Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar draw a blank in 0-0 A-League stalemate

As it happened

Two sides bereft of confidence and still unsure of where they fit into the grander scheme of the A-League season did not exactly bode well for the kind of contest these two sides have been famous for in recent years.

The stifling Queensland humidity – the kind that makes you sweat even when sedentary – was the winner. The heat acted like a catheter, draining the intensity of the occasion, and reducing the match to a walk by the end.

Perhaps it was reflective of this strange week, where nothing seems to happen at normal pace. Both sides seemed in holiday mode at Suncorp Stadium. It was if they were each still lying prostrate in one of those wonderful post-Christmas lunch food comas.

The scoreless draw at least stops the rot for Sydney FC, a recent run of defeats that has separated them from the top four and out of title contention – if their glut of injuries hadn’t already. For Brisbane, it was another missed opportunity in a season becoming defined by them.

The Asian Cup had further blunted both sides of their midfield maestros, Terry Antonis for Sydney and Matt McKay for Brisbane. They link the play of their respective teams so fluidly and their absence was obvious.

In defence, Sydney fielded two teenagers, Aaron Calver and Alex Gersbach filling the right and left-back roles. Gersbach is still only 17 but looms as a long-term option not just for the Sky Blues. Pleasingly, he is both mature and developing, and, unusually for an Australian, defensively sound.

Big calls are fraught with danger but here goes: he’ll play in Europe one day and eventually become the Socceroos’ first-choice left-back. Sooner than you might think, too. Besides, Jetro Willems was barely 18 when he played all three group matches for the Netherlands at Euro 2012.

The challenge on this occasion was more for Calver, normally a centre-half, to prove his capability. He didn’t do a lot wrong, and battled gamely against Henrique. The tricky Brazilian has been in great form this year.

The injured Thomas Broich would have been a bigger test, however. How Brisbane miss him. But he turns 34 next month and cannot go on forever. They have not replaced him, nor have they have replaced Besart Berisha.

Jean Carlos Solorzano, coming off a double, didn’t look half as good as he did on the weekend in Gosford. Mensur Kurtishi wasn’t even on the bench. And sans McKay, Brisbane looked creatively bereft and hardly energetic.

Smartly, Graham Arnold changed his system for this clash. His two main strikers, Shane Smeltz and Marc Janko, are just too similar. They don’t press enough. They don’t aid the midfield enough. Adelaide had exposed their lack of mobility and a dugout response was required.

Janko was apparently hampered by injury, which could account for his lack of movement, but it was sensible swap that saw Smeltz left alone, although they were changed with 30 minutes to play.

Strategically, that meant a number 10 was introduced into the system. The 4-2-3-1 will eventually suit everyone a little better – especially Alex Brosque and Bernie Ibini – and forced Arnold to play a genuine playmaker.

Milos Dimitrijevic didn’t have a major impact but still looms a possible solution given his technical ability. A pair of gnome-sized grafters, Peter Triantis and Rhyan Grant, sat in front of the back four. Dependable, solid, unspectacular. Grant was relieved after an hour for Chris Naumoff. Triantis was given an extra 20 minutes before Hagi Gligor replaced him.

As the minutes ticked by, Brisbane sensed the urgency. It was such a stodgy game, no more than a goal would be needed to settle it. But this was a match that didn’t have that inevitable goal about it. They’d have to conjure it from nothing.

It didn’t happen. It was never going to. Perspiration, not inspiration, would be the order of the occasion.

James Pattinson tears Sydney Thunder apart

All James Pattinson needed to do to elicit a smile from cricket fans after his comeback match, in the Big Bash League, was to bowl with decent pace and finish the game uninjured.

He went three steps better, rattling the stumps of Jacques Kallis, Mike Hussey and Andrew McDonald with the new ball in a devastating opening spell that inspired Melbourne Renegades a first win of the season and underlined why he is being primed for a return to Tests.

The Thunder’s paltry score of 6-114 was reached in a canter by the Renegades, primarily thanks to a brisk 48 from 37 balls by captain Aaron Finch and Callum Ferguson’s composed 30 not out from 24. The eight-wicket win, with 37 balls to spare in front of a record non-derby home crowd of 22,018, snapped a streak of five consecutive losses by Victorian teams – the Stars account for three – to start the season.

South African great Kallis had grounds to think he was the victim of an early contender for ball of the tournament when he was comprehensively bowled by Mitch Starc at the weekend. On Tuesday night he received another searing yorker that made him look every one of his 39 years, departing for a second-ball duck.

Pattinson is primarily playing BBL because his national and Victorian coaches think it’s a good stop-gap measure to build up his match fitness until two-day club matches resume in January.

It is no disrespect to Kallis to say his wicket was of less importance of that of Hussey, who is also 39 but still boasts an intensity that players half his age would long for.

In Pattinson’s second over, in which he reached 146km/h with his tweaked bowling action, left-hander Hussey was undone for 10 trying to nudge into the off-side and getting an inside-edge that went off his body into his leg-stump. The right-armer then maintained his record of rattling the stumps in his final powerplay over when his former Victorian teammate McDonald tried to play him into the leg-side and was comprehensively bowled between bat and pad. It was only the second time in Australia domestic Twenty20s  that a team’s top three have all been bowled, which underlined the significance of Pattinson’s penetration.  Pattinson bowled his four overs in succession at the start. Just conceding 24 runs from them would have been acceptable on such a small ground, but his three key scalps made his contribution invaluable. By the eighth over Aiden Blizzard and Eoin Morgan were back on the sidelines, which robbed the Thunder of their last hitters.

The latter marked a sudden shift in mood from the Renegades, as from the previous delivery Ben Rohrer dropped a simple catch off Daniel Hughes, which got Morgan on strike.

Top-scorer Hughes (40 not out) and wicketkeeper Chris Hartley shared a 51-run partnership that stemmed the flow of wickets, although the prospect of a surge in runs evaporated as both are better suited to playing supporting roles, which showed in the partnership coming off 50 balls. It ended when Hartley’s bat got stuck in the turf as he chased a quick single and was caught short by Dwayne Bravo kicking the ball into the stumps in his follow through.

The Renegades’ other five bowlers on the night backed up Pattinson’s superb start by keeping their economy rate under seven per over. The likelihood of a home team victory strengthened when they scored 47 from their powerplay for the loss of only Matthew Wade for 20, bowled by a yorker from Dirk Nannes, a 38-year-old who has lost little of his pace.

That Finch looked back to his fluent-hit best was good news not just for the Renegades but also Australia ahead of the one-day World Cup. Finch’s first two boundaries were particularly impressive.

With the required run-rate of about 4.5 per over from the middle of the innings the home team focused more on not stumbling than they did on entertaining, excepting Andre Russell’s 16 not out from seven balls at the end.

The efforts of Pattinson at the start of the night  ensured the spectators were not shortchanged by the mostly sedate conclusion to it. Team P W L NR T Pts NRR Sixers 431–60.005 Strikers 22—41.852 Scorchers 321–41.129 Hurricanes 211–21.065 Renegades 312–20.133 Thunder 312–2-0.259 Heat 211–2-1.375 Stars 3-3–0-2.098

James Pattinson returns with fiery spell to spearhead Melbourne Renegades’ easy BBL win

Melbourne Renegades pace bowler James Pattinson spent months overhauling his action to prevent his career being curtailed by  back injuries – and he returned on Tuesday  to rip the steel out of the Sydney Thunder batting line-up’s spine.

Pattinson and a pitch that was going to be tough for the team that batted first on it formed an unholy alliance for the Thunder.

He opened the bowling at Etihad Stadium and, with the final delivery of his first over, Pattinson sent South African superstar Jacques Kallis packing for a two-ball duck when the ball uprooted his off-stump.

In his second over Pattinson – who played a few games of grade to prepare  – dismissed the Thunders’ other heavyweight, Michael Hussey, for 10. He danced with delight as the skipper’s inside edge rocketed between his bat and pad before crashing into his leg stump.

Former Australia all-rounder Andrew McDonald was dispatched to stop the rot. He managed 11 runs before the Pattinson express unleashed an inswinger to finish him off …  bowled.

It was breath-taking and, with the visitors on the ropes, Renegades captain Aaron Finch sooled Pattinson, like an attack dog, for one more over. He tormented the men in lime green but went wicketless. He had  captured 3-24, though, and the Thunder would not recover from his spell.

“Definitely plenty of nerves, I haven’t played for a long while,” Pattinson told the host broadcaster Channel Ten. “But I was just excited to get out here and do something I love.”

Hussey noticed Pattinson’s pre-match nerves but said the former Test bowler needed very little time to overcome them.

“He bowled beautifully,his  three early wickets put us on the back foot,” he said.  “I did detect a few changes in his action as well, so he’s obviously been working very hard on that.

“When he tried to swing the ball the seam was perfectly upright and in the perfect position for the out-swinger and that was a very good sign. He looked like he was getting a little bit more side-on than he has done in the past, he was rocking that shoulder around a bit more – before he seemed a bit more front-on.

Aiden Blizzard, who fought a savage but ultimately fruitless rearguard action in the Thunders’  last-match loss to the Sixers, tried to repeat his heroics. But he was contained by the Renegades’ smart attack before being caught by Matthew Short off  West Indian Andre Russell for 11.

Eoin Morgan came and went quickly,  caught by Callum Ferguson off the Jamaican’s bowling, and the Thunder were 5-47.

After losing the toss and being sent into bat first Hussey noted the impact the “two-paced” pitch had on the Thunder’s effort.

“It reminded me a lot of last year, actually,” he said. “It seemed in the first half it was a bit two-paced and then it ‘skip-on a bit more in the second-half [of the game]. They [Renegades] struggled batting first last year and we founf it easy in the second half  . . . it was certainly tough batting first and they found it easy.”

Daniel Hughes and Chris Hartley worked hard to set a decent target but their partnership was ended by Dwayne Bravo’s footwork. He kicked the ball soccer-style into the stumps to catch Hartley short.   Hughes made  a fighting 40  to help the Thunder set 115 for victory – and the Renegades’ openers Finch and Matthew Wade did their best to mow them down.

The Renegades had rocketed to 36 in the fourth over before  Wade fell, bowled by Dirk Nannes, in the for 20.  Finch and Ferguson joined forces in a smart partnership to take the game away from the Thunder.   Former Test spin bowler Nathan Hauritz was introduced  and after being hit for 14 off his first five balls, he ended Finch’s 37-ball innings when he was on 48.

Pat Cummins was brought on to try to delay the inevitable but Ferguson and Russell put him to the sword and the Renegades chalked up an eight-wicket win.

Daniel Lane stayed in Melbourne courtesy of TFE Hotels, a Sydney Thunder sponsor.

Brandis supports state in battle over coal licences

City hall feuding

FEDERAL Attorney-General George Brandis and his state counterparts have backed NSW in a High Court battle over coal licences that were torn up in the wake of corruption inquiries into Eddie Obeid and other Labor figures.

Private mining company Cascade Coal and its former director Travers Duncan, along with listed company NuCoal, have asked the High Court to overturn NSW laws stripping the companies of lucrative coal exploration licences.

The laws were passed on January 30, after the Independent Commission Against Corruption said the licences were so tainted by corruption they should be expunged or cancelled.

Senator Brandis and the state attorneys-general have intervened in support of NSW in all three cases, which will be heard together in Canberra on February 10.

The companies and Mr Duncan argue in written submissions the NSW Parliament strayed outside its powers by passing laws that amount to a punishment or penalty. They say this is an exercise of judicial power that can be exercised only by the courts.

But Senator Brandis’ legal team, led by Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, SC, says Parliament has not strayed outside its powers under the Commonwealth Constitution.

‘‘There is no basis in the text or structure of the Commonwealth Constitution, or in state constitutional law, to prevent the NSW Parliament from enacting a law whose operation can also be characterised as judicial in nature,’’ they said.

The companies and Mr Duncan also argue the Parliament acted without power by making findings of corrupt conduct before meting out a punishment.

But Mr Gleeson and his junior, James Stellios, say the laws related to tearing up the licences do not involve the ‘‘adjudgment and punishment of criminal guilt’’ and any prosecutions following the ICAC inquiries are unaffected by the cancellation of the licences.

Separate submissions supporting NSW have also been lodged by the state attorneys-general.

NuCoal says the NSW laws stigmatise the companies. It has noted their ‘‘mum and dad’’ shareholders were also affected by the laws, although they were not a party to any wrongdoing found by the ICAC.

The ICAC had recommended the government consider compensating any innocent person affected by the laws, but the former government of Barry O’Farrell decided against it.

Cascade Coal previously held two exploration licences, including one over a Bylong Valley property owned by the family of Mr Obeid.

Handicap honours for Hickman family

TOUGH GOING: Handicap winner Wild Rose on its way to Hobart. Picture: Carlo BorlenghiBAD weather and broken equipment proved no obstacle to the Hickman family and the rest of the crew aboard Wild Rose as the 43-footer claimed handicap honours at the Sydney to Hobart.

In his 38th tilt at the bluewater classic, owner and skipper Roger Hickman won his third overall title on Tuesday and got to share it with 13 others on board, including sister Lisa and brother Andrew.

‘‘I’m so elated and feeling fantastic … absolutely wonderful,’’ Hickman said after being presented with the Tattersall’s Cup.

It was far from smooth sailing on the way into Hobart for Wild Rose, with Hickman admitting the final 40 nautical miles were the toughest in his experience.

‘‘Gales, winds, becalm, hail … they say it’s a normal Sydney to Hobart yacht racing,’’ he said.

‘‘It made it really tough because we were losing time on the guys that had finished and gaining time on the guys behind us.’’

And it was not the first nervous moment on board either. When Wild Rose reached Tasmania’s mid-east coast early on Monday, potential disaster struck in the form of a broken steering cable.

It was a blow that made navigator Jenifer Wells think any chance at handicap honours was blown.

‘‘It was looking pretty dicey,’’ she said.

‘‘We got the emergency tiller up and got the kite [spinnaker] down in 30-knot [winds] and repaired the cable and were back on track in 30 minutes.’’

Hickman, though, took it all in his stride.

‘‘It was a learning experience. It was a bit of fun,’’ he said of the broken cable and subsequent emergency repairs.

The boat, formerly named Wild Oats and owned by Bob Oatley, whose super-maxi Wild Oats XI took line honours on Sunday, took handicap honours in the 628-nautical mile race in a corrected time of three days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds.

Hickman, 60, said he would be back for more Sydney to Hobart action.

As the last boat, Southern Myth, reached Hobart on Tuesday afternoon the usual celebrations were muted.

A light plane carrying a pilot and photographer crashed into waters near the Tasman Peninsula on Monday and neither man, aged 29 and 61, have been found. Nor has the aircraft.

They had been photographing the racing boats along south-east Tasmania and the plane crashed within 300 metres of competitor Mistraal.

Crew on board the boat radioed for help and along with six other racing yachts went to help in the search.

The yachts that diverted to assist were praised by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Cameron.

‘‘An ocean race is of secondary importance to the safety of people, and at the moment we are all thinking of those affected by this event,’’ he said.

A search continues. AAP

No dampening the Falls spirit

Australian singer Vance Joy performs surrounded by smoke as the crowd is cooled down. Photos by Scott GelstonRAIN, sun, wind – while Crowded House might not have made the Falls Festival, the four seasons they sang about certainly did.

Patrons at the three-day Marion Bay festival endured all elements to enjoy songs from musicians including Vance Joy, Alt-J, The Presets and Tasmania’s own Luca Brasi.

And despite the temperamental weather – or perhaps because of it – patrons were mostly well-behaved.

St John Ambulance Falls Festival commander Pam Heiermann said the service had received few foot injuries or instances of sunstroke during the first two days of the festival.

Larissa Hearps of Ulverstone and Lauren Timmins of Burnie. Photos by Scott Gelston

About 40 staff – doctors and nurses included – were on site to deal with any medical issues.

“There have been no serious problems,” Ms Heiermann said.

“The temperature has kept it fairly quiet.

“It’s a festival – there’s nothing unexpected.”

The huge crowd at the Valley Stage. Photos by Scott Gelston

And police agreed.

“It’s been fairly quiet,” Senior Sergeant Ian Mathewson said.

“I understand there were a small amount of evictions management conducted.

“There’s been no drug seizures I’m aware of. The dogs are here today and yesterday and will be present and being used at entry points.”

About 14,000 people will be at the event to bring in the New Year.

Zak Latimer, Tara Krake and Steph George of Melbourne. Photos by Scott Gelston

Falls director Paul Piticco said the increase in crowd numbers was thanks to efforts from organisers to “double down” on Tasmania.

He said the stellar line-up, increase in activities for children and food offerings had ensured boosted numbers.

“There were a lot of questions about our longevity in Tasmania – we always said we were [committed] and we wanted to show it,” he said.

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