Box Hill have maintained their perfect start to 2017 and moved to a share of top spot on the back of a stirring come from behind victory at Williamstown’s Burbank Oval.
The Hawks scrambled manfully during a particularly challenging second quarter to keep their hopes alive, withstanding periods of sustained pressure and wearing the Seagulls’ best swing before making their move in the latter stages of a hard fought third term.
The first bounce was greeting by a typically tricky breeze blowing off the bay and across the field. Whilst it favoured neither end of the ground, it was clear the hosts’ familiarity with their home ground would be an early advantage.
The Hawks drew first blood when Ricky Henderson spotted the leading Ty Vickery and from the resulting set shot the Hawthorn forward made a potentially difficult forty metre kick look easy.
Early pressure was the order of the day and as a consequence clean possession was increasingly difficult to find for both sides, but Williamstown managed to navigate the congestion better to nail two goals in quick succession and assume control on the field and scoreboard.
Jonathan O’Rourke was busy in midfield and Kade Stewart showed good pace and desperation to halt the Seagulls’ forward momentum with a tackle that was potentially goal-saving.
When Harry Morrison kicked in the Vickery direction and the big man was impeded, the forward steered through his second and the margin was just one-point in time on.
Skipper David Mirra and Conor Glass kept their cool just long enough under immense pressure to deny the Seagulls a quick reply, whilst Jack Fitzpatrick floated back to lend a hand and take an important, relieving mark.
The reward for their application came from the boot of Stewart, whose clever snap had the perfect line and length to hand the Hawks a narrow quarter time lead.
Just seconds after the break Stewart tried again, but this time his kick took an off-break and bounced the wrong side of the post.
It was from here that Williamstown seized both the initiative and momentum, kicking four goals in the blink of an eye to be on the brink of breaking the game open.
Facing wave after wave of persistent attack, the defensive unit of Mirra, Glass, Morrison, Taylor Duryea, Kurt Heatherley and Ryan Schoenmakers worked tirelessly to stem the tide and, like before, relief came in the form of a much needed goal.
James Cousins showed poise and vision to find the running Miles by hand and the speedster’s finish dribbled through to re-ignite the Hawks’ hopes.
Almost immediately, Ricky Henderson added his name to the list of goal kickers via a huge roost from outside fifty. It might’ve been against the run of play, but these goals proved vital in the final result.
Despite the best efforts of the courageous Mirra, Williamstown steadied with a goal of their own. Importantly, the Hawks had hung tough and went to the main break within touching distance.
Box Hill returned to the field after half time with renewed purpose and played with an intensity and energy that brought the match alive.
Nelson Lane showed a poacher’s instinct to bounce through a clever shot from a narrow angle, but that elusive consecutive goal remained out of reach when Williamstown responded.
The hard working Will Hams began to grow in influence, as did Henderson and Duryea, and the wheel slowly turned in the visitors’ favour.
Goals from Schoenmakers and Hams bookended a glut of points, but both majors were the result of hard work and had reduced the Seagulls’ advantage to just four points with half-an-hour to play.
In the early going of the final quarter the Hawks looked to capitalise on good forward pressure and had the lead when Fitzpatrick lost his opponent and drifted forward to mark unopposed.
The old and the new, youth and experience team of Morrison and Mirra were able to successfully quell yet more attacks before another of the kids, Mitch Lewis, extended the lead to ten points with seven minutes played.
Once Ty Vickery had kicked his third the Hawks looked the more likely, but the result was sealed when Henderson sprinted clear, steadied and kicked the goal of the day from hard on the boundary line at the scoreboard end.
Duryea put the icing on the cake when he marked strongly overhead and converted to cap a fine individual display, meaning the Hawks had kicked eight goals to one in a dominant second half to run out 28-point winners.
Box Hill 3.1 5.3 8.7 13.12. 90
Williamstown 2.3 7.9 8.11 8.14. 62
Goals: Vickery 3, Henderson 2, Schoenmakers, Hams, Fitzpatrick, Lewis, Stewart, Miles, Lane, Duryea
VIC Development League
Box Hill 6.3 8.4 8.9 10.12. 72
Williamstown 3.4 9.6 11.11 13.12. 90
The Development squad suffered their first loss of the season, falling by 18-points to a fired-up Williamstown in the day’s curtain raiser.
The young Hawks started promisingly and twice held a three goal advantage during the first half, but added just two majors during a frustrating third and fourth quarters.
Goals: Maloney 2, Burt 2, Jones 2, Murphy, Haynes, Cox, Jeffs