It might look as if Ange Postecoglou is going back to the future – in more ways than one – with his capture of Kiwi international forward Kosta Barbarouses.
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It is, of course, the second time in a couple of years that the Melbourne Victory coach has signed the nuggety New Zealander.

Postecoglou threw Barbarouses a lifeline in 2010 when the then Brisbane Roar coach plucked him from Wellington Phoenix, where he emerged as a teenager but played only 21 games in two years. The youngster became an important goalscorer for the Queensland club as it took its first A-League title.

Now he has linked with him again after two character-forming years for Barbarouses in Europe, first with Russian club Alania Vladikavkaz and then on a year’s loan with Greek giant Panathinaikos.

Another young Kiwi player, Marco Rojas, starred under Postecoglou last year. He also came from Wellington and his career had stalled before Postecoglou wrought such a transformation that he finished last year’s campaign as A-League player of the year and with a move to Bundesliga club Stuttgart all wrapped up.

Postecoglou didn’t sign Rojas – his deal was inked in the final days of Ernie Merrick’s time at Victory – but the current Victory coach helped the youngster blossom. Victory fans hope he can work a similar effect on Barbarouses.

But don’t expect the latter to seamlessly fill the former’s boots.

”We are different sort of players, similar in some sort of degree. I play with a bit more directness. We both like to play quick football but in different ways,” Barbarouses said on Monday.

Postecoglou said: ”He’s more mature, he’s probably [had] some life experiences that have rounded him off … I think he looked a more mature player, which you would expect three years on.”

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GENERALLY speaking, the verges of Australian roads are noticeably cleaner than they were before big government-sponsored anti-littering campaigns began to take effect.
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Until then, all sorts of rubbish including food wrappers and cigarette butts regularly went out vehicle windows, and the roads in and out of many towns would be considered a disgrace by modern standards.

Roadside rubbish has not disappeared entirely, of course, but most of our major inter-urban thoroughfares are neater than they once were.

From time to time, however, outbreaks of widespread dumping take place in our region, the latest being a veritable mountain of rubbish along both sides of the link road joining the F3 Freeway and suburban Wallsend.

A similar problem was brought to public attention in 2006, when the Newcastle Herald revealed the piles of industrial and household waste that were being left along bush tracks beside the link road.

Then, as now, much of the rubbish was being deliberately dumped, rather than thrown in passing from car windows.

Steep increases in tip fees at Newcastle City Council’s nearby Summerhill waste disposal facility were blamed by some for the 2006 problem.

A council ranger quoted at the time downplayed this link, saying “the people who dump now will continue to dump regardless of tip prices”.

Tip fees have increased in the intervening seven years.

Cameron Park businessman Phillip Graham, who brought the current problem to the Herald’s attention, says Lake Macquarie’s costs compare unfavourably with those of Mackay in Queensland. An online cost comparison shows tip charges in Queensland are typically much less than in NSW.

There may be good reasons for this, but the higher the fees, the more likely that some people will feel justified in breaking the law for economic reasons.

In the short term, the state government and the two relevant councils, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, should remove the offending rubbish and do what they can to block vehicular access to nearby dirt tracks.

Finding a mix of policies to dissuade further dumping in the longer term is a harder task.

But the link road is a major entry route for visitors to this region, and obvious piles of roadside litter do nothing for the Hunter’s reputation.

We can hardly expect others to care if we, as residents, do not display sufficient civic pride.

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If the Bulldogs are to repeat their efforts of last year, and perhaps better them, they will have to do it the hard way. A position outside the top four beckons for the Bulldogs, who also lost prop Sam Kasiano to injury on a costly night.

Defeat at the hands of the Gold Coast leaves the Bulldogs five points outside the top four with four rounds remaining; relying on Melbourne or Manly to lose three of their final regular-season matches appears far-fetched.

The Titans, meanwhile, have edged back into the top eight, due to a superior points differential over Canberra.

The Bulldogs had their chances. Time and again they found themselves with strong scoring opportunities, but they could not finish many of them off, and they paid their price, in a match which included 23 penalties.

It took the Bulldogs the best part of half an hour to get going. The Titans were strongest over the opening stages, shocking the Bulldogs with a sixth minute try, when winger Kevin Gordon lept high above his opposite Sam Perrett to take an Aidan Sezer kick. Bulldogs prop Sam Kasiano did his best to shake both the game and Titans fullback David Mead up; his ninth minute hit on the flyer lifted his side and his linebreak a minute later put his side on the front foot.

What appeared to be an accidental crusher tackle on Titans prop Ryan James by Kasiano brought a bit of fire out of the two sides, and especially their captains. Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis and Titans prop Nate Myles never need a formal invitation to start anything, and when they took out their mouthguards it was clear they meant business.

But so did the Titans. The Bulldogs had won three straight prior to the contest, but the Titans hadn’t given up on a finals spot. Fullback David Mead’s speed allowed him to put Gordon over for his second.

The Bulldogs, who had squandered a number of chances, finally got on the scoreboard after 26 minutes, when five-eighth Josh Reynolds combined with fullback Josh Morris, whose one-handed offload put Sam Perrett over.

Both sides were being frustrated by the officiating. Ennis was having his usual running battle with the referees, but the Titans were getting in on the act. No-one was particularly happy – and that included the referees themselves.

They called the skippers – Ennis and Titans co-captain Greg Bird – over to lay down the law. Ennis was quick to respond, telling referee Adam Devcich: “You guys are ruining the contest because we’re trying to compete.”

By halftime, each side had conceded a remarkable eight penalties. The Bulldogs had also lost Kasiano, who limped from the field just as Sezer extended the Titans’ lead to six points.

The Bulldogs continued to pepper the Titans’ line after the break. Second-rower Tony Williams, who had lost the ball short just before halftime, was penalised a few minutes after the break for a double movement.

Halfback Trent Hodkinson finally broke Gold Coast’s defence down after 48 minutes, darting over on the last tackle, but Krisnan Inu’s missed conversion enabled the Titans to hold onto the lead.

The Bulldogs felt they had the lead after 52 minutes, when Hodkinson’s kick appeared to cannon of Titans centre Jamie Dowling’s head into the arms of Reynolds. But the on-field officials believed there might have been a touch by Bulldog Josh Jackson, and the video officials were not given enough evidence to overturn the decision.

It proved critical. Four minutes later, Luke O’Dwyer’s wonderful inside ball gave Mead the space and ultimately the try. Reynolds scored with seven minutes remaining, but Gordon’s third in the final minutes, following Bird’s superb offload, finished the Bulldogs off. A sudden death finals campaign awaits.

GOLD COAST 26 (K Gordon 3 D Mead tries A Sezer 5 goals) bt BULLDOGS 16 (T Hodkinson S Perrett J Reynolds tries T Hodkinson 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Referee: Adam Devcich, Luke Phillips. Crowd: 10,373.http://www.smh南京夜网.au/rugby-league/rugby-league-match-centre/live-bulldogs-v-titans-20130808-2rl66.html

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As Essendon fights to save its place in the finals, West Coast premiership veteran Dean Cox says he would be “happy” if the Eagles slipped into the top eight at the Bombers’ expense.
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Cox has joined North Melbourne coach Brad Scott in declaring his team would not feel embarrassed if it won a finals reprieve should the Bombers be stripped of premiership points as a result of the drugs probe.

“I’d be happy with it,” Cox said on Monday. “It wouldn’t bother me. I think that’s out of everyone’s control.”

The besieged Bombers have been mauled in their past three matches but their finalsl spot, on points alone, is guaranteed as they are four games ahead of ninth-placed Carlton and the tenth-placed Eagles. Both clubs are sitting two games adrift of eighth-placed Port Adelaide.

But the Bombers could have their premiership points docked, and their spot in the finals denied, should they be found to have brought the game into disrepute.

The Eagles have endured an indifferent campaign and would almost certainly need two wins from their remaining three games, against Geelong (Patersons Stadium), Collingwood (MCG) and Adelaide (Patersons Stadium), if they were to finish ninth. The stumbling Blues, now missing an injured Chris Judd, finish their campaign against Richmond, Essendon and Port Adelaide.

“If we play finals because we come ninth, and the AFL allow you to do that, well, so be it,” Cox said.

“We’ll be playing fifth and we’ll give them a good crack.”

The inconsistent Kangaroos are in 11th spot, a game behind the Eagles and Blues, but have what looms as a torrid end to the season, facing Essendon, Hawthorn and Collingwood.

Scott recently said he would accept a finals berth if it came at the expense of the Bombers.

“You never look a gift horse in the mouth, but I mean our situation is we’ve got some of the best sides in the competition (to come),” he said.

“If you think we’ve had a tough fixture to this point, well we’ve got some pretty tough games on the way home.

“But we look at them as opportunities, and whatever happens with the final eight if we finish ninth and we get a spot in the finals, then we want to make sure we’re in good form and ready to attack the best teams in the comp.”

There is growing frustration among rival club bosses that the Bombers’ saga is overshadowing the season, and needs to be resolved before the finals.

Blues coach Mick Malthouse has urged the AFL Commission to take a strong stand if, and when, it hands down punishment.

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It has nowhere near the importance of other challenges Essendon could mount against off-field charges, but a two-match ban to veteran Dustin Fletcher has the club weighing up another complicated matter, this time on-field.
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Yet even then, those same off-field happenings could affect whether the Bombers decide to contest Fletcher’s suspension for rough conduct at the tribunal on Tuesday.

If the defender accepts the penalty and misses the next two games, he will at least have one opportunity to surpass the club record for games played in the final round.

But if he challenges the verdict and loses, he will miss the final three games of the regular season.

Ordinarily, Fletcher would still be able to eclipse Simon Madden’s record of 378 matches by playing his 379th in the first week of finals, given the Bombers have won enough games to earn a spot in September.

But it is possible the AFL could strip Essendon of its premiership points this season because of the supplements scandal, meaning the club would not play finals.

Further complicating the issue is the fact Fletcher is 38 and there is every chance he will retire at the end of the season.

The Bombers also have a decision on whether to accept a one-match ban for a rough conduct against Paddy Ryder, or challenge it at the tribunal and risk a two-game suspension.

Essendon football general manager Danny Corcoran said on Monday: ”We will look at both the ‘Fletch’ and Paddy incidents before deciding tomorrow morning on whether we have grounds to challenge the sanctions handed down.”

There could yet be a scenario where Fletcher breaks Madden’s record with the last game of his career, whether that be in round 23 or the first week of the finals.

Should the dual All-Australian accept a two-game ban, it would also give him the dubious honour of having pleaded to, or been found guilty of, more match review panel or tribunal charges than anyone in the history of the game.

He shares the record of 15 guilty charges with former St Kilda hard man Steven Baker.

Fletcher’s bump to the head of West Coast’s Jamie Cripps after he delivered a handpass in Sunday’s game at Etihad Stadium was judged as reckless conduct,

medium impact and high contact.

Chairman Mark Fraser said on Monday the panel considered the incident a ”straightforward” level three rough conduct charge because Fletcher was late, chose to bump and made high contact, and jumped.

Cripps was also the victim in the Ryder incident, which was similar to the Fletcher bump, except the conduct was deemed ”negligent” and the impact ”low”.

In other incidents assessed, Gold Coast forward Campbell Brown has already signalled his intentions to contest a three-game ban he received for a level three misconduct offence against Melbourne’s James Strauss on Saturday night.

Melbourne rookie Mitch Clisby was offered a three-game ban for a level four rough conduct charge against Alex Sexton, of Gold Coast, which came after an investigation by the match review panel, rather than the normal analysis of video footage.

Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli was cleared for his ”chicken wing” sling tackle on Saint Jarryn Geary, after the panel judged that, while the action was potentially reportable, there wasn’t enough force to constitute a charge.

St Kilda’s Adam Schneider and North Melbourne’s Aaron Black can accept reprimands for weekend incidents.

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