LAST TIME WE MET
Elimination Final, 2018: Port Melbourne 13. 7. (85) defeated by Box Hill 13. 18 (96) at North Port Oval.
The Box Hill Hawks will look to continue their unbeaten 2019 campaign when they take on rivals Port Melbourne on Saturday.
The last time the two VFL powerhouse teams met, supporters witnessed an absolutely thrilling Elimination Final at North Port Oval.
Trailing by a goal and the ball deep in Port Melbourne’s forward line with only 25 seconds left on the clock, you could be excused for thinking Box Hill’s season was as good as gone. Yet the Hawks produced the most dramatic moments of the entire season, in executing an end-to-end running goal off the boot of Ollie Hanrahan, to level the scores and force extra-time.
The Hawks ran out that game 11-point winners, and the rest was history as Box Hill rolled on to an unforgettable 3rdPremiership.
Port Melbourne’s best player on that day was Damian Mascitti who, after an inspired move forward after half time, kicked four vital goals.
This week however the experienced defender will swap the blue and red stripes for the brown and gold. He will take confidence into the first meeting against his old side, after racking up 18 disposals and 5 marks last week.
In that match Box Hill survived a hot and physical first half to come out firing after the main break against Sandringham. The Hawks were unrelenting in putting their foot down to kick 11 second-half goals to the Zebra’s 4 to continue their success at Marvel Stadium.
Coach Max Bailey identified after the match it was his team’s ability to start winning the critical contests and become more efficient with their ball use into attack, that helped change the tide of the match.
Central to this turn around was young Hawk Changkuoth Jiath whose capacity to halve contests and even win them against the Zebra’s forward line, saw him draw praise from coaches and supporters alike. Jiath has enjoyed a superb start to 2019, with his defensive pressure and athletic prowess sure to create nightmares for future opposition.
Another key player to watch this week is Jackson Ross, who is the current VFL’s leading goal kicker. The rangy forward has kicked eight goals from two matches and is stamping his authority on the league in pushing his case forward for senior selection.
Box Hill’s opponent this week, Port Melbourne, has experienced an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. The Borough fell to Williamstown by ten points in Round 1 and again lost to Richmond last Saturday on the back of a six-goal final term by the Tigers.
Since joining Port Melbourne, after crossing from the Borough’s fiercest and oldest rivals Williamstown last season, Ben Jolly has again enjoyed excellent form to average 20 disposals and 9 marks.
Playing for the Seagulls in the Preliminary Final last year, the veteran was held to just eight disposals. The Hawks will be planning for more of the same success against the VFL champion.
Ultimately there is no denying the threat of a disciplined Port Melbourne side coached by Gary Ayers, which will be desperate to put its first win on the board at their home ground.
Box Hill assistant coach Torin Baker reflected on the Hawks’ start to the season and the challenge that Port Melbourne presents.
“Each week we are getting different challenges,” Baker said.
“In Casey it was really around what they do around the ball, whereas last week against Sandringham we were really challenged on our defence.”
“Port Melbourne is a very professional unit. They have strong bodies and mature heads, so it’s certainly about us utilising our strengths against them.”
The Hawks will take on Port Melbourne at 2pm this Saturday at Adcon Stadium.