NSW Waratahs given dose of reality after 29-10 loss to Crusaders

Israel Folau carves up the Crusaders’ defence. Photo: Kai SchwoererChristchurch: The NSW Waratahs have plummeted back to reality with the biggest loss of their season and failed to break a 12-year drought against the Crusaders away from home, going down by 19 points in difficult conditions.

Few pundits expected NSW to come away from the South Island with anything to show for themselves against the ladder-topping Crusaders, but the Waratahs will rue a missed opportunity to extend their lead on the Australian conference by spoiling a four-game winning streak.

It was the Crusaders’ fifth straight win against Australian opposition – a sobering reminder of the gulf in standard and sheer potency of New Zealand teams this year.

“It was always going to be difficult, coming to Christchurch to try and win,” Gibson said. “For us we’re all about the Aussie conference right now. We’re still a point above the Brumbies heading into next weekend, so we know for us that we need to win at home. We’ve been given several lessons and we’ll have to learn from that quickly and move on.”

An Israel Folau try in the 31st minute was a rare highlight for Gibson’s men who were far from outclassed but could not salvage a 22-5 deficit inflicted in the first half as a result of sloppy defence.

“[We were] Going out in the second half with a lot of work to do,” said captain Michael Hooper. “Happy with the shots we fired just not happy with the finish. Really tough night.”

However, former All Blacks and Crusaders winger Zac Guildford scored a try with his first touch in his comeback game from a stint in the Shute Shield with West Harbour.

Cold and wet Christchurch conditions greeted the Waratahs, meaning their forwards were in for a war of attrition against a Crusaders pack boasting 275 All Blacks caps. It was an area in which the Waratahs held their own despite it being a prime focus in the lead-up.

There was a surprising amount of backline ball movement despite the incessant rain, but a slippery ball made it difficult for playmakers on both sides to be as crisp as usual.

David Horwitz was not overawed by the task of filling Kurtley Beale’s shoes at No.12. His passing and game management – be it at the back or in the frontline – was a positive sign for the future.

He brought what he’s good at tonight, his D is great, got som good kicks down. It’s games like this that get young players lot of experience. Daryl Gibson is usually more than happy to speak to the media in the lead-up to the game, but for the first time the former Crusaders assistant coach and centre wanted to keep to himself – a sign he was feeling the heat.

And so the Waratahs drought against the Crusaders continues. They have not won in New Zealand since 2004, losing on the last seven occasions by an average of 10 points.

Three minutes was all it took for the Crusaders to begin their onslaught, with winger Johnny McNicholl the beneficiary on the right edge despite a valiant effort from Nick Phipps.

Israel Dagg then went in minutes later to set up a 12-point buffer and it could have been three tries in the first 13 minutes had Matt Todd not been offside in the lead-up to a try whereby Andrew Kellaway fluffed a high-bomb in what was a tough night for the young fullback.

And then the other Israel popped. Against what had been an impenetrable Crusaders line, Folau somehow sliced through before offloading to Horne.

The ball was knocked off a Crusaders hand onto Horne’s feet to which he picked up to give NSW a glimmer of hope after their dreadful start.

Other than that it was a first half of aerial ping pong with both sides deciding that going to the air would provide more headaches than not.

It was a style of play the Waratahs have not employed all season, making their life tough in front of a hostile crowd celebrating halfback Andy Ellis’s 150th game for the Crusaders.

The Waratahs scrum was passable, lineouts still susceptible, but they simply couldn’t match their clinical trans-Tasman rivals who continue to build a strong case for being title favourites.

Meanwhile, Jed Holloway’s luck just keeps getting worse – he left the field early in the second half with what appeared to be a recurrence of the shoulder injury that has kept him out of action the last few weeks.

“We always knew it was a risk and until we’ve had a proper assessment, at the moment it looks like he may have injured that,” Gibson said.

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Christine Wells: books that changed me

Christine Wells’ new novel is The Wife’s Tale. Photo: SuppliedBrisbane author Christine Wells was a corporate lawyer with a love of British history before turning to fiction. Her new novel, The Wife’s Tale (Penguin), contrasts the story of two women, one in the 18th century and the other in the present, as they deal with marriage, divorce and property rights.

The OdysseyHomer

When I was 11, my speech and drama teacher required me to read The Odyssey to better understand that other ancient classic, Toad of Toad Hall. Contrary to expectations, I loved the rhythm and roll of the language and the adventures of Odysseus and his men enthralled me. After that, I became braver in my reading choices and developed a lifelong love of ancient Greek history and literature. I re-read The Odyssey every few years.

The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini

This novel had a profound effect on me. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. That seemed an intimate experience, as if the protagonist was in the room with me, telling his story. I felt deeply for someone who lived and struggled and made mistakes in horrible circumstances utterly different from my own. It taught me the amazing power fiction has to engage a reader’s empathy.

The Distant HoursKate Morton

Reading Kate Morton’s work is like stepping into another world, all gothic and strange, yet oddly comforting in its nostalgia. It has that same allure of the fairytale, where we move through an enchanted place with something very, very wrong at its core. Morton’s phenomenal popularity has proven that people still love good, old-fashioned storytelling with a strong narrative. That has been an inspiration to me as a writer of historical fiction.

Creativity for LifeEric Maisel

A psychologist who works with artists, Maisel understands the sources of anxiety that sometimes stop writers achieving the magical state of flow for which we all strive. In a style that is droll and clear-sighted yet sympathetic, he explains how creativity works and methods and practices artists can use to tap into the creative well. Maisel’s teaching has become a touchstone for me when I’m laying down the first draft.

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Don’t believe the budget forecasts: pre-election economic update

The Treasury is worried about Australia losing its triple-A credit rating, far more so than it was able to admit in the budget papers that were signed of by Treasurer Scott Morrison. Photo: Alex EllinghausenLatest from Federal Election 2016Big spending cuts, or tax rises, needed for surplus: update

About the only thing the Treasury believes about this year’s budget is the economic forecasts. It certainly doesn’t believe the deficit forecasts.

Temporarily unmuzzled by its political masters, the Treasury has revealed that the forecasts are propped up by $18 billion of budget measures still on the books but not yet through the Senate. Many date back to 2014. They are propping up their third budget.

They are propped up too by “the established practice of assuming that, once the economy returns to potential, it remains growing at that rate”.

The practice assumes away problems. “Should Australia experience a significant negative economic shock, the fiscal position would be expected to deteriorate rapidly and not be consistent with the projections,” the Treasury warns.

The most bizarre and unlikely assumption is that Australia’s tax receipts will never climb above 23.9 per cent of GDP. It’s a government-imposed figure which is the average between the introduction of the GST and the global financial crisis. There’s no particular reason for it, and it makes budgeting nonsensical. When Australia’s tax receipts eventually climb back up to that level it will be impossible to improve the budget by tightening up on tax concessions. As soon as that’s done, other taxes would need to be cut in order to stay below the ceiling. The budget could be improved by eating into pensions, but not by eating into super concessions.

The Treasury is also worried about Australia losing its triple-A credit rating, far more so than it was able to admit in the budget papers that were signed of by the Treasurer. “It is crucial for Australia to maintain its top credit rating to ensure the Commonwealth’s borrowing costs, and those across the economy more generally, are kept as low as possible,” it says.

If the government’s rating was downgraded, the ratings of the banks would also fall. Private estimates say it would add about $200 million to banks’ interest bills.

The Treasury left its economic forecasts the same in order to avoid implying false precision, and perhaps also to avoid distracting from its central message, that the projections in the budget it helped produced just three weeks ago are less than believable.

Peter is economic editor of The Age

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8 weeks left until Hats Off

TAMWORTH’S midyear festival, Toyota Hats Off to Country, is exactly eight weeks away.

HEADLINER: Adam Harvey will open up Harvey’s Bar as the star attraction of Hats Off to Country.

The 17th annual event will be held from July 7 to 10 across 15 venues, from Nundle to Tamworth, with more than 80 free and ticketed shows from start to finish.

Country star Adam Harvey will stand and deliver at the main event, the annual Southern Cross Austereo Give Me 5 for Kids concert, in Blazes at Wests on Saturday, July 9, at 7.30pm.

Now in its sixth year, the concert raises much-needed funds for the children’s ward at Tamworth hospital.

ON TIME: The 2016 CMAA Musician of the Year Doug Gallacher is one of the musician tutors at the CMAA Junior Academy.

From July 2 to 9 in Tamworth, the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music will take another cohort of young people and instruct them in the art of becoming a country music performer.

Tutors include Amber Lawrence, David Carter and Simon Johnson. For the first time this year, juniors will be offered a musicianship course with professional band personnel Doug Gallacher, Ian Lees, Rod Motbey and recent senior graduate and Toyota Star Maker finalist Liam Kennedy-Clark on board to ensure – instrumentally – students learn from the very best.

The juniors’ graduation concert will be held in the Peter Smart Centre at Calrossy on the Friday night.

Out at The DAG Sheep Station, Nundle, from July 7 to 12, class is also sitting for the annual Singer-Songwriters’ Retreat.

Another enthusiastic contingent of students will gain expert tuition at The DAG from a star-studded list of tutors – Luke O’Shea, Kevin Bennett, Felicity Urquhart, Lyn Bowtell, Jeremy Edwards and Aleyce Simmonds – during the week-long retreat in the hills of gold.

Along with the lessons, there will be plenty of practical “work experience” as tutors and students combine to present showcases, served with a tasty meal, courtesy of hosts John and Belinda Krsulja and their award-winning team.

HOME AGAIN: Bill Chambers feels right at home in the Bill Chambers Room of The Pub and can’t wait for his Hats Off show.

Back in Tamworth, the beat goes on … at 14 city venues, including The Pub on Gunnedah Rd.

Famed for his legendary daily concerts in January, Bill Chambers will hold court at The Pub for one very cool show at The Pub, following the launch of 2016 Toyota Star Maker Karin Page’s new EP.

South Tamworth Bowling Club becomes “classic country central”, showcasing the talents of crowd-pleasers Alby Pool, Sandra Humphries and Anthony Taylor.

The monthly CCMA Jam will herald the start of Hats Off at the bowlo on Wednesday, July 6, at 7pm.

That same night at the Tudor Hotel, another monthly Tamworth gathering, the TSA Songwriters’ Night, kicks off about 7pm.

BUSHY: Simply Bushed will perform over two big nights at Tamworth Services Club during Hats Off this year.

Popular with audiences young and old, Simply Bushed will pack out the dance floor at Tamworth Services Club over two big nights, while Golden Guitar winner Luke O’Shea will share some great story-songs of Australia in a special dinner show at North Tamworth Bowling Club.

The Bligh St bowling club is also the launching pad for a new tribute show, devised by Werris Creek songstress Marie Hodson.

LAUNCH PAD: The Cartwheels – Charley and Wendy Phypers, and Dave Patterson – will kick off a tour in conjunction with Marie Hodson, starting in Tamworth at the Hats Off to Country Festival.

Marie and Victorian Golden Guitar winner Wendy Phypers (The Sparnetts/The Cartwheels), will present their salute to leading country ladies Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee, before taking the show on tour to Queensland and beyond.

And it just wouldn’t be Hats Off to Country without the ever-popular Don Costa presenting two shows daily at Tamworth Shoppingworld – at 11am and 1pm.

A venue new to the 2016 event is the Cattleman Steakhouse where the entertainment begins with a CD launch of Peter (Smokie) Dawson on Hats Off eve, Wednesday, July 6.

Then settle back each evening for great entertainment with your dining experience, courtesy of Cassidy Rae Wilson, Ryan Sampson and shopping centre king, Don Costa.

PURE COUNTRY: Anthony Taylor will bring his true country style to the South Tamworth Bowlo at this year’s Hats Off to Country festival.

Tamworth’s pub scene is well and truly buzzing with live music for Hats Off.

The Golden Guitar-winning Adam Eckersley Band will perform at The Albert, along with the lovely Brooke McClymont as the band’s special guest.

Along the Armidale Rd, you’ll find the Oasis Hotel – an oasis for those with a penchant for traditional and bush ballad-style music.

The Post Office Hotel hosts day-long sessions by the Tamworth Songwriters’ Association and the delightful Missy Lancaster, a Toyota Star Maker grand finalist, on Saturday, July 9 at 9pm.

The Longyard continues to deliver the goods with Mike Vee, the Viper Creek Band and Matt Scullion enlisted to enhance your Hats Off experience.

Southgate Inn is the venue for the Chad Morgan bronze bust fundraising concert, hosted by the Australian Bush Balladeers Association, with a variety of artists donating their time and talents to the worthy cause.

This midyear festival in the Country Music Capital is a seasonal favourite for those who prefer their country a little cooler than the 40-degree heat of Tamworth in January.

It’s that groovy time of the year when you can layer up, rug up, cuddle up and get your country on.

The countdown begins.​

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Bendigo builders business of the year

WINNERS: The Bendigo Business Excellence Awards 2016 Business of the Year Todd Newman Builders team with Kate and Todd Newman’s sons Brodie and Jay. Picture: NONI HYETT


Bendigo Business Excellence AwardsNight of nights at city theatreThe team at Todd Newman Builders were thrilledto win the top prize at the Bendigo Business Excellence Awards on Friday.

Owners Kate and Todd Newman were away attheHIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards at Hamilton Island, to be announced on Saturday.

But their sons Brodie and Jay were among those cheering as the organisation won the 2016 Business of the Year Award in Bendigo.

ALL SMILES: Brodie and Jay Newman, sons of Todd Newman Builders owners Kate and Todd, were in a celebratory mood even before they knew they had won.

“We are just so proud of this,” a stoked Mr Newman said over the phone.

“We are Bendigo through and through.”

By ‘we’, the couplemeanthe whole team.

Mrs Newman said the business prided itself on being local and thanked the community for its support.

“It’s a huge group of Bendigo people that make Todd Newman Builders what it is,” she said.

Mr Newman said the business hadreceived numerous industry awards in the past five years, but being recognised by the Bendigo community made this accolade especiallyspecial.

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