Round 18 Match Preview

The Hawks’ three week road trip concludes this Saturday morning at Punt Road Oval, as the fourth-placed Box Hill take on the eighth-placed Richmond.

So, having accounted for the GIANTS in Sydney’s West and the Kangaroos in Melbourne’s North, Zane Littlejohn’s Box Hill are eyeing a hat-trick of away victories before returning to City Oval in a week’s time. 

Who: Richmond
Where: Punt Road Oval
When: Saturday 22 July
First bounce: 10:05am
A Little Bit of History

The Hawks and Tigers have met nine times since Richmond re-constituted it’s own reserves outfit prior to 2014, with the yellow and black holding sway in the head-to-head five wins to four.

The most recent meeting between the sides came in round eight of 2022 and saw Box Hill break a run of four successive Richmond wins dating back to the preliminary final of 2017.

On a fine yet windy day at City Oval, Hawks’ stand in skipper Stu Horner was instructed to kick into the breeze if he won the toss. As fate would have it, Stu called correctly and, without hesitation, pointed to the Bolton Street end.

While far from significant, the conditions were worth between three and four goals at a minimum and there was no guarantee the rain would stay away or the wind wouldn’t drop.

A meritorious 15-points behind at the first change, the contest looked to be on Box Hill’s terms – but the second quarter didn’t quite go to plan. The Tigers defied the script to jump out to a five goal lead after little over seven minutes of the second term.

Goals to Ben Cavarra, Jordan Cunico and Fergus Greene arrived in the nick of time and, fortunately, the brown and gold were able to salvage things to head into the long break just 14-points behind their visitors. 

Balancing a desire to score with the need to keep things tight at the back when play resumed, the Hawks dug in to sensationally win the quarter into the breeze and turn 10-points down. Game on.

So it was a sprint to the finish. Cal Porter kicked a goal from the first bounce of the fourth term. Four points down.

He buttered up five minutes later to give his side the lead. Three points up. 

Kyle Hartigan, shifted forward to stretch the Tigers’ defence, snapped a goal on his left. Nine points up.

Cavarra jagged his third two minutes later. 15-points up.

Fergus Greene added goals three and four either side of time on. 27-points up.

By the time Ed Phillips got in on the act it was game over. Box Hill had produced an electrifying eight-goal to one final term to win the day and the points.

Prior to this the Tigers’ aforementioned four match winning streak consisted of 14-point, 8-point, 47-point and 65-point wins – the last of which arrived on preliminary final day 2017.

2023 So Far

The Hawks Round 17 win saw the Club jump back into the VFL’s top four, a win ahead of fifth placed Casey and just four points adrift of Gold Coast and Werribee, who share top spot.

Behind all afternoon and in need a big last term, Box Hill recovered from copping the first goal of the final quarter to kick three on the bounce and four of the last five to snatch the lead and the points from a North team who had won six in succession.

It capped a fine run of form since the Hawks’ humbling on the Gold Coast – a run which has seen the side account for Port Melbourne, the GIANTS and now North as the ladder logjam persists and September looms large.

As for Richmond, the Tigers have had an up-and-down season. 

The first team to beat Brisbane, wins against both of 2022’s Grand Finalists, but losses to fellow top eight aspirants Footscray and Carlton, they’ve secured two after-the-siren wins and had a draw.

So, if nothing else they’ve been an entertaining watch in 2023. Last weekend they travelled north to Fankhauser Reserve and bested Southport to the tune of 13 points. Four-points down with one to play, Richmond rallied to win the last four-goals to one on the back of standout games from one-time Box Hill player Tyler Sonsie (27 touches and one goal), Tom Brown (26 touches) and Rhyan Mansell (25 touches and two goals).

A loss could see Richmond drop from 8th to 11th, while a win will further consolidate their place inside the top 10. 

Selection News

Zane Littlejohn and his match committee have made four changes ahead of Saturday’s match, re-calling Damian Mascitti, James Blanck and Lloyd Meek.

Mascitti returns having coached the Hawks’ backs last weekend, while Blanck has overcome the head knock which ruled him out of consideration at both VFL and AFL levels for a week.

Out of the side go Henry Hustwaite, Changkuoth Jiath and Jaylon Thorpe.

Jiath unfortunately aggravated a groin injury early in the win at Arden Street, while Thorpe is nursing a knock of his own and has been managed. 

One(s) to Watch

Emerson Jeka and Jai Serong have been in excellent form of late.

Jeka produced arguably his best performance of the year against the Kangaroos, teaming brilliantly with the increasingly reliable Serong in a new-look defensive set-up.

While challenged at times, the pair waxed superbly to control that part of the ground in the absence of Damian Mascitti and Hugh Beasley.

They each finished with eight marks, while Jeka finished with 15 disposals and Serong 22 in an encouraging display.

One For The Early Birds

First things first, 10:05am is an early start. No contest to that one, it’s Saturday, maybe you’ve had a big week at work and might want a sleep in, but for the footy fanatics among us there’s nothing better than a double-header. 

So set the alarm, wander down to Punt Road to take in the curtain raiser before making the short trek through Yarra Park for the two team’s AFL hit-out at 1:45pm.

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 12:00pm 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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