Scott McLaughlin

McLaughlin set up for Darwin Triple Crown

REIGNING Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin made the perfect start to his quest to capture Darwin’s elusive Triple Crown after topping practice sessions on Friday.

McLaughlin is looking to become the first driver to claim the triple at Hidden Valley Raceway, as no competitor past or present has claimed the round’s two races and top-10 shootout since its inception in 2006.

The New Zealander has been almost unstoppable this season with 10 wins and nine poles from 14 races and his red-hot form has continued in the Top End.

McLaughlin posted the quickest lap of the day during practice sessions in his Ford Mustang and finished 0.141 seconds ahead of his DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard.

The 26-year-old has made no secret of his desire to become the first Triple Crown winner and believes the goal is attainable.

“It’s about executing as a team. It’s a tough thing to do and that’s why it hasn’t been done before, but if we do execute we’re going to be able to get it done,” McLaughlin said.

“But it’s tough, race wins are hard to come by and shootouts are just as hard to get that lap right, so we’ll see how we go.

“We’ve started off well. It was a good lap for me today, I was bit soft in areas but overall pretty happy.”

McLaughlin is leading the championship by a massive 244 points and can overtake Peter Brock (57) into second on the all-time pole positions list with two qualifying wins this weekend.

Coulthard sits second in the title race but said he was happy to see his teammate dominate.

“Any time you’re on the podium it’s good. What you strive for within a race team is finishing one-two. If you can do that you’re executing well as a team,” he said.

“We can’t both win. We’ve seen at times this year I’ve won races and Scott has won pretty much the rest of them.

“Everyone has said we’re experiencing greatness and that’s what it is.”

Red Bull Racing’s Jamie Whincup rounded out the top three in practice and the seven-time Supercars champion said he was hoping to unearth some secrets in the data to stall McLaughlin’s march to another title.

“The car is reasonable, not the quickest, but we’re the best of the rest and we’re chipping away,” he said.

“We’re still lacking grip overall. It’s hot, the track slowly deteriorates… a little bit more grip would be nice, but how to do that I don’t know.”

Chaz Mostert was fourth quickest ahead of Dave Reynolds, Lee Holdsworth, Anton De Pasquale, James Courtney, Cam Waters, and Mark Winterbottom.

© AAP 2019

Superwoman Logarzo credits Milicic

CHLOE Logarzo, the architect of Australia’s 3-2 World Cup triumph over Brazil on Friday (AEST), had a pre-match problem.

She was missing a crucial person and ingredient of her build-up – sidelined defender Laura Alleway.

So she wrote the number five on her hand, Alleway’s number, in case she was lucky enough to score a goal in Montpellier.

When she did, she turned to the stands in a Superwoman stance.

“My goal celebration was for her. She sings ‘Superwoman’ to me before I play,” she said, referring to the Alicia Keys song.

“That’s her forte, I am tone deaf. She sits right next to me and does it every game, so it was really hard for me to lose her.”

But Alleway was still in France, watching from the stands, and she still performed her pre-match duties.

“She sang to me down the phone so I listened to it before we go out, I know it’s so cheesy,” she said.

“She’s in the grandstand watching us, she wasn’t going to miss a game.”

The heartwarming moment is typical of the tight-knit bonds within the Matildas’ camp.

Alleway’s words certainly worked wonders; Logarzo put in a powerhouse performance against Brazil.

The athletic midfielder was everywhere at the Stade de la Mosson, shutting down opponents and working hard to create chances.

She leapt over her marker to set up Caitlin Foord’s opener, and scored the equaliser with a smartly-placed shot that tricked goalkeeper Barbara as Sam Kerr lurked closely.

Kerr and her teammates paid tribute to Logarzo, calling her a workhorse and a star.

Logarzo is at her first World Cup after overcoming a fractured leg in the W-League grand final.

She also paid tribute to coach Ante Milicic, whom she said wore the brunt of criticism after their loss to Italy last week.

“That win was definitely for Ante,” she said.

“The criticism is more on his behalf, and it’s really disheartening for us to hear that because the amount of belief he’s instilled in us and the amount of work he’s put in is incredible.

“In the changeroom (at half-time) Ante really goes in there and is able to just lift us in all the right ways.

“We believe in our process, Ante believes in us and the nation behind us gives us that belief.”

© AAP 2019

Gold Coast Titans jerseys

Another Gold Coast Titan linked to a mid-season switch

More trade rumours involving the Gold Coast Titans, with speculation Max King could be the next to leave.

The June 30 transfer deadline is quickly approaching, as clubs appear to be frantically throwing players around trying to sort themselves out before the cut-off.

The Titan’s recently locked down halfback Tanah Boyd from the Broncos this week, after losing Morgan Boyle and Jaxson Paulo in recent months.

But now, forward Max King has been linked with a shock move to the Melbourne Storm.

The 22-year-old has been approached by the league’s best team (currently top spot on the ladder), with rumours he’ll make the switch effective immediately.

Storm Coach Craig Bellamy says King’s been in his sights for a while.

“There’s a few things that have got to happen but we’d like to have Max at our club,” Bellamy said.

“At the end of the day it’s got to be the right decision for him and he’s got to get permission of the Titans as well.

“Hopefully something might be sorted there soon.”

It comes as the Gold Coast local struggles to get his field time for the bottom-of-the-ladder dwellers, after dropping off the reserves list again for tonight’s game against the Warriors.

King debuted for the side in 2017, and has played 38 games for the Titans.

Soccer ball in goal

Matildas pull off massive comeback to down Brazil at World Cup

THE MATILDAS have pulled off a miracle comeback against Brazil to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

The Australian side was down 2-0 after 38 minutes before Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo helped to level the scores. It was an own goal that then gifted the Matildas the hugely important victory.

After losing the opening clash against Italy, the 3-2 victory over Brazil was crucial for Australia if they were to have any chance of making it through.

It is only the second time a team have come from 2-0 down to win at the Women’s World Cup.

“Today was a real Australian performance from these girls. I’m very proud of them,” coach Ante Milicic told SBS.

“If anyone questioned the character of this team they answered it in the best possible way.

“Even when we were behind we kept on believing. This team doesn’t want to give up.”

Superstar Sam Kerr said she was happy the side could prove the ‘haters’ wrong.

“I’m so proud of the girls. We knew we were in it at half time,” Kerr said.

“There was a lot of critics talking about us but we’re back so suck on that one,” she joked.

“We don’t listen to the haters.”

SCG to host NRL grand final in 2020

THE 2020 NRL grand final will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground due to the unavailability of ANZ Stadium, which will be undergoing renovation.

The NRL informed club chiefs and chairmen of the switch on Wednesday at a meeting in Sydney, with the Olympic Stadium facelift to begin after it hosts the opening game of the 2020 State of Origin series.

ANZ Stadium – which will be transformed into a 70-75,000 seat rectangular venue – is not expected to reopen until 2023, with the SCG also expected to host the 2021 NRL decider.

The redevelopment of the Olympic Park venue will leave Canterbury and South Sydney searching for a new home for the second half of the season – with Bankwest Stadium the most likely destination.

“We always knew there would be some challenges for our clubs and for the game with major works being done to the stadium network in Sydney,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

“We will work closely with the clubs as we develop the Premiership schedule in coming years, knowing ANZ Stadium as well as Allianz Stadium will not be available.”

The new stadium at Moore Park is expected to be available in early 2022 and could be in line to host the NRL grand final that year.

© AAP 2019