Elimination Final Talking Points

As the clock at North Port Oval ticked past 20 final quarter minutes the Hawks – hosting Port in a quirk of the finals fixture – held a hard fought 18-point lead and looked odds on to return next week for a semi-final with the Cats.

When the Borough found four goals in six extraordinary minutes to take the lead it appeared as though the Hawks’ season had run its race and the result had slipped through their fingers. Enter Brendan Whitecross’ cool head, Tim O’Brien’s long kick forward, Brayden Kilpatrick’s toe poke and Olly Hanrahan’s impeccable sense of timing.

Box Hill had tied the scores with barely a second on the clock and extra time would be needed to find a winner.

Lisle’s set shot skewed right, James Cousin’s snap found its mark and Chris Jones split the middle. When all was said and done the final margin was 11-points and the Brown and Gold would sing the song before marching on.

As exciting a finish as it was, everything that happened either side was equally as compelling. Here are three talking points out of Box Hill’s Elimination Final victory.


Contests like this one tell you a lot about players as individuals and teams as a whole. For many of those in Chris Newman’s match day 23 it was their first exposure to finals football, and what an experience it was.

From well in control at half time to a kick up at the final change; from three goals in front in time on of the last to a second away from elimination. These young Hawks were given an on-the-job lesson in resilience and never-say-die footy from the Borough, and once the full time siren sounded they were given 10 minutes in which to heed it.

Throughout the course of the day the kids contributed tellingly. Olly Hanrahan and Jackson Ross each kicked two enormously important goals, whilst Dylan Moore contributed one of his own.

The Hawks’ senior coach spoke glowingly of Hanrahan, who gathered 18 touches in arguably his best game for the season, and Tom Maloney’s work rate across half forward late in the contest, and with good reason. Their willingness to run hard, harry and harass their Port Melbourne opponents all day set a platform of pressure from which the Hawks attacked.

That Box Hill managed 11 more scoring shots for an 11-point win tells its own story, but many of those were a product of repeat entries brought about by outstanding forward pressure.

Marc Pittonet’s 2018 campaign has marked him as one of the league’s best rucks and a promising prospect for the senior Hawks. The big-man controlled the stoppages to finish with 74 hit outs, 15 disposals, 6 tackles and 6 clearances. He was a supreme presence at the coalface all afternoon, his appetite to compete impressive. 

And the one percenters, there were two that spring to mind immediately. Changkuoth Jiath’s presence of mind to react sharply, stalking his opponent inside forward 50 and striking to effect a spoil set up a Hanrahan goal late on, before Brayden Kilpatrick’s toe poke at the death allowed Olly to level things up.

Two instinctive actions, in which a young player did precisely what was needed at the exact time it was needed, that proved vital in the Hawks’ win.

And, of course, James Cousins. What to say? 30 disposals, six tackles, six clearances, 10 inside 50s and the first goal in extra time. He read the conditions better than anyone on the field – kicking the ball 24 times – and took more ground than anyone. The 20-year-old has been a standout when he’s figured at VFL level in 2018 and was again one of the very best in Brown and Gold when it mattered most.


It wasn’t only the kids, though.

The skipper, Andrew Moore, was enormous from first siren to the conclusion of extra time, amassing 31 disposals, including 12 hard ball gets and 11 clearances.

In the cut and thrust of the third term, with Port having kicked five on the spin to tie the scores, Moore marked and goalled from an impossible angle. It typified his day: front and square when his side needed him.

Brendan Whitecross proved every bit the midfield utility, with the veteran winning 21 touches during stints across half forward, half back and on ball. His two goals were fine reward for effort and his poise and polish in tight pivotal in the final result. Never was Whitey’s ability to remain cool in a crisis more evident than his gather and dish that started the chain which resulted in Hanrahan’s game-saving goal.

Another who performed with distinction was Tim O’Brien. Playing key back, TO finished the contest with 22 disposals, seven marks, nine rebound 50s and four inside 50s, performing the role of sweeper and quarterback to excellent effect. Wonderful overhead and tidy by foot, O’Brien was deservedly among his team’s best.


When Box Hill and Port Melbourne met in round 15 there was something amiss. The Hawks controlled the contest from go to woah to run out 43-point victors. That’s simply not how matches between the two sides track, not recently at least.

It was the first time the two sides had met since the 2017 Qualifying Final, a match that was ultimately won by Box Hill to the tune of 13-points, but was in the balance well into time on of the fourth quarter; and barely three months removed from the Club’s scintillating round 7 draw at North Port.

There have been a string of extraordinary clashes between the Brown and Gold and Red and Blue going back as far as 2009.

The Borough got the job done in the 2009 semi-final, winning a thrilling contest by four points. Box Hill got one over their great rivals a year later at the same stage of the competition by 6 points. In 2014 Box Hill bested the minor premiers in a qualifying final en route to the Grand Final… like I said, these two don’t do dull footy.

As great as the rivalry has been for nearly a decade yesterday’s contest might well be the best of the lot, and that’s saying something.

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