Round 6 Match Preview: VFL Hawks To Host Casey

The Box Hill Hawks travel to Wonthaggi on Sunday for a history-making double header against Casey.

The two clubs’ VFLW programs will get proceedings underway at 11:30, before the two VFL sides meet to draw the day to a close.

Who: Casey Demons
Where: Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve
When: Sunday 30 April
First bounce: 2:05pm
Gates: 9am – entry is free!

A Little Bit of History

The Hawks and Demons share a somewhat stop-start relationship of late, having met just twice since 2019 owing to various COVID-19 enforced cancellations. 

Those two match-ups – round 1 of 2021 and round 6 of 2022 – were both claimed by Casey, as was the last pre-pandemic meeting in round 13 of 2019.

Prior to that it was the Hawks who produced a hat-trick of wins, including, most importantly of all, success on Grand Final day of 2018. 

That afternoon the Andrew Moore lead, Chris Newman coached brown and gold rallied late in the day to surge past a powerful Casey side, claiming a third top-grade VFA/VFL premiership with a stirring 10-point win. 

Six months later the Hawks unfurled the premiership flag in an opening day Grand Final rematch, defeating the visiting Demons by 62-points. 

2023 So Far

Box Hill’s perfect start to 2023 has the Club sitting second on the ladder through five rounds, with a game and percentage in hand on the league leading Brisbane Lions. 

Zane Littlejohn’s men are one of just three teams to average in excess of 100 points for in the early stages of the new season, but it’s the Hawks’ defensive resolve which has been most impressive. 

Though impacted by the inequity created by the first round of byes, Box Hill’s 230 total points conceded is the most miserly in the league and our percentage of 192.2 the most impressive of all 21 teams.  

The Hawks’ four wins thus far have been against Coburg, Sydney, Geelong and Collingwood – teams currently outside the competition’s top six (the threshold for guaranteed finals participation). As such, Sunday’s hit-out against the reigning premier shapes as a welcome and excellent test. 

For their part the Demons have been largely superb in the early days of 2023.

They began their premiership defence by sweeping the first month of the season, accounting for Footscray, Sydney, Frankston and Essendon by an average of seven goals. 

Like Box Hill, however, the Demons have been getting things done at both ends of the field, holding the aforementioned quartet to an average of just 48 points in each of those wins.

Casey suffered their first loss of the campaign last weekend at home to Richmond, their first reverse since round 22 of last year. As if to illustrate how strong the Demons have been of late, that final round defeat to Brisbane was their only loss of a banner 2022 for the red and the blue.

The Tigers’ scored 94-points to defeat their hosts, becoming the first team to properly breach the league’s staunchest defence this year en route to posting the highest score Casey have conceded since the 88 Essendon put up in round 2, 2022. 

For context, the last time the Demons conceded 100-points in a game was round 16, 2021.

So more than being two in-form teams, Sunday’s match-up shapes as a mouthwatering clash of complementary styles and philosophies.

Selection News

Zane Littlejohn and his match committee made four changes to the team which beat Geelong in round three and five to the one which accounted for Collingwood a week later. As things stand, there’ll be at least six changes to the 23 which defeated Coburg last weekend. 

Cam Mackenzie will debut for Box Hill, while Connor MacDonald, Denver Grainger-Barrass and Ned Long each return to the development level following stints with the AFL program.

Having missed the wins over Collingwood and Coburg due to a head knock, Henry Hustwaite is a welcome addition, as is Box Hill’s Ethan Stanley, who will make his fourth appearance as the Hawks’ 23rd man. 

A slew of ins means a swathe of outs, with Damian Mascitti, Joel Trudgeon and Max Hall the unlucky names squeezed out, while Tristan Waack, last weekend’s 23rd man has ceded that role to Stanley. 

Owing to Jack Srimshaw’s selection as Hawthorn’s sub, one of Box Hill’s emergencies will come in to replace him, with that list comprised of Mascitti, Trudgeon, Hall, Jed Rule, Darcy Murr, Luis D’Angelo, Liam Coghlan and Mitch Sruk. 

Community Comforts

A history making occasion, Sunday’s double header in Wonthaggi marks an exciting opportunity to take state league football to a community which wouldn’t otherwise experience it.

A bumper crowd is expected at Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve, with Bass Coast Shire having put on and planned for a wonderful day.

Be sure to use our handy game day guide to help plan your visit.

One to Watch

Cal Brown.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Brown has had a superb to start life at City Oval.

The former-Magpie was named his side’s best player on debut in the round 1 win over Sydney, was among the best on ground in the Hawks’ round 3 win against Geelong, won his second best on ground a week later against Collingwood and was again named in Box Hill’s best last weekend. 

Whether rebounding out of half-back or winning clearances at stoppage which release the Hawks from congestion, Brown is characterised by his energy and intent with ball in hand. More, he has proven to be an excellent barometer for how his side use the ball & the space on the ground and at what tempo they play.

A thoughtful and intelligent thinker on football matters, there’s no doubt Brown’s wonderful form has rocketed the versatile midfielder-turned-half back into mid-season draft calculations. 

How To Follow

Hawks fans can keep up-to-date with all the action via our official social media channels.

Curated match commentary will be provided on Twitter, while further coverage will be available across Instagram and Facebook.  

Where To Watch

All VFL matches can be streamed via the AFL app. Coverage of Sunday’s game starts at 11:45am and can be found in the match hub or via this link.

Further, radio commentary can be found via our community radio partner, 3WBC 94.1FM.

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