Round One Match Preview

WHERE: Williamstown Football Ground
WHEN: Sunday, 2:00PM
COVERAGE: 3WBC radio – 94.1FM

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

Round 12, 2017: Box Hill 10.13 (73) defeated by Williamstown 17.16 (118) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 3, 2017: Williamstown 8.14 (62) defeated by Box Hill 13.12 (90) at Burbank Oval
Round 14, 2016: Box Hill 12.8 (80) defeated by Williamstown 13.12 (90) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 2, 2016: Williamstown 14.13 (97) defeated by Box Hill 17.10 (112) at Burbank Oval
Grand Final, 2015: Box Hill 8.18 (66) defeated by Williamstown 18.12 (120) at Etihad Stadium

SETTING THE SCENE
Our season opener pits two of 2017’s best performed teams against one another. The Seagulls and Hawks finished last season’s home and away campaign one and two on the VFL ladder, with their Septembers following similar scripts.

After stirring qualifying final victories against Casey and Port Melbourne, respectively, Willy and Box Hill turned in arguably their most disappointing performances of the season on the penultimate weekend. Box Hill were eliminated at the hands of a rampant Richmond, whilst the Seagulls fell to a fired-up Port Melbourne.

Chastened by an opportunity lost, both sides will look to start 2018 on a far more positive note than they closed 2017.

The home sides have struggled in recent times in this fixture, with the visitors winning each of the previous four match-ups; the fifth, 2015’s Grand Final, was held at a neutral venue.

HOW TO FOLLOW?
As above, 3WBC will provide a radio call, whilst our official social channels will provide coverage throughout the contest. For quarter-by-quarter updates be sure to check Facebook and Instagram, whilst Twitter is your destination for the action as it happens.

TEAM NEWS
Sadly the Hawks will be without skipper Andrew Moore (suspension) and vice-captain Max Warren (injury) for Sunday’s first game of the season, with both unavailable until May at the earliest.

Last year’s VFL representative forward Chris Jones, who finished second in the Hawks’ goal kicking, also misses through an injury sustained late in the Hawks’ loss to Richmond.

Box Hill’s extended squad is replete with AFL-listed talent and as many as five players could make their debuts for the Brown and Gold.

Draftees Harrison Jones, James Worpel, Jackson Ross and Dylan Moore have all been named in Chris Newman’s starting-18, with Liam Mackie, recruited from Collingwood, listed on an extended interchange.

The match sees a relatively potent looking midfield group for the Hawks, with James Cousins, James Worpel, Keiran Lovell and Jono O’Rourke all set to spend plenty of time on ball.

Livewires Billy Murphy, Vincent Adduci and Brayden Kilpatrick have all been listed on the interchange, along with youngster Lachlan Walker, inside mid Mitch O’Donnell and wingman Anthony Brolic. Adaptable half-back Nick Evans joins that group and the aforementioned Liam Mackie, with that eight becoming four prior to the bounce.

The hosts may have lost versatile talls Arryn Sipposs and Ayce Cordy in the off-season, but their team is stacked with a bevy of top tier VFL quality.

Brett Bewley, Ben Cavarra, Michael Gibbons, Adam Marcon, Nick Meese and Willie Wheeler – all of whom were named in the 2017 VFL Team of the Year – feature on Sunday, whilst club legend Ben Jolley rounds out an impressive group.

New recruit Lachie George, picked up from North Ballarat between seasons, is also in line to make his Williamstown debut.

HOW HAVE WE BEEN DOING?
Chris Newman’s men went 2-3 throughout pre-season, falling most recently to Richmond in their final warm-up last Friday.

The Hawks used the five match dress rehearsal to prepare and condition the whole squad, with nearly every man on the Hawks’ list given a chance to impress ahead of the season proper.

HOW HAVE THEY BEEN DOING?
The Seagulls’ split their four match pre-season, beating Casey and Sandringham either side of losses to Werribee and North Melbourne. 

ONE(S) TO WATCH
Mitch Lewis has six goals in his last two Box Hill appearances, having kicked three apiece from managed minutes against Collingwood and last week’s clash with the Tigers.

The tall forward was showing signs of steady growth until mid-way through 2017 when his debut season was cut short through injury, and looks well placed to begin 2018 in the same positive vein as he started 2017.

Similarly, Hawthorn draftee James Worpel has turned heads during his debut campaign, spending equal time on ball and up forward across the practice matches. Strong in the contest and with a booming right boot, the youngster looms as a likely type. 

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