31-year-old is suited to a leadership role.

”One hundred per cent he’s a good choice,” Larkham said.

”He speaks well in front of the group, always says the right things and is very disciplined off the field. He’s been the most consistent performer for the Wallabies in the past year, and for the Brumbies. He’s continually putting in and leading off the field and leading by example on the field.

”I’d 100 per cent back the decision to have him as the captain of the Wallabies. He’s a fantastic leader.”

Moore has been backed by World Cup-winning coaches Rod Macqueen and Bob Dwyer and former Wallabies skipper Nick Farr-Jones as the man to replace Mowen.

The decision to have Moore installed as the new captain was reportedly approved at an ARU board meeting last week.

Moore was a leading candidate with former captains James Horwill and Will Genia, and a future leader, 22-year-old flanker Michael Hooper.

But with just a year to prepare for the World Cup, coach Ewen McKenzie is set to back Moore as the leader of his squad.

The Wallabies were dealt a blow on the weekend with prop Ben Alexander ruled out for at least the first two Tests against France as he battles an ongoing nerve compression injury.

McKenzie suffered the same injury when he was a player, admitting he is still plagued by muscle wastage in one of his arms after years of scrum battles.

Alexander will have a cortisone injection to ease the pain and could be back for the third Test, but it’s more likely he will return to action for the Brumbies’ charge to the Super Rugby finals.

The injury has resulted in Alexander losing significant strength in one side of his body.

”The injury is one I understand quite well, being a former tighthead prop, and while not a sinister issue, it can significantly influence performance due to the impact it has on a player’s overall strength,” McKenzie said.

”In Ben’s instance, it has been admirable to see him push through the pain at a Super Rugby level.”

Mowen was left with a massive black eye after the Brumbies beat the Melbourne Rebels 37-10 on Saturday night. The Super Rugby captain is also nursing a bruised sternum.

Mowen announced in January he was quitting Australian rugby at the end of the year to move his career to France, walking away from the chance to lead the Wallabies to the World Cup.

Instead of joining the Wallabies in camp, Mowen will have a week of rest before returning to Brumbies training and playing club rugby for the Tuggeranong Vikings in the coming weeks.

It’s a long way from the international arena, but Mowen said he was happy to move on. He was confident the Wallabies had ample leaders to cover his departure.

”There’s outstanding leadership right across that group. The Wallabies are in a good space,” Mowen said.

”I’m very content, to be honest. I absolutely loved my time with the Wallabies and I’ll be intensely jealous when they run out, sing the anthem and get to play. But I’m content with where my future is.”

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ACT Brumbies halfback Nic White ready for Wallabies starting spot and kicking duties

Nic White in action against the Rebels on Saturday. Photo: Jeffrey ChanACT Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White admits a starting spot for the Wallabies is “everything” to him and is ready to shoulder the goalkicking duties if called on by coach Ewen McKenzie.
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White put forward his case to beat Will Genia and Nick Phipps for the No. 9 jersey with a brilliant display on Saturday night, leading the Brumbies to a bonus-point win against the Melbourne Rebels while McKenzie watched from the stands.

And it’s his goalkicking prowess that could give him the edge in the three-way tussle as McKenzie attempts to finalise a line-up for the opening Test of a three-game series against France.

White, Christian Lealiifano, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley loom as the likely kicking options for the Wallabies.

White is the only goalkicking scrumhalf in the Wallabies squad and has a 75 per cent success rate this season sharing the role with Lealiifano.

“[Starting] is everything. It’s what you play for,” White said.

“You play to be in big games and you play to start in Test matches against big teams, so it’s everything to me.

“It’s out of everyone’s hands … I definitely feel comfortable kicking, you work hard at it and give yourself the best chance of it working.

“Goalkicking helps and I’ve been practising just in case. Christian is taking a little while to get his rhythm back, but I’m his biggest backer.”

Ten Brumbies players joined the Wallabies in camp on Sunday after keeping their Super Rugby finals hopes alive with a 37-10 thumping of the Rebels.

Prop Ben Alexander has been forced to withdraw from the Test series because of a neck injury while hooker Stephen Moore is expected to be named captain on Monday.

Winger Henry Speight will train with the Wallabies for 10 days, despite not being eligible to play for Australia until September 11.

Pat McCabe, who has broken his neck twice in his past two Tests in 2012 and last year, also launched a bid for inclusion in the first-Test squad this week.

Lealiifano and Matt Toomua are battling for the Wallabies No.12 jersey but McKenzie could opt to keep NSW Waratahs duo Foley and Beale together as the flyhalf-inside centre combination.

Toomua has spent almost all his Super Rugby career as a flyhalf and shifted to inside centre on the Wallabies’ spring tour last year.

McKenzie has bracketed the 24-year-old as a centre instead of a flyhalf but hasn’t ruled out using Toomua as the chief playmaker.

“To be honest, I don’t know much about the situation … my name has been bracketed as a centre, so that will be interesting,” Toomua said.

“I obviously want to be in the [starting] XV, and if that’s at No.10 or No. 12 I’ll do all I can to be there.

“It will be interesting to see the mix there, but I’d like to be in there. I do feel comfortable [at inside centre].”

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham backed White and Toomua to help guide the Wallabies to a series victory over France.

White has started just two of his 10 Tests while Genia is the incumbent scrumhalf.

“Whitey was disappointed with the way he played in South Africa. He felt as though he contributed to the losses over there and [against the Rebels] was one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” Larkham said.

“He can definitely step up to start … [Toomua] is certainly someone who can play very well at that next level, whether that’s at flyhalf or inside centre. He can handle the big games.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Canberra’s Patty Mills and San Antonio Spurs through to NBA finals against Miami Heat

Canberra basketballer Patrick Mills says the San Antonio Spurs are desperate to get rid of the “bad taste” left by an NBA finals defeat last year, declaring the team is ready for redemption against the superstar Miami Heat.
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Mills and the Spurs booked their spot in the NBA finals when they beat the Kevin Durant-led Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime 112-107 on Sunday, Australian time, to clinch the western conference title for the second consecutive year.

Mills and teammate Aron Baynes are on the verge of becoming the first Australians in more than a decade to win the NBA championship and join legends Andrew Gaze and Luc Longley.

Mills said he was ready to shoulder a bigger workload if All-Star point guard Tony Parker is injured.

“It’s crazy, there’s about 2000 fans waiting at the airport for us,” Mills told The Canberra Times after arriving back in San Antonio.

“It feels good, really good. All the year in the off-season was to get back to this stage to have another crack at Miami. We felt like we let one slip last year and it left a bad taste, but that has been fuelling the fire to motivate us.”

Mills has overhauled his off-court life to be in career-best form.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Mills was “a little fat ass” when asked why Mills didn’t play more in the 2012-13 season.

To get fit, Mills has cut out guilty pleasures such as strawberry milk and hired a personal chef at the start of the year to teach him how to be healthy and get the best out of his body.

The Heat, which boasts stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, has won the past two NBA titles.

The Spurs led the seven-game finals series 3-2 last year, but lost game six in overtime and then had a heartbreaking defeat in the championship game.

Mills missed the end of the series with a mystery foot injury, but is poised to take on a bigger workload with Parker battling niggling problems.

The Spurs and Heat will start the NBA finals on Friday, Australian time, in San Antonio and Mills will delay his search for a new contract until after the series.

The 25-year-old two-time Olympian is enjoying the best season of his NBA career.

“To go through all the hard work and put in what we have, it feels great to be back there and I’m very proud,” Mills said.

“We didn’t play our best basketball [against the Thunder], it wasn’t pretty but we showed our character, passion and we wanted to get it done.

“It does feel different to last year, we knew we had a lot of work to do and the loss to Miami was burning in the back of our heads.

“Miami has been playing tough all year … we believe in ourselves and we know the basketball we need to play to get the job done.”

Mills wants Australia to adopt the Spurs as “their team” in the battle against the Heat, urging fans to get behind Mills and Baynes in the run to the title.

“Two years in a row in the finals, it’s a great achievement for me and Baynesy but also for Australia,” Mills said.

“I can’t say thank-you enough for all the support from back home, it’s great to see everyone back home getting behind us and hopefully they can keep it up for the finals now.”

Mills failed to score in the clash with the Thunder, but the former Marist College student and AIS graduate says his game continues to improve.

He averaged 10.9 points a game in the regular season, but his scoring has dropped to 6.9 in the play-offs. Send your messages of support to Patty Mills on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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New Zealand Warriors defeat Newcastle Knights 38-18: photos

New Zealand Warriors defeat Newcastle Knights 38-18: photos Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward.
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Adam Cuthbertson of the Knights passes the ball.

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors is taken off injured.

Simon Mannering of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try.

Jayson Bukuya of the Warriors charges forward.

Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward.

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors is taken off injured.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

Simon Mannering of the Warriors looks to pass the ball.

Sam Tomkins of the Warriors charges forward.

TweetFacebook Knights V WarriorsScenes from the Knights V Warriors Round 12 game at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, on Sunday. Pictures by Hannah Peters, Getty Images. THE New Zealand Warriors all but snuffed out Newcastle’s already faint finals hopes with a 38-18 thumping of the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

In their first game since former owner Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group management company severed ties, the Knights tried hard and hung in for long periods but paid the price for unforced errors to slump to their fifth consecutive loss and ninth from 11 games this season.

Sitting equal last alongside Cronulla on six points, the Knights face the highly improbable task of having to win 10 of their last 13 games to return to the finals.

The immediate future looks much rosier for the Warriors, who have won four of their past five games to move into the logjam on the edge of the top eight.

It was the Warriors’ eighth win from their past nine games against the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium, and captain Simon Mannering celebrated the twin milestones of his 200th game for the club and 100th as skipper with two first-half tries including one from his own grubber kick.

Giant winger Manu Vatuvei also bagged a brace for the Warriors in front of an appreciative crowd of 19,068 in their first appearance at their spiritual home ground this season after three matches at Eden Park and another in Wellington.

The Knights made an encouraging start, posting first points in the sixth minute when Tyrone Roberts caught Jarrod Mullen’s kick to the middle to touch down under the posts. Towering winger Josh Mantellato, in his second NRL start as a late replacement for the injured Aku Uate (knee), converted from in front for a 6-0 lead.

Newcastle suffered a blow in the 10th minute when prop Kade Snowden took an accidental knee to the head trying to tackle Ben Matulino and he was helped from the field on wobbly legs.

Finding room to move up the middle and on the fringes, the Warriors struck back with three tries in 13 minutes – all from kicks – to take a 16-6 lead by the 24th minute.

Captain Mannering was an unlikely first try-scorer for the home team, regathering his own grubber kick to score in the 11th minute, and the Warriors backed that up with two more from Shaun Johnson cross-field bombs.

Manu Vatuvei, making up for an earlier handling error that led to Newcastle’s first try, flew above Mantellato to bat Johnson’s kick back for fullback Sam Tomkins to score in the 18th minute, then Vatuvei combined with Johnson again six minutes later to out-leap Mantellato and score one for himself.

Warriors wrecking-ball Konrad Hurrell suffered an apparent arm injury in the 23rd minute but returned 11 minutes later seemingly none the worse for wear.

Just when it looked like the Warriors would run away with the game, the Knights hit back in the 30th minute when centre Joey Leilua recovered a Roberts grubber behind the Warriors’ defensive line to touch down.

Mantellato converted to cut the deficit to four points and the Knights would have been satisfied trailing by that margin at the break but playmaker Jarrod Mullen’s attempted trick shot 90 seconds from half-time back-fired.

Inside their own defensive red zone, Mullen tried to chip kick for winger James McManus but the ball went out on the full to hand possession back to the Warriors in prime field position.

The Warriors needed just a couple of plays before Feleti Mateo flicked a pass to Mannering, who crashed over for his second try.

Newcastle refused to yield, clawing back within four points again when Roberts spun in a tackle and passed for Robbie Rochow to score in the 53rd minute. Mantellato’s conversion made it 22-18.

But when Chris Houston spilled a pass under minimal pressure 25 metres from his own line, Ngani Laumape picked up the crumbs to send Chad Townsend over for his first try in Warriors colours and a 28-18 lead in the 63rd minute.

A restarted tackle count gave the Warriors another attacking set deep in Newcastle territory and Johnson and Tomkins combined to send Hurrell over in the corner in the 74th minute.

Vatuvei emerged from a pile of bodies on the Newcastle line to score his second try a minute before full-time, and Johnson converted from the sideline after the siren.

The Warriors made a clean sweep of the three grades, accounting for the Knights 34-12 in NSW Cup and 34-22 in the National Youth Cup (under-20s).

When restaurants google customers

Stevan Premutico, chief executive officer of dimmi南京夜网.au Photo: Louise Kennerley Last laugh: Restaurateur Darran Smith (pictured here, second from left, in 2009) always researchers his guests. Photo: Domino Postiglione
Nanjing Night Net

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Are you a cheap tipper? A fussy eater who sends meals back to the kitchen? Whether you’re a dining dream or nightmare (and let’s be honest, the worst customers are probably the last to admit it), the internet age means for better or worse, now more than ever, your reputation precedes you.

When a diner walks into a restaurant these days, there’s a good chance the maitre d’ knows more about them than they realise, says Stevan Premutico, chief executive officer of online reservation website dimmi南京夜网.au.

“What they look like, their job, their title, where they live, their social connections, any special celebrations and whether they are an avid foodie are all key things,” he says.

“It’s all part of getting to know your customers.”

Keeping notes on customers is hardly new. But as social media continues to knock gaping holes in the divide between personal and public, restaurants that bother to do their research are reaping bigger rewards for their efforts.

Shared online reservation systems like Dimmi’s ResDiary, as well as social media sites liked LinkedIn and good old Google searches, can be a double-edged sword. Systems can be used to track dining ‘performance’ – how much you ordered, whether you tipped well, how pleasantly you treated staff or whether you continued to camp out at the table long after you’d finished dessert.

The five most common pieces of information restaurants share, Premutico says, are customers’ food and wine preferences, notable habits (e.g. likes to have a drink at the bar before being seated), seating preferences (corner booth, window seat), allergies and – last but certainly not least – if the customer is a good or bad tipper.

But the Dimmi system goes even further, allowing restaurants to codify diners with attributes such as wine connoisseur, adventure eaters, quick eaters (good for table turnover) or friends of the chef or owner.

On the flip side are codes for loud talkers, frequent no-shows or PIAs – pain-in-the-ass customers with excessive demands.

Other tidbits restaurants note include postcode (you can infer a lot from four digits, Premutico says), whether someone is an ‘upgrader’ (diners who go for the works, like coffee and cognac) and, controversially, whether or not the diner is good-looking (some places may seat a diner differently based on their looks, Premutico says).

Restaurateur Darran Smith, who has worked in the industry for 20 years at venues including Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, the Hilton’s Glass restaurant and Hemmesphere at the Establishment hotel, says he always researches his guests.

“Whether it’s politicians or movie stars, lawyers or whatnot, I do my research,” Smith says.

“I remember Owen Wilson was coming in and finding out he really likes tequila so I made sure the bar was stocked up with tequila … It paid off.”

It’s the little things, which a restaurant can do without the customer even realising, that can make a good experience great or an excellent venue exceptional, he says.

Improved customer service and that personalised dining experience is the ultimate goal, restaurants say. And of course there are mutual benefits. (Smith recalls another experience when he discovered via Google that an Icebergs diner had sold his company the day before. “He came in and spent $5000,” he says.)

But Smith also admits that restaurants sometimes use online reservation systems to prepare themselves for the “one per cent” of customers who “just hate life”.

“With Dimmi, you do some research and you know they only like sitting at a particular table or they only like their salad with the dressing on the side,” he says.

“You know that if you go outside a certain circle they … will just be the worst customer in the world.”

Premutico says the practice is entirely justified. It’s a competitive industry and every bit of intelligence counts – whether you’re in front of the cash register or behind it.

“A customer that is rude, obnoxious, complains and doesn’t tip should be noted. A diner who appreciates the food concept, respects the staff, dines often and leaves tips should be given the better tables and taken care of more.”

As for the impact on customers, perhaps diners will learn to mind their Ps and Qs so as not to be labelled PIAs. After all, restaurants have been riding the rollercoaster of social media and user-generated ratings for years, Premutico says.

“This passes some of the power back to restaurants,” he says.

“Diners will behave better, tip better, treat staff better. It will help improve the industry and may help the diner get that all important upgrade next time.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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