Box Hill have succumbed to their first defeat of the season, beaten by 39-points at Casey Fields on Sunday.
The two-and-two Demons always shaped as a testing opponent for the ladder-leading Hawks and boasted a recent winning record against their visitors.
Chris Newman’s final twenty-three comprised a strong Hawthorn contingent, with sixteen AFL listed Hawks turning out, whilst debutant Nathan Boucher was given the nod as 23rd man.
Casey started the contest in perfect fashion, kicking the first of the afternoon after barely a minute. Thereafter the first quarter was a largely cagey affair, though Jonathon Ceglar continued to impress with his ruck work and general willingness to compete.
It was fitting then that Ceglar, playing his second game off a long injury lay-off, opened the scoring for the Hawks, when teammate Ryan Schoenmakers squared a pass inboard for the leading big man. He would make no mistake from thirty-five.
Casey found a quick reply to resume their lead, before a period of solid defence denied the Demons any opportunity to extend it.
Hams, amongst many others, was keeping his cool in amongst the traffic coming his way, whilst former skipper David Mirra played his part too.
Respite came shortly after when some nice play from Lovell teed up the leading Lewis, though the exciting tall’s shot faded narrowly wide, before Hanrahan, O’Rourke and Mirra all combined to hit-up Schoenmakers. Again, his set shot could only drift right.
Momentum shifted back and forth, with the Demons seizing the ascendency briefly before Glass and Hanrahan nailed back-to-back goals to turn the tide.
The Hawks wouldn’t get the chance to consolidate, as the hosts finished the quarter with back-to-back goals of their own to take an 8-point advantage into the first break.
Looking to strike an early blow, the Hawks started the second term well enough. Anthony Brolic was in the right place at the right time, staying down whilst a host of friends and foes flew high, to kick the easiest of goals to narrow the margin.
But, again, it was Casey with the answers.
Back-to-back majors handed the Demons a 14-point lead, after which both sides found time, space and opportunities became hard to come by.
A series of half chances fell the way of the hosts, but with skipper Andrew Moore racking up 14 first-half touches and the midfield growing in influence it was Mitch Lewis who capitalised when the ball found its way into his hands.
Kicking from just outside fifty the Hawks’ number thirty-nine measured his set shot expertly to boot his first and bring the margin back to seven points at the half.
Box Hill were on the back foot early in the third term, with a rejuvenated Casey denied on the goal line by Brolic. The Red and Blue wouldn’t be made to wait long for a goal, however, with two coming within ninety seconds of each other to confirm a game-high 20-point lead.
The Hawks returned the favour shortly after, when first Moore and then Pittonet each marked well and kicked truly to again reduce the margin to just 8-points. The work of Lewis was proving instrumental, whilst smalls Miles and Hams were contributing to some spring off half-back.
With the pressure mounting Casey were able to find the timeliest of goals, then another shortly after to compound the Hawks’ frustrations. A period of promising play had quickly become a game-high 22-point deficit.
With the game threatening to slip away it was David Mirra who stood up, repelling the Demons with a string of fine individual efforts and contested marking across half-back.
But, again, it was Casey who found the next goal to confirm a 24-point lead at the final change.
Chris Newman would’ve hoped for a positive start to the final half-hour and, in many ways, that was exactly what his charges provided. Endeavour, work rate, spread and opportunities were there – but not the goal(s) that mattered.
When a defensive error opened the door Casey took full advantage to kick the first of the quarter. A second just moments later extended their advantage to 35-points.
Schoenmakers added his name to the list of goal kickers with a lovely finish with just under ten minutes played, before Lewis kicked his second and third goals within a minute to give the Hawks cause to believe an unlikely comeback was possible.
But consecutive goals to the Demons all but confirmed there’d be no team song in the Box Hill dressing room for the first time in 2018.
Lewis still had time to find a fourth for the afternoon, but Casey would have the final say, nailing two more majors to finish the contest 39-point winners.
|Box Hill||3.2||5.5||7.5||11.6 72|
Goals: Lewis 4, Ceglar, Glass, Hanrahan, Brolic, Moore, Pittonet, Schoenmakers
Disposals: Moore 28, Mirra 23, Cousins 23, O’Rourke 21, Hams 20, H Jones 20
Best: Mirra, Moore, H Jones, Lewis, Cousins, Ceglar