Round 21 Match Report

The Box Hill Hawks march toward September off the back of an impressive come-from-behind victory over third-placed Geelong at City Oval on Saturday afternoon.

The Hawks flicked a switch at the major break to kick twelve goals to the Cats five, and run out 21 points the superior.

However, the first half belonged to Geelong, who set the tone early when Gryan Miers found the middle of the sticks with less than a minute played.

Jermaine Jones and Jordan Cunico also hit the scoreboard, as the Cats made the most of their forward opportunities in a free-flowing and controlled contest – expected of two sides ranked either first or second in the competition for disposals, uncontested possessions, uncontested marks and handball-receives.

Goals from Mitch Lewis and Andrew Moore restored some balance to the scoreboard heading into the first break, however these would be the only Box Hill majors that would stand at the half, after an ensuing goalless quarter.

The term put Box Hill’s defensive unit under plenty of pressure and pleasingly, the six stood up tremendously to minimise the damage.

Chris Jones, cast in an unfamiliar role across centre half-back, was outstanding in one-on-one contests; while the intercept marking of Tim O’Brien was equally impressive, the athletic swingman finishing with a game-high 11 grabs.

However, the Cats eventually reaped reward for effort when Ryan Gardner capitalised on his chance from the boundary; quickly followed by another from Geelong big-man, Zac Smith.

The Hawks arrested momentum to control the ball for the latter portion of the half, with impressive dash from the backline demonstrated by Conor Glass and Nick Evans; while Anthony Brolic and Brendan Whitecross continued to rack up possession.

But unable to make it count on the scoreboard, the Hawks found themselves 19 points in arrears at the major break, and with just two goals to show in spite of what had been a decent half of football.

It was then, that the Hawks dug deep.

Coming out firing at the resumption of play, Billy Murphy immediately hit the scoreboard before moments later, setting up Brayden Kilpatrick to put through another.

Box Hill began to find results for the possession they amassed in the first half, utilising the corridor and switching their run and carry game into gear, to start to break the lines.

Dylan Moore connected with Mitch Lewis on a searching lead, the young spearhead putting through his second of the day, and Box Hill’s third in a row for the term.

With scores level, the Cats refused to go down without a fight, booting back-to-back goals, courtesy of Stewart Crameri and Charlie Constable, to reclaim the lead.

Lewis found his third goal, only for the Cats to respond once more, this time via Lincoln McCarthy.

Hitting his stride, Lewis was involved again, crashing the pack to allow Brolic to cleanly crumb the ground ball and convert the snap as the two sides exchanged goals.

It was a huge fifty-fifty win in the middle of the ground from Oliver Hanrahan which set up the final score of the term, the speedster crashing through the contest to send a deep forward fifty entry into the hands of the skipper, who made no mistake from the set shot.

The difference just two points heading into a huge final term.

An outstanding effort from Brolic set the tone for the final period, courageously running back with the flight to take a skilful mark which just moments later, ended in an Andrew Moore goal down the other end of the ground – his third for the afternoon.

In front for the first time, Marc Pittonet added his name to a growing list of goal kickers, due reward for his work rate, in what had been an enthralling ruck battle with Smith.

Momentarily out to a ten-point lead, the Cats proved that they weren’t going away when Cunico closed the gap; before Quinton Narkle reclaimed the advantage for Geelong with half of the final term played.

The cool head of Lewis took back the lead for the Hawks, before moments later the youngster put the exclamation point on arguably his best performance of the year, slotting his fifth goal and making the task at hand a difficult one for the Cats, with just five minutes left to play.

Not taking their foot of the gas, the Hawks continued with back-to-back goals to Hanrahan to extend the gap and make the result a certainty – the final margin standing at 21 points at the final siren.

The win sets up the next chapter of a long-standing rivalry between Box Hill and Port Melbourne, with a blockbuster elimination final booked in for next Saturday at North Port Oval.

Despite a history of close encounters, the Hawks will head into the match with plenty to like – an even spread of performers, players hitting their stride at the right time of year and fresh from knocking off two top-four sides, in Casey and Geelong.

With such a formidable opponent in front of them, this form will need to continue if the Hawks are to go deep in September.

Box Hill 2.2 2.6 8.8 14.9 (93)
Geelong 3.5 5.7 8.10 10.12 (72)

Goals: Lewis 5, A. Moore 3, Hanrahan 2, Murphy, Brolic, Kilpatrick, Pittonet

Disposals: Brolic 29, Lovell 28, Whitecross 25, Hams 25, A. Moore 25, Hanrahan

Best: Glass, Whitecross, Lewis, Evans, A. Moore, Pittonet

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