Box Hill gallant, but runners-up again.

By Callum Godde

Williamstown survived a third term revival from Box Hill on Saturday, winning their second consecutive AFL Victoria Development League Premiership by 35 points.

Seagulls co-captain Dylan Conway was awarded the Fred Hill Memorial Medal, booting eight goals. Incredibly, he and fellow co-captain, Ben Wyatt, combined to kick 13 of Williamstown’s 18 majors on the day.

A rematch of last year’s thrilling Grand Final – which the Seagulls won by a solitary point – the sequel wasn’t quite as close, Williamstown kicking away to a 18.18 (126) to 13.13 (91) victory.

However, at the final change it looked as though these two clubs – who between them have taken out nine of the past twelve premierships – were on course for grandstand finish reminiscent of their epic 2013 finale.

After a disappointing first-half left the Hawks 34 points adrift, they stormed back into contention with a five goal to one third term.

It began with a clever touch of play from Sam Cust. The small forward deftly paddled the ball on to teammate Tom Gordon, who shot a quick handball out and Julian Soccio did the rest from close range.

Box Hill could smell blood. Cassidy goaled on the run, and the attacking combination of Peter McEvoy and Tom Gordon were starting to look like the proverbial bull in a china shop up forward.

If the engraver of the Premiership Cup was tossing up whether to get to work at half time, only half an hour later he would’ve been glad he waited. Remarkably, at the final-change Box Hill were well within striking distance of the Seagulls, who, for all their dominance, clung to a slender seven-point lead.

“I thought our third quarter was outstanding,” Box Hill coach Kevin Collins said.

Ultimately though Collins was left to lament his side’s poor first half.

“We just made too many basic mistakes in the first half, and it resulted in goals,” he said.

“I think their [Williamstown] first four goals came from our turnovers …and in a Grand Final that’s always going to hurt you.”

Williamstown turned on the after-burners in the fourth to see off the Hawks gallant second-half challenge.

“The catch-up footy we played in the third quarter probably hurt us in the last,” Collins said.

“They were able to get a bit of the ball on the outside, they’re a really good running team.”

McEvoy continued his stellar year up forward, adding a six goal Grand Final haul to a long-list of highlights this season – winning the league Best & Fairest (A. Todd Medal) and goal kicking, while also making his VFL debut.

Asked if McEvoy’s form could have AFL clubs circling the 23-year-old this off-season, Collins said “they’d be silly if they weren’t”.

“He’s come from nowhere. He’s won the comp B&F, he’s won the goal kicking, he’s got an unbelievable work rate, he’s got a massive tank, he can play high he can play deep, he can mark, he’s a good kick.

“He’d have be on someone’s radar … if they’re looking for a key forward.”

Gordon was also commendable for the Hawks, banging home four goals. While the output of midfielders Tom Miles (28 possessions) and Mitch O’Donnell (27) was indispensable, continually driving the Hawks forward with great verve and vigour.

“We had a fairly good spread, but we just didn’t have the numbers right across the four quarters,” Collins said.

The Hawks may have fallen at the final hurdle for the second year running, but Collins said overall the season had been a success.

“It was a good game. And part of it is for the development of the players,” he said.

“While a premiership in the Development [League] is good, we really value a premiership in the firsts [more].

“We’re disappointed, but we move on.”

Box Hill 13.13 (91) defeated by Williamstown 18.18 (126).

Goal Kickers: P. McEvoy 5, T. Gordon 4, J. Soccio, T. Goodwin, S. Cust, C. Cassidy

Best Players: T. Miles, M. O’Donnell, P. McEvoy, T. Goodwin, C. Cassidy, T. Gordon

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