DEFEAT: The Hornets lost to Valleys in their season opener at the weekend.
DEFEAT: The Hornets lost to Valleys in their season opener at the weekend. Inga Williams

Paulsen eyes first finals appearance for Hornets

AFTER narrowly missing out on a maiden finals appearance last season, Ipswich Hornets coach Geoff Paulsen is looking to take the next step in this season's Brisbane Premier Grade competition.

Following a best-ever fifth placing in 2016-17, Paulsen believes the Hornets - now in their fourth season of the top-tier competition - have the experience and temperament to crack the top four and contest the finals.

"After the season we had last year, I think the boys are starting to believe pushing for the top four is a realistic goal,” Paulsen said.

"Obviously a lot of things have to go your way throughout the season, and it's not necessarily something that's been spoken about at training, but you can see there is an expectation that we'll be knocking on the top four.”

The player-coach has retained the bulk of last season's team, with a number of key inclusions.

Queensland under 19 leg spinner Harry Macoun will boost Paulsen's bowling options, while top-order bat Thompson Matthews has moved from Western Suburbs to take his place in the team.

Paulsen also expects to see further improvement from Bulls rookie-listed player Harry Wood.

Paulsen noted that fast bowler Adam Smith "could be a big improver this year” after a solid off-season at the crease.

"I think in the past we've possibly had too much youth and not enough experience,” Paulsen said.

"This being our fourth year, and with most of the guys in first grade having played for a majority of those years, they're starting to get confidence and know their games better.

"This year we have a good mixture of youth and experience, which will be good for us. We're getting a bit more technical with game plans, and expecting a bit more with our execution during games.”

Paulsen will again captain the 50-over matches. First drop batsman Anthony Wilson takes on the one-day and T20 captaincy duties.

Wilson handled the role with aplomb last season and Paulsen expects him to continue in that vein as a key on-field presence.

Wilson lacks partners in opening round loss

ALTHOUGH Dan Wilson opened his season with an impressive knock of 117, Hornets coach Paulsen will have concerns about his top order.

The Hornets made 8/228 from their 50 overs, competitive only thanks to Wilson's heroics.

But against a Valleys line-up boasting Queensland stars Jack Wildermuth and Luke Feldman, the rest of the Hornets' batsmen struggled to make their mark.

Anthony Wilson and Adam Smith were the next-best, each finishing with 28 runs.

The hosts took less than 30 overs to reach the required total, racing to 3/229 off the back of Andrew Gode's 139 not-out.

Callum Dick

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