Hawks Topple Casey in Season Opener

The Box Hill Hawks have begun season 2024 in winning fashion, defeating the Casey Demons for the first time in five years on Sunday afternoon.

Zane Littlejohn’s men never trailed and took the honours in a slew of key statistical indicators on their way to a 41-point win and possession of all four points.

Whereas last season’s encounter was settled by Casey’s efficiency with ball in hand, this time around it was the boys in brown and gold who made best use of the ball and fashioned the best opportunities.

The Hawks finished the day +60 for uncontested possession, +67 in marks, +21 for inside 50s, +11 for scoring shots, +14 in hit outs and +7 for clearances.

Just two Hawks – Harry Morrison and Cal Brown – tallied more than 22 disposals, while 11 of their teammates had between 15 and 22 touches on the day. Nine Box Hill players kicked goals, but just two – Sam Butler and Lloyd Meek – managed more than one. 

Essentially, the plan to best the Demons was devised & executed flawlessly and while the job was far from done by quarter time, it was the Hawks’ excellent first term which set up the rest of the day.

James Parsons and Sam Butler gave their side the ideal start with back-to-back majors inside eight minutes, before Jed Rule and Lloyd Meek added goals of their own to consolidate Box Hill’s fast start.

By the time Butler added his second on 18-minutes the visitors had laid on 35 unanswered points to leave their hosts rattled and in desperate need of a steadier.

A late Casey rally netted the home side a goal, but the Hawks could be well pleased with their early efforts and a 27-point quarter time lead – a lead they managed for much of the afternoon.

Whitefriars old boy Daniel Wood kicked his first VFL goal early in the second term from an acute angle to extend his side’s lead, but it would be Box Hill’s only six-pointer of the second term. Fortunately, a sound rearguard effort restricted Casey to just two goals of their own.

When play resumed Max Ramsden goalled to settle any nerves and re-instate his side’s five goal lead, and following a 15-minute-long arm wrestle Casey’s Bailey Laurie answered back to give his side a sniff heading into time on.

But that was as close as they’d get. Max Hall and Lloyd Meek kicked back-to-back majors to shut the door and just seconds before the three quarter time siren debutant Andreas Stefanakis turned the key. The Hawks had willed their way to a 43-point lead and had just 30 minutes in which to defend it.

Truthfully, it always felt like a bridge too far for Casey, who would narrowly win the final quarter but never seriously threaten a great escape after Clay Tucker’s early final quarter goal. 

Lloyd Meek was named his side’s best player on the day – and with good reason. The AFL-listed big man was the dominant figure on the ground, amassing 15 disposals, taking six marks and driving his team inside 50 five times. He also finished his day’s work with a game-high 26 hit outs, 11 score involvements and two goals.

Smooth moving Henry Hustwaite was another to impress on his way to 22 touches. The second year Hawk was clean and controlled inside the contest, but complemented his ball winning work with an appetite to work hard winning it back. He would have a game high eight clearances – including a game-high five centre bounce clearances – all while laying a equal team-high seven tackles. 

Harry Morrison’s experience told at crucial points throughout the afternoon and the Hawthorn no.1 registered a game-high 28 touches, took nine marks and added a further nine inside 50s to his tally in an excellent first-up performance in 2024.

The key defensive duo of Ethan Phillips and Jai Serong were excellent in controlling Casey’s front half threat, and it was Serong who won particular praise for his assured performance. ‘Sez’ was a picture of composure from first siren to last, waxing well with his teammates across the last line to take seven marks and win 18 disposals. Impressively, he went at 100% disposal efficiency. 

For his part, Phillips took an incredible 15 marks. 

Sam Butler’s busy display caught the eye and his 21 disposal, three goal effort was more than enough to earn him a place among the Hawks’ best. ‘Buts’ kicked two goals in the opening term, before turning creative conduit for much of the game thereafter. A final quarter goal was no less than he deserved for four solid quarters of effort and output. 

Lastly among the winners’ best was Cal Brown. Like Morrison and Meek, the former Collingwood man was in just about everything good the Hawks managed on the day, using his ball-winning and carrying ability to devastating effect out of half back and on the move inside 50. Browns stat line was finalised with 27 touches, 11 score involvements, five marks, seven inside 50s and three rebound 50s. 

The only dampener on an otherwise excellent day was a suspected Achilles injury to returning star James Parsons. The midfielder had five touches a goal to his name when he went down mid-way through the first term and played no further part in the contest. The Club will provide an update on Parsons’ condition once scans and further assessments are completed. 

The Box Hill Hawks will be back in action next Saturday at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.

Box Hill




12.15 87





6.10 46

Meek, Hustwaite, Morrison, Serong, Butler, C Brown

Goals: Butler 3, Meek 2, Ramsden, Stefanakis, Hall, Parsons, Rule, Tucker, Wood

Disposals: Morrison 28, C Brown 27, Hustwaite 22, Butler 21, Ethan Phillips 21, Porter 21, Rule 20

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