Round 21 Talking Points

Box Hill Hawks have tuned up for an Elimination Final against Port Melbourne with a sixth win from seven starts and a third against top five opponents in the last four weeks. Here are three talking points from a vital win.

Finals Form

Winning form is good form, but sometimes it can ignore the reality of the who, the where and the how.

In the case of Box Hill, the Hawks hit spring-time football boasting a formidable recent record of six wins, one loss and one bye from the final eight weeks of the VFL season.

It’s been a run to arrest a mid-season slump that saw the team flirt with missing the finals altogether, with wins against Collingwood (5th), Casey (2nd) and Geelong (3rd) comprising the final twelve points of the Hawks’ campaign.

A slip up against Werribee (11th) blotted the Brown and Gold’s copybook in the backend of the season, though suggesting the Tigers weren’t great value for their round 19 upset would be doing them a disservice.

At three quarter time results elsewhere had all but confirmed the Hawks could finish no higher than sixth, but the Cats could likely leapfrog Casey into second and win the right to host a Qualifying Final at their sleepy hollow home.

But it was Box Hill who finished the stronger, kicking six goals to two to round off the home and away season as they hope to begin the finals series.

Nothing Personnel

The Hawks toppled the then ladder-leading Casey last outing to keep their top four hopes alive, losing key defender Kurt Heatherley with a high hamstring strain in the process.

This weekend they bested the Cats without David Mirra, whose last fortnight at VFL level had earned him a senior AFL call-up. Mirra had been moved forward for the Werribee game as a result of Mitch Lewis, Will Langford and Conor Nash all being unavailable for VFL footy.

For this weekend’s clash Into the side came skipper Andrew Moore, who starred with 25 disposals and three vital goals, whilst Chris Jones was recast as a centre half back as Chris Newman looked to find the right mix of key position talls to combat the Cats’ Zac Smith, Stewart Crameri and Esava Ratugolea.

Tim O’Brien joined ‘Jonesy’ in the back six and alongside Changkuoth Jiath kept a potentially potent Geelong attack at bay.

Keeping the good vibes going, the twin towers of Marc Pittonet and Jonathon Ceglar both come into the side and traded ruck duties throughout the day, with the former – who is enjoying a strong season at VFL level – a likely type as the Hawks begin their assault on the premiership from outside the top four.

Point is, despite several moving parts Box Hill have scrambled brilliantly to find a way to balance it all out, blending the talents of AFL and VFL listed personnel to finish the season in arguably the best shape they’ve been in all year.

Lewis Looms Large

The Hawks had just two goals to show for a pretty decent half of footy at the long break. One had been kicked by the skipper and the other by it’s young spearhead.

Needing to turn positive play into a return on the scoreboard, Box Hill started the second half in terrific fashion.

Livewire small forward Billy Murphy kicked one and laid another off, before Lewis kicked goals two and three to keep his side within touching distance.

He moved freely, jumped well and finished wonderfully, providing a target deep forward, up the ground and, frankly, wherever he was needed.

Lewis would kick a further two goals in the final term for a personal season-high, one of which gave the Hawks back the lead in time on and another just ninety seconds later to give his team an advantage they wouldn’t surrender.

The 19-year-old, drafted out of Calder Cannons with pick 76 in the 2016 National Draft, finished the home and away campaign with a credible 36 goals from just 15 appearances; a return good enough for third in the Frosty Miller Medal race, just five goals behind winner Nick Larkey of North Melbourne, who played two more games.

A fit, firing and on form Mitch Lewis forms a key component of a forward line looking to make a real dent in September.

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