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O’Connell taking little for granted

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first_imgIreland’s first autumn Test series clean sweep for eight years is not sure to be a precursor to success at Rugby World Cup 2015, according to captain Paul O’Connell. Joe Schmidt’s men closed out three-straight wins thanks to tries from Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe, and Johnny Sexton’s 16 points in an edgy 26-23 victory over Australia. Nick Phipps crossed twice and Bernard Foley claimed a third score for the Wallabies, but Ireland held firm despite a relentless late onslaught in Dublin on Saturday. Press Association “I think it works really well when you have that narrow focus on just trying to get better bit by bit. “It’s worked most of the time for us, there have been days when we’ve gone backwards certainly, and probably periods in games where we’ve gone backwards, no different from today. “But I think that’s the way that the coaching staff will address it.” Head coach Schmidt gritted his teeth through suspected appendicitis to guide Ireland to their seventh consecutive victory, before heading off for medical attention quickly after the final whistle. Ireland skipper O’Connell was relieved to atone for last autumn’s 32-15 defeat to Australia, that had the Munster stalwart bemoaning his side’s lack of physical and mental fire at the time. Schmidt’s side lost out cruelly 24-22 to the All Blacks last November when New Zealand stole victory in time added on. This year there were no last-ditch capitulations, but despite the clear mental improvement, O’Connell attempted to downplay the clear progress. Ireland were ninth in the world rankings when Schmidt was announced as the new boss in April 2013; now they sit third, cementing their status with this Australia victory. “I don’t know if it’s a game we would have lost 12 months ago, but we were certainly happy with the way we finished,” said O’Connell. “We haven’t finished games well at points, so to see the quality they brought off the bench, for us to be able to defend the way we did and not give them any easy outs was very satisfying.” Former Leinster coach Michael Cheika admitted he was disappointed to lose on his return to Irish soil, but quickly recalibrated for Australia’s Twickenham clash with England next weekend. The Wallabies compounded their 29-26 defeat to France with another three-point loss in Dublin. Despite two strength-sapping encounters Cheika refused to ease off on his taskmaster style with his squad. “We go again; you’re not tired when you’re playing for Australia,” said Cheika. “We’ll recover and mourn the loss because it was difficult, but we’ll bounce back on Monday and do our best at Twickenham. “I’m very disappointed, it was different from last week where I think we got close but we would have been lucky to win. “This week we got close and we were unlucky not to win to be honest. “All in all I thought it was a really improved performance from last weekend and I thought we were unlucky not to get the result.” Ireland swept the board in November 2006, beating South Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islands, only to slip out of the World Cup in France a year later at the group stages. Veteran lock O’Connell still harbours the mental scars of the big build-up to 2007 that led only to huge underachievement, quickly warning against any repeat. “One of the things we know is that we’ve been here before with a good autumn, and it didn’t serve us well; so that’s the lesson you learn,” said O’Connell. “You have to reassess when you come back in for the Six Nations. “We’ve been eager to improve game by game, so when we come in for the Six Nations there’ll be a short review of the autumn and we’ll try to improve on that. “Your previous performance really means nothing when the Six Nations comes around; we would have been aware of that back then as well. “I sound like a broken record but I know exactly what will happen when we come in for the Christmas camp and the Six Nations camp. “There will be a lot of things addressed that need to be from these three games, and there will be a big emphasis put on learning from that and trying to improve those areas. last_img read more

GCB provides trophies for East Canje day of sports

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first_imgThe Guyana Cricket Board has provided trophies for The Young Warriors Cricket Club’s “East Canje Day of Sports” to be held on November 6, 2016 at the Cumberland Ground. At a simple presentation ceremony held recently, former West Indies pacer Colin Stuart presented the trophies to Rafeek Kassim, president of the club. Kassim thanked the GCB and every other sponsor who have supported the event. Stuart said that the GCB is pleased to be part of this fund-raiser. Anthony Ameerally of Memorex, Art Sawmill and Massy Distribution are the latest sponsors on board.Over the years, the East Canje area produced many talented cricketers with the latest being young West Indies winning captain Shimron Hetmyer. Leonard Baichan was the first and only test cricketer coming out of the area. Seon Hetymer, Gajanand Singh, Damodar Daesarat, Richard and Kevin Ramdeen, Balram Samaroo, Kwesi Maltay, Linden Austin, Boodnarine Sumair and Kassim Khan are among many others that represented Guyana at the various levels.The teams will be drawn from the area and some of those expected to take part are Canefield, Gangaram, Canje Pathfinders, Betsy Ground, Goed Bananen Land and Rose Hall Estate.The cricket competition will be of five overs aside and will involve second division players. However, the teams are allowed to buy the first division players in the area with the starting bid being two thousand dollars with the exception of Shimron Hetymer whose starting bid will be ten thousand dollars,similar to IPL style.In addition, there will be sprint races, lime and spoon, bag race and a feature football game involving players from #2, Palmyra, Sheet Anchor and Cumberland versus the other villages in East Canje. Attractive incentives and gate prizes are up for grabs with the oldest male and female fan receiving a hamper each. Proceeds from this event will go towards the host to help continue promoting cricket in the area. The first match bowls off at 9.30.last_img read more

McCue: Stave deserved chance to lead game-winning drive

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first_imgThe Badgers donned custom throwback jerseys in their 30-27 loss to Nebraska Saturday, snapping a five-game Big Ten winning streak[/media-credit]Every Wisconsin fan watching the game Saturday did a double take when No. 6 entered the game on the game-deciding drive with just under three minutes left in a Memorial Stadium growing louder with each snap. No, there was no way Danny O’Brien, the transfer savior-turned backup quarterback and clipboard manager could be back in the game.The new starter, redshirt freshman Joel Stave, had just been knocked around on a grounding call that ended the Badgers’ penultimate drive, so maybe he was injured. Yet Stave said after the game he simply had the wind knocked out of him, that he was healthy enough to step back into play.But as head coach Bret Bielema said after the 30-27 UW loss in the Big Ten opener, it was all part of the plan. The more experienced O’Brien, who started 17 games in two seasons at Maryland, was the man to lead the two-minute offense, to take control of the huddle on the most important snaps of the game.Forget about the stab it might take at a young player’s confidence, one who shined in the first half of the game in a mind-numbingly loud Memorial Stadium Saturday. Stave was expectedly tight-lipped on the move to take him out late but said he was not so rattled that he could not have finished out his second career start.“That’s not my call,” Stave said postgame. “He made the call, and I just [have] to live with it.”He does have to live with it. But that certainly doesn’t make it the right call. Bielema has been commended for his bold moves this season – first firing offensive line coach Mike Markuson and then benching O’Brien, the man many expected to flourish in Madison. But he simply can’t expect to win games, especially tough battles on the road (first case study: Lincoln Saturday night), with a different man running his game-deciding drives.And it didn’t take long to show exactly why the strategy of snubbing Stave for the No. 2 quarterback won’t work. On fourth-and-1 from the Wisconsin 49, a miscommunication between O’Brien and running back Montee Ball led to a turnover that allowed the Huskers to escape a major upset at home.While O’Brien believed the play called was a quarterback option, where he could either hand it off to Ball or run it himself depending on the defense he saw lining up across from him, Ball said it was a naked bootleg, a designed run for O’Brien.The Badgers’ top tailback didn’t even realize he was getting the ball and subsequently fumbled. Ball wasn’t shy about hiding his frustration with the play after the loss, and O’Brien admirably took full blame for the critical slip-up. But he shouldn’t have even been in the game. He belonged on the sideline, helping guide his younger counterpart down the field.The elder signal-caller looked comfortable as a pocket passer, moving the ball down the field with promising efficiency on a 36-yard drive before the fatal miscue near midfield. This is not an argument of who should start – strong cases can be made for both Stave and O’Brien – but rather for sticking the same man at quarterback, barring injury.Yet Wisconsin’s head coach brought up an even more far-fetched idea in his postgame press conference – getting a third quarterback, mobile redshirt senior and two-time torn ACL victim Curt Phillips, involved. As if a two-man unit dictating plays in the huddle wasn’t enough.“I think the positive thing is, we haven’t seen Curt yet,” Bielema said. “I think he’s got some abilities that can help us as well. So the good news is, I think we’ve got three quarterbacks that … can help us win football games.”It’s as if he sees the most important position on the field as a place suited for a carousel of strong-armed athletes in cardinal and white uniforms. He professes his love for Stave, how impressed he is with the maturity of the 6-foot-5 passer, but then treats the position like it’s a spot on the Badgers’ kickoff coverage unit.The golden-haired starter who last played on the road as a high school senior in 2010 handled a rabid Huskers crowd with tremendous poise, finishing the first half with 161 yards on 9-of-14 passing and a touchdown.His productivity slowed down in the final 30 minutes as he attempted to thread the ball into gaps narrow enough to make Wisconsin fans cringe. Stave’s signs of inexperience included a dropped pass straight into the hands of a Nebraska’s linebacker Will Compton near the end of the first half and another near-interception later in the game.But Stave had more than earned a lock on the starting spot, no matter what situation developed late. Those are the situations where head coaches display their confidence in the offensive leader, the worst time to send mixed messages to the quarterback.“You want to be the guy in there with the two-minute drill, on the road, on national TV, to win the game,” O’Brien said. “Unfortunately that play just stopped, but I liked the momentum we had; I thought we were on the same page.”The outcome may not have been different with Stave under center. But when Bielema chose him as the starting quarterback, he was making a long-term commitment, and he must honor it.Stave earned the role of emerging as the potential hero, the architect of a game-winning drive in one of the toughest road environments Wisconsin has ever faced. But thanks to a misguided decision from his head coach, it was a dream that never had the chance to be realized.Ian is a senior majoring in journalism. Share your thoughts with him on how Bielema has handled the quarterback shuffle via email at imccue@badgerherald.com or on Twitter @imccue.last_img read more

Committee has tough decisions to make

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first_imgCollege football is obsessed with records. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t a good one either. At times, it can cloud someone’s vision and allow one to overlook the talent and current play of a team just because of its record. Other times, focusing on records completely makes sense. I know what you’re thinking; she’s probably talking about USC. I am, but Penn State also falls into the same discussion. After beating Michigan this past Saturday, it seems like Ohio State is a lock for the playoff. Last week, both the AP and the College Football Playoff rankings mirrored each other. This week, the AP has Ohio State sitting at No. 2, so one could reasonably guess that the Buckeyes will hold that spot for the CFP.So that looks good for the Big Ten, right? Wrong. The Big Ten is in an interesting situation. The Buckeyes are sitting at No. 2 in the nation with an 11-1 overall record, so that means they’re playing in the conference championship, right? Wrong, again. Facing off for the conference title for the Big Ten will be Penn State and Wisconsin. Both teams are sitting at 10-2, and Penn State has a bit of an advantage with its win over Ohio State thanks to a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown toward the end of the fourth quarter. The CFP Committee always talks about how they like conference champions, but with Ohio State as the likely candidate for the second spot in the playoff, that goes against what they typically like. If Penn State ends up beating Wisconsin, they will have a viable shot at the playoff, because Ohio State’s only loss was at the hand of the Nittany Lions. It’s a mess, and the committee could have one heck of a headache going into the release of its rankings on Sunday. While a 11-2 conference champion looks great and is more or less a dream team for the committee based on rankings alone, it isn’t really better than an 11-1 team with quality wins throughout the season. What makes this whole Big Ten debacle even more interesting is that the first protocol — according to the CFP committee selection protocol — is winning a conference championship. The other three are strength of schedule, head-to-head competition (if possible) and outcomes of common opponents (without considering margin of victory). Looking at the committee’s protocol from their standpoint, a Wisconsin win will make their lives easier. Now, what about USC? Its chances of making the playoff are virtually impossible. Just imagine how many people would freak out if a three-loss team made it to the playoff. While the Trojans won’t see themselves playing in one of the semifinals, they could still see themselves playing at the Rose Bowl, somewhere they haven’t played since 2009. USC has played in the most Rose Bowls (33) and has won the most Rose Bowls (24) of any college program. With the Trojans back in the national discussion and a number of analysts, such as Kirk Herbstreit, saying that USC is the one team that no one wants to play right now, other than Alabama. He also made the argument that if the CFP is looking for the best teams that USC should be higher. Vegas even has the Trojans as the No. 3 team in the country. The Trojans’ success makes the case that the playoff should be expanded. An expansion would allow for teams like USC that started their season rough but have completely flipped the script to close out the year. The Trojans that upset No. 4 Washington 26-13 and have handily outscored their rivals 81-41 are nowhere near the team that started its season 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah. If the committee wants the best teams playing for a championship, a team like USC fits the bill. Through their eight-game win streak, the Trojans have beaten everyone except Colorado by double digits. A surging USC team following a shaky start brings back memories of Pete Carroll’s 2002 Trojans. That season, USC started out 3-2, but finished 11-2 on the back of senior quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer performed so well that he caught national attention and won the Heisman Trophy, USC’s first quarterback to do so. The Trojans finished No. 5 in the BCS and beat No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, 38-17. There are a number of similarities between the 2002 season and this season, such as dominating victories over UCLA and Notre Dame and a quarterback garnering national attention. If the similarities continue, the Trojans could see themselves in the Rose Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl. On top of it, USC would set a foundation for national championships for years to come, cementing it as a national powerhouse once again. Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” ran Tuesdays.last_img read more

Governor approves 6 cent per gallon tax break for E15 and higher blends

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first_imgGovernor Kim Reynolds has approved legislation that reduced the state tax on gas with an ethanol blend of 15 percent or higher.Reynolds signed the bill at an ethanol plant in Steamboat Rock. The governor also announced plans to use seven million dollars in federal pandemic stimulus funds as grants to gas stations that install pumps that can dispense E-15 and higher blends.Stay tuned for more on this story.last_img