Jeers are grist to Berisha’s mill way out west

 It has taken just one season for fervent Western Sydney Wanderers fans to turn Parramatta Stadium into one of the most intimidating venues for visiting sides in Australian football.

The chants are deafening and, on occasion, so is the silence. The colours are ubiquitous and the European-style atmosphere has buried a host of sides, with the Wanderers winning four and drawing one of their past five in the west.

Add it all together and Brisbane striker Besart Berisha could scarcely be more at home. Nothing fuels the Albanian goalsneak’s lust for scoring like a torrent of disdain pouring from the stands. The man the league loves to hate – and one the Roar wouldn’t trade for quids – can expect that much and more on Friday night in the sudden-death A-League semi-final.

A 12-match undefeated streak and an injury query over Brisbane’s key man Thomas Broich, who will play despite a heel injury, has the Wanderers firm favourites to move into the grand final after winning the league in their debut campaign.

In the way are the Roar, a side that has won the past two A-League grand finals, arriving in Sydney on a hot streak and backing their sudden-death experience over a Wanderers side resuming from a two-week break.

The night seems tailor-made for Berisha. He was front and centre in last season’s grand final, going down in the box in what remains the most controversial penalty in A-League history.

With the spring back in his step and having rekindled his touch in the front third, Berisha could be the curse of the Wanderers. ”He’s got that big-match mentality. He’s been there and done it. He lives for it,” Roar coach Mike Mulvey said.

Mulvey wants his team to soak up the atmosphere. ”The most important thing I’ll be telling my players is, ‘Be in the moment. Live in the moment, don’t wait for it to pass you by.’ If we do that as a complete 11, it should lead to a good performance, and if that is good enough on the night, we’ll find ourself in the final,” he said.

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TOPICS: Dennis Malone back on air 

RADIO REHAB: Reporter Dennis Malone has returned to the studio after a near-fatal accident on his bike. Picture: Simone De PeakNEARLY five months after a bike crash almost killed him, 1233 ABC Newcastle reporter Dennis Malone came back to work yesterday.

It was a quiet return. He’ll work two days a week, for a while. But he’s glad to be working at all.

‘‘I was on life support being taken to John Hunter,’’ the 58-year-old told Topics.

‘‘They gathered my family and told them I probably wasn’t going to make it, and if I did, I’d be a vegetable.’’

A motorist found Malone, a keen cyclist, lying unconscious next to his bike at the Jesmond roundabout in January. It was 4pm. He can’t remember the fall, or being taken to hospital, but paramedics told him later that only one witness had called triple-0.

‘‘I think I’d be quite scared to get back on a bike,’’ Malone said.

‘‘It made me realise how flipping dangerous Newcastle is for cyclists.’’

Ever the news junkie, one of his first questions was ‘‘Did my phone survive?’’

The father of four suffered a brain injury as well as damage to his back.

He knows there’s plenty of rehab ahead, and is grateful for the love and support of his wife Heather and his 1233 colleagues. While in hospital, he was buoyed by the arrival of his first grandchild, Macy.

‘‘Dulcet tones’’ is a hackneyed phrase, but we suspect the return of Malone’s soothing baritone will be music to listeners’ ears.

Goulden voice

YOU can download an iPhone app that gives directions in Ray Warren’s voice as you drive.

Now, there isn’t a Phil Gould one, but if there was …

‘‘I love Sunday afternoon. There’s something about [Honeysuckle/Nobbys/West Wallsend]. On a Sunday afternoon.’’

‘‘[When someone beats you to a parking spot] You can’t take this off him. You just can’t.’’

‘‘[When you go the wrong way] No. No. No. No. No.’’

Life and art, and Kim

TOPICS has its doubts about North Korea’s threats to the US, and not just because Kim Jong-un is a basketball fan.

A Hollywood blockbuster called Olympus Has Fallen premieres next week. And in a sign we’ve moved on from Russians and Arabs, the villains are North Korean.

Gerard Butler stars as a Secret Service agent trying to wrest back the controls of America from a band of North Koreans, who’ve seized the White House and want to nuke everyone. Or something.

It all seems an amazing parallel with real-life events. Is this a marketing campaign that Kim has been in on the whole time? Pyongyang could certainly use the cash.

Travellers’ tales

SPEAKING of which, with Topics readers being a worldly lot, has anyone been to North Korea? It won’t have been a stop-off to Dubai. They only admit 2000 Westerners a year, and they give you a chaperone.

‘‘A trip to North Korea is strictly on its government’s terms, and it’s essential to accept that you’ll have no independence during your trip,’’ says Lonely Planet.

‘‘You’ll be accompanied by two government-approved local guides at all times and only hear a very one-sided view of history throughout the trip.’’

Apparently food is so scarce, they keep your lunch leftovers.

FISHING: Bluefins brighten up catch

FISH OF THE WEEK 12/4/13: Bryson Prince caught this jewfish in Newcastle Harbour whilst competing in the H&D Mitre 10 Twin Rivers Fishing Classic last weekend.Browse Herald Fish File here.

BLUEFIN tuna have turned up inside Nelson Bay this week around the wreck at Salamander Bay and Wanda Head.

“They’ve been getting them on live slimies up to 22 kilograms,” Graham Duffy, from Salamander Bait and Tackle, said.

“Both Gibbers have been firing well for them too, and other land-based platforms like Tomaree.”

Action out wide has been a little slow.

Scott Morris, from Newcastle Game Fishing Club, reported a few small black marlin operating in the 30 to 50 fathom range last Saturday and the odd dolphin fish.

There’s been a few kings caught on the troll around the Sisters and Broughton Island.

Jew have been active on the V and 21 reefs and inside the bay around Salamander, Middle Island and Soldiers Point.

Whiting and tailor have been active on the beach and inside the bay.

Mud crabs are on the march in Tilligerry Creek and up the reaches of the Karuah River.

Blackfish are starting to school up in good numbers around the usual spots like Little Beach, both breakwalls and Tomaree.

Big challenge, big prizes

ALL of the above will be good news for spearfishos who converge on Nelson Bay this Saturday to chase more than $3000 in cash and prizes at the Nelson Bay Big Fish Challenge, which kicks off at 7am at Shoal Bay boat ramp.

Contestants have six hours to shoot one fish. The biggest weighed takes the cash.

The public are welcome to attend the weigh-in from 2pm at the boat ramp.

Yellowtail best jew bait

GRAHAM Mason, from Compleat Angler at Toronto, reports there’s been some nice jew being caught in the deeper holes in Lake Macquarie.

“I think the rain has freshened things up a bit. Live yellowtails are the best bait,” Graham said.

“There’s been a few tailor getting around too, going for deep divers.

“Guys in the kayaks have been having a crack with Yazuri crystal minnows.

“They generally troll them behind and if they get any action, they stop and start casting.”

Monster mud crabs

CHRIS Parkinson and his mate Robert Matthew got an unusual catch near Warners Bay on Sunday night.

While bream fishing, they pulled in two mud crabs. The male weighed in at a chunky 1.4 kilograms.

“He was holding on to a peeled prawn with one nipper and his girlfriend with something else,” Chris reported.

“He did not move until we removed his friend then he decided to try and eat everything in sight.

“After several minutes trying to get our toes and feet out of his way, we managed to get him in the esky.

“It was high fives all round and tasted great as well.”

Check out the photo and all the latest additions to the Herald Fish File hereat

Classic winners on a roll

COMPETITORS in the H&D Mitre 10 Twin Rivers Fishing Classic held last weekend at Raymond Terrace got a lot of nice jew in Newcastle Harbour.

“Zac Bowen got the biggest, 12.3 kilograms cleaned,” event spokesman Gerrard Cunningham said.

“Ricky Turner, who fished the breakwall, got the heaviest bag, about 18 kilograms, and he had three jew in that.”

Mick Stone got one weighing 10kg.

Fishing was good over the three days, particularly from Hexham/Tomago downriver.

“That tiny bit of rain last week freshened it up and made this area hot,” Gerrard said. “All anglers reported good catches.

“I’d imagine the jewie would be still quite prevalent this weekend.

“You’d have to think if the harbour is firing, you’d have to be able to pick up some along Stockton Beach.”

Junction Inn Fishing Club tyro Ally Mason claimed the nipper crown.

Locky Rutherford made it a trifecta with his third junior crown in a row.

Bev Hewitt went one better with her fourth successive victory in the lady’s division.

Darren Christinson got the biggest flathead, Peter Kennedy the biggest bream and Bree Goddard the biggest whiting, while Karen Peak peaked out with the biggest luderick.

The major lucky door prize, a Quintrex Explorer with five horsepower Yamaha motor on trailer, donated by H&D Mitre 10, valued at over $7000, was won by Michelle Scoles.

“Michelle works behind the bar at The Junction Inn Hotel,” Gerrard said.

“She registers each year but doesn’t fish. She’s got a boat now and there’ll be plenty of old salts keen to show her ropes.”

Organisers were particularly pleased with how the post-Easter scheduling worked.

“We used to clash with the Trailer Boat Tournament and the Pirtek, so we’ve pushed it back and it’s worked out really well,” Gerrard said.

“We expect to donate approximately $2000 to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter once again this year.”

The Twin Rivers Fishing Classic has been going for eight years and total donations are fast approaching $10,000.

Force v Crusaders

nib Stadium, Perth, Saturday (AEST)Last meeting: Round 18 2012 – Crusaders 38 bt Force 24 at Christchurch Stadium Head-to-head: Played 7 Force 1 Crusaders 4 drawn 2 In Perth: Played 4 Force 1 Crusaders 2 drawn 1Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Force $3.50 Crusaders $1.28

Steve Samuelson writes: The Force always trouble the Crusaders in Perth and their cause is helped by the absence of All Blacks quartet Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Matt Todd and Sam Whitelock. The Force need to play with more endeavour and rising star Kyle Godwin needs to be fed more ball.

AAP writes: Force coach Michael Foley was quick to admit his side’s 30-23 defeat to the Rebels last week was their worst performance of the season. Compounding their woes was the loss of in-form lock Hugh McMeniman, who will miss at least six weeks with a fractured shoulder.

The Crusaders were also dealt a heavy blow with five-eighth Dan Carter ruled out after tweaking his hamstring. The Crusaders have opted to rest forwards Sam Whitelock and Matt Todd. The Force have notched just one win this season and are in danger of finishing last in the Aussie conference, while the Crusaders (3-3) need to get a wriggle on to make the finals.

FORCE: Jayden Hayward, Alfie Mafi, Junior Rasolea, Kyle Godwin, Ed Stubbs, Sam Norton-Knight, Alby Mathewson, Richard Brown, Matt Hodgson (capt), Ben McCalman, Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma’afu, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Reserves: Ben Whittaker, Tetera Faulkner, Rory Walton, Chris Alcock, Mick Snowden, Sias Ebersohn, Patrick Dellit.

CRUSADERS: Israel Dagg, Adam Whitelock, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Tom Marshall, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Luke Whitelock, Shane Christie, George Whitelock (capt), Dominic Bird, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Tom Donnelly, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Telusa Veainu, Zac Guildford.

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Stormers v Sharks

Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, Sunday 1.05am (AEST)Last meeting: Round 3 2013 – Sharks 12 bt Stormers 6 at Kings Park StadiumHead-to-head: Played 20 Stormers 9 Sharks 11In Cape Town: Played 9 Stormers 5 Sharks 4Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Stormers $1.70 Sharks $2.05

Steve Samuelson writes: Both teams have struggled to score tries this season with the Sharks scoring 10 of their 13 five-pointers against the Melbourne Rabble. The Stormers have been beaten only once in Cape Town this year, thanks to a heroic defensive effort by the Crusaders. Back the home side in a low-scoring game.

AAP writes: The consistent Crusaders are the measuring stick for this match, just pipping the Stormers and then falling short of toppling the Sharks. The Stormers are at home where they’ve won 10 of their past 12. However one of those losses was against the Sharks, who they also fell to in round three.

Stormers five-eighth Elton Jantjies is out injured, replaced by rookie Gary van Aswegen, while fullback Jaco Taute has ruptured an ACL. Sharks winger Sean Robinson debuts and back-rower Jean Deysel returns to cover for an injured Jacques Botes. Expect another tight SA derby.

STORMERS: Joe Pietersen, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (capt), Gio Aplon, Gary van Aswegen, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Michael Rhodes, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Martin Bezuidenhout, Pat Cilliers, Gerbrandt Grobler, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Cheslin Kolbe

SHARKS: Francois Steyn, Sean Robinson, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, JP Pietersen, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Keegan Daniel (capt), Ryan Kankowski, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst, Anton Bresler, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane

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