Richmond Match Report

Richmond have outlasted a spirited Box Hill Hawks in a seesawing, tight and sometimes testy clash at Punt Road Oval.

Both sides enjoyed three-plus goal leads at different points, trading blows figuratively and literally across four action packed quarters just three weeks out from round one of the VFL season.

The Hawks fielded a 25-man squad for the 10am start, with skipper Damian Mascitti and new recruit Jordan Cunico making their first appearances of the pre-season.

Both men would play a half as they build towards the season proper, with Mascitti featuring in the first and the former Cat the second.

The 13 AFL-listed Hawks to feature would largely represent generation next, the only notable exception being experienced key back Michael Hartley.

Aside from Mascitti and Cunico, significant inclusions were the debutant Connor Downie and recent Hawthorn recruit Lachie Bramble.

Richmond produced the fast start on their home deck, kicking three of the opening four majors of the contest to spring to a 20-7 lead mid-way through the first term.

The dangerous Conor Nash was an early headache for the yellow and black, booting his side’s first two goals of the morning on the back of clever work to find space & finish and, in the case of his second, composure in a key one-on-one deep.

Box Hill’s defensive unit began to get a handle on the Tigers’ tricky ball movement inside 50, as the likes of Mascitti, Hartley, Pepper and Grainger-Barrass gelled well to repel Richmond’s front half threat.

That solidarity was rewarded when Mitch Lewis and Emerson Jeka kicked back-to-back six-pointers to take the Hawks to the first change one goal to the good.

The big sticks were hard to come by for much of the first half of a hotly contested second quarter, as the Hawks and Tigers traded behinds from half-chances.

Jack Saunders was a lively presence across half-forward and his front-and-square work was clean and crisp, while James Cousins was getting busy inside the contest.

Mitch Lewis kicked his second after a string of repeat inside 50s, before an impressive passage of play involving strong contested grabs from Blanck, Grainger-Barrass and Lewis concluded with Vincent Adduci’s arrow-like set shot to confirm a 15-point Hawks lead.

The hosts found a quick response, but the brown and gold answered thanks to a booming right footed goal from Trent Mynott to send the sides to the changerooms separated by 14-points.

Tensions threatened to boil over in a sometimes spiteful third quarter. Despite rallying to maintain a two-goal lead at various stages thanks to the boots of Jeka and Fergus Greene, the Tigers’ four goals gave them a one-point buffer at the final change.

Unfortunately, it was Richmond who started the final term as they did the first, jumping out of the blocks to control territory and possession to establish a handy, ultimately game-winning advantage.

Encouragingly, though, the young Hawks never conceded the result. Mitch Lewis kicked his third and fourth goals of the afternoon – and only narrowly missed out on another – before turning provider for Jai Newcombe to reduce the deficit to just 10-points with two minutes to play.

From the very next centre bounce Bramble won the ball off hands and steamed towards goal. Just as he put boot to ball he was adjudged to have run too far.

That would draw a line under the day’s scoring and the final two minutes proved too few to mount a most unlikely great escape.

Box Hill’s pre-season continues next Sunday, when the Hawks host the Northern Bullants at Box Hill City Oval.

BOX HILL            4.2      7.4     9.4      12.6    78
RICHMOND         3.2      4.8     8.11   12.16  88

GOALS: Lewis 4, Nash, Jeka 2, Adduci, Mynott, Greene, Newcombe

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