Dockers’ Adam Cerra’s ‘goal of the season’ slams door as Demons shredded


The post-mortem has already begun for the Melbourne Demons who appear almost certain of missing the finals after a 16-point loss to Fremantle.

The 6.11 (47) to 4.9 (33) scoreline was essentially a domination for Fremantle, who led from beginning to end, surviving a late scare to take out the victory.

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In wet conditions, it was another night marked by poor goal kicking and low scoring, but a goal by the Dockers’ Adam Cerra has essentially closed out the Demons season.

Getting the ball in the forward pocket, 20-year-old Cerra curved a banana perfectly between the sticks for a major to open up a 22-point lead.

Fox Footy commentator Dwayne Russell called it “one of the goals of the season”.

“That’s off the scale,” he continued.

WATCH THE GOAL IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE

While the Dockers are already out of the finals picture with a 6-9 record in 2020, the side has been praised for its new-found consistency, with Brisbane great Jonathan Brown even suggesting coach Justin Longmuir could be in the conversation for coach of the year.

“You can make an argument for Longmuir as being coach of the year while finishing outside the top eight. He’s been fantastic.”

But on the other side, Melbourne were once again savaged for their performance.

While there is a mathematical hope of making the finals, there is a lot that has to go Melbourne’s way and by former Demons skipper Garry Lyon’s assessment, the club don’t deserve to play finals footy.

With high hopes of ending a 56-year premiership drought as of the 2018 preliminary final, Simon Goodwin’s Demons have won just 12 of 37 games.

Five games — and just over three weeks — ago, the Demons thrashed the Magpies by 56 but it was a false dawn, dropping the last two matches against the already eliminated Swans and Dockers, and winning just one of the last four.

“The heat will come and understandably and rightfully so because the urgency even tonight didn’t come until late,” Lyon said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch. “It didn’t come until the final quarter.

“It’s a reflection on the group, maybe they’re just an average group, maybe they’re just an average group. I can arrive at no other conclusion. You can’t just bob up and put in a performance that has us saying ‘I think they’re going to get there’.

“The good sides don’t do that (win by 10 goals and then lose three from four against sides lower on the ladder). Average sides do that. Average players do that, aren’t able to maintain a consistency of effort.”

Former Brownlow Medalist Gerard Healy asked if the Demons were “average going north or just average and they’re going nowhere?”

Brown also asked if “2018 was an aberration” and Lyon was unequivocal.

“That’s the exact word I used and I copped a heap of heat for it at the time, but it is clearly what we’re looking at,” he said. “(Joel) Smith and (Braydon) Preuss and (Toby) Bedford and (Alex) Neal-Bullen and (Oskar) Baker, they’re just average players. They are average players in what now must be seen as an average footy club.”

Healy said he would call it an under performing team but Lyon reframed it as saying “they have very good individuals, but they’re an average team”.

Lyon continued to ponder if the Demons have the key piece to bring all the side’s individual stars into a team that can fight for the flag.

“We talk about Viney, (Christian) Petracca and Oliver – they just go and try harder. Oliver busts his guts and tries harder and gets another five possessions, but is it part of a collective? Or do they all just go ‘I’ll try and win it?’,” he said

“I’m not saying they’re after individual glory. I think half the trouble is they go ‘I’m going to individually try and win it’, instead of saying ‘there’s a collective in this’.”

Demons fans were equally disappointed by the performance.

Unfortunately for the club’s long suffering fans, it appears to be at least another season before the side can taste success.



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Anthony Griffin named St George Illawarra Dragons coach for 2021 NRL season


Anthony Griffin has been appointed as St George Illawarra coach for the next two years with a further one year option in the club’s favour.

News Corp Australia last week revealed Griffin had become favourite for the Dragons’ top job from next season – provided he impressed during a job interview last Thursday – which he obviously did.

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Griffin has coached Brisbane and Penrith. Picture: Jono SearleSource:News Corp Australia

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It was feared his fallout with Phil Gould could potentially cost him another head coaching appointment, after his relationship with the former Penrith supremo resurfaced in the media last week

The Dragons will release a statement shortly confirming the former Penrith and Brisbane mentor will take over from Paul McGregor.

Griffin won the job ahead of current interim coach Dean Young and David Furner.

MORE TO COME…



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No plot change but new stars in made for TV Premier League season


The new Premier League season kicks off on Saturday with some fresh talent but still without fans as the world’s most popular domestic soccer competition continues, for the time being at least, as a made for television product.

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MANCHESTER, England: The new Premier League season kicks off on Saturday with some fresh talent but still without fans as the world’s most popular domestic soccer competition continues, for the time being at least, as a made for television product.

The plot is unlikely to be dramatically different from the past two seasons.

After winning the title by 18 points, Liverpool start as favourites again but Manchester City will be strong challengers as they seek their third title in four years.

Chelsea, who have invested heavily in new recruits, will aim to be in the hunt, while Manchester United hope to improve on a third-place finish, 33 points behind Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Leeds United are back in the top flight after a 16-year absence and the Yorkshire club, managed by idiosyncratic Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, start their campaign at Anfield.

The partial return of spectators will be tested at lower league level, with the Premier League hoping to have some fans back in grounds in October, depending on the threat level of the novel coronavirus, but the sofa or pub is the nearest supporters will get to the action this month.

It is a sad state of affairs that fans have reluctantly become accustomed to but the broadcasters are hoping the action will maintain enthusiasm levels until the return to the grounds.

FAMILIAR FOES

Having ended their 30-year wait for a domestic league title, Liverpool have been surprisingly quiet in the transfer market, with Klopp sticking by the players who dominated last term.

Pep Guardiola’s City will have a familiar look as well but they have lost their inspirational Spanish midfielder David Silva as well as Germany winger Leroy Sane.

While the hopes of a move for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi were ended by the Argentine’s decision to stay put, Spanish wide-man Ferran Torres has joined from Valencia and Dutch defender Nathan Ake has been recruited from relegated Bournemouth.

Frank Lampard has been the busiest of the big six managers, the Chelsea boss adding two German internationals in striker Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen plus Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax Amsterdam and England full-back Ben Chilwell from Leicester.

While it is probably too soon to talk of the London club, who were fourth last season, being title contenders, those signings, combined with young players such as Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic who showed promise last season, should give Lampard the strength-in-depth for a more consistent campaign.

Manchester United fans hoped for a summer of busy transfer market activity, but while the deadline for deals is not until Oct. 5, they have so far added just one new face in Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax.

The prospect of the Dutchman alongside Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in midfield offers promise but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that a deal eventually gets done with Borussia Dortmund for England winger Jadon Sancho.

The United boss, who must also balance the needs of a Champions League campaign, will be keen to add some defensive options to back up an exciting attack featuring talented youngsters Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

North London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will hope their first full campaigns under managers Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho will result in a return to the Champions League positions after they had to settle for Europa League spots.

Leeds are the most interesting of the promoted clubs to watch given the influence of Bielsa and they are joined in the top flight by West Bromwich Albion and Fulham who both return after short spells in the second-tier Championship.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)



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Essendon torched after Geelong capitulation ends season


At least death came quickly for Essendon fans.

The Bombers’ 2020 season was put out of its misery in a record first half onslaught by the Cats that left footy commentators furious at the lifeless Bombers.

With their season on the line, the Bombers folded at the first bounce.

The 59-point half time margin is the biggest Essendon has had this season.

They were six goals down before they finally woke up.

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The Cats’ rampage continued Essendon’s woeful first-quarter performances this season.

The Bombers have kicked just seven goals in its last eight first quarter. They haven’t led at quarter time since Round 2.

The carnage continued in the second quarter with the Bombers conceding the highest first half score for the entire season.

A late goal to Bombers forward Jake Stringer made the 12.3 (75) to 2.4 (16) half time score flatter the Bombers.

Cats star Tom Hawkins had three goals at the eight minute mark of the second term.

He finished with four goals, extending his lead in the Coleman Medal leaderboard as the Cats were allowed to cruise to a 17.6 (108) to 5.12 (42) win.

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Hawks legend Dermott Brereton and North Melbourne Great David King were scathing of the Bombers at half time.

“They torched them didn’t they. That was extraordinary,” Brereton told Fox Footy.

“They smell blood in the water, the Cats, and they will just maul them in the second half.

King said: “One team’s building for a premiership and one team is looking for the finish line. That’s what it looks like.

“The oxygen has come out of their bubble. Their energy is gone. They look spent. They look like they’re playing for themselves.”

The misery was summed up by Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s first quarter brain fart when he tried to hand off to teammate Irving Mosquito instead of take a set shot from 15m out on a slight angle.

His handball went to ground and the Cats went up the other end to kick their first goal. The Bombers never recovered.

“This is just a smartass play,” Brereton said.

“The rest of the team must have been deflated about that.”

Footy commentators stuck the boot into Essendon before half time, slamming the lifeless performance at a time when the club’s season had still been alive.

Bombers great Robert Shaw posted on Twitter the team didn’t even deliver a contest.

“Think it’s time for the one hour walk. Just wish the 5km restricted area was a bit further under the circumstances. They are a classier superior combination as expected but minimum expectations should be the contest,” he wrote on Twitter.

Channel 7’s Nathan Templeton posted: “As a Cats fan I’m enjoying this, and no doubt Geelong is a mature team in top form, but it’s pretty weak from Essendon. Just don’t really know where the Bombers are headed. Baffling club”.

Footy reporter Julian de Stoop wrote: “Not a good day for Victorian based Essendon fans

Former football journalist Rohan Connolly wrote: “Don’t think I’m going to be having my now-weekly debate with Essendon fans today about whether this list is good enough to match it with the best. (Hint: it’s not)”.

The defeat ensures Essendon’s run of not winning a finals match since 2004 will continue for another 12 months.



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AFL’s unprecedented season has torn up the rulebook. A night grand final is the latest break from tradition


One by one in this most bizarre of AFL seasons, the barriers have come down.

If staging the grand final outside of Melbourne for the first time wasn’t enough of a break from tradition, the AFL doubled down by announcing another first: this year’s decider at the Gabba would be played at night.

A possible afternoon clash with the Cox Plate on October 24 — one of the biggest events in Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival — gave the AFL the opportunity to make the move.

“Certainly, I don’t think any earlier than 5:30pm up here [6:30pm in Melbourne] and more likely later in the day,” the AFL’s chief executive Gillon McLachlan said when asked exactly what time it could be staged.

The announcement has been coming for weeks if not months, but even then, the final decision was only made this week.

“We were sort of landing this in the last 24 hours,” McLachlan said.

The timing of the Cox Plate has been a key factor in the move to hold the AFL grand final at night.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

The key word in that last sentence is “broadcasters”.

The NRL, which has always been less slavish to tradition, has staged night grand finals for almost two decades. Yes, it was brought in to appease the broadcasters, but arguably the spectacle is also greater.

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Night-time is prime time and there’s no question the AFL’s broadcast partners have wanted to move the grand final for years.

Seven West’s Managing Director, James Warburton, took a break from bashing Cricket Australia last month to heap praise on the AFL and spruik the possibility of a night grand final, saying it would be ideal from an advertising perspective.

“Obviously, having a crowd would be absolutely fantastic and possibly being a prime-time grand final, if that’s the direction they would go, it would be a fantastic revenue outcome for us as well,” Warburton said.

The possibility has been discussed ad nauseum.

The sticking point has been tradition, but it’s been an odd logic.

The AFL’s marquee timeslot each round (up till this season, at least) has been Friday night.

Six of the AFL’s eight finals last season (excluding the grand final) were played at night — and one of the remaining two was a twilight fixture starting in the late afternoon.

GWS run out onto the MCG for the AFL grand final
Pre COVID-19, tradition had decreed that the AFL’s biggest game of the year was held in mid-afternoon.(ABC News: Chloe Hart)

Yet tradition has dictated the grand final has remained a day game.

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Whether you’re a fan of the afternoon slot or not, the argument in favour of tradition that goes: “that’s how we’ve always done it” is about the weakest available.

Tradition dictates that the umpires bounce the ball at the start of every quarter and after every goal even though they regularly stuff it up and revert to throwing it straight up which works every time.

This year has proven that anything is possible. It turns out you don’t have to have a full fixture scheduled months in advance of the season, you can do it week to week.

If there is a possible fly in the ointment, it’s the possibility that the dewy conditions which can prevail in the humid Brisbane nights could ruin the spectacle of the game, as the ball becomes as slippery as if it were raining.

But Gillon McLachlan was relaxed about the prospect.

“Very confident about the dew and if it is [dewy], then it’ll be a game where it has dew.”

He has a point — Aussie Rules is a sport that has to roll with the conditions. After all, it can rain in Melbourne in late September.

Ground staff bring the covers on at the Gabba as rain falls in a Sheffield Shield match in October.
Followers of Queensland’s Sheffield Shield team know that the Gabba can get pretty damp in October.(AAP: Jono Searle)

The question that will hang around next year, is that now that the mould has been broken, will night grand finals become a regular fixture — even if AFL life returns to some kind of normal?

McLachlan is leaving the possibility open.

“Clearly people will have a look at it, and it won’t be so foreign I’m sure and you’ll debate it on its merits afterwards,” he said.

Asked straight out if this year would be a circuit-breaker to help push through future night grand finals, he said:

“So I think everyone can see what the game looks like at night and with the other stuff wrapped around it, and then you can make a more balanced decision next year.

In a season where everything has gone out the window, tradition has also been given the flick.

A day grand final was sacrosanct until, all of a sudden, it wasn’t.



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Bomber blow with young gun likely to miss rest of the season


Essendon young gun Andrew McGrath is likely to miss the remainder of the 2020 season with what appears to be a lower level syndesmosis injury.

McGrath sustained the injury just before half-time during Tuesday night’s loss to West Coast and ended the match on crutches with ice strapped to his ankle.

The former No.1 draft pick is having an outstanding year through the midfield, averaging 22 disposals and just under five clearances and tackles per match which are career-best numbers.

Essendon GM of Football Dan Richardson provided an update on the emerging Bombers star.

“It looks like a lower level syndesmosis injury,” Richardson told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“We’re not sure yet whether he will require surgery, we’re waiting for some opinions on that.

“Hopefully he’ll escape without having had surgery but it’s likely to mean (he’ll miss) the rest of this season.

“I guess the positive is it’ll mean he’ll be right to go for the start of next season.

“He’s had a terrific season and is becoming a terrific young player for us.”

The 15-point loss to the Eagles dented Essendon’s finals hopes with games against Geelong, Port Adelaide and Melbourne to come.



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Suaalii to sit out entire GPS season as Souths, RA await decision


While Suaalii weighs up his decision, the Herald can reveal the 17-year-old will not play for The King’s School again this year.

Sources close to the Year 11 student confirmed he would sit out the remainder of the AAGPS season, largely due to the small chance he could suffer a serious injury and put the $1.8 million, three-year offer from Souths in jeopardy.

King’s are believed to have accepted Suaalii’s decision and put his future first, despite being on a full freight scholarship worth close to $40,000 per year.

It is not yet known whether he will play for the prestigious school next season if he decides not to join Souths’ first grade squad ahead of the 2021 season.

Rugby Australia still holds some hope that the longer the teen’s decision is delayed, the more likely it is that he will take up their offer, one worth significantly less than the deal tabled by the Rabbitohs.

The main attraction for Suaalii in the rugby world is the Olympics, as he would form a pivotal part of the Australian Sevens campaign for Tokyo gold should he opt to take his talents to the 15-man game.

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While RA holds onto hope Suaalii will opt for less money and more opportunity to showcase his talent on the world stage, sources close to him suggest Souths remain in pole position to land his signature.

The offer remains a three-year, $1.8m deal which would ensure he remains at Redfern until the end of 2024.

It would also ensure he has first year of senior football under the watchful eye of Wayne Bennett, who made a pitch to Suaalii in late July.

“One thing I know about all of it is that if he comes to this club, there is no one more experienced than I am at bringing young players through the NRL,” Bennett said at the time.

“I’ve brought that many young players through from my 33 years of coaching. They need good people around them and they need good clubs to come to and I think South Sydney know that.

“I don’t think that, I know South Sydney provides all of that.”

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Adelaide Crows score first win of 2020 AFL season, beating Hawthorn by 35 points


Adelaide has won its first game of the 2020 AFL season, with its 35-point win over Hawthorn ending a losing streak that has lasted longer than a year.

The Crows last won a game on August 3 last year, when they trumped St Kilda by 22 points in round 20.

They finished that season with three straight losses and had a 0-13 win-loss record for this year heading into the clash with the Hawks at Adelaide Oval, but they ultimately ended the 395-day drought with a 12.11 (83) to 7.6 (48) win.

Adelaide brought the intensity from the start of the game against fellow strugglers Hawthorn, which is stuck at 15th with just four wins.

A seven-point first-quarter lead should have been bigger, but the Crows were typically wayward in front of goal, kicking 2.4 in the first term.

The radar was more accurate in the second quarter and Adelaide went into half-time with a 6.6 (42) to 4.3 (27) lead.

The last-placed Crows had only led one other game after two quarters this season, when they were up by nine points against Collingwood in round 11, only for the Magpies to run them down and win by 24 points.

Keen to avoid a repeat of that night, the Crows came out of the long break with back-to-back goals from Ben Keays and Harry Schoenberg.

They never relented and racked up their highest points tally since round one, when they scored 71 in a three-point loss to Sydney.

In a victory dominated by the team’s young guns, it was former captain Taylor Walker who ended the game with his second goal, moving within one goal of Tony Modra’s all-time record of 440 majors for the club.

Highlighting how long it has been between drinks for the Crows, it was the first win for four players — Schoenberg, Keays, Shane McAdam and Lachlan Scholl — who were all pushed into the middle of the circle during the team song.

They were joined by rookie coach Matthew Nicks, who received the Gatorade shower traditionally reserved for grand final winners.

The victory ensured they would not become the first team to go through a season without a win since 1964, when Fitzroy went 0-18.

Eagles fly into top four

The Eagles leapfrogged Richmond into fourth place on the ladder.(AAP: Darren England)

West Coast is back in the top four thanks to a 15-point win over Essendon for their first victory back in the Queensland hub.

With Josh Kennedy out with a concussion, Liam Ryan starred up front for the Eagles with four goals in the 9.6 (60) to 6.9 (45) win at the Gabba.

West Coast had enjoyed an eight-game winning streak back in Perth before crashing back to reality with a loss to Richmond on Thursday that pushed them out of the home finals spots.

That winning run came after a 2-3 win-loss record during West Coast’s last stay in the Queensland hub from round two to round six.

Meanwhile, Essendon still has a chance to make the finals, sitting just two points behind three teams on 28, but missed a chance to leapfrog all three — the Bulldogs, Giants and Demons — and into the last finals spot.



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