Round 10 Match Preview

Old rivals renew acquaintances this Sunday afternoon, as the Box Hill Hawks travel across town to take on Essendon at the NEC Hangar.

Who: Essendon
Where: NEC Hangar
When: Sunday 28 May
First bounce: 1:05pm

A Little Bit of History

Box Hill and Essendon share as even a rivalry as two teams could when it comes to VFL action – though, happily for the Hawks among us, not quite even.

The overall record accounts for Essendon’s time as the Bendigo Bombers, with the head-to-head tally sitting at 15-13 in favour of the good guys – including the past two meetings by 51 and 94-points respectfully.

Essendon claimed the four meetings prior to the abandoned 2020 season by an aggregate of 33 points, though, maybe it’s worth mentioning just one of the past eight matches between brown and gold and red and black has been at Box Hill City Oval.

The sides last met in round 7, 2022, with the Hawks recording a crushing win at Windy Hill. Box Hill’s 156 points represents the highest score recorded by either side against one another and the 94-point winning margin the second greatest between the sides. 

Emerson Jeka and Fergus Greene kicked five apiece, while Sam Butler and Ben Cavarra finished with three each. 

Cal Porter and Daniel Howe combined for 61 touches and 20 clearances, while Stu Horner racked up 22 disposals – something James Parsons celebrated more than the man himself. 

2023 So Far

The Hawks notched an important win last weekend, accounting for Southport by 39-points. 

The win propelled Box Hill to third on the VFL ladder following nine rounds and ensured the brown and gold remain hot on the heels of the ladder-leading Brisbane Lions.

Though two games out of first, Zane Littlejohn’s side retain a game in hand on both the second-placed Gold Coast and top-of-the-table Lions – with matches against both in the coming weeks. 

Pleasingly for those of us of a brown and gold persuasion, the result was a consequence of an excellent and even team performance.

No Hawk tallied more than 30 disposals, while 20 reached double figures and that same number laid at least one tackle.

Hugh Beasley was named his side’s best player on the day for his blanket job on Southport spearhead Fraser Thurlow, while his co-captain Cal Porter probably enjoyed the wet, muddy and challenging conditions more than any reasonable man should on his way to 20 hard-fought touches and nine clearances. 

Young mid-season draft hopeful Ryan Maric showed his wears on debut, with the Gippsland Power product tallying 15 touches, taking eight marks and booting 2.2 in a fine individual display; a display made all the more impressive considering he’d only trained briefly with his teammates in the build up. 

To the north-west Essendon have an up-and-down start to season 2023.

Having started the year two-and-one, the Bombers have dropped the last five to slip to two-and-six and 16th on the ladder.

Aside from a 40-point reverse to Casey and a 68-point defeat at the hands of Brisbane, the red and black have been more than competitive in defeats to Collingwood by eight points, Werribee by 18-points and, most recently, Richmond by two-points. 

Having kicked out to a 28-point fourth quarter lead, Leigh Tudor’s side looked to have the points won against the Tigers in their MCG curtain raiser last weekend. 

But Richmond weren’t done for. They rallied hard and rattled home with the final five goals of the match – three of which arrived after the 23 minute mark – the snatch a narrow two-point win. 

Selection News

Senior Coach Zane Littlejohn takes as settled a line-up as he’s had all season into the match, making just two changes to the 23 which got the better of Southport last weekend.

Jack O’Sullivan and Jaylon Thorpe will miss via injury, while Harry Morrison and newcomer Clay Tucker have been named to replace them. 

Tucker’s addition to the side sees him join fellow mid-season draft hopefuls Ethan Stanley and Ryan Maric in the game day squad, with each out to make one final impression ahead of Wednesday night.

Two Special Occasions

The Hawks will debut the Club’s 2023 Indigenous Guernsey on Sunday afternoon.

The work of local indigenous artists Alkina Edwards, the beautiful and striking design celebrates the togetherness of the Club, it’s link to and place within it’s community, the hawk and Bunjil – the creator of the Wurundjeri people. 

More, the day marks Damian Mascitti’s 50th VFL appearance for the Box Hill Hawks.

Signed from Port Melbourne at the close of the 2018 season, Mascitti has starred in his time at City Oval.

A best-and-fairest winner, former captain and now backs coach, ‘Damo’ has just about done it all for the Hawks.

A sensational player, exceptional leader and wonderful teammate, Mascitti remains as reliable as ever in season twelve in the state league. 

Melrose Drive

Sunday’s match at the NEC Hangar marks the first time Box Hill will have played Essendon for points at the Club’s administrative and training base. 

The majority of the Hawks’ away trips to tackle the Dons have taken us to Windy Hill – including each of the past three meetings. 

One to Watch

How about three? A little bit has been made of the trio of Ryan Maric, Ethan Stanley and Clay Tucker ahead of next Wednesday’s mid-season draft, so each will attract their share of attention just three days out.

Maric will back up following an impressive first state league outing against Southport, in which he won 15 disposals, used the ball beautifully, took eight marks and booted two goals.

An excellent ball user with a great tank, Stanley’s trajectory has been one of the feel-good stories of 2023. A tale of patience and opportunity, the Frankston YCW product won his place on Box Hill’s list following a successful try out back in November and has willed himself to within touching distance of an AFL call-up.

As for Tucker, the 204cm big man will make his VFL debut out Tullamarine way, before maybe packing his bags for the big time shortly thereafter.

He’ll form a young and exciting ruck tandem with Max Ramsden – himself a mid-season draft pick-up. 

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 11:45am and can be found in the match hub or via this link.

Further, radio commentary can be found via our community radio partner, 3WBC 94.1FM.

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