NRL Grand Final: Brandon Smith interview, video, Storm defeat Panthers


Brandon Smith is one of rugby league’s most likeable players, and he sure didn’t disappoint when giving an interview to Channel 9 after winning the NRL grand final on Sunday.

He even had the audacity to call out his coach Craig Bellamy in one of the all-time hilarious grand final interviews.

“It was pretty good, I mean I played pretty s**t tonight but I got the ring,” Smith told Brad Fittler.

“It’s for sale, I need to pay for all the beers I’m about to drink.

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“I can’t wait to take this home to my mum and dad, they sacrificed to put me in this position I’m in so this is definitely for them.

“I can’t wait to get on the piss with all the boys.

“I’ll take anyone as long as they’ll drink a lot.

“We’ll get Christian Welch too drunk to play Origin… (Cameron Munster) will probably do something stupid.”

Smith was then asked if he planned to share a beer with the coach and the captain.

Bellamy has one season left on his contract, but captain Cameron Smith may retire.

Brandon Smith was full of praise for the skipper, but not so much for the coach.

“To the captain, I hope he can play on,” Smith said.

“I know it’s a tough situation for me but I wouldn’t want him carrying me to another couple of rings, I don’t think we should forced him out of the game.

“To Craig, he does nothing pretty much all year. Smithy does all the coaching, (Bellamy) is getting paid lots of money to do piss all.”



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Drone Swarms: Can the U.S. Military Defeat Them in a War?


Swarms of enemy drones approaching a forward operating base or groups of dismounted soldiers present a unique and increasingly challenging threat. Enemy drones can blanket areas with surveillance, test enemy defenses, jam communications and even themselves become explosives to attack targets. 

The variety of uses of small drones, and the guidance systems which direct them, can be very difficult to defend against, a reality inspiring the current Air Force effort to solicit new ideas on ways to destroy them. The Air Force recently released a Request for Information (RFI) to industry, asking for new innovations able to counter small enemy drones. 

Certain small drones can hit speeds of 60-to-70 miles per hour, and some are small enough to fit in the palm of the hand. Swarms of these can be dispatched to cover an area with ISR and build-in redundancy so a mission can continue if one is destroyed.

Portions of the Air Force’s RFI describing the threats were quoted in Air Force Magazine as having “characteristics such as small size, low radar cross-sections, low infrared or radio frequency signatures (or no RF signatures), ability to hover, and low-altitude flight capability, which may render them difficult to detect and/or defeat. These UAS are typically either controlled remotely from a ground control station or capable of flying pre-planned routes.”

The Air Force and the other services such as the Army are now improving existing drone defense weapons and moving quickly to deploy new ones, such as interceptor missiles, networked ground sensors, laser weapons and electronic warfare, among other things.

While many medium, large and longer-range drone countermeasures have reached substantial levels of maturity, smaller vehicle attack drones, such as those described by the Air Force RFI, present unique and still somewhat unresolved challenges. Drone swarms, for instance (such as commercially-available quadcopters) can be flown in groups to overwhelm radar systems, spy on a target, or even themselves function as explosives.

Dispersed groups of attacking drone swarms present a number of complications for the attacked force, according to a 2017 essay from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The essay, called “The Upside and Downside of Swarming Drones,” discusses some of the reasons why drone swarms are difficult to defend against.

“Swarming is advantageous for offensive missions because it can overwhelm enemy defenses with a large number of potential targets. In a swarming attack the drones are dispersed, which makes it difficult and expensive for the adversary to defend itself. If 10 drones attack a target simultaneously and 7 are shot down, 3 will still be able to complete their mission,” the essay, written by Irving Lachow, states.

Some of the more promising drone defenses likely consist of things like electronic warfare, lasers, interceptors or “area” weapons such as the Phalanx able to blanket an approaching field of view with numerous small interceptor projectiles. Another approach can be found with a new “proximity” round able to explode in a specific, pre-determined point in space to create a small “area” explosion. 

Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. 

Image: Reuters



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Still silver linings for Wallabies in Bledisloe Cup defeat to All Blacks at Eden Park


But look on the bright side! And there really is one.

For starters, look at where Australian rugby was three months ago: no money, no broadcaster, no administration, no hope.

And yet here they were on the field against the All Blacks, not only competing but, in the first Test at least, playing the game of their lives and providing the most thrilling eight minutes of rugby anyone can remember.

For the first time in months, people were actually talking about the game, nay revelling in it. For so many of us, that first Bledisloe Cup game provided the crucial reminder we needed of just how magic the game can be.

And if that second game didn’t provide the breakthrough win we wanted, the key facts remain: the Wallabies were seriously competitive against the best team in the world; demonstrated that there is some outstanding talent coming through the ranks; and made it clear that new coach Dave Rennie has had a wonderfully positive impact.

The fact the Wallabies were only 10-7 down at half-time in the second Test means – get this – only three points separated the blokes from the Blicks across 120 minutes in the cauldron. The fact the Blicks blew us away in the next 40 minutes to notch up a score of 27-7 is problematic, but we’ll get to that in due course.

For the first time in living memory, in that second Test, the Wallabies actually had a scrum that worked! And a lineout!

For, friends, there was more good news still!

For the first time in living memory, in that second Test, the Wallabies actually had a scrum that worked! And a lineout!

Time and again – and quite in contrast to the first Test – we saw the Wallabies halfback put the ball into the scrum and, instead of collapsing or reversing, it stayed rock solid. Sure enough, out came the ball at the back.

Ditto the lineout. The Wallabies hooker threw it in, and we nearly always got it back. Neither of those key building blocks of a successful team have been in place for at least three yonks, and it means there is an infrastructure to build this team’s future on.

Which leaves us with what exactly?

The bad side.

That is easy to determine, if not explain.

The bad side was a staggering 20 turnovers by the Wallabies and a shocking 43 missed tackles. In terms of ball-in-play time, it meant that roughly every 40 seconds we dropped the ball or allowed them through. With that in mind, it’s amazing the Wallabies got as close as they did.

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How to fix the turnovers and missed tackles?

I have no clue. But I bet Rennie does. For, by and large, holding the ball and keeping a solid defensive line is a much harder thing to achieve than the aforementioned working scrums and lineouts, things we have been without for years.

We will get there.

I don’t say that the Wallabies are in the sunlit uplands. But they have come through the dark night, and that was the dawn of a new era before our eyes.

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Melbourne Vixens defeat West Coast Fever


Melbourne Vixens have claimed an emotion-charged victory in the Super Netball decider, withstanding a last-quarter fightback from West Coast Fever to triumph 66-64.

The two-goal victory was a perfect send off for Australian netball great Caitlin Thwaites and Tegan Philip, who had announced they would retire at the end of the campaign.

The Vixens survived a thrilling finish to clinch their maiden crown at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena.

With the Fever in possession and trailing by one with a minute remaining, Vixens defenders Jo Weston and Emily Mannix pulled down a massive rebound after goal attack Alice Teague-Neeld missed a shot.

They held possession until the final seconds when grand final MVP Mwai Kumwenda slotted her 47th goal of the match to seal an emotional win.

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With senior players Thwaites and Philip retiring and the team dedicating the win to the people of Victoria in their COVID-enforced lockdown, there was plenty of emotion for the Vixens, who won their first premiership since the Trans-Tasman trophy of 2014 and their first Super Netball title.

Thwaites finished with 16 points, including three super shots and was thrilled after the win.

“I don’t even think it’s sunk in yet but holy crap, that was right down to the wire,” an emotional Thwaites said after the win.

“But we’d played out all those scenarios, we knew exactly what to do. I’m just so proud to be a part of this club.

“We really hope that you guys back home (in Victoria), we’ve brought some light to you guys, we know it’s been really, really hard had for you and we can’t wait to get home.

“We’re giving you all a big hug.”

The match was played in front of 2061 fans, who were heavily supporting the Vixens.

Coach Simone McKinnis said: “I feel relieved and I feel exhilarated and I feel everything in between.”

“The Fever were outstanding all game.

“It’s been one of the toughest seasons in every way possible and I knew that we wanted to be the toughest competitors in this competition.

“I’m super proud of the Vixens, I’m super proud of anyone who supported us along the way and I hope it’s been the start of a couple of grand final wins for Victoria over the next couple of weeks.”

The match was a clash between the best attacking team, in the Fever, and the best defensive outfit, the Vixens.

The Vixens’ full-court defensive press did not pay immediate dividends but wore down the Fever players, who started to turn over some ball late in the match as the tide turned.

In a huge pre-match boost for the Vixens, Kate Eddy was named in the starting seven after overcoming a foot injury that kept her out of the semi-final.

The wing defence was outstanding, lasting until the final minutes of the match in an effort that helped her team seal the match.

The Fever led by a single goal at quarter-time and again at the long break after reining in a Vixens lead.

The Vixens took a three-goal lead to the final break though after winning the term 18-14 but they unable to break away totally, the Fever drawing level again early in the final period before the match came down to the wire.

The best goal shooter in the world, the Fever’s Jhaniele Fowler headed into the match averaging almost 57 goals per game and was the focus of the Fever attack, finishing with 56 goals on Sunday.

But it was the Vixens’ Malawian shooter Kumwenda, a star in her own right and had an outstanding game against Fever captain and goalkeeper Courtney Bruce.

Kumwenda finished with 47 goals, fed brilliantly by her midcourters Liz Watson and Kate Maloney, the Vixens co-captains who later hoisted the Super Netball trophy.

MELBOURNE VIXENS 66 (Kumwenda 47, Thwaites 16, Philip 3)

WEST COAST FEVER 64 (Fowler 56, Teague-Neeld 8)

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MORE PAIN TO COME FOR FEVER AFTER GRAND FINAL LOSS

Heartbroken West Coast Fever players face further turmoil over the next fortnight, with many players and staff heading home to 14 days of quarantine after their Super Netball grand final loss.

The Fever lost a thrilling final to the Melbourne Vixens 66-64 in Brisbane on Sunday, with the match decided only in the final seconds, leaving West Coast players shattered after coming within an ace of a maiden Super Netball title.

But after more than 12 weeks away from home, living in a hub in Queensland due to COVID-enforced restrictions on the season, many Fever players face further emotional turmoil when they arrive back in Western Australia on Monday.

Those who do not have access to a separate bathroom and bedroom in which to quarantine at home face two weeks alone in a hotel in Perth to dwell on what coach Stacey Marinkovich called a “gut-wrenching” grand final loss.

“We’ve got to go back into isolation when we go back and I don’t think anyone actually comprehends what that’s going to feel like when you’ve come off the back of a grand final,” Fever coach Stacey Marinkovich said.

“Some of our girls will go back into hotels for two weeks by themselves, so it’s incredibly tough and it hasn’t finished yet for us.”

The Fever’s grand final opponents, the Melbourne Vixens had been in the Queensland hub for more than 90 days after having to quarantine for two weeks ahead of the season start but will not be forced to isolate again when they return home.

“I have full respect for what the Vixens have done and what all teams have done in making the move to Queensland but we’ve still got two weeks to go before our season closes off and it’s hard,” Marinkovich said.

“But I also understand that what’s happening elsewhere is even harder.”

The new Diamonds coach, Marinkovich and players Courtney Bruce, Jess Anstiss and Verity Charles will remain in Queensland for a national team camp next week before returning to Perth.

Marinkovich said she was incredibly proud of her players despite the loss, with little separating the sides in a high-quality decider.

“The quality of the game was so high that I can’t pin point one moment (where it was lost), because I don’t think there were huge momentum swings,” she said.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of our girls, Vixens had been the form team of the season but the way in which we have taken every challenge, you just know the girls have done everything in their preparation, their performance and their support of one another.

“That’s the way sport is, there’s got to be a winner and a runner-up and we fell just short.”

LEGEND’S FITTING FAREWELL

More than 30 minutes after the final whistle, Caitlin Thwaites joked the colour of her face showed she had left everything on court in the final match of an 18-year national league career.

The Melbourne veteran capped her 232-game stint by helping the Vixens to a maiden Super Netball premiership with a thrilling 66-64 win over West Coast Fever in Brisbane on Sunday, adding the title to the Commonwealth Bank Trophy national league title she won with the club in 2009.

The former Diamonds shooter may have trailed teammate and grand final MVP Mwai Kumwenda (47 goals) on the scoresheet but she played a key role in the Vixens’ win, nailing a crucial super shot with less than three minutes remaining to break a 61-61 deadlock and help her side edge towards victory.

Thwaites said her ability to compartmentalise – something she learnt early in her career – helped on Sunday as she focussed on her job rather than the emotion of her final game.

“I’ve always known that I’ve had a really good ability to compartmentalise and that’s been through managing my mental health and being able to switch off and cross the line and go, ‘I’ve got a job to do’,” she said.

“This year hasn’t been any different in terms of that, there’s been so much, even in terms of the retirement (call) and the reason that happened early was because we wanted to draw a line in the sand and say, that’s one thing but we’ve still got a job to do and we want to move on and be able to execute.

“That’s been at the forefront of our minds and that ability to compartmentalise definitely came into play today so I could do what I needed to do – shoulders back, take on the battle.”

A goal shooter for much of her career, Thwaites has played at goal attack for the Vixens for most of this season and has been outstanding.

“I think we’ve just embraced the roles that we’ve had to play this year and having a different challenge this year and to be able to embrace that has been awesome,” she said.

“I’m super, super proud and there’s no better moments than these and they bond us for life.

“There will be moments of emotion that will spill over in the next little bit.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of what this team has overcome to get here and I think unless you’ve been a part of it and known the ins and outs, it’s a pretty incredible feat to have gotten this far this year.”



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ACT election 2020: Coe’s leadership in doubt after heavy ACT election defeat | The Canberra Times


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Speculation is mounting that Alistair Coe’s four-year reign as Canberra Liberals leader will end in the wake of the party’s shock heavy ACT election defeat. Mr Coe has yet to declare if he will seek to retain the party leadership following Saturday’s loss, which will consign the Liberals to another four years in opposition. The Opposition Leader did not front the media on Sunday or respond to calls and texts from The Canberra Times. His declaration on Saturday night that holding the leadership of the Canberra Liberals had been the greatest honour of his life sparked immediate speculation about his future. As the dust settled on the result, an expectation has emerged that Liberals education spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee and former leader Jeremy Hanson will challenge for the leadership, although neither has publicly declared an intention to run. Mr Hanson declined to comment on Sunday. Ms Lee said via text message that there “wasn’t much to say with seats still left to be determined”. The party is searching for answers after Canberrans spurned Mr Coe in favour of another four years of Labor-Greens government. The result has cost three Liberal MLAs their seats: James Milligan in Yerrabi, Candice Burch in Kurrajong and Andrew Wall in Brindabella. All three parliamentarians are from the Liberals’ conservative wing, with their defeats poised to shift the balance of power within a diminished party room. Mr Hanson and Ms Lee are from the moderate flank of the party. Party convention dictates that the leadership and deputy leadership positions are spilled in the wake of an election defeat. A party room vote won’t be held until the results in all seats are finalised. Some Liberals are confident Mr Coe will re-contest the leadership, while others believe he won’t put his hand up again. The post-mortem into the campaign started soon after the first batch of results came through on Saturday night. Liberals are blaming the party’s sixth-consecutive defeat on the stunt-filled campaign, and Mr Coe’s failure to present himself as a credible alternative to Mr Barr. While the COVID-19 pandemic loomed large over the campaign, many saw the election as a referendum on Mr Coe’s leadership. Brindabella MLA Mark Parton, who managed to strengthen his personal vote despite a major swing away from the Liberals in the southern suburbs electorate, said the result showed the campaign had been a failure. “We went to the election with a unified strategy,” he said. “We were unified behind the leadership and the strategy, and it very clearly didn’t work. We have to pick through that and try and understand why.” After topping the Liberals’ ticket in Brindabella, the former breakfast radio host has been suggested in some circles as a possible leadership contender. READ MORE: Mr Parton was coy when asked about his leadership aspirations. “We are a very, even despite what was a very terrible night for us, a very, very close team,” he said. “We will have those discussions when we come together, when we know who is in the tent. “I’m just here to serve the people who elected me, and then the party in whatever capacity I can.”

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New Zealand’s All Blacks defeat Australia 27-7 in second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland


Australia’s run of outs at Eden Park has continued, with New Zealand recording a convincing 27-7 victory in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland.

The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks at the venue since 1986 and the visitors backed their chances of snapping the losing streak following their spirited display in last weekend’s pulsating 16-16 draw in Wellington.

But the All Blacks were in a different class for much of the contest at Eden Park, scoring four tries to one to edge closer to retaining the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.

After holding a slender 10-7 lead at half-time, the All Blacks scored three tries in the second term and kept the Wallabies scoreless on the way to their 20th straight victory over their trans-Tasman rival at Eden Park.

The All Blacks and Wallabies will meet again in two Tests in Sydney (October 31) and Brisbane (November 7) in what is a revamped Rugby Championship tournament following the withdrawal of South Africa.

Both sides will also play Argentina in the three-nation competition.

The All Blacks, stung by a poor effort in the Bledisloe Cup opener, came into Sunday’s Test in Auckland with more venom.

Veteran hooker Dane Coles bristled with energy and the return of Beauden Barrett from injury injected penetrative pace.

There was some feeling in the early exchanges between the All Blacks and Wallabies.(AP: Mark Baker)

But the undoubted star was winger Caleb Clarke, who showed Jonah Lomu-like skills and strength as he bulldozed the Wallabies defence time and again to announce himself as a future star in the making.

Clarke, whose father Eroni played for the All Blacks, was so impressive he left the field to a standing ovation with 12 minutes remaining in the match.

The All Blacks did a great job protecting five-eighth Richie Mo’unga after he was ruffled by the Wallabies’ defence in Wellington.

They used skip passes to Jack Goodhue and Barrett also stepped into first receiver role.

After a Mo’unga penalty, it was Goodhue running at first receiver in the 23rd minute that led to the All Blacks’ first try.

Goodhue powered to within a metre of the line and Aaron Smith scooted around from the base of the ruck to score.

Ned Hanigan was a strong addition to the Wallabies’ starting XV and they struck back just on the half-hour mark when the blindside flanker broke through an attempted tackle by Joe Moody.

Moody was left face down on the turf after being knocked out when his head smacked into Hanigan’s hip.

Hanigan burst clear to give the Wallabies vital field position and they capitalised through Marika Koroibete scoring in the left corner.

Four Australian Wallabies players celebrate a try against New Zealand's All Blacks.
The Wallabies had a glimmer of hope when Marika Koroibete (second from right) scored a try.(AP: Mark Baker)

The Wallabies were dealt a blow from the ensuing kick-off when Matt To’omua appeared to strain a hip flexor while making a clearing kick and he was replaced by Jordan Petaia.

Leading by three points at half-time, the All Blacks started the second term with a try-scoring blitz.

Within three minutes of the resumption, Jordie Barrett crossed after Mo’unga and Goodhue combined to create an overlap against a flat-footed Wallabies defence.

The match was effectively over three minutes later when Clarke — with a mix of raw power and savvy footwork — smashed through five would-be tacklers to create the space for number eight Ardie Savea to bust past the remnants of the Wallabies’ broken defence.

With the All Blacks leading 20-7, the Wallabies had appeared to grab one try back when hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa crawled over the line from a rolling maul deep inside opposition territory.

But following the intervention of the TMO, Paenga-Amosa was judged to have promoted the ball illegally across the line and the All Blacks were awarded a penalty.

All Blacks skipper Same Cane scored the fourth and final try in the 53rd minute, with Mo’unga adding the conversion to close out the scoring for the afternoon.

AAP/ABC



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Penrith Panthers defeat South Sydney Rabbitohs 2020 grand final, Adam Reynolds kick, Corey Allan try


The Penrith Panthers are into the club’s first grand final in 17 years after a 20-16 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

But it could have been much different if not for a matter of foot placement, as the Rabbitohs’ Adam Reynolds was denied one of the plays of the season.

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With four minutes left after drawing four points behind the minor premiers, Reynolds took a kick for a 40-20, but his foot was on the 40m line.

Reynolds thought he had done it, but referee Gerard Sutton awarded a scrum to the Panthers 10m out.

Regardless, Braith Anasta was blown away by the play.

“What a kick, even if this is not a 40-20, what a play, what a kick,” Anasta said.

“And his foot was on the line. Enormous call. What about the kick still? That’s crazy.”

Smith said it was “half a size 10” from being a massive play.

For a 40-20, the kicker has to stay behind the 40m line.

“What a shame,” Andrew Johns said. “That was incredible, when you think about it, to get to the position and then get that kick off at such an acute angle.”

Phil Gould added: “Wow, that was a massive play, a brilliant play, dethroned by two inches.”

The preliminary final was hardly a classic with mistakes aplenty — 25 between the teams — but the Panthers held on for a historic milestone.

The club’s 17th straight win takes it equal with the 2002 Bulldogs, who had all the their points deducted for breaching the salary cap.

The only streak ahead of the side is the 1975-76 Roosters, who had 19 straight victories.

The Panthers led 14-6 at the break, but the Rabbitohs fought back to score in the 49th minute when Dane Gagai somehow grounded the ball behind his head to make it a two point ball-game.

With the game on the line, it took until the 66th minute — with nothing seemingly happening — for Isaah Yeo to break the Souths line and pass to Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards to score.

At 20-12 the game appeared over, but Corey Allan made magic out of a horrible pass that landed on his feet on the left flank, grubbering for himself before grounding the ball in goal to set up a grandstand finish.

It ignited the game and set up a tremendous ending – but the Rabbitohs fell just short with the Panthers to face the Melbourne Storm in next Sunday night’s decider.



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South Sydney Rabbitohs defeat Parramatta Eels 38-24 to reach NRL preliminary finals


A stunning second half from South Sydney saw Parramatta eliminated from the NRL finals series via a 38-24 defeat at Western Sydney Stadium on a day of much drama for the Eels.

South Sydney’s win sets up a preliminary final with minor premiers Penrith at Sydney’s Olympic stadium next Saturday night.

The Eels had been rocked on Saturday morning by the revelation former Test and State of Origin centre Michael Jennings had failed a doping test and would be provisionally suspended under the NRL’s anti-doping policy.

The NRL said Jennings returned a positive A-sample for banned substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren and three of their metabolites.

He had been named in the Eels’ squad to face the Rabbitohs and his withdrawal meant rookie winger Haze Dunster was given a baptism of fire after getting the call-up to debut in the morning.

Dunster was thrown onto the wing as a part of Brad Arthur’s patched-together backline with Maika Sivo and Blake Ferguson also missing through injury.

South Sydney’s Jaxson Paulo (left) tries to fends off Parramatta’s Dylan Brown.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

And while the Eels were gutsy in defeat, their season ended in front of 14,510 spectators.

The match was there for the taking at half-time when the Eels led 18-8 following a flurry of points within four minutes, all either set up or scored by star fullback Clint Gutherson.

But the Rabbitohs pounced with two quick converted tries to start the second half and clawed back the lead.

Eels halfback Mitch Moses had the chance to level the scores with a penalty goal in the 62nd minute but the ball hit the posts and Rabbitohs winger Jaxon Paulo went streaking down the sideline.

Full of steam, the Rabbitohs landed on Eels line, with Gutherson bobbling a grubber kick from Damien Cook just enough for Bailey Sironen to ground the ball.

Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown threw an intercept for Paulo to score his second of the night with 10 minutes to go.

The try put the Rabbitohs in front 32-18 but the Eels went down fighting.

Jennings’s younger brother George, playing on the wing for the Eels, grabbed his second try of the night with five minutes to go in the match.

But a late try to Damien Cook put an end to a miserable day for the Eels, leaving Parramatta players strewn and emotional on the turf.

It is the second year in the row the Eels have bowed out of the finals in week two and the third time in four seasons.

AAP/ABC



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The Heat Defeat the Lakers in Game 5


The Miami Heat were not in the mood for a coronation Friday night. They pulled off yet another surprising win in Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals, beating the Lakers in a thriller, 111-108. They pushed the series to a Game 6 on Sunday. The Lakers lead the series, 3-2.

Jimmy Butler put the Heat on his back, accumulating a triple double (35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) and going one-on-one against LeBron James down the stretch. His free throws with 16.8 seconds left put the Heat up for good.

Miami led by double digits in the first half and then again in the final quarter. Duncan Robinson (26 points) and Kendrick Nunn (14 points) also provided sparks for the Heat. Robinson hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to put the Heat up by nine and drew a charge on James minutes later. Lakers Coach Frank Vogel unsuccessfully challenged the call, which meant the Lakers had only one timeout for the rest of the game. This left the Lakers vulnerable, and forced them to go the length of the floor to try to tie the game with less than two seconds left.

With 6:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer, giving the Lakers their first lead since the first quarter. From there, the Heat and Lakers continued to exchange haymakers. James hit a layup and was fouled with 1:34 left to give the Lakers the lead, and then he made another layup with under a minute left. But Butler continued to answer, even after Anthony Davis hit a layup off an offensive rebound with 21.8 seconds left to put the Lakers up briefly for their last lead of the game.

The Heat withstood a dominant performance from James, who scored 40 points on only 21 shots, snatched 13 rebounds and dished out 7 assists. But ultimately, Los Angeles did not get enough from its supporting cast: James and Davis scored 68 of the team’s 108 points.

Here’s how the Miami Heat won Game 5 in the N.B.A. finals.


The Lakers will be wearing their ‘Mamba’ jerseys, a black version with a snakeskin pattern in honor of the former franchise great Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January.

Miami will again be without guard Goran Dragic, who tore the plantar fascia ligament in his left foot in Game 1 and has been out since. He tried to warm up before Game 4 but was not able to play. Bam Adebayo, who injured his neck in Game 1 and missed two games, was back for Game 4. He is in the starting lineup tonight.

China Central Television, the state-run TV network, announced Friday that it would televise an N.B.A. game for the first time since a dispute with the league began last fall after a team executive expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The move suggested a softening of tensions between the N.B.A. and China that the league estimated had cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and that elicited criticism from fans and politicians.

The change was to begin with Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat on Friday night.

“On the morning of October 10, the channel of CCTV Sports will broadcast the fifth game of the N.B.A. finals,” the network said in a post in Chinese on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. “Welcome everyone to watch at the time!”

Find out why China made the change now.

One win away from the 17th championship in franchise history, the Lakers were immediately confronted by a major scare when Anthony Davis sustained an injury to his right foot while challenging for a rebound late in the opening quarter.

Davis has a habit of getting shaken up often and finding a way to play through it, which has to give the Lakers some comfort. But Davis looked to be in distress, clutching at his right foot, and that situation — more than an early 25-24 deficit — is surely the Lakers’ immediate concern.

The good news for the Lakers: As quiet as the AdventHealth Arena fell after Davis went down and then hobbled to the Lakers’ bench, he did not leave the court to go to the locker room.

Davis led the Lakers with 8 points in the opening quarter and opened the second quarter on the bench — but still with his teammates rather than seeking treatment from the team’s medical staff out of view.

The Lakers said Davis re-aggravated a heel contusion that has bothered him at various points in these playoffs, but Davis is expected to return.

James has 21 points and is 9 of 11 from the field with 2:03 left in the first half. He’s also 3 of 4 from 3-point range, while the rest of the Lakers are just 2 of 8.

For Miami, Jimmy Butler is leading with 17 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field. Also notable: Duncan Robinson (10 points) and Kendrick Nunn (11 points).

Before the season, Marc Stein talked to Butler about his road to stardom in the N.B.A.

Butler has done a lot of changing since his arrival in the N.B.A. as the 30th overall pick of the Chicago Bulls in 2011. He blossomed into a four-time All-Star with a reputation as a hypercompetitive and demanding teammate, unafraid to also challenge coaches, team executives, whomever.

In an interview with Yahoo Sports last season, Butler acknowledged that he could rightly be described as “confrontational.” He has also described himself as “a little extra at times.”

Butler said he does what he wants, despite what people may think of him.

As he prepares to begin his new work life with the Heat, Butler is pushing back harder against those around the N.B.A. who have criticized him for how much he has changed from his early days in the league. Back then, he was known as a coach-pleaser who liked to accentuate his Texas roots by wearing cowboy boots and oversize belt buckles, and listening to country music.

“I like it,” Butler said of the knock that he has changed too much. “I am different. I’ve picked up a lot of different hobbies. I don’t want to stay the same.

“I do what makes me happy. Some people just don’t like it. Some people just don’t want people to be happy.”

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The Heat raced out to an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but the Lakers recovered and Miami entered halftime clinging to a 60-56 lead. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, including a 3-pointer with one second left in the half. He made all 7 of his throws, which was more than the entire Lakers team took combined.

Miami got a much-needed boost off the bench from Kendrick Nunn, who scored 11 points. The Heat only played two players off the bench, the other being Andre Iguodala.

As for the Lakers, they were led by — who else? — LeBron James, who scored 21 points on 11 shots, and was key in keeping the Heat from running away in the first half. Anthony Davis shook off his foot injury and entered halftime with 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Both teams are shooting well from the field — the Heat at 47.8 percent and the Lakers at 56.1 percent. The difference was in free throws (11-6 in favor of Miami) and in offensive rebounding, where the Heat had 6, while the Lakers just had 2.

The second half began with a Mike Breen-sized bang: Miami and Los Angeles exchanged a flurry of 3-pointers. And appropriately enough, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 70. But Jimmy Butler responded with an and-one on the other end, while getting whacked on the head by Dwight Howard, whom he tangled with earlier in the game. It was ruled a flagrant 1 foul. Butler hit the free throw, then assisted on a Duncan Robinson 3: a six-point swing, putting the Heat back up 6.

If the 171st game staged in the N.B.A. bubble turns out to be the last game at Walt Disney World, at least it is, rather fittingly a good one.

Miami’s Jimmy Butler continues to hold his own in a one-on-one duel with the Lakers’ LeBron James. Somehow Butler is also making a run at approaching the remarkable levels he hit in the Heat’s Game 3 victory — which few expected him to repeat.

Butler had 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in that triple-double Game 3 masterpiece. Butler had 22 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists by halftime this Game 5 and recorded perhaps his toughest bucket of the series with 6:41 to play in the third quarter, when he followed a missed 3-pointer by Jae Crowder with a rugged rebound basket.

The Lakers’ Dwight Howard, who scuffled with Butler along the baseline in the first quarter, was whistled for committing a flagrant 1 foul on the play; Howard’s right arm connected hard with Butler’s head as Butler made the layup.

Butler made the free throw to increase his total to 27 points. He then grabbed an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession — which Miami retained after the free throw — to set up Duncan Robinson for a 3-pointer and a 76-70 Miami lead.

Also making an impact: Jae Crowder. Every time the Lakers get on the doorstep of tying or taking the lead, the Heat punch back. Crowder just converted a 4-point play to put the Heat up 5 with 3:01 left in the third.

The Heat were the beneficiaries of two four-point plays in the third quarter.

They needed both, too, because they can’t shake the Lakers even with Jimmy Butler surging and Duncan Robinson having contributed a welcome 20 points entering the fourth quarter.

Miami took an 88-82 lead into the final period thanks in part to the four-point plays converted by Jae Crowder and Robinson. And Butler needs just one rebound for another triple-double. He has 27 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds to lead the Heat. LeBron James (28) and Anthony Davis (22) have combined for 50 of the Lakers’ 82 points.

San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich says that the 3-point category is the first place he always looks in an N.B.A. box score.

It’s certainly hard not to be drawn there tonight.

LeBron James is 6-for-8 from long-range in this potential closeout game for the Lakers as crunchtime approaches.

The two teams have likewise shot nearly identical from deep — Miami is 12-for-26 and the Lakers are 12-for-27 — with 9:05 to play and the Heat holding a 93-85 edge.

The Lakers never know who will step up on any given night to serve as their third most reliable player — but it was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Game 4 and it’s happening again in this Game 5.

Caldwell-Pope’s third 3-pointer, with 6:20 to play, gave the Lakers the lead, at 97-96.

Caldwell-Pope is up to 14 points in support of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Heat have only used seven players and may be fading.



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Miami Heat defeat LA Lakers, Danny Green, LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Game 6


Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have kept their NBA title hopes alive after taking down the Los Angeles Lakers in an all-time classic Game Five on Saturday.

In a must-win game, Butler left absolutely everything he had out on the court as he outdueled LeBron James to secure the 111-108 victory.

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Butler recorded a triple-double with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to move the series to 3-2.

James gave it his all and finished the contest with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists, but in the final possession the Lakers threw the ball away as the Heat held on.

The nailbiting finish had fans across the world right on the edge of their seats with the Lakers’ Danny Green missing a three that would have handed the Lakers a two-point lead with around 6 seconds to play.

Markieff Morris nabbed the rebound for the Lakers, but threw the ball over the head of Anthony Davis and handed the ball back to the Heat.

Butler’s heroics see him join an exclusive club of players to record mutiple triple-doubles in a Finals series, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Draymond Green and James.

“His will to win is remarkable. … He’s the definition of a two-way player,” Erik Spoelstra said after the game.

“Every young player coming into this league should study footage of Jimmy Butler.”

“Jimmy Butler was amazing,” Nick Wright wrote.

“What a game. Give Jimmy Butler all of his flowers,” The Athletic’s Tony Jones wrote.

The Heat held the upper hand throughout the contest as they led at the end of every quarter before the Lakers surged in the fourth quarter.

Taking their first lead since the early going, James and the Lakers looked on their way to celebrating an NBA Title as the confetti cannons were sighted courtside.

But Butler and the Heat had other ideas as they bounced back to win their second game of the series.

Duncan Robinson played the role of Robin to Butler’s Batman on Saturday with the Heat forward ending the game with 26 points after knocking down seven shots from beyond the arc. Butler was quick to praise the efforts of his teammate after the win.

Green copped the wrath of basketball fans for his miss in the dying seconds of Game Five and quickly became one of the top trends on social media.

“Danny Green should be cut after the game. Stares history in the face and leaves it a foot short. No one misses more uncontested open 3s than Danny Green,” Chris Palmer wrote.

Game Six will be played on Monday, October 12 at 10:30am (AEDT).



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