Wonder Woman breaks ‘superhero glass ceiling’

That ol’ argument that female superheroes don’t sell? Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has given it a final death blow. Or, more accurately, around 300 million of them.
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The blockbuster film, Warner Bros’ long-anticipated pitch at the genre, has pulled in a record-setting $US223 million ($300 million) across the global box office.

Not only has the film instantly recouped its $US149 million ($200 million) budget and then some, but it’s become among the biggest superhero film openings ever, Deadline reports.

The film, starring Gadot as the beloved Amazonian warrior, had a stronger opening than a number of its male-focused Marvel counterparts, including Iron Man, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and their sequels, and DC predecessor Man of Steel.

It also broke the opening box office record for a movie directed by a woman, pulling in around $US101 million ($136 million) at the US box office alone, easily eclipsing the previous record held by Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which debuted to $US85.1 million in 2015.

In Hollywood where money talks, there’s belief the film’s massive response might finally end the traditional apprehension around female-led superhero blockbusters – not to mention, female leads and directors.

Ahead of the film’s opening, director Jenkins discussed the opportunity to reverse the big studios’ gender bias when it came to the genre, citing failed attempts at female superhero films like Halle Berry’s Catwoman and Jennifer Garner’s Elektra in the mid-’00s.

“Money moves the world and I think the tentpole industry started and there was a belief system, that was true for a long time, that teenage boys were driving that,” Jenkins told Business Insider last week.

“I really do think the trepidation was there were failed attempts and then that wasn’t who you were targeting for such a massive movie, so I think that has really changed.”

The industry has slowly listened to audience enthusiasm at addressing the imbalance, with a Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson, a Batgirl movie directed by Joss Whedon, and Gotham City Sirens, an all-female DC villains film led by Suicide Squad’s Margot Robbie, among the upcoming projects.

Despite the stellar box office and strong reviews (the film’s currently at a ludicrous 93 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes), Wonder Woman’s debut was not without its predictable controversies.

At least seven official legal complaints have been filed against Austin, Texas theatre Alamo Drafthouse, after the cinema hosted a series of ‘women’s only’ screenings of the film over the weekend.

Last week, the city’s mayor went viral after replying to complaints from local men crying “reverse sexism” with a tongue-in-cheek letter mocking their “uninformed and sexist rantings”. 52% of the audience for #WonderWoman was female. Proves once again: women affect box office, men WILL watch female leads & it can make big $ pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/3mhXkmQpEg??? Alicia Malone (@aliciamalone) June 4, 2017

REVIEW: San Cisco – Cambridge Hotel – Sunday, June 4

San Cisco’s great pop escape TweetFacebookThe How Much Does Your Love Cost singer sounded flat and appeared disinterested.
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The heaving “San Cisco” chant before show time, at the work and school-friendly time of 7.30pm, guaranteed this would be a high-energy evening.

San Cisco opened with the new songDid You Get What You Came For?and the crowd responded with a definite “yes” by dancing up a storm.

Over the next 70 minutes San Cisco kept the pace energetic, introducing a host of infectious new material from their third album The Water, and a selection of their most popular tracks like Run, Fred Astaire and Too Much Time Together.

The female-dominatedcrowd lapped upevery minute. Over the course of the evening the amount of girls sittingon their partner’s shoulders sprang up like daisies in a meadow.

Frontman Jordi Davieson handled the majority of the vocals and even delivered a solo acoustic version of Waiting For The Weekend in the encore, but drummer Scarlett Stevens is the real star of the band.

Whenever she joined Davieson on vocals in tracks likeToo Much Time Togetherand SloMo the harmonies soared. Stevens had her own moment to shine on the sugary Magic andproved she’s definitely under utilised.

One criticism generally slinged atSan Cisco is their lack of danger. They appeared like four sweet kids-next-door types when they broke onto the scene in 2012 with their single Awkward and little has happened since tochangethat perception.

The Water continues the development of dark sexual energy San Ciscobegan to exhibit on their 2014 album Gracetownin songs like Run. The Water’s title track and The Distance were propelled along by a throbbing bass line andsynths, giving it a more sinister edge than their cleaner studio versions.

There aren’t many n indie acts doing pop better than San Cisco. And right now we all need a pop song.

Giants climb to the top of the ladder with win over Essendon

Giants take down Bombers | Photos Jeremy Cameron of the Giants celebrates with fans after winning the round 11 AFL match against the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium on June 3. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
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Matt de Boer of the Giants celebrates kicking a goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium.Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Adam Tomlinson of the Giants kicks the ball during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Shane Mumford of the Giants handpasses the ball during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Toby Greene of the Giants takes a mark in front of Mark Baguley of the Bombers during the round 11 AFL match at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Brendon Goddard of the Bombers walks out onto the ground with his son for his 300th game. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Dyson Heppell of the Bombers is tackled during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Lachie Whitfield of the Giants handpasses during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Toby Greene of the Giants marks the ball during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants marks the ball during the round 11 AFL match at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti of the Bombers is tackled by Sam J Reid of the Giants. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images

Jeremy Cameron and Lachie Whitfield of the Giants celebrate winning the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Giants players sing their team song after winning the round 11 AFL match against the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Heath Shaw of the Giants reacts during the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants celebrates with fans after winning the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

TweetFacebook Giants take down BombersHighlights from the round 11 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Essendon Bombers at Spotless Stadium on June 3. Photos: Getty ImagesGreater Western Sydney haven’t yet scaled Everest, but after five-and-a-half seasons, they have reached the summit of the AFL’s K2.

For the first time in the expansion club’s history, the Giants will end a round atop the ladder after they beat Essendon by 16 points at Spotless Stadium on Saturday, their fourth win in a row.

The Bombers were far from embarrassed in veteran Brendon Goddard’s 300th game, and gave the Giants a scare when Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti kicked goals in quick succession midway through the final quarter as Essendon, with the marginclosing to just nine points, but the men in red and black are again in the red, having lost two in a row, falling to 5-6, with a game against in-form Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium to come before the Dons’ bye.

The Dons will rue some untidy kicking for goal and weren’t helped by some dubious umpiring, but that shouldn’t detract from the Giants’ achievement.

They have reached this summit despite a horrendous run of injuries during the first half of the season, and a look at who’s to return before the finals–Steve Johnson, Brett Deledio, Rory Lobb, Jacob Hopper, Ryan Griffen, Nick Haynes, Devon Smith and Stephen Coniglio –should send a shiver down the spine of all their premiership rivals.

This GWS win was all the more meritorious given they were coming off a six-day break, and had returned from a trip to Perth last weekend.

Despite their casualties, the Giants are still fielding a team with plenty of supremely talented players every weekend.

Surely none have been moreinfluential in their climb to the top of the ladder than Josh Kelly, who at this rate could be underpaid next year regardless of whether he chooses to stay at GWS, or head back to Victoria to join North Melbourne or St Kilda.

This GWS win was all the more meritorious given they were coming off a six-day break, and had returned from a trip to Perth last weekend.

Despite their casualties, the Giants are still fielding a team with plenty of supremely talented players every weekend.

Surely none have been moreinfluential in their climb to the top of the ladder than Josh Kelly, who at this rate could be underpaid next year regardless of whether he chooses to stay at GWS, or head back to Victoria to join North Melbourne or St Kilda.

The highlight of that early period came from Tom Scully, who having missed last weekend’s win against West Coast returned with a beautiful running goal from just inside the boundary line 40 metres out.

Essendon were struggling to string the ball together with much fluency, but with little warning they clicked into gear. Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis were proving highly effective, while veterans Jobe Watson and Ben Howlett both showed signs they aren’t yet spent causes with classy baulks to set up majors for Conor McKenna and Orazio Fantasia respectively, as the Dons shot ahead with four majors in seven minutes.

GWS midfielders Callan Ward, Shiel and Scully had all been quiet, and coach Leon Cameron gave his charges a tongue-lashing at the quarter-time huddle.

The second term was a frustrating one for the Dons, who failed to take their chances in front of goal.

The Giants –despite their long injury list –still have too much class to let a team get off the hook.

GWS clawed their way to 16-point lead at half-time on the back of brilliance from the supremely talented Greene, Kelly and Whitfield.

Greene’s freakish efforts –which included a stunning overhead mark –appeared more remarkable given he looked to be labouring early in the game with an ankle injury.

The Giants threatened to break the game open but Essendon were determined, never allowing the margin to get beyond 27 points.

Merrett was terrific and a big reason his side threatened in the last quarter, while Martin Gleeson was solid in defence, and Watson found plenty of the ball in the clinches.

But for the fourth week in a row the Giants won a game by less than three goals.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.3 10.5 15.5 18.9 (117)

ESSENDON 5.3 7.7 10.10 15.11 (101)

GOALS: Greater Western Sydney–Greene 3, Scully 3, Williams 3, Lloyd, Shiel, Perryman, Cameron, Kelly, Whitfield, De Boer, Kennedy, Taranto.Essendon–Green 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Hooker 2, Fantasia 2, Bellchambers 2, McKenna, Myers, Daniher, Colyer.

BEST: GWS–Kelly, Greene, Williams, Whitfield, Shiel, Tomlinson.Essendon–Merrett, Gleeson, Watson, Bellchambers, Hooker.

INJURIES: GWS–Nil.Essendon:McKenna (leg).

UMPIRES:Donlon, McInerney, Fisher, O’Gorman.

CROWD:13,671 at Spotless Stadium.

The story, Giants climb to the top of the ladder with win over Essendon, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Suns forward Peter Wright kicks winning goal against West Coast

Gold Coast secures thrilling win | Photos Suns player Will Brodie is sprayed with Gatorade as he celebrates victory against the West Coast Eagle. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
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The Suns players celebrate victory after the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Sam Mitchell of the Eagles in action during the round 11 AFL match against the Gold Coast Suns. Photo by Jason O’Brien/AFL Media/Getty Images

West Coast Eagles player Mark Lecras takes a mark during the round 11 AFL match at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suns player Peter Wright celebrates with team mate Gary Ablett after kicking the winning goal against the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suns coach Rodney Eade congratulates Tom Lynch after the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Jason O’Brien/AFL Media/Getty Images

Suns player Peter Wright takes a mark before going on to kick the winning goal during the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Will Brodie and Pearce Hanley of the Suns are sprayed with Gatorade as they celebrate victory. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

West Coast players look dejected after losing the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suns player Steven May and West Coast Eagles player Jeremy McGovern compete for the ball. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

West Coast Eagles player Eric Mackenzie attempts to break away from the defense of Suns player Sean Lemmens. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suns player Tom Lynch gets above the pack during the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Suns player Jarrod Harbrow attempts to break away from the defence at Metricon Stadium. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

TweetFacebook Suns edge out EaglesHighlights of the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium on June 3, 2017. Photos: Getty ImagesThe Gold Coast Suns have held out the West Coast Eagles for their fourth win of the year, in a tight but mostly tame contest that, for long periods, it seemed neither side wanted to win.

It is the first time the Suns have beaten the Eagles since entering the competition in 2011.

The hero was Peter Wright, who snatched back the lead for his side with just 90 seconds remaining after being hit by Jarrod Harbrow, who played a superb game off half-back.

Gary Ablett also responded to renewed criticism of his form and commitment with 36 possessions, playing a critical role to get his side over the line in the dying minutes, while Pearce Hanley played his best game in the Suns colours since crossing fromthe Brisbane Lions.

Forward Tom Lynch provided excellent leadership and kicked three goals.

But boy, did they make hard work of it.

After taking a 15-point lead into the final quarter and dominating the Eagles around the ground for most of the game, they watched the Eagles cut the margin and then take a seven-point lead with JoshHill kicking his second with 20 minutes gone.

From there, the Suns finally found some urgency.

They squandered multiple opportunities, but eventually Brandon Matera chopped the lead back to four before Wright’s winner.

West Coast had been flat, with a long list of passengers, but the Suns would have only had themselves to blame had the Eagles pinched it.

The Suns had the better of the run of play in the first quarter, trouncing the Eagles’ disposal count and bettering them for clearances thanks to the dominance of Jarrod Witts in the centre square, but were inefficient with the ball, with the Eagles doing well to stymie their run off half-back.

When opportunities presented themselves, they were too often squandered.

Wright, normally a beautiful kick, hooked a long set shot; Michael Barlow attempted a banana from a set shot when a drop punt would have sufficed and Adam Saad and Lynch missed regulation snaps that both should have eaten.

Without Josh Kennedy at the other end, the Eagles made the most of half-chances.

Elliot Yeo threaded a snap from deep in one pocket while being corralled by Jesse Joyce; LukeShuey was left alone outside a contest for another and full-back Will Schofield crept forward and got away from Lynch for the Eagles’ third.

The visitors began to creep away early in the second quarter, with Jamie Cripps and Jeremy McGovern extending the Eagles’ lead to 14 points, McGovern ramming the latter shot home from 55 off a step.

But the Suns dominated possession again for the rest of the quarter, albeit much of it chipping across half-back and around the centre.

They had a stroke of good fortune when Lynch was the beneficiary of an absurd ruling against Eric McKenzie for rushing the ball out of bounds as he was all but falling over the line (the square-up came 10 minutes later when McGovern escaped sanction for a blatant handball out of play in the opposite Suns pocket).

Jarryd Lyons got another back for the Suns from a sharp handball into the corridor by Aaron Hall, and Wright gave the home side the lead when he converted from a pass by former Eagle Matt Rosa as the Suns began to break the Eagles’ defensive lines.

The third quarter see-sawed for 12 minutes, with multiple lead changes as both sides tried to press their claims on the match.

Yeo kicked two more for the Eagles, the first a clean set shot after a very short Sam Mitchell chip, while the second found him on the end of a coast-to-coast chain of possessions through the middle.

It was the Suns who were able to wrest the initiative and the advantage, with Lynch snapping truly for his third and Aaron Hall pinning Brad Sheppard in the goal square.

Then Lynch found a running Ablett in the centre, whose kick found an open Alex Sexton.

Harbrow extended the Suns lead to a game-high 15 points late in the quarter, and he was also instrumental in defending that lead to the end of the quarter.

They’ve got a favourable run home, but on the evidence of this game neither of these aspirants look like genuine finals quality.

GOLD COAST 2.5 5.10 9.10 11.14 (80)

WEST COAST 3.3 5.5 7.8 11.11 (77)

GOALS:Gold Coast –Lynch 3, Wright 2,Lemmens, Lyons, Hall, Sexton,Harbrow, Matera.West Coast–Yeo 3, Hill 2,Schuey, Schofield, Cripps, McGovern, Petrie,Jetta.

BEST:Gold Coast–Ablett, Hanley, Lyons, Harbrow, May, Lynch.West Coast–Mitchell, Yeo,Shuey, Sheed, Jetta, Gaff.

UMPIRES:Stephens, Nicholls, Hay, Glouftsis.

CROWD:11,402 at Metricon Stadium

The story,Peter Wright kicks late winner, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Roosters hold off fast-finishing Broncos to win thriller

Boyd Cordner’s Herculean week ended on Saturday with a two-try, 80-minute effort as his Sydney Roosters held off a fast-finishing Brisbane for an 18-16 win at Allianz Stadium.
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The Roosters and Blues captain played 160 minutes in 72 hours, with Saturday’s thriller coming only three nights after Cordner scored a try as he led NSW to a massive win in the State of Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium.

Cordner’s three-try week also included more than 300 run metres and 65 tackles in an effort Roosters coach Trent Robinson labelled “incredible”.

“The week that he’s had and then to go and play 80 minutes again – he needs to be lauded for what he did out there tonight and broke open the game to score that try in the first half and then to take it away,” Robinson said.

Cordner’s second try came from a Jake Friend grubber that Jordan Kahu spilled on his own goal line, allowing the Roosters back-rower to scoop up the ball and score what proved to be the match-winner. But the win was soured by a groin injury to winger Daniel Tupou, who left the field early in the second stanza.

The home side led 18-6 with seven minutes to go in front of 12,236 fans before Queensland Origin representative Corey Oates and then Tautau Moga scored late on to erode the margin to two.

Cordner and Oates were two of nine players backing up from Wednesday night, and it was the Roosters quartet who fired the best shots with Queenslanders Aidan Guerra and Dylan Napa, and NSW’s Blake Ferguson also playing strong games.

“That’s who we are, we pride ourselves on backing up, play a tough game of Origin but we want to turn up for the boys here,” Cordner said.

“This is where we invest a lot of our time, all of our time, this is our home. I pride myself on turning up for the boys no matter what. Aidan, Dylan and Fergo all played really good games tonight.

“We’ll enjoy our rest now, a couple of days off we might get and then we’re back into next week.”

Cordner said backing up from Origin so quickly had been beneficial for his mental approach to the Broncos game.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t find it too difficult, probably physically more than mentally,” Cordner said.

“I thought mentally I was really good today with the game on Wednesday night and how it went, it was obviously a really physical game. I wasn’t at 100 per cent physically but mentally I was sweet and I think that’s what got me through.

“It might sound a bit weird but I don’t mind backing up. I find that sometimes you find through the game physically, you find it easier. I don’t know how it works, I don’t mind it.

“I wouldn’t have minded playing last night. I think it’s because you’re really calm going into the game, you’re not thinking about it all week and you don’t have to spend all that nervous energy worrying about plays or the opposition as much. You just go in with a clear head and sometimes it works good for you.”

The Roosters leapfrogged Brisbane into the top four with their ninth win of the season, and still have two byes up their sleeve.

Oates, Sam Thaiday, Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire all backed up for the Broncos after playing for Queensland on Wednesday.

“When you coach the Broncos you never give up, they keep at it, I thought we could’ve pulled it off,” Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said.

“Tough game and both teams came to do their best here tonight. It finished up being the two points. When it comes down to one play in the last second of the game, it’s not what you want.”

Victory over Dons sends Giants top of the ladder

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.3 10.5 15.5 18.9 (117) ESSENDON 5.3 7.7 10.10 15.11 (101) GOALS: Greater Western Sydney – Greene 3, Scully 3, Williams 3, Lloyd, Shiel, Perryman, Cameron, Kelly, Whitfield, De Boer, Kennedy, Taranto. Essendon – Green 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Hooker 2, Fantasia 2, Bellchambers 2, McKenna, Myers, Daniher, Colyer.BEST: GWS – Kelly, Greene, Williams, Whitfield, Shiel, Tomlinson. Essendon – Merrett, Gleeson, Watson, Bellchambers, Hooker.INJURIES: GWS – Nil. Essendon: McKenna (leg).UMPIRES: Donlon, McInerney, Fisher, O’Gorman.CROWD: 13,671 at Spotless Stadium.
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Greater Western Sydney haven’t yet scaled Everest, but after five-and-a-half seasons, they have reached the summit of the AFL’s K2. For the first time in the expansion club’s history, the Giants will end a round atop the ladder after they beat Essendon by 16 points at Spotless Stadium on Saturday, their fourth win in a row.

The Bombers were far from embarrassed in veteran Brendon Goddard’s 300th game, and gave the Giants a scare when Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti kicked goals in quick succession midway through the final quarter as Essendon charged, with the margin closing to just nine points, but the men in red and black are again in the red, having lost two in a row, falling to 5-6, with a game against in-form Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium to come before the Dons’ bye.

The Dons will rue some untidy kicking for goal and weren’t helped by some dubious umpiring, but that shouldn’t detract from the Giants’ achievement. They have reached this summit despite a horrendous run of injuries during the first half of the season, and a look at who’s to return before the finals – Steve Johnson, Brett Deledio, Rory Lobb, Jacob Hopper, Ryan Griffen, Nick Haynes, Devon Smith and Stephen Coniglio – should send a shiver down the spine of all their premiership rivals.

This GWS win was all the more meritorious given they were coming off a six-day break, and had returned from a trip to Perth last weekend.

Despite their casualties, the Giants are still fielding a team with plenty of supremely talented players every weekend. Surely none have been more influential in their climb to the top of the ladder than Josh Kelly, who at this rate could be underpaid next year regardless of whether he chooses to stay at GWS, or head back to Victoria to join North Melbourne or St Kilda.

The midfielder was relentless, racking up 38 disposals of which very few were wasted. In the final term as the Dons gave themselves a sniff, Kelly’s composure was vital. He had plenty of helpers though. Zac Williams found plenty of the ball too, and drifted forward to kick a career-high three goals, including a last quarter-settler, while Dylan Shiel and Lachie Whitfield were strong midfield contributors, Toby Greene shone up forward, and Adam Tomlinson limited Joe Daniher’s influence.

While not entirely dominant, the Giants were tracking comfortably enough for the first 20 minutes, breaking out to a 14-point lead.

The highlight of that early period came from Tom Scully, who having missed last weekend’s win against West Coast returned with a beautiful running goal from just inside the boundary line 40 metres out.

Essendon were struggling to string the ball together with much fluency, but with little warning they clicked into gear. Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis were proving highly effective, while veterans Jobe Watson and Ben Howlett both showed signs they aren’t yet spent causes with classy baulks to set up majors for Conor McKenna and Orazio Fantasia respectively, as the Dons shot ahead with four majors in seven minutes.

GWS midfielders Callan Ward, Shiel and Scully had all been quiet, and coach Leon Cameron gave his charges a tongue-lashing at the quarter-time huddle.

The second term was a frustrating one for the Dons, who failed to take their chances in front of goal. The Giants – despite their long injury list – still have too much class to let a team get off the hook. GWS clawed their way to 16-point lead at half-time on the back of brilliance from the supremely talented Greene, Kelly and Whitfield.

Greene’s freakish efforts – which included a stunning overhead mark – appeared more remarkable given he looked to be labouring early in the game with an ankle injury.

The Giants threatened to break the game open but Essendon were determined, never allowing the margin to get beyond 27 points. Merrett was terrific and a big reason his side threatened in the last quarter, while Martin Gleeson was solid in defence, and Watson found plenty of the ball in the clinches. But for the fourth week in a row the Giants won a game by less than three goals.

Votes

J. Kelly (GWS) 9

T. Greene (GWS) 7

Z. Williams (GWS) 7

Z. Merrett (Ess) 6

L. Whitfield (GWS) 6

Cusack breaks Owls’ hearts with double

The Canberra Royals looked at each other in stunned silence on Saturday after ACT Brumbies forward Tom Cusack scored a second-half double to secure a great escape victory which left the Uni-Norths Owls’ heartbroken.
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Royals continued their unbeaten John I Dent Cup season but were given an unexpected scare when the Owls threatened to pull off a remarkable turnaround in Canberra’s premier division.

Royals held on for a one-point win, beating the Owls 27-26 just two months after the Phillip-based club thrashed the Owls 76-12 in the opening game of the season.

The Owls went within a whisker of a brilliant triumph, but missed a tough sideline conversion in the dying minutes and had a drop goal charged down after the siren in a shattering end to a game of eye-catching tries and brutal defence.

Cusack and Brumbies teammate Lolo Fakaosilea traded friendly barbs and tries in the second half, but it was Cusack who let out a sigh of relief after the closest game of Royals’ season.

Cusack put Royals in front in the last 10 minutes with his second try, but Fakaosilea hit back with time running out to get the Owls within a point.

“We stuck with each other and that was the important thing,” Fakaosilea said.

“It was a pretty good rivalry with me and a [Cusack], but he obviously led them from the front foot and was a danger player we had to shut down. When we did that, it opened up spaces for us.

“I thought we were going to steal that one. It’s a tough one to take but we know we played well and we gave ourselves a chance.”

Few gave the Owls a chance of challenging the rampaging Royals, especially after a 64-point thumping in the first game of the year.

Royals had won every game of the year by an average margin of 43 points while the Owls have been fighting to stay in top-four contention.

It looked like the Royals would streak clear when they scored 20 unanswered points after conceding the first try.

But the gutsy Owls clawed their way back into the contest and hit the front when Sam Irwin converted from the sideline for a 21–20 lead.

Their time in front lasted less than 90 seconds before Cusack scored again, but Fakaosilea forced his way over in the corner to close the gap.

The Owls threw everything at Royals in the dying seconds in a bid to end their winning streak, but every player from both teams stood in silence after the referee blew the full-time whistle.

“If you told me before the game we’d get two bonus points and lose by one … after losing the first game against them by [64 points], we probably would have taken it,” said Owls coach Dan Hooper.

“But to get so close and be in their zone at the end there, to not get it is disappointed. But we have to be estatic, no team has got within 20 points of them so we have to be positive.

“We’ve set that standard now so the trick now is keeping it in every game rather than fluctuating.”

The Owls are now seven points outside the top four as they chase a drought-breaking finals spot while Royals are flying high with a perfect record after eight games.

They weren’t at their peak against the Owls, but coach Wayne Southwell urged his players to bank the winning belief for the rest of the year.

“We were always going to have one of those days when we didn’t execute. We got too fancy at times … but it’s back to our character and we hung in there,” Southwell said.

“It didn’t look pretty for a while, but it is a win. Uni played well and it’s always tough playing them [at ANU]. We didn’t execute well, I think we bombed four tries. It wasn’t the best but it was belief.”

AT A GLANCE

John I Dent Cup: ROYALS 27 (T Cusack 2, L Kimber, G Morseu tries; P Rolando 2 conversions, penalty) bt UNI-NORTHS OWLS 26 (L Fakaosilea, S Irwin, D Bennett, L Berry tries; S Irwin 3 conversions); WESTS 71 bt EASTS 10; QUEANBEYAN WHITES 29 bt GUNGAHLIN EAGLES 14.

Women: Royals 45 bt Uni-Norths Owls 7, Gungahlin Eagloes 32 bt ADFA 15.

Reserve grade: Royals 28 bt Uni-Norths Owls 26, Wests 22 bt Easts 19, Gungahlin Eagles 47 bt Queanbeyan Whites 14.

Colts: Uni-Norths Owls 43 bt Royals 14, Easts 45 bt Wests 0, Gungahlin Eagles 19 bt Queanbeyan Whites 12.

FIRST DIVISION

First grade: Gungahlin Eagles 40 bt Queanbeyan Whites 33, Easts 26 bt Wests 12, Royals 47 bt Uni-Norths Owls 5, ADFA 45 bt Cooma 17, Tuggeranong VIkings 47 bt Young 8, Hall 31 bt Goulburn 21.

Second grade: Queanbeyan Whites 21 bt Gungahlin Eagles 10, Royals 31 bt Uni-Norths Owls 19, ADFA 17 bt Cooma 0, Tuggeranong Vikings 76 bt Young 0, Goulburn 47 bt Boorowa 0.

BDAFL: Cardiff Hawks strike late to down Warners Bay Bulldogs

Jake RoachWarners Bay coach Marty Reiman could not fault the effort of his young side despite another close loss, this time to second-placed Cardiff, on Saturday in their winless Black Diamond AFL campaign.
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The Bulldogs led with five minutes remaining but went down12.8 (80) to 10.11(71) after two late goals from Hawk Josh Murphyat Hillsborough Oval in round nine.

Reiman was disappointed his side let the game slip away but praised their efforts after a tough opening.

“The boys battled hard,” Reiman said.

“We lost two players in the first minute, our centre-half back Luke Roach to a shoulder injury and Ben Hunter in the middle to a calf,so we played out the whole game really with 20 players.

“We’re a young side and we’ve stayed competitive this year, so it’s not too bad.

“We haven’t won a game but we’ve been in so many. I think that’s four we’ve lost by less than two goals, so we’ve just got to keep persisting.”

The Bulldogs led by 10 points at half-time but were down by nine at the last break before edging ahead 70-67.

“We should have won three or four games now but we’re only a young side and keep letting opportunities slip,” Reiman said.

He said Kayne Gibbs kicked five goals for his side, while Jake Roach was one of their best.

Cardiff coach Nathan Harkness said Murphy,Marcus Deleur and Chad Mayo were among the Hawks’ best.

Harkness said his understrength side were lucky in the end but kept enough in reserve for the all-important final 10 minutes.

“We had so many outs today and had eight changes,” Harkness said.

“It’s hard to get an continuity with our side at the moment but the players did well to get through in the end.”

Elsewhere in round nine, Terrigal Avoca remained unbeaten with a10.13(73) to 7.9(51) win over Nelson Bay andNewcastle City defeated Killarney Vale 5.8(38) to 3.10(28).

NHRU: Wanderers remain unbeaten with gutsy win over Waratahsphotos

LIONHEART: Wanderers forward Ben Ham was a standout for his side in the win over The Waratahs on Saturday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollThe return of Luke Sherwood and a marathon effort from Ben Ham have helped Wanderers remain Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union unbeaten leaders witha 26-18 win over The Waratahs at Waratah Oval on Saturday.
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Wanderers dig deep to hold out Tahs | photos Wanderer Ben Ham

TweetFacebook Wanderers v The WaratahsJonathan Carroll images from Wanderers v The Waratahs on SaturdayAfter an early exchange of penalties, Tahs player-coach Carl Manu scored in the 12thminute to give the hosts an 8-3 lead. They extended the advantage in the 18thminute with another Joel Ford penalty kick.

Luke Simmons landed a penalty in the 20thminute then converted afterSherwood burrowed over in the 32ndminute to put the visitors 13-11 ahead.

Lock Doug McKillop scored in the 38thminute and Simmons’ conversion gave Wanderers a 20-11 half-time lead.

Two more Wanderers penalties gave them a 26-11 edge in the 54thminute but the Waratahs threatened a comeback when giant loose-head propTalanoa Taufaao crashed over five minutes later.

The Tahs, though, were unable to break the Two Blues again.

Wanderers coach Viv Paasi said Ham and Sherwood were standouts up against the imposing Tahs pack.

“Ben Ham had to work all week so he played second grade, but then he ended up having to come on five, 10 minutes into the game,” Paasi said.

“He ended up playing 150 minutes of footy today and he was one of our best in first grade so that says a fair bit about what sort of player he is and what he brings to the team.

“It was Luke Sherwood’s first game in first grade this year.He’s taken a step back this year but he played on the side for us and got three Anderson Medal points, so hewas really goodfor us and so was Bailey Hefren. Our back row were standouts and halfback Nathan Sherwood was strong as well.”

Paasi was proud of the effort to hold out the Tahs after going with a more mobile pack.

“We had to get into the grind a little bit today and conditions kind of played into that,” he said.

“It was a good win, because they are a top-five team and it was definitely a good challenge for us.

“It was a pretty brutal contest in the sense that they have some big guys and we had to really stand up.

“We had a smaller forward pack today, especially in our back row, and everyone had to stand up and make sure we got good ball for our backs.

“I think our forwards worked well. We could have been better in patches but we definitely showed some good composure when the game was in the balance. We were just able to hold our line, which was good.”

Elsewhere in round seven, winger RatuDelanimate scored twice as second-placed Hamilton edged out Southern Beaches 24-22,Merewether Carlton’s Matt Hay also grabbed a double as they beatLake Macquarie 36-17, Maitland defeated University 24-18 and Nelson Baydowned Singleton 39-12.

Vixens stunned as Lightning claim grand final berth

SUNSHINE COAST LIGHTNING 56 (Bassett 44/47, Wood 12/14)MELBOURNE VIXENS 55 (Kumwenda 33/38, Philip 22/26 )MVP: Caitlin Bassett (Lightning) CROWD: 3763 at Margaret Court Arena
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No week off. No home grand final. Perhaps no grand final at all. Such is the new reality for the Melbourne Vixens, whose 56-55 loss to Sunshine Coast Lightning means they must now must take the preliminary final route if they are to reach the inaugural Super Netball decider in Brisbane on June 17.

Following a dominating 44-goal display from Lightning spearhead Caitlin Bassett, Vixens coach Simone McKinnis was left to articulate the positives from a semi-final defeat that came despite the minor premiers having led by five goals in the third quarter and three early in the last. But, from most angles, this was a surprise result, particularly considering the 11-goal margin at the same stadium five weeks ago. Few had seen this one coming.

“You don’t beat a team like Lightning as we did last time and not think that they’re gonna learn a lot from it. I think defensively they put a bit of hesitancy into our play, but for me, too, you’ve still got to be able to just let it, go, back yourself and just let it go,” McKinnis said before disappearing for the team debrief at Margaret Court Arena.

“Pretty much the key message is we’re back next week, and there are benefits to needing to play next week. We all think it’s nice ‘oh, let’s have a week off’, but to be honest I was thinking this week, if we have the week off what’s that’s gonna look like, and part of me [thinks] there are benefits to having to play on and go through with it.

“We’ve got another chance at it. We’ve played some super good netball all year, they’ve earned the second chance and they’ll take what they need to out of that in terms of competing in a final match and we go and give it our best next weekend.”

Scores were level at quarter-time, the Vixens ahead by one at the half after a Jo Weston defensive rebound converted by Tegan Philip had helped to gain a minor advantage. By then, after a quiet two-from-four-attempt opening period, Philip had worked her way into the game, scoring eight from nine to relieve the scoring load on shooter Mwai Kumwenda and extend a partnership that has been exceptional all season.

Both coaches were content to keep the faith with their respective starting line-ups, Noeline Taurua declining to call a timeout even when the Vixens built a 34-29 lead just over five minutes into the third term. Yet just when it seemed the hosts were gaining control, the Lightning came again, trimming the deficit to one, Bassett piling on 14 in 15 minutes despite the best efforts of the persistent Emily Mannix.

In the last, Melbourne were up by three early, before a slightly sloppy period which helped the surging Sunshine Coast to draw level, and then ahead by three before McKinnis finally called her team together with five minutes left and the score 49-52.

With Bassett parked under the post, the Lightning have the capacity to score quickly, but the Vixens could not force quite enough turnover ball – or capitalise on that they did earn – to bridge the gap that had opened. Thus the side that had entered the finals having won more quarters and scored more goals than any other must take the long way to a grand final that won’t be at home.

“It was a good hard tough match, which I guess is finals netball,” McKinnis said, lamenting a diminished workrate during the final quarter before a late surge that left her young team a single goal short.

“I think they can certainly take a lot from that game. We spoke before the game that finals is [play at] that intensity, and particularly that first quarter it’s gonna be ‘wow’, and they’ve been learning all year. They’ll take a lot from that and they know what it takes to win a final.”

The Vixens will thus host the Giants, who won their knockout semi against the Magpies, in a preliminary final next Saturday night at Hisense Arena, while the Lightning prepare for the June 17 grand final in Brisbane.