Round 14 Match Preview

The fourth placed Hawks take on the ladder-leading Suns on Sunday afternoon, fresh off a bye and keen to test their mettle against an in form and dangerous opposition. 

Who: Gold Coast Suns
Where: Heritage Bank Stadium
When: Saturday 25 June
First bounce: 12:55pm

A Little Bit of History

The Suns only joined the VFL in 2021 and, in truth, the first meeting of the sides – in round 12 of 2021 – was a COVID-affected affair. Relying on top-ups, a gallant and undermanned Gold Coast side made the journey to City Oval and were defeated by 72-points.

Given the relative strengths of the two clubs on the day the margin was about par.

There were no excuses or caveats when the Hawks and Suns next met, however, with the visiting boys in brown and gold securing a rollicking and rousing 22-point win in round 10 of 2022.

The teams wasted no time getting reacquainted, splitting 12 goals in breathless first term. When the Suns kicked four without reply it looked for a moment like they might kick away. 

But a late Box Hill fight back, underlined by goals to Fergus Greene and Brady Grey, cut the deficit from three goals to just two-points to set up a massive second half.

When play resumed the Hawks kicked four unanswered goals to edge out to an 18-point advantage, but it was Gold Coast’s turn to dig in to keep the contest alive and that’s what they did. 

With Box Hill 13-points to the good with one to play, crucial goals from Jackson Callow and Ben Cavarra opened the term and edged their team closer to victory. In the end it was Box Hill’s day. 

Ultimately, Alex Sexton and Chris Burgess each kicked four goals for the hosts, while Fergus Greene and Callow chimed in with four apiece for the winners. 

The win was smack-bang in the middle of a five match winning streak for Box Hill and, upon reflection, symptomatic of the Hawks’ best football in 2022. Damian Mascitti was the Hawks’ most prolific ball-winner with 26 touches and was one of only four men in brown and gold to eclipse 20 disposals. 

If I’m being entirely truthful, I don’t really want to think about the Hawks’ second trip to the Gold Coast in 2022.

But for the sake of this write up I will. 

In front mid-way through the second quarter, Box Hill couldn’t resist a Suns’ surge either side of the half-time break and trailed by five goals entering time on of the third quarter. 

Running out of time and in need of a goal, it was first-year half forward Max Hall who found himself cast in the role of game changer. The former Eastern Ranges product kicked two in as many minutes to hand the Hawks a lifeline and rein the Gold Coast’s lead into a manageable 14-points at the last change.

The Suns’ Josh Corbett gave his side the perfect start to the last term when he goalled inside the first minute, but Hall’s third of the match again kept the game alive. Corbett’s third made things difficult, but Fergus Greene kicked his third and fourth goals of the night to set up a grandstand finish.

10-points in arrears with 10 to play, the Hawks couldn’t manufacture the all-important next goal, with those chances falling to Corbett and Burgess to ensure the Suns survived to advance to a semi-final. 

Mascitti again lead his side in disposals, racking up 29 touches, while Daniel Howe and Liam Shiels finished their time in brown and gold with 24 and 21, respectively.

2023 So Far

Box Hill’s last-start defeat of Brisbane was arguably our best result and performance of the 2023 campaign. In a superb showing against an excellent opposition, the Hawks trailed for just 15-minutes and controlled nearly all facets of the contest en route to a 19-point win. Our reward? Four points and a week-off.

It was the perfect response to a disappointing final quarter fade out the week prior against Williamstown. Box Hill lead at the last change but succumbed to a sensational final term from the visiting Seagulls to record just our second loss of the year.

The Suns started their third season of VFL action by winning seven on the spin – including back-to-back wins over last year’s grand finalists Casey and Southport.

Their only blemish through 11 matches came at the hands of the in-form Werribee, but even then the table topping Gold Coast had three more scoring shots in a two-point road loss.

They bounced back from this defeat to win each of their next three matches, accounting for the Bulldogs, Port Melbourne and Northern Bullants by kicking 21, 17 and 22 goals in successive weeks.

Their last-start win over the Bullants, a 122-point demolition job in which they fielded 21 AFL-listed stars, was their greatest since joining the VFL. 

The Suns average a league best 117 points for per match, while also restricting their opponents to a miserly 66-points – good enough for the competition’s fifth best defence. So, it goes without saying they’re in form.

Ultimately one game currently separates first and fourth. Two separate first and sixth. A further two games cover sixth and 14th. Things couldn’t be better or more intriguingly placed. 

Selection News

Zane Littlejohn and his match committee have made three changes to the side which bested the Lions a fortnight ago, re-calling Bailey MacDonald and Jaylon Thorpe – who leads the Club’s goal kicking, despite not featuring since the round nine win over Southport.

In an exciting development, Brandon Ryan, Hawthorn’s second pick in the recent Mid-Season Draft, will make his debut in brown and gold.

Ryan had been the Northern Bullants’ most prolific forward, booting 17-goals in his seven matches to date. 

Given three additions means three omissions, forward-ruck Lachie Wynd has been squeezed out on balance, while Emerson Jeka and Jack O’Sullivan have each been sidelined with knocks. 

One to Watch

I’m almost certain I’ve used Jaylon Thorpe as our ‘one to watch’ before, but given we’ve been without him for a month I’m pretty rapt he’s back.

The beauty of ‘Thorpey’ is his versatility. Need some goals? Throw his magnet forward and give him something to run and jump at. Need someone to take some ruck contests? No problems, he can do that, too. Want an option in defensive 50 to curtail a marking forward? He’ll probably make a pretty good fist of that, too.

He’s exciting, enigmatic and downright fun to watch play footy. It’s really that simple. 

Or maybe Damian Mascitti. No Box Hill Hawk has tallied more possessions against the Suns than Mascitti’s 84 and the classy utility has lead his side for disposals in all three of the sides’ previous encounters. 

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 12:50pm 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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