The Box Hill Hawks have recorded their eleventh win on the season – their third in a row – to dislodge Williamstown from the top of the VFL ladder and move a step closer to securing the all-important double chance.
The ladder leaders travelled to Trevor Barker Beach Oval to face the tenth placed Zebras and blew their opponents off the park through three scintillating quarters of manic, disciplined and clinical football.
The Hawks started the brighter of the two sides, playing at a tempo the hosts struggled to deal with.
Inside a minute Kilpatrick scythed through the Sandringham half-back line and found the retreating Chris Jones, who would mark running back towards goal.
Although his shot found the upright, the “paddock” would be employed successfully just moments later.
Sam Switkowski timed his arrival at a pair of near-identical contests perfectly, expertly reading the ball off hands twice in as many minutes to run into the open goal.
During this period the Hawks’ forward squeeze and defensive zone was instrumental in denying Sandringham clean exits, allowing the visitors to amplify and intensify the pressure through repeat inside 50s.
Max Warren marked courageously overhead to refuse the Zebras field position and respite, whilst Anthony Brolic cleaned up at half-back and dominated his wing, clearly enjoying the freedom of his new role.
Another performing well in a new role was Mitch Lewis. Playing key position back, the young tall looked sharp, playing a proactive and attacking game off half back to read the ball better than his opponents and intercept mark.
Sandringham kicked their first of the match after fifteen minutes somewhat against the run of play, going the length of the field following a pair of Box Hill behinds.
Live-wire small forward Vincent Adduci provided the perfect response minutes later, leading out of centre half forward to mark uncontested and convert his set shot.
A second Zebras goal brought them onto the heels of the Hawks, but it would be the closest they’d get for the rest of the afternoon.
Teia Miles finished the quarter in fine fashion, snapping his first after being taken high, before adding a second following a fine spot-up inside fifty by Brolic. His two late goals gave the Hawks a well-deserved 22-point advantage at the first change.
Warren began the second term where he’d finished the first, cleaning up the dump kicks coming out of the Sandringham defence and putting them back inside forward 50. One such effort ultimately ended in the hands of Miles, with the on song small making no mistake from thirty five.
Miles’ day would get better just minutes later when he lined up the goals from thirty meters out hard on the boundary. After a couple of steps to open up the face of goal and a swing of his left leg he had his fourth with barely ten minutes played in the second quarter.
Goals to Vickery and Lane sandwiched a superb defensive effort from Kurt Heatherley, who would nullify a dangerous one-on-one, whilst Kilpatrick and Warren combined brilliantly to deny the Zebras another promising look on goal after they’d racked up a handful of behinds.
Despite sustained pressure in their attacking half, the Zebras had failed to convert and, as is usually the case, were soon made to pay.
Mitch O’Donnell used the vacant fifty to bounce a long kick through, before Chris Jones lead, marked and goalled. It was the least the Hawks’ centre half forward deserved for a strong half in which he’d worked and competed tirelessly.
That would bring a close to a quarter in which the visitors would kick six goals to nil and take full control of the contest with an hour to play.
Oliver Hanrahan showed great poise and pace to kick his first of the afternoon inside a minute of the third quarter, whilst Brolic continued to control his side of the ground in a display reminiscent of the great wingman of yesteryear. The Hawks’ number seven would have 25 touches, take 12 marks and play an leading hand in many of his side’s best passages of play.
Brayden Kilpatrick was turning in a wonderful performance following his debut last week, showing his class and pace on his way to a team-high thirty-two possessions.
Sandringham broke a chain of nine consecutive Box Hill goals shortly after, but Jones would kick his second to restore our healthy advantage before the Andrew Moore show began.
Moore kicked three goals in a little over three minutes to kill off any slim chance of a Zebras comeback.
Two quick Sandy goals restored a little respectability to the scoreline, but not before Adduci sprinted clear on the wing to set up Jones for his third, Kade Stewart intercepted a clearing kick and kicked truly on the run, Moore found Miles to kick his fifth and Vickery protected the drop of the ball to outwork two opponents and goal.
A magnificent nine-goal quarter had been brought to a close by four goals in little over five minutes, confirming a massive 86-point lead at the last change.
Perhaps that remarkable effort and taken a toll, because the Zebras finished the game much the stronger.
The hosts’ final thirty minutes were their finest of the afternoon. They would kick eight goals to two to avoid the kind of defeat many inside Trevor Barker Beach Oval might’ve feared at three quarter time.
Goals from Vickery – his third – and Moore – his fourth – weren’t the exclamation mark those in brown and gold would have hoped for, but they were the final acts on a day in which Box Hill recorded their highest score of the season, had ten individual goal kickers and sixteen players who amassed 15 touches or more.
In truth, the work had been done through three quarters by a side playing explosive, unstoppable and downright phenomenal football.
In positive news, Kieren Lovell made his first appearance of 2017 after shoulder surgery, racking up 21 disposals on return.
Box Hill 5.6 11.7 20.10 22.10 142
Sandringham 2.2 2.8 6.8 14.11 95
GOALS: Miles 5, Moore 4, Jones 3, Vickery 3, Switkowski 2, Adduci, Lane, O’Donnell, Hanrahan, Stewart.
DISPOSALS: Kilpatrick 32, Moore 29, Warren 29, Brolic 25, Mirra 22, Murphy 21, Lovell 21
AFL Vic Development League
In earlier action our Development side continued its run of positive form, posting a fifth consecutive win.
After a slow and sluggish opening, in which Sandringham controlled both possession and territory, the Hawks found their groove.
Inspired by the unlikely but devastatingly effective odd-couple of Dale Hehir and Zach Monkhorst, Box Hill were too slick, too organised and simply too good.
The forward pair were ably supported by superb contributions from Connor O’Sullivan (33 disposals) and Aaron Bond (28 disposals), who each turned in fine individual performances.
Box Hill 4.1 9.7 12.10 17.14 114
Sandringham 1.3 3.8 3.8 5.9 39
GOALS: Hehir 5, Traynor 2, Williams 2, Dimasi, O’Sullivan, Monkhorst, Firns, Abas, Cox, Walker, Godwin