Port Melbourne inflict Hawks first loss

Port Melbourne snatched top spot in the VFL from the Hawks on Sunday, running out seven point winners in front of an estimated two thousand spectators at Box Hill City Oval.

The result was Box Hill’s first loss of the season and sees the Hawks slip to second on the ladder.

Billed as a blockbuster, this top of the table clash did not disappoint. The crowd treated to end-to-end football, with both teams trading blows throughout.

It was Port Melbourne who withstood the barrage the better.

Alex Woodward’s excellent recent form continued; a game-high 26 disposals to do his bid for a senior debut no harm. It would be a fantastic feel good story should the lively midfielder receive a tap on the shoulder midweek, after being plagued by a chronic knee injury since joining Hawthorn via pick 53 in the 2011 draft.

A sluggish start from the Hawks allowed the Borough to race out to a three-goal lead before Marco Bello’s men had barely blinked. It took until the 19th minute mark of the third term to square the ledger – a behind from Ayden Kennedy leveling the scores.

However – in a nod to the day’s reoccurring motif – Port Melbourne were again able to repel Box Hill’s advance by finding a goal when called upon.

A nail-biting finish beckoned, with two miserly points separating the two teams at the final change.

But consecutive majors to Port’s Rowe and Sullivan gave the visitors some breathing room, and despite anxious late moments, the Borough boys hung on.

Box Hill senior coach Marco Bello expressed his frustration at being unable to arrest his team’s first quarter lapse.

“They [Port Melbourne] kept on pushing and got three or four goals ahead at times, we came back… but we could never really hit the front”, he said.

While Bello was undoubtedly disappointed, he also credited Port Melbourne’s resolve to come away with the four points.

“They’re a strong side – they’re a very physical side and smart side. They were able to dictate terms a lot and in the end we weren’t able to get over the line”, he said.

Box Hill had its fair spread of contributors, with 11 individual goal kickers; a hearting sign for Bello.

Other sliver linings, from the Marco Bello playbook, included the deployment of Ayden Kennedy up forward. As the former North Melbourne draftee flashed his swingman credentials, when setting up two goals and thumping a 55-meter monster home off one step.

“Ayden [Kennedy] can play across all lines and we thought with Cheney coming back that we had that bigger bodied defender covered.

“We looked for Ayden to go forward and create some goals and take some marks, he’s got a good long kick on him too.

“Whether it worked or not, obviously in the end the scoreboard doesn’t say so, but if we had kicked a bit straighter and been a little bit more effective going forward it could have been a different story”, Bello said.

In addition, the coach made mention of the performance of small forward Sam Cust, the youngster finishing with an eye-catching 18 possessions and two goals.

“Forward pressure is what he [Cust] prides himself on, and if he can get rewarded… which he did with a couple of goals today, he’s had an all round game.

“I’m really pleased for him, because he’s worked really hard in the development league and I’m glad he’s stringing some form together”, Bello said.

Box Hill had its fair spread of contributors, with 11 individual goal kickers a heartening sign for Bello.

“Obviously that’s in the past and we can only concentrate on [the game in] a couple of weeks time”, he said.

The Hawks go into the two-week break at six wins, one loss and a draw.


Box Hill 13.14 (92) defeated by Port Melbourne 15.9 (99)

Goal Kickers: S. Cust 2, S. Collins 2, T. O’Brien, A. Franetic , L. Andrews , X. Murphy , M. O’Donnell , B. Ross , L. Lowden , A. Kennedy , S. Grimley

Best Players: A. Woodward, L. Andrews, B. Ross, S. Cust, Z. Webster, S. Iles

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