Box Hill has fallen to just it’s second defeat of the 2018 season, beaten by a fast-starting North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.
The Kangaroos did the damage early and lead by as many as 11 goals early in the second half, before the Hawks produced a spirited and much improved fightback to narrow the final margin to 36-points.
Played in near perfect conditions at Avalon Airport Oval the Kangaroos were able to play a cleaner brand of footy in the first half, their efficiency and direct style creating turnovers and allowing them to better control territory.
Thanks to numbers around the contest, some direct forward 50 entries and accurate finishing the hosts piled on the opening six goals of the term, leaving Chris Newman’s men with plenty of work to do to find a foothold.
By the time the hard-working Brendan Whitecross marked and converted a beautiful set shot deep into time on the Hawks sat 32-points adrift.
Whitecross was again in the thick of it when play resumed, kicking his second inside a minute. When skipper Andrew Moore’s intercept allowed Hanrahan to set up O’Brien for his first just 90 seconds later the Hawks, the Hawks had two in two minutes and the perfect start.
Despite a marked improvement, elevated intensity and renewed purpose, the visitors would give up the following three goals, as again North’s efficiency proved the difference.
With the margin pushing 40-points and the clock ticking towards time on it was the rebound of Hams and Brolic off half-back that laid the foundation for the Hawks’ fourth. The Box Hill pair transitioned the ball down the field, allowing Jackson Ross the chance to gather, show some poise and find Nash by foot. The Irishman marked in the square and made no mistake.
The relief was short-lived, however, as North laid on a further four six-pointers to finish the half well on top.
Coach Chris Newman demanded a response in the second half and implored his charges to play their brand of footy.
The Kangaroos started the half as they’d finished the first, though the Hawks dug in well to deny them whilst creating chances of their own.
Moore and Daniel Howe, who’d be named their side’s best, each had quick snaps sail narrowly wide, before North kicked their 14th of the afternoon somewhat against the run of play.
Needing the next, the Hawks found it from the boot of Howe, who was spotted up well by Ross. Shortly after Brolic kicked truly on the run – only the second time the Brown and Gold had managed back-to-back goals for the match.
North’s reply would be sandwiched by a further two goals to the Hawks, with Schoenmakers’ first and Howe’s second – set up by a wonderful mark on the wing by O’Brien and the dash of Billy Murphy – winning the quarter and closing the gap to 48-points at the last change.
A comeback seemed more improbable than impossible, and early goals to Nash – a lovely shot from deep in the pocket – and Hanrahan – an equally as impressive set shot from the opposite pocket – reduced the gap to six kicks with plenty of time to play.
The tide was turning at the coalface, with Pittonet, Moore, Howe and Whitecross central figures in the Hawks’ fightback, whilst the defence had steadied and was providing greater spring from the back-half.
But the Kangaroos wouldn’t be denied. A steadier all but ended the contest, before Hanrahan’s second late on added a touch of respectability to the final scoreline.
Box Hill’s improved second half saw them manage seven goals to North’s three, though the four points would ultimately go the way of the latter.
|Box Hill||1.0||4.2||8.5||11.7 73|
|North Melbourne||6.4||13.8||15.11||16.13 109|
Goals: Whitecross, Howe, Nash, Hanrahan 2, O’Brien, Schoenmakers, Brolic
Disposals: Moore 32, Howe 26, Miles 24, Hams 23, Lovell 22, O’Rourke 22
Best: Howe, Moore, Whitecross, Schoenmakers, Nash, Miles