R15 Preview: Hawks target consecutive wins

The Box Hill Hawks will be searching for their first back-to-back wins since Round 2, when they travel to Skybus Stadium to take on Frankston on Sunday.

Box Hill bounced back from its defeated to Casey last week, overcoming Geelong by 10 points at Box Hill City Oval last Saturday. The Hawks were never able to bury the Cats, despite keeping them at arm’s length for most of the match. Despite being outscored by Geelong in the final quarter – and giving up the lead at the 25-minute mark – two clutch extra-time goals from Nathan Boucher and Jackson Ross sealed a memorable victory.

Frankston was defeated at the hands of Williamstown by 62 points last Saturday. After trailing by eight points at quarter-time, the finals-bound Seagulls proceeded to kick 16 goals to Frankston’s five to cap off the win. Frankston were aided by the performances of regular contributors Will Fordham (30 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal) and Josh Newman (32 possessions, two marks, four tackles and a goal), while Goy Lok (16 disposals, four marks and eight tackles) was also impactful for the Dolphins.

The Dolphins will be boosted by prolific on-baller Nathan Freeman and talented young tall James Rendell following minor injury lay-offs. Dolphins skipper Josh Newman is enjoying a prolific year at the helm of the club he played 52 VFL games for from 2013-16. Traditionally a rebounding defender, the 24-year-old has played more time in the midfield this season and leads Frankston for total disposals (26 per game) as well as ranking in the top four for contested possessions, clearances and inside-50s. Newman still ranks second at the club for rebound-50s too.

Box Hill will be buoyed by the return of premiership ruckman Marc Pittonet this Sunday. The 23-year-old has missed the last two games after sustaining concussion in the side’s Round 12 win over Sandringham. Pittonet is enjoying an impressive season to date, averaging 37 hit outs, 16 disposals and three marks across his eight appearances in 2019. He will join fellow AFL-listed player Jon Ceglar in a two-pronged ruck attack set to take on the Dolphins. Opposed to Cats duo Zac Smith and Ryan Abbott in the ruck, the Hawthorn-listed big man produced a stat line of 24 disposals, 15 contested possessions, 10 marks and 48 hitouts (all game-highs) as well as six clearances and one goal.

Exciting defender Changkuoth Jiath has also been named to make his return, having made a speedy recovery from a fractured jaw. Expect Hawk young gun Harry Jones to continue his superb form this week. The midfielder is averaging 27 disposals, seven tackles and ten clearances the past three rounds.

As the race for finals heats up, the sixth-placed Hawks will be determined to secure a win in order to stay within touch of the top four.

Meanwhile, the 15th-placed Dolphins continue the hunt for their second win of the season.

Although sitting last on the VFL ladder, Assistant Coach Torin Baker insists his side will not be taking Frankston lightly.

“Frankston has been able to surprise at times; they have beaten an AFL side this year.”

“It will be another challenge, and we want to make sure that we continue to build on the good form that we had last week.”

“The wins at this time of year are crucial.”

“It’s a really close group of teams in the back end of the top 8. We are all jostling for positions and the more wins you get at this time of the year the better place you’re going to be.”

Box Hill will take on Frankston on Sunday at Skybus Stadium at 2pm.




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