MATCH REPORT: Darebin too strong for Hawks

Box Hill were outclassed by reigning VFL Women’s premiers Darebin in Round 6 at Northcote Park, falling by 66 points in a contest that the Falcons took control of in the second quarter and never relinquished.

After a string of strong performances against more-fancied opponents, the Hawks were required to take their game to the next level against Darebin.

Already hallmarks of their game, Box Hill’s clearance dominance and speed inside their forward half combined for Emily Gilder, fast becoming one of the most dangerous small forwards in VFL Women’s, to goal in the first minute. However, it was a false dawn for the Hawks as the Falcons turned the tide of clearances and began to pepper the goals. Darebin kicked three in five minutes before quarter time and it would have been more were it not for the defensive efforts of Olivia Flanagan and Ebony Nixon.

In the second quarter, Darebin implemented a superb press across their half-forward line and Box Hill’s efforts to repel came to nought. For the first time in a long time, the Hawks seemed at a loss. With Karen Paxman orchestrating the Falcons’ dominance out of the middle and Lauren Arnell ferreting around the forward line, Box Hill’s defence was pushed to the limit. Strangely, the resilience of Sarah Yule and Joelle Metres and Darebin’s inaccuracy (they kicked 2.5 despite having all the play) limited the Falcons’ lead to just 30 points on the stroke of half time. When the Hawks finally burst through for Gab Mahoney to mark and goal, the margin was a merely fair four goals and many must have wondered if Darebin had missed a chance to put the new kids on the block away.

However, the Falcons straightened the sights in the third quarter and stormed all over Box Hill. Arnell (two), Lauren Pearce (two) and Aasta O’Connor piled on the goals as the Hawks were left rueing poor disposal coming out of defence.
Box Hill turned to the final quarter trailing by 54 points – for the first time since their Round 2 clash with the VU Western Spurs, the task was beyond them. To the Hawks’ credit, they ground the Falcons’ scoring to a halt even as Darebin’s midfield continued to put them under pressure. Lauren Costello and Jayde Van Dyk stood out as the Hawks conceded a solitary goal in the last quarter.

The Hawks walked off Northcote Park comprehensively beaten but far from humbled. The margin could have been more as the pressure of Box Hill’s defenders prevented the Falcons from scoring with impunity, yet it could have been much less. Tamara Luke led her side admirably after Mel Kuys was a late withdrawal and Chantella Perera once again proved herself in a run-with role as she kept mainstay Darebin forward Darcy Vescio to a single goal.

Box Hill return home to face ladder-leaders Diamond Creek next Saturday from 1pm at Box Hill City Oval.

Photo: Kadek Thatcher Photography

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