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Belief alone won’t beat All Blacks

Pass test ... the Wallabies captain's run at ANZ Stadium yesterday.THE Wallabies are buoyant after repeatedly peaking at the right time during the Wales Test series, but know they are still well short of what is required to be confident of beating the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium tonight.
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Wallabies captain David Pocock yesterday called on his teammates to lift their game and make full use of home-ground advantage.

The Australian Rugby Union has certainly applied the pressure on the Wallabies by focusing its marketing campaign around how it has been a barren decade since they last won the Bledisloe Cup, and that the task may be easier as they are playing two of the three Tests at home.

No wonder Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was provoked into commenting over whether it had been too long since the team had shown off the cup. ''Clearly it's time,'' Deans said.

At least the Wallabies head into the series with some of the attributes needed for trans-Tasman success. After the blip against Scotland in Newcastle, the Wallabies rebounded brilliantly against Wales, one of the best northern hemisphere teams to tour Australia in decades, winning the series 3-0. What was most encouraging was the team's ability to play at their best near the end of each Test and withstand pressure, showing the squad's level of conditioning had improved markedly.

The sign of a good side is that they consistently win the tight ones, and several close victories had the desired effect of boosting the Wallabies' spirits.

''We took confidence out of that series,'' Pocock said. ''As a team you want to win those arm-wrestles right at the end. In these Tests, we stayed in the contest and found a way to win.

''But the Rugby Championship is going to be a totally different beast, and we know those performances against Wales won't be anywhere near good enough.

''We just have to do everything better, and in particular we know we have to start better against the All Blacks. Our general intensity has to go up, because New Zealand tend to take their opportunities. Wales, in the first and second Tests, created a lot of opportunities and didn't take them. But the All Blacks do.''

As importantly, Pocock knows he will play a critical role in the outcome of this Test. The breakdown battle will be decisive, and with the All Blacks showing during the Ireland Test series that their intensity at the tackle is of the highest standard, Pocock's openside breakaway work will be important in providing a handbrake. As important will be how new Wallabies blindside breakaway Dave Dennis, and No.8 Scott Higginbotham, combine with Pocock.

But Deans also argued it is imperative Pocock gets a fair deal. The coach was irritated during the Wales series that Pocock was often held back by opponents after the breakdown so that he had no involvement in the next few phases. Deans called on the touch judges to properly adjudicate that area, as he believes the All Blacks, knowing how pivotal Pocock is to the Wallabies' plans, will try similar tactics.

''It's not so much at the breakdown, but what's happening long after the breakdown is over,'' Deans said. ''The ball is gone, the game is carrying on and players are being denied the ability to participate. It's the touch judges' responsibility because the referee, invariably, is watching the game, which is somewhere else.''

But one area where Deans is forever evasive revolves around his new opposing coach Steve Hansen. As expected, Hansen, in his first Bledisloe Cup battle as head All Blacks coach, has tried to provoke his old Canterbury playing and coaching partner with old-fashioned sledging.

The All Blacks coach this week had a dig at the Wallabies forward pack, and also suggested Deans made a succession of selection bungles during last year's World Cup. The inference was Deans no longer had confidence in World Cup five-eighth Quade Cooper, who has not been picked for this Test.

Asked about the comments yesterday, Deans laughed and said: ''Steve is a very good fisherman. He loves fishing.''

Hansen will keep tossing the burley in Deans's direction during the season. But the ever cautious Australian coach will keep spitting out those smelly bite-sized pieces of pilchard. He has been around too long to attack low-grade bait.

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Sitting pretty for the run home

Illustration: Jim PavlidisFINAL WORD
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THE Tigers, in my observation, have more supporters who go to the footy dressed up and in costume than any other club.

Last Sunday, as the Olympics were closing and the Brits were preparing to put on a show to dazzle the world, Richmond was playing the Bulldogs at the MCG.

The Tiger Army, full of ribald chants, was about a dozen rows behind us. Around us were middle-aged women in black and yellow outfits that made them look like semi-inflated wasps and the odd young man in a head-to-toe Tiger suit. In front of us were two demure young Asian women, both dressed in black, one wearing a head scarf which suggested she was a Muslim.

At half-time, unable to contain my curiosity, I leant forward and asked the young women where they were from. They were international students from Malaysia. Someone had given them free tickets to the match. They had cardboard sheets with autographed photos of all the Richmond players.

''The game,'' I told them, ''is crazy, but beautiful.''

They nodded and smiled as if to say that was as they had found it. The Tigers gave the Dogs a thumping. The Dogs played some pretty football but lacked the big, capable players who hold a football team together the way buttons hold a cardigan. It's hard for me to look at the Tigers and think they shouldn't have done better in 2012 but I think about Carlton, too. It's a bias I have towards teams with recognisably individual talent as opposed to teams like Sydney and North Melbourne that have a near-uniform identity.

In the case of the Tigers, I like watching Dustin Martin play.

He's the football equivalent of a four-wheel-drive with a tray full of work equipment and red dust on its sides.

He's quick, strong, reads the play and kicks the ball long. He slaughtered the Dogs. And I like watching Trent Cotchin play. A lot of people do - he's young and good-looking, a one-touch player with a quicksilver mind who is deceptively slow in his movements so that it constantly seems like he is performing tricks or acts of football magic.

A Brownlow for Cotchin would be like an Olympic gold for Tigerland and be received by the Tiger Army with that degree of reverence.

Another team I like watching is West Coast. Mick Malthouse was a mighty coach but I would argue that John Worsfold's Eagles teams have been better to watch than Malthouse's Eagles even though Malthouse's sides had more talent. The Eagles teams of the early 1990s were strewn with great names - Matera, Jakovich, Kemp, Lewis, Mainwaring, McKenna - but the captain of that formidable unit was John ''Woosha'' Worsfold.

A pharmacist by trade, he played with a lot of nous and had a small boy's smile when interviewed after games. On the field, if he got the chance, he'd hit you like a semi-trailer and leave you in a trance. Malthouse's teams were solid as cement. Woosha's teams, for one reason or another, have been more fragile but, again this year, the Eagles are in the finals mix.

The big controversy in Perth this week concerned Geelong coach Chris Scott saying the West Coast crowd was the worst in Australia. This followed Geelong's Tom Hawkins being booed by a small section of the Perth crowd last weekend as he was being carried off senseless.

Seeking to further plumb the West Coast psyche, I found a website for West Coast supporters.

The post I read alleged the Eagles were cheated of the 2005 premiership through the systematic intimidation of the umpires during the course of that season by Sydney coach Paul Roos. It included this view of Worsfold: ''One of the things I most like and respect about Worsfold is that he keeps his trap shut when things don't go our way - he simply has far too much class and fortitude to go all crying to the media when things go wrong.''

It made me realise something I had either forgotten or not properly processed: Woosha is a hero in the West. These are the passions beginning to stir as we close on September and the finals.

Sydney and Adelaide, sitting one and two on the ladder, are looking at home finals, but Malthouse said this week they aren't the two best teams in the competition which, if true, is a serious indictment of the AFL roster. Beneath Sydney and Adelaide sit Hawthorn, Collingwood and Geelong.

Collingwood was built during the terrible depression of the 1890s on the principle that no individual is bigger than the club. As the suspension of Dane Swan showed, Collingwood is still Collingwood. The Pies are a tough, attractive team but Hawthorn played the best footy I've seen this year when it defeated Collingwood in round 17.

Geelong, meanwhile, is defiant, like Nellie Melba being told the time has come to leave the stage when she can see further great performances ahead for herself.

I have no idea who will win. I don't know anyone who does - it's that sort of year. All I know is that on the last Saturday in September, the season will have a crazy but beautiful climax. People around Australia, and around the world, some in costumes and some with painted faces, will be gathered in groups, shouting at televisions.

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Old boys in awe of classy North

GREG Miller was one of the key architects of North Melbourne's dominance through the 1990s. As chief recruiter and later general manager, he helped build a side that featured in seven preliminary finals and claimed two premierships.
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Those North teams, led by the likes of Wayne Carey, Glenn Archer and Anthony Stevens, boasted skill and muscle, something the Kangaroos have not been able to replicate since those heady days - until now.

Miller has watched the Kangaroos intently in recent months and has marvelled at the development of a team that has won eight of its past nine matches heading into tonight's blockbuster against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.

''This current group are playing the best football since the late '90s - the style of footy and the precision,'' Miller said.

''It is the best assembled group and skill level that I have seen. Their skill level is fantastic. I have seen their sides that have made finals [in 2007 and 2008] - this side is better. Their football is better.

''I have seen the Kangaroos play all their games recently and I can't believe they are playing unbelievably good footy.

''They were just miles ahead of Essendon in their movement of the footy [last Sunday]. Everything they did was first class. They have come a long way.

''They are very fit, obviously. They are leading and moving at one end and moving at the other end. They put Essendon to shame in that regard.''

The victory over the Bombers was pivotal, for the Kangaroos dislodged a team that earlier this year was considered a premiership favourite, prompting Carey to declare his former team had now taken the ''next step''.

Now comes an even mightier step, against a Collingwood side that has embarrassed the Kangaroos by an average of 80.5 points in their past four meetings. The Magpies have won all 16 quarters.

''I think they [North] are one of the form sides of the competition,'' Carey said.

''Obviously, they have got their troubles now with injury, which they haven't had, but the way they played on the weekend, they have certainly proved they have improved as a side and winning games that are important to them.

''It feels like they have taken that next step, but once again it's another challenge this week against arguably the best side in the comp.''

Good management and luck had allowed the Kangaroos to avoid soft-tissue injuries until last weekend, but they have been forced to make three changes with Daniel Wells (calf), Leigh Adams (shoulder) and Nathan Grima (hamstring) out.

Carey said the move to three marking forwards - the developing Robbie Tarrant and Lachie Hansen working alongside veteran Drew Petrie - was working well.

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Kangaroos ready to take on Magpies, says Gibson

FOUR-TIME premiership coach Leigh Matthews drilled into his troops that anything longer than four weeks ago was ancient history. One of his former charges, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, is determined to prove that tonight when his side takes on Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.
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Just ask in-form Kangaroo Sam Gibson. North plays the Pies for the first time this year after 87-point and 117-point thrashings from Collingwood last year - but those defeats are now distant memories. ''Collingwood are a very good side and we are acutely aware of that,'' Gibson said.

''We won't focus too much on what they're going to do. We'll just make sure that we're playing the game style we want to play and we'll do our best to nullify them as a whole.

''We've addressed a few things that perhaps didn't go right for us last year and we'll try to rectify that and put in a good performance.''

Indeed, North Melbourne, sitting sixth, has come a long way since the start of the season. Scott publicly blasted his side after its two-point loss to Port Adelaide in round eight, saying it was the first time he had questioned his team's effort.

Gibson hadn't made his AFL debut then (that came in round 12 and since then the side has only lost one match). But he knows the team seized Scott's words and has been determined that its effort will never be questioned again.

After years of being ''denied in the draft'', North recruited Gibson last year from Hawthorn VFL affiliate Box Hill, where he was captain.

''Having seen what it's like to not be in the system and wanting to be in the system, I know I'm going to try to do everything I can to stay there,'' he said.

''I've always had a bit of confidence in my ability but you never really know when you get, I guess, denied in draft after draft. You just have those … worries that perhaps you weren't cut out to play AFL.

''But I don't see myself as anything special. I just go out and play a role for the side and am just happy that I can be in a successful side at the minute.''

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Buckley’s

The Kirribilli agreement: North's interest in Nathan Buckley, as reported in The Age in June 2009, prompted Collingwood president Eddie McGuire to broker a deal in July 2009 that gave coach Mick Malthouse two more years before Buckley would replace him.IT WAS nearly 20 years ago, but former North Melbourne powerbroker Greg Miller remembers the moment as if it was yesterday when he and coach Denis Pagan met a young Nathan Buckley, who at the time appeared more interested in munching on an apple than dealing with the Kangaroos.
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''I was there. That was at the Sheraton after the Rising Star,'' Miller said this week. ''He met with us but, again, he was very immature, sitting in the room with the people who signed him. I remember that day.''

That day was when Buckley, who had just quit the Brisbane Bears after a season, confirmed to North officials he would not join the club in time for the 1994 campaign, ending two years of haggling between the Kangaroos, Collingwood and Brisbane Bears that even involved the Magpies, unbeknown to Buckley, briefly hiring a fake player-agent for him and a private investigator secretly recording interviews between the warring Bears and the Magpies.

It was also the first of two ''sliding doors'' moments between Buckley and the Kangaroos. Had he joined North as a player, Miller believes he could have helped the club to four premierships in the 1990s. The Roos would win two.

Buckley would twice play in grand finals for the Magpies, but wouldn't taste success.

Buckley would also spurn the Kangaroos 16 years later when president James Brayshaw and chief executive Eugene Arocca, also a good friend of Buckley's, wanted him as coach after the departure of Dean Laidley.

It was this move that sparked the Magpies to enact their own ''Kirribilli agreement'' with Mick Malthouse, and for a secret push by North director Ron Joseph to pursue Malcolm Blight and Wayne Carey in a coaching double-act.

It remains to be seen whether Buckley can guide the Magpies to a flag before Brad Scott does with a developing North Melbourne list. That picture will become slightly clearer tonight when Buckley faces North Melbourne for the first time as a senior coach.

''Irrelevant,'' a no-nonsense Buckley insisted this week when asked how close he had been to accepting a deal to coach North.

That may be true but his history with North Melbourne remains a talking point for those from the club who dealt with him in the 1990s, and in more recent times.

''There is a long history there,'' Miller said. ''He signed with us in '91, a week after he played his first senior practice match in central Australia in Alice Springs with Port Adelaide.''

Buckley, as a naive 20-year-old, did sign, for three years, and was paid a $10,000 sign-on fee, literally in a brown paper bag in the carpark at Alberton Oval by Miller, a sum he would return home with and count on the kitchen table and divide into $1000 parcels.

The ''scheming and skullduggery'', as Buckley put it, which followed, makes for a ripping tale, and one that was detailed in Buckley's autobiography - Nathan Buckley, All I Can Be.

To avoid having to worry about other clubs taking Buckley at the 1992 national draft, Miller had been able to persuade the AFL that Buckley was of Northern Territory origin, despite being born in South Australia, and therefore was zoned to Brisbane as the Bears had priority access to any Territory player at the time.

That Buckley should have at least played a reserves match for the Bears to comply with this ruling was overlooked at the time.

Miller hoped this would then allow him to deal directly with the Bears, allowing Buckley to join North in 1993.

However, the Magpies were soon made aware of this tactic, which they felt was illegal, and hijacked North's plans.

The Bears, tired of being abused since their inception, suddenly decided to play hard ball under coach Robert Walls and not release Buckley during the 1992 trade period. Initially against his wishes, Buckley had little option but to play with Brisbane by default in 1993.

Once that year was over, though, Buckley made it clear he was leaving for Melbourne.

North was hopeful he would reject Carlton, Geelong, Essendon and Collingwood and still head to Arden Street - until Miller and Pagan met him after the Rising Star award, which Buckley had won.

Wayne Carey details these events in his book, Wayne Carey: The Truth Hurts.

''They walked into the room and, as the story was repeatedly told to us later, Nathan didn't get off the bed to greet them. He just lay back with his head resting on his hands, occasionally moving one of them to take a bite out of an apple,'' Carey wrote. ''The North officials were slightly taken aback by this offhand treatment, but went about pleading their case and selling the club as a great destination for an ambitious young footballer.

''A short time later, Nathan sent back word to the Roos saying he wanted to play in a premiership side and he didn't think that North Melbourne was going to see much September action in the short term so he was politely declining our invitation.

''Well, didn't that get a few people riled at North? Denis [Pagan] was all steamed up, as were others, not so much at Nathan's decision to spurn the Roos - although that was hard enough to take given that we had been the first to sign him up and paid him $10,000 - but the reasons he gave. As though we were a bunch of no-hopers.''

Pagan would remind his players before every Collingwood game how Buckley, ''looking like f---ing Marilyn Monroe'', had disrespected them, prompting many of his players to mercilessly sledge the champion midfielder.

''You didn't want to play here, but who's playing in the finals now?'' was one sledge.

Carey, who has recently scolded Buckley over the Magpies' decision to suspend Dane Swan, told The Saturday Age this week: ''The Denis Pagan story. He would bring it up every time that we played them. I heard that story a few times.''

Said Miller: ''There was an ongoing angst by our players against him because he said to us when he reneged under contract that he wanted to play finals because during the '90s, when we were playing finals and Collingwood wasn't, the boys kept reminding him.

''We had a very loud-mouth group of players who wouldn't play with the current no-pushing, no-mouthing-off rules.

''We had guys like David King, and [Mick] Martyn, and [Dean] Laidley, [Glenn] Archer and Carey, we had some of the biggest mouths in the game. That was just the way of the time, they were all pretty good at it.''

One player who did not sledge Buckley was Wayne Schwass, who would match up on the six-time Copeland Trophy winner.

''He was probably one of the only blokes I didn't get stuck into. He wasn't one of the guys that you could have a crack at because he wouldn't have a crack back. You would leave it alone,'' he said.

According to Carey, Buckley would struggle to dominate the Kangaroos through his career. Buckley later admitted he had not handled the contractual discussions well with his eventual player manager, Geof Motley.

''Despite my justification at the time, I'm not proud of the way I treated Greg Miller and North,'' he wrote. ''I had a choice - to stand firm and see where it all ended, or to jump ship. The fact is, I reneged on a contract, legal or otherwise, and there's no sidestepping that. I was an immature 20-year-old, ignorant about the circumstances I found myself in. But at the time I felt more like a pawn being moved by far more influential characters than me.''

What North had conveniently forgotten through the years was that Buckley had returned the $10,000 in 1992, secretly directing the money into a North bingo account after the club had refused to take the money because Buckley had felt ''they wanted to maintain the moral high ground''.

When Brayshaw approached Buckley to lead his club in 2009, it was a very different man the Kangaroos were dealing with. As captain of the Magpies, Buckley had emerged as one of the great leaders and his tactical acumen meant he was destined to become a coach.

Just where, though, was an intriguing debate, even though it was felt he would eventually land at Collingwood. That did not stop North from wooing him, a move that heaped pressure on the Magpies and prompted worried Collingwood president Eddie McGuire to broker a deal that gave coach Mick Malthouse two more years before Buckley would replace him.

The North Melbourne board would have endorsed Buckley had Brayshaw and Arocca been successful but some directors did have concerns.

Ron Joseph said this week: ''In my view, I felt that, just like a boss, he needed to go out in the world and learn under somebody who had experience.''

Buckley would do that under Malthouse for two years and now has the Magpies primed for another run at a premiership.

Miller, for one, has been impressed with Buckley's development through the years and what he has achieved this season. Any bitterness from the post-season of 1994 has long gone.

''He has grown up an immense amount since then and he has made his quiet apologies and he has written things in books and done all sorts of things,'' Miller said.

''You have got to admire him, the way he has handled it since then. He was a very young kid at the time, was seduced by Collingwood. Obviously he would have played in premierships [at North], maybe more than two … if he had stayed in Brisbane, he would have played in [three].

''At the end of the day, he has been at a great club and he is now coaching that great club. While he has missed out on match-day premierships [as a player], he now has the opportunity to coach a day premiership.

''In those days, when he was young and he had those nicknames, players used to give it to him on the field because he made some naive junior comments.

''I have got to say, personally, he got his peace with me pretty early because he was very open and very honest and said it as it was. Personally, I am proud of him at what he has achieved.''

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Cats send Saints marching

Down for the count: Geelong’s Taylor Hunt collides with St Kilda’s Lenny Hayes, sending them both sprawling at Etihad Stadium.GEELONG 5.3 11.9 11.13 18.15 (123) ST KILDA 3.2 6.5 9.12 11.15 (81) GOALS Geelong: Hawkins 6, Podsiadly 2, Motlop 2, T Hunt 2, West 2, Mackie, Murdoch, Stokes, Chapman. St Kilda: Milne 4, Saad 3, Schneider, Goddard, Armitage, Geary. BEST Geelong: Hawkins, Kelly, Duncan, Johnson, Stokes, Taylor. St Kilda: Goddard, Gram, Milne, Hayes, Montagna, Fisher. INJURIES St Kilda: Blake (ankle) replaced in selected side by Stanley. Stanley (suspected fractured ribs). UMPIRES C Donlon, S Meredith, B Rosebury. CROWD 38,169 at Etihad Stadium.
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AHMED Saad spilled the chest mark but scrambled quickly to his feet. With Matthew Scarlett hovering, just a step or two behind, the St Kilda forward got the ball back under control as it bounced towards the boundary line at Etihad Stadium, then placed it onto his right boot. There were about 17 minutes gone in the second quarter when his kick bounced once, rolled over, bounced again and squeezed through the right side of the goal post.

It was a brilliant kick, StKilda’s second goal in a row and one that brought the Saints to within two kicks. But it was what happened next that said more about what had already unfolded, and where this game seemed headed. The Cats won the next centre bounce, Joel Corey looped a long handball to Trent West and the ruckman kicked a running goal from the 50-metre line that, all things considered, was as good if not even more skilful than Saad’s shot.

That was less than 18 minutes in. By the 22-minute mark Geelong had another goal up, after Steven Motlop took a downfield free kick. Twenty-five minutes in, the Cats were more than four goals clear, after Mathew Stokes pushed his own set shot centimetres over the outstretched arms on the goal line. When James Podsiadly slotted his first goal, with less than a minute to half-time, the Saints had some work to do against a side that was getting players into space, finding them with quick, clean kicks and defending with cohesion, as if the backmen were reading each other’s minds.

Where the Cats had Tom Hawkins taking marks, kicking goals and disposing of opponents, the Saints were without Nick Riewoldt, looking for a kickless Justin Koschitzke and relying on their smaller forwards to keep in touch, with Stephen Milne kicking three of their six first-half goals and Saad two. Where Lenny Hayes was winning plenty of tough midfield ball, with seven contested possessions, the Cats were winning more of them, through a wider collection of players, and getting into space much more easily. Taylor Hunt snapped two goals in the first few minutes of the match, playing on Nick Dal Santo, to help set this scene. It was a job they were willing to take on, though.

A third-quarter goal to Milne, his fourth, got St Kilda off to the sharper start in the third term. Another, through David Armitage, made the gap a much more gettable one, and Brendon Goddard’s mark and goal, less than halfway through, brought  it back to within 15 points, as it began to dominate possession and force the Cats to second-guess themselves, much, much more than they had done in the first half. Mistakes happened, and the forward line suddenly wasn’t so easy to find.

By the end of the quarter the Saints had won 44 more possessions and taken the ball inside 50 six more times than the goalless Geelong side. Were it not for missed shots by Dal Santo and Rhys Stanley, who won a free kick after Scarlett nudged him into Tom Lonergan, who had bravely backed into  the marking contest, they could have taken the lead.

Jason Gram’s play off half-back became critical, Leigh Montagna got his hands to the ball much more often and with Koschitzke subbed off for Adam Schneider, the Saints’ even smaller forward line was harder for the Cats to manage. At the same time, they started to defend with more pattern, Hawkins suddenly the key forward struggling to find room to move.

But it was Geelong’s turn to come up with something, even more so after Saad kicked his third to start the last quarter, then tapped the ball to Schneider for his first from the goal line. There was just one point in it then, but Hawkins found a new way to kick his fifth — roving — Jordan Murdoch slotted his set shot and Andrew Mackie kicked another to push the lead back out to three goals with 10 minutes to go. From there the Cats were not only able to hold on, but to take control: clean again, efficient again and able — again — to see off a serious challenge without seeming too alarmed or panicked by it.

HAWKINS SHINES

Cats big man Tom Hawkins found himself the centre of attention last week when he landed heavily and was forced off in Geelong's narrow loss to West Coast. It didn't take the 24-year-old long to show that he was in perfect shape last night, kicking two first-quarter goals and repeating the feat in the second.

SURPRISE TWIST

Ahmed Saad has made a good impression this season with his opportunism in front of goal, and he showed that to keep his team in touch halfway through the second period when he dropped a mark but recovered quickly enough to twist and turn past Matthew Scarlett and create the space to dribble a shot through.

WHERE'S KOSI?

When you are hot, you are hot. But when you are cold you can be freezing. Alas for Saints fans, big man Justin Koschitzke was cool enough to usher in a new ice age at Etihad. By half-time he had barely registered on the stats sheet, his one hitout balanced by the one free kick he had given away. His miserable evening lasted only seven minutes into the third quarter when coach Scott Watters replaced him with substitute Adam Schneider. - MICHAEL LYNCH

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Shock and Awe

Buckled railway lines caused by the 1968 Meckering Earthquake fault. The rocks in the foreground have been pushed over the rocks in the background. (Geoscience Australia) Cranleigh, the home of General Legge that once stood in present day Belconnen. The wooden supports were needed after an earth tremor.
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Think of deaths caused by earthquakes and the thought of helpless people trapped under crumbling ruins springs most readily to mind. However, the first recorded death in Australia attributable to an earthquake could be that of convict Edward Cormick (or Corbett) who was hanged on June 25, 1788, just five months after Sydney was established.

‘‘There is a report that Edward escaped into the bush on the 5th of June, 1788, but was so terrified by an earthquake that rocked Sydney on the 22nd June that he returned to the settlement and was hanged later that month,’’ says Clive Collins, senior seismologist with Geoscience Australia. ‘‘If this is true, then in a way this is the first fatality relating to an earthquake in Australia,’’ explains Clive, who is delivering an expose Earthquakes in our Backyard at tomorrow’s Geoscience Australia Open Day.

With the 3.7 magnitude quake that shook Canberra in the wee hours of April 20 this year still fresh in our minds, there’s likely to be no shortage of people lining up to hear what Clive has to say. ‘‘Over 500 people reported on our website that they felt the 20th of April tremor,’’ says Clive, who adds, ‘‘on a global scale we have been very lucky with how few deaths have been caused by earthquakes.’’

Apart from the 13 deaths caused by the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, two other earthquakes have resulted in fatalities. There were two deaths from heart attacks caused by the 1902 Warooka earthquake in South Australia, and a worker was killed when he was shaken off a railway bridge near Biggenden (central Queensland) during the 1935 Gayndah earthquake. ‘‘However, the latter is in some dispute as to whether it was really earthquake related, and some would dispute that heart attacks are earthquake fatalities,’’ explains Clive.

Interestingly, there may be a case of lives actually being saved by an earthquake in Australia. Apparently just after explorer Ernest Giles’s party had run out of water on December 15, 1873, in far eastern Western Australia, a significant earthquake (estimated to be magnitude 6.0) caused water to flow out of a dry spring, thus saving their lives.

‘‘It sounds far-fetched and unlikely, but makes a nice enough story to warrant some further research,’’ explains Clive, who receives all sorts of reports of unusual reports following quakes.

‘‘About 10 years ago we got a call from a lady at Lake George (which lies on a fault line) to Canberra’s north whose family had a lease which extended onto the lake bed. She said that for many weeks following a small quake in the area that her husband would hear strange gurgling sounds in the lake bed.’’

Prompted by Clive’s insights into Australian quakes, during the week I went on the hunt for images relating to local quakes.

One of the more striking photos I managed to dig up is of the St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Dalton (50 kilometres to the north of Canberra) which had the cross on its steeple knocked crooked by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake on August 9, 1984 (does anyone remember it?). Interestingly, the photo of the lop-sided cross is dated 1988, four years after the quake. I wonder when the cross returned to its upright position?

However, what really grabbed my attention while sifting through reams of old photos was an image held by the National Trust of Australia of a concrete fortress-like structure with minor earthquake damage. The building, General Legge’s Cranleigh Homestead, once stood near what is now one of Canberra’s busiest intersections on the corner of Southern Cross and Kingsford Smith drives in Latham. Although best remembered for a distinguished career in the army, General Legge was also one of Canberra’s earliest amateur geologists and in his informative article, ‘‘General Legge at Weetangera’’, (The Canberra Historical Journal, March 19, 1987), Chris Coulthard-Clark, reports that during the time Legge was Commandant at Duntroon ‘‘some of his cross country cavalry rides up into the Brindabellas invariably turned into geology excursions’’.

Further, ‘‘very likely it was his penchant for picking up rocks to examine that led him to discover a stone axe at Weetangera; evidently one of the earlier notable finds of Aboriginal implements in the district, it remained on display in a case at the Institute of Anatomy at Canberra for some years but now cannot be traced.’’

When Legge was retrenched in 1922, he turned his hand to farming in Belconnen, and in 1923 he had his homestead built from concrete blocks moulded from sand on the site. Given his interest in earth sciences it seems fitting that this image is arguably the earliest depicting earthquake damage in the Canberra area – the large wooden supports prominent in the photo were added to provide support after a Belconnen earthquake of an unknown date. It’s not certain if the homestead’s unusual design made it susceptible to quakes or not, but Chris Coulthard- Clark muses over its fortress-like facade: ‘‘This departure from the ordinary inevitably produced much comment within the small rural community which comprised Legge’s neighbours, including some good-natured speculation that the General still halfexpected an invasion and was taking his own precautions.’’

Even his wife wasn’t too keen on the homestead’s appearance and the wooden pergola-type structure featured in the photo was apparently added at Mrs Legge’s request ‘‘to soften the stark appearance of the building’’. General Legge and his wife died in 1947 and their dream homestead was demolished just a few years later. ACT Heritage recently erected a sign which tells the fascinating story of their doomed (they tried everything from pigs to potatoes to grazing) farming attempts. This sign is located among a stand of tall pines (remains of a windbreak planted by Legge) where some say the ghostly-image of an old man can sometimes be seen wandering among the pine needles.

So if you see a shadowy figure wielding a prospector’s pick and roaming the streets of Canberra on the weekend, it’s probably the 65-year-old ghost of General Legge making his way to Symonston for tomorrow’s Geoscience Australia Open Day.

Either that or he’s seeking revenge for whoever nicked his prized stone axe.

FACT FILE

Geoscience Australia Open Day: 10am-4pm, tomorrow, corner Jerrabomberra Avenue and Hindmarsh Drive, Symonston. Lots of free fun for the whole family – pan for gold, sieve for sapphires, view Australia in 3D or become a mineral detective. Clive Collins’ talk, Earthquakes in our Backyard, is at 1pm. For more information, phone: 6249 9111 or click here for a full program.

Old Cranleigh Homestead site: corner of Southern Cross and Kingsford Smith drives, Latham.

Did You Know? On October 14, 1968, the small town of Meckering, about 130 kilometres east of Perth, was destroyed by a 6.9 earthquake. Twenty people were injured, but incredibly, no one was killed.

Also this weekend... (18 and 19 August 2012) WEE JASPER NATURALLY

Despite its name, this is not a gathering of nudists, but rather a celebration of the natural wonders of this pretty valley just to the west of Canberra. Cave tours, village walks, communal bonfires, ranger-guided activities, bush astronomy and more. Events for all ages. Wee Jasper (incidentally the epicentre of the April 20, 2012, quake which rocked Canberra) is a 60-90 minute drive from Canberra via Uriarra Crossing (small section unsealed) or via Yass. I recommend going one way and coming back the other (and taking a map, and filling up with fuel before leaving Canberra). No matter which route you take, once you cross Mountain Creek you’ll be dazzled by the number of fossil beds lining the hillsides.

Did You Know? Dr Charlie Barton, who will be leading the karst (limestone landscape) walks around Wee Jasper (free, 10am and 2pm tomorrow, bookings essential on 6227 9626), is one of the world’s leading geo-magnetic scientists. Barton (who calls Wee Jasper home when not galavanting around the globe) discovered the South Magnetic Pole in December 2000 after it eluded the world’s most famous explorers for hundreds of years.

Don’t miss: Ian Cathles’ legendary fossil tours of the limestone outcrops of his property Cooradigbee. These eye-popping tours are only offered a couple of times a year and offer a rare opportunity to find (and replace) fish fossils in sediment beds where they were deposited more than 400 million years ago. Today and tomorrow, 10am and 2pm. Small charge. Bookings essential on 6227 9634. Don’t forget: A picnic. There are limited food options available in the village, so take your favourite blanket, a couple of chairs and basket of treats to munch on. More: Phone 6227 9626 or visit www.visitweejasper南京夜网.au

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True to habit, Cronk delivers when needed

MATCH STATS
Nanjing Night Net

WHEN Brisbane lock Ben Teo scored his second try to tie up last night's game against Melbourne with nine minutes left to play, Storm halfback Cooper Cronk walked over to his captain Cameron Smith in their in-goal.

"He's good at reading the game, Coops," hooker Smith said last night. "He actually came over and spoke to me when Benny Teo scored that try, when they drew level, and said, 'If you get a chance, mate, get me to halfway and I'm going to have a shot. He can pull 'em off, he's coming off two from two long range at this ground but thankfully we got deep inside their half with with a couple of good runs and we got close for him.

"He can kick a field goal here, that's for sure, the little fella. It was almost like a training shot for him, only 20 out."

Coach Craig Bellamy recalled: "The Broncos made a rare error and gave us the chance to set it up for it. We actually went for the try first, we couldn't get over and we set it up for the field goal. He doesn't miss too many from that range.''

Cronk has a habit of booting winning field goals at Suncorp Stadium but the real story of last night's game was the intensity under which it was played, with exhausted combatants strewn across the turf at fulltime.

"It sort of reminded me of some of the Storm teams of the past where we really hung in through tough periods," Bellamy raved. "We weren't that far away with our attack. I was happy with how consistent we were for the 80 minutes tonight whereas the last couple of weeks, it was 40 minutes."

While Broncos coach Anthony Griffin and captain Sam Thaiday were deflated late last night, Smith and Bellamy heaped praises on the vanquished and predicted they would be force in the finals.

Smith said: "A team probably hasn't thrown that much at us in a first 40 minutes for a while or even all year, I think.

"We were using all our energy to defend them. You never write a Broncos side off. They're a great football side. I reminds me a lot of the [bad] patch we went through. They didn't do a lot wrong tonight, the Broncos. They played great football and they did last week. You come off the ground scratching your head, wondering 'where did we go wrong there?'''

"It was a semi-final type game tonight," said Bellamy. "The Broncos, they are fighting for their life. They played really well in the first half. I don't think they made an error in that first half and their completions were good in the second half.

"They showed some legs, which they probably haven't been in recent games. There were some really good signs for them. I was really proud of our performance … to go down 12-0 and we weren't really doing too much wrong to be quite honest … "

Griffin said his side were learning "some hard football lessons". "It is what it is - there's no easy way out of it," he said. "I haven't looked at the competition table for three weeks. I've been concentrating on trying to get us back where we want to be - and we're almost there.

Predictably, Bellamy thought Sisa Waqa's try just before halftime was fair. "How many tries have we seen this year just scored by a fingernail?" he said.

Griffin said he saw the decision by video referee Paul Simpkins "the same as everyone else" but "I'm not going to sit here and blame calls for what happened".

Thaiday was on the receiving end when the Storm's Bryan Norrie was placed on report for lifting his forearm as he carried the ball. "I don't think there was anything in it," said Thaiday. "That's footy. I don't think he meant to do it."

MELBOURNE 19 (S Waqa 2 C Cronk tries C Smith 3 goals C Cronk field goal) bt BRISBANE 18 (B Te'o 2 J Hodges tries P Wallace 3 goals) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Chris James. Crowd: 41,467

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When cricketers saw the light

AT A TIME where the trickle of players eschewing international cricket for more lucrative Twenty20 competitions is considered the major spectre on the horizon for cricket administrators, the period where the game’s elite defected en masse is about to surge back into prominence.
Nanjing Night Net

The bitter World Series Cricket split has been depicted in a mini-series about to screen, fittingly, on Channel Nine, the television network that funded — at great risk — the split devised by businessmen John Cornell and Austin Robertson and implemented by Nine’s chairman, the late Kerry Packer.

Howzat!: Kerry Packer’s War draws on the direct experience of many of the protagonists, such as Australia WSC captain Ian Chappell and World XI captain Tony Greig, to retell the tale that many born in the past 40 years, even cricket devotees, would have only superficial knowledge of, despite the seismic consequences.

While most of the bridges broken during that upheaval in the late 1970s have been healed, it is clear that while most participants have forgiven those on the other side of the divide — establishment cricket boards versus Packer’s WSC — they have not forgotten the barbs that came their way, from adversaries or even the public.

"We were called ‘The dogs of cricket’, that we’d prostituted the game," retired paceman Max Walker recalled this week. "There was an enormous amount of emotion involved in that period."

The ground that allowed Packer to covertly recruit players midway through the Centenary Test in March 1977 at the MCG was made fertile by cricketing authorities’ refusal to give ground on players’ pay, or any say on issues such as scheduling at home or abroad.

At the time it was seen as almost inevitable that once players reached their 30s and started expanding their families they would have to give up playing  to properly provide for them. Walker had to take unpaid leave from his role as a public-service architect to go on his two tours of England, in 1975 and 1977, but was strictly forbidden from seeking any endorsements to help lessen the impact of forgoing a full-time wage. He said his fee for two-and-a-half-month tour of 1975 was just $2700 plus meal allowances.

Kerry O’Keeffe, whose recent popularity as a radio commentator has overshadowed his solid international career as a leg-spinner, agreed the inequity between how much money players were making for cricket boards and how much they received from them was crucial.

"I don’t want to bang on about ‘We played for nothing’, but it was born out of that," he said. "I think it (WSC) traded on the insecurity of cricketers at the time, given that we’d never signed contracts and lot of us lived (financially) game to game. There was a vulnerability there."

Packer’s interest stemmed from his belief, which is still valid now, that sport is a major driver of television ratings. It was also, as Chappell observed, a potentially cheaper way for Nine to comply with local content thresholds compared to other programming.

Packer’s overly generous offer to acquire the rights to international cricket in Australia, to capitalise on   surging interest in colour television broadcasts, was rebuffed by the Australian Cricket Board because of its long-term relationship with the national broadcaster.

"We’re sorry," is the ACB’s response to Packer in the opening scene of the mini-series. The actor portraying Packer, Lachy Hulme, then replies menacingly: "You will be."

Packer’s realisation his plan had to be developed in secret to avoid being scuttled created a situation where players’ lucrative contract offers were given on the strict condition their alignment to WSC, or even any reference to WSC, was not disclosed to anybody, including  teammates.

Greg Chappell recalled telling only his wife of Packer’s plan and his commitment to go along with it.The recruitment of the Australian Test captain seemingly would have been a significant recruitment lure for undecided players to WSC. Chappell, however, would not countenance that.

"Whilst I was of the belief that things had to change, I didn’t feel comfortable allowing anyone to use the position of Australian captain to influence others to make a decision," Chappell explained.

"It wasn’t just about money, it was about respect. There was an attitude from the administration that players were vessels that they could do whatever they like with. We didn’t appreciate that and thought we had more to offer. We’d been on a tour of England in ’72 where we crisscrossed the country, back and forth, over a six-month period ... with no regard to player fitness or wellbeing.

"The fact that 54, or thereabouts, players were approached and 53 of them signed — in fact, I think 54 signed and then one pulled out — was an indication that players around the world were unhappy. It was known then (by the players), and it came out in the (resulting) court case, that it was a cartel between the board (in which they agreed) ‘You don’t play your players any more, we won’t be under any pressure to pay our players any more’.

"It was a break-out from the workers, basically. We’d been treated like second-class citizens and we thought we deserved more than that."

At the time, Chappell hoped the mass signing of players could be used as leverage to force the Australian and corresponding international cricket boards to  give some ground. That was thwarted when news of Packer’s WSC plans reached the press two months later in May 1977, while the Australians were in England about to begin an Ashes tour. Walker said it was mid-way through the fifth and final Test, at The Oval in London, they learnt he and the rest of his WSC-aligned teammates were to be "banned for life".

O’Keeffe’s fellow spinner on that 1977 tour, Ray Bright, then 22, had not even made his Test debut when he signed for WSC. He said the security inherent in Packer’s three-year contract was very appealing, even though by signing those deals he and others were "fully aware it could mean the end of Test careers before they even really got off the ground".

"I thought I’d potentially never play Test cricket again. I held no illusion that the cricket authorities would be happy with this. But it was probably something that needed to be done," said Bright, who acted as as consultant for the mini-series.

Packer’s fierce temper is regularly —  and reportedly accurately — depicted throughout the mini-series, although it seemingly peaks when the world’s cricket boards unite to impose blanket life bans on all WSC players.

"That was one thing about Kerry Packer, he supported people who supported him," said Bright, who cited the continuing employment at Nine, 35 years later, of WSC captains Ian Chappell and Greig as evidence of that."Everything he promised he delivered — plus some," said Greg Chappell. "He was very strong, he was very determined, very smart."

In return, the players collectively vowed to deliver an incomparable standard of cricket, irrespective of the crowds they played in front of remaining sparse until the second season.

"One of the reasons we took a stand (was) because we felt the game was slowly, slowly sliding backwards. The interest in the game was only being held up by a small percentage of the population. The game needed to drag itself into the 20th century," Chappell said. "The teams mixed well off the field but once we walked out on the ground it was as tough competition as I’ve ever been involved in."

O’Keeffe concurred. "It was tough cricket ... multiple first-class century makers were coming in at nine and 10 (in the batting order)," he said.

After more than a year of struggling in comparison to Australia’s official, albeit severely depleted, Test team,  the breakthrough moment for WSC depicted in the mini-series — and verified by Chappell — was the maiden day-night match held at the SCG in November 1978. Demand to get in was so great that the gates were ordered open after capacity had been reached. It was an occasion Chappell described as "the most exciting sporting moment of my life".

"It was the turning point. Crowds streamed in. Sydney embraced it first and then the rest of the country followed," he said.

Despite the belated fervour for WSC among cricket fans, O’Keeffe said it was not all rosy for the players.  While he and other little-used players were made to play in secondary WSC matches in regional locations — "my numbers suggested that’s where I should have been" — he said his bigger disappointment was that so many elite players were lost to Test cricket as a result of their involvement.

"Somebody like Doug Walters particularly missed the big time. He was a Test player, an occasion player. Playing in a one-dayer against the West Indies in Toowoomba didn’t quite excite him that much," he said.

That 1978-79 season was the last to feature concurrent competitions. By mid-1979 Packer had received the exclusive TV rights deal he craved, as well as a commitment that many of WSC’s popular innovations, such as day-night cricket with a white ball and coloured uniforms, be retained for limited-overs matches.

While WSC was undoubtedly a key milestone in the dramatic improvement in player conditions between pre-WSC days and now, O’Keeffe insisted reunification did not trigger that instantly.

"It’s one of the myths of Australian cricket that the Packer revolution basically ignited player payments. It’s not true, it happened about a decade later," he said, citing the successful 1989 Ashes tour as a more significant juncture.

Chappell is in Queensland for the under-19 World Cup, in his capacity as Cricket Australia’s national talent manager. While the lack of awareness among those teenaged players of WSC is unsurprising, Chappell reckoned even first-class players a decade or so older had little understanding of why WSC occurred and what it achieved.

"I don’t think the modern player really has much understanding of what happens, or much interest in it. This (television) program might change that for some, but I think generally players don’t know what a changing moment that was for the game, and in some ways sport generally in Australia. All of a sudden players were in a much stronger position than they’d ever been in before," he said.

"It succeeded not just because of Kerry Packer. It was also because of the strength and the conviction of cricketers around the world to say that ‘Things have got to change’."

Bright similarly argued that "the modern-day cricketer should be very thankful to [West Indies captain] Clive Lloyd, Tony Greig and Ian Chappell for getting together with Packer and Cornell and ‘Hoges’ [comedian Paul Hogan, Cornell’s business partner] to get it up and running".

O’Keeffe agreed there are traces of WSC-type discontent in the gradually increasing instances of players seeking to tailor their international commitments to maximise their availability for private T20 competitions such as the Indian Premier League, which could lead to international retirements in the most extreme cases.

But he insisted WSC players had not been content just because of their significant pay increases.

"We all still yearned to play Test cricket. That was still our overriding aim at the time, to be back in the fold," he said. "Now, I think a few will make a decision as to what type of cricket they want to play — and it’s not necessarily Test cricket."

Howzat!: Kerry Packer’s War. Channel Nine, 8.30pm tomorrow and next Sunday.

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Pussy Riot band members jailed for two years

A Moscow judge sentenced three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison each on hooliganism charges following a trial that drew international outrage as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.
Nanjing Night Net

The trial sparked a wave of protests around the world in support of the feminist rockers, who have been dubbed prisoners of conscience by international rights group.

Hundreds of Pussy Riot supporters chanted ‘‘Russia without Putin!’’ amid a heavy police presence outside the courtroom, and several opposition leaders were detained.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral, high-kicking and dancing while singing a ‘‘punk prayer’’ pleading the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a third new term as Russia’s president two weeks later.

Judge Marina Syrova said in her verdict that the three band members ‘‘committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred’’ and offended religious believers.

She rejected the women’s arguments that they were protesting the Orthodox Church’s support for Putin and didn’t want to hurt the feelings of believers.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich stood in handcuffs in a glass cage in the courtroom for three hours as the judge read the verdict.

They smiled sadly at the testimony of prosecution witnesses accusing them of sacrilege and ‘‘devilish dances’’ in church.The three women remained calm after the judge announced the sentence.

Someone in the courtroom shouted ‘‘Shame!’’The charges carried the maximum penalty of seven years in prison, although prosecutors had asked for a three-year sentence.

Putin himself had said the band members shouldn’t be judged too harshly, drawing expectations that the band members could be sentenced to the time they already have spent in custody and freed in the courtroom.

Sceptics had warned, however, that a mild sentence would look as if Putin was bowing to public pressure - something he has clearly resented throughout his 12-year rule.

On the street outside, the courtroom, police rounded up a few dozen protesters, including former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is a leading opposition activist, and leftist opposition group leader Sergei Udaltsov.

Amnesty International strongly condemned the court’s ruling, calling it a ‘‘bitter blow’’ for freedom of expression in Russia.

The Pussy Riot case already has inflicted bruising damage to Russia’s esteem overseas and stoked the resentment of opposition partisans who have turned out in a series of massive rallies since last winter.

It also has underlined the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity and critics say its strength effectively makes it a quasi-state entity.

Some Orthodox groups and many believers had urged strong punishment for an action they consider blasphemous.

The head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, has made no secret of his strong support for Putin, even praising his presidential terms as ‘‘God’s miracle’’ and has described the performance as part of an assault by ‘‘enemy forces’’ on the church.

Kirill avoided talking to the media as he was leaving Warsaw’s Royal Castle following a ceremony in which he and the head of Poland’s Catholic church called for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.

Microphones were set up for statements in the castle yard and reporters were brought to the site, but Kirill went straight to his car.

Celebrities, including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork, have called for the band members to be freed, and other protests were being timed to just before the verdict or soon afterward.

In the Russian capital, activists put the band’s trademark ski masks, or balaclavas, on several statues across town.Small, but raucous protests were held in a few dozen cities. A few dozen people came out in Barcelona, Spain, a couple hundred in Paris and a handful in Washington.

‘‘This is all nonsense,’’ said Boris Akunin, one of Russia’s best known authors.

‘‘I can’t believe that in the 21st century a judge in a secular court is talking about devilish movements. I can’t believe that a government official is quoting medieval church councils.’’

Before Friday’s proceedings began, defence lawyer Nikolai Polozov said the women ‘‘hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight.’’

The case comes in the wake of several recently passed laws cracking down on opposition, including one that raised the fine for taking part in an unauthorised demonstrations by 150 times to 300,000 rubles (about $A8600)).

Another measure requires non-government organisations that both engage in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as ‘‘foreign agents’’.

AP

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