The Melbourne Cricket Ground’s new curator, Michael Salvatore, answered pre-match questions like a suspect waiting for his lawyer. How had his pitch preparation gone? Good. Was he happy with the grass cover? Yep. Did he expect the Test match to last five days? Yeah-nah, he said, breaking out into polysyllables.
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Salvatore’s MCG was indeed a yeah-nah kind of wicket. Nah, it failed to release the sparkle and truth of last week’s game at the WACA, or the ball movement of Adelaide by night. Nah, it produced the attritional, somewhat desperate cricket that has become the norm ever since the wicket square of the MCG became a drop-in centre.

But sometimes bad wickets can be good wickets in that they widen the differences of skill and technique, highlighting the light and the shade in the game. So yeah, Salvatore’s pitch allowed the best to shine, and yeah, it punished lesser mortals, and yeah, it produced a nice day of Boxing Day cricket, even if it was only nice in certain hands.

These stodgy wickets give the best a chance to show why they are the best, and David Warner and Steve Smith played the game at a different level. Warner’s century and Smith’s unbeaten 65 were not their prettiest innings, but they gained value by their contrast with the struggles happening at the other end.

Salvatore had promised to leave grass on the wicket, but had not specified whether it would be dead or alive. Seeing the golden carpet, Glenn Maxwell tweeted before a ball was bowled that Australia might not lose a wicket all day. Pride cometh before a fall (of wickets), and Warner very nearly skewed his second ball to gully. It might have been a road, but it soon turned out to be an uneven one. In a determined mood, Warner defended stoutly and took his off-side runs when they were on offer. His partner Cameron Bancroft struggled to adapt to the slow, spongy bounce and batted long enough to create a lasting impression, not entirely favourable. Before lunch, the pair put on a hundred, but four runs of every five were Warner’s, a fair measure of the difference between the wheat and the chaff.

When Bancroft’s place was taken by Usman Khawaja???, two games continued to be played: that of Warner, and that of the other guy. After lunch, Warner began spinning his bat in his hands as he watched his shots go to fielders, practising, grooving, but growing increasingly agitated. His weakness is the ball rising into his liver, and England had not bowled there enough. After lunch they made adaptations of their own, and Warner’s temporary nemesis was England’s debutant Tom Curran, a name to conjure with, for surfing fans at least. Curran cramped Warner between pull and jab, and between 99 and 100. With a rising delivery Curran suckered Warner into his get-out bunt to mid-on. Alas, Curran’s first Test wicket was a yeah-nah moment. Warner walked off, but a no-ball call produced a radical cutback. Cricket is a game of millimetres, no matter which end of the pitch. Warner came back, took a single, and celebrated with a big yeah to England’s collective nah. Within minutes we had seen all of the five stages of grieving: denial and anger (from Warner), bargaining (the third umpire), depression (England) and finally acceptance (the scoreboard).

Warner was soon gone for a timely 103, followed by Khawaja for a time-consuming 17. Their wickets fell to James Anderson and Stuart Broad. This was Broad’s first dismissal in 414 effortful deliveries from one end of Australia to the other. He had been greeted with the usual booing, though a press box wag remarked that those were just the England fans. Since Perth, both Broad and Anderson have begun bowling like the old dog on a walk who begins to pull on the leash when he knows he has turned for home. Their version of pulling on the leash is to bowl the length of the canny old pro, too short to be threatening but not short enough to cop a pasting. It has been conservative, time-serving bowling and has severely limited their captain’s options, throwing him back upon the ineffective Moeen Ali and the willing but workmanlike Curran and Chris Woakes.

England’s attack improved as they worked this wicket out, but their approach was professional rather than penetrative, and they were eventually blunted by the eternal Smith. Batting with a sore hand kept things interesting for the Australian captain, and as the afternoon wore on he was building another significant innings, as different in texture from Perth as Perth was from Brisbane. His ability to adjust between yeah and nah, between attack and caution, has become as remarkable as all his other abilities.

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The state government has cleared the way for the construction of about 20,000 new homes near six rail stations in Sydney’s south-west.
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Following a three-year consultation process, the Department of Planning and Environment this month finalised plans to rezone areas around train stations from Macquarie Fields to Macarthur on Sydney’s T8 or South rail line.

The most significant changes are set to occur around Macarthur and Campbelltown train stations. The department expects another 3600 dwellings to be built in the immediate vicinity of Campbelltown Station in the next 20 years, with more beyond that. The department is proposing clumps of high-density development to the north and south of Campbelltown Station, with no maximum building height.

Around Macarthur Station, the government is planning for 4650 new homes over the next 20 years. The plans are based around six storey residential-only apartment blocks, as well as larger mixed-used towers.

The station proposals, which will be given effect through planning decisions of Campbelltown City Council, are only part of a larger series of land-use changes in Sydney’s south-west.

The government has not finalised its plans for Glenfield Station. It is proposing to move Hurlstone Agricultural High School to the Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University, and use the large block of land the school is on for development.

And there is also no final plan yet for more land release further to Sydney’s south-west, in an area known as the Greater Macarthur Growth Area.

Both the Glenfield Station and Greater Macarthur proposals should be finished in 2018.

In relation to the land use changes near the other train stations, a deputy secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment, Brendan Nelson, said in a statement that the proposals would maintain the character of the existing areas, while identifying new opportunities for homes, roads and community facilities.

“We want to revitalise these areas around key transport infrastructure and provide a range of housing choice so families and extended families can live close to one another and near jobs in the regional city of Campbelltown, and the proposed Western Sydney Airport,” Mr Nelson said.

Residents raised strong concerns about the lack of commuter car parking near the stations. In response, the Department said the proposals did not remove any commuter car parking spots, but nor did they add to the number of parking spots.

Over the next 20 years, the government expects about 300 new homes to be built adjacent to Macquarie Fields Station, 1000 new homes at Ingleburn, 350 at Minto, and 1000 at Leumeah. The plans, however, envisage more dwellings beyond 2036.

In a statement, the general manager of Campbelltown City Council, Lindy Deitz, said the revised plans would guide development so that rezonings could occur.

“The revised strategy will guide development in this key area now that rezoning can occur. This corridor provides the opportunity for about 20,000 new homes and 21,000 jobs over 20-30 years,” Ms Deitz said.

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FRUSTRATED: Melbourne City skipper Michael Jakobsen came off second best in a collision with Victory attacker Kosta Barbarouses. Picture: AAP ImagesMistakes are inevitable in football and Melbourne City captain Michael Jakobsen acknowledges they will always happen.
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What angers him is avoidable blunders;stupid mistakes borne from a lack of concentration orthoughtlessness.

And while he is happy to spend the festive season with Danish family friends who are visiting Australia,the memory of City’s past two matches – defeats to Sydney FC and in the Christmas derby to Melbourne Victory – meant it was notas merry a Christmas as it might have been.

Jakobsen includes himself in the criticism for those losses, with goals that all came from set pieces (one free kick and two penalties), saying that City players have to maintain focus for 90 minutes if they want to avoid making errors that have such a costly effect.

“We need to concentrate more, get back to basics and eliminate the silly errors otherwise we can forget about finishing high up the table,” he said.

City performed well against the Sydney in NSW, having taken a first-half leadonly to be undone by two goals just before the interval, one from a free kick, the other from a penalty.

Theylost to Victory in similar fashion, going down to a last-gasp spot kick converted by Mark Milligan after goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis upended the Socceroo midfielder. That the free kick – conceded in a dangerous position in the fourth minute of extra time – was given away by City annoyed Jakobsen.

“Mistakes are going to happen. It’s football. But these were silly mistakes. We spoke before the Sydney game and the Victory game about not giving away free kicks around the box and in the penalty area.”

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Joe Root was under fire before play but the England captain was able to end Boxing Day with his head held high after the tourists showed the fight he had wanted.
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Root had urged his men to believe there was still plenty to play for despite the Ashes already being conceded – and his fast bowlers responded on a challenging drop-in deck amid criticism of team selection.

At stumps, Australia were 3-244, with England hoping the second new ball – taken belatedly 12 minutes before stumps – can help to prevent Steve Smith (65 not out) from celebrating what would be his third century of the campaign.

After a rugged morning session for the tourists, where they conceded 102 runs off 28 overs, they rebuilt after lunch when spearhead James Anderson provided a canny piece of bowling from around the wicket to end David Warner’s innings on 103. Stuart Broad would later put the spotlight on Usman Khawaja by having him caught behind. Broad had been under pressure after his wicketless return in Perth where his pace and aggression had been down but he responded well.

“I don’t think we started very well. We didn’t adjust to the conditions of the pitch quick enough. When you bowl at someone like Warner who is one of the best players in the world on a pitch like that, if you don’t bowl to your best, he is going to hurt you,” Anderson said.

“We regrouped at lunch, decided it was a really slow pitch, dry and slow, so we thought (put) catchers in front and try and bowl straight.”

Anderson later took aim at the state of the deck, declaring it was not conducive for “exciting” cricket.

“You would think the 90,000 that turned up today don’t want to see 3-244. People want to see entertaining cricket, especially in an iconic Test match like the Boxing Day Test match at the MCG. People want to see exciting cricket.”

Debutant Tom Curran was impressive, for he was able to nudge 138 km/h with his effort ball, and attempted to unsettle his opponents with variation. He also endured a gut-wrenching moment when he had Warner caught off a mistimed bunt to mid-on when on 99, only for replays to show he had over-stepped the crease.

It did prove to be a rallying moment for the tourists, coming after former captain Michael Vaughan before play had questioned team selection, while Root had been under fire for his defensive field placings in the morning session after he had lost the toss for the first time.

Vaughan, a commentator on Britain’s BT Sports, declared there was too “safe” an attitude with selection and Root should have dropped Broad.

“I do think he’s missed a trick this week. England have lost nine out of 13 away from home over the last two years. They have gone pretty much with the same team. I would have changed it up,” he said.

“You get to that stage as a captain and as a leader where you have to send a message to the group. I personally wouldn’t have played Stuart Broad this week. As a leader that would have been my message to the group.

“He hasn’t bowled well enough in 2017 and he’s averaging over 40. That was an opportunity missed for Joe to send a message to the group. No one is safe but, at the moment in this England side, it is quite a safe environment.”

Vaughan also criticised the decision to retain spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali, who has been outbowled through the series by counterpart Nathan Lyon and offered little on Boxing Day.

“They have a spinner who is averaging 100 here and averages 60 in two years away from home and 32 with the bat. Yet he gets another opportunity. You have Mason Crane waiting in the wings. You have Mark Wood waiting in the wings,” he said.

“I would have changed it up a little bit more and that would have been my message as a captain to the team. I would have sent a shiver through the group with a couple of selection changes.”

Root’s defensive field placings were questioned by several Test greats, including former Australian captain Michael Clarke, who said they had been more “run-saving” than attacking.

Root employed men in the deep for Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the latter particularly questionable because he struggled for form in the morning session. He had only 19 to lunch, whereas Warner had thumped an unbeaten 83. Former Australian all-rounder Tom Moody made his feelings clear on social media when a deep point was set for Warner.

“Deep cover point after 12 overs day 1 ??? really?” he said.

The tourists did rally after lunch and were able to make Warner sweat for more than 30 minutes in the 90s, with that pressure culminating in a mistimed shot when one short of three figures. However, Warner was saved by the video replay, and would celebrate his century in typical style with a jubilant leap. He would fall to a clever piece of bowling from Anderson, whose seaming delivery induced a thin edge from a defensive bunt.

There would be only 43 runs scored in the middle session as the tourists were able to choke their typically free-wheeling opponents with tight bowling on a deck that had slowed, while Root’s field placings appeared to make more sense. When Khawaja pushed forward and was caught behind after tea, England had turned the day into a grind and were back in the contest.

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The East Pointers: Tim Chaisson on fiddle, Koady Chaisson on banjo and Jake Charron on guitar in Newcastle in March 2017. Picture: Jim KellarLike a folkband of guerillas, the Canadian trio known as The East Pointers will touch down briefly in Newcastle on January 7, stir up a storm and be gone, most likely before nightfall.
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The East Pointers, who originally hail from Prince Edward Island in far north-eastern Canada, are currently playing their fifth tour of Australia. This weekend they are on stage at the Woodford Folk Festival where they are truly embedded. Fiddle playing vocalist Tim Chaisson was married at Woodford early on New Year’s Day two years ago. His banjo-picking cousin, Koady Chaisson, has partnered with Chloe Goodyear, a Queenslander who is also a programmer for the Woodford festival.

In between a hectic agenda from mid-November that has seen them play festivals at Mullimbimby and Queencliff, and headline shows in Darwin, Adelaide and Fremantle, the trio have played a set of shows as the onstage band for The Wiggles.

“I don’t know where it’s going,” Koady says. “It’s an absolute blast.”

The band tours 10 months a year, playing festivals throughout the world, always coming home to Nova Scotia in the northern summer for their favourite summer gig- the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival and music camp.

“At this point we are trying to make hay while the sun shines,” Koady says. “We really want to grow it as much as we can. We love what we do and want to do more.”

Read more:This was the review of the band’s last show in Newcastle

In September the band released its second album, What We Leave Behind, madein Nashville with the assistance of Canadian songwriter and producer Gordie Sampson. It includes songs written in Australia, namely the stunning 82 Fires, about being surrounded by fires while touring Tasmania in 2013.

The East Pointers are trendsetters in new trad folk music, mixing the old and the new with expert, versatile musicianship. Foremost, they wear their Canadian roots on their sleeve, encouraging crowds to get up and dance, and doing a few jigs on stage themselves. They played a memorial showto an enthusiastic nearly sold-out crowd at the Unorthodox Church of Groove in Hamilton in March.

The East Pointers play Lizotte’s on Sunday, January 7, at 1.30pm.Read More →

Sydney’s most popular shopping destination featured some conspicuous new additions on Tuesday morning, as crowds queueing for a Boxing Day bargain took note of a number of large semi-trailers parked around Pitt Street Mall and the Queen Victoria Building.
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Security upgrades were obvious in the city, with bollards and semi-trailer trucks used as temporary barricades. The semi-trailers were particularly jarring in Sydney’s prime shopping district, parked at odd angles to stop traffic from getting through.

A spokeswoman for NSW Police said these measures were introduced in anticipation of the large crowds. Barricades were in place last year as well.

“In light of the large number of people expected at Boxing Day sales, police in conjunction with Transport NSW have put safety measures in place,” the spokeswoman said.

“This is a one-day police operation, whilst there is no specific threat, NSW Police continue to urge the public to be vigilant and report anything that doesn’t look right.”

Police also reminded people that the “terrorist threat in Australia has not changed, and the level remains at ‘probable’ under the National Terrorism Threat Advisory system”.

The bolstered security for Australia’s golden day of sales comes just days after the horrific scenes of Melbourne’s Flinders Street vehicle attack in which 19 people were injured.

The intersection of George Street and Market Street is closed to traffic between 1am and 11pm on Tuesday in a move Transport NSW dubbed an “extra treat” for shoppers braving the sales.

A spokesman for Transport NSW confirmed this was not the first time road closures had been in place around Pitt Street Mall on Boxing Day.

The trucks were initially used to transport the concrete bollards before being parked, they also provide a degree of flexibility as they can be moved if other vehicles need to be let in.

“Boxing Day can be a frantic time with massive crowds coming into the CBD and we’re happy to be able to provide retailers and shoppers additional space on Market Street again this year,” co-ordinator general Marg Prendergast said earlier in December.

“We’re really excited to be opening up the Market Street intersection to shoppers as this is going to join up with the reopened George Street area and really give everyone a chance to see the CBD in a new light.”

Amy Birrell, one of thousands to visit Pitt Street on Tuesday, said the whole thing “was really full on”. She said the trucks were an “eyesore”, but like many shoppers, navigating crowds took precedent.

“I had no idea what they were for,” Ms Birrell said. Boxing Day: Concrete barriers have been placed at both ends of Pitt Street Mall as shoppers begin taking part in the end of year sales. Report on 7 News at 6pm. #BoxingDay#7Newspic.twitter南京夜网/g8LtzAW8Tz??? 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) December 25, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

Three people have died and two are in a critical condition after a crash on the Princes Highway south of Sussex Inlet.
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Emergency services were called to the scene 400 metres north of theBendalong Road turn-offabout 10.45am to reports of a head-on collision between two cars, an ambulance spokesman said. One of the cars was towing a caravan.

One of the vehicles burst into flames and three people from two separate cars died.

Photo: Hayley Warden

Paramedics treated two women for multiple serious injuriesincluding possible head injuries, the ambulance spokesman said.

One woman was airlifted to Liverpool Hospital, and the second woman was airliftedto St George Hospital. Both were in a critical condition, police said.

Detective Inspector Dave Cockram at the scene of the Boxing Day crash on the South Coast.Police closed all lanes of the Princes Highway buthad reopened one lane at Bendalong by about 2.30pm.

Motorists areadvised to delay travel in the area or to expect significant delays, as traffic is very heavy and moving slowly.

Police warned motorists the highway will remain partially closed for several hours, and urged them to use an alternative route or delay their travels to avoid the area.

Diversions are in place with motorists heading north requested to use the Kings Highway and Braidwood-Nowra Road and southbound traffic to take the Braidwood-Nowra Road and then Kings Highway.

The crash closed all lanes of the Princes Highway at Bendalong. Photo: TNV

Holiday road death toll double last year’sThe triple fatality comes after a horror holiday period on NSW roads.

There were 13 deaths by the end of Christmas Day, and another four by midday on Boxing Day alone, taking the holiday road toll to 17. In the same period last year, there were seven fatalities.

TheOperation Safe Arrivalroad safety campaign runs from Friday December 15 to midnight on Monday January 1.

Now in its 12th day, Assistant Commissioner MichaelCorboy, Commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command saidthe death toll was “appalling”.

“That is more than one person a day which is quite alarming. It is just not good enough,” he said.

“NSW residents need to take some responsibility and realise that all it takes is one distraction and you could lose your life or kill a family travelling on the roads this holiday period.

“It is a time to be merry and enjoy spending time with your family and unfortunately day after day, police are left to pick up the pieces and deliver horrific messages to families.”

Early on Boxing Day there was a fatal single-vehicle incident about 40 kilometres from Port Macquarie.

Emergency services rushed to the scene at Pappinbarra about 6.50am after reports a car hit an embankment. They found the body of a man at the scene. He was yet to be identified.

On Christmas Day, there was a fatal single-vehicle crash near Griffith.

Police believe the male driver of the car left Rankins Springs Road at Beelbangera before hitting a power pole. The male driver is also yet to be identified.

Police have issuethousands of infringement notices during Operation Safe Arrival.

As of Christmas Day, police issued almost 12,400 speeding tickets, charged 710 people with drink-driving and attended 999 major crashes.

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Perth: The Melbourne Stars keep breaking records in this summer’s Women’s Big Bash League. Alas for the bottom-of-the-ladder team, they also keep falling on the wrong side of history.
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On the season’s opening weekend the Stars conceded 4-242 against the Sydney Sixers, by far the highest total recorded since the competition began in late 2015.

On Tuesday at the WACA the Stars were at it again, unable to defend their seemingly strong score of 4-163 from 20 overs. With experienced Australian top-order duo Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton finding gaps almost at will, the Stars fielded poorly, helping the Perth Scorchers complete the highest successful run chase in the WBBL, reaching 1-164 and continuing the Stars’ winless run this summer.

Almost from the outset of the chase things looked ominous for the Stars. Villani and Bolton looked largely untroubled, while the Stars repeatedly allowed balls to squeeze through fielders to the rope.

Alana King (0-40 from three overs) and Georgia Elwiss (0-37 from 2.3) copped the most stick, however even deep in the chase the Stars still had their chances to contain the damage. But Katie Mack dropped Villani in the deep on 55 and 64 off the bowling of captain Kirsten Beams (0-17 from four). Erin Osborne eventually controlled a return catch to remove Bolton for 67 with the score 140, but Gemma Triscari then dropped Villani on 71, hurting her hand in the process, and the Stars’ capitulation was almost complete.

Former Stars player Nat Sciver was in the middle as Villani (84 not out from 53 balls) hit a six over long-on to seal victory for Perth with nine balls to spare.

The Stars had reached their total after South Africans Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez put on 96 for the second wicket.

Du Preez was dropped on 33 by Piepa Cleary, however Lee needed little assistance as she amassed eight fours and three sixes en route to 76 from 62 balls. Lee and du Preez (40 from 35) fell in the 17th over to consecutive balls from Emma King, but the late hitting of Mack (29 not out from 14) boosted the Stars’ score.

Lee said it was “obviously disappointing” to lose after posting such a competitive total. “We made a few mistakes in the field, and it cost us dearly,” Lee said.

The teams meet again at the WACA Ground on Wednesday.

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TRAINER Scott Aspery hopeda breakthrough home victory for Bridyn May on Tuesday was a sign of things to come for his small Newcastle stable after a tough year.
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BREAKTHROUGH: Bridyn May and trainer Scott Aspery after their win on Tuesday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Bridyn May, a four-year-old Snitzel mare on the comeback from tendon surgery, gave Aspery his first winner since January this year in the 900-metre maiden at Newcastle.

The victory was the $50,000 Inglis yearling sale buy’s first in seven career starts and was a welcomed boost for Aspery, who moved to Newcastle in July.

The 44-year-old, who did his apprenticeship underGai Waterhouse,John O’Shea, Graeme Rogerson and Bart Cummings, trained at Warwick Farm for six years before moving his young familyto Gosford in January.That stay was cut short when the house and stables he was renting were sold.

Aspery’s team havegone from nine to three horses since the relocation to Newcastle and two were in race three on Tuesday.

Victory lifts Aspery for new year rebuild TweetFacebook Newcastle racesJonathan CarrollBridyn May, with Luke Cumberland aboard, jumped well to take the lead and she kicked away close to home to win by more than two lengths. Stablemate Toffee Drop was fifth.

Aspery said it was a “nice note to end the year on” as he tried to kick-start his stables in Newcastle.

“I always felt this mare had the class but I just thought the 900 was short of her best,” Aspery said.“But she had two jump outs and no trials leading into today so she was going to run wellfresh. She just dominated from the front and was too strong.

“That’s thefirst one since the end of January, when we left Warwick Farm, so it’s been a bit of a lean patch, but hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

“It’s just a rebuilding process.We’ve still got our loyal clients from Sydney but we’re just looking to attract some new clients and hopefully in the new year we can go a bit stronger and bigger.”

Also on the program, which attracted a crowd of 4876, Jeff Penza boosted his campaign for a third consecutive Newcastle jockeys’ premiership with a treble.

Penza took Isle Of Capri, Makeadane andInquiry to victory to join Koby Jennings as joint leader on the Newcastle table with 11.

Penza was especially impressed with the win of the Chris Waller-trained Isle Of Capri in the fillies and mares maiden over 1400m. Jolly Honour, with Paul King aboard, gave Waller a double when claiming the colts and geldings maiden plate over 1400m.

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It’s an unusual feat for a television drama to be both utterly real and completely over the top at the same time, but Romper Stomper (Stan, from January 1) pulls it off. There are moments in this six-part series so anchored in our present political reality you’d swear they were dramatic re-enactments within a documentary about the resurgence of extremist politics in modern-day Australia.
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But there are also moments that take such a leap from that solid ground you’d swear you were watching a political Grand Guignol, in which things are taken to such extremes that they teeter on the very edge of absurdity. Thankfully, they never quite topple off that precipice.

It doesn’t have anything like the same flashy glamour or high-end production values, but in that odd mix of real and unreal, the show Romper Stomper most closely resembles is early House of Cards. There are a couple of scenes, which I won’t spoil, that carry the same exquisite sting of that moment in season 2 when Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) pushed the young reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) in front of a moving train, that exhilarating sense of “surely they didn’t?” immediately followed by “bloody hell, they did”. It’s risky stuff, and for the most part it works.

We’re thrown into the heart of adrenaline-pumping darkness from the opening moments of the first episode, written and directed by Geoffrey Wright, creator of the 1992 film that’s the point of origin for this story. We’re at a Halal festival, and the far-right nationalists Patriot Blue have set up megaphone and flags to bleat on about the coming of sharia law, while the far-left antifascist group (here called Antifash) set about them with fists and rocks. In a confusingly effective flurry, we meet in a matter of minutes most of the characters at the heart of the story.

There’s Lawson-spouting Patriot leader Blake Farron (Lachy Hulme), pumped up on testosterone and notions of racial purity, and his soon-to-be acolyte, former Army boy Kane (Toby Wallace), whose close-cropped hairstyle seems coincidental until evidence mounts that he may in fact be the son of Hando (Russell Crowe) from the film, and the inheritor of his evil mantle.

There’s Petra (Lily Sullivan), a black-clad lefty who may have Marx and morality on her side but whose methods lead her away from the high ground. There’s Zoe (Sophie Lowe), the fundamentalist Christian and former meth-head who hooked up with Blake because he offered a glimpse of salvation, and maybe a path to Revelations too. And there’s Laila (Nicole Chamoun), a nice, well-educated girl from a liberal Muslim family, who inadvertently becomes a pawn of both sides.

It rapidly spreads out from there, with David Wenham creepily excellent as the right-wing TV talkshow host Jago Zoric, whose admission that he feeds on new blood as he eyes Kane seems far more than metaphorical. There’s Dan Wyllie and John Brumpton as a couple of the old crew, the former now a seemingly respectable businessman who rather pointedly runs a “white goods” business, the latter holed up in the bush with a cache of weapons that seems both museum and stockpile for the apocalypse.

And there’s Jacqueline McKenzie as Gabe, lover of both Hando and his best mate Davey (Daniel Pollock) from the film, now a successful businesswoman with nothing but regrets about her Nazi past, but deeply damaged and conflicted in other ways too.

Oh, it’s heady stuff. There’s politics, passion and perversity aplenty in this ambitious, fast-moving drama. It’s muscular, confronting and timely, and even if not everything in it quite works it is still one of the most invigorating pieces of television you will see all year.

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