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Hawkins Division 1
Last weekend’s unexpected early winter break gave Belfast an opportunity to take stock and reflect on their season to date of ‘what ifs’.
Last season the Cobras steadily improved. Coach Don Fisher (who recently received his blazer for coaching 100 senior games) had hoped that the bulk of his returning squad would be able to push on this season.
“It’s been a case of close but no cigar,” he says of his team’s performances. “We have come within five points (of sides) on four occasions, which is very frustrating.”
In their last game the club that has produced Billy Bush and Wayne Smith, drew 12-12 with Marist Albion in a game they know they should have won.
“We simply have not been able to seal the deal,” Don admits. When asked why, he replies that it is a range of reasons. “Our execution and decision-making have not been good enough and we haven’t scored enough tries.”
On the last point Don (who is coaching again with Simon Wilson) uses his side’s 25-9 loss to Christchurch in the first round to emphasise. “That day they scored the same number of tries as we did (one) but our discipline let us down and we gave away penalties.”
Belfast’s disappointing results have not been through want of preparation. Pre-season they got a trainer on board, while they also had a pre-season camp and four pre-season matches.
“We have done everything we can to improve on last season’s performances but really it is a case of confidence. We have to learn to shut-out matches.”
This weekend Belfast takes on Shirley, a side with a similar recent history. “They have been going good and drew their last match with Lincoln University,” Don says. “We are away from home and so it will be a challenge.”
While his side’s performances have frustrated, Don says that he is excited by his team’s efforts individually.
Centre Jordan Carolan-Hyland has been outstanding, while number eight Frank Havea and young blindside flanker Glen Kavanagh have stood out in the pack. Their most dynamic player has been lock Nabuka Tavenavo.
Don says his side will continue to work hard. He hopes that as his side develops it will have the confidence to round-out games although he accepts the club has improved significantly in the past few seasons.
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