Preliminary Final Match Report

The Box Hill Hawks have booked their spot in the 2018 VFL Grand Final with a gutsy one-point victory over a formidable Williamstown outfit in heart-stopping fashion – a trait becoming somewhat customary of their finals campaign.

A conclusion befitting of a contest which was tight and tough all day, the seesawing affair went well and truly down to the wire. Williamstown were unable to slot a set shot in the dying moments, as the Hawks never relinquished the lead which they held for the final term, much to the delight of the brown and gold army at North Port Oval.

However, it was Williamstown who got the fast start withJason Pongracic striking first in the opening minutes of the match; before Brayden Monk made it two just moments later.

While it took some time for the Hawks to settle into the contest, they found the response when Brayden Kilpatrick unselfishly centred the ball toward imposing target, Chris Jones, who crashed the pack and stayed in the contest to crumb the goal.

Down the other end of the ground, Kaiden Brand and Tim O’Brien continued to cement their position as a commandingdefensive duo, controlling the air and seamlessly rotating through lockdown defence and third man up; while Teia Miles and Will Hams provided the required dash to turn defensive efforts into attack.

Ollie Hanrahan continued his outstanding finals form to snap a second goal for Box Hill, but it would be Williamstown’s Nick Rodda who would have the final say of the quarter, to give the Seagulls a nine-point break.

The term that ensued would start in much the same fashion as the first, with the Seagulls quickly hitting the scoreboard through dangerous small forward Ben Cavarra, who converted the early snap.

Hanrahan returned fire with his second and fellow young gun, James Cousins, made it back-to-back goals for Box Hill. But the Seagulls would quickly follow suit, with a Jaylon Thorpe major and second to Rodda, keeping the Hawks at arm’s length.

It was a frenetic period which followed, with the Hawks threatening through plenty of possession – led by Andrew Moore and Jonathon O’Rourke – before Dylan Moore broke through with a much-needed goal to keep the Hawks in touch.

Hams then moved to cap his stellar opening half with a goal in the dying moments, to square the scoreline on the eve of the siren.

At the resumption of play, the trend of the first two terms continued as the Seagulls piled on three goals to open the second half – with two to Sam Dunell and another to Brett Bewley –stretching Williamstown’s lead to a game-high 17 points within just eight minutes.

Sensing the momentum needed to shift, Conor Glass and Mitch O’Donnell brought the physicality to the contest; while ruckman Marc Pittonet lifted to nullify the influence of Williamstown’s Nick Meese.

It was a case of role reversal when Cousins created the contest inside forward fifty and Mitch Lewis was cast as the rover, but the agile big-man did the job brilliantly to hit back for the Hawks.

Dylan Moore’s second goal made it back-to-back Box Hill majors and closed the gap to under one straight kick but as was the story for much of the day, the Seagulls found the response.

However, the Hawks would close out the term with gusto, as individual brilliance from Kieran Lovell, Dylan Moore and Anthony Brolic saw the trio each add a goal – Lovell stepping the man on the mark to convert from long range, Moore with a clean finish following a contested mark which far belied his size, and Brolic a miraculous snap across the body from the boundary line.

Resulting, a five-point Box Hill advantage with just one term to play.

The momentum continued to roll into the term that followedwith Dylan Moore, in what had arguably been his best individual performance of the year, booting his fourth goal of the day to get the Hawks off to the perfect start.

However, the Seagulls would move to respond almost instantaneously, with Oliver Tate putting another through for Williamstown as the intensity continued to lift and the Seagulls indicated that they wouldn’t be going down without a fight.

Brendan Whitecross found space in forward fifty to kick truly and extend the Box Hill lead to ten points; before Williamstown’s William Wheeler put through his second to cut the margin once more, in what was becoming a goal-for-goal term.

Brand continued to put his body on the line – his presence enormous among a defensive unit under siege – alongside the vital intercept marking and rebound of Glass and Hams.

Up forward, opportunities weren’t in short supply, but it was just four behinds which stood to show for a slew of forward fifty entries.

When J. J. Liston Trophy winner Michael Gibbons stepped to the plate to slot a huge goal for the Seagulls to close the gap to a single point approaching time-on, it seemed the Hawks may come to lament their missed chances.

Important marks to Jiath, O’Brien and Hams, the latter solidifying his best afield performance, allowed the Hawks to thwart further attack from the Seagulls and importantly,reduce the time left on the clock; before a free kick to Lewis in the marking contest set up a shot on goal that in the context of the match, may have been the biggest yet.

But it wasn’t to be and with just minutes remaining,Williamstown now had possession.

The clock ticking, sweeping transition and a strong contested mark from Jaylon Thorpe granted the Seagulls the chance to steal the lead; but fate would have it that the set shot would sail wide, with the final siren to sound mere moments laterand confirm a one-point Box Hill victory.

The effort not only pencilling in a date with Casey in the 2018 Grand Final, but locking away a brown and gold double header, with both the VFL and VFLW Hawks to battle it out for their respective silverware at Etihad Stadium next Sunday.


Box Hill




13.13 (91)





13.12 (90)

Disposals: A. Moore 26, Hams 25, Whitecross 22, D. Moore 22, O’Donnell 21

Goals: D. Moore 4, Hanrahan 2, Jones, Cousins, Hams, Lewis, Lovell, Brolic, Whitecross

Best: Hams, D. Moore, O’Donnell, A. Moore, Glass, Pittonet

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