NRMA local director Graham Blight and NRMA president Alan Evans reviewing a previous article in the Daily Liberal on blackspots.It must be an pressing issue if the NRMA President Alan Evans gave up his ticket to last night’s State of Origin final to check out the deteriorating state of the Mitchell and Newell Highway.
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On a tour to assess the state of country roads in western NSW, Mr Evans and local NRMA director Graham Blight said the Newell and Mitchell highways are in desperate need of attention.

“They (the two highways) leave a lot be be desired,” Mr Evans said in Dubbo yesterday.

Both men have thrown their support behind Dubbo MP Dawn Fardell’s plea to the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to remove a notorious curve on the Newell Highway at Peak Hill, where earlier this year two B-doubles tipped within a two weeks period. The bend is at Hallinan’s Creek, between Peak Hill and Alectown.

“I know that bend, it’s a bad bend and that road is deteriorating,” Mr Blight said. “We will be raising that issue with the RTA to get something done with it.”

Mr Evans said he would join the campaign to get the bend fixed.

“I’m happy to go and knock on every minister’s door to make sure the money is made available, “ he said.

There is no indication how much it will cost to fix the bend at Hallinan’s Creek, nor other trouble spots along the Newell and Mitchell highways, but the NRMA is concerned over the lack of money coming this side of the Blue Mountains to fix up the roads.

“The Newell and Mitchell and Great Western highways are in real need of money to be spent on them and we are not getting it,”

“Quite frankly I am about to say to politicians that we in the western areas of NSW want a fair share of the excise we pay, we are totally dependant on our road service and totally dependant on our vehicles and we want our fair share, but we are not getting it.”

According to the NRMA, motorists contribute $15 billion in fuel excise a year, yet we only get $2 billion back each to spend on roads.

“There’s $15 billion going in and only $2 billion coming up, even if we get another billion on top of that on roads, a lot of them would be fixed, “ Mr Blight said.

Problem spots on the Mitchell highway have also been identified.

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“Coming down the Mitchell last night there is a lack of passing lanes, you know that is going to create problems that is going to cause safety issues

“I spend alot of time on the roads and the only way you experience them is to get out and drive them, not from an office or a plane, get out and drive them.

Mr Evans and Mr Blight also visited Gilgandra, Warren, Trangie, Narromine and Parkes yesterday.

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When the right-wing satirist P.J. O'Rourke starts sounding like a chai-drinking, fire-twirling, legume-composting hippie, something is up. On Thursday night he shared his thoughts on this boat people business, on the ABC's Q&A. “Let 'em in, let 'em in,” he argued, championing a liberal migration policy.
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Maybe this is because O'Rourke, the author of Why I Am a Conservative, Eat the Rich and Give War a Chance, is not so much conservative as libertarian. But I also suspect his relaxed views on migration have something to do with him being American rather than Australian. Though we love to laugh at Americans for being insular, when it comes to migration, especially boat people paranoia, we are the insular ones. America receives more undocumented arrivals every day than we receive in a year.

I realised how paranoid we are about the piddly number of boat arrivals only last year when I spent some time in El Paso, Texas. The city is right on the border with Mexico, butting up against the much-larger city of Juarez, capital of Mexico's drug wars. Taking an evening stroll down by the border, as you do, signs of border crossings are abundant. Bed sheets flap from razor-wire fences, thrown over, it seems, by migrants trying to make the blades less painful.

Later, in a taxi, I chatted to the Hispanic driver about the illegal crossings. “How many people try to come across each day, in the El Paso area?” “'Bout a hundred.”

“My God, really?” I asked.

“Yep, that's pretty good. Used to be a thousand.”

“And what percentage make it across?” “Huh?”

“How many make it across without being caught?” “'Bout fifty.”

“And do you think the fence George Bush wants to build will work?” “The fence? People find a way. They will keep coming even if there is a fence.”

When John Howard declared that we should determine who comes to the country, and the manner in which they come, perhaps the most remarkable thing is not whether this is good or bad but that in Australia there is an assumption that such a thing might be possible.

The US receives about half a million undocumented migrants every year, the Pew Hispanic Centre estimates. Australia receives a couple of thousand, 1476 in the last financial year, Department of Immigration figures show. In eight of the past 11 years, most of those undocumented arrivals have come by aircraft, not boat. Those who do come by boat are overwhelmingly found to be genuine refugees.

If the world's greatest military power cannot stop the flow of half a million people a year, should we really be shocked that a few sorry boatloads of asylum seekers make it into our territorial waters?

Governments and oppositions only make a rod for their own backs when they indulge us in the unrealistic view that total control of our borders, and the world beyond, might be possible.

This indulgence has already happened in terms of our expectations of how much the Government can do when we get into trouble overseas. The Lowy Institute for International Policy has repeatedly warned that Australia's diplomatic resources are being diverted from important strategic matters to help Aussies in trouble overseas, charged with crimes, lost in jungles. A report this year found Foreign Affairs helped with about 185,000 cases of people in trouble last year, up from 57,706 in 1997.

The false idea that the world can be made safe and controllable is only encouraged by our obsession with television shows like the popular Border Security. Such shows are essentially public relations exercises that the authorities patrolling our borders use to show us how good they are. They give the false impression that they successfully intercept every cocaine-smuggling tourist, every visa-breaching student, every smuggler with native parrots stuffed down his trousers.

Enough about boat people. If you are want to make yourself paranoid about hordes of foreigners, worry about aircraft people. At any one time, there are about 50,000 visitors to Australia overstaying their visas, according to Department of Immigration figures. Most commonly, they are from the United States, followed by China and Britain.

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Matt Gleeson on the putting green. Gleeson, 18, is the youngest player selected for the NSW under-24 teamDubbo’s rising star Matt Gleeson has become the youngest team member of the NSW under-24 colts team on Tuesday, after the 18-year-old was called up from a squad of the State’s best.
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Gleeson’s selection wasn’t his only feat this week, as he and his father David went down in the record books on Sunday for being the only father and son team to take out the Dubbo’s Foursomes Championships two years in a row.

Gleeson’s selection into the colt’s team came just one day after he made the move to Sydney to concentrate on his golf.

“I moved to Pennant Hills because I am now full-time with the NSW Institute of Sport,” Gleeson said.

For the past three years Gleeson has been a member of the NSW junior team, but says playing for the colts will be good experience for him.

“We will play the national tournament in Monavale on September 1 to 5,” Gleeson said.

“It feels pretty good to be selected.

“I knew I had half a chance because they picked six from 12 but I wasn’t sure,” he said.

The win for Matt and David on Sunday was impressive, with the two finishing three under par and seven shots in front.

“Sunday was really good fun and we played well,” Gleeson said.

“Playing with Dad is alright, we fight a bit but that’s only because we are hard on ourselves,” he said laughing.

For father David, the win on Sunday made him proud.

“Playing with my son is great and winning is just a bonus,” he said.

“He doesn’t listen to what I say much out on the course, but we only got riled up a couple of times which is pretty good for 27 holes of golf.”

The future is looking bright for young Gleeson, after finishing a successful tour of the UK in May and securing a strong scholarship with the NSW Institute of Sport for the next two years.

“I haven’t really though much further ahead than the next two years,” Gleeson said.

“I might look at turning pro but for now I just want to concentrate on my golf and possibly look at going overseas again next year,” he said.

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Police attend the Brougham Street house in Cowra yesterday after a grandfather allegedly killed three family members with an axe and left his daughter seriously injured.An elderly man suspected of the killing of his wife and grandchildren in an axe attack in Cowra has been arrested.
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The man, 69, was arrested without incident while walking along a street at Hay about 8.15pm last night, police said.

The arrest was made following information from the owner of a hotel in the town.

The man has been taken to Deniliquin Police Station for questioning.

He was on the run after the suspected triple murder that also left his police officer daughter with serious head injuries.

A badly-injured police officer ran screaming to her neighbour’s house in Brougham Street, Cowra, shortly after 2pm yesterday.

“The daughter was covered in blood and had a huge gash to the side of her head,” neighbour Terry Lovett said.

“The daughter said ‘Dad just killed Mum and the two kids’.”

The woman, aged 31, who was off-duty at the time of the attacks, was initially taken by ambulance to Cowra Hospital before being airlifted to Orange Base Hospital where she is in a serious condition.

The bodies of her son and daughter, aged 7 and 5 respectively, and her mother, aged in her 60s, remained in the house.

The police officer had been stationed at nearby Parkes but was about to be transferred to Cowra.

“She used to just drop the kids off to the grandparents place when she was going to work, and the grandparents used to just look after the kids for her,” Mr Lovett said.

The children’s father, who lives on the north coast of NSW, had been notified of the tragedy, and Mr Scipione said police were “certainly concerned about his welfare because he has lost two children today.”

He also said the incident’s impact on the NSW Police Force had been “tremendous”.

“This is probably one of the worst days in the history of the police family in NSW,” Mr Scipione said.

Mr Lovett described his elderly neighbours as a quiet, retired couple who moved to town about 10 years ago from Sydney.

“Then a few years ago his son committed suicide … and then after that, we did notice a bit of change in him.

“He was a bit quiet and didn’t socialise much,” he added.

The curtains were drawn at the modest weatherboard house, opposite the Cowra Croquet Club, as forensic officers last night scoured the crime scene.

Dozens of officers had earlier descended on the quiet street wearing bullet-proof vests with their guns drawn.

Cowra mayor Bruce Miller said his close-knit community of 10,000 was reeling.

“We do all look out for each other and any incident that affects children is especially harsh,” he said.

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THE BIG MATCH North Queensland v Manly Tonight, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 7.30pm
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What the Cowboys say They’re looking for a springboard effect. "If we can get the two points, hopefully we can go right into the top eight and stay there," hooker Aaron Payne said.

What the Sea Eagles say Coach Des Hasler is looking for his defence to clam up on Johnathan Thurston and the Cowboys’ other danger men. "Thurston is a constant threat," he said. "So’s Matty Bowen and so’s young [Aaron] Payne. They tend to play around the ruck, so obviously we need to be on our guard against them."

What Prichard says Thrashing the Sharks in Adelaide is not a guarantee the Cowboys are back. It’s a start, but a game like this is likely to tell us much more about how they’re going. The Sea Eagles, meanwhile, after going a long way towards getting their act together following Brett Stewart’s return, now have to go back to playing without him again. They’re going to suffer for that, but probably not as badly as they did earlier in the season, when they had to cope with some big off-field distractions as well. Manly know Stewart is out for up to three months injured, so the equation for them is simple: they have to win enough games in the meantime to remain a chance of making the finals. They should be able to get on with that reasonably well. This is likely to be a close contest, and I think their forwards will accept the challenge, muscle up and lead the way to victory.

For the Sea Eagles to win They can’t hope to score the sort of tries they do when Brett Stewart is in the side, because none of their other players can do the freakish things he does. They scored 14.5 points per game without him in the first four rounds, and 23.5 with him in the next two rounds. So they have to be prepared to grind and commit to a big defensive effort. The Sea Eagles are certainly capable of winning that way, as long as they are patient and pick the right times to free up the ball in attack. Too many turnovers against a Cowboys team that has several match-winners would kill them.

For the Cowboys to win They have to try to ignore the fact Brett Stewart is out – and Manly’s inability to win without him in the first four rounds – and treat the Sea Eagles as the defending premiers. Then they have to be more effective through the forwards than they have been this season, because that is where Manly will come at them. The Cowboys have a trio of back-line aces in Thurston, Bowen and Willie Tonga. If the forwards create space for them, they can cut loose.

The X-factor Cowboys lock Luke O’Donnell wasn’t at his best in the first five rounds, but he returned to form in last weekend’s win over the Sharks. Now he goes home to play against a Manly team that includes a couple of back-rowers with whom he will be competing for places in representative teams. It’s the sort of challenge O’Donnell thrives on, so don’t be surprised if he comes up with a big play.

What the bookies say TAB Sportsbet has the Cowboys as slight favourites, at $1.60, thanks to the home-ground advantage. The Sea Eagles are being kept safe, at $2.30.

The late mail No late withdrawals are anticipated.

The teams Nth Queensland: M Bowen, B Farrar, A Graham, W Tonga, S Hegarty, T Burns, J Thurston (c), S Tronc, A Payne, A Kaufusi, S Southern, S Bolton, L O’Donnell. Bench: B Harris, S Rapira, M Scott, C Webb, J Williams, J Tamou. Manly: M Robertson, D Williams, J Lyon, S Matai, M Bani, C Bailey, M Orford (c), B Kite, M Ballin, J Perry, A Watmough, G Hall, G Stewart. Bench: H L’Estrange, J King, A Cuthbertson, S Rodney.

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It’s not just the high veldt, man-mountain opponents and jet lag that the Waratahs have to contend with during their make-or-break three-match tour of South Africa.
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They must also be psyched up to deal with lunatic ground announcers, kamikaze skydivers, deranged bikies, ambushes and local officials doing what they can to make their visit a disaster.

The Waratahs, who need to win all their matches, at Bloemfontein, Durban and Johannesburg, to make the Super 14 finals, leave today for South Africa and the great unknown.

Talk to past NSW team officials and players about South African trips and they’ll burst out laughing – then their heads drop into their hands as the nightmares return.

Atrocity stories abound. Such as in 2004, when the Waratahs played the Bulls in Pretoria and the official ground announcer at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, who clearly had one too many brandy and drys, spent the whole game abusing the visitors.

Speaking in English and Afrikaans, the announcer shouted into the microphone at full-time: "Go back to Australia, you Aussie sheep-rooters."

The sheep-rooters had just been beaten 38-27.

When Mat Rogers was getting treatment for his damaged ankle, the announcer said: "Get up, Mat Rogers … you’ve only got gout."

With five minutes left he said, "Go home, you Aussies … you’re supposed to be the best team in the world. But you’re no good."

While he made derogatory remarks about Waratahs players’ hairstyles and mannerisms, the scene became even more unsavoury when the Bulls’ official mascot walked around the sideline with a sign and a stuffed sheep, which had a large carrot inserted in its rear. The mascot’s sign said: "Aussie men can’t get girls. But they can …"

As if that wasn’t enough, the players discovered on flying back into Sydney that some of their luggage had been stolen at the South African end, including boots, physiotherapy equipment and even copies of their game plans. As they picked up their bags they saw several copies going round and round the baggage carousel. But other copies were missing.

Then there was the time in 1998 when, playing the Stormers in the outpost of Wellington, they were forced to travel well over an hour to the ground on match day, only to be caught up in traffic. They then had to change in a corridor.

On that trip they also played the Bulls in Witbank, and with it came another ambush. Again poor organisation had the Waratahs stuck in the middle of a traffic jam near the ground. This coincided with their bus breaking down.

When they eventually reached the ground they found that the stadium did not even have a medical room.

Thankfully, the Waratahs don’t have to go to Brakpan. This outpost is best known for the classic comment of Reds fullback Chris Latham, who a few days before playing there was asked by a television crew: "What do you know about Brakpan?"

Latham, with a straight face, replied: "I hear he’s a very good player."

Equipment can also suddenly be in short supply. On Phil Waugh’s first trip with the Waratahs to South Africa in 1999, the team’s forwards had lineout practice in the back blocks of Cape Town. When they arrived after a long bus trip from the hotel, there were no footballs.

Improvisation was vital. Suddenly, they were practising their throws using what looked mysteriously like a skull cap filled with towels.

And there are enough Waratahs around to recall the chaos of Kimberley in 2007. Yet again they were forced to complain to SANZAR after parachutists landed on them during the pre-match warm-up. Then came a cavalcade of 10 Harley-Davidsons, with cheergirls riding pillion, which hurtled through the Waratahs – again during their warm-up.

This was followed by the team physiotherapist Stuart Pavely being attacked by the Cheetahs mascot, and the discovery the Waratahs had been supplied with only a few bottles of water, although the temperature had hit 37 degrees.

One consolation is that the Waratahs have not been caught up in the traditional high veldt acclimatisation mumbo-jumbo. Australia’s record on the veldt is dreadful, with the altitude factor constantly being blamed. To overcome this, Australian teams have tried to acclimatise by wearing sunglasses on the flight over, breathing through special straws and even resorting to cleaning their teeth before running onto the field.

This time, the Waratahs are just going to take it as it comes. But that hasn’t made anyone forget the hilarious moments – such as in the mid ’90s when a Waratahs prop, who was close to collapsing on the main Durban beach after a series of sprints, complained to his coach: "Geez, this altitude is killing me."

Go west, young Tah men … with trepidation.

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THE head of an energy company the Rees Government hopes will be one of the buyers of electricity retail assets when they are sold has made the frank revelation that the sale has not been factored into its business plan because the State Government is so hopeless at delivering.
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The managing director of TRUenergy, Richard McIndoe, said in a recent briefing to analysts in Hong Kong that the sale would not even be factored into the company's business plan because “the NSW Government's ability to muck things up is unparalleled”.

The Finance Minister, Joe Tripodi, flies from London to New York today during his controversial three-week round-the-world trip in an attempt to convince companies of the merits of buying into the proposed $6 billion sale.

TRUenergy was publicly singled out by Mr Tripodi as a potential buyer. The company, owned by China Light and Power, already owns a power station near Wollongong. “The Chinese are very much welcome,” he said last month.

Mr McIndoe told the briefing of investors on February 27: “NSW is potentially the largest retail market. There's been a lot of debate about privatisation in NSW: will the Government sell off their retail businesses and generation businesses?

“It's something you don't hold your breath over. The debate's been ongoing for several years now. The NSW Government's ability to muck things up is unparalleled so it's not something that we put into our business plan as a definite at any time.”

A spokesman for Mr Tripodi, Brad Schmitt, said: “Questions regarding Mr McIndoe's reported comments are best directed to TRUenergy itself.

“The NSW Government does, however, note subsequent published remarks by Mr McIndoe expressing an interest in the … reform program. The Government has been encouraged by the level of interest shown by potential participants.

“The NSW Government and its advisors have met and will in the future meet with TRUenergy and its parent CLP.”

A spokesman for TRUenergy, Carl Kitchen, yesterday also sought to play down his boss's comments, saying that since Mr McIndoe made the statements there had been “a lot more detail and direction from the Government” on the sale.

TRUenergy, which has substantial interests in Victoria, has been mooted as a potential buyer of Country Energy. Energy Australia and Integral Energy are also up for sale.

The Government is also selling the power generation electricity trading rights, after former premier Morris Iemma failed to get a sale of electricity generators through.

Mr Tripodi's trip includes Hong Kong, China, Paris, New York, Canada, London and possibly Spain. He will not reveal who he is to meet on the tour.

Last month, the chief executive of the Civil Contractors Federation, David Elliott, said Mr Tripodi's visits to New York and London were a waste of time. “There's no buyers in New York. You'd be lucky to sell a hot dog there at the moment.”

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Former Geurie horse trainer, Tiger Holland has passed away following a long battle with illness.
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Tiger, 70, had not been in the best of health for some time and will be sorely missed by all in the racing industry.

A former jockey who was based at Geurie, he had plenty of success as a rider in the central and western districts, and one of the best horses he partnered was Western Ballad – a top country cups performer.

Tiger made a formidable training team with Betty Lane and one of their best performers in recent years while at Randwick in Sydney was Athelnoth who won a couple of Stakes races including the Group 2-AJC Royal Sovereign Stakes at Royal Randwick.

Lane was the first woman to be granted a training licence in NSW and was awarded an OAM last year.

“He was a great character and was much loved by racing folk, especially in the bush from where he originated,” Aimer Racing Weekly’s Gowan Williams said.

“Tiger was a real knockabout and friendly at all times. You would never hear an ill word against him. Tiger even doubled as a racecaller when the opportunity arose.”

A former strapper with Tiger Holland, Ian Craig, yesterday recalled a great horseman: “I had a very enjoyable association with Tiger and Betty. Tiger knew his horses backwards and was the most gentle person I have ever seen with them – he will be missed.”

Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

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GLEBE'S historic Harold Park trotting track is poised to become the site of a big mixed-use development involving residential, retail and recreational uses, after the NSW Harness Racing Club said its intented to rezone the land before putting it up for sale.
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With attendances plunging last year, the members of the racing club voted to sell the track, the home of harness racing in Sydney for 107 years.

Now the club is seeking to have the site rezoned so it is more attractive to potential buyers, including Sydney University and developers Multiplex and Stockland.

It believes the site has an investment value of $760 million and is seeking to speed up the rezoning process by asking the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, to declare the area a state significant site. This would bypass the City of Sydney and Leichhardt councils.

How the site will be used will not be known until after the sale.

However the club said yesterday that preliminary ideas included housing, open space, new sporting areas, aged care accommodation, small-scale retail, and commercial areas. Other ideas included student housing and “educational uses”, and the creation of new inner-city parks connecting Forest Lodge, Glebe and Annandale to Jubilee Park.

The club refused to be drawn on how much of the site would be developed but predicted the entire project would create 5000 construction jobs.

“The sale will enable us to retire debt and invest in much-needed infrastructure upgrades at our new headquarters at Menangle Park, and in regional NSW without relying on government,” the club's chief executive, John Dumesny, said.

He said the club was not attempting to bypass the councils and was committed to involving expert planning, environmental and architectural advisers, governments, neighbours and the local community to get “the best use for the site and to ensure the best financial return”.

“There are great opportunities for new public open space, restoring the historic Glebe tram sheds … and boosting the viability of the inner-west light rail route.”

But the Mayor of Leichhardt, Jamie Parker, said the application for state significance locked the community out of the decision-making process.

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Sophie Upcroft looks for support players when her St Squirts team played Garden Hotel Upside in Dubbo A grade netball on Saturday at the Nita Mcgrath complex.NETBALL: They only had six players but it was enough for Nyngan Smugglers Arms to come away with their sixth win of the Rawson Homes Premiership A grade season against a full-strength St Tanks outfit.
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The Smugglers started with seven players, but lost their only shooter Stacey Hague to a knee injury in the first 10 minutes of the match.

Strong defence by Smugglers kept a four-point margin between the two sides throughout the game, with Smugglers running away with the match in the last five minutes winning 49-40.

Team member Stacey Haugue said it was the team’s defence that won them the game.

“I was the only shooter we had and when I went off with my knee injury our defenders really stepped up and played above themselves,” Hague said.

“Everyone stepped up and played really well.

“It was probably one of our better wins of the season.”

This is the first year the Nyngan side has competed in Dubbo and Hague said the three-hour round trip each week was worth it for the competition.

“We don’t have any netball in Nyngan,” she said.

“We only have a five-a-side indoor comp, but we wanted to play something a little better and more challenging.

“It has been a big step up for us and it has been a harder than what we thought, we are tested every week.

“So far though we have surprised ourselves with the success we have had.”

Hague said that at this stage the team was unsure whether they would compete in the competition next year.

“It all depends on who is around next year that will determine whether we will play again,” she said.

“We have a few young ones but most of them tend to leave Nyngan once they finish high school.”

Smugglers now have three weeks off due to school holidays, but say they will continue to train twice a week to ensure they come out firing in their first match back.

“Our first match back will be against Garden Hotel Upside who narrowly beat us last time we played them,” Hague said.

“We will have to focus on not making any silly mistakes if we want to win.”

So far this season Hague said the Garden Hotel side (the second Garden outfit in the competition) had been the team’s toughest opponent.

“The Garden Hotel team has been in the competition for a while and they are a very consistent side,” Hague said.

“We would have to play exceptionally in every area of our game if we want to beat them.”

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