Round Fourteen Match Report

The Box Hill Hawks have kept their top four aspirations alive following a gutsy 43-point victory over Footscray under the lights of Etihad Stadium.

The tides were turned as Box Hill bounced back from two last-start losses to snap a four-game Footscray winning streak and record their seventh win of the season. The result places the Hawks amongst six teams with an equal record and just percentage shy of the double chance.

After an untidy start to the match, it was the Dogs who were the first side to find their rhythm, recording the opening four goals of the term. Midfield duo Lauchlan Dalgleish and Josh Prudden each put a major on the board; and returning big-man Tim English found the goals, before setting up another through teammate, Lachlan Sullivan.

Under siege, David Mirra was customarily impressive deep in the backline; while rebound from Kaiden Brand was instrumental in turning defence into attack.

A crunching tackle from Brayden Kilpatrick on the wing was a key in shifting momentum, Brendan Whitecross was again a prolific ball-winner and Conor Nash was dominant up forward. However, positive play was marred by five behinds, as promising chances went begging.

It was 23rd man, Nathan Boucher, who eventually broke the drought, snapping a late goal to cut the difference to 14 points at the first change.

With momentum in hand, the second term began with back-to-back Mitch Lewis goals, before outstanding pressure from Marc Pittonet forced a Footscray turnover to create another opportunity for Boucher, who seized the moment to put through his second.

Endeavour continued at the coalface, with Andrew Moore and James Worpel working overtime at the stoppages to continue to press into attack, finishing with seven and twelve clearances, respectively.

Limited entries for the Dogs were thwarted by the defensive six, resulting in a scoreless term for Footscray and a nine-point Box Hill lead at the major break.

When play resumed two more goals were to follow, as the long-range boot of Dallas Willsmore put through another; and a Footscray turnover deep in defence gifted Changkuoth Jiath a shot on goal, with CJ ensuring the error was punished.

An impressive finish from Bulldog, Will Hayes, from outside fifty was not only his side’s first goal since just twelve minutes into the opening term, but marked the end of eighteen consecutive scores for the Hawks, following a dominance around the contest.

With a hint of momentum, the Dogs managed another via Denis Symeopoulos to slice the margin to just under two kicks.

A piece of individual brilliance was the reply from Dylan Moore, who roved the stoppage and bent through a mercurial goal from the boundary line, to push the difference out once more.

The highlights continued when Nash found space on the wing, his dash matched only by Boucher, the pair combining to put the youngster’s third goal on the board.

It was a 23-point advantage which stood in favour of the Hawks heading into the final term.

However, with plenty on the line for both sides and down two rotations, with Oliver Hanrahan and Marc Pittonet ruled out for the remainder, it would take grit and determination to get over the line.

And that’s exactly what the Hawks delivered.

Footscray goals from Josh Prudden and Angus Monfries bookended five Box Hill majors, crafted off the back of solid team football.

Lewis continued his hard work up forward to earn his third; while Anthony Brolic and Ryan Schoenmakers kicked truly from set shots to add their names to a growing list of goal kickers.

Dylan Moore registered his second, serviced lace out by Kilpatrick, whose use by foot was superb all day – only further highlighted when he nailed a classy goal running toward the boundary himself, just moments later.

Tim O’Brien stepped up to the plate to battle more than adeptly in the ruck, Kieran Lovell accumulated plenty of hard ball and Mirra continued his dominance down back, capably supported by Mitch O’Donnell and Will Hams.

Perhaps the most pleasing element of the win, the even spread of performers.

With the four points secured, the challenges continue for Box Hill who will return home to face eighth placed Port Melbourne and look to continue to build their campaign toward September.

Box Hill 1.5 4.10 8.15 13.18 96
Footscray 4.1 4.1 6.4 8.5 53

Boucher, Lewis 3, D. Moore 2, Willsmore, Jiath, Brolic, Schoenmakers, Kilpatrick

Disposals: Whitecross 29, A. Moore 25, Worpel 23, Brolic 22, Mirra 22, Lovell 22

Best: Nash, Lewis, Boucher, Mirra, A. Moore, Lovell

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