HALSWELL HORNETS 2018 PREVIEW
Halswell Hornets come into 2018 on the back of two straight Massetti Cup wooden spoons, but a positive finish to last year’s campaign has sparked optimism for a rise up the ladder.
The Hornets trumped their bottom-half rivals to claim the Gore Cup, downing fifth-placed Riccarton in the final.
“Even though we may have finished last in the competition itself, beating all the other teams in the bottom four was a bonus to finish off the season,” Halswell coach Rob Faalilo said.
“But we’d certainly like to improve and like all sides we’re aiming for the top four.
“The key to that is to make sure we’re training hard throughout the season and turning up on the day, and ensuring our defence is strong and making sure that’s backed up by really good attack.”
The Hornets have lost some key playing personnel, most notably the 2017 season’s top try-scorer Ben Ilalio, who has linked with Linwood, and fellow Rockcote Canterbury Bulls rep Texas Toleofoa.
But front-row stalwart Jaye Pukepuke returns to the club after several seasons at Papanui, and the squad has been bolstered by recruits from the rugby union ranks and budding stars who have progressed through the Hornets’ juniors.
Steering the ship will be classy halves pairing Sean Scott and Brad Austin.
“We’ll be a young side, but there’s some old heads in there as well,” Faalilo, who lines up for his fourth consecutive season in charge, enthuses.
“The key for us is to make sure we’ve got plenty of depth at the club through the grades, so that’s what we’re working on at the moment.
“Like any club, if you don’t have depth and you start picking up injuries, it can have a big impact on your season.”
Halswell’s bid to offload the spoon begins on Saturday with a Gore Cup rematch against the Knights at Crosbie Park.
“That’s going to be a really tough game,” Faalilo admits.
“They’ll be out to turn around the result of the Gore Cup game, and we’ll certainly be going out to pick up the two points as well.
“They’ve got a quality side that has been battling away for a number of years now and it won’t be an easy task, but I’m sure the boys will be up for it.”
Years active (premiers division): 1979-present
Titles: 10 – 1985, 1987-88, 1993, 1995, 1999-2000, 2003, 2011, 2014
2018 Coach: Rob Faalilo
Last season: 8th (won 2, lost 11, drew 1)