Newcastle Rugby: Captain confident Hawks flying in right direction ahead of clash with Southern Beaches

HAMILTON captain Steve Lamont has put the Hawks’ inconsistent start to the season down to the quality of the opposition moreso than any premiership hangover.
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LOOK WHO’S BACK: Va Talaileva (right) will start at blindside breakaway for Southern Beaches’ crunch home game against premiers Hamilton at Ernie Calland Oval on Saturday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

The Hawks are aiming to be the first team to win four straight premierships since a Cyril-Burke led Waratahs achieved the feat in 1953.

However, they currently sit in fourth spot from three wins and two losses, and take on an equally-desperate Southern Beaches at Ernie Calland Field on Saturday.

The two losses – 20-19 to Merewether in round two and 24-22 to Nelson Bay in round five –is the most the Hawks have suffered in a regular season for the past three years.

“I think it is more the quality of the other teams,” said, who plays his 100th first grade game for the Hawks. “They have definitely stepped it up this year. Merewether have always been strong, but the likes of the Bay have had a good off-season and recruited well.We have had a change in personnel and a change in coaching staff and are getting used to that.It’s a combination of those things.We are not concerned about it. We have been disappointed with some of the results but it is only early days. We are identifying the areas we need to improve on. Each week is a new week and each game is a new game.”

Lamont has felt a “good vibe at training” after the 62-14 win over University but knows the Hawks will need to lift again to beat a Va Talaileva-inspired Beaches.

Talaileva, in his first year as coach, was only going to play in the lower grades. However, he returned off the bench in the upset 17-14 loss to University a fortnight ago and will start at blindside breakaway against his old club.

“Va is a quality player and adds another element to their pack,” Lamont said. “People have gone to Beaches because of him and they obviously have a high level of respect for him.”

Beaches’ outside centre Adrian Delore said Talaileva would bring direction and urgency to the forwards.

“Va came off the bench late against Uni and sparked a bit of life,” Delore said. “We have been missing that early in games. To have him comein, I think the forwards will step up and start to fire up early.We have finished well but it has taken too long to get into fifth gear.”

Finalists for the past two seasons, Beaches have suffered three losses to be in sixth spot.

“We have expected to beat teams and haven’t beaten them,” Delore said. “It has been a bit of a wake up call. Hamilton is a big challenge and the first of three tough games. We need to decide whether we are going to play good football or go with the flow and stay towards the bottom of the ladder.”

ElsewhereSaturday, prop Barcelona Lupematasila and Brendan Holliday return for Lake Macquarie’s trip to Townson Oval to take on unbeaten leaders Merewether.

Nelson Bay will be aiming to bounce back to form at home against Singleton.

Captain Chris Logan and young lock Ben Wood return from NSW Country duties for Maitland against University at Marcellin Park.

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