Rebuilding in second: Hawks’ new guard taking shape to face Saints in top-of-the-table clash

BREAKING THE LINES: Em McDonald is one of eight Hawks' beaten 2017 grand finalists, the two blues face St Pat's in a grand final rematch on Saturday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY.
BREAKING THE LINES: Em McDonald is one of eight Hawks' beaten 2017 grand finalists, the two blues face St Pat's in a grand final rematch on Saturday. Photo: MATT FINDLAY.

It’s not common for a side second on the ladder to claim to be rebuilding, but that’s exactly the situation Orange Hawks finds themselves in this season ahead of Saturday’s Group 10 league tag top-of-the-table clash with Bathurst St Pat’s.

It’s also a rematch of last year’s decider – the second of 2018 – but just eight of that grand final team have been regulars in Hawks’ charge to second so far.

Bec Ford, Bridie McClure, Ella-J Harris, Sophie Humphris, Em McDonald, Amanda Livingstone and Anna Matthews all feel the sting of last year’s decider loss, with that level of turnover the former said her side’s only just started to click.

“We’re just starting to read each other and play the way we want to,” Ford said.

“We lost a lot of girls and we’re rebuilding.”

With the likes of Lailee and Kaitlyn Phillips moving to Bathurst Panthers and Erin Naden to St Pat’s, Ford admitted there is less incentive to inflict revenge on the Saints.

However, Ford and her side are still looking for a win over the unbeaten Bathurst side, which sit four points clear of Hawks. 

“We’re really looking to focus on our defence and making sure our line speed is good,” she said. 

“It’s always a friendly clash, it’s hard but fair.”

“They’re a good side with a lot of skilful players, Mish Somers, Meredith Jones ... they have a really good team, with a lot of girls waiting to come in.”

There’s plenty of shining lights in Hawks’ colours too, with Haley Butcherine and Cheynoah Merchant two who have shone this year and 16-year-old wunderkind Jess Pearson has taken control at the back. 

“She’s (Pearson) been really good, we’re working on building our confidence,” Ford said.    

“Annabelle Wykamp has also been pivotal this season giving the team direction and is a calming force.”

The Saturday game will play havoc with both sides, with Ford expecting three to four of the Hawks’ girls to miss the clash and has heard on the grapevine St Pat’s will also be down on troops.

Orange Hawks host St Pat’s from 10am on Saturday at Wade Park. 

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