Hunter students knuckle down for Selective High School Placement Test

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By , 18/01/2019 12:48

High stakes: From left, Astrid Morson, who said Merewether was “really good”, Brody Rousell, Leo Long, who said he “wanted to do the test even if I don’t go” and Kate McTaggart. Picture: Simone De PeakASTRID Morson was dismayed when she realised she would have to spend her 12thbirthday sitting theSelective High School Placement Test.

“At first I thought ‘Oh I don’t want to do that!’” she said.“But then I realised it wasn’t that bad–some people said getting in may be a belated present. Plus I knew I’d get to go out for milkshakes afterwards.”

Astrid and her best friend Kate McTaggart from The Junction Publicplus Brody Rousell and Leo Long from St Joseph’s at Merewetherare among a record 14,959 students who sat the test on Thursday. They are vying for a chance to secure one of the4226 year seven places atat the state’s21 selective and 26 partially selectiveschools. Merewether Highhas 180 spots available.

“I’d heard this is a really great high school and can open up a lot of opportunities for you in the future,” Brody said. “You can get a great job from getting in so I really wanted to come here.

“I’ll behappy if I don’t get in because I know I’ve tried my hardest, but if I do get in I’ll be even happier.”

The students satthree 40 minute multiple choice tests in reading, mathematics and general ability. They were also given 20 minutes and a statement as stimulus for a piece of writing. Kate said afterwards she was feeling “relieved” while Astrid said she “felt good knowing everything is over and now I can relax”. Brody said he was glad he “used all his time at tutoring well and it’s paid off”, while Leo said he was now a “little nervous about whether I’m going to get in or not”.

Brody and Leo said the tests were easier than expected but still challenging, Astrid said they were“quite difficult, as I had expected” while Kate said they were“easier than when I started practising, but not as easy as school tests”. All said the general ability test was the hardest, “because we only had 40 seconds for each question –and you either knew the patterns or you didn’t”.

Brody started tutoring in term three last year and cut out screen time over the past week to focus on practice papers, while the other three recently completed a six-week course to prepare for the test. They attended their tutor’s house once a week to sit two practice papers, plus takeone home. “We also learned strategies for how to manage our time and how to eliminate answers in the multiple choice questions,” Astrid said. “It made me more confident coming here, I knew what to expect.” The girls also did additional papers each weekend.

The Department of Education will send parents a letter on July 6 about whether their child has been offered a place. Astrid said she was “nervous and wanted to get the results today” while Kate said she would “need something to distract me from the wait.”

Victory re-sign AL coach Muscat until 2020

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By , 18/01/2019 12:48

Melbourne Victory A-League coach Kevin Muscat has extended his contract for two more years.Five weeks ago Kevin Muscat’s future at Melbourne Victory was threatening to sink into the abyss.

Roundly booed by fans following February’s home A-League loss to Brisbane – the latest below-par result of a wishy-washy season – the club legend’s chances of a contract renewal appeared delicate.

But a recent uptick in domestic fortunes, along with this week’s stirring Asian Champions League win over Kawasaki Frontale, has secured Muscat’s tenure for a further two seasons along with a pledge for more internal support.

On the same day as Victory officially appointed long-time chief operating officer Trent Jacobs as new chief executive, the club also re-signed Muscat until 2020.

It comes as reward for a sterling track record, including the 2014-15 championship and last season’s grand final, along with the 2015 FFA Cup.

The 44-year-old former Victory player also boasts the A-League’s second-best winning percentage and hasn’t missed the finals since succeeding Ange Postecoglou in 2013.

That success saw him linked to the Glasgow Rangers last year and also named as a prospective long-term Socceroos coach before the job was given to Graham Arnold.

“I’m honoured the board has given me that opportunity,” Muscat said.

“I’m excited about what is ahead and can assure our members and fans that we will continually be looking at ways to deliver the best outcomes for the club.

“My mind is on the here and now, to deliver the best results in the two competitions we’re involved in.

“The standards at this club are extremely high and we will be looking to deliver success this year.”

From fourth place, this year’s title will be an uphill battle, especially given Victory are also closing in on the knockout stages in Asia.

There are also other challenges, namely rebuilding an ageing squad to ensure the club can maintain its powerhouse status.

Chairman Anthony Di Pietro said a review of the football department concluded Muscat would benefit from an “increased level of support”.

That would allow a more targeted approach to list management and recruitment, as well as better integration of the youth and senior programs.

“We will be looking to add resources around Kevin and we will keep our members and fans informed as this unfolds,” Di Pietro said.

Jacobs, 41, will start on Monday as chief executive, filling a role vacant since Ian Robson moved to Rowing before Christmas.

The former Richmond AFL marketing manager joined Victory in 2007.

Newcastle District Cricket Association: Club coach Michael Hill and first grade captain Steve Mace team up for finals at Charlestown 33 years apart

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By , 18/01/2019 12:48

COMBINATION: Club coach Michael Hill and first grade captain Steve Mace at Charlestown cricket training at Kahibah Oval this week ahead of another finals campaign together. Picture: Simone De PeakIt won’t be the first time, but it may well be the last.

Club coach Michael Hill and first grade captain Steve Mace will join forces at Charlestown for yet another finals campaignthis weekend, 33 years after the partnership started.

Back then the roles were a little different –Hill the former NSW representative and skipper with Mace a 16-year-old debutant in a Newcastle District Cricket Association semi.

They may not have gone on to win that title in 1984-1985 and Hill finished his decorated careernot long after, but the legacy lived on with Maceplaying in each of Charlestown’s seven major premierships since.

The most recent was 2005-2006 with Mace in charge on the field and Hill assisting with all things off it.

And now, another dozen summers down the track, fate has brought them backtogether again after coaxing each other to return at different stages.

Hill, 73,in his third campaignmentoring once more at Charlestown and recently out-of-retirement Mace, 49, leading from the frontfor a second straight season.

It’s a pretty good match, and rare to be done so many years apart.

“It’s a nice circle that’s formed,” Hill said.

No surprises either that symmetry also exists in the upcoming opponents. Charlestown meet Merewether at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday and Sunday, the same battle Hill and Mace first encounteredalong side one anothermore than three decades ago.

“Hilly was my first, first grade captain all those years back,” Mace, then a medium-pace bowler who batted a bit, said.

“He was always a guy I looked up to, admired and respected so it’s good that he’s back involved with the club because he set a lot of the cultures there that I’ve hopefully carried on.”

Hill reckons little has changed with Mace.

“What you see is what you get,” theformer Knights chairmansaid.

“He’s quite an exceptional character, very single minded andvery determined. His success has come through whatever needs to be done.”

Mace said he can feel similarities to 2005-2006,which also featured the club championship claimed by Charlestown after the last round on Saturday.

“It’s a similar sort of campaign,” Mace said.

“We’ve been buildinga little bit of momentum.”

Mace said it was unlikelyfirst-class import Saliya Salanwould return from Sri Lanka for the play-offs.

SEMI-FINALS: Wests v Hamilton-Wickhamat Harker Oval;Merewether v Charlestown at No.1 Sportsground.

A-League: Socceroos squad member Dimi Petratos confirms commitment to Newcastle Jets for rest of season but eyes future overseas

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By , 18/01/2019 12:48

Jets’ Petratos wants more FOCUS: Socceroos squad member Dimi Petratos training with the Newcastle Jets at Ray Watt Oval this week. The 25-year-old remains committed to the A-League club this season despite interest from elsewhere. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookAt the moment I’ve still got another year on my contract and I’ll be finishing the season off at the Newcastle Jets.”

Dimi Petratos

“There has been a little bit [of interest], but I’ve just left it withmy agent and I just want to focus on where I’m atat the moment.”

Petratos, who joined the Jets in June from Korean club Ulsan, said he was undecided about what overseas league he would like to join but admitted “La Liga is nice. I’d like to play there [Spain] one day if it’s possible”.

Reports last week about Petratos joining former Jets teammate Andrew Nabbout in Japan before thetransfer window closes on March 31 were quickly dismissed by the club’s chief executive Lawrie McKinna.

It all comes as second-placed Newcastle race towards a drought-breaking finals appearance next month after finishing last season with the wooden spoon.

Leading goal scorer Petratos, with nine, and Nabbout have been key ingredients to that dramatic turnaround under new Jetscoach Ernie Merrick.

Both players have been recognised and rewarded for their break-out performances with spots in the Socceroos’ 26-man squad for upcoming friendlies against Norway in Oslo on March 23, followed byColombia in London four days later.

“It came a bit out of nowhere, but it was a very good feeling,” Petratos said.

“It’s every Aussie players dream to represent their country.”

The World Cup will be held in Russia from June 15.

CHANGES:Shabow travels to New Zealand for Brown

SOCCEROOS:In-form Jets attacker one step closer to World Cup spot

A-League: Newcastle Jets forced to make four changes for round 23 encounter against Wellington Phoenix

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By , 18/01/2019 12:48

OUT: Wayne Brown. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNewcastle Jets coachErnie Merrick has even more selection headaches this weekend with Mario Shabowcalled-upfor the clash against Wellingtonfollowing the late withdrawal of Wayne Brown.

Shabow travelled to Auckland on Thursday for the ill Brown and the midfield switch means at least four changes will be made to the first XI that beat A-League leaders Sydney FC at home less than a fortnight ago.

It marks the most disruption to the Jets starting side since the first round of this season, which included six new faces from the team that began the club’s last match of 2016-2017.

The highest number of changes previously this campaign has been three on two occasions –between rounds 13 and 14 as well as 18 and 19.

But all fourtrades for round 23 againstthe Phoenix on Saturday have been forced, rather than any tactical tinkering from Merrick.

Brown, who trainedon Wednesday, joins striker Roy O’Donovan (suspended) andinjured skipper Nigel Boogaard (left leg) on the sidelines while Andrew Nabbout left last week for Japanese clubUrawa Red Diamond.

Joey Champness and Lachlan Jackson are the likely replacements for O’Donovanup front and Boogaard at the back respectively while returning PatoRodriguez may slot on the wing for Nabbout. Ben Kantarovski could interchange for midfielder Brown.

“We’ve just got to give positive information and defend as a team,” Jets key man Dimi Petratos said.

Making up the bench would beShabow, Nick Cowburn, Angus Thurgate, goalkeeper Glen Moss and marquee Ron Vargas, comingback after almost five months out injured.Nikolai Topor-Stanley is captain.

JETS: 1 Jack Duncan, 3 Jason Hoffman, 5 Ben Kantarovski, 6 Steven Ugarkovic, 7 Dimitri Petratos, 8 Ronald Vargas, 11 Patricio Rodriguez, 12 Mario Shabow, 16 Nick Cowburn, 17 Daniel Georgievski, 20 Glen Moss, 22 Lachlan Jackson, 24 Joseph Champness, 27 Riley McGree, 32 Angus Thurgate, 44 Nikolai Topor-Stanley(c).

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