Round 1 Match Preview

One more sleep! The Box Hill Hawks are in Sydney and eyeing the perfect start to 2023: a win against the Swans.

Read on to get the lowdown ahead of tomorrow’s massive season opener.

Who: Sydney Swans
Where: Tramway Oval, Moore Park
When: Sunday, 26 March at 10:05am

At A Glance

Box Hill come into the contest on the back of four practice matches throughout February and March.

Senior Coach Zane LIttlejohn and his assistants used tune-ups against Geelong (a two-point loss), Collingwood (a 27-point win), Williamstown (a 61-point loss) and Essendon (a 15-point win) to assess and manage a number of AFL and VFL-listed talent.

Up north Sydney prepared for their second season in the VFL with two official hit-outs, beating Brisbane in a three-quarter match simulation by 17-points, before falling to cross-town rivals GWS last week by 43-points.

The sides have played just once before. On that day it was the red and white who traveled to Box Hill City Oval and, in a powerful display, proved too strong for their hosts, running out 57-point victors. 

The Swans finished the 2022 season with a 13 and five win-loss record to place fourth come year’s end. They’d bow out of the premiership race with back-to-back losses come finals time, however, falling to eventual premier Casey first up and Box Hill’s Elimination Final conquerors the Gold Coast Suns a week later.

Despite losing to the Swans in the final round of the year Box HIll claimed eighth spot, setting up that Elimination Final defeat at the hands of the Suns on the Gold Coast.

Change at the Top

Sunday’s match will mark not only a handful of playing debuts, but the first opportunity for Zane Littlejohn and Damian Truslove to take charge of their teams for premiership points.

LIttlejohn comes to Box Hill after a stint in Brisbane with the Lions and by way of a decorated playing and coaching career in Tasmania, while Truslove, a senior coach with GWS’ VFL outfit in 2022, swapped orange and charcoal for red and white in the off-season.

The Who

As mentioned above, the Hawks and Swans will blood a string of fresh faces for the clash, with 2022 draftees Josh Weddle, Bailey MacDonald, Jack O’Sullivan and Josh Bennetts all in line to make their Box Hill debuts.

Supporting the kids will be Box Hill’s returning senior core, comprised of Co-Captain Cal Porter, Vice-Captain Stu Horner, Ed Phillips and Jaylon Thorpe; new recruit Cal Brown will also provide invaluable experience for the Hawks’ young brigade in what will be his debut for the Club.

Fellow new recruit Joel Trudgeon misses with a knock picked up in the win over Essendon, Co-Captain Hugh Beasley is working his way back to full fitness following off-season surgery and former skipper Damian Mascitti was married on Friday (congratulations Damo and Liv!) and understandably misses the match as a result. This trio is targeting a return to action after the Club’s round two bye.

For Sydney it’s much the same, with new recruits Caleb MItchell, Cameron Owen and Jaiden Magor set to feature for the first time since joining the Club, with senior support coming in the form of returning players Harry Morrison (not that one!), Jake Bartholomaeus and Nic Shipley.

One(s) to Watch

It’s hard to go past the Hawks’ reigning Col Austen Trophy winner and newly appointed Co-Captain, Cal Porter.

The self-appointed CEO of the playing group  (‘Chief Energy Officer,’ in case you were wondering) is oftentimes the Hawks’ barometer on and off-field and a reliable gauge of the intent approach of the group. Capable of winning the footy himself or performing lockdown roles on dangerous opposition mids, he’s a versatile, selfless option in the contest for LIttlejohn and company.

In the absence of Beasley he’ll lead the team out for the first time.

Cal Brown is another to keep an eye on. The ex-Magpie joins Box Hill with aspirations of winning his way back onto an AFL list and was superb in his last-start performance against Essendon.

The energetic half-back knocked up 31 touches in the 15-point win, impressing onlookers with his  composure, run and decision making. 

Lastly is the enigmatic and exciting Jaylon Thorpe. 2022 was a case of what might have been for ‘Thorpey,’ who battled bad luck and injury for the majority of the year.

Capable of playing as a tall option at both ends of the field and rucking when and where needed, a fit Jaylon Thorpe is capable of unlocking matches and match-ups for his side. 

He set tongues wagging in one of his first hit-outs for Box HIll, a pre-season match against Richmond last year. The one-time Seagull and former Blue marked everything, played everywhere and kicked five goals to underline his immense and match-winning potential.

He didn’t feature for much of the backend of his maiden campaign at City Oval, having sustained a knee injury in training, but his fit, in form and back in the frame.

How To Follow

Hawks fans can keep up-to-date with all the action via our official social media channels.

Curated match commentary will be provided on Twitter, while further coverage will be available across Instagram and Facebook.  

Where To Watch

All VFL matches can be streamed via the AFL app. Coverage of Sunday’s game starts at 10am and can be found in the match hub or via this link.

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