Wests building for future

All-rounder Luke Boncompagni, 20, is one of the older heads in a youthful Wests side. Picture: GREG TOTMANWests Illawarra’s youthful bowling attack could have them on the brink of a golden era, says captain Nathan Dodd.The Devils find themselves in equal second after three rounds and get the chance to continue their strong start when they clash with Port Kembla at King George Oval today.Wests will go into day one of the game with one of the youngest attacks in the competition – but one laden with potential.All-rounder Luke Boncompagni is the elder statesman at 20. He is joined by quicks Shannon Crewdson, 19, Matthew Cram, 19, and left-armer Harrison Yates, 17.Junior representative player Callum Nolan, 16, provides the variety with his left-arm orthodox tweakers.Dodd says the baby bowling brigade has given his team a new lease of life.”It’s a pretty exciting time for the club – we’re not a side that are going to win the competition in the next year or two but I think if we keep this core bowling attack together and also bring a batsman or two along, then I think we’re a team that can win the comp in four or five seasons, which is sort of our ultimate goal,” Dodd said.”That’s going to be the bowling attack for the club for the next five to 10 years. It’s a team that, if they stay together, they will certainly challenge for the title for the next four or five seasons.”The Devils will look to support their inexperienced attack with a batting line-up built around the explosive David Georgio. The No 5 has scored 132 and 52 in his two efforts in grade this year.”He’s obviously the form player of the competition – he looks like his bat is a foot wide at the moment,” Dodd said of Georgio, who has been well supported by Andrew Tougher (88 and 49).In other games, Corrimal and Helensburgh will try to kick-start their seasons when they clash at Ziems Park, Keira travel to Judy Masters Oval to face ladder-leading Balgownie, Northern Districts host Dapto and University play Wollongong at North Dalton Park.Ladder after round three: Balgownie 16, Wests 12, Keira 12, Dapto 12, Port Kembla 12, University 10, Wollongong 10, Corrimal 5, Helensburgh 4, Northern Districts 4.Meantime, the draw for the next round of the SCG Country Cup has been announced, to be played tomorrow week. The winners will advance to the round-of-16 to be played in Bathurst and Orange between Christmas and New Year. Games scheduled for November 16: Corrimal vs Wollongong at Ziems Park, Balgownie vs University at Judy Masters Oval, Oak Flats vs Warilla at Geoff Shaw Oval and Albion Park vs Lake Illawarra at Keith Grey Oval.
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Langendam to kick off title defence at Thirroul

Cara Langendam kicks off her Sydney Water Surf Premiership title defence in the opening round today.Illawarra beach sprinting queen Cara Langendam is tipped to start her Sydney Water Surf Premiership title defence on the right foot in today’s opening round at Thirroul.One of the leading sprinters in the nation, Langendam remained unbeaten on the way to the 2007-08 series crown. Bulli’s multiple state champion was also untouchable in the open women’s beach flags.Other stars expected to shine throughout this season’s four-round series are Helensburgh-Stanwell Park sprinter Damien Cook, Warilla-Barrack Point’s Lauren Smith, North Wollongong’s Elyse Yardley, Wollongong City’s Ben Squires and Cronulla brothers Chris and Hayden Allum.”It’s great to see the elite athletes of surf lifesaving supporting the series once again,” Surf Life Saving Illawarra development officer Amanda Scott said.Today’s first round will also be used as a form guide for Illawarra selectors before they sit down to name a representative squad for next month’s NSW Inter-Branch championships. In its seventh season, the series is offering more than $45,000 in cash and prizes.Six-time series winners Warilla-Barrack Point are favoured to capture the overall club pointscore again, although Cronulla, Bulli, North Cronulla and Helensburgh-Stanwell Park are expected to figure prominently.”It’s great to see organisations like Sydney Water are once again on board for another excellent series,” Scott said.”The series brings out the best in the athletes and it provides an ideal preparation for state and Australian titles. Hundreds of entries have already been received and late entries are expected at all four rounds.”Clubs from as far away as the Hunter region are bringing along their highly competitive athletes to the series. All junior clubs have a strong representation and it’s great to see the numbers involved.”One aim of the Sydney Water series is to get these juniors progressing through to the senior ranks and performing strongly.”Round two will be held at Corrimal on November 22, while rounds three and four are hosted by Helensburgh-Stanwell Park (December 6) and Warilla (December 20).
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Hawks will bid for ’09 licence

The Wollongong Hawks have no plans to “drop out” of next year’s new national basketball competition. Hawks chairman Richard Clifford yesterday insisted the club was committed to making a strong case for inclusion in the reconstructed format, even if it was trimmed to a proposed eight teams.Asked if the Hawks would apply for the reported million-dollar licence to play in 2009, Clifford said: “Absolutely. The Hawks are the NBL’s last foundation club still standing, and we haven’t come this far to drop out now.”The team is coming fourth, we’re playing by the rules of the salary cap and we have the support of the community, media and sponsors. We deserve to be there.”Clifford’s comments came on the eve of this weekend’s historic vote on the reform of basketball in Australia.Delegates from all 10 National Basketball League clubs and Basketball Australia will meet in Sydney today to vote on recommendations outlined in the recently completed independent review. Among the recommendations are basketball’s unification under a new national body and a new commercial structure of the sport.NBL communications manager Marc Howard said the outcome of the vote would have “far-reaching implications, both for the NBL and the future of basketball in Australia”.Chairman of the interim Board of Basketball David Thodey and interim chief executive officer of basketball Scott Derwin will address the media this afternoon to discuss the result of the vote and its ramifications.Clifford said a degree of uncertainty surrounded some recommendations and would not reveal which way the Hawks would vote.”There’s a long way to go – there’s a lot happening and a lot of things to discuss,” he said.”Different options are being considered by various teams in addition to the motions being put forward under the merger (between BA and the NBL).”Financial requirements are going to be one of the greatest obstacles we have, but we firmly believe we have a strong foundation to work with and go forward.”The Hawks (6-5) do not play this weekend. They return to the court in next Friday’s home game against Gold Coast.
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Spirit master blamed over close shave

The Bass Strait ferry, fully laden with passengers, was heading for Melbourne in thick fog at the northern end of Port Phillip when it passed within 110m of a giant container ship moving in the opposite direction.
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The container vessel, Henry Hudson Bridge, and Spirit 1 had a closing speed of about 30 knots as they negotiated a narrow navigation channel in visibility reduced to about 200m by thick early-morning fog on July 4, 2003.

TT-Line has fully supported the Marine Safety Victoria inquiry into the incident, acting chief executive Brian McGuire said yesterday.

Mr McGuire said that the ASP Ship Management-supplied skipper was no longer working for with TT-Line.

“TT-Line will take on board the recommendations of Marine Safety Victoria in regard to the role of Spirit of Tasmania in the incident,” Mr McGuire said.

“Following on from its own investigation of the incident, the company has arranged for all bridge teams operating its vessels to attend the most advanced bridge resource management training available.

“This is in addition to the fact that virtually all officers provided by ASP Ship Management have already completed the required bridge resource management training at the Maritime College.”

The Spirit was under the command of a captain who was not required to be assisted by a pilot during entry to the harbour.

The container ship was under the command of a licensed marine pilot.

After the incident, the pilot on Henry Hudson Bridge called the Spirit of Tasmania to inform bridge crew that it should have been “much more to the west”. The Spirit of Tasmania acknowledged the call and proceeded into Station Pier.

The duty shipping control officer later that morning reported the incident to Marine Safety Victoria after consultations with the Port of Melbourne harbour master.

Marine Safety Victoria found that “given the superior manoeuvring characteristics of (the Spirit), and the navigable water available in the area of the incident, this situation should not have occurred”.

“It is evident that poor bridge resource management contributed to the Spirit’s master failing to realise the Henry Hudson Bridge’s position,” the report said. “Similarly, poor bridge resource management also contributed to the Spirit’s master failing to appreciate the deteriorating visibility conditions.”

The report found that Spirit “failed to take adequate action to avoid the development of a close-quarters situation”.

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Some losers are winners.

As I count the cost of yet another Melbourne Cup failure, I think it’s time to salute that vast, unheralded army of people – losers. By definition, that’s most of us. There’s only one Melbourne Cup winner, one election winner, one dux of the class, one beauty queen, one successful job candidate, one big lottery winner. Losing is something you had better get used to, because you’ll be doing an awful lot of it in your life. Many very successful people stress that losing has been a prerequisite to their success. So, one way or another, losing is very important. I drew my inspiration in Melbourne Cup week from two people, a jockey and a boxer. First the boxer. There’s a bloke in England who has just hung up his gloves after a career as a loser that takes some beating. Peter Buckley, 39, called it quits as a human punch-bag after racking up 256 defeats in 300 professional fights. Buckley hadn’t won for five years – 88 straight fights. His value lay in being cannon fodder for rising stars. In all, 42 future world, European, British and Commonwealth champions beat him on the way to taking titles. He had, ahem, Buckley’s chance. But given that he repeatedly passed medical tests, authorities were powerless to revoke his licence. Buckley was a wild kid, always in trouble with the police, which helps explain his otherwise hilarious comment: “Boxing has been good to me over the years.” Now for the jockey. Les Boots claimed to be the worst jumps jockey in the world. He had 39 rides and fell off 40 times – in one race he fell off, caught the horse and remounted, only to fall off again at the next fence. He rode for 18 years in Adelaide, and reckoned he spent 12 of them in hospital. Les broke just about every bone in his body. Bookies would post 100/1 odds for every mount, no matter what the horse’s form. “Once the South Australian Jockey Club was going to bar me from riding because I was putting too big a strain on their Workers Compensation Fund,” Les said in a hilarious interview with the great caller Bert Bryant in 1987. “My wife used to wrap my pyjamas in a brown paper bag and put them with my riding gear, which was embarrassing when other jockeys spotted them,” he said. “She ended up barring me from taking the kids on the merry-go-round at the local shows after I fell off three times. “The nurses at the Adelaide General Hospital used to buy the racing papers, not to have a bet but to check if I had a ride, so they could make up my usual bed in advance. “I once fell off at the first fence, breaking my leg, then fell out of the ambulance on the way back to the casualty room, then while they were carrying me across the lawn I fell off the stretcher. “One misty, foggy day at Victoria Park I fell off at the first jump and, being a bit winded, was lying on the track waiting for the ambulance to arrive when through the fog I heard this voice saying, `I think we’ll have to shoot him’. “I beat the ambulance back to the jockey room where they sedated me and explained they were talking about the horse.” Failure is said to be a great teacher. I wish I had met Les Boots. He sounds like he lost enough to be a winner. Doug Conway is a well known Australian journalist who one day hopes to overcome his fear of dentists.
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