Box Hill have and survived some wild weather and a determined Frankston to record a second win from as many starts.
Boasting thirteen AFL-listed Hawks and an array of promising VFL-talent, the Hawks produced a stirring second half, kicking eight goals to two, to run out 39-point victors on a wet and wild day at Skybus Stadium.
Box Hill won the first victory of the contest, with the toss of the coin going stand-in captain Will Hams’ way. Hams wasted little time signalling the visitor’s intentions to kick with the wind and from the outset it was clear goals into the breeze would be at a premium.
The first phases of play unfolded much as you’d expect: a resolute Frankston defended manfully with their backs to goal, protecting the corridor whilst Box Hill pressed up and attacked with a six-goal breeze behind them.
Early sighters proved instructive, as Langford, Cousins and Brand saw efforts dragged across the face of goal – much to the local crowd’s delight.
Ryan Burton, who had been prominent in the early stages, was the first to master the elements. The Hawks’ youngster lined up on a tight angle and hung his kick out to the right, letting the wind do the rest.
Burton’s first laid the platform for a good period for the visitors. Mitch O’Donnell did brilliantly at half-back to nullify the Dolphins’ first attack of the day, his one-on-one victory setting up a clinical transition that culminated in Billy Murphy’s smart finish.
The pace and overlap run from Langford, Cousins, Kilpatrick and others quickly opened the game up and with the momentum firmly theirs, Box Hill looked to press.
Burton’s second came courtesy of a second wonderful effort, this one from the opposite flank, and opened up a 24-point break heading into time on.
The defensive unit of Hams, O’Donnell, Brand and Burton saw their first real test as quarter time approached and with the help of a hard-working midfield group were organised enough to limit the Dolphins to a solitary behind.
Anthony Brolic added his name to the list of goal kickers with a well taken goal just as the rain set in and the first quarter drew to a close.
Frankston began the second quarter brightly and whilst they faced the same early issues kicking for goal that Box Hill had, they quickly found their range.
Doing well to create and then convert opportunities from their forward fifty entries, back-to-back goals soon became four unanswered and inside twelve minutes the margin was inside a kick.
Langford’s run and carry was crucial in setting up Murphy, with his burst down the wing and excellent pass enabling the Hawks’ number three to kick his second, but it was a a brief reprieve.
Back-to-back goals handed Frankston the lead, before Mitch Lewis rose highest to pull in a brilliant contested mark.
Kicking into the teeth of a gale, his shot was just impressive as the grab and again tied the scores.
A handful of half chances slipped through Box Hill’s fingers, before a late slip up in the Hawks’ defence gave the hosts the decisive goal of the half and a lead into the long break.
In a challenging opening to the second half Frankston did well keep the ball inside the contest and stifle the Hawks’ run.
Ruckman Marc Pittonet, on his way to 49 hitouts for the day, set the tone at the stoppage, competing brilliantly and bringing a decidedly physical presence to the contest.
Lewis produced a moment of genius to snap through his second in amongst a mass of bodies, but despite pressure mounting goals weren’t forthcoming.
Again the Dolphins midfield tightened up, creating repeat stoppages and slowing the game down; but the Hawks kept coming.
Like Lewis before him it was up to Cousins to make something out of nothing, his first of the afternoon coming after he swooped on yet another contest inside fifty and ran into the open goal.
Quickly the game had turned. Billy E vans saw his efforts at the coalface rewarded and goals to big “Truck” bookended efforts from Billy Murphy and Conor Nash, who kept his cool in traffic after being brilliantly teed up by Brolic.
The quarter had run thirty seven-and-a-half minutes and Box Hill outscored their hosts 6.12 to 0.0 to take a 42-point lead into the final term.
Things tightened up early in the last when the Dolphins got to within five goals with five minutes played.
A superb and desperate defence then denied Frankston time and time again, with Burton and Brand ably supported by the hard-working Hams, Miles, Nick Evans and Willsmore to keep the hosts at bay.
Having weathered the storm it was only fitting that selfless team play produced Murphy’s fourth and Lewis’ third, ending the contest and confirming the four points.
Box Hill 4.6 6.6 12.18 14.19 103
Frankston 0.1 7.6 7.6 9.10 64
Goals: Murphy 4, Lewis 3, Burton, B. Evans 2, Brolic, Cousins, Nash
Disposals: Cousins 30, Burton 22, Miles 20, Brolic 20, Langford 18, Worpel 18
Best: Cousins, Burton, B. Evans, Brolic, Hams, Lewis