Hawks cruise past Bendigo

By Callum Godde

It had an air of David and Goliath about it, only this time Goliath would win the day.

Winless after 16 games, Bendigo Gold was looking to cause an upset of biblical proportions against Box Hill on Saturday – but it wasn’t to be.

An eleven goal first half helped Box Hill to cruise past the embattled Bendigo club to record a 63-point win, at Box Hill City Oval.

The comfortable victory now guarantees the Hawks a place in the top-four, and a crucial double chance come finals in two weeks time.

Hawthorn’s Sam Grimley was in rare form for Box Hill early on, with four of the Hawks’ eleven goals at half time coming from his boot. The 23-year old eventually finished with six majors, in a best-on-ground performance.

Grimley was treated to the sublime service throughout the afternoon from a Hawks’ midfield consisting of Brad Sewell, Billy Hartung and Mitch Hallahan.

Grimley’s six-goal bag takes his tally to 31 this season – four off Port Melbourne’s Daniel Connors – and keeps his chances of finishing as the competitions leading goal kicker this season alive, however slim.

Impressive as Grimley was in front of goal, his aerial presence was arguably even more striking; as the mobile forward made a repeated habit of climbing above those brave, or silly, enough to try to stop him.

Box Hill coach Marko Bello acknowledged Grimley’s pure class. And in more good news for Hawthorn supporters ominously declared that the youngster – who debuted last season – still had another gear to call upon this September.

“In terms of his goal scoring today, he [Grimley] was certainly a real livewire up there. He continued to hit-up and did everything we asked of him,” Bello said.

“He still needs to do some work [on his game] when the opposition’s got the footy. So there are still areas that he needs to work on.

“Hopefully that gives him a lot of confidence going into his next month of footy.”

Although Box Hill was never threatened by Gold, the Hawks didn’t have it all their own way.

After the main change, the Bendigo club – who is set to fold at seasons end – began amicably eating into the Hawks 56-point half-time lead. Astoundingly, after two terms of Hawks dominance, Gold won the third term kicking three goals to one.

Bello said he was happy with the win, despite the third quarter drop-off.

“They’re difficult games those ones. Everyone’s expecting a 100-point win and probably anything less you’re not satisfied with,” Bello said.

“But I thought our first-half was, probably, some of the best football we’ve played all year. And look, Bendigo weren’t just going to roll over.

“They came out and made it a contest, and maybe our guys came out a little bit lacklustre in that second-half. But again, our systems were good. It was probably just more a lack of effort and intent rather than anything else.”

Additionally, Bello credited Bendigo for exploiting his side’s momentary lapse of concentration.

“You only need one guy to be off the boil [and everybody follows],” he said.

“And vice-versa [for Bendigo], they [Gold] just needed one or two guys to step up and they did that. So all credit to them.”

Order was restored in the fourth term though, as the Hawks cancelled out Bendigo’s mini-resurgence, booting four goals to two – making it five apiece for the second half.

“I think in that last quarter we finished off the way we would of liked, but you’ll take a 10-goal win any day,” Bello said.

“I think if we know we’re doing everything right there’s not to many teams who can go with us.”

The solid win was capped off beautifully when debutant Nik Papadopoulos, channelling North Melbourne legend Malcolm Blight circa 1976, thumped an extraordinary 55-meter torpedo home after the siren.

“He [Nik Papadopoulos] was the inclusion this week as the ‘23rd man’, and it was fantastic for him to get that last goal,” Bello said.

“He provides a little bit of x-factor for us and he showed that with his last kick. He’s got some zip, he’s got some character about him and hopefully we get to see a bit more of him in the future.

Box Hill will take on 11th placed Northern Blues next Saturday in the clubs last Home and Away game before embarking on its quest for back-to-back VFL flags.

“We need a good hit out. Everything we’re doing is in our power and it’s all about making sure our systems and structure are right,” Bello said.

“Northern Blues is going to be a good hit-out for us, so it’s the perfect lead in to finals.”

Box Hill 16.17 (113) defeated Bendigo Gold 7.8 (50)

Goal Kickers: S. Grimley 6, J. Sicily 2, M. Hallahan 2, L. Lowden 2, J. Ceglar, X. Murphy, N. Papadopoulos, S. Collins
Best Players: S. Grimley, M. Hallahan, J. Sicily, S. Iles, B. Sewell, W. Hartung

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