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Coote relishing Penrith return

North Queensland’s Lachlan Coote admits he’s making up for lost time in a career that promised so much when he first burst on to the NRL scene with Penrith in 2008.

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Coote will celebrate his 26th birthday by facing his former club on Monday for the first time since being cut loose by Ivan Cleary with a year of his lucrative contract remaining at the end of 2013.

The emergence of Matt Moylan at the Panthers deemed Coote surplus to requirements as did a litany of injuries including a shoulder reconstruction and Osteitis Pubis – a lower abdominal problem. The result was just 83 appearances in six years at the club.

He hoped a move to Townsville, away from the creature comforts of his western Sydney home, would hand him a fresh start but just a month out from the start of the 2014 campaign he ruptured his knee ligaments.

Coote finally debuted for the Cowboys in the round three 44-22 loss to Brisbane before tasting victory for the first time at his new club against Melbourne last Monday.

He’ll return ‘home’ in a positive frame of mind and not thinking about revenge.

“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s my first return to the old club,” Coote said.

“It’s not really about all that (revenge). I am happy here but it is always good to get a win against your old club and hopefully we do that.

“My knee felt good against Melbourne and it was good to be able to push off it and run in to open space.”

With Moylan leading the way from fullback, Penrith enjoyed an outstanding 2014 and although they’ve lost their past two matches, they started this season with two strong wins against Canterbury and Gold Coast.

Coote admits he has been surprised by how well the Panthers have performed but fully expects a tough test on Easter Monday.

Ahead of the fixture, he’s been indulging with some friendly text banter with Moylan and James Segeyaro.

“They’ve really come up surprisingly well, but they have recruited well and have some very good young players who are well trained,” he said.

“It’s been good to watch them get a few wins but hopefully we can beat them … and who knows even maybe rough up ‘Chicko’ (Segeyaro) a bit.”

Key Stats

PENRITH PANTHERS v NORTH QUEENSLAND

* This match sees the best red zone attack come up against the worst red zone defence. This season the Panthers have scored 14 tries from inside their opponent’s 20. Cowboys opponents have needed on average just 5.8 tackles to score inside their 20.

* Since the beginning of 2012 the Cowboys have won 35 of 39 matches when leading at half-time, the best record of any team in this period. However, they have won just three of 35 matches when trailing at the break, the worst record of any team in this period.

* Dallin Watene-Zelezniak will be glad to be back in Penrith where he has scored seven tries in six matches, including five tries in his past three matches.

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Easter road toll climbs to 14

An eight-year-old girl is dead and her older brother is fighting for his life after a crash in NSW that has helped push the national Easter road toll to 14.

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NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said Easter was a time when Australian families came together.

But after a horrific crash on a wet Central Coast road on Saturday evening, “we have a family that has been torn apart”.

The eight-year-old died in Westmead Children’s Hospital on Sunday morning.

Her nine-year-old brother is in a critical condition in the same hospital while a third child, a 12-year-old boy, is listed as stable.

Four women were also injured in the crash involving a car and a ute at Doyalson.

“Please, before you get into your car today, talk to each other, make the commitment to whoever is in your car or on your bike, that they are your responsibility,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.

“Don’t become distracted, don’t drive faster than you should, and for everyone’s sake – don’t become complacent.”

He warned drivers returning home from the long weekend to expect delays and be patient.

Another child, a four-year-old boy, was killed in Brisbane on Sunday.

The boy was hit while riding his scooter in Logan, south of Brisbane.

He sustained head and chest injuries and died at the scene.

It took Queensland’s Easter road toll to seven.

“This looks like to be the worst Easter we’ve had in several years,” Inspector Ivan Sikorsky said.

Also on Sunday, a woman pedestrian, 61, was killed in Sydney’s west.

Police in Western Australia have released details of a crash on Thursday.

A 78-year-old man was injured when his car left the road and rolled at Coodanup, south of Perth, and the man died in hospital on Friday.

In addition to the seven deaths in Queensland there have been three in NSW, two in Western Australia and one each in Victoria and South Australia.

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Qld Senator Jan McLucas to step down

Queensland Senator Jan McLucas will not be contesting the next federal election due in 2016.

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She said this follows a Labor pre-selection process that has taken place over the past three weeks.

In March, two senior Queensland state MPs urged party members to back their former colleague Murray Watt over Ms McLucas as candidate on the senate ticket, News Corp reported.

Mr Watt lost the seat of Everton in Labor’s crushing 2012 state election defeat.

Preselection for Ms McLucas’ replacement closes on Friday and a candidate will be chosen following the party’s normal procedures, an ALP spokeswoman told AAP.

In the meantime, she will continue as Labor’s spokeswoman for mental health and housing and homelessness.

The senator was first elected to parliament in 1998 and has served in both opposition and government in a number of policy areas – ageing, disabilities and carers, health and was minister for human services.

“It has been a privilege to represent the people of Queensland in the Australian Senate,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

In particular, she believes the national disability insurance scheme that was designed in government with now opposition disability reform spokeswoman Jenny Macklin is a “great Labor legacy” that the party can be extremely proud of.

In a separate joint statement, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy Tanya Plibersek said Senator McLucas has been an outstanding member of the Labor team.

“The Federal Parliamentary Labor Party will forever be grateful for Senator McLucas service, and we sincerely thank her family for their contribution too,” they said.

Further comment is being sought from the ALP.

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Bombers verdict a ‘kick in the back’: Earl

Sandor Earl says he’d love to play NRL again, but doesn’t know if or when he can with his drugs case still unresolved.

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Earl is yet to face the anti-doping tribunal almost 20 months after being issued with an infraction notice following his admission to the use and trafficking of peptide CJC-1295.

He said the process outlined to him by ASADA and the NRL upon accepting a provisional suspension hadn’t been followed as promised.

“I don’t even know when my ban is actually up till,” he told Triple M’s NRL show on Sunday.

The AFL anti-doping tribunal’s decision to clear 34 past and current Essendon players, while different, was “just another kick in the back”.

“It’s disappointing,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted a fair trial, a fair go and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

“But I’m happy to see them guys be able to move on and that that chapter can be closed for them.”

The ex-Sydney Roosters, Canberra and Penrith outside back claims he’s had little or no support from the NRL or his former clubs but is eager to return to first-grade at some point.

He currently lives in Thailand, where he set up – but recently sold – a health food cafe and gym, and is also involved with a first-division soccer team as a conditioning coach.

“There is more to life than football,” he said.

“(But) I’d love to throw on a green jersey or something like that and play in the NRL again, and at least go out on my own terms.

“With all the support and the people who’ve done me right, that dream’s never going to die.

“And the sooner the better, I’d love to come back – whether it’s a year, two years, four years – and just do what I can do, give some hope.”

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Karrie Webb surges at women’s golf major

Karrie Webb has fired a five-under-par 67 to be seven shots off the pace heading into the final round of the first women’s golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration tournament in California.

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After opening with a bogey, Webb a seven-time major champion, with wins in this event in 2000 and 2006, went on a birdie blitz through the middle of her round.

The Australian veteran made back-to-back-to-back birdies at holes eight through 10, making par at 11 before birdies at 12, 14 and 15 to be tied 14th.

Webb has her work cut out to catch tournament leader, 22-year-old South Korean rookie Sei Young Kim, but she has some good memories to call on.

In 2006 Webb started the final round six shots behind Mexican star Lorena Ochoa and shot a seven-under 65 to finish in a tie before winning in a playoff.

Kim, who already won the Bahamas LPGA Classic during her debut season, is 10-under and will take a three-shot lead into the final round after shooting a three-under 69 third round.

Kim made two late birdies to surge clear.

She holed a downhill 18-footer from the fringe on the par-4 16th and made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.

While Kim was strong down the stretch those around her faltered, with American’s Morgan Pressel (bogeys at 16 and 17) and Stacy Lewis (bogeys at 15 and 17) dropping shots rapidly.

Kim’s immediate challenger and playing partner in the final round will be Lewis, who is outright second at seven-under after a 68.

Pressel (710, fellow American Brittany Lincicombe and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn (70 are tied third, one stroke behind Lewis.

World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand slipped further down the leaderboard after hitting a second consecutive round over par and is tied 48th at two over.

Ko hit a two-over 74 in the third round, which followed a one-over score in the second round which ended her run of successive sub-par rounds at 29.

She reached that mark with her one-under 71 on the opening day to equal the record set 11 years ago by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam.

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Wright into round three at Bells surfing

Australian Tyler Wright has flirted with a potential shock early exit at the Rip Curl Pro before advancing to the third round at Bells Beach.

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The Australian looked to have the round-two clash against Pauline Ado safely in her keeping on Sunday, only for the Frenchwoman to put together a high-scoring wave in the final minute.

After a long deliberation, the judges decided Ado had come up just short, with the 21-year-old Wright winning by 14.14 points to 14.03.

“It was very close,” said Wright, who has lost in the final in each of the past two years at Bells to Hawaiian Carissa Moore.

“I possibly could have made a mistake by taking that last wave of mine which was a five.

“The wave didn’t do what I thought it might do and then her wave did exactly what I thought it would do.

“That’s just the way it is – that’s Mother Nature.

“It was a really tight heat but that’s what we come here for, those good battles.”

Australian Laura Enever made a late charge, only to come up just short in her second-round clash with rookie sensation Tatiana Weston-Webb from Hawaii.

Weston-Webb has made a flying start to the year, having reached the semi-finals at last month’s Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast.

She looked to have Sunday’s match-up all wrapped up, only for Enever to almost overtake her with a big wave in the final minute.

Silvana Lima – the 2009 Bells Beach champion – ended the challenge of Victorian Nikki van Dijk.

The Brazilian won 17.50 to 14.60.

Later in the day, Moore and Australian Sally Fitzgibbons advanced straight to the quarter-finals with contrasting third-round wins.

Moore dominated her three-way third-round clash against Lima and France’s Johanne Defay, while Fitzgibbons (16.17) just edged out American Lakey Peterson (16.04) in an encounter which also included Hawaiian Alessa Quizon (12.36).

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Senior Labor figure released after being detained at airport on foreign fighter suspicions

The former president of the Northern Territory Labor party has been released after he was detained at Darwin airport after returning from the Middle East, reports the ABC.

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It’s believed Matthew Gardiner left Australia earlier this year to join Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State.

He was stopped by Customs officials at Darwin airport early on Sunday, the ABC reports.

The Australian Federal Police say they have spoken to a Darwin man on his return to Australia.

“Inquiries relating to his activities while overseas are ongoing and as such it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” an AFP spokesperson said.

It is not known if he is still in custody.

Mr Gardiner, 43, previously served as an Australian Army combat engineer in Somalia in the early 1990s, the ABC reports.

In a statement a spokesperson for Attorney-General George Brandis made it clear that even though Mr Gardiner was fighting against IS he would be in breach of Australian law.

“It is illegal to fight in Syria for either side of the conflict,” the spokesperson said.

“If you fight illegally in overseas conflicts, you face up to life in prison upon your return to Australia.

“We know there are some Australians who think they’ve made the right choice in becoming involved in overseas conflicts, but that choice only adds to the suffering in Syria and Iraq and it’s putting those Australians and others in mortal danger.”

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten told the ABC he was relieved Mr Gardiner was “back home safe and sound”.

“But I’m concerned anyone thinks they should be getting involved in these foreign conflicts, no matter what their intentions,” he said.

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Flanagan relieved at Sharks’ NRL win

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admitted to feeling a combination of relief and excitement after his side ended a run of 10 straight losses stretching back to July last year to beat the Sydney Roosters.

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Inspired by rookie five-eighth Jack Bird, who scored two tries in only his second NRL game, the Sharks ran out 20-12 winners on Sunday to taste victory for the first time in 253 days.

Bird and 19-year-old fullback Valentine Holmes shone for the Sharks and Flanagan admitted he had a selection headache ahead of Friday’s clash with Newcastle with Ben Barba available again after suspension.

“I was really proud the way we defended and just hung in there,” Flanagan said.

“Birdy had a great game, scoring two tries. We knew he had it in him.

“When we put Birdy there, I knew he’d play well. I want that selection headache. That’s the challenge for me and I’m really happy to have it.”

Bird debuted against Gold Coast last week, coming off the bench and played in the centres, and Flanagan admitted it would be hard to move him out of the halves where he and Jeff Robson dominated the Roosters’ James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.

“Birdy’s a footy player and he’ll play wherever we put him … but he did a really good job for us tonight,” he said.

Skipper Paul Gallen said he felt the result had been coming and claimed three of the team’s four defeats this season were self-inflicted.

“We just had to stick to the systems and the gameplan and we did that and, even when they scored that second try, you just have to go back to what you do well and that is to kick long and defend well,” Gallen said.

“I got the boys on the bus and said we have beaten ourselves in three of the four games.

“We’re not where we want to be – 0-4 is not good, but we dead set had beaten ourselves. It’s a step forwards.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted his side were off the pace and had no complaints about the loss.

“It was disappointing. Not about the start, we had to defend a lot and then we probably we weren’t on our game,” he said.

“They went set for set with us and the try with 10 (before) halftime to go was disappointing but to go in 4-0 down was a pretty good result considering how the possessions went. But it wasn’t our best game today.

“Credit to them – they fought well and didn’t do much apart from complete high and kick well when they needed to and it got them the win.”

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Bulldogs duo face contrary conduct charges

Canterbury’s David Klemmer and James Graham look almost certain to face contrary conduct charges from the NRL’s match review committee on Monday following Friday’s explosive clash with South Sydney.

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The fiery Bulldogs skipper is in under scrutiny after his reaction to being penalised for attacking the legs of Adam Reynolds as he lined up a late field goal attempt at ANZ Stadium.

Reynolds was left with knee ligament damage following the incident that saw Graham placed on report.

Referee Gerard Sutton subsequently enforced the little-known ruling that states a penalty must be taken from 10 metres should the kicker be impeded.

It led to him being surrounded by an apoplectic Graham and Klemmer who was then sin-binned for abusive language.

The pair has been accused of inciting the Bulldogs fans with a section of the crowd hurling projectiles at the officials as they exited the field.

The NRL are likely to conclude their probe into the events that proceeded the game later this week, but the match review committee will release their charge sheet from the first five games of the round on Monday.

In addition to Klemmer and Graham, Bulldogs centre Josh Morris is facing a stint on the sidelines after kicking Issac Luke in the head as he scored what turned out to be an eight-point try for the Rabbitohs.

Luke could also be in trouble with the NRL following his homophobic Tweet aimed at Bulldogs fans who were slamming players on the social media site.

The Bulldogs are potentially facing a points deduction following the behaviour of their supporters with a suspended penalty hanging over the club from 11 years ago when they last caused problems at an NRL ground.

But they found an unlikely ally in the form of Brad Arthur, coach of bitter rivals Parramatta on Sunday.

“I seriously don’t think they should be (deducted points),” Arthur said.

“But that’s up to the NRL to make those decisions, it’s got nothing to do with me.”

Police say they are continuing to investigate the bottle throwing, with two men identified and legal action expected against them.

They also face bans for life from NRL matches.

In separate incidents outside the stadium, a 21-year-old Rabbitohs fan was knocked down and received a cut above his eye after being allegedly shoulder-barged from behind post-match.

A 38-year-old was arrested and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm over the incident and granted conditional bail.

A 22-year-old man has also been arrested and charged over the alleged assault in which a boy was pushed to the ground not long after kick-off.

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Don’t get mad, get even says North’s coach

Embarrassed North Melbourne coach Brad Scott won’t get angry but is demanding his players get even after being the biggest losers of the AFL’s opening round.

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North were pummelled in a 77-point defeat to a Taylor Walker-inspired Adelaide on Sunday, a result Scott said was an indictment on his players.

The loss came as Greater Western Sydney banked a precious nine-point away win against St Kilda to join Richmond, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and the Crows as opening-round winners.

While no other margin in the initial seven games exceeded 27 points, Scott’s Kangaroos fell flat against Adelaide as a number of clubs grapple with an early casualty count.

New Crows captain Walker booted 6.5 and took 15 marks to give his new coach Phil Walsh a first-up win, 21.14 (140) to 9.9 (63) at Adelaide Oval.

North’s Scott rated the loss among his side’s worst performances in his six-year reign.

“There’s no point in getting angry,” Scott said.

“I’m boiling inside but we have got to do something about it. Everyone these days talks in cliches – it’s about actions, not words.

“So you can rip paint off walls and do those sorts of things, the players will get what is coming to them.

“But it’s about what we do about it that is going to make the difference.”

New Crows boss Walsh ordered his club take a “cold shower” after the thumping of last year’s preliminary finalists.

“Beware the early Crow,” Walsh said.

“Round one, to perform like that … is very satisfying, but we know there is a long season ahead of us.”

Missing that entire season will be Gold Coast youngster Jaeger O’Meara who ruptured a patella in a Suns reserves match.

Prime movers including Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff (ribs) Carlton’s Dale Thomas (shoulder), Essendon’s David Myers, Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom (broken thumb) and West Coast’s Mitch Brown (knee) are also set to miss chunks of the seasons.

But St Kilda hope their captain Nick Riewoldt will be available next weekend after suffering whiplash in the loss to the Giants.

The Saint star was felled when Tom Bugg crashed into his back in a marking contest in the last quarter of the Giants’ 12.15 (87) to 11.12 (78) win at Etihad Stadium.

Riewoldt, playing his first game since the death of his sister, lay prone on the turf for several minutes before leaving the ground under his own steam.

The key forward was sent to hospital for scans with St Kilda coach Alan Richardson saying Riewoldt had suffered whiplash.

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