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Exclusive: Heppell's rousing address not enough to lift Dons

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A rousing pre-game address from skipper Dyson Heppell to a huddle which saw Essendon legends of yesteryear locked arm-in-arm with the current players has failed to arrest the Bombers’ slide.

Heppell’s passionate address was the highlight of the night as Essendon marked its 150th anniversary with a terrific pre-game presentation which included the likes of James Hird, Kevin Sheedy and Matthew Lloyd.

Unfortunately for Heppell and the struggling Bombers, the stirring scenes before the bounce were not enough to help the 2-10 Bombers overcome their arch-rivals, Carlton, who ran out 12. 8. (80) to 7. 12. (54) winners at the MCG.

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Heppell, who has attracted plenty of criticism during his tenure as skipper for being too friendly at times, was as fired up as ever, tugging at his jersey and the Bombers emblem on his chest a number of times in a bid to fire up his charges.

“You can’t quite pick all of that up and I’m not sure if we’re allowed to, to be perfectly honest, but that’s a big moment,” Melbourne great Garry Lyon said on Fox Footy’s coverage.

“That is a really big moment in the history of this footy club. It doesn’t get much more significant than that.”

“This man’s been under a lot of pressure. He joined us (on Fox Footy’s On the Couch) only three or four weeks ago and you could tell how much this football club meant to him. It was heartfelt. And he’s still addressing his team with Essendon royalty arm in arm, including that man back, James Hird.”

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“That’s as symbolic as it gets, Gaz,” former St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt added.

While Essendon was unable to secure a win on its big night, Heppell’s pre-game speech attracted plenty of praise.

Heppell’s stunning address to the Bombers players was one of the highlights of the pre-game ceremony, along with the entrance of Hird, in a rare official appearance for Essendon since the club’s infamous supplements saga.

The 2000 premiership skipper entered onto the hallowed MCG turf through a cloud of smoke and was met with a hearty ovation from the Bombers faithful in attendance as he repeatedly raised his Bombers scarf to the sky.

Kevin Sheedy, Essendon’s last premiership coach, also made a stunning entrance, coming onto the ground via the aisles, waving his jacket above his head as he famously did against the West Coast Eagles during the 1993 season in what has become an iconic moment.

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Exclusive: Dalot's ready to roll – TalkOfNews.com

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United Daily | Diogo Dalot on pre-season, David May’s favourite goal, and a classic tour clip that ends up in the bin…

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Exclusive: The 30-year Origin hoodoo haunting New South Wales – TalkOfNews.com

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It’s almost 30 years since a Blues team came back to win a State of Origin series after losing the opener in Sydney, but two stars of that memorable NSW team of 1994 have laid down a blueprint for Brad Fittler’s men to follow.

Brilliant fullback Tim Brasher and giant back-rower Paul Sironen admitted things looked bleak for the Blues when Mark Coyne scored the famous last-minute try to win the Queenslanders an epic Game One that series.

“I know how this team feels – because it’s the same way we felt back in ’94,” Sironen, now a member of the Blues’ management team, told Wide World of Sports from Perth.

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“When you have game one at home you just have to win it – and we blew it.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have and we didn’t execute the way we trained and we knew we were really going to be up against it for the rest of the series.

“But what we did was turn that to our advantage by using that frustration, disappointment and anger at ourselves to spur us on.

“We levelled the series in Melbourne and it then all came down to the decider in Brisbane.”

Brasher has vivid memories of the lead-up to the all-important third match at Lang Park.

“Everyone was telling us about Lang Park being the cauldron and how we would cop it up there and I must admit I wasn’t all that confident in the week leading up to the game,” Brasher said.

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“But then on game night, as our team bus went down Caxton Street and they came out of the pub and shook the bus and threw bottles at us, I think that actually did us a favour.

“It galvanised us, gave us a siege mentality and we were determined to go all the way.”

The Blues won the decider 27-12, with a young Brad Fittler playing in the centres.

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Exclusive: Playing minus two starters, Magnolia routs Phoenix – TalkOfNews.com

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Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon (second from right) splits the Phoenix defense to finish in double figures. —PBA IMAGES

Magnolia did the math and figured a few people short did not exactly mean a disadvantage in manpower.

“Coach told us that there are only five of us on the floor at a time, so it doesn’t matter if we’re missing some of our key players,” said veteran playmaker Mark Barroca, who keyed a 95-77 rout of Phoenix on Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“As long as the five on the floor is solid, we’ll be fine,” added Barroca, who finished with 21 points, five rebounds and six assists to help the Hotshots fill the void left by Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.

Magnolia also drew double-digit outings from Aris Dionisio, Jio Jalalon, Jackson Corpuz and Ian Sangalang to bury the Fuel Masters in holes as deep as 27 points on the way to rising to 3-3 (win-loss).

And that was exactly what the doctor ordered, according to Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.

“We talked about it before the game—that we’re now in the middle of the tournament,” he said. “It’s time to level up our game, level up our execution, our being smart. That’s why we had a good start.”

Magnolia—finalist of last year’s all-Filipino conference—came out the gates hard, using an 11-0 run to open the contest and take the wind out of Phoenix’s sails early despite the absence of its key starters. Lee was out of the game due to a back problem while Abueva was serving his one-game suspension for his behavior in a victory over Barangay Ginebra last week.

Also out for the Hotshots was backup guard Jerrick Ahanmisi.

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“Hopefully, before the elimination round ends, we are able to be complete. That’s only going to improve our run,” said Victolero.

Javee Mocon led Phoenix with 19 points while Sean Manganti added 11 as the Fuel Masters dropped to 2-3.

Later in the night, Barangay Ginebra got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Christian Standhardinger to stop San Miguel Beer, 75-72.

The Gin Kings hiked their record to 4-1 while dealing the Beermen their first loss in four games this conference.


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