Geoff Lemon

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The Last Post has sounded for cricket on Channel Nine – but the great game carries on | Geoff Lemon

Despite a late-life dip the station’s coverage is seeped into our bones – now after 40 years of Benaud, Grieg and Lawry it is RIP for the broadcasterIt’s all about the trumpets. They cut through everything, long shoots of clean brass. Bwaah-bwa-bwaaaaa…

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Cricket Australia plays softball on day when hard was required | Geoff Lemon

James Sutherland’s general comments about an uncompleted investigation into ball tampering did the ruling body no good and allowed the issue to festerIt was as Cricket Australia as Cricket Australia gets. Process before progress, careful phrasing befor…

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Cricket: Australia’s poor behavioural record means extra scrutiny inevitable

Steve Smith appears reluctant to break with the ‘ugly Aussie’ tag on this South African tourAs the Australian cricket team’s tour of South Africa descended into bickering and strife after the first Test, one of ESPNCricinfo’s most esteemed writers plot…

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Tired Australians don’t have long to crack the one-day cricket code | Geoff Lemon

In a role reversal, the home side looked as creaky and out of date as England had three years earlierIn 2015, it wasn’t just Australians laughing at England’s version of one-day cricket. This was a team knocked out of the World Cup quarters by Banglade…

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Naomi Osaka beats Ashleigh Barty in Australian Open third round – as it happened

Australian No1’s campaign ended by Japanese player 6-4, 6-2Simona Halep through after 28-game final set against Lauren Davis 7.49am GMT All the evening’s action from Melbourne Park will be brought to you by Simon Burnton. No, he’s not the sponsor, he’s…

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Ashton Agar eyes Ashes return four years after memorable debut

After scoring 98 in his 2013 Ashes innings, younger spinner’s potential return could signal end of Steve O’Keefe’s Test careerFor a long time, Ashton Agar had the debatable distinction of being both a ‘where were you when’, and a ‘where are they now’. …

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No rest for the wickedly fast: Mitchell Starc loth to miss Boxing Day Test

The fast bowler’s existence is a tenuous one and Australia’s fastest won’t want to risk missing out in MelbourneYou would have to chloroform Mitchell Starc to stop him playing in the Boxing Day Test. Admittedly, when you look into the eyes of Cricket A…

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Australia revel in portrayal of England’s Ashes tour as out of control | Geoff Lemon

Amid weaponised sanctimony about some of the tourists’ behaviour, the home side has gone quietly about its businessThe last week or two, Australia’s cricketers must have been sitting back chuckling with a mixture of satisfaction and disbelief. Media ou…

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Australia’s affair with the bouncer an intimidation tool of Ashes past

After Phil Hughes’ death, memories of the short ball will never be the same, but Australia remains obsessed with breaking EnglandThe Ashes of 2013-14 casts a long shadow. Mitchell Johnson is the gunslinger at sunset. He defines the modern genre like Jo…

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Ashes 2017-18: Australia beat England by 10 wickets in first Test – as it happened

Australia started final day needing 56 runs to winDavid Warner and Cameron Bancroft steer hosts home before lunchECB investigates alleged altercation between Bairstow and Bancroft 2.04am GMT Here’s the full report from Vic. I’ll sign off now from the G…

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Examples of Steve Smith and Joe Root point to less Ashes antagonism | Geoff Lemon

Starting with their leaders, Australia and England look like teams that have realised they’re better suited to another wayThey look like a couple of nice boys. Wheatfield hair, slightly awkward smiles. Helpful at charity days, polite at press conferenc…

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Fear of an Ashes loss gets Australia’s selectors spooked | Geoff Lemon

The squad for the first two Tests has prompted criticism but the problem isn’t decisions made. It’s the spurious justifications givenOne of sport’s great passions is raging at selectors. It’s not a job that wins praise. But something is more deeply awr…

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Spectre of batting potential haunts Australia before Ashes selection is finalised | Geoff Lemon

It is the mark of a domestic system where batsmen no longer dominate that a dozen hopefuls are vying for one remaining spot No cricket team is ever truly stable. As Ferris Bueller noted, life moves pretty fast. Compared to recent years, though, Austral…

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Australia beat Japan in rugby union spring tour opener – as it happened

Wallabies post 63-30 victory in YokohamaLate fightback leads to Japan’s highest score against AustraliaRelive the action with our liveblog in Japanese 8.03am GMT Related: Wallabies brush aside Japan before departing for European tour 7.50am GMT That …

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No Ben Stokes, no contest for confident Australia in one-sided Ashes

With a settled top five and their powerful pace attack on bouncy pitches, Steve Smith’s men will fancy their chances against a weakened England teamIt wouldn’t be the Ashes without hype in the lead-up. This time, we’re away early. Two weeks to go befor…

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Swans win AFL Pride Game, Storm lose Slater and Smith, and more: sportwatch – as it happened

  • NRL: Storm stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith injured in tough win
  • AFL: Swans surge toward top four with Pride Game win over Saints
  • AFL: Demons beat Power, Hawks beat Dockers, Bulldogs beat Suns, Bombers beat Roos
  • NRL: Panthers beat Titans, Cowboys beat Warriors, Storm beat Raiders

1.26pm BST

Mostly comfortable wins today, Essendon taking care of North despite Ben Brown’s good work, Melbourne in a tough game over Port, the Bulldogs easily doing over Gold Coast despite playing in Queensland, Sydney boshing St Kilda in Pride Round, and Hawthorn taking care of Freo.

In league, much closer contests even though the final scores all had a little bit of oxygen in them. Penrith got over Gold Coast, the Storm handled the Raiders despite having backs against the wall, and the Cowboys stayed ahead of the Warriors.

1.20pm BST

AFL – two teams playing today started the season looking like they were finished, and are now have momentum behind them. Sydney have surged to 5th, though Richmond could knock them back to 6th by beating GWS tomorrow. Tough ask, because GWS can get second spot back from Geelong if they win. West Coast could also push Essendon back out of 8th spot by beating Collingwood. Finally, the Demons have consolidated their spot in 6th, level on points with the Swans and Power above them, so a top-four spot is still possible for the red and the blue. Keep your eye on ‘em.

NRL – The Storm get a bugger at the top, but at the cost of two of their star trio of players. The Cowboys go up to 5th, but Manly could push them back to 6th by beating the Dragons tomorrow. That would suit Penrith, currently in 9th but level on points with the Dragons.

1.10pm BST

Ben McEvoy with a late goal, and Hawthorn raise the ton at the last gasp. A comprehensive display over a fairly limited team. Alastair Clarkson’s 300th game as coach is a happy one.

1.06pm BST

Over in Perth, the margin grows – Hawthorn slam on four in a row before Cam McCarthy gets one back for Fremantle. It’s now 48-94.

1.03pm BST

And that remains the score at the final siren. Callum Sinclair a little nervous being interviewed on TV, probably hasn’t happened before, and you can hear the frog in his throat. But he digs deep and rolls out the perfect cliches about being lucky to get on the end of a few from the midfield, and all the forwards working for each other. Kicked five today, he can be pleased with his work.

The context adds a whole extra layer to this match, of course, and more important than the result might well be this message.

Everyone is welcome! #PrideGame #ProudlySydney

12.56pm BST

Well, scrap that idea. Giving away two 50-metre penalties in a row doesn’t help. Rohan kicks the gift. Luke Dunstan gets one back, the set shot just creeping over the line, then the comeback kid McVeigh snaps one more for the Swans. 101-59.

12.44pm BST

St Kilda not quite going away. Gresham marks 48 out after a good attack on the ball from Bruce won a 50-50 contest. Gresham hands it off to Newnes running past, and with momentum from 50, the ball goes soaring through. It’s 88-53. Saints would love to get a couple more back and limit any percentage damage.

12.43pm BST

Back to the Swans, it’s Franklin. Another monster. A set shot, this one, but still such a huge kick. Goes so high. Grazes the underside of a passing comet. From well outside 50. Nails it, and has 50 for the season so far. This after Bruce kicked his third for the night for the Saints. It’s 88-47 to Sydney.

Q4 | @Buddy_Franklin doing what he does best by launching this one from outside 50! His 50th goal for 2017. #AFLSwansSaints #PrideGame

12.39pm BST

Swan Lake.

12.35pm BST

Ricky Henderson wins a free kick for a challenge that wasn’t facing the ball, and slots a tough kick from the pocket. At the last change it’s 35-63. Long way back for Fremantle in the circumstances.

12.27pm BST

AFL – scrappy sort of game between Hawthorn and Freo, with the Hawks still 23 points up as we get towards the end of the third quarter. Not a huge lead but neither team has found it easy to score tonight, so it could already be enough. Fremantle need to find a way to open things up through this congested style of play. A long series of possessions for the purple mob, Ballantyne marks on 50, and finds Kersten with a chip. Very accurate shot at goal, Shane Kersten, but this time he laser-guides it onto the right-hand post. 35-57 to the visiting Hawks.

12.24pm BST

NRL – a comfortable lead in the end for the NQ team, or at least it looks comfortable, as Javid Bowen goes over in the last minute and Lowe makes no mistake with the conversion this time. In fact the game wasn’t that comfortable at all, it was close throughout.

12.20pm BST

Callum Sinclair with his fifth, just before three-quarter time. He came in for Sam Reid tonight as an injury replacement, and has more than compensated for the loss of a senior player. He’s taken eight marks tonight, seven of them contested. At 3QT, it’s 34-80. St Kilda cannot afford a blowout, percentage will be vital in this year’s finals race.

12.12pm BST

Sums up the night for the Saints – Jack Billings gets a free, downfield after Savage was dumped. 30 out, slight angle, and Billings isn’t even close. He’s missed a lot of goals this year. Billy Longer hits the post with a snap a minute later, and Montagna is coming off with a hamstring injury. Signs suddenly bad, very bad, worse. In all that mayhem, the ball rebounds, Dean Towers marks inside 50, and kicks another. 71-34 now. With the emphasis on the “ow”.

Dean Towers and Blake Acres leading tonight’s list of players who sound more like real estate listings.

12.08pm BST

BUDDY! There’s a reason why they paid 10 million bucks for him. All St Kilda’s work for naught. Sinclair marks again outside 50, a chain of possessions follows, Franklin gets a second handball receive in that chain. He’s at least 55 out, running lateral to the goal face, towards the boundary line, with his left side further from goal. Somehow he just sizes up the scenario, thunks across his body, and pulls the ball back while also finding the power to send it through the goals halfway up the post. What a player. It’s 65-32.

12.03pm BST

A fierce couple of minutes from the Saints, trying to charge back into the contest. Running players down, holding the ball decisions, shovelling the ball forward. Sydney’s defence outstanding, a couple of times it looked like the loose ball would make its way to a Saints player in the clear, but the Swans keep shutting those options down, smothering kicks, forcing the ball back out. 59-32.

12.00pm BST

NRL – Ethan Lowe doing it all himself up in Townsville. Scores a try to make it 18-12 over New Zealand, but then the solo job becomes too much and he misses the conversion.

11.58am BST

And straight back for the Saints! Quick entry, puts the defence under pressure, and despite the protestations there was a clear hand in the middle of Josh Bruce’s lower back as he led toward the ball. Free kick, and he slots it. 59-32, the margin is back to 27.

11.57am BST

Straight back for the Swans though. And it’s Sinclair making up for his earlier miss. Steams out on the lead to a clearance and clunks the mark. He’s looked very good tonight. Played 57 games, this is his best. Four goals so far. 59-26.

11.55am BST

AFL – Goal for the Saints! They’ve had some let-offs already this half, geez. The Swans have missed a couple of easy ones. The latest of those a dribbled shot from Sinclair that runs across the face. The kick-in goes coast to coast, there’s no one forward for St Kilda, and so Riewoldt has a paddock to run into as the long ball forward goes toward goal. He gathers it and pops it through from 15 metres. 53-26.

11.47am BST

NRL – Ethan Lowe pops over a penalty goal, and the Cowboys lead the Warriors 14-12.

“Stop! In the name of love!”

11.45am BST

AFL – Hawthorn leading by 21 after ambushing Fremantle out west. Conor Glass, an Irish international rookie on debut, has made a couple of impressive runs for the Hawks out of defence. A couple of minutes to half time, and it’s intense in the Hawks’ back 50. Fremantle locking it in, but can’t find a way through. James Sicily cops the worst falcon I’ve ever seen, bending to pick up the ball as it was kicked off the ground, and it slams straight into his face. Sicily is down for a good few seconds, then once he recovers he gives the umpire a gobful for not calling kicking in danger, even though the foot wasn’t that close to his head. Taylor Duryea tells Sicily to focus on the ball, and Sicily bakes his own teammate into the bargain. It’s 22-42 going into the long break.

11.40am BST

NRL – it’s a cracker over in the Cowboys-Warriors game in Townsville, though I’m loath to endorse anything at a stadium named after a phone number. Trading tries, all converted, and the teams are 12-12 just after the half.

11.32am BST

Half time at the SCG. A couple of let-offs for St Kilda, with Hannebery missing a snap and Franklin fading a set shot that he’d normally get, left foot on the boundary side just the way he likes it. But no dice. Saints still just in touch, five goals down, but they’ll need an end-of-the-rainbow kind of performance to take the Pride Game this year.

11.26am BST

Awff, horrible tackle from Heeney. He has a rugby league background, but he’d be doing weeks in the NRL with that speak tackle. Lifts up Jarryn Geary in the tackle and rams him into the ground. Geary managed to twist a touch, get half an arm down that partly broke his fall, otherwise that could have been really ugly. A free kick, but the tribunal should be looking at that – holding a player up mid-air and then driving him into the ground, almost headfirst. No control from either player in that situation.

11.23am BST

The Saints do claw back. Sensational bit of work by Nick Riewoldt! The ball coming in towards 50, he works his man under the drop, doubles back, sees it spilling free in front. Casually as eating a handful of Maltesers, he reaches out a foot, flicks the bobbling ball up into his hands, dishes off the handpass, and Shane Savage snaps the goal. Ex-Hawks trading goals for opposing teams. It’s 48-20.

11.16am BST

Danger signs flashing red, sirens blaring for St Kilda. Sinclair is in form, he takes a relatively simple grab and kicks goal number three. Then he’s steaming out from full forward a minute later, on track to mark again, but Josh Kennedy doesn’t know and is backing into the path of that ball. Sinclair’s teammate takes the mark and kicks that goal, as Sinclair narrowly avoids crashing straight through him like a derailed train. It’s 46-14, and the Saints have to claw back.

11.11am BST

Great commitment to a contest from Lewis Melican, who attacks the ball in the centre and rushes it past about four players for a long kick inside 50. There’s the Franklin effect – Buddy makes defenders nervous, so even though he’s two-on-one and probably covered, they crowd him too much and give away a free for a hold. He and Tony Locket are the only two players to kick 250+ goals for two different clubs, apparently, and Franklin adds another.

Other end of the ground, Josh Bruce makes great contact with a 60-metre roost and sends it through, a big thump as the ball hit the boot, audible round the ground. But in traffic a few moments later, Heeney quickly snaps in traffic and kicks another for the Swans. 34-14.

10.53am BST

Not much change by quarter time, it’s 22-8.

10.50am BST

Swans working their ascendancy now, moving players around until they can find marks inside 50. George Hewett gets one, Sinclair gets his second, and throws haymakers at thin air in celebration. It’s 22-7 Down the other end, Dylan Roberton runs down a player inside 50, has a free kick and strikes it horribly. Hits the point post on the full. Big missed opportunity.

10.41am BST

AFL – Swans dominated the inside 50s, but the Saints are staying with them a bit more than halfway through the first quarter. Goals to Callum Sinclair and Koby Stevens, and it’s 8-6 in favour of the Swans.

Great to see @sydneyswans playing so well Tonight, Me & Mahi are proudly supporting equality for all #PrideGame #ProudlySydney

10.40am BST

The Pride Game is played between Sydney and St Kilda, starting last year, as a way to promote the idea that football should be a safe and welcoming place for LGBTIQ people. Which it certainly hasn’t always been.

These two clubs have been outspoken about it, so they’ve got involved with the symbolism. The Swans have rainbow stripes on their socks, St Kilda rainbow numbers on their backs, and there are plenty of scarves with rainbow swatches on display, as well as other signage around the SCG.

10.28am BST

A hugely significant win for Melbourne, doing it after losing Smith and Slater to injury. “We had to dig deep there, eh,” gasps Will Chambers, still puffed. “It was a very tough ask. but to the boys’ credit, they all bought in to what we needed to do.”

But also perhaps a Pyrrhic victory, if those two are gone for an extended period. Smith with a pectoral strain, Slater knocked out in a tackle. There’ll be plenty more reporting on both, no doubt.

10.22am BST

Cronk kicks, Sezer gets it, passes, a kick downfield… and the ball goes dead. That, at last, is the game.

10.21am BST

NRL – all the Raiders stars combining to try to find a score. Sezer, Croker, Wighton, Cotric. Still can’t get through. A depleted Storm holding firm. Finally Croker gets a break, gets within 11 metres, and they’re penalised for a double tackle. Munster in the sin bin. Won’t matter, less than a minute to play. The tap is taken, Soliola is taken in the tackle too. Baptiste trying. Blake Austin gets a kick away, and Sezer scores a late one. Leaping on the ball. Five seconds left, so it won’t be enough for even the faintest hope of a win. Or is there? They elect not to kick for goal, the Raiders, in favour of a kick-off. Hmmmmmm for a third time… It’s 14-20.

10.16am BST

AFL – Smashed, in the end. Picken kicked 6 goals. The last quarter, goals to Redpath, Murphy, Liberatore, Wallis, the whole Doggies cast of favourites. Added 41 points in the last quarter. Gold Coast are nowhere, after years of being nowhere. The Suns must look at the Giants, an even newer team about 11 times better, and vomit with envy.

10.09am BST

10-20. Then suddenly Melbourne gets away again. A knock-on from Junior Paulo, ball bobbles around, and Storm forward Finucane lands on the ball to score his second try. Munster lands the kick.

Finucane has a double!#NRLRaidersStorm 10-20 with 9 minutes to go. #NRL

10.05am BST

Try! Canberra back in the game, as Cotric gets over on this attempt. He forced the repeat set with that previous play, then this time, Soliola was hanging out wide, there was space to the left, and Cotric comes through for the wide try. Conversion kick from the sideline, Croker dropping it back a bit to try to open up his angle. Doesn’t get good purchase, it sprays away. “You wouldn’t like to be standing next to him at the urinal,” is the pithy radio comment. Suggestions of a forward pass in the lead-up though. 10-14, Raiders within touch.

10.00am BST

Then an equally near thing at the other end – a good break, Cotric kicked the ball through into the in-goal and went after it, Munster sprinting back got a toe to it before Cotric could get a finger. Munster has been immense since the big names went off.

9.59am BST

A repeat set for Melbourne here, a line drop-out after Wighton is caught in the in-goal after Munster’s little kick through. Melbourne battling hard minus their stars, Cronk the last one left tonight.

Try? There was a play-the-ball, Canberra player pushed Vunivalu into the contest, then he picked up the loose ball and got over. The referee likes it, but the video ref says Canberra players were being blocked by Kaufusi who was offside. So, overruled. No try.

Vision of the @storm No Try Decision in the 62nd minute of #NRLRaidersStorm.#NRL

9.54am BST

A couple of penalties to the Raiders, but they can’t force a repeat set. Storm get it back five metres from their line, then Munster gets them some ground. Some backchat from Storm players, and “Not copping that,” says the referee on the background microphone. Raiders push forward again, a few metres from the line. Hodson brought down even close to the line. To Boyd, who stands up in the tackle. Hodson again, Sezer, Wighton, but he’s caught. Tries again. Sezer to Hodson again, Soliola passes, but eventually it’s turned over to Cronk. Defensive clearing effort from the Storm, trying to get to halfway. Stimson brought down, Bromwich to Bromwich, played back to Bromwich. To Bromwich. What day is it? I’m confused. It becomes a Canberra ball around halfway.

9.48am BST

Soliola comes across to pat Slater on the shoulder as he’s loaded onto the medical golf cart. Eventually the referee comes across, and Soliola is put on report. But not sent off. “Is that enough?” asks Cooper Cronk. Slater is talking to the trainers as the cart leaves the field. Munster kicks the penalty goal for right in front, but there will be questions about what constitutes a send-off in rugby league if that wasn’t one. The last send-off was in 2015 for a headbutt, says ABC radio. Another hmm. The score is 6-14.

9.43am BST

Billy Slater is knocked out. Shocking scenes here. Cameron Smith already off with an arm injury. Now Slater is waiting for a stretcher. He’s moving his hands and arms, but being put into a brace. It was Iosia Soliola who collected him – Slater was falling in a tackle, so was a bit low, but Soliola came in late and with a swinging arm. The arm has smashed Slater in the head, probably not deliberate but easily defined as reckless, and his night could well be over too. No decision on that as yet, as we wait for Slater to be taken off by the medical staff. Slater conscious and communicating as he’s loaded onto the stretcher.

9.38am BST

NRL – back to Canberra, and the Raiders have been stretching the Storm, working them hard, pulling their lines awry, but just can’t get through for that final score. And then, as can happen so easily, a team as good as Melbourne can punish you if you haven’t punished them first. Will Chambers over for four points, though the kick hits the upright and squanders the conversion. Smith off the field, which could be costly. The gap is now 6-12 in favour of the visitors.

The @storm extend their lead!#NRLRaidersStorm 6-12 after 49 minutes. #NRL

9.35am BST

It swings, it surges. Small forwards the order of the day, Bulldogs with the breeze, and Picken nails his fifth, then Dale his third. Suddenly at three quarter time the Doggies are up by 14.

9.19am BST

AFL – another good contest brewing in the other code. With the third quarter, the Gold Coast Suns have the wind at their backs, and have figured out how to use it. Dahlhaus has kicked one for the Dogs, but the Suns have nailed four goals. They’ve carved that deficit back to three points with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Hmm.

9.13am BST

Smith kicks it. Of course he does. And that’s the break.

9.12am BST

Smith kicks downfield, the Raiders charge back. Hodson, through Tapine, then Sezer brought down only a couple of metres out from the try line. Really pushing for this. But at the end, the ball goes dead in the in-goal. Restart 20 metres out from the Storm’s line. Bromwich pushing towards halfway for Melbourne. Smith and Slater combine, Slater almost through but not quite. Involved in the next play, but brought down short of the line. Then a penalty for lying on the tackled player. Melbourne will have a shot from straight in front.

9.08am BST

Storm get the ball back, but Cronk kicks early again. Raiders pushing hard. Hodson, Austin, but caught 30 out. Eventually Austin kicks across field, Sezer kicks a high ball and Josh Addo-Carr is pushed back into his own in-goal.

9.05am BST

Another knock-on from the Storm, Raiders get the scrum feed 30 metres out, but again can’t take advantage. Cameron Smith seems to be struggling a bit. Not moving very well. Still able to lay some tackles though. Cronk has to kick very close to his defensive line, just to clear some territory. Wighton reloads from the halfway line, good position.

9.00am BST

Raiders get a penalty just out from their own line, but don’t find touch with the kick. Slater and Smith bringing it back up, then Munster, but they’re repelled again. Dead ball in-goal from Smith in the end, though Slater was threatening to catch up with it. Jack Wighton needing some medical help as play goes on. Last tackle of the set, but Austin loses the ball forward from Sezer’s pass for the Raiders. But the Storm produce another error, a knock-on from the play-the-ball. Scrum feed. The arm wrestle continues in midfield.

8.53am BST

Oof! A fumble from Cronk, as Slater passed back, and there’s a scrum feed for Canberra. Blake Austin on a good run, 10 metres out from the Storm line. Whiteman can’t quite get over. Baptiste very nearly does. Sezer trying to set up Rapana for the corner, but again the defence stands firm. Storm besieged, but hold. Raiders really let an opportunity slip there.

8.50am BST

NRL – alright, let’s switch our attention to the Melbourne Storm for a minute. They’re in Canberra, trying to put themselves two points clear at the top of the ladder with a win over the Raiders.

They’re off to the right start, Finucane over after just four minutes, and Cameron Smith as ever converting. But after a few more minutes, the Raiders strike back through Aidan Sezer. Sezer, sees a ball, seize a ball, seize the moment. Almost loses it as he goes over, but just maintains control. “The players maintains control between his left hand and forearm,” says the video ref. Who, amusingly, is Brian Norrie, who was a solid if somewhat stolid servant for the Storm until 2014 as a prop. Rules against them here. Croker pops over the goal.

Vision of the @RaidersCanberra Try Decision in the 15th minute of #NRLRaidersStorm.#NRL

8.42am BST

Things continue as we mentioned below – no one can really spot up a target with accuracy, so there’s a long scoreless period. Bailey Dale breaks it shortly before the break, picking up on the wing, running to 50, and while there are passing options inside 50, perhaps the safest option is to launch for the biggest target – the goalface. He does so, and the storm does the rest, carrying the goal home.

It’s 48-28 to the Dogs at half time.

8.29am BST

The wind in Cairns is amazing. If Ben Gale was still playing, there’d be two of them out there. Kicks going one way have to be low and compact and drilled. Going the other way, they soar. It’s not always an advantage, the Dogs are finding it hard to hit targets sometimes as the ball zooms away to an opponent. Nonetheless, Liam Picken and Bailey Dale float a couple of kite-goals through, while Jack Martin burrows one under the breeze at the other end. Good open game of football here so far. 40 plays 28.

8.12am BST

AFL – from one crappy underperforming Gold Coast team to another, the variant of sport’s Bermuda Triangle in the Aussie Rules code is hanging in the contest at quarter time. Largely thanks to a ferocious breeze blowing directly away from the Bulldogs’ goals. Marcus Bontompelli marks about 35 out just before the quarter-time siren, gives it everything he has, strikes the line just right, and the ball still holds up and then drops short, pushed back into play by the elements. The margin is 28-20 at Cazaly’s Stadium, in what is nominally a Bulldogs home game. Need those dollars.

8.03am BST

NRL: The Panthers seal their win, despite a late try and conversion from Gold Coast. Draw level with the 8th-placed Raiders on points. Interesting little tussle there.

The @GCTitans aren’t done with yet!#NRLPanthersTitans 24-16 with 4 minutes to go. #NRL

7.58am BST

Speaking of Essendon… up into 8th spot with that win. St Kilda or West Coast could level them on points by winning a game in hand, but the Bombers would likely still be up on percentage.

7.57am BST

Scrappy sort of thing really, but Melbourne will take those wins. Trying to build that sort of pragmatism and ruthlessness as they challenge for a top-four finish. Who’d have thought we’d be writing that… ever again. They’ve been so much fun this year, the Dees.

Huge notes for them: Jack Trengove finally getting back to football after what seems like about a dozen consecutive injury layoffs, and Jesse Hogan kicking three goals today as his development and recovery continues. Melksham three as well, and 36 stats for Michael Hibberd, the ex-Essendon pair starring in their new environment. Clayton Oliver had 30 after a controversial few weeks for him, and laid 10 tackles. Big game.

7.47am BST

“A bit industrial”, is the pithy line on commentary, as Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn crashes into an opponent in Melbourne’s forward 50. He plays a similar wrecking-ball role in the centre square a moment later, flying through before landing in a heap, like a giraffe fired out of a novelty cannon.

7.44am BST

Goal again, for Petracca, who marks for Melbourne just inside 50 on the other side of the ground, taking advantage of an errant kick-in. He runs around the mark a bit and thumps it high through the sticks. But then straight down the other end, and Westhoff gets one back. Also an error from a clearing kick from fullback, which is punched back in, the Port forward picks it up near the boundary, and produces a hell of a finish on the run. 88-65.

7.41am BST

Goal! My Melksham brings all the boys to the yard. What a kick from Jake, the Essendon refugee who sought a fresh start at the Dees. Not many times in the last 20 years when you could say that was a great choice, but it’s looking good in 2017. A scrambled kick for territory, Melksham somehow marks the rainmaker just inside 50 by the boundary line, and decides to take a set shot. It looks like he just wants to bleed the maximum time off the clock, but then he strikes it beautifully and sails it through on the angle. It was indeed better than yours. He could teach you… Game over. 82-59.

7.38am BST

AFL – again it was Impey who was nearly out. Sprinting down the wing, loose ball to gather just on 50. It was ex-Hawk Jordan Lewis who stopped him, showing real desperation. Sprawled on the ground, he saw Impey trying to pick up the loose ball and grabbed at it himself. Couldn’t drag it under his body or he’d be penalised, so he held on with his fingertips. They squabbled over it for several seconds, and it was long enough for Melbourne to get a couple of fellow defenders back. By the time Impey got the ball away, he had to snap hurriedly from 40 out, and missed. It’s still 16 points, 75 to 59, with 6 minutes left on the clock.

7.35am BST

NRL – the Titans threatened to close the gap for a second, with a try to make it 14-10, but miss the conversion, and Penrith quickly adds another two tries via Moylan and Zelezniak.

7.33am BST

Real scrappy affair this now, both sides out on their feet. Struggling for metres rather than looking to find targets. Very little clean disposal, lots of quick kicks down the line, tackles, throw-ins, ball-ups. Melbourne don’t mind, it suits them. Five inclusions this week, so they might be struggling a bit more for match fitness. No score at either end for 10 minutes.

7.28am BST

Jarman Impey for Port comes flying down the ground, three bounces, then four, runs into traffic just inside 50, handballs sideways to Dixon, but the big forward’s attempted chip for a mark inside 50 is a shocker. Turns it straight over. Ball locked back in midfield. Neither side can break through.

7.27am BST

Some daring defensive work from Jeff Garlett running the ball out. Jack Watts competing desperately through the midfield and up forward. But Melbourne can’t get clean delivery into their forward line. Port swarming. This is a great contest.

7.24am BST

AFL – another game that is still in the balance is Melbourne v Port at the MCG. It’s only 17 points the difference now, after Port Adelaide have kicked the first couple of goals in the last quarter. Dixon and Boak got them. About 9 minutes gone.

7.21am BST

AFL – but the Bombers aren’t too worried. North wins the individual battle with Brown and Hurley, but not too many others. Zaharakis snaps another poacher’s goal, as he has so many times, then James Stewart (not the guy from Rear Window) marks in the pocket but misses. 126 plays 98.

7.19am BST

AFL – The game’s all but gone for North, but Ben Brown is still competing hard. Takes a mark in the forward pocket, but misses on the tight angle. Nearly clunks another in the opposite pocket a minute later, then contests hard at full forward on the 50, and finally it comes back through the centre and he marks it 25 out straight in front. Up against Michael Hurley, one of the best defenders in the land, and Brown slots his sixth for the day from the set shot. Equals Buddy Franklin for top spot on the Coleman Medal tally. He has a 32-step run-up, and on that first shot from the pocket, had to cut it short because the fence was right behind him. “Would have had to start in the car park,” comes the classic line from the TV crew. 119 plays 98.

Meantime, this photo of him lining up is incredible. How’s this for Tracey Nearmy getting close to the action?

7.11am BST

Right, let’s get into some ball sports. In the NRL, the Panthers are up by 8 over the Titans in the second half. In the AFL, Essendon leading North Melbourne by 22, Melbourne 28 points over Port in the third, and Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs is about to fire off the first siren.

7.08am BST

Yes, I will be he shortly. Am here shortly. Am not even here shortly, because I’m already here. And don’t call me Shortly.

Good morning, afternoon, or evening, depending where you are around the world, but let’s assume that it’s mostly afternoon in the wide brown and sometimes other mottled colours land that is Australia.

Moonlighting on writing about AFL football from next to this London canal at 6:45am. No, I don’t know what’s going on either.

4.17am BST

Geoff will be here shortly.

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