Hawks Fall Short In Qualifying Final

The Box Hill Hawks will have to go the long way around if they’re to claim a fourth senior VFL premiership – a challenge the playing group and coaches will no doubt embrace.

Defeat at Werribee on Saturday means the Club will require the second chance a top four finish afforded the group, and has set up a do-or-die semi-final against a resurgent Footscray next weekend.

The Hawks never wanted for effort or application on what was a difficult day, but nonetheless left Chirnside Park with few clear cut winners. In fact, just one Box Hill player – Cal Brown – recorded in excess of 20 disposals, while the team’s total of 285 touches fell well short of their season average of 371.

Ultimately, it was Werribee’s fast start which proved decisive, as the hosts booted the first three of the afternoon to establish a lead they would manage for the rest of the contest.

The brown and gold would threaten at various points and drew to within single digits on a couple of occasions, but kicked consecutive goals just once and were made to rue an inaccurate first half in which 11 scoring shots yielded just 2.9.

A strong second quarter was both encouraging and frustrating. Having settled in the final stages of the first term, the Hawks set about making ground and attacked time and again for a return of just 1.5. 

It was arguably the brown and gold’s best period of the afternoon – save a six minute spell which returned three goals in the third quarter – but connection ahead of the ball and efficiency inside 50 remained an issue. 

When you assess the raw numbers, Box Hill could and probably should take a ‘glass half full’ approach to what was no doubt a disappointing performance and result.

Despite the poor start and inability to control the ball, the Hawks won 10 more clearances, laid 12 more tackles and went inside 50 on two less occasions than the Tigers – while conceding 23 more marks and 47 more total disposals.

Furthermore, despite the stilted nature of their play and issues forward-of-centre, Box Hill lost the second quarter by four points, the third by one point and the final term by three – footy is often a game of fine margins, after all – but in each of quarters two, three and four, the teams were separated by a solitary kick. 

While credit must go to an excellent Werribee side, who it must be said were deserved winners on the day, Box Hill are a better outfit than this performance would indicate.

Cal Porter was named his side’s best following a superb lock-down role on the excellent Shaun Mannagh. Arguably the Tigers standout player, Mannagh had six touches and kicked a goal in the first term, but would tally just five more disposals for the day.

The tall duo of Max Ramsden and Jacob Koschitzke were also impressive, splitting ruck and forward duties throughout the afternoon.

Ramsden and Koschitzke were the second and third highest rated Hawks on the ground and competed tirelessly in the contest and ahead of the ball.

The former tallied 14 touches, had four inside 50s, took three marks and won three clearances; while the latter had 11 touches, three inside 50s, five marks, four clearances and kicked a sensational goal early in the final term.

Ed Phillips was another to be named one his side’s better players, working hard all day on a ground which doesn’t suit traditional wingman owing to it’s shallow wings. Phillips took six marks, laid three tackles and won three clearances in a strong showing inside the contest and, when he could manage, as an outlet on the spread.

In defensive 50 it was the tall pair of Denver Grainger-Barras and Emerson Jeka who won acclaim from their coaches, forming part of a stout rearguard action which fought tooth and nail to keep their side in a low-scoring game.

Grainger-Barras took six marks, produced four rebound 50s and laid two tackles; while Jeka hauled in a game-high eight marks, tallied 16 disposals, laid two tackles and restricted the dangerous Josh Porter to a solitary goal.

The Hawks will reset and regroup ahead of next weekend’s match-up with Footscray, with the day and date of this fixture to be confirmed in due course. 

Box Hill

1.4

2.9

5.11

8.12 60

Werribee

3.4

5.7

8.10

11.14 80


Best:
Porter, Ramsden, Koschitzke, Phillips, Grainger-Barras, Jeka

Goals: Thorpe 2, Ryan 2, Stephens, Koschitzke, Greene, Butler

Disposals: Brown 22, Long 19, Bramble 17, Mascitti 16, Jeka 16, Ramsden 14

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