WHERE: North Port Oval
WHEN: Saturday, 2:10 PM
COVERAGE: Live video stream – vfl.com.au; 3WBC radio – 94.1FM
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
Round 15, 2018: Box Hill 15.20 (110) defeated Port Melbourne 10.7 (67) at Box Hill City Oval
Qualifying Final, 2017: Box Hill 11.11 (77) defeated Port Melbourne 9.10 (64) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 18, 2017: Box Hill 8.10 (58) defeated by Port Melbourne 13.8 (86) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 7, 2017: Port Melbourne 15.18 (108) drew with Box Hill 16.12 (108) at North Port Oval
Round 12, 2016: Port Melbourne 10.11 (71) defeated Box Hill 7.13 (55) at North Port Oval
SETTING THE SCENE
The next chapter of the long-standing rivalry between Box Hill and Port Melbourne will be written on Saturday afternoon, when the two sides face off in a blockbuster elimination final at North Port Oval.
Belied by a history of tight and tough encounters, in season 2017 the two sides were impossible to split, as three battles produced each available result – a win to Box Hill, a win to Port Melbourne and a draw.
In their round 15 clash this year, it was the Hawks who took home bragging rights after booting eight of the last ten majors to steam to a 43-point victory. However, September serves up an entirely different ball game and the record will be wiped clean as each side fights to keep their finals campaign alive in the do or die clash.
Both Box Hill and Port Melbourne have a tendency to prefer free-flowing ball movement, ranked highly in uncontested possession and uncontested marks – however, finals often dish up a more contested style of football. While the Borough can take heart from the fact that they remain rated above Box Hill in both contested possessions and clearances, it has been the Hawks who have lifted their contested game in recent weeks to topple Casey and Geelong.
The match will kick off the ‘Love the Game’ Finals series, a partnership between AFL Victoria and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. The Foundation’s ‘Love the Game’ campaign reminds adults and the kids in their care that sport and betting don’t have to go together – whether a player or a fan, it’s about loving the game, not the odds.
HOW TO FOLLOW?
Hawks fans are encouraged to get down to North Port Oval to show their support for the brown and gold, with tickets costing $15 for adults and $10 for all valid concession holders, while children under 15 will be admitted for free. Tickets will be available at the gate or can be pre-purchased here.
Those unable to attend will be able to watch the action unfold on the VFL live stream, available via vfl.com.au from 2:00PM or alternatively, tune into 3WBC for a live radio broadcast.
Running commentary will also be provided by our official social channels over the course of the match; with Twitter the destination for play by play action, and Facebook and Instagram providing updates by the quarter.
Chris Newman welcomes a host of AFL-listed names into his 27-man squad; while a mix of VFL talent comprise the extended bench at his disposal, with the final make-up of the team to take the field to be confirmed prior to the first bounce.
Daniel Howe will play his first game since the senior Hawks’ round 18 match against Carlton, in an important hit-out wherein he’ll look to regain form and fitness in an effort to push his case for a berth in an AFL finals campaign.
Key tall Kaiden Brand has been named and remains an important inclusion given Kurt Heatherley’s injury enforced omission; while Teia Miles also rejoins the backline to add some extra polish.
Classy midfielder James Cousins and crafty half-back Taylor Duryea also come back after a week off.
Tom Maloney has retained his place in the match day squad, this time returning to the 23rd man position. Maloney had exhausted his allocation of four matches in that role come the final home and away match but with the count resetting for finals, will don the guernsey once more.
Box Hill skipper Andrew Moore will also be back following a suspension induced two-week break, having not missed a beat in his outstanding return last week.
Port Melbourne will be bolstered by the additions of seasoned campaigner Robin Nahas and athletic utility Daniel Beddison; while ex-Seagull Dylan Conway will also return after serving a one-match stint on the sidelines following his own suspension.
Premiership defender Damian Mascitti will look to continue his impressive comeback from an injury riddled start to the year, joined down back by Dylan Van Unen and Lucas Cook; the latter judged best afield in the Borough’s final home and away hit-out.
Vice-Captain Tom O’Sullivan will head up a potent midfield unit alongside Mitch Wooffindin and Eli Templeton; while skipper and this year’s runner-up in the Frosty-Miller Medal, Jordan Lisle, will spearhead the forward line.
HOW HAVE WE BEEN DOING?
With other results not working in their favour, the Hawks were denied the double chance in spite of an impressive victory over Geelong in the final round of the home and away season. The Hawks flicked a switch at the major break to kick twelve goals to the Cats five, hitting the lead for the first time early in the fourth quarter before answering the challenge from Geelong, to run out 21 points the superior.
The victory saw the Hawks sit sixth at the conclusion of the round, just four points shy of the coveted top four and now needing to forge a slightly more difficult path through September. However, the Hawks will draw confidence from recent form with end of seasons scalps against fellow contenders Collingwood, Casey and Geelong headlining their march toward the finals.
HOW HAVE THEY BEEN DOING?
Port Melbourne sealed a September berth when they rebounded from back-to-back losses to Collingwood and Williamstown, to account for the Bulldogs to the tune of 26 points at Whitten Oval last week. A fast start and ensuing fightback saw a dogged Bulldogs outfit close the margin to 13 points entering time-on in the final term, however continuing to find answers, the Borough were able to keep the Bulldogs at arm’s length all match. The result cemented Port Melbourne’s seventh spot on the table, concluding their season campaign with a ten and eight record to their name.
ONE TO WATCH
With an impressive strike rate of four best afield performances from twelve VFL hit-outs this year, James Cousins is a more than welcome addition to the Box Hill line-up this week.
Adding four games with the senior Hawks to his AFL tally this season, the promising youngster was rewarded for his consistent form at Box Hill, dominating the clearances and contested efforts whilst working his team mates into the game via clean and classy disposal.
Cousins adds a layer of run and polish to a side in a rich vein of form and given the forecast of inclement weather on Saturday afternoon will be tailor made for the conditions – and the high stakes of an elimination final.