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JETS BOW OUT OF ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The Newcastle Jets are out of the Asian Champions League – beaten 4-1 by titleholders, Kashima Antlers, in their final qualifying match last night. Ronald Vargas equalised for the visitors before the J-League club outgunned the Jets. Newcastle is still in A-League finals contention – it needs a win against Adelaide on Sunday. And that match is now the priority for the Jets. Ernie Merrick admits the busy schedule has taken a toll on the side, describing Kashima as “a far superior team” which will go close to defending its title.

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OUTTERIDGE INJURED IN SAIL GP OPENER

A flying visit home for Nathan Outteridge, with the champion sailor last night speaking at a fundraising event for Hunter farmers at Wangi RSL. Also on his mind, Sail GP – with Outteridge’s Team Japan second behind Team Australia after the opening round in Sydney. “We kicked off the event with a win, but then Tom sailed unbelievably well throughout the event and really set the bar for where we need to get to.” Outteridge said. “It’s great to be in the top two, but we now know the level we need to achieve to get to the top.” If that’s not hard enough, he may have broken his ribs. “My have some safety lines that keep us connected to the boat, I tripped over mine and fell on my ribs. Taking deep breaths, running and even getting out of …

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WNBL MVP AWARD RENAMED TO HONOUR SUZY BATKOVIC

She achieved all there is to achieve in Australian basketball, so it’s only fitting the WNBL has decided to rename its MVP award, the Suzy Batkovic Medal. The Novocastrian retired this season after 16 campaigns, finishing as the most decorated player in the league’s history, with five titles and six MVP crowns. The Suzy Batkovic Medal will be awarded for the first time, next season.

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MEREWETHER SETS ITS SIGHTS ON A WIN AT THE SURFEST TEAMS CHALLENGE

Fresh from its victory in the Australian Boardriders national final, Merewether has turned its attention to winning a title that has so far eluded it… the Surfest Teams Challenge. The club will field three strong teams this weekend at Stockton, and in a major boost, World Qualifying Series competitor Jackson Baker is a strong chance of returning from injury. Meanwhile, after their impressive performances at the Boardriders Battle, young guns Morgan Ciblic and Mike Clayton-Brown will head to Boomerang on Wednesday for the Great Lakes Pro. If they fail to make the finals, they’ll be back to form a formidable team with Baker. (no audio)

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MEREWETHER CELEBRATES WIN AT BOARDRIDERS NATIONAL FINAL

Newcastle club Merewether has defied the odds to win the Australian Boardriders Battle national final. Macy Callaghan looked strong for Central Coast club, North Shelly, while world tour veteran Joel Parkinson surfed early for Snapper Rocks. But it was junior Mike Clayton-Brown who proved pivotal for Merewether. Philippa Anderson and Jesse Adam capped off the win with solid scores, before the locals could celebrate. (audio in parts)

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HUNTER’S KIRSTY FENTON FEATURES IN JUNIOR MATILDAS WIN

As expected, Ante Milicic was today appointed coach of the Matildas, following the controversial sacking of Alen Stajcic. Meanwhile, the Junior Matildas have claimed a 2-1 win on the Gold Coast, in a friendly match against Myanmar. The Hunter’s Kirsty Fenton was part of the starting side. Fellow locals Josie Morley and Ruby Jones came on at halftime, before Australia conceded a goal. But the home side restored its lead thanks to a Myanmar own-goal in stoppage time. The Junior Matildas are preparing for the Under-16 Asian Championship’s second phase of qualifying, in Laos in March. (audio in parts)

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