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GPT Group has warned of tough conditions ahead for office and retail tenants but has maintained its earnings growth guidance of at least 5 per cent for the year to December 31.
Nanjing Night Net

The country’s second-biggest diversified real estate investment trust reported a net profit of $257 million for the six months to June 30, down 6.7 per cent on the previous corresponding period, mainly due to a lower valuation of some assets.

To combat predicted weaker office rents and negative retail leasing spreads, GPT and its co-owner are spending $15 million on stage one of the repositioning of the MLC Centre in Sydney. GPT has also introduced new tenants to its Melbourne Central mall and spent $300 million on extending the Highpoint mall in Melbourne.

Leasing spreads were a negative 5.8 per cent for GPT over the first half. The company said while the fall in interest rates was helping, consumers remained cautious and reluctant to buy with any gusto.

The fall in the value of the Australian dollar would also help by making overseas goods on the internet more expensive.

During the first half, GPT completed $690 million of transactions, exiting Erina Fair and the Homemaker bulky goods portfolio. It also bought 3 Figtree Drive, at Sydney Olympic Park, and the GPT Wholesale Office Fund (GWOF) acquired half of 8 Exhibition Street in Melbourne.

Despite the fall in statutory profit, realised operating income of $236.5 million was up 4.1 per cent on last year. GPT chief executive Michael Cameron, said the interim distribution was 10.1¢ per security up from 9.5¢ last year. For the 2014 year, he maintained the earnings per security (EPS) growth of CPI +1 per cent guidance.

Mr Cameron said despite walking away from buying parts of Australand in March, the group had a $2.5 billion cash pot for new acquisitions and ”looked at all opportunities”, including corporate takeover. He did not directly refer to the rival Commonwealth Property Office Fund.

He said while the office and retail business was tough, the logistics and business parks and fund management sectors delivered a total return of about 9 per cent.

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Gwyn Olsen of Briar ridge Vineyard judging at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop Gwyn Olsen tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop
Nanjing Night Net

Jim Chatto discussing shiraz with trainee wine judges at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Russel Cody tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Judge Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Nicole Gow tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Russel Cody tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

Tom Carson tasting at the Hunter Valley Wine Show wine judging at Singleton Army base on Monday. Picture Peter Stoop

IT seems like a dream job – you don a white laboratory coat, tuck a clipboard under you arm and proceed to taste some of the Hunter Valley’s best wines.

But yesterday at Singleton Army Infantry Centre 18 wine judges had to taste about 120 wines and during this week they will sniff, sip, spit and occasionally swallow 730 wines from 78 large and small wine producers in the 2013 Hunter Valley Wine Show.

And at the end of each day of scoring a hundred or so wines what do they do? In most cases they gather to chill out, not with wine, but with a refreshing ale or two.

The 18-member judging panel under the chairmanship of McWilliam’s chief winemaker Jim Chatto includes an overseas wine expert, Tokyo-based Master of Wine and wine writer Nick Goodwin.

The show is widely recognised as Australia’ premier regional wine competition and is open only to Hunter wines.

Entries this year are down slightly compared with the 2012 show, which attracted 799 wines from 84 producers.

Wine Show Committee president Tim Murray said the fewer entrants and entries were the result of winery mergers and a poor 2012 Hunter red vintage.

There were only five or six entries in 2012 vintage red classes, but the 2013 semillon white classes were shaping as among the best on record.

Show results will be released and trophies presented at the wine show luncheon at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley at Pokolbin on Friday.

Exhibitors will get the opportunity to taste entries at the School of Infantry on Thursday.

The 2012 show was dominated by the Tyrrell’s family wine company with 13 gold medals and six trophies, including the Bill Ryan Trophy for the most successful exhibitor of young wines and the inaugural Iain Riggs white and red wines of provenance awards.

The Riggs awards require entrants to submit three different vintages of the same labelled wine, covering a vintage spread of at least 10 years with one wine being 2009 vintage or younger.

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Is Australian bookmaking dying or is it just evolving into a foreign-owned, 21st-century structure that will have platforms around the world.
Nanjing Night Net

Tom Waterhouse has been telling us he is a fourth-generation bookmaker, who knows what the punter wants. It seems he knew what William Hill, a British bookmaking stalwart, wanted after the sale of the business that carries his name. It leaves William Hill in control of Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse, while Paddy Power, another big British firm, owns Sportsbet and IASbet.

The local industry has caught the eye of the big Europeans and if you add Unibet and Bet365, there aren’t too many Australian options, with the exception of the Eskander family’s Betstar.

TAB南京夜网.au and Tattsbet still hold the lion’s share of the market, through totes and their fixed-odds arms, but the corporates have a healthy share of the betting dollars.

Most are based in Darwin.

Before Sky Channel and TVN, in the glory days of the track, bookmakers were like celebrities.

The SP bookie’s time has gone, too, replaced to some extent by the TAB. The track bookies had their golden era but have been victims of falling on-course crowds and usurped by the corporate giants. Walk into a betting ring and it is hard to find a young man on a bookmaking stand. That’s the reality of a hard game.

There are certainly easier ways to make a living these days than being a bookmaker. On-course bookies are more of a service, as most of the betting action is done well before they put prices up about half an hour before the race.

Just offering a price is no longer good enough. There is top tote, top “fluc”, best of the best and a myriad of other options that small bookies simply can’t offer. The margins are smaller because the focus is on turnover across the whole sporting market, and a man betting only on racing is at a disadvantage.

Punters expect value and have the ability to search for it in a couple of taps or clicks. Gone are the days when 6-4 was 9-4 on the other side of the ring and punters crowded around the bookie until he wound the price in. These days, a discrepancy of $2.50 to $3.25 simply wouldn’t happen because of technology and, if it did, only a few lucky punters would profit before the markets aligned.

So, what does the future hold?

There will always be bookies on track – tradition demands that. But the time may come when they are aligned with big operators.

A new corporate, Topbetta, has entered the market via Norfolk Island, with a plan to use a fantasy football-like system. Punters compete against each other with fantasy money during a meeting and the one winning the most at the end takes the prize. You can also back your fancies. Horse racing, always the mainstay of gambling, has tipped its lid to sports betting. The younger punters are happier to take $1.50 about Manly beating Souths than they are backing a horse or a dog for bigger returns.

The next generation will be all about live betting. It is the way of the world already and once the rules are loosened in Australia, big firms like Bwin, which is the shirt sponsor for Real Madrid, and Ladbrokes will arrive on our shores.

Bwin is already betting in the run on football games from Australia. If you fancy a bet on Capalaba versus Peninsula Power in the Brisbane Premier League on Tuesday night, you can get set.

They even provide commentary but that is a different story.

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Eclairs
Nanjing Night Net

You can pipe the pastry out as suggested to make a classic eclair shape or use a star nozzle in your piping bag for a different look. Alternatively, you could spoon mounds wonto your baking tray to make profiteroles, dip in chocolate, sprinkle with praline and then pipe the espresso cream inside.

Choux pastry

100ml milk

80g butter

1 tsp castor sugar

1 pinch salt

120g plain flour

3 large eggs, whisked

200g dark chocolate, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan-forced.

2. In a small saucepan bring the milk, butter, sugar, salt and 100 millilitres of water to a simmer. Tip the flour in and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat for three to five minutes; it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball, but keep beating it around to cook out the flour. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

3. Slowly beat in the eggs, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Then add the mix to a stand mixer with a K-beater attached and mix until the dough is smooth and silky.

4. Spoon the mix into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe into lines on a lined baking tray, leaving three-centimetre spaces between each line. Wet your fingers and flick water over the tray — the steam will aid rising. Bake for 12 minutes until puffed and golden, reduce the heat to 180C fan-forced and cook for a further five minutes. Allow to cool.

5. Melt the chocolate in a bowl sitting on top of a saucepan with an inch or so of barely simmering water. Dip the eclairs in the chocolate, sprinkle with praline and allow to set.

6. Slice the eclairs open and fill with the espresso cream and serve.

Bakes 10-12

Drink Earl Grey tea

Espresso cream

This custard will thicken and set once it is fully chilled, making it perfect for spreading on the eclairs. For the impatient, dipping the cooked choux in the espresso cream is almost as good.

180ml cream 45 per cent fat

180ml cream 35 per cent fat

30ml strong espresso coffee

6 large egg yolks

2 tbsp cornflour

80g castor sugar

1. Bring creams to a simmer in a saucepan then add espresso, stir and take off heat.

2. Whisk egg, cornflour and sugar together until pale, then gradually whisk in cream.

3. Return to the stove over a medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Take off heat and cool, then cover with cling film, laying it directly on top of the custard to stop a skin forming. Chill in the fridge.

Walnut and coffee praline

Praline is a great way to dress up dessert, but even a simple scoop of vanilla ice-cream with a good sprinkling of crunchy praline is not so simple any more.

50g walnuts

300g castor sugar

2 tbsp coffee beans

1. Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.

2. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for five minutes, then wrap in a tea towel and rub off the skins and chop roughly.

3. Add the sugar to a small pot and cook to a medium-coloured caramel, shaking the pan regularly to cook evenly. Meanwhile, warm the walnuts and coffee beans on a baking tray for one minute and add to the caramel, stirring to evenly coat the nuts. Tip the hot caramel onto baking paper and allow to cool.

4. Crush the praline in a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container.

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Solving the riddle of rissoles in Brain Food. Photo: Marina Oliphant Use your hands … Working the meat will help your rissoles stay together when you cook them. Photo: Eddie Jim
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Rissoles. Photo: Eddie Jim

l have been cooking for more than 60 years but am still unable to make rissoles out of minced beef – they have always broken up. M. Goard

As a young man, and contrary to what the boarding-house masters lectured us, I followed the words of a kindly German butcher who said: ”Richard, you must use your hands on your meat.” While he struggled with the nuances of the English language, he did impart the basic philosophy that chopped meat, when used to make sausages, rissoles, meat loaf and the like, must be worked to get the protein to bind together. So get your hands scrupulously clean and get them into the rissole mix and work it for a few minutes until the texture changes from gooey to sticky. This means the meat protein has been released and is binding the ingredients together. It will set like a glue when cooked.

How do I store anchovies and for how long? B. Grice

A mate of mine imports anchovies from Spain in refrigerated containers, stores them in coolrooms at his warehouse, and prefers his retail clients sell them from refrigerated display cabinets. Like most anchovies, they are stored in oil that will oxidise when exposed to heat, light or air, and then taste rancid. They are high quality, costly and incredibly fresh-tasting, and delicious enough to eat straight from the tin as a tapa. I keep these in the fridge, consume them on the same day they’re opened, or keep them in the tin and use within a few weeks for cooking. Regarding cheaper anchovies for cooking, I prefer those packed in tins to store in the cupboard. Anchovies packed in jars, because they have already been exposed to light, tend to suffer from oxidation more frequently, so I store these in the fridge. Keep to the use-by dates and use within a few weeks after opening if you are sensitive to rancidity.

A lot of American cake recipes use corn syrup. Is there an alternative? F. Atkinson

The alternative is to use something that is not the product of an out-of-control US food policy, which subsidises farmers to produce cheap corn, the starch from which is treated with mould enzymes that break the starch into glucose or corn syrup. It is not as sweet as sugar and has a pH of between 3.5 and 5.5, so is quite acidic. Or try making a syrup of one cup of sugar to ¼ cup of water, mixed in a saucepan over a medium heat until dissolved. Allow to cool and use as directed. Cane sugar doesn’t have the same moisture-holding properties of glucose and could be a little drier to taste, depending on how much fat is in the recipe. Cane sugar tastes twice as sweet as glucose, so your cake will taste sweeter. Because corn syrup is slightly acidic, check the recipe to see if it uses baking soda. The addition of corn syrup to baking soda will set off the reaction needed to make gas for the cake to rise. In this case, try using equal amounts of honey, which is acidic. The only problem is that honey, because it is made of both glucose and sweeter-tasting fructose, tastes sweeter than glucose, so you will end up with quite a sweet-tasting cake.

What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and can they be interchanged? S. Joseph

We have covered this before. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and is alkaline. When it comes into contact with acid in the batter, it creates a chemical reaction in which carbon-dioxide is released to raise cakes. Acids include tartaric acid from cream of tartar, citric acid from lemon juice, or gluconic acid in honey (see above). Baking powder contains a raising agent that is activated by heat. Substitute baking powder for baking soda and you’ll end up with a flat cake that tastes like soap.

Letters

”I can’t find MON sauce or Thin Captains in my local supermarket,” K. Moyles writes. While I am tracking these down, are there any favourite branded items in the supermarket you have noticed disappearing to make way for home branded goods?

Thanks to T. Davidson, who wrote in with this: ”When I was in Bolivia recently, the locals were amused by my pronunciation of their native grain quinoa as ‘keen-wah’. The local pronunciation was ‘key-no-ah’.”

Leave a question for Richard Cornish in the comments below or email him at: [email protected]南京夜网.au

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Tom Bellchambers wants to stay at Essendon and probably will. Stewart Crameri, Cale Hooker, Scott Gumbleton, Tayte Pears, Jason Winderlich and Jake Melksham want to be there next year too.
Nanjing Night Net

Essendon’s list of uncontracted players includes some of its best and most improved players, and odds are most of them will remain. Jobe Watson re-signed for four years earlier this season with the investigation in full swing.

Dyson Heppell, Jake Carlisle and others have shown faith too. Whatever happened at Windy Hill last year, the players have hardly rushed for the door. But, for those who wish to leave, things may have become complicated.

In an ordinary year, Essendon would be in an enviable position, approaching the finals then the off-season. A young, improving list that has spent much of the season in the top four. Joe Daniher in the wings. A bunch of tall players that they can’t play all at once, meaning the sort of trade table clout the club hasn’t had in a long while. Motivation to be make a few moves, given their salary cap has become a little clogged.

For the players, this would have meant good things too. Whether he stays or takes a big offer from Greater Western Sydney, Bellchambers, for instance, is due a decent pay rise.

This is not exactly an average year, though. Whatever happens to their club, the players’ wait isn’t over. The fact the report handed to the AFL from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had the word ”interim” stamped on it says that and has made the Bombers’ off-season a talking point.

It means it could be harder for players who want to move, given the penalties that may come. It may be harder for those delisted to find a new home. It could become more difficult for the club to shake some change, to make room on their list, to perhaps nab an extra first-round pick or two.

”I haven’t picked up that feeling, that clubs won’t go near Essendon,” said one player manager. ”But I think everyone’s waiting to see what happens.”

Others have more trepidation. Players such as Bellchambers or Crameri could cost clubs a first-round pick, not to mention a lot of money. They wonder what it might mean if ASADA’s work isn’t done. Could they trade for a player, only to lose him for a long time should evidence be found?

Having talked Kurt Tippett out of Adelaide last year, Sydney had no choice but to stick by him when he was suspended for six months after the AFL finished investigating his against-the-rules deals with the Crows.

They coped. But the thought of bringing a player in, with no idea of what ASADA or even the World Anti-Doping Agency might do, makes some nervous.

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Bulldogs coach Des Hasler has expressed his frustrations over the NRL officiating after a staggering 23 penalties were blown in Monday night’s loss to the Gold Coast.
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The night was a costly one for the Bulldogs, whose top-four prospects were all but ended by the 26-16 defeat, while likely losing front-rower Sam Kasiano for several weeks with a knee injury. But the refereeing became a talking point, after the officials found infringements at better than a penalty every four minutes.

“Go and ask Daniel Anderson,” Hasler said. “I don’t know. I can’t get a read on it. I think last week, we were 12 penalties against us, the week before that we only had six. Go and ask the people in charge. I can’t get a read on it.”

His counterpart, Gold Coast’s John Cartwright, said the ruck interpretations made officiating a “lottery”.

“I hate seeing a game with that many penalties,” Cartwright said. “No-one wins. Too many stoppages for the players, too many stoppages for the fans, your key playmakers don’t get any advantage from it when there’s that many penalties, because it’s so slow. The continuity of the game is affected.

“The way the game is refereed now, you can state a case for a penalty at every ruck, and I’ve got not doubt that they will state a case for every penalty that was given. But it’s a fine line. Some referees will let the game flow, and if the game does flow, the odd slow play-the-ball doesn’t really matter.

“But if it’s constantly penalised at the ruck, the game does become a bit of a lottery.”

Titans co-captain Nate Myles said he had been frustrated by the stoppages.

“Some of them were definite penalties, and some weren’t,” he said. “Sometimes, you think they do it to even things up, so they just blow it. I’m not sure what to say, but it gets a bit frustrating.”

Hasler, though, did add that the officials did not cost the Bulldogs the contest.

“We didn’t help our own cause, and we certainly helped theirs,” he said. “There were a number of times where we had the game and were unable to go on with it. We were really sloppy in a lot of areas.

“It was our opportunity to get away from that congestion (in the top eight). We’ve got a tough fortnight ahead of us now.”

The Titans have now snuck into the top eight as a result of their win, while the Bulldogs’ chances of making the top four are all but over. “It was a game played like there was a lot on the line,” Cartwright said.

“It was just really pleasing from our angle. We haven’t won a game like that for a while.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel now. We’ve worked our way back into the eight, and we certainly want to stay there.”

Kasiano, meanwhile, will have scans on Tuesday, but the Bulldogs were already resigned to losing the front-rower at least for their match against Canberra on Saturday. “I think it’ll be a number of weeks,” Hasler said.

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CAPTAIN Ruben Zadkovich remains “100 per cent committed” to leading the Newcastle Jets but has not ruled out an overseas move.
Nanjing Night Net

Zadkovich resumed training with the A-League club yesterday after a “meet and greet” at English Championship outfit Millwall that included putting “the boots on a couple of days and a bit of a light session”.

Millwall, who last week signed Queens Park Rangers midfielder Shaun Derry on a month loan, have not tabled an offer for Zadkovich, whom they first approached in July.

The transfer window closes on August 31.

“I’m not expecting anything to change in the next two weeks,” he said.

“Obviously the window is still open and you never know.

“But I can look you in the face and say I am 100 per cent committed to Newcastle.

“I am still the captain of Newcastle and this is where I want to play my football.

“I would not have re-signed here if it was any different.”

Zadkovich has two years remaining on his Jets contract but has previously played in England at Queens Park Rangers, Notts County and Derby County.

“I am never going to not show interest in playing at a higher level,” Zadkovich said.

“That is what we all aspire to do. That’s why we play football – to play at the best level we can.”

Zadkovich said he had formed a “pretty strong” relationship with Millwall manager Steve Lomas.

“In the end there is figure on my head here if a club wants a transfer,” he said.

“It is basically up to clubs to put an offer forward.

“I think it was a money issue for them.

“Their club captain Danny Shittu was a first-team pro when I was a youngster at Queens Park Rangers. He helped me fit in with the boys and made sure I got to know everyone.

“That was important for their manager to see what type of person I was around the squad.

“Things went really well, but in the end I’m still here at Newcastle and stoked to be.”

The Millwall trip also gave Zadkovich an opportunity to visit his eldest brother, London based solicitor Luke.

It continued a varied pre-season which started with a trek to the Top End to visit middle brother Simon and included a recall to the Socceroos squad and two caps at the East Asia Cup.

“It is such a long pre-season here,” Zadkovich said.

“When you are training day-in, day-out for four months without serious competition, it can get mundane.

“For me to go away and have a bit of time with the national squad, to get up and see my brother up north and top it off by seeing my brother in London has been perfect.

“Now I still have a solid two-month stint here with my team.”

Zadkovich was unsure if he would play in the trial against Bonnyrigg tomorrow night.

With Zenon Caravella returning from an Achilles problem, Ben Kantarovski and Josh Brillante are likely to start in midfield against the White Eagles.

“There are plenty of guys there who can play as a holding midfielder,” Zadkovich said.

“We have a really strong squad. It is young, it is feisty and the boys are really hungry.

“That is perfect for me, I would never want to be at a club where it was easy to get a spot in the he starting team. I always want to be pushed.”

Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby confirmed that the Jets were still in the hunt for the “right central defender”.

Sydney-based Italian defender Vincenzo Ricciardi trained yesterday but has been let go.

AAP reports: A-League club Melbourne Victory are determined not to lose Socceroo Mark Milligan for anything less than top dollar – and would prefer to keep him.

English Premier League side Crystal Palace are chasing Milligan, and the Victory said they had made an offer.

But the Victory said it was well below market value – believed to be around $500,000 with add-ons.

Postecoglou said Milligan was the best player in Australia right now, and did not want to sell a player central to his A-League plans.

“We value him very, very highly. We’d expect them to meet our valuation of him.

“He’s the best player at our club, he’s the best player in the country at the moment.

“I don’t think we need to be out there trying to flog him, and we’re certainly not doing it for the money,” he said.

Milligan has two years left on his Victory contract.

RUBEN ZADKOVICH

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PLAY-OFF fringe-dwellers Newcastle will get a final chance to stake their claim as genuine contenders when they host the fourth-placed Storm on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

The resurgent Knights are yet to beat a top-four team this season and the match against the defending NRL premiers will be their last regular season opportunity.

One of seven sides to have benefited from the luck of the NRL’s uneven draw, seventh-placed Newcastle (25 points) were allocated just five games against the Roosters (36), Rabbitohs (34), Sea Eagles (31) and Storm (31).

Those teams have occupied the top four spots for most of the season and, apart from the potential for a change of order among themselves in the last four rounds, will almost certainly hold those positions heading into the finals.

Two teams, the Bulldogs and Warriors, were scheduled two games against all four teams, yet the Knights, Broncos, Cowboys, Storm, Panthers, Dragons and Roosters had just five.

The Raiders, Titans and Tigers were one short of the full complement, with seven games each against the four most consistent teams of 2012. Manly and Souths had the maximum possible of six each against their fellow top-four dwellers, and the Sharks and Eels had six each.

Apart from being blanked 32-0 by Manly at Brookvale five months ago, the Knights have held their own in their three other games against the big four.

The most recent was a 28-12 home loss to the Roosters on July 28, and they were still in the hunt trailing 18-12 until the title favourites finished with two tries in the last seven minutes.

“We matched it with them today physically, which was important,” Knights coach Wayne Bennett said after that game. “It got away at the end, more with our poor execution. We just put ourselves under too much pressure and missed too many opportunities, but we can fix that up.”

It was a similar story at ANZ Stadium on June 1, when Newcastle gave as good as they got in a 25-18 loss to Souths in a game in which both teams were without their Origin representatives.

The closest the Knights have come to toppling a top-four team was at AAMI Park on June 16, when they led the Storm 14-10 deep into the second half only to concede a try to Billy Slater in the 69th minute for a 16-14 defeat.

“Sometimes you lose and you win, so I hope today was one of those days – what we got out of it as a team and we realise how good we can be,” Bennett said after that match. “We played some great footy. It was a wonderful football game, played in tremendous spirit by both teams, but we keep walking away with the effort but not any points at the moment.”

Since then, the Knights have lost just once – to the Roosters – in a six-game stretch that included away victories over the fifth-placed Bulldogs and sixth-placed Sharks.

The Storm have won their past six against the Knights but the past five were at their AAMI Park fortress. Melbourne’s last appearance showing at Hunter Stadium was on March 20, 2010, and the Storm won 20-14, but the Knights hold an overall 9-4 advantage in Newcastle.

Speaking after their last-gasp 18-14 victory over the Sharks last Saturday, which pushed them past Canberra (24) into seventh spot and within one of Cronulla (26), Bennett was buoyant about his team’s chances against the Storm.

“We go in there in a good shape and in a good mood because we’re playing gutsy, and they’ll compete for everything and we’ll compete for everything, so it will be a good test for us,” he said.

“We played them six or seven weeks ago and it was a big game . . . and we got beaten by two points. We just got run down at the end, so it will be interesting to see how we go this time.”

Centre Dane Gagai, whose two tries against Cronulla included the match winner, said the Knights had grown in confidence since pushing Melbourne all the way.

“Ever since we played that game the effort from the boys has been there the whole time . . . We’ve just got to execute a few things a bit better,” Gagai said.

“Since that Storm game, we’ve really taken . . . a bit of passion for the boys out of it and made sure we’re not letting each other down.”

The match review committee found Newcastle’s Kade Snowden and Cronulla’s Ben Pomeroy had no case to answer after both players were reported last Saturday.

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Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens says Raider Blake Ferguson has an ”eight-week” audition for a World Cup role, starting with a clash against one of the favourites to fill the job vacated by Justin Hodges’ season-ending Achilles injury.
Nanjing Night Net

The Raiders face the Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, and Canterbury centre Josh Morris is one of the leading contenders to take Hodges’ spot.

While Sheens said it was too soon to comment on who would replace the veteran Queenslander in the Kangaroos line-up, he did say form over the final rounds of the NRL home-and-away season, along with finals, would be the deciding factor in who would partner Greg Inglis in the centres. The ninth-placed Raiders have four games left to qualify for the finals.

Morris and Sydney Rooster Michael Jennings appear to be the frontrunners to fill Hodges’ boots. But Ferguson made a stunning return from a six-week alcohol-related lay-off to score two tries in the Raiders’ loss to the Roosters at the weekend. Sheens will be looking to see whether the Raiders’ centre can continue that form for the rest of the year.

”I don’t want to comment yet on who could come in, but any player playing well is eligible,” he told Fairfax Media on Monday.

”The form over the remaining four rounds and then finals, the next four to eight weeks, will be the decisive factor in who plays in the World Cup.”

The Kangaroos coach said there were plenty of options for the World Cup in England and Wales in October and November. ”Both Morris and Jennings are both playing well at the moment,” Sheens said. ”There are plenty of options at centre, including [the Cowboys’] Brent Tate as well.”

Raiders centre Jarrod Croker had no doubt Ferguson could take his game to Test level.

”I think Fergo’s definitely ready [to play for Australia], he’s only one game back and we saw what he was like,” Croker said.

”But I don’t think anyone’s thinking about that at the moment, we’re just worried about the next week and the game coming ahead. But I’ve got no doubt if Fergo was given that jersey he’d be fine.”

Raiders coach David Furner said while Ferguson was fantastic at the weekend, Canberra players would have a better chance of earning national duty if the team made the finals.

”If he carries on with that form [then he’s a chance], but as a team we’ve got to strive to get into the semi-finals and that gives you the best chance as an individual to get into a representative side at the end of the year,” Furner said.

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As the Canberra Raiders hope young gun Anthony Milford will decide to stay with the club next season, they could be reliant on his decision-making against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.
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Coach David Furner said on Monday that captain and playmaker Terry Campese was ”unlikely” to play against the Bulldogs after a collision with teammate David Shillington in the 28-22 loss to the Sydney Roosters on the weekend, raising the possibility of Milford taking his place.

Campese had scans on Monday afternoon and will see a specialist on Wednesday.

With clouds also over second-rower Joel Thompson (food poisoning) and workhorse Shaun Fensom (thumb), Furner said he would not know his final line-up until late in the week. Thompson was expected to be right for Saturday, but there was less confidence about Fensom.

The Raiders were confident Campese had not fractured his eye socket. The main concern is his eye, which was still closed when Furner visited him on Sunday.

”We’re just going to wait on the specialist on Wednesday and then make a decision,” Furner told Fairfax Media. ”At this stage, he’s probably unlikely.

”I’ll obviously name him and hope he’s right. It’s something you can’t take any risks on with the eye.”

Dragons-bound halfback Sam Williams (ankle) is still with the rehabilitation group and Saturday could come too soon for the 22-year-old’s return to first grade.

Which means Milford looks the most likely to cover for five-eighth Campese.

It would also pave the way for a recall for out-of-favour fullback Reece Robinson, who was omitted from the Roosters clash.

Youngster Mitch Cornish, who has been playing for Mounties in the NSW Cup, is not expected to get a call-up.

”There is a chance Tony goes into the halves, you’ve got young Mitch Cornish,” Furner said.

”Where Sam’s at, I’ll know a bit more tomorrow, so we’ve got some guys there that can certainly fill the role.”

Milford is seeking a release from his contract for next year to return home to Queensland to be closer to his father, Halo, who had a heart attack 18 months ago.

It has the Brisbane Broncos salivating at the chance to sign one of the NRL’s most promising juniors.

If he does wear the No.6 jersey, Milford will need to put the turmoil aside to focus on the game.

Raiders centre Jarrod Croker was confident Milford would have no problem doing exactly that.

”I haven’t asked him about it, I haven’t talked to him about it one bit, but as far as I’ve seen, Tony’s been his normal self around training,” he said.

”His training’s been fine, his attitude and him in general has been no different as far as I’m concerned. It hasn’t really affected him.”

Campese’s loss isn’t just as the playmaker, it’s also his leadership.

It’s an area the Raiders have had to cover regularly over the past three seasons because of his knee and groin injuries.

Croker felt the Raiders had a strong leadership group and would be able to cover any void left by their captain.

”Josh McCrone will stand up, I know he will, and myself included in the backs, myself and [Blake Ferguson] will have to step up the leadership there,” Croker said.

”Our forward pack is a massive part of our leadership group and they’re going to put their hands up and rip in.”

Furner was expecting to name an extended squad on Tuesday and a final line-up might not be known until game day.

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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on Monday said those upset by his disputed landslide election victory could “go hang”.
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The 89-year-old vowed never to let go of his victory as his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai lodged a petition in court challenging the election outcome.

“Those who were hurt by defeat can go hang if they so wish,” Mr Mugabe told thousands at a rally to honour heroes of the country’s liberation wars.

“Never will we go back on our victory,” he said in his first public address since the July 31 vote.

Mr Mugabe was declared the winner with 61 per cent of the ballots, against Mr Tsvangirai’s 34 per cent.

He insisted that the Zimbabwean people’s choice in government was clear.

“We are delivering democracy on a platter. We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai meanwhile vowed to expose “glaring evidence of the stolen vote” through a court bid.

His lawyers on Friday filed a petition at the Constitutional Court challenging the poll, which extended Mr Mugabe’s 33-year rule by another five years.

“All I can see is a nation in mourning over the audacity of so few to steal from so many,” he said in a statement.

But “the thief left so much evidence at the scene of crime as we shall expose in the people’s petition that we filed last week”.

The elections were to end a shaky power-sharing government formed by Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai to avoid a tip into conflict in the aftermath of a bloody run-off election in 2008.

Mr Tsvangirai’s defeat has relegated his Movement for Democratic Change back to the opposition benches.

Local observers have called the polls flawed and Western powers have raised serious doubts over the vote.

However, regional organisations the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) were less critical.

AFP

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Sri Lanka’s Muslim leaders closed down a new mosque in Colombo on Monday after attacks by a Buddhist mob revived simmering religious tensions and sparked US concern.
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The Sri Lanka Muslim Council said it had agreed to shut its mosque at Grandpass and move to an older place of worship which the government had earlier earmarked for demolition as part of the capital’s development.

“We have a compromise deal worked out last night,” council president N. M. Ameen told Agence France-Presse.

“The government will rescind the order acquiring the old mosque premises and will grant more land and help with renovations and improvements.

“From today, we are out of the new mosque.”

Buddhist-led mobs vandalised the new mosque, including pelting stones at the building on Saturday, wounding at least four people. Sporadic clashes also erupted on Sunday despite a heavy police presence in the neighbourhood.

The violence comes after Buddhist hardliners attacked several Muslim-run businesses outside Colombo in March, one of a series of incidents targeting the minority group.

The US embassy in Colombo has expressed concern at the latest violence and urged authorities to prosecute those responsible.

The US, which in March initiated a UN Human Rights Council resolution against Sri Lanka over alleged war crimes against Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, also urged Colombo to ensure religious freedom.

Seventy per cent of Sri Lanka’s 20-million-strong population are Buddhists, while Muslims are the second-largest religious group, making up just under 10 per cent.

Buddhists had objected to the setting up of the new mosque near a Buddhist temple even though it was built to replace the older mosque earmarked for demolition in line with city works.

A night curfew was lifted at dawn on Monday, a police spokesman said, adding that the situation was calm and no fresh incidents had been reported since the government announced the mosque’s closure on Sunday night.

The government held lengthy talks with Muslim and Buddhist leaders on Sunday and announced what Technology Minister Champika Ranawaka described as a “just solution” acceptable to all sides.

“Through a just solution, we have now peacefully solved the issue,” the minister said.

As part of the deal, Buddhists agreed to cut down a Banyan tree, a key Buddhist symbol, that had overshadowed the old mosque and had originally prevented its expansion, residents said.

Hundreds of police, including elite Special Task Force commandos, guarded the area on Monday as workers used power tools to bring down the tree, also located in the Grandpass area.

AFP

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