ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
March 20, 2002.



'MOVE RAIL YARDS' SAYS TOWN LOBBY. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

An influential Alice "think tank" is calling for the relocation of the rail freight terminal, currently in the centre of the town, or the creation of a new freight yard, including facilities for road transport. David Cloke, chairman of the Central Australian Regional Development Committee, says the previous NT Government had a study prepared on the relocation but "it didn't see the light of day". "We want to find out where that is." Mr Cloke says the committee recently had a two hour meeting with Minister for Central Australia, Peter Toyne, who said he wasn't aware of the study but would get information about it. Mr Cloke represents the Chamber of Commerce on the committee of 12 which also includes members from CATIA, ATSIC, the Central Land Council and two senior public servants. Mr Cloke says the group is seeking to act as a "conduit of information" between government and business as well as social interests. "We keep pushing development in Central Australia, and that's not only economic development but also social. "If we keep the economy going, the social side – hopefully – will improve along with it." He says the committee found Dr Toyne to be "very receptive". Says Mr Cloke: "He was well briefed, he was able to talk sensibly, and with a reasonable amount of knowledge. "We got reasonable comfort that he's doing what can be done, I guess, within a limited budget. "He's very strong on his statement that he will do his utmost that the Berrimah Line is broken down. We've probably now got a Minister who's closer to the top of government in the NT than we've had for quite a long time." Mr Cloke says a major topic for the wide-ranging discussions was the aftermath of the Ansett collapse. "We were given an assurance that exactly the same incentives were offered to bring Virgin into Alice Springs as were offered in Darwin. "This was some comfort I hadn't been absolutely sure about." Dr Toyne told the meeting that $6.5m had been allocated to upgrade the Tanami Road, to the gold mines north-west of Yuendumu. "It is accepted that this isn't enough to do it properly," says Mr Cloke, a factor of the "difficult financial situation the new government took over." Funds have been allocated for the sealing of the Mereenie loop road over three to four years. Mr Cloke says a major local concern is that the two large construction projects in town – the hospital and the convention centre – "are coming to finality and there is very little on the horizon." Tourism had "held up fairly well so far but it's now going to bite. "The expectation is that there will be some very significant hurt from probably April onwards. "The forward bookings are now showing significant drops." Mr Cloke says available financial and business information about Central Australia is inadequate (see also Alice News, Feb 13). "There are very, very sketchy statistics being produced which relate to Central Australia, and particularly, Alice Springs, as to what are the economic drivers in this area. "The lack of hard facts makes it difficult to make informed decisions, and push for certain things to happen. "We all know what the major factors are but we don't know whether they are going up or down, and by how much." Mr Cloke says John Baskerville, the most senior bureaucrat in Alice Springs, "tells me he's been pushing for this for some time". "The Federal funding of Aboriginal organisations needs also to be factored. "There is no doubt that while there are significant social issues, there are important positives, such as the cash flow in this area because of the funding that comes in for the Aboriginal people and their organisations, money that is spent here. "Mining is important but we're still not getting enough of the spend by the mining companies in the town and the region. "There is a push on that at the moment. "A group of the Alice in Ten project is trying to increase the awareness and the commitment of the mining industry [mainly the Granites and allied gold mines] to support the local economy if at all possible. "We've got to be able to provide the services and we need to be efficient. "We're asking the companies to tell us what they can think they can get from here" that is currently sourced from outside the region. Mr Cloke says anti social behaviour now has "some impact on people's perception on why they should stay in Alice Springs". "We've got to find an answer. "There's talk about education, but that's a very long term problem." Dr Toyne assured the committee of a determined position on anti social behaviour. "If people think that because this is a Labor government we're going to be soft, this is not going to be the case," he told the group, says Mr Cloke.

MOTHER OF FOUR, PLUS 70 OR MORE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

"There are so many carers with houses full of kids - why single me out?" Jan Beven isn't one to blow her own trumpet. She's a foster parent, it's what she wants to do, that's all. She's never counted up all the children who have found a home with her, whether for a night or for years, but reckons it must be around 70. Daughter Emma, who has grown up within this large family, suggests 90. It started 17 years ago when the Bevens lived in Broken Hill. They had four children of their own, the youngest just two and a half years old. Graeme's job as a mining engineer had him working long hours and often away. Jan, a pediatric nurse, decided to pursue her long-held desire to "run a children's home" by taking in foster children."Graeme accepted it, most foster fathers accept it. "There are a few who enjoy it but fostering is a 99 per cent woman thing," laughs Jan. She laughs a lot – she probably couldn't do what she does if she didn't laugh.After stints in Cobar, Kalgoorlie and Tennant Creek, the family arrived in Alice about 10 years ago. All of the fostering they had done till then had been relatively short term. Now they were asked to make a home for a nine month old girl who was severely disabled.It would be a long-term placement. Everyone in the family "fell in love" with the baby, even Graeme. "There was something about her, nobody could not bond with her," recalls Jan."She was absolutely beautiful, and it was also because of what had happened to her, it made you want to protect her." The Bevens thought she would be part of their family for a long time. When she died four years later, from multiple medical complications, it broke their hearts."It was the most devastating day of our lives – you never get over it," says Jan."People think you will because you are fostering, you've chosen to do it."But after caring for any child for a long period of time, the impact of losing them is just as severe as if you were losing one of your own."Now the Bevens are steadying themselves to go through the ordeal again. Nine years ago a little girl came to them for an eight week respite placement.She had been born with cerebral palsy but her prognosis was quite good. She was expected to live well into adulthood. With the Bevens she started to put on weight. The child's family, who live in a remote community, saw that she was thriving and asked if she could stay on. "She's well loved by her family," says Jan, "but she needs to be cared for in town."I couldn't look after a child with her needs if I was out bush."The little girl, now 10 years old, has been with them ever since. About a year ago, her condition took a turn for the worse. Little by little a severe curvature of the spine is crushing her internal organs. She's no longer able to go to school; she can't sit up; she can't eat and has to be fed through a stomach tube; she has difficulty breathing and is often in pain. Jan says that with short term placements she keeps a certain distance; otherwise it would be simply too hard to say goodbye. In nine years a deep attachment forms. "We love her to bits," says Jan. Most people would think the Bevens have enough on their plates caring for a teminally ill child, but somehow they are also managing to care for two other children with special needs. Shanna, pictured with Graeme and Jan, is autistic and has "multiple medical issues", among them, not being able to eat. She too is fed with a stomach tube. (Shanna can be named here because her placement is a private arrangement between the Bevens and her family. The other children have been placed by Family and Children's Services and their identities cannot be disclosed.) Their little boy is permanently dependent on oxygen and also has a shortened life expectancy. Most people think I'm mad," says Jan. "Why on earth do you do it, they ask. "I do it because I love them, I wouldn't do it if I didn't." What about their own children, all young adults now, did they ever think they were missing out? Jan says they probably found it hard when the first special needs child came to live with them."We've had our fair share of normal family traumas."I've just had to work out who had the highest priority at the particular moment."I know at times my husband has found it very hard."Since the older girl has been ill, Graeme has stopped going away. He helps care for the children each day between five and seven, while Jan cooks tea. Both of them recognise that they're getting very tired. "We do have our bad days. When the children are all home together, that's hard."During school term, Shanna and the little boy go to Acacia Hill Special School. There are limited holiday program options for them. Rather shockingly, there is also very limited respite care. Jan has not had any respite from the older girl for three months. This, she says, is not so much an issue of money (although money comes into it, as Jan's work is unpaid) as of finding the right person. All three children are very demanding and require a lot of special care. They have had some wonderful respite carers in the past, but lately it's been hard to find new ones. It's not just anyone who can take it on and on the other hand, Jan also wants to feel confident in the person. Needless to say the Bevens' social life is limited. They will occasionally get a babysitter and go out, but Jan says it's usually more relaxing to order in a Chinese meal.It's the holidays they miss the most. Before the older girl became ill, they did occasionally get away, with the children. It's not possible now. Indeed they're too tired to even think about it. The older girl needs medication and turning during the night, and is often awake, crying out in distress. They look back gladly on the holidays they had with her, the memory of her sitting in the shallow surf and laughing. "It's been the most rewarding as well as the hardest thing I could ever have done," says Jan. Last year Jan Beven was recognised as NT Carer of the Year; this year, daughter Emma has nominated her for the Barnardos Australia's Mother of the Year Awards.Four other Alice Springs women have been nominated for the Barnardos Awards. They are Imelda Johannsen, nominated by her son Brenton, for making a wonderful home for her children; Donna Bailey, nominated by her sons, Sean and Ian, for being able to run her own business and take care of them as a sole parent; Vicki McDonald, nominated by her daughter Bridgett for her care of her disabled child; and Barbara Geraghty, nominated by her daughter Bridgette, for her care, as a foster parent, of many homeless children and children with special needs. The need for foster parents is desperate; if you think you could help, ring Family and Children's Services on 8951 5170.

ON THE RECORD. EDITOR'S COLUMN.

Can't this new Labor government get anything right? The august chamber of the Legislative Assembly is for making war, not love. As Clare Martin's predecessors have so amply demonstrated, Parliament House is also for things like running up a public debt costing us more than half a million dollars a day in interest (despite getting from Canberra five times the states' average Grants Commission allocation); for blowing vast amounts of public money on a railway when we still don't know what it will actually carry; and for running an education system that keeps a third of its clients in a state of abysmal ignorance. On second thoughts, what the adventurous Romeo did in the Chamber to his partner was not so different to what successive governments have done there to the Territory.
• • • 
I'm glad the situation of the town council budget surplus is now finally absolutely clear: The council has unhesitatingly accepted a government recommendation (direction?) not to penalise its staff before having engaged in meaningful mediation. At the same time the council has told its CEO he won't have a job come September. And, no, the two decisions aren't contradictory: until he's shown the door, Nick Scarvelis and his masters, quite obviously in a spirit of earnestness, will have ample opportunity of having their differences sorted out by independent mediators. Will these be paid a hefty consultation fee, which will absorb the contentious surplus which started the kerfuffle?
• • •
Is the Town Council setting a trap for Local Government Minister John Ah Kit, seen by some as the weak link in the Labor Cabinet? The Government has made it clear that unless the council gets its act together, it may get the sack. The Scarvelis dismissal (at the end of his contract) is clearly a slap in Ah Kit's face. If he doesn't react to the breach of faith, he'll be seen to be weak. If he sacks the council, the CLP – apparently having a majority on the council – will be screaming "undemocratic outrage". Watch this space.

Column by ANN CLOKE: VERY DISAPPOINTING VISIT TO www.outback2002.com.au

Almost a quarter of the way through 2002, Year of the Outback!!When Alice Springs was crowned Capital of the Outback in late 2001, there was much hype in the Centre. Elsewhere, most Australians are unaware of our status.There are 25 pages of events in the official Outback Events Calendar and Alice Springs doesn't rate too many mentions. There is no reference to Alice, the Capital. Although major annual events such as the Alice Springs Racing Cup Carnival, the Old Timers' Fete, Henley on Todd, Red Centre Open Tennis Tournament and our bi-annual Masters Games are listed, there aren't many "one-offs" listed. Special events which do feature include the National Road Transport's Hall of Fame "Home for Bertha" celebration in honour of legendary trucking pioneer, Kurt Johannsen. There's also the official opening of the Larapinta Trail which winds through our spectacular Western Macs; and, the Last Camel Train Trek from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs in remembrance of the hardy Afghan cameleers who, together with their ships of the desert, opened up the Centre. Songlines from Alice will endeavour to show urban Australia that the Outback is a part of Oz, and showcase the Centre, and the Outback's unlimited potential and future challenges (Desert Knowledge and Remote Solutions). Centre Rocks will bring together fossickers, collectors, researchers and displays of minerals, gems and fossils.Then there's the celebration marking the 125th Anniversary of Hermannsburg (Ntaria). The Heritage Festival, Bangtail Muster, the Finke Desert Race and the Alice Springs Festival are amongst events that don't feature. It doesn't appear that the NT Tourism Commission, CATIA, Chamber of Commerce and Alice Springs Town Council have banded together to ensure that Central Australia receives maximum recognition in this important year. The Tourism Commission, CATIA and Town Council each boast extensive websites. The council's comprehensive site lists community events and advises that there are over 60 exciting Outback events Territory wide during 2002. Disappointingly only a few of these have made it into the Official Year of the Outback Events Calendar, which is, presumably, where intending travellers to the Outback, would look.Special Events co-ordinators and organisers had to ensure that event details were submitted to "Year of the Outback" collators for inclusion in the Official Year of the Outback Event website. A staff member at the NT Tourism Commission told me that acquiring information from various organizations was not an easy task. I wasn't able to follow up on that comment, but it suggests (if correct) that there is still no overlap or sharing of information.It isn't too late for organizations to add in entries. However most visitors, particularly those from overseas, finalised itineraries months ago. Interstate travellers especially family groups also know what they're doing in the 2002 school holidays. If Alice Springs is on their route, great. If it isn't, then they'll miss out on visiting the best part of Oz, the Red Heart, and seeing our spectacular countryside, and we will have allowed one of the greatest opportunities to showcase the Alice, in 2002, Year of the Outback, to slip away.I am sure that the Outback website has received many hits. There's quite a lot happening out there: a tulip festival in Tasmania; big bands concert in Wagga Wagga; an outback party in Tenterfield: a Celebration of Rural Australia art exhibition in Mudgee; Outback Adventures in Yilili; Tastes of the Outback in the Flinders Ranges: and (how on earth did they organise it?) a total solar eclipse in the South Australian Outback in early December, moving from Ceduna Lake across Andamooka, Roxby Downs, to the north of Leigh Creek and over to Woomera and Glendambo.Some interstate entries are quite interesting. There's a Waterbag and Sculpture Competition at Jandowae; Dog and A Ute Queue in Corrigin; cattle drives and a Never Never Country Cattle Sale at Mataranka; a wheelbarrow race in country Queensland. FLOWERS In Nannup, which is where ex-Alice residents, Avis and Kurt are enjoying life in the country, there's the Flowers and Garden Month. An invitation is extended to head to the outback to celebrate Easter at Carrieton. Longreach is also celebrating Easter. What about "Come to the Alice to celebrate the rising of a full moon on Good Friday?" Many city dwellers think that there's nothing to see in the (REAL!) Outback. What defines "outback" anyway? There's so much of it – where does it start, end? Trying to attract people away from the coast and into the Centre is a tough call. We come up against time restrictions, distance, budgets and how to get here. It's disappointing to pick up national newspapers and discover that the Outback Events section has been written by someone who has possibly never left his or her city office desk. Perhaps he or she logged into the Outback Website and noted that there didn't appear to be much happening in the interior. The visitor who actually arrives here may be surprised to discover that in this vast seemingly empty land, the Outback, there is a lot going on. It's just where you go, website-wise, to access the information, to find out exactly what it is, and when it is, that seems to be the problem!!

C.L.P. RESPONDS TO AH KIT PLEA. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Community Development Minister John Ah Kit's recent statements in the Legislative Assembly on the "stark crisis" facing Aboriginal communities (see last week's Alice News) were given qualified support by the Opposition. In a similar vein to the Prime Minister, Richard Lim, (Greatorex) suggested that "only someone like the minister or Noel Pearson can be seen or be heard to say that many Aboriginal people acknowledge that the rot lies within their own communities, and that they must escape from the cargo cult mentality of the government doing everything for them". "Anyone saying such things will be labelled racist in the current environment of political correctness," said Dr Lim. Dr Lim claimed credit for successive CLP governments in improving the lives of many remote Territorians. He said the problem had been that as people became aware of services, "the level of self-referrals increased, and so it should be". Both Dr Lim and John Elferink (MacDonnell) asked why Aboriginal land-holdings, amounting to some 50 per cent of the Territory, had not been able to "deliver"? Asked Dr Lim: "What processes have inhibited the development of this land from which Aboriginal landholders can benefit?"Mr Elferink said he defined a dysfunctional community largely as one "not able to make its own way": "Aboriginal land in a traditional sense has always provided for the people who own that land, and I don't think it is a great leap of philosophy, certainly a leap in technique, but it is not a great leap in philosophy to suggest that that land can continue to provide for the people who own that land." He quoted Mr Ah Kit's own words in support of joint commercial ventures between Aboriginal landowners and outside entrepreneurs. However, Mr Elferink's thinking goes beyond joint ventures. He went on to describe his vision for a self-sufficient future for Aboriginal communities: "I would like to live in a Northern Territory where if a person who lived in Hermannsburg wanted to buy their own home in Hermannsburg, that they could do so, freely and through open trade with the owners of the land. "The people who own the land at the moment in Hermannsburg can't even sell it to the people who want to buy the land who live in Hermannsburg at the moment." In reply Mr Ah Kit took up this point: "I hear over the years since he's been elected, the member for MacDonnell talk about the Land Rights Act and criticise that, and that Aboriginal people are the biggest real estate owners in the Northern Territory, and that to solve all these problems in the communities they should have the ability to sell their land. "Well, as a member with a lot of Aboriginal people in his electorate, I am really confused that he doesn't seem to really understand how Aboriginal people view their relationship with their country, but he will learn, and I wish him well along that journey." In relation to Mr Ah Kit's proposed federation of community councils, Dr Lim said: "In the Central Australian context, already the Central Land Council has been undermining the reform and development agenda [concerning local government] and offering in its place another body, aptly called CANCA, or the Combined Aboriginal Nations of Central Australia. "This body will be administered by the Central Land Council, with the participating community councils surrendering local administration responsibilities to the central body. "What are we creating here? …The minister has to answer how he proposes to bring about this federation of community councils. Is this a backdoor way of bringing about a separate Aboriginal nation in this country?" Mr Elferink said he agreed with Mr Ah Kit that "governments are not going to solve the problems that we see out in the bush". "But the Labor government is going to struggle with this in the same way that the former CLP government struggled with it endlessly." Mr Elferink also wanted more detail on how federalism is going to work in relation to community government councils. "How large are these federations going to be? Are we talking about federations which are half the size of the Northern Territory?" asked Mr Elferink. This is a very important question because you run into the cultural boundaries that exist in traditional shapes and forms in the Northern Territory." He illustrated his point with an anecdote. He'd been asked for an explanation of reconciliation by a person in Hermannsburg. At the end of the explanation, the person replied, "Well, I don't have any problem with whitefellas, it's those Warlpiri so and so's I don't like." Mr Elferink said he had had the same concern with the former government's push to amalgamate councils: "Now, there are good economic reasons for doing so, but what concerned me was that if you tried to push the wrong groups of people together, that it could lead to some very serious problems." In responding Mr Ah Kit stressed the importance of consultation with communities to "get it right".


STAR WARS TO BRING BACK BASE FOES.

Calls to "close Pine Gap" revive a 20 year old history of protest against the presence of this "Joint Defence Facility" in the heart of Australia. In the lead-up to a national demonstration at the Pine Gap gates, planned for October 5, 6 and 7, anti-militarisation campaigner and Alice resident SCOTT CAMPBELL-SMITH goes back to the roots.
The National Missile Defence program, or Star Wars, will attempt to provide the US with a "shield" based on missile interception systems. Rather than being a defensive nuclear umbrella, it is argued that this is a space battle system that will allow the US to attach other countries without fear of retaliation. This is a very dangerous development, militarising our planet's outer atmosphere, and commits the US to massively increased levels of military spending, a continuing moral outrage. An action by locals is being planned to join the national protest in October. This activity recalls moments during the 1980s when protests at Pine Gap made Alice Springs a focus for national and international attention. That they occurred owes much to the dedication, audacity and humour of people who were at various times associated with the now defunct Alice Springs Peace Group. Especially through the ‘eighties, they pulled together diverse issues, people and other groups, shaping the character of this town, particularly in the field of politics. A history of protest actions at Pine Gap also tells the story of evolving alliances during the late ‘seventies into the early ‘nineties between the peace movement, environment movement, anti-colonial movements, Aboriginal rights and feminism. The most significant moments were the women's peace camp in 1983, the "Galaxy versus four bicycles" action in 1985, and the 1987 protests and conference opposing renewal of the Pine Gap lease. Although there were numerous other protest actions this short history will only deal in any detail with those three major events. These were the spectacular moments but they could only be achieved through thousands of hours of work and the regular smaller events that kept the issue on local and national agendas. There was the time, for example, when the so called "Alice Springs Peace Squadron" warned the public that US competitors in the Henley-on-Todd may be cheating by using nuclear powered vessels. On the day a lone protester disrupted the event by boarding the US vessel on his half surfboard, strapped around his waist. Several years saw the Peace Group organize a fireworks night at the Pine Gap gates on July 4. The gates were also locked with bicycle locks on one occasion, which were so effective that the whole gate had to be dismantled in order to get trucks in or out. The base was served an eviction notice, with 12 months to quit (in line with the lease agreement of the time). There were the 75 Karen Silkwoods – actually 113 as it turned out – and the awful night in the lock-up that followed. At one time several members of the Peace Group applied for jobs at Collins Radio, which had advertised for cooks to work in a mess facility making 600 meals a day.
NEXT WEEK: Phil Nitschke, now famous for his euthanasia activism, starts Concerned Citizens of Alice Springs.

RAISING DUST IN THE BIG SMOKE. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Has the experience of mounting a production at the Adelaide Festival moved Alice's fledgling Red Dust Theatre any closer to becoming a professional company? For everyone, playing Train Dancing in Adelaide has been a leg up in terms of experience. They had to weather some 30 people walking out in the first 10 minutes on opening night, and a negative review in the Adelaide Advertiser, describing the play as the "nadir" of the festival, which sent them all rushing for the dictionary."Lowest point"… The show went on: a more encouraging review appeared in The Age and a very positive review and interview with playwright Michael Watts ran on Triple J. The audience shifted, from what director Craig Mathewson describes as a conventional older festival audience, obviously affronted by the play's raw language and subject matter, to a much younger audience, in particular of young women, who were ready to embrace both. "At the end of the run we were playing to 75 per cent capacity houses," says Mathewson. "I'm not surprised by the split in the reviews, the script is one you love or hate, or perhaps love and hate, it does split audiences. It was certainly too confronting for a lot of people early in the run. "At that stage we didn't have warning notices up about the explicit language, so that may have played a part."More significant in the long run, says Mathewson, was the professional environment that Red Dust found themselves in, in terms of both support and demands. "It's great to know someone else will mop the floor at the end of the show. On the other hand playing for a whole week was a new challenge. The cast came to really understand the value of warming up to keep each show vibrant." They were also exposed to a rich cross-fertilisation of cultures and ideas as they mixed backstage with the casts and crews of other productions from around the world. Some new working relationships have been generated. Musician Cyril Franey found a collaborator and performed with her and Jacinta Castle at the Fringe Festival Club mid-week, which had a good spin off for Train Dancing. Steve Hodder was offered a contract by the Darwin Theatre Company for a forth-coming production, which will see him employed for six weeks' rehearsal and two weeks' performance. Both Franey and Hodder were asked to contribute to a forum on Indigenous cultures, and subsequently Franey had an offer to record his rap music in Sydney. All this is encouraging for Mathewson's vision of Red Dust, which he, together with Watts and actor Roger Menadue founded last year. Mathewson thinks the key to its future is to develop shows that are good enough to tour internationally. His model is the American Theatre Group, Europe, an English-language company based in Germany, for which he worked for some three years as a producer, director and tour manager. The company would offer 600 to 1000 performances each year, by three different troupes, taking advantage of student matinee audiences as well as the typical evening theatre audiences. Touring is tough, especially for people with young children, as is the case for several of the Train Dancing troupe. Red Dust would have to be quite selective of the type of person who was to tour, says Mathewson. And the troupe should be small, half a dozen, no more: "I think it would be very hard to do it out of Central Australia, but possible." So, what's the next step? They'll take several, all at once. They want to produce two new original plays for the forthcoming Alice Springs Festival, one by the multi-talented Anne Harris, another by Watts. They have already applied for funding to offer a series of acting workshops. They also want to explore the possibilities of other funding which would put them on a footing comparable to Tracks, the Darwin-based dance and performance company, or Black Swan Theatre which grew out of Broome and now attracts major corporate sponsorship.

CRICKET: BLUE BOYS TAKE A DIVE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

Rovers bowed out of the local cricket race for the finals when they were beaten outright by RSL Works on the weekend. The Blue boys, who at times must have seen themselves as being a real chance for the grand final against West, literally took a dive when it counted. RSL had first use of the willow on Saturday and were dismissed for 141 on a pitch that seemed to have plenty to offer batsmen. Tye Rayfield claimed Graham Schmidt thanks to the safe hands of Gavin O'Toole when the RSL opener was on 15. Fellow opener Rod Dunbar was then partnered by Jeff Whitmore who registered only five before being caught off Mark Nash. Jamie Smith didn't hang around long before being stumped off the bowling of Craig Murphy for 10. Murphy also made his mark on the game by having Dunbar judged LBW when on 42. Kim Mason then struck in the middle order to dismiss Scott Robinson for 15 and Gavin Breen for five. From there RSL depended on Luke Southam, who put his head down and compiled 41 not out while those around him fell for few. Rayfield picked up Troy Camilleri for one; Wayne Eglington was LB to Peter Isbel for three; Matt Forster fell to Nash for a duck; and James Tudor was finally run out on two. Rayfield, Murphy, Mason and Nash each claimed two wickets and Rovers seemed to be in a position of control, in needing to chase only 141. Alas, rather than capitalising, the Blue boys literally dived overboard in response. For starters Scott Robinson claimed the wickets of both openers for a paltry four each. Then Jamie Smith took control with a spell that returned five wickets for a mere eight runs. He had Peter Isbel stumped for nine; Peter Kleinig was bowled after getting a start, when on 26; skipper Nash was caught for four; and Gavin O'Toole, given LBW, walked to the pavilion with a duck in hand. Rovers were perched precariously at 7/76 when stumps were drawn for the day. On Sunday at 12.30 there was little to cheer the batting side as RSL skipper Matt Forster claimed Jim Carmen and Craig Murphy for eight and four respectively, and Tudor mopped up the tail having Mason stumped for five. RSL took the first innings points by bowling Rovers out for a mere 88. However, as is often the case in cricket, the game was far from over. The Blues re focussed and proceeded to dismiss RSL in their second dig for 74. Rayfield showed grit in claiming 3/15 off 11 overs; and Nash, Isbel and Greg Dowell claimed two wickets each. For RSL it was only Scott Robinson who gave a yelp, with a solid 31. The Blue boys were in with a chance, needing 128 in a minimum of 22 overs to take the outright. This really was a time when a game plan needed to be set and stuck to, as just a little more than five runs an over would have gotten Rovers to the line. They got off to a good start with the openers Matt Pyle and Rayfield putting on 41 before the first wicket fell. Forster and Smith were sharing the bowling responsibilities and the pitch seemed to be playing as well as it did on day one. Following the openers Isbel fell for 12; Kleinig for four; and Nash, seven. Suddenly Rovers were sitting on 5/7 and seeking a saviour. Gavin O'Toole came to the crease and to his credit made 22 while his team-mates in the tail failed to assist him. Brendan Smith was run out for a duck, Carmen repeated the quack, Murphy was well caught by Whitmore in the deep for three, and Mason holed out for four. With almost two overs left to bowl, Rovers found themselves 18 runs in arrears and out of finals contention. Forster with 5/41 and Smith 4/43 were the wreckers and Works were in the GF. As was the case in the One day Series, West and RSL will meet in the grand final. RSL have forced their way in the hard way. The pressure of the situation in the Elimination however may stand them in good stead for the showdown with the Bloods. They really depend on Forster, Smith, Scott Robertson, and Cameron Robertson (if available) being at their best to foil the West batting lineup. West have a trump in Ken Vowles, and in the middle order Peter Tabart has proven his worth in recent weeks. Shane Law, Brian Manning, and Peter Lake provide plenty of firepower, and the tail can wag when Kevin Mezzone and Graeme Smith are at the crease. West also have a formidable bowling lineup with Jeremy Biggs, Daren Clarke and Sean Cantwell able to call on Tabart and Mezzone to tweak the ball if need be. In the pressure of a final however it could be the side better seasoned for the event which prevails. RSL have come into this final match hardened, and fine tuned by hard work and true grit, whereas Westies enjoyed the luxury of a week off.If the going gets tough in the centre, RSL could have what it takes to bring home a premiership.

RUGBY: THE EAGLES OR THE DEVILS?

History will be in the making on Saturday night when the Eagles and Devils play off for the premiership in Rugby Union.After years in the wilderness both sides have now learned how to win and for the first time will play off for silverware. In the knockout elimination final last Saturday evening, the Devils set the pace from the first whistle. The speed and guile of Ashley Turnbull set up the attack for the Devils and in capitalising on the playmaker's opportunism, the Devils established an early try, successfully converted by Steve Schmierer. As a surprise the Federal boys had brought Kiti Fuluna "home" from Perth for the game. The lanky No 7 dominated in the rucks and mauls and charged the line through a succession of would-be defenders to give the Federals a two try, 14-6 lead at half time. In the second half the Cubs came at the Devils, spearheaded by Karl Gunderson. Brian Castine scored a try to narrow the margin, establishing a match-winning four point margin from a penalty kick. The Cubs had the opportunities. Penalties went their way, but they failed to make full use of the advantage, and they had Federal super eager to repel. In fact in the last 10 minutes of the game the Cubs surged the line, but to no avail. The Devils now have the chance of back to back premierships. Feds marched into the grand final as 17-13 winners in the knock out final, and will have to be rated a real chance against the Eagles. The Eagles are deserved minor premiers and boast a line of youth. Tui Ford senior, a born leader, has Sam Moldrich, Levi Calesso, Henry Labastida and his own son Tui Ford junior, all young guns and at the ready. The Feds' Terrence Titus can look to young legs for a fast final. Jimmy Niland (just 21), Tim Blacker, and Simon Moldrich, both 15, will feature. Both sides also have wise heads with Stanford Forbes, John Cooper and Chris Castles hovering in the Eagle pack, opposed to Paul Venturin, Rod Staniforth, and Rob Pearson for the Devils. The inclusion of Fuluna could be a Devils' trump card on field. The secret to success for the Eagles may well be on the sideline. They will be there giving more than 100 per cent to honour their comrade Joe Dixon, bandaged up and still sore.

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