Crows thrash Cats to reach AFL grand final

Adelaide livewire Charlie Cameron has kicked five goals in a 61-point belting of Geelong in the first AFL preliminary final.

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The Crows have secured a spot in their first grand final since 1998 with a 21.10 (136) to 10.15 (75) triumph at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

Adelaide jumped the Cats, kicking nine of the first 10 goals, to set up a a premiership decider against the winner of Saturday night’s clash between Richmond and Greater Western Sydney.

“Great credit to the players for the work they have done,” Crows coach Don Pyke said.

“The connection they have got allows them to perform like they did … the start was fantastic.”

Geelong megastar Patrick Dangerfield was felled in a second-term collision with Adelaide’s Rory Sloane which will attract scrutiny.

The great mates crashed front-on and Sloane’s upper arm hit Dangerfield in the head in what appeared accidental contact.

Dangerfield lay prone on his back for about 15 seconds before being helped from the field, but came back on to play out the match.

The incident came as Adelaide steamrolled the flat Cats – seven minutes into the second quarter, the Crows led by 48 points.

The closest Geelong came was 27 points before Adelaide accelerated into their third grand final – they won the others, in 1997-98.

Fleet-footed Cameron’s five goals were a career-best return, complemented by a soaring pack mark in the third quarter.

Cameron’s attacking colleague Josh Jenkins slotted four goals, and Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, Paul Seedsman and Tom Lynch bagged two each.

Betts sparked the early onslaught – within the first three minutes, he had a hand in one goal and kicked another.

The masterly forward later curled a 40m boundary-line set shot to give the Crows a 6.3 to 1.2 quarter-time lead.

Only once this season have the Cats scored less in a first term – 0.4 in their qualifying-final loss a fortnight ago to Richmond.

“They (the Crows) were fantastic tonight … they executed extremely well,” Geelong coach Chris Scott said.

“Their skill level … they well and truly deserve to be where they are.”

Adelaide’s vaunted forward line were fed a feast of chances from the Crouch brothers in midfield – Matt had 31 disposals, Brad 29.

Defender Rory Laird was outstanding with 32 possessions, roaming forward Lynch collected 20 touches and teammate Sam Jacobs won the rucks.

Geelong’s linchpin Dangerfield started in attack – and the Crows kicked four goals in 15 minutes before he was shifted into the midfield.

The Brownlow medallist triggered a mini-revival in the second quarter when the visitors pulled within 27 points – he finished with two goals and 24 disposals.

But the Crows, despite the plucky efforts of Cats captain Joel Selwood (34 disposals) and Mitch Duncan (25 touches), were never seriously challenged before 53,817 raucous spectators – a record AFL crowd at Adelaide Oval.

Geelong dam burst in AFL final loss: Scott

All through the AFL season, Geelong coach Chris Scott felt like he was plugging holes.

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The dam finally burst on Friday night when his Cats copped a 61-point hammering from Adelaide in a preliminary final.

“Our season has ebbed and flowed in terms of the cohesion of our group and our injury list,” Scott said after Adelaide’s 21.10 (136) to 10.15 (75) victory.

“We probably thought that we had a few holes right throughout the course of the season that we were always battling to fill.

“… We had eight or nine debutants for the year. We had a lot of players used across our list.

“And while it’s a credit to the players that are able to still get us to the point where we still finish second on the ladder at the home-and-away end, it would be much more preferable to be playing 25, 26 players across the course of the year instead of 36, 37.”

Scott said Geelong had no choice but to again transform next year, given the retirements of defensive stalwarts Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan.

“I hope that no one associated with Geelong falls into the trap of thinking that we were close again, and have just got to improve a little bit to go the next step,” he said.

“Because the cold, hard reality is we have got to go back to the start again.

“And there are some really good football teams with a lot of talent who didn’t make the eight this year who I suspect will get better.

“I wish we could just fast forward to the prelim final next year. But we have got so much work in front of us to even make the finals.”

Scott said he wouldn’t rush to judge Geelong’s season.

“I don’t really feel like it’s the time to make those assessments because we are all really emotional at the moment,” he said.

” … Our job is to not let the emotion impact our decision making negatively.”

Apps help treat mild depression: study

Smartphone apps can be an effective treatment option for people with mild to moderate depression, according to a new international research review.

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With mental health services struggling to meet the demand for treatment, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Harvard Medical School, The University of Manchester and the Black Dog Institute examined the efficacy of smartphone-based treatments for depression.

Researchers systematically reviewed 18 randomised controlled trials which examined a total of 22 different smartphone-delivered mental health interventions.

The meta-analysis involved more than 3400 male and female participants between the ages of 18-59 with a range of mental health symptoms and conditions including major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and insomnia.

Overall, the smartphone apps “significantly”reduced people’s depressive symptoms, according to the findings published in journal World Psychiatry.

“The main analysis found that smartphone interventions had a moderate positive effect on depressive symptoms, with no indication of publication bias affecting these findings,” the authors wrote.

“However, our subgroup analyses found that the effects of smartphone interventions were substantially larger when compared to inactive than active control conditions.”

After accounting for population type, the significant benefits of smartphone apps were only found for those with self-reported mild-to-moderate depression.

“Nonetheless, the nature of smartphone interventions does appear to position them as an ideal self-management tool for those with less severe levels of depression. The observed effects indicate that these interventions are well-placed for delivering low-intensity treatment within a stepped-care approach, or even prevention of mild-to-moderate depression among the millions of people affected by subclinical symptoms,” the authors concluded.

Despite the promising early results, there is currently no evidence to suggest that using apps alone can outperform standard psychological therapies, or reduce the need for antidepressant medications, the authors cautioned.

Earlier this year, consumers were urged to be cautious about the plethora of ‘mindfulness’ apps now available in the booming digital health market.

Dr Quinn Grundy, a postdoctoral research fellow in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy based at the Charles Perkins Centre, said while apps have the potential to deliver tailored, accessible and cost-effective mental health services, greater regulation was needed.

Dr John Torous at Harvard Medical School agrees patients and doctors are faced with a vast array of mental health apps, and says for this reason it’s “imperative” more research is done.

“This research provides much-needed information on the effectiveness of apps for depression, and offers important clues into the types of apps which can help patients manage their condition,” Dr Torous said.

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Bird in hand means future bright: Bennett

The addition of Jack Bird and another year of finals experience means Brisbane are a step closer to another elusive NRL premiership, according to coach Wayne Bennett.

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The Broncos fell short in their quest to break an 11-year drought when they were over-run by Melbourne, who put on 22 unanswered second half points for a 30-0 victory in Friday’s preliminary final at AAMI Park.

Brisbane’s kicking game let them down while they failed to build any pressure on the Storm in the second half with some poor attacking choices.

But Bennett said Cronulla utility Bird, who signed a four-year deal in May worth about $4 million, would be a strong addition.

“The bridge is not long, it’s pretty short,” Bennett said of their journey to a title.

“We’ve got Jack Bird coming next year, we’ve got quality players there – we’re on this journey to get ourselves in a situation where we can’t get exposed like we did (against the Storm).

“Next year we’ll be older and smarter, we need to play in these games, these guys need to get the experience.”

Bennett lamented the injury toll at his club and said the side rarely played the same spine throughout the season, losing hooker Andrew McCullough for the year with a knee injury while others were in and out of the line-up.

“I’ve been in a lot of finals series and a lot of seasons and I’m going to tell you the best thing is constant players – the same team every week, you crave for that,” Bennett said

“To put the same 17 on every week and that gives you confidence and belief and we haven’t managed that.

“It’s the best thing you can have going into the finals.”

Skipper Darius Boyd missed their last two games after suffering a hamstring injury in round 26. The gamble of playing him underdone on Friday backfired and he was forced off early in the second half.

Bennett likened it to his club’s 2002 finals campaign, when Allan Langer broke his thumb late in the season and returned but couldn’t stop the Broncos crashing out in the preliminary finals.

“When Alf came back in for the play-offs like Darius did he wasn’t the same player he was before,” Bennett said.

“We needed what Darius brings and what Alf brought in that era so it does have an impact.”

Lavrov says US has no proof of Russian vote meddling

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that US officials have failed to provide any evidence to prove that Moscow interfered in the American presidential race.

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Instead, he suggested, the allegations had been invented by former president Barack Obama’s “small-hearted and vengeful” administration to poison future US-Russian ties.

“They put this time bomb in US-Russia relations. I did not expect that from a Nobel Peace Prize winner,” Lavrov told reporters at the United Nations.

Lavrov said that he had asked US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to provide proof that the Kremlin had covertly intervened to support Donald Trump’s campaign.

Tillerson replied that the evidence was part of a confidential investigation, Lavrov claimed, scorning the idea and suggesting any real proofs would have been leaked.

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“And now the immense potential of our bilateral relationship stands there in vain, and our relations are contracting due to Russophobic hysteria,” Lavrov complained.

US officials said that a bilateral meeting between Tillerson and Lavrov had focused on improving coordination between the US and Russian militaries in Syria to avoid inadvertent clashes.

A US special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into allegations that Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened to back Trump.

The Kremlin allegedly favored the business mogul over his opponent Hillary Clinton, who had backed sanctions against Russia for rights abuses and interference in Ukraine.

US officials think Russian agents hacked email accounts associated with Clinton’s campaign and leaked damaging information, amplified online by an army of paid “trolls.”

Russia has fiercely denied this. But Mueller’s inquiry has destabilized US politics, angered Trump and contributed to a deep chill in ties between Washington and Moscow.

Australia need to defy history to win ODIs

Australia’s dire start to their Indian tour has left them trailing 2-0, a position from which they have never won a bilateral one-day international series.

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The last time Australia saved an ODI series from 2-0 down was in 1994 when they fought back to draw after eight matches in South Africa.

They also salvaged a tied series with New Zealand in 1986 after losing the first two of four games.

Despite the history, in-from fast bowler Pat Cummins believes they can mount a comeback in Indore on Sunday.

“There’s still three games left. We can still win the series,” Cummins said.

While Cummins has battled stifling heat to bowl with excellent pace and control, Australia’s gallant efforts with the ball have been undermined by brittle performances with the bat.

Skipper Steve Smith said their tendency for collapse was unacceptable after slumping to a 50-run defeat in Kolkata.

Cummins took 1-34 off his 10 overs only for Australia to lose 6-63 while batting, with his dismissal completing a Kuldeep Yadav hat-trick which sealed an Indian victory

“As a player and a teammate it’s always frustrating when it’s out of our control,” Cummins said of Australia’s woes with the bat.

“I thought we got in a position in both games where we could have taken the game away from India.

“We’ve just got to try and find a way to fix that up.”

Aside from recovering mentally from two comprehensive defeats, Australia also have to bounce back quickly from sapping conditions.

“That’s the hottest one-day game anyone said they’ve played. 50 overs felt like it was about 200,” Cummins said.

Cummins hasn’t been the only quick to impress, with Nathan Coulter-Nile’s first two international appearances for more than a year yielding six wickets.

The bowlers toiled to keep India to 252 in Kolkata, but the Australian batsman failed for a second successive chase.

“To keep them to 250-odd on a really good batting wicket and batting conditions in the afternoon I thought was a great job,” Cummins said.

After two matches the pressure is mounting on stop-gap opener Hilton Cartwright (one and one), as well as wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (two and nine).

Aaron Finch could regain his spot at the top of the order as his recovery from a calf complaint continues.

Wade has now failed to make double figures in his last five ODI innings, with part-time gloveman Peter Handscomb in the squad as a potential replacement.

Cronk given chance for farewell fairytale

Cooper Cronk has a chance to depart Melbourne with a fairytale NRL premiership but club skipper Cameron Smith has warned life doesn’t always work out like that.

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Cronk will play his final game in a purple jersey during next Sunday’s season decider in what promises to be an emotion-charged game for the club as they farewell one of their greatest servants.

The champion No.7 is still keeping his cards close to his chest and wouldn’t reveal whether he will retire or move to a Sydney-based club next year.

While he said he doesn’t expect to make a decision until after the grand final, his departure has given the side plenty of motivation heading into their second successive grand final.

“Not at the moment,” Cronk said when asked if the desire to retire had struck him.

“There’s been occasions when you’re walking through the hallways or the locker room thinking ‘Aww, is this the last time I do it?’

“I’ve really been cold-hearted and non-emotional about it.

“Whenever I do it, I slap myself over the back of the head and say ‘What’s my job? What’s my role? How can I get better?’

“When it’s all done and dusted, no matter the result, I’ll probably fall in a heap.”

Cronk played his last game in front of his home crowd in the Storm’s 30-0 rout of Brisbane in Friday’s preliminary final and in typical fashion he refused to be chaired off the ground.

While being able to send out Cronk, arguably one of the game’s greatest-ever halfbacks, as a title-winner would be fitting, Smith warned his side not to get swept up in the emotion.

“I’m glad we get another opportunity to play together, one more game,” Smith said.

“It’d be nice to send him out a winner. That’d be ideal.

“You talk about fairytales and that would be one – but unfortunately fairtytales don’t happen all the time. We’ve got to make it happen.”

US govt notifies 21 states of poll hacking

The US federal government has told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year’s presidential election.

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The notification came roughly a year after US Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia.

The states that told The Associated Press they had been targeted included some key political battlegrounds, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The AP contacted every state election office to determine which ones had been informed that their election systems had been targeted. While not all responded immediately, the others confirming they had been targets were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington.

It does not mean that sensitive voter data was manipulated or results were changed. Hackers targeting a system without getting inside is similar to a burglar circling a house checking for unlocked doors and windows.

Even so, the widespread nature of the attempts and the yearlong lag time in notification from Homeland Security raised concerns among some election officials and lawmakers.

For many states, the Friday calls were the first official confirmation of whether their states were on the list – even though state election officials across the country have been calling for months for the federal government to share information about any hacks, as have members of Congress.

US Senator Mark Warner, of Virginia, the top Democrat on a committee that’s investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election, has been pushing the department for months to reveal the identities of the targeted states. He said states need such information in real time so they can strengthen their cyber defences.

“We have to do better in the future,” he said.

Homeland Security said it recognises that state and local officials should be kept informed about cybersecurity risks to election infrastructure.

“We are working with them to refine our processes for sharing this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners,” it said in a statement.

The government did not say who was behind the hacking attempts or provide details about what had been sought. But election officials in several states said the attempts were linked to Russia.

The Wisconsin Election Commission, for example, said the state’s systems were targeted by “Russian government cyber actors.” Alaska Elections Division Director Josie Bahnke said computers in Russia were scanning election systems looking for vulnerabilities.

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State said the group has requested a list of the states where there were hacking efforts. In most cases, states said they were told the systems were not breached.

Federal officials said that in most of the 21 states the targeting was preparatory activity such as scanning computer systems.

The targets included voter registration systems but not vote tallying software. Officials said there were some attempts to compromise networks but most were unsuccessful.

Muted global launch for Apple’s iPhone 8

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 8 has kicked off with less fanfare than new models in previous years in the US, Australia, Asia and Britain, as fans held out for the premium iPhone X, due out in early November.

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In San Francisco’s Union Square, 80km from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, just 80 people were lined up at the company’s flagship store, a sharp contrast to years past when lines stretched for blocks when new products were released.

In Australia, hundreds of people usually gather at Apple’s Sydney city store, with queues winding down George Street in the central business district. But there were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened on Friday.

Apple’s flagship store in London’s Regent Street also experienced a slim turnout, according to several British newspapers.

The weak turnout for the latest iPhone has partly been due to poor reviews.

Mazen Kourouche, who was first in queue in Sydney so he could buy and review the product on YouTube, said there were modest refinements.

“(It) is pretty similar to the iPhone 7 but it shoots 4k 60 frames per second and it’s got a new glass back instead of the metal which is apparently more durable,” he sais. “There aren’t too many new features to this one.”

In China, a loyal Apple customer said the improved camera was one of the reasons she had bought the new device.

In San Francisco, customers waiting in line were evenly split between those interested in the iPhone 8 and those looking to buy the Apple Watch Series 3. The latest watch includes standalone cellular data connectivity for the first time, meaning it can be used to make phone calls without an iPhone nearby.

Chayce O’Neal, 27, said he had come to buy the new watch and wasn’t discouraged by reviews that mentioned connectivity problems. But he was skipping the iPhone 8 and holding out for the iPhone X.

“I like being on top of the cutting edge of technology,” he said.

Indifferent reviews of the iPhone 8, which comes 10 years after Apple released the first version of the revolutionary phone, drove down shares of the company to near two-month lows of $US152.75 on Thursday, as investors worried pre-orders for the device had come in well below previous launches.

The iPhone 8 will only cater to those who want a new version but do not want to pay a hefty $US999 ($A1,254) for the iPhone X, said iTWire南京夜生活,’s technology editor Alex Zaharov-Reutt.

Speaking to CNBC, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the Apple Watch with cellular data service is “sold out in so many places around the world” and iPhone 8 models were also sold out. He did not specify the locations he was referring to.

Sloane expects to play in AFL grand final

Rory Sloane’s teammates have defended him for the bump that floored Patrick Dangerfield, saying it was simply two committed players going for the ball.

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The Adelaide vice-captain will most likely come under match review panel scrutiny for the incident during Friday night’s AFL preliminary final win over Geelong, given there was high contact.

But the collison happened as Dangerfield was handballing and Sloane had no time to avoid or lessen the impact.

Asked if Sloane is now preparing for the grand final, Crows captain Taylor Walker told Triple M: “Why wouldn’t he be? … I loved it (the bump). That’s what footy is about.”

Adelaide key forward Tom Lynch also doubts there will be any trouble.

“They both went for the ball and they just ran into each other,” Lynch said.

Dangerfield had to leave the ground after the bump late in the second quarter, but played out the match.

Sloane returned to the team on Friday night after missing their qualifying final because he needed his appendix removed.

He told SEN that he had not given any thought to Monday’s MRP deliberations.

“I suppose it was just a big hit, a collision,” he said.

“I haven’t thought about it really. It’s something that’s out of my control now, we’ll see what happens.”

Sloane initially thought he could tackle Dangerfield, before realising that would not work.

“Once he handballed I just tried to intercept the handball, basically, and then we just collided,” Sloane said.

“I don’t really remember too much … My face, my neck, my chest is all a bit sore.

“You definitely know when you hit Patty, he’s an absolute bull.”