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maintains 100% record
Defending champion Canter-
bury jumped back to the top
of the NPC rugby table after
repelling a spirited Counties
Manukau challenge to secure a
The competition’s only unbeaten
side, Canterbury made it six wins
from six matches to hold a one-
point lead over second-placed
Taranaki with a game in hand.
The result in Pukekohe was
seldom in doubt after a clinical
first-half performance by the
visitors, but they had to hold off
a fightback by the home side.
For the Steelers, the loss was
their fourth in a row and keeps
the former Ranfurly Shield
holder second bottom in the
Canterbury got on the front
foot early, flanker Matt Todd
scoring from a line-out drive in
the 12th minute.
The Cantabrians then showed
characteristic patience as their
for wards built phases before the
ball was moved out to winger
Johnny McNicholl to cross in
A set play from a solid scrum
early in the second spell led to
Canterbury’s third try through
skipper Willie Heinz.
That sparked a lively response
from Counties, with winger
Frank Halai finishing off a neat
They almost scored a quick
second with lock Sikeli Nabou
being held up over the line.
Nabou was sinbinned minutes
later for a punch on Todd.
But the Steelers made light of
their one-man deficit, another
of their attacks finishing with
centre Rey Lee-Lo tackled just
short of the line.
They did manage to have the
final say, Halai getting his second
try after an 80-metre run two
minutes from time.
Earlier, All Blacks lock
Dominic Bird came off the
bench for Canterbury for his
first match since suffering a foot
injury in the Crusaders’ defeat in
the Super Rugby final.
Bird was in the action earlier
than expected, replacing the
injured Joel Everson in the
19th minute, and produced an
encouraging first hit-out after
seven weeks out. — NZ N
PICTURE: Getty Images
Matt Todd of Canterbury charges forward during the match between Counties Manukau and Canterbury in Pukekohe.
Canterbur y beats Steelers
Breakers ring the changes
It is still 23 months away and
there is a pile of racing to be
done, but at some point tough
decisions await Bike NZ around
Rio Olympic selections.
The problem for Bike NZ is
the number set down for the
programme in Rio, which hosts
the games from August 5-21.
Teams are restricted to three
sprinters and five endurance
riders for the men’s events, one
fewer for the women.
The games programme has
competition in sprint, team
sprint, keirin, team pursuit and
the omnium, the latter the six-
discipline event which tests
riders’ versatility and stamina
over a flying lap, points race,
elimination, individual pursuit,
scratch and a time trial.
Qualifying points are on
offer for the first time at the
Bike NZ Cup at Cambridge’s
New Zealand has five top-
class men’s sprinters — world
champion team trio Sam
Webster, Eddie Dawkins and
Ethan Mitchell, plus keirin and
kilo time trial specialist Simon
van Velthooven, and recent
Commonwealth Games kilo
time trial bronze medallist Matt
competed in Glasgow, where two
golds were won — by Tom Scully
in the points race and Shane
Archbold in the scratch event
as part of New Zealand’s
memorable 11-medal haul on
Competition is going to be
tough. It appears the omnium
may cut through the team
pursuit in Rio which removes the
option of using a pursuiter in the
Decisions, decisions, but head
sprint coach Anthony Peden
takes the view there is no point
getting wound up this far out
from the games.
“ I wouldn’t say it ’s a problem
at the moment,” Peden said.
“ We are a long way from Rio,
and we can’t get too far ahead of
“ First we have to qualify and
I don’t want every week to be a
race for these guys because if
that ’s the case we won’t arrive at
the pointy end in 2016.”
However, he acknowledged it is
not an ideal scenario, when two
out of five top-class riders will
miss a games.
“ It will create a lot of
competition within the group,
but I see that as a positive thing
because it’s going to lift the
performances of everyone and
it’s going to make it cut-throat
closer to the time.”
When the time comes
the process will be pretty
straightfor ward. Unlike, for
example, cricket, rugby or netball
where there is wriggle room
for gut instinct, a feeling that a
player not performing at their
best in the lead-up will come
right on the day — cycling is
simple. Riders with the best
times get selected.
“The fastest three will be going
who give us the best chance to
medal across the three disciplines
(sprint, team sprint and keirin),”
“ We have to make sure each is
in the best form of his life coming
into 2016 — then we have some
hard decisions to make.”
Webster, back in training for
only two weeks after a post-
Glasgow break, won the sprint
title on the opening night.
— APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Tough road ahead
in race to Olympics
The Breakers hope a quartet of recruits
and a trio of changes can inspire them
out of the Australian NBL basement
and back to the top of their perch.
Coach Dean Vickerman spent the
offseason overhauling his roster, focusing
on players blessed with size, leadership
qualities and defensive skills.
Those were three areas deemed
deficient last season, when the three-
time defending champions surrendered
their crown in ignominious fashion, and
they are areas in which the Breakers
feel they have made a vast improvement
ahead of next month’s tip off.
The club will get a chance to test
those amendments in the preseason,
beginning this weekend in Brisbane. But
by bringing in three new faces and one
old friend, the Breakers feel the balance
is now right.
The club certainly cannot go wrong
with the return of Cedric Jackson, the
league MVP in the last championship
campaign. Although the other recruits
big men Ekene Ibekwe and Tai
Wesley and guard Rhys Carter — are
hardly the sure things that Jackson
represents, they do cover the weaknesses
the off-season review identified.
First of all, size, where Ibekwe and
Wesley should prove invaluable. The
Breakers were never satisfied with the mix
of their big men last season, with Darnell
Lazare being jettisoned in the opening
weeks and replaced by Gary Wilkinson.
By re-signing the former fan favourite,
the Breakers also had to release Jeremiah
Trueman to remain under the points
cap, leaving them light in the bigs. That
meant Tom Abercrombie and Reuben
Te Rangi had to play as under-sized
power for wards when Mika Vukona
found himself in foul trouble and, once
centre Alex Pledger was stricken with
injury, the club was forced to turn to
commentator Casey Frank.
The combination of Ibekwe and
Wesley promises to provide much
more solidity. Ibekwe, a 29-year-old
Nigerian international, has spent the
last several seasons in Europe’s top
leagues and, in addition to a formidable
2.32m wingspan, he possesses inherent
“He’s a very capable player and athlete,”
Vickerman said. “ We had an incident in
practice and he was willing to go put his
arms around two guys and walk them
away and talk about it. He’s shown really
good leadership and really connected
with some of the younger kids.”
Wesley was last seen starring for the
Southland Sharks in the New Zealand
NBL and, like Ibeke, the 28-year-old
will be valuable both on the boards and
in the low post.
Carter, meanwhile, should shore up
the backcourt, bringing 12 years’ ANBL
experience to cover for Jackson and
Corey Webster, who’s projected to start
in the two-spot.
“It was a big priority in recruiting
people, saying, ‘Does this guy have
leadership qualities? Does he have a
voice?’,” Vickerman said.
“(Carter’s) got really good knowledge.
He’s not a really vocal guy but he’s an
astute IQ guy who steps in when he
needs to. ”
Of course, the strength of the imports
will mean nothing if the Breakers play
defence as poorly as they did last year.
Having finished near the bottom of
the league in almost every defensive
category, Vickerman hesitated little
when asked what was the main facet his
side needed to ameliorate.
“ We’ve changed our whole defensive
structure,” he said. “ I wanted to go away
and challenge every one of our defensive
rules and find a better system to fit the
rules we’re playing under, to try and
limit our fouls, to try and take advantage
of our length and size to keep them a bit
closer to the basket.
“It’s a work in progress and we’ll see
how it goes over the weekend.” —APNZ
Fresh from his victory in the Italian Grand
Prix two weekends ago, Lewis Hamilton
secured first advantage at this weekend’s
Singapore Grand Prix late yesterday when
he topped the times for Mercedes ahead of
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari at the end of
second free practice.
Title rival Daniel Ricciardo was third
quickest in his Red Bull.
In a session interrupted by a red flag
stoppage after Pastor Maldonado crashed
into the barriers in his Lotus, Hamilton
had a clear advantage ahead of the two-time
champion Spaniard and with team-mate and
championship leader Nico Rosberg down in
Rosberg’s session was damaged when he had
to abort his fastest laps following Maldonado’s
spectacular mid-session accident at the exit of
turn 10, where the Venezuelan destroyed the
right front end of his car.
Maldonado’s spectacular shunt, on a day
when the drivers experienced a partial ban
on radio communications for the first time,
ruined the German’s bid to clock a fast lap.
Hamilton later complained about problems
with the balance of his car in both sessions.
“I wasn’t feeling comfortable, but it was
work in progress,” the former champion said.
“ We had some changes after FP1 and, I
don’t know if it was the track, but the balance
was a lot harder to find. The car just felt all
wrong and it was all over the place.”
Australian Ricciardo headed Kimi
Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, the Italian
team enjoying a fillip in form after a desultory
weekend at Monza two weeks ago while they
are gripped by a major managerial shake-up.
Defending four time champion Sebastian
Vettel wound up fifth fastest in the second
Red Bull after only joining the fray with
12 minutes remaining following an engine
failure at the end of his morning free session.
Kevin Magnussen was sixth ahead of his
more senior McLaren team-mate Jenson
Button with Sergio Perez and his Force India
team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Russian Daniil
Kvyat was 10th for Toro Rosso.
Two weekends after their fine showing at
the Italian Grand Prix the Williams men of
Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were down
in 17th and 18th, but running with heavy fuel
Earlier in the day, Alonso ended Mercedes
domination of opening practice when he
topped the times for Ferrari — the first
time in seven races that any car other than
a Mercedes had lapped quickest in the first
action of the day.
Vettel, who is hunting his fourth consecutive
victory under floodlights on the streets of
Singapore, may be forced to exceed the limit
of five engines in a season.
If he uses a sixth Renault power unit he
incurs a 10-place grid penalty, though the
team may choose to do that at another race.
On the first day of the modified ban on
radio communications between teams and
drivers, there were several amusing moments
as drivers either stopped their engineers
from talking or sought information that was
In one, during the morning, Hamilton
asked his race engineer: “ What sector times
are other people doing? Are they doing any
The engineer, aware that such information
is not allowed to be broadcast, replied:
“O kay Lewis, we’ll just continue with our
programme — and discuss this when we get
back in the garage.”
In the afternoon, it was Rosberg’s turn.
Frustrated, he asked the Mercedes team:
“Are you allowed to tell me my team-mate’s
lap times?” He received a similarly negative
response. — AFP
Hamilton strikes first blow in Singapore
The Wellington Phoenix has
confirmed it will play three
A-League matches at the Hutt
Recreation Ground this summer
while Westpac Stadium is
unavailable due to the Cricket
The Hutt Rec will be upgraded
to a temporary 9000-seat venue
and the games in question
will take place on Saturday,
February 14 against Melbourne
City, February 22 against the
Newcastle Jets and Saturday,
March 7 against Adelaide
The Phoenix will also play
against the Central Coast
Mariners in Auckland on
Saturday, December 13.
David Dome said the club was
pleased about the way the “away ”
home games had worked out this
year. — APNZ
Temporary home for Phoenix
Bond helps to
Champion rower Hamish Bond has
spent his career being chosen for crews;
now he has had a taste of the other side
Bond has helped select a composite
eight to compete at the prestigious
Head of the Charles regatta in Boston
It is the regatta’s 50th anniversary and
Bond — Olympic and five-time world
champion coxless pair rower with Eric
Murray — was sounded out about
putting together the best crew he could
There was a stipulation: only one rower
per country. Those approached jumped
at the chance.
The only disappointment was that
while British rowers were keen, their
administrators shut the idea down,
citing other commitments.
Still Bond, who went last year for the
first time and competed in the mixed
doubles with his partner Lizzie Travis,
likes what he has helped put together,
even if the names may not resonate with
Rather than it be viewed as his eight,
he checked with several people whose
opinion he respects around the globe.
The interesting part was the same
names kept popping up on the various
Over the London Olympics in 2012
and this year’s world championships
in Amsterdam, the eight rowers won a
combined two Olympic gold medals,
two silver and two bronze; and three
world champs golds and silvers, and a
“There’s no one you could look at and
argue they didn’t deser ve their place,”
“ It’s a great mix of people, from
different boats and with different
amounts of experience.
“ I might be the oldest person in the
boat at 28, which is a little disturbing,”
he quipped. “But we wanted to pick on
current form, who’s going fast now. ”
The seating plan has not been finalised
but the idea of sitting in the bow, instead
of his usual stroke seat, has a certain
appeal for Bond, “so I can look back
and obser ve the engine I’ve helped put
“It’s probably the eight with the most
power and ability I’ll ever be part of. It
will be a great challenge moulding eight
different styles and approaches, because
as they say a crew of champions doesn’t
make a champion crew.” The event is
raced on a time trial basis, with crews
setting off at 30-second inter vals.
Bond is expecting a crew of top-c lass
scullers — New Zealand Olympic
champion Mahe Drysdale has competed
several times — along with national
teams from the United States, France
and the Netherlands and leading
American collegiate crews, such as
Har vard and Yale.
The crew for the Head of Charles
River challenge, Boston, October
18-19: Josh Dunkley-Smith (Australia),
Colin McCabe (Canada), Francesco
Fossi (Italy), Hamish Bond (NZ),
Olivier Siegelaar (Netherlands), Henrik
Rummel (US), Richard Schmidt
(Germany), Jacob Barsoe (Denmark),
Jack Carlson (cox, US).
— APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Some Kane Williamson brilliance
set up the Northern Knights for an
opening victory in the main draw of
cricket ’s Twenty20 Champions League
in Raipur, India.
In a rain-affected match, the Knights
beat South African outfit the Cape
Cobras by 33 runs on the D uckworth-
The Knights batted first, with
Williamson slaughtering 101 from 49
balls at the top of the order to lead his
side to 206 for five from their 20 overs.
Williamson hit eight fours and five
sixes in his unbeaten effort.
He was aided by Anton Devcich at the
top of the order, who made 67 as the pair
put on 140 for the first wicket.
In reply, the Cobras were 44 for two
when the heavens opened, with play
called off 45 minutes later. — APNZ
Williamson hits century as
ND continues dream run
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