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Semi Final Talking Points

Semi Final Talking Points

📁 News 🕔10.September 2018
Semi Final Talking Points

Box Hill Hawks have won through to a second consecutive Preliminary Final, where they’ll face the fourth placed Williamstown for a place in the 2018 VFL Grand Final.

Chris Newman’s side had to overcome the Cats to book their place in the final four, below are three talking points from an excellent day at North Port Oval.

BACK TO FRONT

It was a strange old game at times, with Box Hill kicking away early to a lead that wasn’t quite convincing but turned out to be comfortable. Finals make worriers out of us all, I suppose.

Ultimately it was bursts of offence that produced the buffer that proved decisive – particularly the one which netted four unanswered goals between the eighteen and twenty-eight minute marks of the third term – but for large parts of the contest it was the Hawks’ rearguard that caught the eye.

That three of the Hawks’ back six figured amongst the team’s best six says how highly their efforts were regarded and appreciated.

Twin defensive towers Kaiden Brand and Tim O’Brien worked brilliantly in tandem all afternoon, with their communication and organisation behind the ball vital in keeping a dangerous Geelong under control. They would often take turns to play either the role of lockdown defender or third man up in the contest, seamlessly switching as needs dictated. That they’re a relatively new key position pairing is particularly encouraging.

At ground level it was Teia Miles, the third of that unit named amongst the best, who was on the end of nine handball receives, equaling the tally of teammate Kieran Lovell and behind only Cunico (13) and Simpson (10) for the Cats. It was this willingness to be the next link in the chain that laid the platform for the Hawks to manage Geelong’s run ons during the third and fourth quarters.

Both Miles and Brand lead their side in rebound fifties, totalling seven apiece, whilst Brand hauled in more marks than any man on the ground. Alongside Conor Glass, Will Hams and a host of cameos the defensive unit was terrific.

PRESSURE AND PATIENCE

At quarter time Chris Newman used part of his address to the players to single out one aspect of his team’s performance: pressure.

The official stats insist the Hawks had two smothers for the match, one to Oliver Hanrahan and another to Andrew Moore, but it sure felt like more.


“Every time they look up they’re confronted with a Box Hill jumper,” said the coach, encouraging his troops that their work rate was being rewarded and the product of their pressure were quick or hack kicks to clear the immediate danger, where brown and gold jumpers were often in best position to mop up and begin again. 

The result was undeniable, as the Hawks produced ten scoring shots to two for a 23-point quarter time lead – an advantage that was managed for the remainder of the contest.

On the other side of the ball Newman would likely have been pleased with his charges’ ability to take care when in possession. It was a real arm wrestle at times, but when the Hawks were able to control the ball and set the tempo at which the game was played they did so tellingly. Ninety uncontested marks to the Cats’ fifty-seven shows a plan in action.

COMING OF AGE

A number of young Hawks have performed with distinction over the past month, during which a win against top-of-the-table Casey has been punctuated by two terrific results against Geelong and another against Port Melbourne.

At the heart of these wins have been an experienced core, naturally, with the skipper, Andrew Moore, ably supported by steady hands such as O’Brien and Brendan Whitecross. But underpinning it has been a steadily improving stream of youth.

James Cousins more than played his part – of course he did; Brayden Kilpatrick ran the wings and provided a conduit between attack and defence – that’s what his game is about; Mitch Lewis presented well and more than held his own during stints in the ruck – we know he can do both.

But again it was Oliver Hanrahan who caught the eye with three crucial goals from five attempts and eleven possessions. He’s a player who all of a sudden looks far more at home with the pace of the game, which has resulted in his speed and anticipation coming to the fore. The results? A young man profoundly impacting finals football.

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