The Box Hill Hawks have taken another crucial step on their path toward September, knocking off fellow top-four contender Collingwood, in a contest that went down to the wire at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday afternoon.
In a game of momentum, the two sides exchanged the lead at each break before the Hawks stormed home against the breeze to sneak two late goals and steal a seven-point victory.
It was the Magpies, however, who got the fast start, putting the first two majors of the match on the board courtesy of skipper Jack Hellier, before Callan Wellings quickly followed with another.
First use granted by Marc Pittonet and a fierceness at the contest from inside midfielders Andrew Moore and Jonathon O’Rourke saw the intensity lift, before forward fifty pressure by Will Langford was rewarded, with the experienced campaigner slotting the reply for Box Hill.
Two more goals would follow, with a quick handball from Changkuoth Jiath to Conor Glass allowing the Irishman to steady off two steps for a classy finish from beyond fifty; while Langford roved the loose ball off the hands of the pack to perfection, to put through his second just before time-on.
A 13-point Box Hill lead stood at the changeover, but the Magpies began the second term in much the same fashion as they did the first, with back-to-back goals to Sam McLarty and Jarryd Blair seeing the black and white reclaim the lead.
Collingwood capitalised on their chance with the breeze, piling on five unanswered goals, including a second to both Hellier and McLarty, as well as another to Lachlan Tardrew, set up by the sheer determination of ex-Hawk Alex Woodward, who had well and truly stamped his name on the contest thus far.
A Jackson Ross goal launched from mid-air was a lone piece of brilliance for the term, which closed the gap to 24 points approaching the major break.
A strong message delivered by senior coach Chris Newman saw a revitalised Box Hill outfit take to the field at the resumption of play.
Pittonet continued to make his presence felt, dominating the ruck contest on his way to another performance in excess of 60 hit-outs, as well as providing a strong target around the ground.
It was a searching kick from Mitch O’Donnell, a prolific ball-winner, which saw Mitch Lewis fly, take the contested grab and convert the set shot, to begin to apply scoreboard pressure.
Two more goals ensued, with Dylan Moore and Tim O’Brien adding their names to a growing list of goal kickers; before Lewis continued to crash the pack, to allow Kieran Lovell and Conor Nash to clean up at the fall of the ball to do the same.
Kurt Heatherley made himself look the forward, coolly slotting a long-range goal from outside fifty to put an exclamation point, in the form of a sixth third-term Box Hill major, on a quarter in which the Magpies remained goalless.
Albeit an impressive effort, the result remained in question with the Magpies to kick with the advantageous breeze in the last, requiring a gritty and determined team performance from the Hawks in order to get over the line.
The final term saw Collingwood strike first off the boot of Chippendale, to bring the Magpies to within a straight kick, before a trio of behinds closed the gap further.
With the game in the balance the defensive six remained under siege and as they did for the entirety of the match, stood up outstandingly. Will Hams was pivotal on the last line, emphasising his best on ground performance, while David Mirra and Mitch O’Donnell battled valiantly to combat repeat entries from the Magpies.
Eventually, Collingwood were rewarded for effort, with Sean Hetherington breaking through to give the Magpies a four-point lead heading into time-on.
However, one-on-one wins to Andrew Moore and Conor Glass sent a clear message, with the Hawks refusing to go down without a fight.
With time ticking away and a top four finish awaiting the victor, it was the youngsters who rose to the occasion for Box Hill.
It was first Brayden Kilpatrick who read it best to snap a quick-thinking goal; before 23rd man Harrison Burt chose no better moment to slot his first VFL major, demonstrating composure beyond his years to all but seal the result.
The final siren confirmed a seven-point victory and fourth spot on the table for Box Hill, courtesy of rich vein of form which sees them notch their fourth win in a row.
The Hawks will look to maintain this form as they seek to avenge their early season loss against Werribee, as they take on the Tigers again next week, ahead of an important run home.
|Box Hill||3.2||4.3||10.7||12.7 (79)|
Goals: Langford 2, Glass, Ross, Lewis, D. Moore, O’Brien, Lovell, Nash, Heatherley, Kilpatrick, Burt
Disposals: O’Donnell 31, Hams 30, O’Rourke 29, Cousins 25, Mirra 23
Best: Hams, Pittonet, Mirra, O’Donnell, Jiath, O’Rourke