Ball use key to Cats’ AFL revival: Bartel

Geelong star Jimmy Bartel says smarter kicking can ease the Cats’ attacking woes as they strive to keep their AFL premiership hopes alive against Port Adelaide on Friday night.

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Geelong kicked their lowest score this season, 9.18 (72), in last Saturday’s upset qualifying final loss to Fremantle.

The absence of spearhead Tom Hawkins, who has struggled for months with a back injury, was sorely felt, with 10-gamer Josh Walker contributing little in his place.

Hawkins was named to return for Friday night’s cut-throat MCG semi-final against the buoyant Power.

The Cats’ inexperienced ruck pairing of Mark Blicavs and Nathan Vardy also copped a hiding from Fremantle’s Aaron Sandilands and Zac Clarke, enabling the Dockers to dominate the clearances.

But Geelong football manager Neil Balme backed the pair on Thursday.

Bartel said it was Geelong’s ball use that most needed addressing.

“It wasn’t our forwards’ fault that we kept dumping it on their heads,” he told AAP.

“Probably if our ball use was a bit better, it might have made the game a bit different.”

He said it was unfair to blame Walker, who was dropped for Friday’s clash.

“He gave us everything he could. The problem is we kept kicking it on top of his head,” Bartel said.

He added the Cats had lost the hit-out and clearance counts regularly this season, but it hadn’t generally mattered.

“We’ve been beaten all year there and we managed to get to second on the ladder,” he said.

“But there’s no disgrace in getting beaten by the tallest man to ever play the game.

“It’s always going to make it hard.

“We’ll just saddle up Friday and hopefully get a better result out of that.”

Adding to the Cats’ problems, they’ve lost two-time best and fairest Corey Enright to a knee injury.

Josh Caddy (ankle) is also out, with Taylor and Josh Hunt returning.

They’ll take on a Power side that is unchanged and buzzing after last Saturday night’s upset of Collingwood.

“They’re a young side that’s fit and Kenny Hinkley’s got them playing some daring and brave football,” Bartel said.

“They play exciting, they’re good to watch, they take the ball up through the middle and they’re never out of the game.”

In the Cats’ favour, they’ve won their past nine meetings with the Power and it’s been six years since any side with the double chance has exited the finals in straight sets.

Geelong still believe they can fight back and win the flag.

“We’re disappointed but we’re not defeated yet,” Bartel said.

“The equation’s still the same. We’ve got to win three games to get there in the end.

“Freo certainly outplayed us but we’ll work on it.

“We’ve got a great opportunity on Friday night against a side in pretty good touch.”

Shorten calls for Labor unity as Rudd hands keys to Abbott

Bill Shorten today said he wanted unity to return to the Australian Labor Party.

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He wanted to “rule a line under the divisions of the Rudd and Gillard era”, for everyone in his party to be nice to each other and for the plotting and conniving to end.

As he announced his wish to become the new Labor leader, Mr Shorten referred to the disunity that is generally regarded as a major cause of Labor’s election rout.

And he accepted his part in it, suggesting it’s acceptable to be disruptive if your intentions are as honourable as his were.

“In making hard decisions, what’s motivated me is how to make the Labor Party the most competitive force it can be in Australian politics,” he said.

“It is very clear that I, along with all members of the caucus, should accept some responsibility for the last few years.

“Decisions were hard. But I have always acted with the best interests of the Labor Party and the nation at stake.”

Mr Shorten made his opening bid for the top job with sincerity and conviction.

He delivered his words thoughtfully and calmly, took a shot at Mr Rudd and later praised him and Ms Gillard.

Mr Rudd, the first prime minister against whom he plotted, had done a good job in the campaign, his efforts ensuring the return to parliament of as many Labor MPs as possible.

“I will acknowledge that forever,” Mr Shorten said.

In line with his call for positivism, Mr Shorten spoke pleasantly, if not glowingly, about Ms Gillard, whose demise he worked for this year.

“I am grateful for the work Julia Gillard did in a minority government. She led us through some difficult times.”

The announcement came as Kevin Rudd today handed the keys to the lodge over to Tony Abbott.

Mt Abbott said his daughters would live there also, and joked they would do so until they were married.

Kevin Rudd quipped, “I know that feeling.”

 

Dutch apologise for Indonesian executions

Thousands of Indonesians lost their lives during the war that led to the country’s independence in the 1940s.

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The apology is being welcomed by the Indonesian community in Australia, which says it will bring closure to many who lost loved ones.

Recent years have seen the Netherlands acknowledge and express regret over isolated cases of violence and killings during its colonial rule of Indonesia, which formally ended in 1949.

This latest apology is the first public acknowledgment that summary executions were also carried out by the Dutch army, particularly on the island of Sulawesi.

The Dutch had controlled the Indonesian archipelago for some three centuries, exploiting it for its precious spices and cash crops.

During the Second World War, when parts of Indonesia came under Japanese occupation, the Indonesians began to push for independence.

When the Dutch attempted to reassert control after the end of the war, they met fierce resistance.

Experts say it’s hard to know exactly how many Indonesians were killed during the period, but some estimates are around the 100-thousand mark.

This woman told Al Jazeera her husband was killed in 1947 after he responded to an invitation to meet with Dutch soldiers.

“I had just married him. He wanted to build us a big house and promised to take me to Mecca. We had so many plans together, but nothing ever happened because he was murdered.”

It was five years between when the Indonesians declared independence and when it was formally acknowledged by the Dutch at a conference in The Hague in 1949.

Tuti Gunawan from the Indonesian Community Association of Victoria was just five years old when Indonesia’s independence was finally recognised.

She says she still remembers her family home in Jakarta being searched by Dutch soldiers.

“They did what you call a ‘search’. They did a search for weapons and things like that. It must have been more than once but yes they were searching for weapons. My brother was in the student guerilla (group).”

More than 60 years on, the role of the Netherlands during the war is still a delicate subject between the two countries.

The Dutch have only recently set about addressing the wrongs of the past, with their first major apology coming two years ago over the 1947 massacre of at least 150 people in the village of Rawagede on Java.

Ms Gunawan says official apologies by the Dutch go a long way in helping heal the wounds of the past.

“It will be received very warmly, very favourably in Indonesia and also by Indonesians, because it’s not only in the last century that there have been atrocities, killings and even mass killings in Sulawesi for example, but also in the 300 years of the Dutch colonialism there has been a lot of suffering by Indonesian people.”

The latest public apology by the Netherlands comes after it recently reached a compensation settlement with ten widows from South Sulawesi.

The Netherlands is to pay the widows 20,000 euros, or around 30,000 Australian dollars, to each of them.

The women were also invited to the apology ceremony in Jakarta and their travel expenses paid for by the Dutch government.

The Dutch apology over the Rawagede massacre came only after the government was sued in a Dutch court in an unprecedented class action.

However, Professor Adrian Vickers from the University of Sydney’s Southeast Asia Centre says the Dutch government’s other attempts to bookend its bloody past in Indonesia have come largely of its own volition.

“The case a couple of years ago was a particular one, the Rawagede Massacres as they’re called. That was a particular one where there was pressure. But more recently there hasn’t been necessarily a lot of discussion from the Indonesian side, so this is something that the Dutch have initiated.”

Professor Vickers says the Dutch apologies and compensation deals form part of a broader attempt by former colonial powers to officially redress their past misdeeds.

“So there’s been this recent case of the British in Kenya and revelations about British use of torture and murder in the so-called Mau Mau Uprising, so I think the Dutch are very aware about the international situation. I guess, as there’s been a change of government in the Netherlands, that there’s consideration that this is the right time to make a broader apology.”

Hodgson launches defence of England tactics

A point from a forgettable match in Kiev kept England on course for next year’s World Cup finals but the negative tactics and lack of flair were seen as further evidence that Hodgson’s side are falling behind the world’s best.

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Former England striker Gary Lineker and now BBC presenter described the performance as “woeful”.

However, Hodgson seemed baffled by the reaction and took Lineker to task.

“I’m surprised anyone who has played for England, captained England and played in games of this nature can be that critical,” Hodgson was quoted in British newspapers.

“This is the second time. My disappointment would be that I saw Gary Lineker play, I remember him captaining the team and playing some great games for England but I’m also pretty sure he played in some games when it wasn’t easy and I don’t think every game he played for England was a total success.

“I try to placate most people but I’m afraid I’ve just seen a group of players missing seven first-team members beat Moldova 4-0 and come to Ukraine and draw 0-0.

“You can criticise us or praise us or do whatever you want to do but don’t think you’re going to put words into my mouth or get me agreeing with these opinions.”

Hodgson said Lineker was out of step with the public.

“I will be surprised if I’m walking down the street in the next few weeks and people aren’t actually saying ‘You did well in those two games.’ I’d be surprised. But we’ll see.”

England have been hard to beat since Hodgson took over from Fabio Capello, losing just once in his 20 games.

They have rarely looked like a side capable of challenging for major honours though, and were outplayed by Italy in last year’s Euro 2012 quarter-finals before losing on penalties.

So far in the qualifying campaign for the World Cup, their only wins have been against San Marino and Moldova.

Captain Steven Gerrard also defended England’s performance.

“The manager asked us for a clean sheet before the game,” Gerrard said in the Guardian. “He asked us to be difficult to beat and make sure the group was still in our hands.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John O’Brien)

Wiggins almost quit 2012 Tour after Froome attack

Froome, who finished second overall to Wiggins before going on to win this year’s race, caused a storm when appearing to attack his team mate on a mountainous Stage 11 rather than help his British compatriot retain the yellow jersey.

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Wiggins reacted later by sending a text message saying it would be “better for everyone if I went home”, according to Yates in his autobiography “It’s All About the Bike” which lifts the lid on the intricate relationship between the two riders.

“Froomey was keen to establish himself in second place overall and have a free hand,” Yates wrote in his book of the infamous climb up the Col de la Croix de Fer when Froome threatened to leave Wiggins trailing in his wake.

“(Team Sky general manager) Dave (Brailsford) and I wanted to stick to the original plan of Brad taking the yellow jersey all the way to Paris. Brad was obviously supportive of that. But wary of what could happen if Froomey was to ride off.

“We decided, without any ambiguity that Froomey would stay at Brad’s side until the last 500 metres, when he would be free to attack if he wished, the idea being that he could take time out of (Vicenzo) Nibali and (Cadel) Evans in the race for second without endangering Brad’s lead.”

What actually happened was that Froome accelerated with four kilometres to go with Wiggins obviously struggling to keep pace.

“For a moment I couldn’t believe it,” Yates wrote. ‘What the xxxx?’ I said. God knows what Brad thought, as he had been riding pretty close to his limit for the previous kilometre, believing that Froomey was spent.

“I made it pretty clear on the radio that this was NOT the plan and he had better wait. He did.”

The incident caused a media frenzy, according to Yates, and left Wiggins threatening to quit.

“I got back to my room and received a text from Brad reading ‘I think it would be better for everyone if I went home.’ I went straight to his room. He was upset and felt like Froomey had stabbed him in the back after the discussion we’d had before the stage. He couldn’t understand why he’s gone back on the agreement, especially with everything going so well.”

Yates said he and Brailsford had to talk Wiggins into remaining in the race which he eventually won to become the first British man to win the Tour de France.

Both riders in action at the Road World Championships in Italy this month where Wiggins is expected to go for the time trial title and Froome for the road race.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John O’Brien)