Month: March 2019

Blues’ AFL crisis deepens

As Carlton continue to slide in the AFL, coach Mick Malthouse insists he is going nowhere.

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The Blues’ woes hit a new low on Sunday when Brisbane upset them by nine points at Etihad Stadium.

It left Gold Coast, Carlton and Brisbane at the bottom of the ladder on one win apiece, with the Blues second-last on percentage.

Sunday’s loss followed the appalling surrender to Collingwood the week before.

The pressure will ramp up further, but Malthouse was predictably defiant when asked after the Brisbane loss about his future.

“I find that strange that you’d ask,” the three-time premiership coach said.

“What’s my history? Turn the toes up and go, you reckon?

“No – the simple fact is that while there is a job to be done I will be doing it as best as I possibly can, along with the rest of my match committee.”

But Malthouse also admitted the job facing him is huge.

“We were better, our attitude was a lot better, but we know where we’re at – if we’re not on the bottom then we’ve bottomed right out,” he said.

“We can accept it or we can keep having a crack at it at round six going into round seven.

“So this will be a great test of the football club, match committee and in particular the playing group.”

One piece of good news for Carlton is Matthew Kreuzer’s successful comeback in the VFL on Sunday.

Kreuzer had been out of action since February with a foot fracture and he might come into the team for Saturday’s home game against GWS.

While Carlton desperately need players to lift, Malthouse said they cannot keep expecting veteran Chris Judd to do the job.

Judd spent time in attack during Sunday’s loss.

“We’ve got to really protect him,” Malthouse said.

“He’s been such a wonderful player in the AFL and I think just asking him to come up against some of these young blokes minute by minute is not wise – he won’t get through the game.

“You’ve got to ween yourself off players – you can’t just think that the go-to player has got to be Chris Judd all the time.

“That’s not the way that the club is going to go forward.”

Two Mississippi officers fatally shot

Two suspects have been charged with capital murder over the shooting deaths of two police officers in the US state of Mississippi during a routine evening traffic stop.

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The two who have been charged are among four suspects in custody over the killings on Sunday of officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate.

Deen and Tate are the first police to die in the small city of Hattiesburg, southern Mississippi, in the line of duty in more than 30 years.

Marvin Banks, 29, and Joanie Calloway, 22, have each been charged with two counts of capital murder.

Banks was also charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and with grand theft for fleeing in the police cruiser after the shooting, said Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Banks’ 26-year-old brother, Curtis Banks, was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.

The fourth person, 28-year-old Cornelius Clark, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice, he added.

All four are expected to appear in the Forest County Justice Court on Monday.

A preliminary investigation has indicated Deen had pulled over the vehicle on suspicion of speeding and then called for backup, which is when Tate arrived.

Strain says it is too early to say who shot the officers or how many shots were fired. He said both officers died of their wounds at a hospital.

Local reports identified the 34-year-old Deen as a past department “Officer of the Year,” and the 25-year-old Tate was a newcomer to the force who Strain said was a 2014 graduate of the law enforcement academy.

Champions League race wide open as nine-man Lazio lose

Cesena were relegated after one season, losing 3-2 at home to Sassuolo, but only after Franco Brienza scored a goal that was reminiscent of Lionel Messi’s second effort for Barcelona against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

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Collecting the ball on the right, Brienza turned inside Federico Peluso and left the defender on the ground before dinking the ball into the net, just like Messi did to Jerome Boateng at the Nou Camp.

AS Roma’s 2-1 defeat at AC Milan on Saturday left Lazio with a chance to go second and they appeared on course when Antonio Candreva game them an eighth minute lead.

But the game turned completely when Lazio defender Mauricio was sent off for pulling back goalbound Rodrigo Palacio and Hernanes curled in the resulting free kick in the 26th minute.

Lazio were in more trouble on the hour when goalkeeper Federico Marchetti upended Mauro Icardi and was sent off. However, substitute goalkeeper Etrit Berishi provided another twist by saving Icardi’s weak penalty with his first touch.

The Albanian, however, was powerless when Hernanes broke clear to score the winner with six minutes left and give seventh-placed Inter a faint chance of European football next season, albeit in the much-maligned Europa League.

EARLY SETBACK

Roma stayed second with 64 points followed by Lazio (63) and Napoli (60). Juventus (80), having already wrapped up the title, drew 1-1 at home to relegation-bound Cagliari on Saturday.

The top two go into the Champions League group stage and third place earns a spot in the final qualifying round.

Europa League semi-finalists Napoli, who have struggled for consistency all season, suffered an early setback when goalkeeper Mariano Andujar misjudged a corner and Raffaele Palladino scored into an empty net.

Manolo Gabbiadini equalised in the 28th minute only for Cristobal Jorquera to fire Parma back in front with a 25-metre effort.

Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante kept Napoli at bay until Dries Mertens levelled with an individual goal midway through the second half.

The game ended with a flare-up between Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain and Mirante with the recriminations continuing afterwards.

“We heard unfair and scandalous words, from players and directors of Napoli,” Palladino told reporters. “We were told that we were failures, that we had been relegated and we shouldn’t be playing with cunning and determination.”

MEDIA BLACKOUT

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez and his players continued a month-long media blackout but the club said in a statement that their only complaints had been about Parma time-wasting.

Mohamed Salah scored another outstanding individual goal to help Fiorentina win 3-2 at Empoli, twisting his way past two bewildered defenders to score his side’s second goal.

Josip Ilicic grabbed the other two as fifth-placed Fiorentina continued their push towards the Europa League.

Sampdoria won 4-1 at Udinese while Verona’s Luca Toni, 37, scored his 19th goal of the season, leaving him one behind Serie A top scorer Carlos Tevez, to help his side draw 2-2 at neighbours Chievo.

Brienza’s goal put Cesena 2-0 up against Sassuolo but the visitors stunned them with three goals in 21 minutes after halftime.

Cesena also needed Atalanta to drop points at Palermo and were condemned to Serie B when the Sicilian hosts rested top scorer Paulo Dybala, who they are hoping to sell at the end of the season, and lost 3-2.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Toby Davis/Mark Meadows)

Aussie men’s Sevens fall short in Glasgow

Australia’s men’s Sevens rugby team have finished a disappointing seventh at the Glasgow tournament, meaning they’ve almost certainly missed automatic qualification for next year’s Rio Olympics.

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Needing to finish in the top four on the overall standings to book their tickets to Brazil, Australia’s poor showing in Scotland over the weekend leaves them 16 points behind fourth-placed England with one round of the series remaining.

Australia would need to win or at least make the final at the tournament at Twickenham in London next weekend and rely on England losing just about every match to leap them on the table.

On Sunday, Australia lost their Cup quarter-final to the United States 14-7 before succumbing to South Africa 21-12 in the Plate semi-final at a wet Scotstoun Stadium.

Barring a miracle at Twickenham, Australia will need to win the Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Auckland on November 14-15 to confirm their place at the Rio Olympics.

Fiji moved to the top of the standings in Glasgow after beating New Zealand 24-17 in the Cup final while England defeated the US to finish third.

South Africa saw off Scotland in the Plate final to finish fifth.

Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are all guaranteed Rio qualification.

“We shot ourselves in the foot against the Americans by turning the ball over too many times and handing them two tries from around 100m out which is particularly disappointing,” said Australian coach Geraint John.

John said a quality South African side capitalised on errors from the Australians.

“Throughout the weekend I think we’ve shown glimpses of what we are capable of, but we have been too erratic,” he said.

Australia have been drawn in Pool B alongside New Zealand, Wales and Japan for the Twickenham tournament.

Robot handshake a good substitute: study

Shaking hands before negotiations results in a better deal for both parties – even when one is represented by a robot.

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Research has found that the trust factor associated with a handshake at the start of a conversation is there even when a robot takes the place of a human during a business meeting.

Scientists say using robots provides a powerful two-way experience that allows people to have a physical presence in a distant place unlike using Skype or video conferencing.

Developing such interaction could lead to robots conducting business meetings or allowing people with severely limited mobility to interact with the world in a unique way.

The study, by the University of Bath, used NAO, a 58cm tall humanoid robot which was designed to be a companion around the house, in mock real-estate negotiations.

One person – assigned the role of buyer or seller – was present in the meeting with NAO while the other took part in the meeting through the robot’s inbuilt head camera and microphone.

Touch sensitive sensors in the robot’s hand transmitted a signal when it was grasped, leading to a controller in the remote person’s hand vibrating at the same time.

Results showed that the act of shaking hands was as important when people interacted virtually through the robot as when they met face-to-face.

Researcher Chris Bevan, of the university’s Department of Psychology, says the experiment highlights how important shaking hands is upon the way people come to judge others as being trustworthy and willing to cooperate.

“Using a robotic avatar, we were able to demonstrate that this effect holds true even when a person cannot see the face of their counterpart,” Dr Bevan said.