IN a replay of the 2016 Central Highlands Grand Final, Springbank was too good for Buninyong, as the two titans clashed in round 1 on Saturday. To those watching the game it was seeing Springbank pick up from where they left off last year. Springbank coach Michael Searl said there was talk prior to the match whether Springbank would be able to match it with the good sides after losing a couple of their quality players. “We’ll see how we go,” he said.
“That’s the first game done and dusted and we are very pleased with the signs showed so far.” Springbank showed it was not a one-man team after losing the skills of spearhead Paul McMahon. Last year Searl said about eighty per-cent of forward kicks went to McMahon but pre-season training has included bringing the other forwards into the game. “Hopefully it means we are just a strong in the forward line as we were last year,” Searl said. “Obviously we would love to have Macca, he is a quality player, but just because he has left we are not going to start playing seventeen on the field because he is irreplaceable. “You put someone else out there, stick to the structures and hopefully they will take care of themselves.” Points were put on the board by a number of players including home-grown footballer Matt Lakey who kicked two goals. “Matt played in the senior grand final in 2015, he missed out last year and his pre-season and effort has been top quality and I think that showed on Saturday,” Searl said. “The club prides itself on growing local talent and I think we have had 14 or so premiership players last year who were local lads, so it’s a really positive sign.” Captain, Justin Simpson, was firing until he went off the field hurt and will miss this week due to concussion. “We’ll play it safe but we were really pleased with his game, he is usually a defender but we decided to put him up forward and he has given us a great focal point, as well,” Searl said. “We wanted to develop Brock Freeman as a key forward, as well, so we will use him in the ruck less this year and more up forward, so that’s another area we are trying to improve on so we are not just a one-trick pony.
“If we need to make adjustments or move the chain around we are capable, we have people that can fill the void.”
Searl added there were nerves going into the game, wanting to win the first match of the season. “We went out there looking for an even contribution from all of our players, so were really happy with that,” he said. “If anyone was having doubts as to how we would cope not having Macca and Tim (Malone) – those two are gone – well that gives the rest of the playing group some belief that we will be able to compete when we play our best footy.”