ROUND 9 Preview: City Oval Blockbuster

The Box Hill Hawks are set for a blockbuster clash against rivals Williamstown on Saturday.

The Hawks will be desperate to re-join the VFL’s winners’ list and get their season back on track, having been starved of victory since Round 4.

Saturday presents the clubs first VFL and VFLW doubleheader for 2019. Both teams will play against Williamstown at Box Hill City Oval with the action kicking off at 11.30am.

This weekend is the first time Box Hill and Williamstown will face off since last season’s heart-stopping preliminary final, in which a missed set shot from Seagull Jaylon Thorpe granted Box Hill a one-point victory – on it’s way to a memorable Premiership.

Last week, Box Hill fell short to a come-from-behind Collingwood by 14 points at a blustery Victoria Park. Jackson Ross’ fourth goal put the Hawks 18-points ahead mid-way through the third term. But Collingwood surged to victory with eight of the last ten goals to record its first win since Round 1.

Meanwhile, Williamstown claimed its fifth win from seven games after they defeated Casey by 16 points at Downer Oval on Sunday afternoon. Despite suffering a four-goal-to-nil first quarter at the hands of the Demons, the Seagulls proceeded to kick eleven goals to five after quarter-time to secure the hard-earned victory.

Jackson Ross looms as a key player to watch again this week. After a bag of four goals on the weekend, the young forward sits atop the VFL Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal tally after eight rounds. With 17 goals to his name, Ross sits alongside Northern Blue Patrick Kerr and Port Melbourne’s Jordan Lisle, who has won the award twice. The 19-year-old Hawk has hit the scoreboard in all six of his appearances for Box Hill so far this year, including a five-goal haul in Round 1. His season has been underlined by an ability to make the most of his opportunities, recording only five behinds to go with his 17 majors. Expect Ross to once again be a key avenue to goal this week.

Last week Kaiden Brand was a brick wall on the last line of defence for Box Hill. In the absence of David Mirra, the key defender couldn’t stop wrapping his mitts around the ball taking a massive 19 marks (including five contested) – eight more than any other player on a weekend when conditions generally made ball control difficult. Brand looks set for an intriguing match-up on Williamstown goal machine Nick Rodda, (12 goals this season) on Saturday.

Williamstown’s Mitch Hibberd was yet again the standout performer for the Seagulls last week, leading all-comers with 31 disposals and nine tackles at Downer Oval. Hibberd’s balance between 20 contested and a game-high 12 uncontested possessions proved crucial in Williamstown spreading from the clinches as the match progressed.

Nick Meese has been herculean once again this season for the Seagulls. The bullocking ruckman has averaged 45 hitouts and six tackles per game, and will present an enormous challenge for young Hawk ruckman Ned Reeves in only his third VFL match – likely to be without the support of AFL listed Marc Pittonet.

As it stands, Williamstown sit in fifth position on the ladder, while the Hawks have slid to outside the eight in ninth position, due to two straight losses.

The Hawks generated 21 more inside 50s than Collingwood last week, however were dominated in contested possessions (171-136) and clearances (63-42) without the presence of in-form ruckman Marc Pittonet and Premiership Skipper Andrew Moore.

The Hawks will no doubt be focusing an improved intent in the midfield battle this week, along with their entry inside forward 50 that has been lacking class and composure in the club’s previous two losses.

Box Hill Assistant Coach Torin Baker explained the areas of improvement needed to secure the four-points against Williamstown on Saturday.

“While we are disappointed in only getting a draw out of the last three weeks, some of the footy we are playing is certainly high-end VFL standard,” Baker said.

“At the moment we are a bit of a sometimes footy team.”

“We need to be better with the ball and around the stoppage.”

“Should we do that, we think the results will speak for themselves.”

Anyone who arrives by half-time at the VFLW will receive free entry, after that it is a $10 ticket per person.

Box Hill will take on Williamstown at 2pm this Saturday at Box Hill City Oval.




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