Tiger cubs show claws in big win

COBRAM co-coach Trevor Mills admitted he didn’t know what to expect from his team in its first round match against Barooga on Saturday.

So he and fellow first-year coach Mat Hyde were left pleasantly surprised by their team’s 105-point win in the derby at Scott Oval.

“I said to Mat before the game, ‘we’ve lost so many players the last few years I don’t really know where we’re at’,” Mills said.

“I wasn’t not expecting to win, I had a feeling we were fit and ready.

“It seems we’re very united this year.”

Cobram got away to a bright start with a five goals to two quarter but could only manage one goal in the second term as it held onto a 22-point lead at the main break.

But the floodgates opened after half-time as the Tigers slammed on six unanswered goals to extend their lead to 61 points.

The last quarter was merely a training drill for a young Cobram side.

It continued to pile on the goals, kicking nine to two as Barooga struggled to keep up with the pace.

Young midfielder Tom Thorsen showed he’s going to be crucial to Cobram’s finals chances with five goals while Dylan Ryan also impressed with five of his own.

Mills said the departure of 13 players from Cobram’s 2011 grand final side had given the club a great chance to start afresh.

“The loss of those guys has coincided with a lot of young players coming through,” he said.

“We’ve lost some big names and that’s why no one is really rating us this year.

“We’re hopeful of making the six but obviously all the talk is about Echuca United, Mulwala and Finley.”

Nicholas Tassell was another young player to please the coach with a classy game running off the half-back flank.

Mills admitted his ability to run free had been a credit to the rest of the backline who had covered him on his runs up the field.

In an otherwise disappointing performance for Barooga, Luke Jarjoura was a shining light with four of his team’s five goals.

At Lonsdale Reserve Mulwala signalled its intentions for the year with a mammoth 202-point thrashing of Rumbalara.

The Lions kicked an incredible 38 goals, with recruit Chase Strawhorn the pick of the forwards with 12 goals.

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Gallery: Blues festival takes root in Deniliquin

THOUSANDS of music lovers flocked to Deniliquin at the weekend for the inaugural Deniliquin Blues and Roots Festival.

The two-day festival finished last night with performances from legendary US rock guitarist Carlos Santana, The Steve Miller Band and Status Quo.

The event has been so successful that organisers promised yesterday that it would return next year and beyond to the Deni Ute Muster site five kilometres from town.

Chugg Entertainment and Rob Potts Entertainment Edge staged the event in conjunction with the team behind the Deni Ute Muster, Deni Play on the Plains Festival Ltd.

Chugg spokesman Nick Chugg said more than 5000 people travelled from across Australia for the festival, run at the same time as the long-running Bluesfest at Byron Bay.

“It’s been going great,” he said.

“We had Chris Isaak, Tony Joe White and Bonnie Raitt all sitting out backstage on Saturday night having a drink around the fire,” he said.

Mr Chugg said the board members from Play on the Plains were “very impressed”.

“They were saying as well that just who could imagine those three sitting around having a chat in Deniliquin,” he said.

Mr Chugg said the event had gone so well because there was such an outstanding team behind it all.

“The guys who run the ute muster are fantastic. They really know what they’re doing,” he said.

“We have our team that we bring in too, so it’s been quite good.”

Mr Chugg said there had been a lot of excellent feedback from festivalgoers.

“Everyone loved Matt Brown, Chris Isaak actually jumped in the crowd to do a song and the vibe from the bands has been fantastic.

“And compared with Byron Bay, where it’s nice and wet up there, we’ve had just beautiful weather.”

Up to 300 people were involved in setting up and running the festival, including about 40 people from the Denili-quin area who helped put together the stages.

Mr Chugg said the festival had attracted an older, “very family orientated” crowd.

Click across for more DAVID THORPE photos from the festival.

Zac Brown from the Zac Brown Band rips through a tune. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

PHOTO: David Thorpe.

Ross Baron and Jo Mends from Melbourne danced up a storm. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

Kayleigh Davis from Wingello, Jenna Madex from Tumbarumba and Sharyn Green were some of the enthusiastic crowd taking in the Zac Brown Band. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

US guitarist Bonnie Raitt. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

Tony Joe White was one of the headline acts. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

Kayleigh Davis from Wingello, Jenna Madex from Tumbarumba and Sharyn Green were some of the enthusiastic crowd taking in the Zac Brown Band. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

Tony Joe White was one of the headline acts. PHOTO: David Thorpe.

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Roos bounce Dogs late

Jubilant Corowa-Rutherglen players celebrate their come-from-behind victory against Wodonga at John Foord Oval on Saturday as Bulldogs Sam Wortmann and coach Ben Hollands come to terms with the defeat. Pictures: JOHN RUSSELL Adrian Pavese

COROWA-Rutherglen has started life under coach Adrian Pavese in thrilling fashion, storming past an injury-ravaged Wodonga to win by seven points at John Foord Oval.

Trailing by 20 points when Bulldog Sam Wortmann goaled 15 minutes into the final term, the Roos looked dead and buried before a stunning four-goal surge saw them clinch a 12.12 (84) to 11.11 (77) victory.

Mark Ainley got the ball rolling when he bombed home from outside the 50-metre arc before Henty product Hayden Singe bobbed up with two goals in a minute — the first after a super overhead mark despite his diminutive frame — to have the Roos within a point with three minutes left on the clock.

Best-on-ground Hayden Filliponi put the Roos in front for the first time since early in the opening quarter when he snapped a behind at the 25-minute mark of the final term before Queanbeyan recruit Brett Fruend kicked his second goal to seal victory with 20 seconds remaining.

Former Queanbeyan assistant coach Pavese, who took over from Shaun Mooney last October, paid tribute to his young charges.

“That’s what we’ve been working on all summer — we know we’ve got a big tree to climb but that’s a good start,” Pavese said.

“We’ve had a similar summer to Wodonga in that we’ve lost a few players and are going down the path of playing kids.

“It’s just good to see these guys be in a position to win and not give up.

“It looked pretty ordinary there for a while but we found a way.

“We’ve got plenty to work on but we’re not going to worry about that tonight, we will enjoy the win and then get back to work on Monday.”

The Roos will be buoyed by the form of young big men Jarred Lane, Gerard Ormond (three goals) and Ian McGillivray ahead of their round 2 assignment against league heavyweight Albury.

Wodonga will be sweating on the return of Tyson Gorupic (hip) for Saturday’s clash against Wangaratta Rovers after losing three players to injury against the Roos.

Bevan Charlton-White (concussion), Ben Heinrich (hamstring) and Callum Turner (hamstring) were all out of action by early in the third term and are unlikely to face the Hawks this week.

Youngsters Steve Murray (five goals) and Dylan Beattie stood tall for the Bulldogs but coach Ben Hollands admitted his troops were out on their feet by the final siren.

“I was really proud of the effort of our boys,” Hollands said.

“It’s tough to lose your entire bench in the first game of the year.

“Corowa have always been a good little running side and we really planned to keep with them but losing three off the bench really hurt us.

“It was clearly a factor at the end. In saying that, we probably shouldn’t have given up a 20-point lead, either.

“We came down here with a lot of confidence and belief and we played a lot of good footy but it was one of those days where what could’ve gone wrong and could’ve gone against us did.

“We’re still really confident we can beat Wangaratta Rovers on our home ground this week.”

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Roos end 17-year hoodoo

COROWA-Rutherglen has won its first match against Wodonga since 1995, with the Roos recorded an upset seven-goal win at John Foord Oval on Saturday.

With the scores locked at three-quarter-time, the Roos charged home on the back of a big pre-season to stamp themselves as one of the Ovens and Murray’s big improvers.

Coach Beck Didier was delighted with her team’s never-say-die approach.

“I’m absolutely stoked,” Didier said.

“We have worked really hard this pre-season on staying controlled and not panicking under pressure and it paid off.

“The girls were fantastic.

“They really concentrated on what we had to do and it’s a fantastic start to the season,” she said.

Corowa-Rutherglen led by four goals at the first change and increased the buffer to 24-17 at half-time with Simone Hanrahan and Kiara McLean in fine form.

The Bulldogs were far from a spent force though and, with Bec Cameron leading the way in goals, levelled the scores at the final change.

Unlike the previous season, the home team answered the challenge superbly with Hanrahan and her teammates ensuring Jessica Bice and McLean were given ample scoring opportunities.

North Albury accounted for Myrtleford 50-39 in Myrtleford to kick-start its year.

The Hoppers started their first season in several years without key duo Breda O’Kane and Alyssa Fletcher in fine style by storming home in fine fashion.

The youthful team worked hard in defence and equally as well in attack, pleasing coach Fiona Boyer no end.

Wangaratta Rovers pair Alana Sutton and Jessica Clarke played decisive roles in the Hawks’ 46-25 win against Wodonga Raiders and Lavington stormed home in the final quarter to defeat Albury 44-37.

Yarrawonga had a comfortable win against Wangaratta and North Albury scored an 11-point win against Myrtleford.

Wodonga’s Gemma Grimmond tries to block Corowa’s Jessica Bice. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

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Corp wins six more years

THE Albury-Wodonga Corporation’s wind-up date has been deferred to 2021, with the global financial crisis and sluggish economic conditions being held partly to blame.

Corporation chairman Bill Hanrahan has confirmed the wind-up will be pushed out from the original target of 2015 to avoid the risk of a fire sale of existing land.

The decision was recently ticked off by federal Finance Minister Penny Wong after talks with local, state and federal government parties.

In 2005 the Howard government directed the corporation to cease land development activity and focus on an accelerated land disposal program of varying sized parcels to the private sector and prepare the organisation for winding up.

But Mr Hanrahan said market conditions would prevent the land disposal program meeting its original target date.

“Significant progress has been made in reducing the size of the land bank from 6387 hectares in 2005 to the current total of 1324 hectares,” Mr Hanrahan said.

“However, it has become clear that not all of the land bank will be disposed of by 2015.

“The global financial crisis and the subdued economic conditions that followed, as well as the amount of land already in the hands of private developers, have impacted on the corporation’s land disposal program.”

Mr Hanrahan said almost 200 hectares of the land left was zoned industrial.

Disposing of it all by 2015 would present major challenges in the economic climate and given competition from Albury Council’s Nexus industrial estate at Ettamogah and Logic at Barnawartha North.

The corporation industrial land consists of parcels from several hectares to more than 40 hectares.

“Selling industrial land presents a challenge because historically purchasers have been less inclined to speculate on it,” Mr Hanrahan said.

The corporation was established 40 years ago and assembled a land bank of 24,097 hectares.

After steady sales, it shrunk a further 5000 hectares since 2005, about half due to the sales to private buyers.

The balance is attributable to transfers to state and local governments for environmental and community purposes, with the corporation paying out $11 million to fund its future management.

Bill Hanrahan.

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Gram all class in Hoppers’ victory

JASON Gram says he’s the fittest he’s ever been, and it’s hard to disagree.

The boom North Albury recruit showed why he will be a strong Morris Medal contender after playing a starring role in yesterday’s 24-point win away to Myrtleford.

Silky-skilled Gram played predominantly in the midfield and rested forward for the Hoppers, who booted the last two goals of the game to snuff out a Saints’ charge.

“My body’s probably the best it’s been for 10 years,” the 28-year-old said.

“I had a bit of cramp in the last quarter, (but) that’s what happens in your first game.

“I’ll spend most of my time in the midfield and when I need a rest I’ll just go down to full-forward.”

As expected, Gram’s highlights reel was long, with his class highlighted less than 15 minutes into the game when intensity was at its peak.

The former Saint sidestepped two opponents and baulked another before spearing a pinpoint pass that gifted Kane Godde North’s first goal.

While Myrtleford battled manfully in defence — coach Leigh Corcoran and 200-gamer Luke Chapman led the way — it would have been further behind had the Hoppers kicked straight.

North led by eight points at quarter-time and just 15 points at half-time, despite having five more scoring shots.

The Hoppers midfield of Gram, Matt McDonald, Joel Price and Kade Brown — who was stretchered off in the third quarter with a suspected dislocated kneecap — controlled the game, while captain Dan Leslie did as he pleased at the unfamiliar position of centre half-back.

Saints co-coach Brad Murray was heroic for the home side, putting his battered, wiry frame on the line at every contest until he couldn’t do it any longer, finishing the game forward, while pint-sized recruit Christian Burgess showed poise under pressure.

With the Saints without Matt Spencer and losing Riley O’Shea to a broken collarbone early, star recruit Kristan Height spent most of the game at full-forward.

Height was often outnumbered but stood tall to finish with four, including two in the last quarter when the Saints mounted one last challenge.

Man mountain Ben Ryan ensured the Hoppers got the win with the final two goals of the game.

Corcoran couldn’t fault Myrtleford’s endeavour.

“They probably had a bigger bodied side and we matched it with them in the hardness area and we competed just as hard as them,” he said.

“We absorbed it and we absorbed it and in the end it just started to take its toll.”

Hoppers coach Jason Akermanis, who is expected to play mainly home games, said he was forced to play as the club waits for Adam Prior and Brian Durbidge to be cleared.

“I didn’t expect to play today but with the rubbish with the clearances with Durbidge and Prior, it sort of forced my hand a bit,” he said.

“I only planned to play sort of 12 (games) and finals if we get that far.

“It just highlights the importance of the ability of this club to get Prior and to get Durbidge back in the side.

“We can’t be held up by bureaucracy any more.”

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Stickybeaks storm town

Thousands of sightseers flocked to the area to take in the damage from the tornadoes. Pictures: TARA GOONAN The brick home belonging to Jeanette and Damian Postregna.

Melbourne’s Catherine McKail and daughter Ruby, 3, were among the onlookers at Denison County Caravan Park.

THOUSANDS of sightseers have converged on tornado-ravaged Mulwala to look at the spectacular destruction left by the March 21 disaster.

There had been fears the lake-side town’s usual booming Easter trade would be ruined by the closure of three of its main accommodation destinations damaged or destroyed by the storm.

What hadn’t been counted on was the hordes of gawping visitors who arrived armed with smart phones and expensive cameras, turning the worst-hit areas into awkward tourist attractions.

In the end, Mulwala’s Easter trade was down but a bakery owner estimated the drop was just 20 per cent on other years.

Hotels and other caravan parks were at full capacity and the loss of an estimated 3000 visitors usually housed in tornado-dameged areas was somewhat compensated by the sightseer crowd.

Throughout the weekend cars crawled along Spring Drive, following the tornado’s powerful path.

Their occupants marvelled at a brick home belonging to Jeanette and Damian Postregna which had been smashed to pieces.

Down the road, a steady stream of onlookers scuttled around what was left of Denison County Caravan Park.

Onlooker Adrian Nash, of Melbourne, said he didn’t expect the damage at Denison County to be so bad.

“I’ve never seen damage like this before,” he said.

Security guard Fred Tremellen manned the park’s central entrance all weekend and said thousands of people came to see the disaster.

Some were visitors holidaying nearby and others day trippers from Albury, Griffith or elsewhere.

“At one time we had 40 cars here at once,” Mr Tremellen said.

“So many of them have wanted to donate money.”

At Lake Mulwala Bakery, owner Lauren Holgate said they had noticed some extra business generated by the sightseers, but they were aiming to give that back through food donations.

She estimated a business drop of about 20 per cent on last year.

Next door at Hicks Butchery, owner Alan Hicks was yet to do his sums.

But he guessed he’d come up with a similar figure, the direct result of missing trade that would have usually been staying in caravans.

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Ottens likely to debut on Queen’s birthday

THE debut of boom Yarrawonga recruit Brad Ottens is still at least a month away.

At this stage, the former Geelong star is poised to play his first game for the Pigeons against fierce rival Albury in round 9.

Yarrawonga co-coach Chris Kennedy said that Ottens was likely to be used as a drawcard for the Queen’s Birthday clash in June.

“We’re banking on having him later on in the year,” Kennedy said after the Pigeons’ 55-point win against Wangaratta yesterday.

“Ideally, it would be when we play Albury at home. You know, a big blockbuster game with a crowd.”

Kennedy didn’t rule out an earlier appearance but said he didn’t see the point in rushing the three-time premiership star into the side.

Ottens’ coaching commitments with Geelong will largely dictate when he’s available to play for the Pigeons.

“We might see him earlier, who knows, but he’s got commitments,” Kennedy said.

“There’s no real point in having him play one game and then not seeing him again for five or six weeks.

“I think that would suit him, too.

“The boys are excited about playing with him.”

Meanwhile, the Yarrawonga mentor said the club was eagerly awaiting Sunday’s second round blockbuster against off-season bolter North Albury at North Albury’s Bunton Park.

Brendan Fevola, who sat in the coaches box yesterday due to suspension, is still no certainty to play this week due to a lingering knee complaint.

Key midfielder Tyler Bonat will definitely miss this week with knee soreness.

“I think Fev’s a fairly big chance,” Kennedy said.

“If he’s right to play, he’ll play.

“Hopefully he comes up.

“We’re looking forward to it.

“There’s a lot of hype about North Albury and we’re looking forward to playing in front of another big crowd.

“These boys are used to it.”

Brendan Fevola, far left, watches from the coaches box. Picture: TARA GOONAN

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Kelly’s great comeback for national title

DEVONPORT speedway driver Marcus Kelly is the toast of the sport in Tasmania after a stunning victory in the Tas Truck Refinishing Australian Formula 500 Championship at Cranes Combined Carrick Speedway on Saturday night.

Kelly, who was the reigning Tasmanian until a week before the national championship after unsuccessfully defending his state title at Latrobe a week earlier, qualified on outside pole position for the Australian championship after a consistent run through the 15 heats staged on Friday and Saturday nights.

In fact, he equal-qualified with defending champion Jessica Moulden, of Victoria, with Moulden taking pole position by virtue of the fastest lap time during the heats.

Moulden led qualifying after the first 15 heats on Friday night and finished fourth in her final heat on Saturday after starting on grid 10, to start the 25-lap final as favourite. However, Kelly started better, with Moulden forced to withdraw before the end of the first lap with a broken drive chain.

Fellow Victorian Matthew Symons, who started behind her on grid three, took advantage of her demise and slotted into second behind Kelly but crashed on lap four, ending his night in a spectacular incident that also claimed West Australian drivers Mark House and Andrew Priolo.

Brock Hallett, also from Victoria, who started from grid five, inherited second after Symons’s exit but was unable to match Kelly’s pace as he opened up a handy break.

West Australian driver and former national champion Matt Brown, who started from grid seven, locked on to the back of Hallett and mounted several unsuccessful challenges, eventually settling for second behind the Victorian.

Kelly’s victory was comprehensive and he was never really challenged, making good use of his local knowledge on the track on which he also won his Tasmanian championship last year, to score a well-deserved victory.

Latrobe’s Adrian Redpath scored an impressive win in the Easter Cup for sprintcars. The former four-times Tasmanian qualified on pole position for the 25-lap final and was able to negotiate lapped traffic with ease to score a solid victory.

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Strikers struggle early to find feet

DEVONPORT Strikers coach Chris McKenna has attributed a slow start as the reason for his side’s 2-1 loss to Olympia Warriors in Hobart on Saturday.

The Strikers were sluggish out of the blocks, conceding two first half goals to their Hobart counterparts, who were clearly the better team to that point in the match.

Devonport came out rejuvenated from the break after a half-time rev up from McKenna, with Brayden Mann scoring five minutes into the second half.

They pressed hard to find an equaliser before full-time, but the Warriors managed to hold on.

”It was a very disappointing loss,” said coach McKenna yesterday.

”We didn’t come to play in the first half, we stood off them too much, didn’t put enough pressure on the ball carrier and got punished for it.”

McKenna couldn’t quite put a finger on why his side got off to a slow start, but said the time allowed for the warm-up on the artificial turf was less than ideal after the game before ran longer than expected.

”There wasn’t enough time between the two games to get on the pitch and prepare properly,” he said.

”We weren’t familiar with the surface, we struggled to retain possession and it took us a while to get our passing game going.”

While McKenna was disappointed with the loss, he insisted there was a long way to go in the season.

”It’s early days . . . there’s plenty of time to recover,” he said.

”But we are under no illusions to how difficult it’s going to be this year.

”Every week will be a new challenge.”

The Strikers will play their second game in three days this afternoon in Hobart, when they take on the Tilford Zebras in the quarter-final stage of the Statewide Cup.

McKenna said he was confident his side could bounce back from Saturday’s loss but expected a tough hit-out against a driven Tilford outfit.

The Zebras are yet to win a game from their two starts this season after heading in to this year’s inaugural Victory League as one of the title favourites.

”They’ll be gutted,” McKenna said.

”I’m sure they’ll be keen to finally register a win and start to build some momentum.

”We’ll be doing everything we can to stop that.”

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