BFNL season preview – Eaglehawk

NEW CHALLENGE: After four years away over in the west, Josh Bowe is back at Eaglehawk as coach.
NEW CHALLENGE: After four years away over in the west, Josh Bowe is back at Eaglehawk as coach.

EAGLEHAWK FOOTBALL

COACH: Josh Bowe (new)

LAST YEAR: Third

ARRIVALS

Josh Bowe, Scott Hann, Sean Williams, Riley Saunders, James Baird, Cody Green, Clay Davies, Josh Gitsham, Linton Jacobs.

DEPARTURES

Shaun Knott, Blake Natoli, Josh McKee, Anthony Franchina.

THE BASICS

Sportsbet flag odds: $5

Player points: 38

FIRST MONTH

R1: v South Bendigo (a)

R2: v Kangaroo Flat (h)

R3: v Strathfieldsaye (a)

R4: v Golden Square (h)

LAST FIVE YEARS

2016: Third (12-9)

2015: Fourth (13-7)

2014: Fifth (9-10)

2013: Third (12-7)

2012: Sixth (8-10)

GIVEN the way the second half of the season unfolded last year, there’s plenty of cause for optimism at Eaglehawk heading into 2017.

From winning just three of their first nine games, the Hawks got themselves on a roll and, from seemingly nowhere, stormed through to a preliminary final playing an exciting brand of football led by youth.

They fell one step short of making the grand final, but shape as being one of the buzz sides of the competition this year under new coach and 2010 Michelsen medallist Josh Bowe, who has returned to Canterbury Park from Western Australia.

While the departure of Shaun Knott is a key loss, there are forward line additions with the return of Sean Williams, who kicked 90 goals in his previous two years at the Hawks, and former Bendigo Pioneer Riley Saunders, who has crossed from Golden Square, will provide some bite inside 50.

The Hawks also welcome back James Baird, while utility Scott Hann is a Rochester premiership player who will add experience.

If the Hawks can pick up from where they left off last season, an exciting year looks ahead at Eaglehawk, which also has its new Canterbury Park facilities.

Q & A with Josh Bowe

Q: Given the way the Hawks played in the second half of last season largely based around the kids, this shapes as an opportune time to be taking on your first coaching job back at the Borough.

The enthusiasm that the players are showing and their hunger in terms of everything we've put to them training wise has been fantastic. We've challenged the group and they have eaten everything up.

We have been careful not to over-recruit with what the kids showed last year and that is really exciting.

The message has been not to get ahead of ourselves on the back of last year, but there was some real promise and gives us something to look forward to this season.

EAGLEHAWK NETBALL

Coach:  Mali Roberts (new)

Last year: Eighth

ARRIVALS

Abbey Ryan (Golden Square), Ashley Ryan (Golden Square), Brianna Richardson (Calivil United), Megan Bagnell (Marong), Zoe Davies (Kanagroo Flat).

DEPARTURES:

Ashlea Jenkin (Huntly), Christie Rogers (recovering from injury), Heleen Van Leperen (other commitments), Lori Niven (moved interstate).

COACHING PANEL

A-reserve: Carol Chapman 

B-grade: Jarileey Scholtes 

B-reserve: Maree Ellis 

17-and-under:  Mali Roberts 

Under-17 development: Eleisha Lay 

Under-14 development: Kylie Piercy 

LAST THREE YEARS

2016: Eighth

2015: Eighth

2014: Tenth

Ashley Ryan and her sister Abbey have joined Eaglehawk from Golden Square.

Ashley Ryan and her sister Abbey have joined Eaglehawk from Golden Square.

EXPECT Eaglehawk to be the biggest improvers in BFNL netball this season.

The Hawks have recruited sensationally, luring young Golden Square 2015 premiership duo Ashley and Abbey Ryan, as well as dual Kangaroo Flat premiership defender Zoe Davies to Canterbury Park.

Those gains have been complemented by the addition of Brianna Richardson, from Calivil United, and former Marong coach Megan Bagnell, who was fourth in last season's Loddon Valley league best and fairest behind Mitiamo's Laura Hicks.

They join an already talented squad that includes one of the the competition's brightest young defender Elly Lawton, who finished top six in the 2016 Betty Thompson Medal vote count, midcourter Eleisha Lay and Dayna McGough.

But the Eagles will do without 2012 premiership player Christie Rogers, who is recovering from injury.

A vastly improved A-grade squad will be guided by a first-class coach in former Papua New Guinean international and Queensland Firebirds player Mali Roberts.

She took Strathfieldsaye to a grand final in 2015 in her previous stint in the BFNL and there is every reason to believe she can do the same with this Hawks team.

Eaglehawk already has secured two pre-season tournament wins under Roberts, in the Bendigo Mazda Five-a-side competition and the Rochester Invitational.