Freo’s Hill brothers ready for Dangerwood

Geelong have Dangerwood, but Fremantle now have their own tag team weapon – the Hill brothers.

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Stephen Hill and Bradley Hill have always dreamed about joining forces in an AFL match, and they’ll finally get the chance in Sunday’s encounter against Geelong at Domain Stadium.

Bradley won three premierships in five years at Hawthorn before securing a trade to the Dockers to join his older brother Stephen at the end of last season.

One of Bradley’s flags came against Stephen, when Hawthorn beat Fremantle in the 2013 decider.

Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood have become one of the most lethal midfield duos in the league.

The Dockers will be hoping the speedy Hill brothers can come close to matching those feats.

The quartet will square off in a mouthwatering battle on Sunday, and the Hill brothers are ready for it.

“Dangerfield and Selwood are two of the stars of the game, and there’s a few other guys that we can’t just let slip,” Stephen said.

“So we’re going to have to be on our game.

“It’s going to be a tough battle in the midfield and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Another mouthwatering duel will be the battle between Brownlow medallists Nat Fyfe and Dangerfield.

The pair racked up a combined 78 disposals, 23 clearances, and two goals when they last went head-to-head in 2015 – when Fyfe’s Fremantle team pipped Dangerfield’s Crows.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon predicts the pair will battle it out again, but says he’ll have a contingency plan in case Dangerfield gets off the leash.

The outlawing of the third-man up in ruck contests is set to play into the hands of 211cm Dockers ruckman Aaron Sandilands.

But Lyon said his team can’t simply rely on the dominance of Sandilands all year.

“Aaron’s a very good player for us, as Nat is,” Lyon said.

“But we don’t really have franchise players. We’re not a basketball court where one player can dominate.

“You need weight of numbers contribution. Aaron will play his role, and hopefully give us first use. But Geelong have competent ruckmen.

“One player can’t do it. Nat can’t do it. We want, and need, an equal contribution across the board.”

Fremantle will unveil all four of their trade recruits – Brad Hill, Joel Hamling, Cam McCarthy, and former Cat Shane Kersten.

Geelong will feature three new players – former Blue Zach Tuohy, 24-year-old defender Tom Stewart, and young midfielder Brandon Parfitt.

Hamilton on GP pole as Ricciardo crashes

A sorry Daniel Ricciardo made a mess of his car and dented his ego a little in the process, as Lewis Hamilton took his customary pole position for the Australian grand prix.

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The local hope inexplicably spun and crashed into a barrier on a routine corner during Saturday’s qualifying sessions, leaving his dream of a home grand prix win in tatters.

Ricciardo will start 10th on the grid on provisional results but could slip further back depending on the nature of repairs to his battered car.

While the rear-end smashed and will need replacing, if a new gear box is required he could be penalised a further five spots ahead of Sunday’s race.

“I’m fine physically. Emotionally I’m a little bit disappointed,” Ricciardo said.

“It was a little bit messy … it has put me back to 10th as opposed to fifth or sixth.

“And unfortunately there’s going to be a bit of work tonight for the mechanics, I feel for them.

“Its frustrating, more so because I don’t tend to find myself in the barriers much.

“I want to beat myself up a bit.”

Ricciardo’s blunder came on an unassuming corner – turn 14 – and during a qualifying session controlled by Mercedes ace Hamilton.

The Englishman set a record lap time around the Albert Park circuit – one minute 22.188 seconds.

Hamilton now has four consecutive pole positions at the Australian grand prix and six overall, equalling Brazilian great Ayrton Senna’s all-time record at the Australian race.

Hamilton’s Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel (1:22.456) and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas (1:22.481) were next-best, followed by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing teammate Max Verstappen and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

But all are long odds to catch triple world champion Hamilton, who vowed a relentless approach to the season-opening race.

“Our job is to put the car where it is most uncomfortable,” he said.

“We we are going to take it over the edge or just hold it on the edge of that cliff through the whole laps, that is the fun.

“You can always try and improve. The laps are never perfect so there’s little bits of time (to shave off) here and there.

“But we’re very happy with how it has gone and it’s a great step into tomorrow.

“Now it’s just focusing and making sure we do our homework.”

EU leaders seek solidarity in Rome, despite looming Brexit

European Union leaders are meeting in Rome to renew their vows on the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaties during a special summit to show unity despite Britain’s looming exit.

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The 27 leaders are meeting to endorse a declaration of intent for the next decade in the same Renaissance-era palace where six founding countries signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

EU President Donald Tusk has called for leadership to steer Europe out of crisis.

“Prove today that you are the leaders of Europe, that you can care for this great legacy we inherited from the heroes of European integration 60 years ago,” Mr Tusk said.

Pope Francis warned on the eve of the summit that the crisis-ridden bloc “risks dying” without a new vision.

Pope Francis poses with the heads of State and of the EU institutions for a photo in the Sistine Chapel.L’Osservatore Romano

The White House has congratulated the EU on its 60th birthday, in a notable shift in tone for President Donald Trump’s administration, whose deep scepticism about the bloc has alarmed Brussels.

But British Prime Minister Theresa May’s absence from the summit, four days before she launches the two-year Brexit process, and a row over the wording of the Rome declaration, underscore the challenges the EU faces.

Security is tight with snipers on rooftops, drones in the skies and 3,000 police officers on the streets as Italy takes no risks following an attack this week in London claimed by Islamic State.

‘Our common future’

The Rome Declaration proclaims that “Europe is our common future”, according to a copy obtained by AFP, after a series of crises that have shaken its foundations.

Mass migration, the eurozone debt crisis, terrorism and the rise of populist parties have left a bloc formed from the ashes of World War II searching for new answers.

Yet the leaders are deeply divided over the way forward almost before they have started.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo only agreed to sign the declaration at the last minute, after bitterly opposing a reference to a “multi-speed” Europe favoured by powerhouse states France and Germany. 

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Poland, central Europe’s largest economy, is concerned that as one of nine of the EU’s current 28 members outside the eurozone, it could be left behind should countries sharing the single currency push ahead with integration.

Greece, the loudest voice against the austerity policies wrought by its three eurozone bailouts, meanwhile insisted that the document should mention social policies.

In his hard-hitting message on the eve of the summit as he met the EU 27, the pope echoed this theme and urged the bloc to focus on the principles of solidarity and social justice on which it was founded.

“When a body loses its sense of direction and is no longer able to look ahead, it experiences a regression and, in the long run, risks dying,” Francis said in a speech at the Vatican City.

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Protests in Eternal City

Apart from the declaration itself, the Rome summit is short on politics, with only a short discussion and lunch plus a family photo on the schedule.

The aim is to channel the spirit of the Treaty of Rome that Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and West Germany signed six decades ago to create the European Economic Community (EEC).

The treaty was signed in the Horatii and Curiatii hall of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square, and the political and religious heart of the Roman Empire in ancient times.

Police in the Eternal City are on the alert not only for lone wolf attackers in the wake of the British parliament attack on Wednesday, but also violent anti-Europe demonstrators.

Around 30,000 protesters are expected to take part in four separate marches – both pro- and anti-Europe – throughout the day. Police plan to stop all traffic and declare a no-fly zone.

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Drizzle dampens Kiwi Test bowling assault

Persistent mid-afternoon drizzle has prematurely ended day one of New Zealand’s Test series comeback mission against South Africa.

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The Black Caps held the Proteas to 4-123 before the heavens opened over Hamilton shortly before tea on Saturday.

The umpires delayed returns to play at 4pm, 4.30pm and then 5pm before calling an end to proceedings 45 minutes later.

The Seddon Park covers were gradually unfastened by ground staff as the rain began to subside but not enough to allow the Proteas back to the crease.

Heavier showers are forecast for Sunday and Monday, putting days two and three at considerable risk as the Kiwis look to rein in a 1-0 series deficit.

“All in all, we did well to get them four down. It would’ve been great to get a nice little hour tonight but it wasn’t to be,” Kiwi seamer Matt Henry said.

“I don’t think you can look too far ahead. It’s so early in the piece and weather can change, so one job at a time.”

If and when the players return to the pitch, the South Africans will consider themselves lucky to still have captain and talisman Faf du Plessis at the crease.

The Black Caps’ shonky use of DRS came back to bite before play ended, with du Plessis spared a review that would have otherwise sent him packing for just 16.

Having already wasted both their referrals, the Black Caps roared in appeal when the 39-Test veteran appeared to give the slightest of edges to a Neil Wagner speed ball.

But umpire Bruce Oxenford decided the 33-year-old made no contact, despite BJ Watling’s animated plea from behind the stumps.

The television “snicko” later found du Plessis had nicked the delivery.

“You’ve got to go with a bit of gut, it all happens pretty quickly,” Henry said.

“It can be frustrating but we’ll get another chance.”

Du Plessis was 33 not out at stumps, while first-drop Hashim Amla notched 50 off 88 balls before Henry cleaned him up with a yorker.

In the morning session, the Black Caps had limited South Africa to 3-71 thanks to the early dismissal of openers Theunis de Bruyn and Dean Elgar for a combined five runs.

Amla and JP Duminy then rallied with a 59-run stand before the latter ballooned Henry to Jeetan Patel at fine leg for 20 just before lunch.

The 25-year-old Henry, called in as cover for an injured Tim Southee, led the pace attack with Trent Boult, claiming an impressive 2-25 from 10 overs.

Cherry on top as Manly flog Dogs

A stunning attacking blitzkrieg from Daly Cherry-Evans has propelled Manly to a 36-0 hammering of Canterbury, breaking their drought at Lottoland.

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The whipping boy for Sea Eagles critics after a difficult period for the NRL club, Cherry-Evans set up four tries in a first half that blew the Bulldogs out of the water.

He twice drifted across field before laying on perfect balls for straight runners, grubbering once for Dylan Walker and combining with Tom Trbojevic for one of the tries of the year.

After the fullback broke through the middle of the field just before half-time, he found Cherry-Evans, who kicked on the run for Trbojevic to score and make it 26-0 at the break.

Cherry-Evans’ halves partner Blake Green also got in on the act, grubbering for Brian Kelly to score one of two first-half tries.

The $10 million man then finished his 150th match with a spectacular unnatural left-footed kick for winger Akuila Uate.

Manly had scored just once more earlier in the second stanza, after Apisai Koroisau ran onto a Addin Fonua-Blake offload.

The win was Manly’s first at Brookvale since last July, and was just two points off equalling their biggest win against the Bulldogs – set in 1954.

Meanwhile ill-discipline cost the Bulldogs bitterly.

Josh Jackson was sin-binned five minutes before half-time for a professional foul, and Manly scored twice in the period.

Moses Mbye was penalised for a shoulder charge on first-half try-scorer Curtis Sironen, and David Klemmer slapped Cherry-Evans late in the match.

They will also come under the eye of NRL officials after Josh Reynolds illegally rejoined the field midway through the first half.

Under NRL rules, Canterbury’s No.6 was made to head off the field after he forced the scrum clock to hit zero due to a leg injury.

The laws state that players taken from the field in such a manner can only rejoin at a stoppage of play or when their team regains possession.

However Reynolds sprinted back onto the field just two tackles later with his team in defence.

It mattered little, as Manly scored at the end of the set, and the Bulldogs will likely only receive a warning.

Raonic makes winning return, Nadal and Nishikori advance

Nadal advanced past Israeli Dudi Sela 6-3 6-4, taking the critical second-set break in the seventh game, while Nishikori cut down South African Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3.

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Third seed Raonic has been sidelined by a right leg injury that forced him to concede a walkover in the Delray Beach Open final last month and to withdraw from the Mexican Open and BNP Paribas Open.

“I have to be very happy with just the outcome, that I was able to get the win today, that I have another chance to play in two days,” said the world number five.

Raonic breezed through the opening set and led 3-1 in the second before Serbia’s Troicki battled back.

World number 38 Troicki, who has reached the fourth round in Miami twice, drew level at 5-5 before Raonic’s pressure helped him secure the deciding break.

Raonic advanced to play American Jared Donaldson, a 6-4 6-4 winner against 28th seed Mischa Zverev of Germany.

Raonic said he has been helped by the addition of former world number 69 Jesse Levine to his coaching support.

“He’s somebody that I get along with great, is a little bit closer to my age as well, and somebody that I can play with on court and put in hard hours with,” he added.

A string of upsets unfolded later in the day with world number 13 Grigor Dimitrov eliminated in straight sets by Argentinean Guido Pella 6-3 7-6(4).

Dimitrov, who lost to Nadal in the Australian Open semi-final, has now lost three of his last six matches since winning the Sofia Open last month.

American Donald Young knocked out 11th seed Lucas Pouille 6-2 6-4, Federico Delbonis took down 15th seed Pablo Carreno 1-6 7-5 6-2, while Frenchman Gilles Simon fell to German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1 6-1.

In earlier action, Frenchman Jeremy Chardy defeated seventh-seeded former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia for the first time since 2009 to move into the third round with a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win.

(Reporting by Larry Fine and Jahmal Corner; Editing by Andrew Both and Peter Rutherford)

Man guilty of attacking backpackers in SA

A man has been found guilty of a violent attack on two female backpackers on the sand dunes of a remote South Australian beach.

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The 60-year-old was on trial for sexually assaulting a Brazilian woman and hitting a German woman with a hammer at Salt Creek, east of Adelaide, in February 2016.

The SA Supreme Court jury delivered its verdict on Saturday, finding the man guilty of six charges including indecent assault, aggravated kidnapping and endangering life.

But he was acquitted of attempted murder, with the 11 jurors instead finding him guilty of the lesser charge of aggravated attempted causing serious harm with intent.

The accused met the backpackers through classifieds website Gumtree, where the Brazilian woman had advertised for a ride from Adelaide to Melbourne.

He picked them up from a train station in Adelaide and drove them in his 4WD to the remote spot in SA’s Coorong National Park where he attacked them.

The man was found to have hit the German woman over the head with a hammer several times, inflicting four deep lacerations on her scalp that left her drenched in blood.

An image of the crime scene presented to the Adelaide court.AAP

She fought back and broke free but she was then repeatedly rammed by the man in his 4WD as she fled across the sand.

Moments earlier, while walking in the sand dunes with the Brazilian woman, he dragged her to the ground, tied her up with rope, cut off her bikini and sexually assaulted her, the jury found.

The women, both 24, managed to escape the attack and the man was arrested in his car on the beach.

In a statement delivered on behalf of the German woman by SA Commissioner for Victims’ Rights Michael O’Connell, she said her life-threatening injuries had a profound effect on her.

“She knows she survived because other people – good Samaritans – came to her aid,” Mr O’Connell said.

He said the verdicts gave both women a sense of justice.

“They wanted to see justice done, not only for them but for the people of South Australia,” he told reporters outside court.

“They’re both extremely brave. They’ve demonstrated that bravery at the time of the incident .. and as witnesses.

“They are beautiful young people who now deserve the sense of justice that’s been given to them.”

Prosecutor Jim Pearce QC said the case against the man was overwhelming, and the two backpackers were honest and impressive throughout the two-week trial.

“There is no mystery here about what happened. There is no mystery because the two women told you,” Mr Pearce said in his closing submissions.

“You saw two very impressive young women who sat in the witness box and did their best to describe to you a very harrowing ordeal.”

It took the jury 12 hours of deliberations to reach their verdict, seeking clarification from Judge Trish Kelly on several occasions about the intent to kill required for the attempted murder charge.

The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was remanded in custody for sentencing submissions at a later date.

Demons aim to back up solid AFL start

After showing their mettle, Melbourne now need to prove their consistency.

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The Demons rallied from a slow start to overwhelm St Kilda in their much-hyped AFL clash, with a 10-goal streak through the second and third quarters propelling them to a 30-point win.

No round-one match had more attention on it, given these are two teams expected to break into the top eight after several lean sessions.

Within minutes of the final siren, commentators were already noting that Melbourne have had a bad habit of not backing up such solid performances.

They will start strong favourites next Sunday against Carlton.

“There will probably be a little over-reaction either way, whether you win or lose, but I’m really happy for our supporters,” said new coach Simon Goodwin.

“That’s the challenge for us as a group – we want to play this way every week and this is just a starting point.”

Melbourne ended a 14-game losing streak against St Kilda and Saturday was the first time they had beaten the Saints since the 2006 elimination final.

But history is bunk to Goodwin.

“I said coming into the game that those sorts of things are irrelevant to this group,” he said.

“They want to create their own journey and this is really just the starting point.”

Melbourne trailled by 24 points early in the second term and Goodwin said the solution was basic – work harder

“Ultimately we were getting beaten in the contest – we were probably poor at clearance early, beaten around the ball,” he said.

“As I said to the boys at quarter-time, it was just about getting back to what we trained all summer.”

Ruckman Max Gawn shone with 49 hitouts and Goodwin praised their experienced players, especially defenders Tom McDonald and Bernie Vince and onballers Nathan Jones and Jordan Lewis.

Gawn dominated after having to leave the game for 10 minutes early for treatment on a minor back injury.

“When he came back, I just thought he was sensational,” Goodwin said.

“His hitouts to advantage were terrific and he’s an incredible player.”

Gawn looms as one of the big winners this season out of the AFL’s ban on third-men up at ruck contests.

“It’s an interesting one … clearly his ruck work and his tap work is very good,” Goodwin said.

But one lowlight for Melbourne was first-gamer Joel Smith, who suffered a dislocated shoulder midway through the first quarter and faces an extended layoff.

An electoral committee, protests and China: The Hong Kong vote explained

Hong Kong will select a new leader on Sunday in a vote skewed towards Beijing that has once more opened up the city’s political divisions.

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Pro-democracy campaigners describe the election process as a farce and predict weekend protests as the prospect of political reform in the semi-autonomous city appears more unattainable than ever.

How the vote works

Hong Kong’s next leader will be chosen by an electoral committee rather than the general public and the person selected has to be formally approved by Beijing. 

The majority of the 1,194 representatives on the committee belong to pro-establishment special interest groups such as agriculture and real estate which lean towards China. Only a quarter come from the pro-democracy camp. 

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It is the first leadership election since mass rallies in 2014 calling for Hong Kong residents to have the right to vote for the city’s highest-ranking official failed to win change, and comes as concerns grow that Chinese authorities are tightening their grip.  

The favourite

Former deputy leader Carrie Lam is seen as Beijing’s favourite for the job, and some pro-establishment members of the electoral committee say they have come under pressure to vote for her.

Lam is intensely disliked by the pro-democracy camp after promoting the Beijing-backed political reform package which prompted 2014’s “Umbrella Movement” that paralysed parts of the city for more than two months.

The proposal had promised a public vote for city leader in 2017, but said candidates must be vetted. It was dismissed as “fake democracy” by opponents and rejected in parliament by pro-democracy lawmakers.

Since then the political reform process has been shelved.

‘Selection, not election’

Those opposed to Lam cast her as just another version of unpopular current leader Leung Chun-ying.

Her main rival is ex-finance chief John Tsang, perceived as a more moderate establishment choice and the public’s clear favourite in opinion polls.

Known as “Mr Pringles” for his resemblance to the moustachioed crisp brand mascot, Tsang has cast himself as a unifying candidate. 

Pro-democracy protesters dressed in Halloween costumes hold a yellow umbrella in the occupied areas outside government headquarters in Hong Kong in 2014AP

Most pro-democracy members on the electoral committee will vote for Tsang to keep Lam out and did not field their own candidate for fear it would split the anti-Lam vote. 

That leaves the third and most liberal nominee, former judge Woo Kwok-hing, who is unlikely to make a dent. 

But many young activists reject the vote outright. 

Pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong, the face of the 2014 protests, says he does not endorse any of the candidates and will join protests outside the harbour-front voting venue. 

“Hong Kong is just implementing a selection, rather than an election,” 20-year-old student Wong told AFP, describing all three nominees as pro-establishment.

“No one will deny that Carrie Lam is the worst one and a nightmare for us — but it doesn’t mean we can put aside our principles and endorse any pro-China candidate,” he said.

Long-term battle

Lam has questioned whether the environment is right for reintroducing the political reform debate, while Tsang says any changes must adhere to the unpopular framework laid down by Beijing. 

There was little scope for any new leader to diverge from Beijing’s script, said Yvonne Chiu, assistant professor at Hong Kong University’s department of politics and public administration.

“The chief executive internally can do a lot of things, but at the same time will always have an eye on what Beijing is interested in and what Beijing is willing to accept,” said Chiu.

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China is taking an increasing interest in the way Hong Kong is governed after a turbulent five years under Leung, added Chiu. 

Following the failure of the “Umbrella Movement” to win reform, a new brand of activist advocating a split from the mainland rather than just greater autonomy has emerged, sparking fury from Beijing.

The history

Hong Kong is governed under a semi-autonomous “one country, two systems” deal since being handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

China’s premier Li Keqiang shut down any notion of Hong Kong independence last month, saying the idea “would lead nowhere”, and each of the three candidates has also rejected the idea.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Hong Kong described Sunday’s vote as not only a concern for the city “but also the central government’s exercise of sovereignty and governance over Hong Kong”.

Although Lam is a divisive figure, some say Beijing sees her as a softer touch than Leung but still able to deliver hardline policies.  

“It’s really a sexist view in Beijing’s eyes I think – a ‘woman’s touch’,” said Suzanne Pepper, honorary fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Pepper said Lam’s decision to focus on social issues reflected Beijing’s wishes for the city leader to downplay big-picture politics. 

But for activist Wong, the fight for a more representative political system remains a priority. 

“Without democracy, political struggle and instability will still continue in the future,” he said.

WATCH: Hong Kong to elect a new leader

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Port shock Swans in AFL upset at SCG

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley hailed one of the proudest days of his tenure and celebrated some payback for milestone-setting captain Travis BoaK, in their drought breaking 28-point AFL round one upset win over Sydney.

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The stunning 17.8 (110) to 12.10 (82) victory at the SCG on Saturday was Port’s first in eight matches and 11 years at the SCG, and their first anywhere over the Swans in their past six contests, going back to 2013.

“It’s certainly one of the proudest days I’ve had I reckon since I’ve been here,” Hinkley said.

Port kicked five goals to two in the third quarter to break open a previously close game and took a 22-point lead into the last change.

Sydney were unable to get the deficit below 13 and were also outscored in the final quarter.

The visitors’ accurate goalkicking and unrelenting tenacity, which earned them a 163-139 advantage in contested possessions, were big factors in their win.

Port’s kicking into their forward line improved significantly after halftime and Sydney conceded more than 16 goals for the first time since the 2015 season, while booting just four second half majors of their own.

Ollie Wines, (33 touches) Brad Ebert (25 and 11 tackles) and Boak, (26 possessions), who was making his 200th appearance, all won plenty of ball for Port.

“It’s pretty special for a bloke like Travis, who over the journey he’s made some courageous decisions to be part of this footy club and I think he got a fair bit of payback today,” Hinkley said.

He thought some of the things Port focused on over the summer were starting to come through.

“We had four months to work on stuff and we’ve been able to put some things in place that are non-negotiable for us and I’m sure from a Port Adelaide point of view that starts with contest and effort,” Hinkley said.

Sydney coach John Longmire acknowledged his side came off second best in the contest area they pride themselves in.

“We showed it in spurts but you cant afford to play AFL football in spurts,” Longmire said.

“We just lost too many 50-5O contests, whether it’s in the air or on the ground.”

Port ruckman Patty Ryder was strong in his first competition game back from his anti-doping ban.

Chad Wingard and Aaron Young both kicked thee goals and debutant Sam Powell-Pepper nailed a couple of long distance majors for the travelling side.

New captain Josh Kennedy starred for Sydney gathering a team-high 28 touches and plenty of clearances and forward Lance Franklin also worked hard, kicking 4.2.

Swans’ midfielder Dan Robinson suffered an injury to the same shoulder which he hurt last season, with scans to determine the severity of the latest issue.