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Bridges dons new mantle as Jets’ onfield mentor

BRANKO CULINA isn’t expecting Michael Bridges to be a messiah, but he does want the veteran Englishman to show leadership qualities as Newcastle Jets aim to revitalise their season, starting in Adelaide today.Bridges, 31, will make his Jets debut against the Reds after last week signing a deal for the rest of the season. The injury-plagued former Leeds United striker had a brief spell with Sydney FC two years ago, and hardly set the world on fire during recent stints back in his homeland with Carlisle United and Milton Keynes Dons.But it’s his experience, and enthusiasm, that Culina is counting on as Newcastle look to bounce back from three losses in a row and breathe new life into their stuttering campaign. Bridges will start despite not playing for a month since he left the Dons.”To be honest, it’s going to take Michael a while to get his fitness, but now that his visa has arrived there’s no point waiting to play him,” Culina said.”He’ll be starting in Adelaide because we need to try something different. We’ve had a chat, and he knows I don’t expect him to come in and score heaps of goals. But what I do want from him is some leadership while he gets the games under his belt.”That’s the key thing. If he can get that little bit extra from the younger players around him, he’ll be doing his job. We’ve signed Michael as a package, not just as a player who you can see has played at the highest level. I want him to pass on that experience. The big thing is he’s fitted in well, the boys like him, and he can give us the spark that’s been missing.”Despite a run of poor results, Culina remains confident the Jets can build a competitive season. With a 10-day gap since their last game (against Perth Glory) and 13 days until their next one (against Melbourne Victory), Culina believes the break has come at a good time. The Jets match against Wellington Phoenix, scheduled for this Friday, has been postponed because six Wellington players are involved in New Zealand’s World Cup play-off in Bahrain this weekend.”The break has probably come at the right time for us,” Culina said.”Even with the results we’ve had, the spirit in the dressing room has been terrific. But because of the injuries we’ve had, and the players going away with the Young Socceroos [Jason Hoffman, Sean Rooney and Ben Kantarovski], we’ve never been able to have a settled side. I probably still don’t know my best 11.”We’ve now got Michael coming in, we’ve got Jobe Wheelhouse back from injury, and we’ve got the young boys coming back this week. So that gives us almost a fortnight to work together, to find out who really wants to make this a successful season. We’ll have a game against our youth team on Friday and we’ll treat it as a serious hit out. I’m really excited about the rest of the season.”Meanwhile, the Jets have received a crucial boost with rising star Tarek Elrich agreeing terms for a new deal which will keep him in the Hunter for two more seasons. Elrich, 22, was believed to have been a high-priority target for Brisbane Roar, but sat down with Jets owner Con Constantine at the end of last week to agree to an improved deal.Newcastle have also extended the contract of recent signing Labinot Haliti as Culina looks to create stability on his roster – notoriously lacking in recent years.Culina’s hopes of securing Socceroos star Nicky Carle as a guest player, however, seem likely to be dashed. Carle has worked his way back into favour at his English side Crystal Palace in the last fortnight, and now seems likely to wait until the January transfer window to reconsider his long-term future, which includes a lucrative offer from South Korean champions FC Seoul.
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The minutes that mattered

4th minute Storm halfback Cooper Cronk is just beaten to a threatening kick in the in-goal area by Jarryd Hayne but manages to pin the Parramatta fullback to earn a line drop-out. 5th minute The Storm capitalise on their second set in the Parramatta red zone when mid-season club-switcher Brett Finch, perhaps drawing on his knowledge of the Eels’ defensive shortcomings, slips a well-timed pass to second-rower Ryan Hoffman for the first try, converted by Cameron Smith. Storm 6-0 9th minute Relief is at hand – at least for a little while – for the besieged Eels when Storm second-rower Adam Blair is penalised for stripping possession from opposite number Nathan Hindmarsh in a two-man tackle. 23rd minute Nearly … but not quite. Eels centre Krisnan Inu climbs high to reel in a spiralling bomb a few metres short of the try line but after hitting the ground with a thud, his Hail Mary pass to support wouldn’t be hailed by anyone, let alone the kindest Mary, and the attacking movement came to nought. 24th minute Cronk cranks up Parra’s pain another notch when he slices through the defensive line on a diagonal run and finds Blair hurtling through in support to score Melbourne’s second four-pointer. Cameron Smith misses the difficult conversion attempt from out wide. Storm 10-0 29th minute Rookie five-eighth Daniel Mortimer splits the Melbourne defence near the halfway line before the cover defence converges. Eric Grothe threatens the line on the next play but Hayne’s last-tackle not-quite-a-bomb is a fizzer, easily taken by Storm winger Steve Turner. 33rd minute The Eels again look like finally getting on the scoreboard when they spread the ball and Grothe steps his way to within spitting distance of the line, but the last pass from centre Joel Reddy was ruled forward. The electric Eels of the past couple of months are looking decidedly acoustic. 38th minute Parramatta’s ”Mr Perpetual Motion jnr” Hindmarsh comes up with a trademark show of dedication when he rushes up on Cronk as the Storm No.7 is looking to thread through an attacking kick on the last play, deep in enemy territory. Hindmarsh’s harassment forces the ball loose. 39th minute The tale of Parramatta’s first half is summed up by Hindmarsh just moments after his efforts to force the ball loose from Cronk. Hindmarsh spills the pill in the play-the-ball and another Eels attacking raid falls short. 44th minute Bench forwards have to make an impact or there’s little point bringing them on. Feleti Mateo gave the Eels much-needed oomph when he split the defence before being nabbed close to the line. He backed up to cause more havoc on the next play to leave Melbourne at sixes and sevens. 45th  minute Following on from Mateo’s efforts, Parra went wide and after Ben Smith dodged a bullet pass by ducking at the last second, Grothe stepped infield much like an Eels winger with the same name and number on his back in a semi-final 25 years ago, beating four defenders to score. Storm 10-6 49th minute Greg Inglis had been relatively quiet but he swung the momentum back south of the border, down Melbourne way, when he reeled in a Cronk bomb while a handful of Parramatta players watched it unfold as if they were watching the trophy slip from their grasp. They were. Storm 16-6 55th minute Slater opened up the sweetest of 16-point leads after Adam Blair made the initial bust before popping a clever pass for the flying Storm fullback to slide over. Smith added the extras from near the sideline. Storm 22-6 59th minute It wasn’t quite in the league of Scott Sattler’s famous cover tackle in the 2003 decider but Storm winger Steve Turner put Luke Burt into touch with a superb diving effort when the Parramatta No.2 looked headed for the left corner. 67th minute Melbourne centre Will Chambers was denied a try by referee Tony Archer after he leapt high to catch a short line drop-out. Archer correctly ruled Chambers caught the ball before it had travelled 10 metres. Refs are such killjoys, sticking to the rules – which they usually do. 70th minute The blue-and-gold clad spectators stopped inching towards the exit signs when centre Joel Reddy latched onto a high kick from Daniel Mortimer and Burt added the extras from out wide. Storm 22-12 72nd minute Eels fans were suddenly scrambling back to their seats after Fuifui Moimoi – sent back on to the field by coach Daniel Anderson for one last shot at glory – hurtled through the Storm’s defence to score, after the approval of video referee Bill Harrigan. Storm 22-16 76th minute Archer pinged Moimoi for stripping possession from Slater in the play-the-ball. Fuifui blew up. Replays showed he lost the ball when Hayne’s leg glanced his arm as he ran back onside. Refs are such killjoys. Inglis kicked the sealing field goal on the next set. Storm 23-16
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I could not have scripted this: Dogs-bound Turner has tears and cheers

BRETT FINCH and Cooper Cronk were slumped against the far wall of Melbourne’s dressing room, hugging the NRL premiership trophy. Greg Inglis was resting against a different wall, motionless and expressionless from fatigue. Dallas Johnson’s cauliflower ears were bleeding, his nose was flattened and he was having a glass of white wine. Ryan Hoffman was off-his-head delirious.And right down the back of the room was Steve Turner after his last emotion-charged game for Melbourne before his departure to the Bulldogs next season, soaking up his last night in a Storm dressing room, coming to grips with his departure from the premiers after six years on their flank.”Toughest player I’ve ever seen,” Hoffman said. ”We’re going to miss him. He’s been a mate, a great footballer, one of those close friends you feel lucky to have.”If anyone deserves to go out on a high note, it’s Steve Turner. With all his injuries and everything – he’s the toughest teammate I’ve had, I’ll stand by that.”For a winger it might sound surprising, but that’s what I think of him. His nickname is Zapper, he fills the joint with energy. He’s upbeat and we’re going to miss him.”In the middle of the revelry is Will Chambers. He’s off to rugby and the Queensland Reds.”It’s amazing right now, I’m lost for words,” he said. ”I’ve got to soak it up. I’m with my mates. That’s a game I’ll remember for a lifetime and cherish for a lifetime. I’m going out on the best possible note. I’m not sad to be going, this is the perfect way to go out. I just want to thank rugby league for giving me a feeling like this.”Storm players mobbed Turner at full-time. Everyone wept. ”I’m sure I’ll cry when we have our ‘preso’ night on Friday night,” Turner said. ”I could not have scripted this. To go out on the highest possible note with a group of players I’ve gotten to know like brothers for the last six years, it’s a fairytale for me and something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I really love this club and I’m so grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me.”It can’t have ended so well. It’s sad but life goes on, you keep moving on. The salary cap didn’t allow me to stay here but there’s no use complaining. The Dogs are a club on the way up.”Turner’s bond with Storm coach Craig Bellamy runs deeper than the normal player-coach relationship.”Yeah, I heard what he said about me being like a son,” Turner said. ”Craig dug his heels in three years ago with all the Gold Coast stuff and he’s always backed me 100 per cent. I’m very thankful and grateful to have played under such a wonderful coach for six years. I’m going to enjoy the week but I’m sure there will be a few hugs and tears when we get to the end of the week on Friday night. They’re good tears, they’re all good.”
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Search for 40 missing Aussies

AUSTRALIA’S response to the devastating Sumatran earthquakes went into full swing yesterday as embassy officials continued their search for up to 40 missing Australians.An Australian search and rescue team worked through Padang and the surrounding areas, including Pariaman, the worst affected district, to assess the damage and rescue needs.Officials have identified more than 2000 sites that need to be assessed. Japanese, British, Swiss and Singaporean search and rescue teams were also on the ground.Australian aid – including medical kits, basic goods, blankets and tents – was passed to the Indonesian Red Cross for distribution to survivors.Aid had also arrived from 13 other countries, but was yet to reach some of the worst affected areas.Australian Defence Force personnel were also on the ground to assist.The 7.6-magnitude quake toppled buildings and is believed to have killed more than 1100 people in Padang, home to nearly 1 million people on the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday. A second less powerful quake struck inland on Thursday.Several thousands people remain trapped in rubble, the United Nations and Red Cross believe.Hopes of finding people alive continued to fade as the stench of rotting corpses permeated the city.All 13 Australians registered as being in Padang at the time of the quake have been found safe.However, up to 40 Australians believed to be in Sumatra were still unaccounted for, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.Embassy officials continued to scour hospitals in and around Padang to find Australians who may have been killed or injured.”The good news is the Australians who we knew were in the Padang area at the time of the earthquake have now all been accounted for,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said.Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla toured the area yesterday, his entourage aggravating traffic chaos caused by blocked and damaged roads.Meanwhile, HMAS Kanimbla sailed from Sydney Harbour bound for the area. It is expected to reach Sumatra in about 10 days.Commodore Ian Middleton, the navy’s surface forces commander, said Kanimbla would provide Australia’s long-term back-up to the area.”The Air Force got in there with the immediate response,” he said.”What the Kanimbla is providing is the back-up longer term to clean up, and reconstruct if necessary.”
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Bodies washed from graves by tsunami

LALOMANU, SAMOA: The bodies keep turning up. Four more were found at Lalomanu, the worst-hit area of the coast yesterday morning, and in the afternoon two more were recovered.The six bodies included two babies while a skeleton was unearthed when the waters scoured out the site of an established grave.With remaining bodies deteriorating rapidly in the hot weather, emergency workers donned masks, gloves and breathing apparatus. A victim identification team was flown into Samoa from New Zealand. Tony Hill, the Western Samoa Commissioner for Fire and Emergency Services, said the search would continue today to avoid the possibility of victims lying undiscovered.Two days after the waves tore through island settlements, fear lies just below the surface. At 11am yesterday Sydney time, word spread along the waterfront of an earthquake off Tonga and that a second tsunami was on its way. A horde of people, including adults with babies in arms , packed into every available vehicle, and made the rush for high ground although no tsunami alert had sounded.Saofaigo Talameli, 17, returned with eight other family members to camp under a tarpaulin at exactly the place where their house had stood on the waterfront. Hearing about the possibility of a second tsunami, she looked to the hills where the family had sprinted before, but in the end she stayed.Away from the bloated corpses, the coconut palm groves of Western Samoa might seem like an eden. It has become anything but for Lauvao Paulo, a 34-year-old farmer from the village of Smalamna.When the tsunami struck, Mr Paulo was one of 15 living in a waterfront house. Among them were five children as young as a year old and an aunt with one leg.With barely minutes to spare, the family evacuated, the adults carrying young children. They sprinted for the high ground, but the aunt, Sala Salogo, had to make the best of it on crutches.But she was not fast enough. The wave, between four and six metres high, which struck the south coast of the main island, Opolu, swept her up and drowned her.Ms Salogo was just one of Western Samoa’s confirmed dead as the official death toll surged towards 100 and Mr Paulo and his extended family have joined the thousands of survivors sheltering under tarpaulins.Like most of the tsunami survivors, Mr Paulo’s family had no insurance cover and are depending on handouts of food, water and clothing. The local priest came to pray with Mr Paulo and bring him comfort.Members of the family are having to go to the nearest coconut groves for their ablutions. Those interviewed expected they might have to live in these conditions for months.In many of the hundreds of houses that were flattened, there were anywhere from 10 to 20 occupants. Tolina Aaulai was at home with 16 other people. Timoteo Isaako, 27, the mother of five children, was in a house with 13 others. These large groups lost everything and have nothing to fall back on.Ioni Isaako, 30, whose extended family was sharing accommodation with a family of Mormans, agreed that their fate would have to be decided by others.The relief effort, aided by timely plane loads of essential supplies, was in full operation yesterday. The Southern coast was a hive of activity as powerlines were re-established and trucks, graders and excavators were put into continuous use.An Orion P3 surveillance aircraft from New Zealand flew missions off the coast and a police patrol boat continues a search for floating bodies.Onshore, scrawled across a sedan that had been ruined by the tsunami, were the words: ”Lest we forget – life goes on.”
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