Hardwick mulls best 22 for AFL final

Should you change a side that has knocked over the minor premiers in the last round of the AFL season?

It’s a conundrum Richmond coach Damien Hardwick will wrestle with this week, as he mulls which 22 players are best suited for Sunday’s elimination final against Port Adelaide.

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“It’s a good question. One I’m not prepared to answer at this stage,” Hardwick said on Monday.

The Tigers were relentless against Sydney at ANZ Stadium, holding on by three points to grab a ninth consecutive win and the last finals berth on offer.

But Ty Vickery and Dan Jackson, two players with genuine claims they belong in Richmond’s best 22, played no part in the memorable triumph.

Vickery had served his four-match ban for punching West Coast ruckman Dean Cox and was available, while Jackson was sidelined due to a one-game VFL ban.

Jackson is the club’s reigning best and fairest and the experienced midfielder will come under serious consideration.

“He’s ready to go,” Hardwick said of Jackson.

“Selection-wise, it will be another decision.

“He’s a finals-type player. He’s hard, he’s tough. He’s in our leadership group. He’s a quality bloke.

“He hasn’t had probably the season he would’ve liked – ruined generally through injury.

“But it’s one of those decisions we’ll make. If he helps us win, we’ll put him in.”

Vickery’s hopes of returning appear more doubtful.

The 24-year-old is short of match fitness due to his indiscretion in round 18, while fellow ruck-forward Ben Griffiths is in form and will not be dropped.

“Griff’s obviously secured a spot, absolutely,” Hardwick said.

“Whether we have the third tall this week (is a decision we have to make).

“Last week we chose to go without it. It will be a selection call we make on Thursday or Friday.”

The Tigers will create a live site for fans on Sunday, screening the final at Punt Rd Oval.

Richmond have also chartered ‘Tiger Army Express’ buses to help fans get to Adelaide Oval.

Neutrals are also hopping on the yellow-and-black bandwagon, given their incredible run to the finals.

“I think we’re probably like the second cousin that all of a sudden becomes the first cousin, if you become famous,” Hardwick said.

“We just hope we can get as many as 10,000 supporters over there to (Adelaide Oval).

“Because I guarantee you our 10,000 will sound like 20,000.”

Warming, decanting and swirling: do they make wine taste better?

By Alex Russell, University of Sydney

Do you inhale deeply while describing the flamboyant nature of your Shiraz? Do you do that slurpy thing that some love but others loathe?

Or maybe you just crack open the screwcap and dig straight in.

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If you’re in the latter group, then the ceremony that goes with wine may seem like pure wankery. But is the science on your side?

Temperature

Basic wine etiquette states that you serve white wines chilled and red wines at room temperature. Does it really matter? Actually, yes.

Our senses of taste and smell involve chemical reactions. As with all chemical reactions, colder means slower, which means less aroma for both whites and reds, although we’re not exactly sure of the exact physiology behind temperature’s effect on taste.

So don’t serve your whites too cold – aim for about 11°C. Keep in mind that your fridge is generally a bit too cold for whites, as are ice buckets. Excessive heat can permanently damage a wine, but your fridge won’t.

If the wine is too cold, hold the bowl of the glass in your hands to warm it up, or just wait a while – if you can. You can also use this to your advantage. If you’re stuck drinking a wine that should really go back into the horse from whence it came, chill it right down and drink it quickly before it warms up.

Decanting and aerating

Decantation is the process of removing the sediment that has built up in a wine over time. This used to be necessary for all wines, including whites.

These days, it’s only necessary for reds that have “thrown a crust”, because no one wants a mouthful of sediment. You can find plenty of tips online, including one which involves a candle – ideal for those romantic moments.

 

Alessio Baù/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

 

A secondary reason for decanting is aeration. Opinions vary as to whether aeration is a good thing.

Wines certainly change when they are exposed to air. Remember that bottle of wine that you tried a week after opening it? It wasn’t very pleasant, was it? This is because the wine oxidised, similar to how an apple turns brown. In the presence of oxygen, naturally-occurring bacteria convert sugar and alcohol into acetic acid, making the wine taste vinegary.

The question here is whether wine improves with some exposure to air before becoming undrinkable. This depends on at least three variables:

    the wine in question (such as region or grape type)how long you decant ithow you like your wine, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

An informal test conducted at the Australian Wine Research Institute indicates that the sensory properties of wine that goes into a decanter may not change very much compared to wine that stays in the bottle. They do, however, note the exception that aeration allows hydrogen sulphide (a wine fault) to disperse, which generally only matters for poorly made wines.

In the 1983 book The Taste of Wine, French wine expert Émile Peynaud discusses aeration. He reports results from experiments that suggest that the age of a wine is an important factor – decanting older wines for hours may actually reduce their bouquet.

So should you decant? Yes, to avoid sediment. Should you aerate? Depends on your preference and on the wine. There are some pretty funky looking decanters out there, so feel free to go nuts, if just for show.

Swirling

There has been some pretty interesting research on swirling, including a fluid dynamics study. The authors found that various factors (including diameter of the glass) can have an effect on the type of waves that you get while swirling – a cool party trick, no doubt. See the video below.

A gentle circular movement of the glass generates a wave propagating along the glass walls, enhancing oxygenation and mixing.

The purpose of the process appears to be to allow more of the wine to come into contact with oxygen, to agitate the wine to unlock odours or to increase the surface area of the wine, which in turn increases the amount of odour released. But does it make a difference to the odour or flavour of the wine?

Why not conduct an experiment yourself? Ask a friend to help you out. Put on a blindfold and get the friend to pour three samples from the same bottle into identical glasses. Get them to swirl one. Smell all three (no peeking!) and see if you can pick which one smells different.

For scientific rigour, do this a few times (let’s say 10 trials with fresh glasses) and see how many you get right. You’ll get a score out of 10, with chance being 3.33, although you’ll need to get a few people to do it in order to draw any conclusions. It shouldn’t be hard to get friends involved – someone will need to drink all that wine.

Serving temperature is important, but swirling and aerating are more debatable. It is entirely possible that people believe that they work simply because they expect them to, and there is a lot of work in the wine literature about the impacts of expectations on wine perception.

There are other things to consider, too, such as glassware. But if you want to go through the ceremony, and if it works for you, then who am I to stop you?

Alex Russell does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Feminism pushed child abuse reform: report

The crime of child sexual abuse has been denied, marginalised and “discovered and rediscovered” at various stages throughout Australia’s history, a new report says.

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The report, commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, found broader social awareness of child sexual abuse emerged in the 1960s because of the efforts of feminist groups.

Prior to women’s rights advocates challenging government responses to sexual violence, psychoanalysts and other theorists downplayed the significance of sexual abuse on children and officials downplayed its prevalence and impact.

Between the late 1800s and 1960s “child sexual abuse was denied or minimised by academics, psychoanalysts and the broader community as the fantasies of disturbed individuals or the result of sexually promiscuous or aggressive children,” the report said.

The report, prepared by the Australian Institute of Criminology, found that the greatest period of reform in Australia’s child abuse laws occurred after the 1970s.

“Feminist groups contradicted historical understandings of child sexual abuse as infrequent acts perpetrated by sexual deviants,” the report said.

“These groups sought to raise awareness and understanding of sexual violence, and were openly critical of government and criminal justice system responses to victims of violence.”

Prior to the late 1800s, the report found, only a small number of offences criminalised sexual contact between children – then defined as under 10 or 13 years of age – and adults.

Attitudes to child sexual abuse have evolved considerably in the past century.

Child protection laws began not as government initiatives but as a result of social pressure and campaigns by activists.

One influential event, the report said, was the case of “Mary Ellen”, who was found badly beaten in her home in New York in 1873.

Police were unable to intervene and the social worker involved sought help from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which succeeded in court in getting Mary Ellen removed from her abusive mother and in having her mother charged with assault.

“As an issue of social and political importance, child sexual abuse has been, at various stages throughout Australia’s history, marginalised, denied, `discovered’ and `rediscovered’,” the report says.

Royal Commission chief executive officer Philip Reed said the report, and a second one looking at the development of relevant legislation, would assist the commission and other organisations working in the area of child sexual abuse.

“Both of these reports will contribute to the Royal Commission’s understanding of the historical context of child sexual abuse in Australia and the development of relevant legislation,” Mr Reed said.

NSW incest suspect tried to kidnap son

A NSW mother at the centre of inter-generational incest and child sex abuse claims is accused of hatching a plan to kidnap one of her 12 children from state care.

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Twelve youths from the Colt family, a pseudonym provided by the NSW Children’s Court, were plucked from their squalid living conditions in southwest NSW in 2012 and put in out-of-home care.

Caseworkers and police visited their rural property at Boorowa, near Young, and found 40 adults and children living in dirty, rubbish littered tents and caravans.

According to the details in a Children’s Court judgment released last year, children on the property showed signs of neglect, lacked basic hygiene and oral health and had difficulty speaking.

Others did not know how to bathe or use toilet paper.

Some children later told caseworkers they had sex with their siblings and relatives, including brothers and uncles.

Genetic testing revealed 11 of the 12 children, aged between five and 15 had parents who were related or closely related, according to the judgement.

Half of the children removed by NSW Community Services were Betty Colt’s.

Ms Colt is accused of recruiting one of her sons to kidnap a younger son from foster care.

She is also charged with procuring a young person to be removed from state care.

Prosecutor Matt Zalunardo told a hearing on Monday Ms Colt was the “mastermind” of the escape plan.

Mr Zalunardo told Moss Vale Local Court there was evidence Ms Colt wanted to take her younger son to South Australia to work and provide money for her.

“The defendant does have the distinct ability to coerce the young person and in essence put her views onto them,” he said.

The plan was foiled after police intercepted the family’s phone conversations and intervened.

Ms Colt was allegedly heard telling her son she wanted to get him home and make it “f***ing hard” for authorities to get him back, the court heard.

Mr Zalunardo said in a conversation with his mother, Ms Colt’s son said: “They know who my father is, don’t they?”

Ms Colt replied: “No, they are bluffing”.

However, Ms Colt’s lawyer Philip Carey said the plan to flee foster care was in fact one of the son’s.

“And he was saying ‘I want to be with my mum’,” he told Moss Vale Court on Monday.

Ms Colt only facilitated the meeting time and place in her son’s scheme, Mr Carey submitted.

Magistrate Mary Ryan will deliver her judgment on September 12.

Barca academy graduates stealing early-season limelight

Barca struggled to break down a determined Villarreal side at the Madrigal but got the breakthrough eight minutes from time when 19-year-old substitute Sandro Ramirez, making his official debut, turned a Messi centre into the net from close range.

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Ramirez’s effort came after fellow academy graduate Munir el Haddadi, also 19 and also making his first official appearance, struck in the 3-0 opening day victory at home to Elche.

Their success appears to confirm that new coach Luis Enrique’s strategy of deploying Barca-trained youngsters is working well in the early stages of the campaign.

A former Barca and Spain midfielder, Luis Enrique replaced Argentine Gerardo Martino, who was sacked after the Catalan club ended the 2013-14 season without major silverware.

“It is gratifying seeing that the youngsters are helping us so much,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“We are happy for him (Ramirez) and for the dedication of all the young players,” he added.

“We have a lot of room for improvement but the response of the players has been monstrous. It’s still early but there is room for optimism.”

Barca’s “La Masia” soccer school has produced a host of top players in recent decades, including Argentina captain Messi and former player and coach Pep Guardiola.

Luis Enrique is hoping he can create a side with the right mix of home-grown talent and players purchased from other clubs like new arrivals Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic and the established Neymar.

The Brazil forward, returning from an injury layoff, came on as a substitute for the final half hour on Sunday and his pace and skill gave Barca an extra attacking edge.

But it was Ramirez who stole the show and he and Munir earned praise from another La Masia graduate, Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets.

“We know what Munir and Sandro can bring to the team and if they continue like this they will have their place in the first team,” Busquets told reporters. “We have to be patient.”

(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Rodgers salutes disciplined Balotelli

Brendan Rodgers has revealed Mario Balotelli has already shown signs of a new-found maturity as the eccentric Italian made his Liverpool debut in a 3-0 win at Tottenham.

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Balotelli played for 61 minutes of the Reds’ romp at White Hart Lane on Sunday following his STG16 million ($A29.2 million) move from AC Milan on Monday and delivered a wholehearted performance with glimpses of his vast talent.

The 24-year-old striker has a well-earned reputation as one of the sport’s most combustible characters and he has frustrated many managers with his lacklustre attitude throughout a controversy-marred career, but Rodgers took heart from the way he accepted the responsibility of helping out defensively against Tottenham.

Rodgers admitted Balotelli had been shocked earlier in the week when he asked the former Manchester City star to mark opposing players at corners, yet he fulfilled the task with gusto.

“He’s at an age when he has to show responsibility. I’m giving him that,” Rodgers said.

“For the first time in his life he marked at a corner. He’s an international with a Premier League title and three Italian league titles, but when we were doing the defensive corner routines in training I told him he had to mark and he said he didn’t mark at corners.

“I said you do now. And today he went in there and won a header.”

Although Balotelli missed several chances to cap his debut with a goal, the Italian linked up well with team-mates Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling at times.

And Rodgers is confident he will prove a major asset if he can be kept out of trouble.

“He’s a good guy and if you control the background noise, take away some of the situations he has found himself in, you can see he is going to be a real handful for defenders,” Rodgers added.

“You’ve seen his appetite today, his work, pressure, strength and quality. He has a wonderful touch for a big guy. He was excellent.”

Liverpool prove life after Suarez in Spurs masterclass

The Merseysiders’ 3-0 win at White Hart Lane on Sunday was achieved in the same swashbuckling manner as the run of 11 successive victories that took them to within two points of the Premier League title in May.

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After a disappointing defeat by Manchester City, this was Liverpool’s reminder to the Premier League that they remained a potent force, but also a clear sign of life following the departure of last season’s star attraction.

Although Suarez has gone, it seems so has the fear that Rodgers’s side may struggle for goals in his absence, with Sunday’s haul taking their tally to six in three games.

“We have risen to every challenge since we have been here. It was the same last year – will we score enough goals and how can we improve?,” the Liverpool manager told reporters.

“The beauty of this group is that they’re very hungry… We played very well and probably clicked back into where we were last season – which was great to see. Hopefully people enjoyed watching us as well.”

For Rodgers, Sunday’s win was a personal milestone, bringing up his 56th victory in 100 games as Liverpool manager, putting him level with Bill Shankly and only behind Kenny Dalglish (62).

There was perhaps no better place to show that the departure of a top player need not have an overly detrimental effect – coming against a Tottenham team who were in the same situation last year.

Whereas Tottenham never quite recovered from Gareth Bale’s move to Real Madrid, Rodgers can look at his squad and be satisfied with the attacking options at his disposal.

Debutant Mario Balotelli was effective if unspectacular and Daniel Sturridge had an uncharacteristic off day, but Raheem Sterling confirmed his rising stature and importance with a goal and a man-of-the-match display that delighted his manager.

Playing at the tip of Rodgers’s diamond formation before switching to the more accustomed wing role, he showed the kind of tactical flexibility that managers love.

“He was fantastic today again and got another goal,” the Liverpool boss said.

“His pressure and tactical awareness in the game is improving and, for a kid of 19, he has been great.

“He’s flexible – we’ve tried to develop him to be able to not only be a wide player, but to have the freedom and awareness to play on the inside…

“It’s important for me that they have the intelligence to play in a number of positions and I think he is developing that well.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Burgess keeping a lid on his frustrations

Sam Burgess has put his sensational form for South Sydney this year down to not getting involved in personal battles with rival players.

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The Rabbitohs’ superstar is in the running to become the first forward to win the Dally M Medal since Cronulla’s Gavin Miller 1989, and credits this to keeping a lid on his frustrations.

The Englishman, who will return home to play rugby at the end of this season following a hugely successful four-year stint in the NRL, had earned a reputation of the wrong sort following some incidents in 2013.

His infamous ‘squirrel grip’ on Melbourne’s Will Chambers earned him a two-match ban and widespread condemnation.

He was also involved in a running battle with Sydney Roosters five-eighth James Maloney last year where he appeared to deliberately poke his finger in the playmaker’s eye.

There were also signs of his temper boiling over earlier this year when Burgess and his brother George became embroiled in a running battle with Wests Tigers forward Aaron Woods in a round three defeat.

Woods claimed after the game that Souths could be beaten if the Yorkshire siblings were provoked.

Burgess revealed that a heart-to-heart with coach Michael Maguire got him back on track.

“We talked through a few things that make me do some silly things on the field and why some battles might have got the better of me,” Burgess said.

“I’ve just relaxed and just tried to work hard for my teammates.”

Burgess dismissed the perception put forward by NSW prop Woods and said players at every club stand up for their teammates.

“This year I have taken personal battles out of my game and it’s worked for me,” he said.

“I had to be careful this year as my record has a few loading points on there.

“There are perceptions of everything – I never really bought into it. Everybody likes to say it’s about the Burgess boys.

“But it’s about the team really, we’re a tight-knit group and look out for each other.

“I think there was only one occasion where me and George have got involved.”

Teammate Greg Inglis was mildly critical of Burgess last season and the Queensland and Test star said he has noticed a rise in his performances as a result of his keeping his cool.

“You can see that Sam is enjoying his footy,” Inglis said.

“He’s not going into games thinking about personal battles. It’s unfortunate it took him probably after pre-season to notice that.

“Sammy is one of those players who loves those battles, but you can see now that he is really enjoying what he is doing and it’s out of his game now.

“He’s always been a great player but to take it to the next level you have to put all that stuff aside and the last month or so he has really come into his own.”

Port allowed to don the black and white

Port Adelaide captain Travis Boak doesn’t regret sledging Richmond’s Troy Chaplin, but insists there’s no bad blood with his former teammate.

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Boak bristled at Chaplin’s overt celebrations when the Tigers beat Port by 20 points in round 17.

At the time, Richmond were finals long-shots and Boak said of his ex-teammate: “I hope he’s enjoying the year that they’re having.”

But the Tigers snuck into the finals with nine consecutive wins and Boak conceded his remarks will attract attention ahead of Sunday’s elimination final at Adelaide Oval.

“I’m sure he’d be pretty happy with his season, the way they’re going,” Boak told reporters on Monday.

“It was just a bit of banter after the game.”

Boak, however, remains let-down by Chaplin, who when leaving Port in 2012 sent an email to players critical of their culture and work ethic.

“At the time it was pretty disappointing,” Boak said of Chaplin’s email.

“But we have both moved on … that is all in the past.”

Port finished fifth and host the eighth-placed Richmond, yet was ordered by the AFL to wear their away strip in the sudden-death final.

Port’s chief executive Keith Thomas challenged the decision and on Monday night the AFL agreed the Power could play in their ‘prison bar’ guernsey with white shorts.

“Collingwood is the club that has the right to wear black and white stripes within the AFL competition,” AFL football operations boss Mark Evans said in a statement.

“They have agreed for Port Adelaide to wear its heritage … guernsey … as a pragmatic resolution to produce the best outcome for this final.”

Port coach Ken Hinkley and Richmond counterpart Damien Hardwick had baulked at buying into the issue.

Hinkley said there was no reason why Port can’t become the first club to win the premiership from outside the top four.

“I’m going to have a go and these blokes (players) are going to have a go with me,” he said.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun trying.

“At some stage, somebody is going to be able to do it. And we’re going to have first crack.”

Buyout offer from Blavatnik sends Perform shares surging back to flotation price

LONDON (Reuters) – Len Blavatnik’s investment group Access Industries made a bid to take sports rights group Perform <PER.

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L> private on Monday, sending Perform shares soaring back to their flotation price after a bumpy three-year ride.

Perform buys online rights to major sports events and supplies video clips, live action and sports news and data to media groups and bookmakers. The bid values the company, including Access’s existing 42.5 percent stake, at 700 million pounds.

Shares of Perform surged on news of the offer, which at 260p per share matches the price at which the company was floated on the London stock market in 2011. That means those who bought stock three years ago would get their money back after enduring sharp swings in the share price.

Perform shares were up 26 percent to 257.3p by 10:50 AM BST.

“We continue to have confidence in Perform’s management and in the company’s future potential,” said Lincoln Benet, CEO of Access Industries, which was founded by billionaire Blavatnik.

“Consequently, a member of our group is launching an offer at 260 pence per share, a 27.6 percent premium to the current price, to allow those shareholders who seek an exit to do so at a significant premium to the current trading level.”

RISE AND FALL

Perform initially established a reputation as a growth stock as it doubled its market capitalisation, before crashing in December 2013 when it issued a major profit warning and saw its shares plunge more than 50 percent in one session.

Access Industries, a privately held industrial group with investments in natural resources, chemicals, real estate and media, including Warner Music Group, said the offer was final.

The group was founded in 1986 by Blavatnik, an American citizen who grew up in Russia.

In an initial response, Perform advised shareholders to take no action for the moment.

“The board reiterates its confidence in Perform Group’s standalone strategy and growth prospects as detailed in last Friday’s interim results statement,” it said.

Perform said on Friday that it was on track to meet revenue and profit targets for the year.

Core profit was 15.6 million pounds in the first half of 2014. Analysts forecast that figure will double in the next six months as cost cuts take effect.

(Reporting by Kate Holton and Keith Weir; Editing by Michael Urquhart and Susan Fenton)