Round 16 Match Preview: Hawks to Take On GWS

The Box Hill Hawks will jet interstate for the third and final time for the 2023 home and away season, this time to take on the GWS GIANTS in the first match of a massive double header in Sydney’s West.

Where: GIANTS Stadium
When: Saturday 8 July
First bounce: 12:55pm

A Little Bit of History

As is the case with all of the interstate teams to join the VFL post-COVID, the Hawks share little history with the GIANTS.

The two sides have played each other only once – in round 15 of 2022. On a rain sodden and wind swept day at GIANTS Stadium, it was the charcoal and orange who proved too good and too strong, running out 31-point winners.

The hosts adjusted quickly to the inclement and trying conditions to kick away early, booting six goals to one in a first term which, upon reflection, almost certainly won them the match.

Things got worse before they got better. The GIANTS edged towards a 50-point advantage mid-way through the second term, before the Hawks pegged them back before and after half-time. But the damage had well and truly been done.

Finn Maginness and Josh Ward were Box Hill’s most prolific ball-winners on the day, winning 28 and 27 touches respectively. Ward and Cal Porter would split 17 clearances, while the latter would lay 11 tackles in a fighting individual display.

As for the goal kickers? Seven individual players kicked a solitary goal, highlighted by Ben Cavarra’s classy left footed snap deep in the forward pocket. 

2023 So Far

Box Hill’s last five weeks tells its own story: good in parts, down at times, but winning more often than not.

The Hawks have gone W-L-W-L-W in this spell and another “W” is vital to keeping pace with Gold Coast, Brisbane and Werribee above. As has been the case for several weeks now, Box Hill lead a group of teams hunting a top four place, with Casey and a resurgent North Melbourne tied with the brown and gold on 36 points, but having played one match more.

Williamstown are lurking just one game back on 32 points, while a further game separates Richmond, Carlton, Collingwood and the GIANTS.

In all, the fourth placed Hawks are just two games ahead of the 11th placed GWS. So, there’s plenty on the line for both sides.

Last weekend Box Hill defeated old foe Port Melbourne to secure an important four points, controlling the game from mid-way through the first term to record a 23-point win. 

Cal Brown was excellent in winning 33 touches, while Jai Serong and Jaylon Thorpe were deployed and excelled in key defensive roles. These moves facilitated Denver Grainger-Barras’ move forward and the developing tall embraced the opportunity to kick four goals. 

The GIANTS hold a seven-and-two record on the season, having started two-and-two the team strung together four wins in succession, including a pair of heart-stopping two-point victories over Collingwood and Port Melbourne. 

Back-to-back losses to Richmond and North Melbourne followed, before GWS secured their biggest win of the campaign – a 49-point beating of 2022 runner-up Southport – and suffered their biggest loss of the season so far – a 96-point reverse away to 2022 premier Casey.

On a tough day for them, the GIANTS lost every quarter and kicked just four goals.

There’s no doubt they’re a better team than that and will be out to atone for that performance this Saturday afternoon. 

Selection News

Zane Littlejohn has made five changes to the side which won the four points a week ago.

Out of the Box Hill side goes the injured Jaylon Thorpe and Changkuoth Jiath – though its worth mentioning their absences don’t represent cause for concern – and Kye Agosta, who misses due to concussion.

Denver Grainger-Barras took his chance in the front half, booting the four goals which ultimately won him a call-up to the firsts, while Darcy Murr is the unfortunate victim of a squeeze on numbers. 

Into the side comes Tristan Waack for his first run since the win over Coburg, while AFL-listed Hawks Emerson Jeka, Lloyd Meek, Max Ramsden and Sam Butler round out the fresh faces.

One to Watch

Hawthorn’s second selection in the mid-season draft, big forward Brandon Ryan has done some exciting things in his two outings in Brown and Gold.

Four marks and 1.3 on debut on the Gold Coast, he buttered up to take eight marks and kick 0.6 last weekend against the Borough.

The takeaway? When it clicks in front of goal we could be in for something special. 

Double The Fun

As was the case when the Hawks travelled to Sydney to play the Swans in round one and the Gold Coast to take on The Suns in round 14, both VFL and AFL matches will take place back-to-back, affording interstate Hawkers the perfect opportunity to support their team from the grandstand rather than the couch. 

Be sure to put on your team colours and get down to GIANTS stadium nice and early to take in both matches!


In recognition of NAIDOC Week we’ll be wearing our 2023 Indigenous Guernsey!

The beautiful jumper was designed by local artist Alkina Edwards.

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 2:00pm 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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