Grand Final Match Report

The Box Hill Hawks have capped a stirring finals series by taking out the 2018 VFL premiership, with an indomitable 10-point come from behind victory against the season’s benchmark side, the Casey Demons.

A September campaign that will go down in history as one of the best, the Hawks rode their finals form all the way to Etihad – via a thrilling extra-time triumph over Port Melbourne, a gutsy semi-final defeat of the third-placed Cats, and a one-point heart-stopper against Williamstown.

Finishing sixth on the table, the Hawks had no second chances – but as it would turn out, they wouldn’t need one – with Box Hill the first side to be crowned the ultimate victors from outside of the top four, since the introduction of the final eight.

But if the Hawks had learned anything from the past month, it’s that it wouldn’t come easy.

Casey jumped out of the gates quickly, booting the first four goals of the game as Mykelti Lefau, Tim Smith, Jay Kennedy-Harris and Cory Machaya hit the scoreboard for the Demons.

It wasn’t just the attacking end that was getting the job done for Casey, with their defensive unit controlling the air, the dominance of Harrison Petty and Declan Keilty ensuring that Box Hill would register just a single minor score approaching time-on.

Box Hill’s most promising passage of play came when Changkuoth Jiath, whose energy couldn’t be questioned, read the play best to intercept a Casey rebound with pace, before dishing to Dallas Willsmore who found Jackson Ross on the lead. With the set shot converted, it was a 21-point margin which stood at the first break.

The momentum for Casey continued to roll when play resumed, however the Hawks’ defensive six stood tall – with Norm Goss medallist, David Mirra (18 disposals, 8 marks and 7 tackles), resuming his position down back – to impressively withstand the pressure and turn the term into an arm wrestle.

Ten minutes passed without a major score, before Dylan Moore broke the drought to put through his first of the day, and continue his brilliant individual finals form.

Tomas Bugg hit back with a quick response for Casey, to make it one goal apiece in the second term, before Moore again stepped up to the plate to kick a crucial goal after the siren, cutting the margin to a surmountable 17 points at the major break.

While Box Hill had worked their way back into the clash, led by Marc Pittonet (57 hitouts) in the ruck duel, James Cousins (16 disposals and 7 clearances) in the contest and Will Hams (19 disposals and 5 rebound fifties) off half back, the Hawks undoubtedly needed to make further inroads on the scoreboard.

However, it would be Casey’s Jay Lockhart who would open the scoring in the second half, off the back of a pinpoint pass from veteran, Bernie Vince, to push the margin back out to over three goals.

Box Hill refused to surrender, a Mitch Lewis major due reward after presenting strongly all day, but bookended by behinds, as the Hawks had their chances but were chipping away at a looming deficit the hard way.

Instinctive play from Willsmore followed, getting his long range shot on goal off just prior to being claimed in a tackle and splitting the middle, to make it back-to-back Box Hill goals and slicing the margin to just seven points.

A steadier from Demon, Cam Pedersen, pushed it out once more; and while the momentum felt like it was with the Hawks, Casey were consistently able to find answers to cling to their advantage.

The tempo at Etihad continued to rise, led by the tackling pressure of Mitch O’Donnell (18 disposals and 5 tackles) and Brayden Kilpatrick (15 disposals and 6 tackles), before Ollie Hanrahan found himself on the end of a handball chain, and executed a difficult finish.

An opportunistic goal off the back of the pack from Casey’s Angus Scott made it a goal for goal period; a trend which remained when Tim O’Brien flew highest in a three on one contest and finished his work.

Mirra would have the final say of the term, continuing his backline dominance with his intercept marks putting a stop to several Casey forward thrusts; the final moments of the quarter best highlighting just how pivotal Chris Newman’s opposite ends switch between the former skipper and O’Brien had been.

After slowly eroding the deficit which had stood all day, the Hawks trailed by just nine points with a quarter of football between them and the silverware, and were going to need to dig deep if they were to claim it.

And that, they did.

Chris Jones had two to beat, and while he may not have done it in the air, it was his desperate diving second effort which secured the hard ball, before the big-man dished to his skipper, who finished the job. The Andrew Moore (16 disposals and 6 marks) major reducing the margin to the finest it had been since the game’s opening minutes and making the next goal match-defining.

And that match-defining goal would belong to the Hawks.

Box Hill secured the lead for the first time in the game at the 13-minute mark of the term, through first class ruckwork by Pittonet servicing Kieran Lovell, who finished on the run.

A lead which the Hawks would not relinquish for the remainder.

The experience and level head of Brendan Whitecross shone, particularly in the latter stages, the seasoned campaigner winning several crucial contests; while an inspirational Anthony Brolic smother in the centre of the ground brought a halt to a last gasp forward effort from the Demons and in the context of the match, perhaps sealed victory.

A third goal to Dylan Moore pushed the margin to ten points, which would stand when the final siren sounded to the jubilation of players, staff and fans alike; the concluding scoreline 10.12 (72) to 8.14 (62).

The result cemented a monumental occasion for the brown and gold, with the VFLW Hawks emerging 13-point victors earlier in the day.

Two outstanding team efforts and two resulting premierships.

Box Hill




10.12 (72)





8.14 (62)

Disposals: Hams 19, Mirra 18, O’Donnell 18, Brolic 16, Cousins 16, A. Moore 16, D. Moore 16

Goals: D. Moore 3, Ross, Lewis, Willsmore, Hanrahan, O’Brien, A. Moore, Lovell

Best: Mirra, D. Moore, Pittonet, Hanrahan, Cousins, O’Brien

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