Box Hill Bounce Roos, Bounce Back

The Box Hill Hawks have returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion, defeating the previously unbeaten North Melbourne by 10-goals on Saturday afternoon.

The Hawks were forced into two late changes following the withdrawals of Changkuoth Jiath and Max Ramsden, bringing emergencies Daniel Wood and Andrew Mathieson into the match day 23 in their place.

Challenged and needing to respond following last weekend’s loss to the reigning premier Gold Coast Suns, the Hawks were deadlocked with the Roos nearing time on of a hard fought second term, before a trio of late goals swung the momentum and, ultimately, the fate of the match Box Hill’s way. 

All told, from the 18 minute mark of the second term the boys in brown and gold would lay on 15 of the next 20 goals to run away with the contest and, crucially, the four premiership points. 

Max Hall was adjudged his team’s best player on the day and, truthfully, was the best player on the ground.

The Eastern Ranges product was outstanding all afternoon and finished with an equal game-high 32 disposals, 12 marks (ranked number two on the ground), a team-high nine tackles, four inside 50s, three clearances and two goals. Unsurprisingly, that stat line determined Hall was comfortably the highest ranked player in either brown and gold or blue and white.

While Hall did the business around the ball, it was the performance of first-year tall Calsher Dear which left the greatest impression on the scoreboard. 

The son of 1991 Norm Smith Medalist Paul, Dear kicked a game-high four goals from 15 disposals, took five marks, laid three tackles, drove his team inside 50s on six occasions and even won six hit-outs and a clearance from his work as a chop-out ruck.

Dear’s ability to read the ball in flight, mark cleanly and, most importantly of all, finish his work has been a highlight of his first forays in brown and gold. And these traits were on full display as he continued to find his feet and impact at VFL level.

Josh Ward was another of the Hawks’ midfield brigade to impress on his way to 27 touches, seven tackles and equal team-high six clearances. The 2021 first round draftee was industrious and damaging across the full four quarters, winning his share of the ball, but using it cleanly and decisively. Two goals were just reward for an excellent display. 

Box Hill skipper Cal Porter’s maintained his fine start to 2024, too. 

The hard-nosed, hard tackling and hard-working midfielder represented the league in the VFL’s recent match against the SANFL and has been named in his side’s best in each of the Hawks’ past three matches. Thanks to his 22 disposals, four tackles, six clearances, seven inside 50s and three rebound fifties that form-line continued.

He was chiefly involved as the Hawks finished the day +10 for clearances and +17 for inside 50s – two statistics which went some way to explaining the final result. 

Porter remains as useful a player as Zane Littlejohn has to call upon, owing to both his attack on the contest, ability to win the ball and his diligence to do whatever his coach asks of him whenever he is asked to do it.

Another to do his job was Bailey MacDonald. One half of the dash brothers, ‘B-Mac’ tallied just 13 disposals and a goal, but impressed with his work rate and willingness to provide run and carry off half-back. 

Last but not least, Cal Brown’s sensational campaign continued apace. The 70-game AFL veteran racked up 32 touches, three rebound 50s, four inside 50s, six marks, three tackles and a clearance in yet another reliably excellent showing.

Brown has been superb since crossing to Box Hill prior to the 2023 VFL season, winning the Club’s best and fairest last year and state representative honours (and the Frank Johnson Medal for best afield) already this. Could an AFL recall beckon?

Special mention must go to Ethan Phillips, who controlled the back half of the ground thanks to an incredible 17 marks. Having missed last week with a knock, ’Easy’ was assured overhead and in possession throughout a strong return.

While the day ended well for Box Hill it certainly did start that way. North streamed out of the middle following the first bounce and had a goal off the boot of Jaidyn Stephenson in just 18 seconds. 

Fortunately, it would be one of just two times the visitors edged the contest – and they never managed a lead of greater than six points. 

Hall kicked the Hawks’ first two goals of the day to wrestle back the lead, before Nick Hodgson answered back to tie the game up.

Majors to Butler and Woods nearing time on of the first term offered hope the hosts could create a gap from which to build upon, but former Box Hill forward Lachie Wynd kicked his first of the day and Charlie Harrop added another to leave the match-up delicately poised after one.

Hodgson’s second gave the Kangaroos the lead early in the second quarter, before Bailey Macdonald handed it back to the Hawks shortly thereafter.

For the next six minutes the match was played largely between the arcs or in contest as the two sides jostled for ascendency. It would arrive in the form of six-pointers to Ward, Dear and, on the stroke of half-time, a superb set shot from ruckman Clay Tucker.

In what felt like the blink of an eye Box Hill had a three goal lead and the opportunity to press on after the long break. 

Once play resumed the Hawks and Roos traded early goals to leave us in the same place we were when the quarter started. Dear’s second was cancelled out by Finnbar Maley’s first, who’s goal was answered by Jack O’Sullivan, who’s goal was then countered by Sam Lowson’s first. 

Maley’s second inched North to within two kicks, but Cooper Stephens swooped to give Box Hill back their three-goal lead almost directly from the restart. The next goal shaped as vital and when Andreas Stefanakis got it North desperately needed a reply. After Daniel Wood expertly steered through his second it was a must that the Roos responded. 

Former Crow and Sun Hugh Greenwood gave them hope, But Dear’s third on the three quarter time siren inched Box Hill’s lead out to 28-points with one to play. 

Any hope of a comeback was snuffed out within four minutes of the resumption, as Butler and Ward kicked their second goals of the afternoon to give their side a 40-point lead. 

A goal to Miller Bergman was but a momentary reprieve before majors from the boot of Jed Rule, Stefanakis, Dear and Butler confirmed an impressive 60-point win for the Box Hill Hawks.

The Hawks will next be in action on Sunday April 28th, taking on the Sydney Swans at Box Hill City Oval from 12:05pm. 

Box Hill

4.5

8.5

14.7

20.11 131

North Melbourne

4.2

5.5

9.9

10.11 71


Best:
Hall, Dear, Ward, Porter, Macdonald, C Brown

Goals: Dear 4, Butler 3, Wood, Ward, Stefanakis, Hall 2, Tucker, Stephens, Rule, O’Sullivan, Macdonald

Disposals: Hall 32, C Brown 32, Ward 27, Porter 22, Eth. Phillips 19, T Brown 19, Butler 18

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