N Korea about to return US war remains

The US military says it is moving “assets” to a US air base near South Korea’s capital and to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s returning of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War.
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But US Forces Korea spokesman Colonel Chad Carroll denied a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that US military vehicles carrying more than 200 caskets were planning to cross into North Korea on Saturday.

North Korea agreed to send home US war remains during the June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Carroll said in an email that the US-led UN Command was moving “assets” to an American air base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, south of Seoul, and to the Joint Security Area at the border to prepare for the process, but that plans were “still preliminary.”

Earlier on Saturday, Yonhap cited an unnamed source as saying that about 30 US military vehicles carrying 215 caskets were expected to cross into the North on Saturday afternoon. Carroll called the report “completely false,” but didn’t immediately reply to an inquiry about the number of caskets being readied.

Between 1996 and 2005, joint US-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains.

But efforts to recover and return other remains have stalled for more than a decade because of the North’s nuclear weapons development and US claims that the safety of recovery teams it sent during the administration of former President George W Bush was not sufficiently guaranteed.

Earlier the Pentagon announced the indefinite suspension of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, following a promise made by President Donald Trump at the North Korean summit.

Australian Associated Press

Lightning and Giants draw in Super Netball

The Sunshine Coast Lightning and the Giants have played out a 53-53 Super Netball draw.Sunshine Coast Lightning have rallied after a poor start against the second-placed Giants for a fiery conclusion in a 53-53 Super Netball draw.
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Australian captain Caitlin Bassett claimed her 40th goal from 44 attempts on the buzzer to bring her side – who had been eight goals behind at one stage – back to level pegging on the Sunshine Coast.

Starting at wing defence, Madeline McAuliffe moved into centre towards the end of the first period and helped lead the Lightning fightback from early in the second.

“I think we’re good sometimes when we have to fight and that’s what we do when we’re down,” she told the Nine Network.

“Unfortunately, we just can’t wait until we get to that position to do it so we just need to make sure we’re doing that consistently throughout the quarter.”

There was an intense battle in the Lightning’s defensive third as momentum swung their way from the Giants’ shooters to goal defence Karla Pretorius and goal keeper Geva Mentor.

Last season’s MVP Mentor typically discouraged any passes over the top with her vertical coverage, while the disruptive Pretorius often managed to get her hand to the ball and claimed two intercepts – impacts not lost on Giants goal shooter Susan Pettitt (21/25).

“I think Geva and Karla have really stepped up that ante,” Pettitt said. “We’ve probably slipped into what they wanted to do to us.”

The shooter was replaced at halftime by the more-imposing Kristina Brice, who missed three of five attempts despite getting into good shooting positions. The switch was reversed mid-quarter after just eight minutes.

Three of the Giants’ five wins this season have been by three or less goals but, on this occasion, they could not find the final touch – the two sides splitting competition and bonus points, with the Lightning claiming the second and third quarters.

Australian Associated Press

Coaches not ducking Origin II pressure

Freddy reckons under pressure State of Origin rookies remind him of paddling ducks.Pressure comes in all shapes, all sizes. And to borrow some Brad Fittler-speak, all sorts of animals too.
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With so many NSW rookies playing State of Origin this year – at last count there were 12 – the Blues coach reckons he can actually identify which critter it is that encapsulates the kind pressure he’s talking about as well.

“It’s like the duck,” Fittler said on Saturday. “The duck looks calm on top but the feet are paddling.”

“There’s a bit of duck going on.”

The NSW legend is not just 80 minutes away from claiming a series win in his first year holding the clipboard, he’s also on the cusp of what could be generational Origin change – and not before time either.

Blues fans have suffered through 11 series defeats in 12 years.

“It’s a shame that the state’s gone through what it has,” veteran five eighth James Maloney concedes.

” … things are due for a change (and) we’re the ones that have got to make that happen.”

It’s a truism not lost on 46-year-old Fittler, who’s own career as NSW playmaker was long and decorated.

A memorable charge-down try in his final game for the Blues in their triumphant 2004 decider in Sydney is etched in Origin folklore.

But as coach, he will largely be helpless once his troops run onto ANZ Stadium on Sunday evening.

Asked whether he has allowed himself to visualise a Blues victory, Fittler said: “The blokes have all the say in how that goes. I just sit in the box and do some paddling, really.”

His alternative methods as mentor have largely overshadowed counterpart Kevin Walters’ approach to the opening two camps of this series.

Whereas Fittler has been an open book regarding his out-of-the-box thinking, Walters’ usual dry wit has somewhat dried up.

The Maroons champion was caught out when he had to deal with the late withdrawal of Billy Slater in game one and then he bit back at the media this week after they questioned his naming of the Maroons squad in alphabetical order.

Slater, who has already announced he will retire from representative football after the series, is a confirmed starter in game two, with hotshot debutant Kalyn Ponga on the bench.

Walters was in the exact same position last year, with Queensland down in the series and saved in games two and three by the heroics of Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston.

This time, after two straight series victories, the 50-year-old says he’s welcoming the pressure.

“Everyone feels pressure but I am pretty fortunate to have a great set of guys and staff who have shared the load this week,” Walters said on Saturday.

“I am very confident we can go out and give a really good performance against the Blues. Is that going to be good enough? We will have to wait and see.”

STATS THAT MATTER

– Of the eight series that have had a match played in Melbourne, seven of them have been won by the team who wins in Melbourne.

– The past 17 Origins in Sydney have been decided by 10 points or less.

– NSW have not scored 20+ points in back-to-back Origins since 2009-10, and not in the same series since 2005.

Australian Associated Press

Newcastle rugby: Maitland show they mean business with win over Two Blues

BIG PLAY: Maitland centre Carl Manu sliced through from close range to end Wanderers’ comeback in the Blacks 47-31 win at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday. Pictures: Stewart Hazell. TACKLE BUSTER: Hamilton winger Laufiso Vasegote escapes the clutches of Joe Crawford.
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MAITLAND co-coach Mick Hickling is not content for the Blacks to simply mix it with the big boys of the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union.

BARNSTORMING: Merewether No.8 Ramiha Smiler powers through a tackle.

That was 2017. This season he wants more.

The Blacks looked every bit a premiership contender for muchof the 47-31 win over Wanderers at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

It was the Blacks second win over last season’s grand finalists, following a 10-9 triumph at Marcellin Park in round two. That win was founded on defence.

Saturday showed they can attack as well tackle.The visitors ran in seven tries and bombed a couple of others.

They feasted on the Two Blues at the break down and once in the opposition quarter, came away with points.

“There were patches where we played some really good footy,” Hickling said. “We stuck to our structure, got ourselves into good field position and then capitalised.We are not just there to compete any more. We are there to win the game. That has to be the mentality: we are not just here to mix it with the big boys, we are here to beat them.”

The Blacks led 19-12 at the break and and stretched the margin to 33-19 midway through the second half. However, the Two Blues hit back with three tries in seven minutes to close to 33-31.

But a turnover and penaltyput the Blacks back on the front foot and Carl Manu sliced through from close rangeto end the revival.

“We got in front and thought we had the game won,” Hickling said. “Our line speed started to drop off and they played some good footy too. Their second last try was good football.”

Maitland show they mean business TweetFacebookUp front, Dan Runchel and Willie Soe were strong for the Blacks, Nick Davidson and replacement John Birrell were dominant at the tackle contest and Manu made a big play when it was needed.

“We put a bit of pressure on the pill at they breakdown,” Hickling said. “They set their attacking pods wider which presents an opportunity if we are quick enough to get on the ball. We had blokes tackling outside in, being aggressive and getting over the ball.”

Next for the Blacks are premiers Hamilton, who overpowered a previously unbeaten Merewether 29-17 at Passmore Oval.

“Weare still making mistakes coming out of our own end. In really big games and against teams like Wanderers they can really make you pay for that. We were fortunate today that we got away with it. If we give Hamilton that much ball trying to come out of our own end, it will be a concern.”

It was a second straight loss for the Two Blues, who slip to fifth. They were strong at the set piece and scored three spectacular tries from inside their own half.

In the forward Francis Ieremia was everywhere and Noa Taufaaomade inroads with every carry.

However the enterprising patches were bought unstuck by slopping ball carries and a lack of urgency at the tackle.

“Too many turnovers carrying the ball whenfighting the contact and two many turnovers at the ruck,” coach Darren Young lamented.

Elsewhere Saturday, Nelson Bay moved to third spot after they accounted for Lake Macquarie 41-3at Walters Park.

Though beaten, it was a much improved performance from the Roos, who were bolstered by the inclusion of former North Harbour Rays Sione Ala andBrian Sefanaia. Lake Macquarie had conceded more than 110 points in each of the four previous games.

Adrian Delore was the star with a double to lead Southern Beaches to a 42-35 triumph over Singleton at Ernie Calland Field, their first win since round five.

Newcastle RL: Lakes coach expects rusty Phythian to improve

Newcastle RL: Phythian makes rusty return as Lakes stumble to Souths RUSTY: Dylan Phythian returned from a 12-match suspension for Lake United in a 26-6 loss to South Newcastle on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil
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TweetFacebook Lakes play Souths at Townson OvalSacked Knights utility Dylan Phythian makes his return to rugby league for Lakes against Souths at Townson Oval. Photos: Marina NeilLAKES United coach Todd Edwards expects Dylan Phythian to be “better for the run” after playing his first game in 18 months in the Seagulls’ 26-6 loss to South Newcastle at Townson Oval on Saturday.

The former Knights utility was cleared this week to resume his career in the Newcastle Rugby League after serving a 12-game ban forfor a second positive drug test.

Phythian recieved the ban in March as he was preparing to return for the Knights after missing the majority of the 2017 NRL season due to a knee reconstruction.

SPORT: More rugby league headlines from Newcastle and the Hunter

He was sacked by the Knights and offered a lifeline by his junior club.

The 22-year-old played off the bench on Saturday.

“He played a bit of back row and a bit of left centre,” Edwards said. “He was rusty but he got through. He worked hard but was burning and will be better for the gallop.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Maitland scored scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to thrash Kurri Kurri 42-6 at Maitland Sportsground and Central ground out a 26-14 victory away to Cessnock.

At Townson Oval, competition leaders Lakes trailed Souths 14-0 early and 14-6 at the break.

They held out the home side out until the 70thminute before late tries to lock Tori Freeman and interchange forward Cameron King sealed a third straight win for the Lions.

“They were very clinical and handled the conditions better than we did,” Edwards said. “It was a wake up call for us. We weren’t great, they were good and we got we deserved.”

“We put ourselves under too much pressure with poor handling and poor decisions.”