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Reality check for reflation trade as gloss wears off Trump

It was the sure-fire tip for 2017: a pick-up in global growth, supercharged by US President Donald Trump’s fiscal stimulus plans, made stocks that tend to profit from a cyclical economic recovery the place to be.
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But a look at the sharemarket’s performance year-to-date reveals a sobering picture: most of the heavy lifting in the S&P/ASX 200’s modest gain of 1.6 per cent has been done by defensive sectors such as healthcare and utilities, while cyclicals such as materials, energy or even industrials are all flat to slightly lower.

One reason for the puzzling underperformance of cyclical stocks is that the gloss has come off the Trump factor, as evidenced most recently in last week’s oversized slump first on Wall Street then on the ASX in reaction to the delay of the Obamacare repeal bill.

The struggles in the US Congress have cast doubts on Mr Trump’s ability to pass pro-growth policies such as comprehensive tax cuts, one of the drivers of the global reflation trade – or betting on assets that profit from stronger growth, rising inflation and higher interest rates.

“The realisation has begun to dawn that this might not be plain sailing and some of the wind has been taken out of the reflationary sails, with investors readjusting back to some of the more defensive stocks and sectors,” said Tony Warburton, head of active quantitative equities Asia-Pacific at State Street Global Advisers.

But Mr Warburton added the positioning this quarter was more a reality check rather than an indication of a seachange in investment themes.

“Given the prevailing improvement in the US and global economy, we don’t believe this to be the end of the reflation trade, but hopefully a more measured reflection of changes in fundamentals and policy will come to the fore,” he said.

Indeed, most recent data suggest that the narrative of a broad-based global economic recovery remains intact. Growth spell

One indicator closely followed by economists are purchasing manager indices as these tend to be a reliable barometer for growth. The most recent set of manufacturing PMIs for leading economies, published on Friday, remain at or close to multi-year highs, including in .

At the same time, the much-anticipated rebound in corporate profits has materialised, in , in the US as well as in Europe, which is seen as likely to boost business spending.

The upbeat news suggested economies had arrived at an important juncture, said JP Morgan economist Bruce Kasman.

“The data flow is evolving in a manner similar to traditional cyclical upturns in which positive economic news is reinforced by rising confidence and supportive financial conditions,” he said.

“Generally these have produced periods of more than a year in which global GDP has grown a full percentage point above trend, and manufacturing output has delivered even stronger performance.”

Macquarie analysts agree that it’s too early to abandon the reflation trade, saying they don’t see signs for growth rolling over or deflation making a comeback.

“We see this as a ??? catalyst to pull in our sector tilts but not a reason to get over-defensive in the bond proxies,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients last week.

“The pro-cyclical trade may have run a bit far, but thematically, a pro-reflation trade will remain the key macroeconomic drivers of relative performance for a few more quarters in our view. Nevertheless, the risk reward of being so one-sided has changed and a new catalyst is probably needed to reinvigorate the commodity trade.”

As a portfolio consequence, Macquarie downgraded miners to “neutral”, from “overweight”, but kept the faith in banks, which tend to profit from rising interest rates.

The questions you need to answer to qualify for the HSC

Principals from leading private schools have warned that a new literacy and numeracy test which year 9 students must pass to qualify for their HSC will divide students, place too much emphasis on NAPLAN and cause anxiety among teenagers.
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Parents have also expressed their concerns with the extra online test for all students who do not achieve three band 8s in year 9 NAPLAN this year.

The NSW Education Standards Authority, formerly the Board of Studies, has released sample tests, which are described as being set at a “functional level” of literacy and numeracy for “day-to-day life”. At least 50 per cent of year 9 students will have to do the new test because they will not reach the NAPLAN benchmark.

Paul Teys, the head of Hunter Valley Grammar School, said a group of independent school heads was meeting with the standards authority this week to outline their complaints about the new test. He said an additional external exam was an unnecessary distraction to students and teachers.

“I would say that if a student doesn’t have a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy by the time they are in year 12, then we really should be looking at the syllabuses if there is such a problem,” Mr Teys said.

The head of girls’ school St Catherine’s, Julie Townsend, said the online test would encourage “teaching to the test”.

Dr Townsend said students would be divided into those who would qualify for the HSC and those who would not.

“What this will do is create two levels of students and and they will possibly ask themselves if they are even capable or worthy of an HSC,” Dr Townsend said.

“I think it has the potential to put enormous amounts of stress on students that will start as early as year 9.”

Dr Townsend said she feared it was a “cynical attempt” to raise the NAPLAN results so NSW would “look better nationally and internationally”.

Wendy Barel, principal of Masada College in St Ives, said the additional test would put “a huge amount of pressure” on students.

“I know that many schools will teach to the test, but we don’t do that at Masada because we are trying to teach our students to think analytically,” Ms Barel said.

But despite the opposition, other leading independent heads, including Jenny Allum from the girls’ school SCEGGS Darlinghurst, believe the online test would not be an unnecessary burden on students and would ensure students have appropriate literacy and numeracy skills by the time they reach the HSC.

Martine Beaumont, who has a son in year 9 at a public high school, is leading a campaign by concerned parents to have the online exam abolished.

Ms Beaumont said she had been seeking a meeting with the Education Minister, Rob Stokes, or NESA to raise the group’s concerns.

“We are suggesting to parents that they boycott year 9 NAPLAN this year because that would give kids another year before they are labelled a failure,” Ms Beaumont said.

“You could have kids who are brilliant at maths but miserable at writing made to feel like they cannot manage their HSC.”

The NSW opposition education spokesman, Jihad Dib, said the new exam would be easier than NAPLAN.

“There is nothing to indicate that the online test is set at a band 8 level, in fact what I am hearing is it is set at a lower level,” Mr Dib said.

“What I want to know is whether the government is going to provide any more resources to help these students who they say need to do another test.”

Thwaites breaks Swifts hearts in Super Netball thriller

Ex-Swifts shooter Caitlin Thwaites returned to break NSW hearts in a Super Netball thriller on Sunday afternoon, landing a match-winning goal in the dying seconds to hand the under-fire Magpies a 55-54 win.
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Thwaites’ 36th goal of the gripping end-to-end contest consigned the Swifts to a fourth defeat of the season as a stirring last-quarter quarter fightback fell just short.

Just one week ago the Magpies were on the end of a one-goal loss to the Sunshine Coast Lightning when Caitlin Bassett snared a winning goal in the concluding stages.

“We definitely did run those scenarios throughout the week at training and in the final minutes,” Thwaites said.

“With a team like the Swifts you know that they’re never going to go away.

“The Sydney crowd is just amazing and it’s so nice to come back here and just be a part of that again and how loud that was, even though they were cheering against us.”

Thwaites was one of six high-profile departures from the Swifts in the off-season, and one of two who headed south to the star-studded Magpies.

The other was crowd favourite Sharni Layton who received her usual hero’s welcome from the crowd when introduced pre-game before engaging in a titanic struggle with star Swifts import Sam Wallace.

A boxing judge might have just about awarded that battle to Wallace who nailed 36 goals, although Layton made sure the Trinidadian shooter had to work hard throughout the afternoon.

Layton collided heavily with the ground late in the second quarter, but played on with heavy strapping around her right knee in the second half.

“She [Wallace] is such a great player, just her movement and her athletic ability in the air,” Layton said.

“That’s the most challenging thing about her that she can kind of go either way.

“Being able to cover that front space is important but you’ve got to be on an angle to be able to keep her away from the post and I thought she probably beat me a bit on that today.

“You’ve got to be able to position yourself in a way that’s protecting the post so you can have a crack at the ball but if you’re too close on her body, then you can’t go for the intercept and that’s when I stacked it.

“If you’re falling on the ground it’s a good sign to get off the body and run at the ball.”

Wallace said her strategy throughout was to keep Layton as busy as possible.

“Sharni is a tough competitor, we know she is determined, I played against her in a World Cup so I know how she is,” Wallace said.

“You’ve got to be determined and put your body on the line.

“I’d rather lose by five or 10 than lose by one to be honest. We held them to a good fight, I’m just proud of all my girls.”

Wallace was rejoined in the Swifts goal circle by Helen Housby who was back from a thumb injury, and the English import made an instant impact knocking in 18 goals of her own.

But the tight loss leaves the Swifts languishing towards the lower reaches of the Super Netball table after six rounds although coach Rob Wright will take plenty out of what was arguably their strongest performance of the season following last weekend’s disappointment against the previously winless West Coast Fever.

“My big mantra is around making sure we’re better than we were last time and we showed some really good growth again today,” Wright said.

“I was really pleased with our composure and being able to almost go and pinch that one was exciting.

“Sometimes that fourth quarter is where we’ve had those real lapses. We were able to hang tough in the fourth and that was exciting because it was probably the first time that we’ve done that this year.”

Hunters hold nerve to take down Hawks

Alison EbzeryNEWCASTLE hung on to edge out Illawarra Hawks 67-65 at Broadmeadow on Saturday night in a thrilling rematch between the 2016 Waratah Basketball League women’s grand final rivals.
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The WBL champions followed up their triumph in August’s title decider over the Hawks to record the first victory of their title defence, but it took two Kelsey Moss free throws with 10 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

The Hunters led 65-57 with two minutes left, but the Hawks rallied and a Rachel Harris three-pointer tied the game with 18 seconds on the clock. Moss broke the deadlock eight seconds later then Illawarra’s Paige Phillips was off target with a three-point attempt at the buzzer.

Fittingly, Newcastle captain Alison Ebzery reeled in the rebound to secure the win.Ebzery finished the game with 10 points and 14 reboundsand earned praise from coach Mark Gledson for her defensive job on Illawarra’s Olivia White.

“It was a huge defensive effort from Alison keeping Olivia White to eight points. Al played her heart out and tired White to a standstill,” Gledson said.

“Free throws win close games. We shot 16 of 25and they made six from 12, so that was a decisive factor for us.”

Playmaker Cherub Lum scored a game-high 19 points for Newcastle and added four assists, Moss amassed 13 points and eight rebounds, Emily Keith contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, and Cassie Pentney pulled down 13 rebounds and tallied four points.

Newcastle’s men dropped both games of their double-header, slumping to a 77-64 loss to Illawarra at Broadmeadow on Sunday after being thumped 94-54 by leaders Sydney Comets at Alexandria on Saturday night.

The Hunters started slowly against the Hawks, never led at any stageand trailed by as many as 23 points during the third quarter as they struggled to restrict Illawarra’s offensive options.

Newcastle cut the deficit back to nine points early in the fourth quarter but could not sustain the effort and missed lay-ups and open jump shots every time they were within striking distance.

“It was disappointing, but our aim is to get better every time we play, so we need to keep working hard at training this week and look for improvement next time we play,” Newcastle coach Darren Nichols said.

Import Dane Suttle (20 points) and young gun Joel Rauch (15) led Newcastle’s scoring effort against the Hawks. Suttle and Rauch played similar roles against Sydney, leading the scoring with 15 points and 13 points respectively.

AAP reports: New York Knicks centre Joakim Noah has been suspended for 20 games for testing positive to a selective androgen receptor modulator.

​Noah, a two-time NBA All Star and former Defensive Player of the Year, signed for the Knicks from Chicago this season.

The 32-year-old defensive specialist, who is the son former French tennis star Yannick Noah, was expected to add defensive steel to New York but has struggled since signing a four-year contract worth $US72 million.

Candidate demands release of project documents before Manly byelection

An independent candidate for the seat of Manly is demanding that reports into a bungled multi-million-dollar development plan be released before the April 8 byelection due to Liberal candidate James Griffin’s involvement in the decision-making process.
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Mr Griffin was deputy mayor when Manly Council voted to award contracts for a controversial plan to build a car park beneath Manly Oval and lease a council-owned carpark to developers.

Successful tenderers Athas Holdings and Built Development agreed to enter into a $37.5 million, 99-year lease on council-owned Whistler Street carpark and library sites.

Five liberal councillors used their numbers to enter into the contracts at a closed meeting in April last year, shortly before the council was merged into Northern Beaches Council under administrator Dick Persson.

But after receiving independent reports on the project, Mr Persson announced the following August that the contracts would be cancelled due as they were too “risky” to proceed with and the financial bases were flawed.

On Saturday Mr Persson announced the reports would be considered for public release at the council’s meeting on April 26, three weeks after the byelection.

However independent candidate Kathryn Ridge told Fairfax Media she believed the reports should be made public before April 8 and as early as the next council meeting on Tuesday.

“It’s in the public interest for residents of Manly to have the full facts before them when they’re deciding whether they will vote for an independent or a Liberal candidate with a history in this matter,” she said.

Ms Ridge pointed to comments Mr Griffin made in the Manly Daily about the oval plan in which he was quoted as saying: “I was a junior councillor, I worked as part of a team, but I really learned that you have got to listen to people and that is one of the things I would take from that and apply to this.”

She said this meant Mr Griffin “has certainly put the issue of his history and involvement in this matter in the context of the election.”

Mr Griffin said the Manly oval plan had been discussed “for many years”. He declined to say whether he took any responsibility for the contracts as he had not seen the independent reports.

Asked if he would release the reports before the byelection, Mr Persson told Fairfax Media: “I don’t believe there’s any state government issues involved.”

“When I cancelled the contracts I make it clear that the quality of the work was a problem and I felt the general manager had let the council down,” he said.

“People can draw their own conclusions about the respective responsibility of councillors.”

Mr Persson said he was unable to release the reports before the April meeting due to “quite complicated” legal issues exacerbated “by action taken by a former Manly council staff member in relation to the Whistler St car park project”.

Hong Kong gets new leader in limited ballot

Beijing’s preferred candidate, Carrie Lam, was selected by an elite group of voters to become the fourth chief executive of Hong Kong on Sunday.
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Only 1194 members of the Election Committee cast ballots, under Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

They had a choice of just three candidates: Ms Lam, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong, its former financial secretary John Tsang and retired judge Woo Kowk-hing. All had been pre-vetted by Beijing.

Ms Lam, 59, the first woman to take the top job, had said she would try to heal divisions within Hong Kong society.

There were bitter clashes between her predecessor Chin-ying Leung and the pro-democracy movement that exploded in 2014, as street protests brought central Hong Kong to a standstill for two months.

The Umbrella movement, led by young students, had called for free elections for a chief executive by 2017, as promised in 1997 when the former British colony has handed back to China. Beijing refused, instead insisting it pre-vet candidates.

In a speech on Sunday Ms Lam said : “I too want more democracy in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is facing a lot of problems. Why don’t we start with the easier subjects?”

She pledged to rebuild social unity “step by step “.

“Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a lot of divisiveness” she said.

Opinion polls had earlier shown Mr Tsang well ahead of Ms Lam in popularity. The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that Mr Tsang received 300 votes from a block of pro-democracy committee members.

However, at least 601 votes were needed to win, and Ms Lam was supported by the business community.

Hong Kong media showed prominent business leaders, including its richest man Li Ka-shing and his son Richard Li, attending the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to vote on Sunday.

Other voters included 70 members of Parliament and social worker, agriculture and fisheries groups. Beijing loyalists were said to control two-thirds of the vote.

Outgoing chief executive Mr Leung said at the Boao Forum in China last week that popularity was not the only consideration in choosing a Hong Kong chief executive.

“If the central government does not trust the chief executive, the place he or she is to run can hardly enjoy a high degree of autonomy,” the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.

He steps down as chief executive in July.

On social media, photographs circulated of a red banner placed by pro-democracy activists on Hong Kong’s Lion Rock, reading “I want genuine universal suffrage”.

Pro-Beijing supporters were also on the streets.

It was Hong Kong’s sixth chief executive election since the handover of the former British territory to China. Ms Lam will serve for five years.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the annual sitting of the mainland’s rubber stamp Parliament a fortnight ago that ”one country, two systems” control of Hong Kong would be steadfastly applied “without being bent or distorted … The notion of independence will lead nowhere”.

During the meeting, Mr Leung was appointed vice chairman of the mainland’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

BBC television coverage of the Hong Kong election had been censored in hotels in mainland China.

Crows belt Giants to make big statement

Adelaide 2.3 7.9 15.14 22.15 (147)
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GWS 4.5 6.7 11.7 14.7 (91)

Goals – Adelaide: Betts 4, Atkins 3, Jenkins 3, McGovern 2, Cameron 2, Douglas 2, Knight 2, Mackay, Menzel, Smith, Milera GWS: Cameron 4, Smith 3, Scully 2, Greene, Lobb, M Kennedy, Johnson, Patton

Best – Adelaide: Betts, Laird, Cameron, M Crouch, Jenkins, Atkins, McGovern, Talia GWS: Williams, Scully, Mumford, Greene, Kelly, Smith

Injuries – Adelaide: McGovern (head) GWS: Mzungu (hamstring)

Crowd: 43,993

The GWS Giants will return to Sydney licking their wounds and nursing their pride after the club’s heaviest loss in two seasons, a 56-point drubbing at the hands of a red-hot Adelaide Crows.

Tendai Mzungu looks set to miss several games after leaving the ground in the second quarter with a left hamstring injury while Jonathon Patton, Zac Williams, Jeremy Cameron and Dylan Shiel all came from the field at various stages on Sunday afternoon following heavy knocks.

Those four are expected to be fine for Saturday’s round-two clash against Gold Coast at Spotless Stadium, while Jacob Hopper looks the likely replacement for Mzungu.

Irrespective of who runs out against the Suns, coach Leon Cameron will be demanding a much better effort from his highly fancied troop, who were beaten all over the ground in front of 43,993 fans at the Adelaide Oval. Not since round 21, 2015 have the Giants lost by such a margin.

“Their work at stoppage was far better than ours which is really disappointing,” Cameron said.

“Clearly on occasions today we didn’t dig in and didn’t deal with it. The disappointing part is that we need to be a little bit more hungry around the ground.

“There’ll be some players disappointed in their performance and I’m not just talking about our kids, I’m talking about fifth, sixth year players that we expect more of when the whips are cracking.

“They’ve shown that they can bounce back and I’m confident that we can address some of the issues and look forward at having one huge crack at the Suns next Saturday.”

The ease at which Adelaide were able to shift the ball from the centre of the ground into their forward line will be forthright in Cameron’s thoughts this week.

GWS started the better and threatened to run away with the game midway through the second quarter before Adelaide seemingly flicked a switch and took full control, washing away the flag-favourite hype that has clung to the Giants throughout the preseason.

“The talk’s come from you guys, not from us, we’ve been saying all along that the competition is as even as it will get this year which is fantastic, and you’ve already seen results over the weekend to say how even is this competition,” Cameron said.

“We came up against a very, very good team. They were too good for us today and that’s going to happen in this competition if you’re not absolutely cherry ripe in every game, then you’ll get beaten.

“Even if you are cherry ripe every game, there’s going to be some great footy and you’re not going to win all those games. They were better than us and credit where credit’s due.”

Adelaide produced 11 individual goal kickers in the roasting South n heat without their spearhead Taylor Walker who was still nursing a hamstring injury, pocket rocket Eddie Betts leading the way in booting four electrifying majors.

Rory Atkins and Josh Jenkins managed three apiece while for the Giants, Cameron finished with four after kicking a goal in each quarter.

“We’re not focusing on one guy kicking goals or targeting guys, we want to move the ball in a way which gives us ultimately the best chance to score,” Crows coach Don Pyke said.

“I was proud of the team today, I thought in the conditions we were physically and mentally strong to be able to get that result. It was more the eagerness of what we were able to create.”

An eight-goal third quarter seemed to have broken the Giants’ back but Cameron and then Devon Smith, who managed all three of his six-pointers in that term, gave GWS a sniff of hope going into the final change trailing by 31 points.

The margin reduced to 26 points midway through the final quarter before Adelaide shifted into overdrive and accelerated away to lay their own claim to premiership favouritism.

VOTES GWS v Adelaide

(James Buckley)

Betts (Adelaide) 9

Laird (Adelaide) 8

Atkins (Adelaide) 8

M Crouch (Adelaide) 8

Cameron (Adelaide) 8

Spotlight on ‘inhumane’ treatment by China in Iranian play

IRAN TO IRAQ GALLERYWomen surround a framed photo of asylum seeker Reza Barati, during the memorial service held at the Al-Mahdi mosque in the Nabard neighbourhood in South East Tehran, Iran. 27th Feburary, 2014. Photo: Kate Geraghty Photo: Kate GeraghtyThe brutal murder of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention camp has been dramatised in a new play staged in the Iranian capital Tehran.
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Simply titled Manus, the script draws on direct quotes from asylum seekers held in ‘s offshore detention camps, and has drawn an audience of high-ranking officials.

AbbasAraghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and the man trusted as the chief negotiator in the nuclear deal that saw international sanctions lifted from Iran, attended one night and later mingled with the actors and a former asylum seeker held on Manus Island.

“I tried to invite authorities of Foreign Ministry because of the issue of my play that directly related to their job,” the play’s director, Nazanin Sahamizadeh, told Fairfax Media from Tehran.

The Turnbull government has been seeking for more than two years to convince Tehran to accept the forced return of Iranian asylum seekers who arrived in by boat but have not been judged to be refugees – a request Iran has so far refused.

Around 7000 Iranians have been granted bridging visas to live in the n community, with several hundred Iranian asylum seekers also thought to be held on Manus Island and Nauru.

Another senior Iranian diplomat last year criticised conditions in ‘s detention centres as “definitely inhumane”.

Hossein Babaahmadi, who spent 75 days on Manus Island before volunteering to return to Iran in 2013, helped organise interviews for the script with asylum seekers who were in the camps.

He said the interviewees included Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist who remains on Manus and was close to Barati.

“The conditions on Manus Island were inhumane, they didn’t treat us like a human being,” Mr Babaahmadi said.

Ms Sahamizadeh said the play focuses on eight Iranian characters who fled Iran for , only to be held in Pacific camps.

The main scene details the riot at Manus Island in February 2014, where 23-year-old Barati was repeatedly beaten with a piece of wood with a nail in the end of it, before a large rock was dropped on his head.

Last year, a Papua New Guinea court found two local men found guilty of murdering Barati.

Media restrictions are heavy in Iran and the country is regularly singled out for human rights abuses.

“All characters described their story when they were in Iran and had problems,” Ms Sahamizadeh said when asked whether it was awkward to show stories in Iran about people claiming to be at risk in Iran.

“I had read about Manus two years back and as it was new for me it got me interested,” she said.

“I found that it is very important and critical issue that many people have not been aware about it and finally I made my decision to make a play of it.”

The play ran for a month in the Qashqai Hall of Tehran’s City Theatre Complex, with the final show last week, and Ms Sahamizadeh said it was attended by almost 3000 people.

Ms Sahamizadeh said she hoped to eventually bring the play to the stage in and then other countries.

Morris sidelined for two months

The Western Bulldogs are expected to be without premiership defender Dale Morris for around two months after the veteran suffered a spiral fracture in his leg in the dying seconds of Friday night’s win over Collingwood.
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While the Dogs are yet to confirm the nature of Morris’ injury, it’s understood the fracture is likely to keep him out of action for between eight and ten weeks.

Spiral fractures occur where a bone is torn apart in a twisting motion. They often occur when the body is in motion while one extremity is planted, as happened when Morris’ right leg was hurt when bumped by Magpie Will Hoskin-Elliott.

He had been hopeful of good news when emerging from scans on Saturday. “Whatever happens happens, you can’t do much about it,” he said.

Morris, 34, played a key role in last year’s grand final win over Sydney, and is renowned for his resilience. He came back from a devastating break in his tibia that occurred late in 2011, while he played out last season with what later emerged as a broken back.

It is a further setback for the Dogs in their premiership defence, with ruckman Jordan Roughead sidelined for a few more weeks after a knee injury suffered against Melbourne in a JLT Community series match last month.

The Dogs are also awaiting the returns of midfielder Mitch Wallis and key forward Jack Redpath, who broke a leg and suffered an ACL tear respectively in the same match against St Kilda last July.

The Bulldogs ended their 62-year premiership drought despite being ravaged by injuries at various stages last year, most notably the season-ending ACL tear to captain Bob Murphy in the round three loss to Hawthorn. Murphy returned strongly to senior football against the Pies.

The Dogs have a grand final re-match this Friday night against the Swans at Etihad Stadium.

Newcastle double adds to big night for Team Tritton

BEN Woodsford scored a career-first driving double at Newcastle for Shane and Lauren Tritton on a big night for the former Hunter-based stable.
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Shane and Lauren Tritton

Woodsford steered favourites Angel In White and Thebattlesjusbegun to easy victories on the 10-race program on Saturday night at Newcastle as the Trittons scored a group 1 win at Bathurst with Mysweetchilliphilly. Chris Geary scored his first group 1 victory in taking Mysweetchilliphilly to a 20.9-metre win in an Australasian mile rate age/distance record of of 1.54.7 in the Bathurst Gold Tiara (1730m) for two-year-old fillies.

Shane Tritton said Woodsford was a “good young driver who is getting better all the time and is ready to take the next step”.

Tritton, the seven-time Newcastle premiership winner now based at Menangle, had Divine State in the Gold Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings, but the odds-on favourite finished seventh in a distressed condition. Geoff Simpson’s Castalong Shadow won.

Ellalong trainer-driver Michael Formosa carried Hunter hopes on the Bathurst club’s big night.

Formosaled on Rocknroll Emma in the group 2 Gold Bracelet final for three-year-old fillies but she tried badly to finish eighth. Formosa’s stable star, Ultimate Art, a former Gold Crown and Chalice winner,produced a fighting effort to finish 1.9m second to Cyclone Kate in the Mayor’s Cup.

At Newcastle, Nathan Carroll followed his bag of four winners a week earlier with a double aboard the Clayton Harmey-trained Machsaswinger and Den Helder for his father, Mick Carroll.Jack Trainor had a driving double with Borninastorm for Brad Miles and Expressionist for Shane Sanderson.