An experienced Casey Demons outfit has handed Box Hill its first loss of the 2018 pre-season, running out 55-point victors on a hot and windy day at Casey Fields.
Kicking with the aide of a strong breeze in the first term, the hosts made best use of the favourable conditions to build an early lead on the back of work by familiar names such as Garlett, Tyson, Harmes, Jetta and Frost.
With Casey controlling the majority of possession and field position, defensive organisation was the order the day for a Box Hill back fifty under mounting pressure.
In a challenging first ten minutes the Hawks battled manfully to trail by just two goals. That lead would edge out to 23-points as the first quarter ticked into time on.
Newcomer Leigh Osborne was central to the Hawks’ first inside fifty of the afternoon, gathering brilliantly before the Demons’ defence scrambled to clear the danger.
Minutes later he would burst clear in the middle of the ground, run to forty and send a raking left foot kick in the direction of goal. Sadly, the wind took the ball in flight and through for a minor score.
A fourth Casey goal closed the quarter and handed the Demons a handy 31-point lead at the first change.
The second term began as the first had finished as Casey continued to probe the Hawks’ defence, though a pair of points ensured the hosts didn’t skip away.
After a long wait for a first goal of the afternoon the visiting Hawks landed a one-two punch.
First Kieran Lovell snapped beautifully on his left, before Reece Groves showed great dash to run towards and finish into an open goal.
Lovell, Mirra, Hams and Moore were getting busy and with the supporting cast all doing their bit the Hawks were back in the contest.
A third arrived half way through the term, when Stuart Horner’s work rate to close a Casey defender and Andrew Moore’s solid bump created a turnover across half forward.
With numbers around the contest and field position ours, some quick ball movement allowed Chris Jones to mark uncontested and stroll into an open goal for the Hawks’ third on the bounce, before his namesake, Harrison, put one through post high for his first of the day.
Having conceded three consecutive goals the Demons would close the half with a hat trick of their own, including one after the half time siren, to ever so slightly extend their quarter time advantage into the long break.
Not out of it by a long way, the Hawks knew defence would be key if they were to turn at three quarter time within striking distance. In a tight third term the back-fifty unit of Mirra, Brand, Horner, Parsons, Hams and more held firm to concede just the one goal.
No act typified the efforts of the team more than that of Nick Evans to sit under a high ball and take heavy contact. Having seen Mirra and Lovell transition the ball off half back, finally winning the defence some respite, Evans flew knowing he would come off second best, but that a contest would win his team the chance to reset on centre wing.
Despite losing the term, the Hawks would head for home 39-points in arrears with just half-an-hour to play.
Wiht the wind at their backs and knowing that a fast start was key to putting the pressure on Casey, Box Hill started the final term well, but despite a handful of half chances couldn’t find the major their efforts deserved.
Andrew Moore saw a set shot fade in the wind, whilst Chris Jones had two shots of his own home in on the goalpost.
When Garlett got out the back and ran into the open goal the result was all but confirmed. Whilst the effort never waned the goals wouldn’t come the Hawks’ way, with Casey finding a further two six-pointers as the match came to a close.
Box Hill 0.1 4.2 4.5 4.8 32
Casey 4.8 8.11 9.14 12.15 87
GOALS: Lovell, Groves, C Jones, H Jones