Try telling Luke Meadows the Hawks have snuck into this year’s VFL finals series.
Box Hill was faced with the ominous task of a fortnight of crunch matches to keep its finals aspirations alive.
But in defeating the Northern Blues and Collingwood in elimination-like-affairs, the Hawks propelled themselves into a third-straight VFL finals campaign, and Meadows believes the side has found their best form when it has counted.
“The last two games have been do or die and the team has definitely embraced the challenge,” Meadows said.
“I have a lot of confidence in this group, and there is a lot of energy around the club at the moment – it’s a new season.”
“There are a few boys who won the premiership last year and have a lot of finals experience.
“Guys like Moorey and Mizz have played in VFL finals and VFL Grand Finals; they have so much knowledge about big, pressure games.
“For myself and a lot of the younger boys, they’re such a great resource to have.”
Meadows has flourished in his debut season at the Box Hill Hawks, using his 185cm frame and strong body to play every game and average 22 disposals in the reigning-premiers engine room.
As part of the leadership group, alongside Skipper Andrew Moore, Meadows has relished the opportunity to lead a young cohort of midfielders this season.
“I’ve faced a lot of challenges (moving to Melbourne), but Box Hill have been very welcoming from the coaches, to the players, to the staff,” Meadows said.
“My roles have varied throughout the year and obviously adjusting to a new system has been something I’ve embraced.”
“I’m definitely learning to enjoy my footy and knowing my role more clearly has put me in good stead.
“It’s just like everything…it takes time to adjust and get to know each other’s games. I’ve been lucky to play with a lot of talent this year, which has been nice.
“I think we have primed ourselves to gel really well in this coming finals series.
“We are peaking at the right time of the season.”
The big-bodied, contested midfielder joined the Hawks on the back of a standout season for West Perth – finishing top 10 in the Sandover Medal and culminating in a Grand Final berth.
Meadows believes he can take the lessons learned from his WAFL finals experience into Sunday’s Elimination Final.
“Hopefully.. we didn’t we have a good showing in the Grand Final last year.”
“But the learnings from that were massive for me.
“Every game is a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what your form is like leading up; finals are won and lost on intensity and effort.”
The Hawks fell to Werribee only three rounds ago, with midfielders Michael Barlow (43 disposals, 14 clearances, seven tackles) and Tom Gribble (32 disposals, ten clearances, seven tackles) running riot in the 25-point loss.
According to Meadows, Box Hill’s on-ball brigade will be better equipped to handle the Tigers midfield stars this time around.
“We are definitely embracing whatever challenge their midfield throws at us.”
“They are so strong over the footy and dish it out. They are great at spreading from the contest; that’s what they do so well.
“They’re first-class at defending, but when they attack, they go very quickly.
“If we can get our defensive mechanisms right, we believe it will be a good match.”
Box Hill will play Werribee in the first VFL Elimination Final on Sunday September 1, 2.10pm at Adcon Stadium.