MATCH REPORT: Hawks push Sharks to the end

Box Hill have gone down to the St Kilda Sharks by 39 points at Box Hill City Oval, but not before giving the 2016 preliminary finalists a massive scare.

Trailing by five goals at half time, the Hawks turned on their best performance of the season thus far in the third quarter. Winning the ball, using it well and putting the St Kilda defence under extreme pressure, Box Hill slammed on 3.2 to a solitary goal to not only bridge the gap to 18 points but also win a quarter for the first time. The match was still very much in the balance with ten minutes to go in the last quarter before the Sharks were finally able to wrest back control and shut the door on their dogged opponents, winning 10.13.73 to 5.4.34.

With Pip Peschke, Lauren Costello and Brodie Watts all making their debut in the brown and gold, Box Hill had extra impetus to perform. The match was played in superb conditions and it was the Hawks who burst out of the blocks early with former Shark Emily Gilder snapping the opening goal and Emily McIlvena slotting a major on the run. Box Hill’s aggressive ball movement made the Sharks look sluggish and Watts was combining with Abbey Tanner to give Mel Kuys, Emma Mackie and Peschke first use of the ball.

However, once St Kilda got on top in the second quarter they pushed through the Hawks’ structures to find space in the forward line. Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jasmine Garner and Sarah Chapman worked the Box Hill defence overtime as they bombarded the goals with only poor goalkicking limiting their half time buffer to 30 points.

Many of the watching home crowd must have wondered what shots the fledgling Hawks had left to fire in the second half but the Box Hill of the third quarter was unlike any team their fans had yet watched. The turning point was a massive collision between Mackie and the pugnacious Clare O’Donnell in the opening minute that saw the teammates leaving the ground with bleeding heads but galvanised their team. First, Kuys burned off her tagger to bang through a long goal in an open forward line. Rosie Dillon then capitalised on a textbook tap from Tanner to kick her first and her side’s fourth, giving them a new record high score. Before the quarter was over, Gilder would show a clean pair of heels to kick her second and bring the crowd to life as they sensed that a boilover was on the cards.

It was not to be with Amy Catterall and Jasmine Garner snuffing out the Hawks’ chances with five minutes to go. The brave Box Hill left the field with their heads held high. Their loss had nonetheless brought several significant firsts: it was the first time the Hawks had won a quarter and the first time players had kicked multiple goals in Kuys and Gilder.

“We were able to use some hit-ups and we took more marks Inside 50,” reflected coach Pat Hill. “We provided some really exciting footy for the fans to watch.”

Box Hill face fellow winless side the Cranbourne Eagles at Box Hill City Oval next Sunday from 11am.

Box Hill          2.1       2.2       5.4       5.4.34
St Kilda
           3.0       6.8       7.8       10.13.73
Goals – Gilder 2, Kuys, R Dillon, McIlvena.

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