Qualifying final preview – Port Melbourne v Box Hill

By Callum Godde: Photo by Jenny Owens

It’s the culmination of countless hours spent on the paddock, in team meetings and travelling to and from training, but once you earn the right to play in September it begins to seem more and more like time well spent.

16 teams have been cut to eight, and another two will make a premature exit this weekend as the 2014 VFL finals series kicks off. However; the Box Hill Hawks will not be one of those jettisoned.

A top-four finish from the Hawks ensures Box Hill club have an enviable safety net – in the double chance – at their whim, should they falter and fall against minor premiers Port Melbourne on Saturday. But they will be hoping the safety net is merely a precaution and ultimately not a requirement.

Box Hill takes some strong form into first final since its famous 21-point win over Geelong to claim the 2013 VFL premiership. The Hawks have only dropped one of their last six and are flying high, trouncing the Northern Blues by 129 points last week.

However beating the Borough – who finished two games clear on top of the VFL ladder – will be no mean feat as, under the guidance of Hawthorn legend Gary Ayres, Port Melbourne have remained unbeaten since Round 10.

If the two teams’ Round 8 encounter earlier this year is anything to go by it’ll be close – as the Borough withstood a late charge from the Hawks at home to win by seven points.

After the close loss, the Hawks’ first of the season, Box Hill senior coach Marko Bello attributed the result to his side having to play catch-up football.

“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.

“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”

Playing Box Hill style football will be one facet Bello must re-address, if the Hawks aim to clinch a preliminary finals birth the easy way.

Port Melbourne, like Box Hill, executed its own perfect finals tune up against North Ballarat on Saturday, thumping the Roosters by a not-so-paltry 111 points.

Oddly enough, after battling it out for the ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal across the city in the dying embers of the home and away season, the competitions joint leading goal-kickers Sam Grimley (Box Hill) and Dan Connors (Port Melbourne) will go head to head – albeit at opposite ends of the field.

Grimley stormed home to share the prized medallion with the former Richmond player, after booting an astounding 13 goals in his last two games.

We invite all Hawks supporters to North Port Oval on Saturday, to cheer on Box Hill as the club takes its biggest step to date in going back-to-back in season 2014. Game commences at 2.10pm.

Go Hawks!

 

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