Season Preview - Talbot
Whilst finals football is not foreign to Talbot – they’ve finished in eighth position on the MCDFNL ladder in both of the last two years, and gave more fancied opponents a scare in their Elimination Final before being overpowered in the second half of each game – it wasn’t until the second half of the season that they hit their straps in 2015, going winless through the first seven rounds of the season before winning six of their last nine games to make the finals.
Talbot’s co-coach, and joint 2015 Berry Powell Medallist Matt Smith is well aware that a fast start is crucial to the Hawks, especially with some winnable games populating the pre-Interleague section of the 2016 fixture/
“We’ll be looking to get off to a faster start this year, there’s no doubt about that”, Smith commented.
“Last year we had a slow start for different reasons, we recruited a fair quantity of players, and a lot of those recruits came later in pre-season which didn’t enable us to have a solid list for the first part of the season and work out the best positions, roles and rotations”.
“This year we have a much more consolidated list, a lot more recruits have jumped on reasonably early in the pre-season, and we’re thinking that we should be able to start the year off a lot faster and build some early momentum”.
A sense of optimism abounds at most teams at this time of year, but Talbot can back theirs up with some solid pre-season training numbers, auguring well for a good year ahead.
“Numbers have been really, really good on the track so far”, Smith mentioned.
“So far we’ve seen about 55 different players on the training track, which is not including our Bendigo and Melbourne-based players, so at the moment our list is looking strong, we’re looking at having around 60 players on our list to choose from which is obviously quite healthy”.
“The improvement from the start of last year with the list to the end of the season was pretty good, which showed in our results against Lexton and Royal Park – we lost by ten goals to them at the start of the year and by four [goals] at the end of the year, which showed there was a lot of improvement across the list as the season progressed.”
“Being able to keep the majority of that list and then add three or four blokes between six foot and six foot two that are mobile and good ball users, as well as Brendon Hedger as a forward/back-up ruckman and things are looking really good”.
The Hawks have been quite active on the recruiting front, with a number of players either joining the club or returning to wear the brown and gold for 2016.
“Tom Hardisty from Surrey Park in the strong Eastern Footy League, who’s been impressive on the track, will come into the club this year”, Smith said.
“Anthony Tatchell returns from Charlton, Zac Graham from North City and Ballan is another new one, as is Brendan Hedger coming over from the Rovers, Brodie Glen from Birchip-Watchem is a welcome addition, as is Richie Clark is coming back to the club, and Zac Green, who looks composed with the ball and uses it very well.”
“There’s also possibly another three or four guys that whilst late in pre-season, could be an added bonus that we’re looking at as well.”
Those wanting to get a glimpse of Talbot’s new recruits won’t have to wait very long, with the Hawks taking part in the very first game of the 2016 season, taking on old rivals Maryborough Rovers under lights at Princes Park on Friday 15th April, a fixture that has the Hawks eager for the new season to commence.
“There’s definitely a bit of excitement [around the club]”, Smith mentions.
“A lot of our guys haven’t played under lights for quite a while now – it’s something we used to do at Talbot a while ago but the current list hasn’t really experienced it.”
“It’s going to be a big occasion, coming up against Rovers, and there’s going to be a bit of added spice to the game with some of the recruiting that’s gone on throughout the pre-season, and we’re expecting it to be a hotly contested game”.
Round 1 v Maryborough Rovers (Princes Park) – Vitally important that the Hawks get off to a good start should they want to increase their ladder position in 2016, and contesting the Barrass-Melbourne Cup in front of what will surely be a monster crowd at Princes Park could give Talbot a great base to kickstart their 2016 campaign.
Round 4 v Trentham (away) – the Hawks lost the corresponding early-season fixture against the Saints under lights last season, and will be chomping at the bit to make amends in this twilight fixture
Rounds 8, 9 and 10 v Avoca, Maldon & Dunolly (home) – crucial three-game mid-season stretch for the Hawks, playing teams that finished outside of the finals in 2015 all at home. It’s conceivable that a three-game sweep here could give Talbot as many wins by Round 10 as they had for all of 2015…maybe more
PREDICTED FINISH: 6th-9th