Black Diamond AFL: Cardiff Hawks coach Nathan Harkness off to a flyer

KICKING GOALS: New Cardiff Hawks coach Nathan Harkness at the Black Diamond AFL season launch last month. Picture: Michael ParrisNew coach Nathan Harkness says his Cardiff Hawks are far from “cherry ripe”, despite their unbeaten start to the Black Diamond AFL competition.

Harkness has presided over a strong start to the season for Cardiff, who pipped champions Newcastle City by four points in the opening round then beat Nelson Bay and Warners Bay.

But hetold the Herald on Friday that he expected his squad to perform even better once they had overcome a series of disruptions due to weddings, injury, study and the Groovin the Moo music festival on Saturday.

“We still have got a lot of improvement. We’ve got a few ins, a hell of a lot of outs,” he said. “Probably a few guys that shouldn’t be getting a game are getting a game because of the numbers. I think we’ve got 14 or 15 out from both sides this week.

“There’s a few underdone. We’renowhere near cherry ripe or anything like that.”

One of the absentees for Saturday’s game against perennial heavyweights Terrigal-Avoca at Hylton Moore Oval will be burly forward Cam Jones, who kicked three goals in the 26-point win over Warners Bay.

Harkness, who arrived in Newcastle in the summer from Geelong to replace Adam Dugan at Cardiff, said he was “having a ball” in his first season at the club.

“I’m getting good feedback from parents and friends and committee members, followers of Cardiff football club who are really happy with the way things are going,” he said.“There’s a good buzz, and to be driving that is pretty important. It feels pretty good, to be honest.”

Terrigal-Avoca have scored 265 points and conceded only 95 in three dominant wins over Killarney Vale, City and Nelson Bay under another new coach, MarkSkuse.

Theirback line has been imperious, stiflingforwards and rebounding through the likes of Corey Billins,James Hart, Will McKellar and Alastair Richardson.

Elsewhere, City will chasetheir second win when they host Warners Bay, and Nelson Bay play Killarney Vale at Dick Burwell Oval.

City will sweaton the return of key forward Nick Gill and half-back flanker Jake Hartikainen. Max Quinlan (six goals)and Abe Gibson (three) led the way up forward last week in a 47-point win over the Bombers.

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