SEASON REVIEW: Round 14-17

An offence finding it’s groove, a defence tightening up and key players hitting top form highlighted a month in which we played some of our best footy of the season.

Round Fourteen v Werribee (Home)

Box Hill welcomed Werribee to City Oval in round fourteen looking to protect top spot and inch ever closer to guaranteeing the double chance and home first final.

The Hawks started well and took control of proceedings right from the off, carrying considerable threat going forward and limiting the Tigers to few clear cut looks at goal in a solid first half. In truth, the visitors did well to limit the damage and keep themselves in the contest at the long break.

By three quarter time Box Hill had just about sealed the points, though they’d be left to rue a glut of near misses and wasted opportunities. In a dominant display the end product of a quarter’s worth of all-out attack was 4.9 to the Tigers’ 2.1. Even if the lead felt match-winning at the time, it was far less than we deserved for our efforts and left the door ever so slightly ajar.

The sides split four goals in the final term, though the Hawks would narrowly win the quarter to confirm a perfect game.

Anthony Brolic was once again a standout, gathering a team and season-high thirty disposals on his way to best afield honours.

Brolic had moved further up the field in the weeks leading up to this match and looked to be enjoying his new role. Having already proven himself adept at spreading from the contest and transitioning the ball forward, our number seven had added inside grunt to his game and our midfield.

Onballer Mitch O’Donnell made a successful return from injury, playing his first game of 2017 after recovering from shoulder surgery in pre-season. With a nickname like ‘Bull’ there’s no prizes for guessing what he brought to the team. He was typically and brutally tough in the clinches, winning twenty disposals and a place in the best.

It was to be a personal highlight for three of O’Donnell’s teammates, also, with Chris Jones (16 touches), Vincent Adduci (20) and Nick Evans (26) all returning season-high numbers, whilst debutant Brayden Kilpatrick more than took his chance to impress, kicking two goals from nineteen possessions.

Box Hill    5.4   9.5   13.14   15.18 (108)
3.4   5.6     7.7     9.9 (63)

Goals: Murphy 3, Kilpatrick 2, Jones 2, Hanrahan 2, Miles, Switkowski, Stewart, Vickery, Pittonet

Best: Brolic, Pittonet, Jones, N Evans, O’Donnell, Warren

Round Fifteen v Sandringham (Away)

Any concerns that the narrower Trevor Barker Beach Oval might put the squeeze on our attacking threat was dispelled nice and early in this crushing victory over the Zebras.

Just under four goals up at quarter time; just under ten goals up at half time; just under fifteen goals up at three quarter time. It was brilliant footy.

We looked like a team that was switched on right from the get-go, laying near ceaseless siege to the Sandringham goal during a first half that netted five and six goals a term. That those goals came from multiple sources was most pleasing, with a forward line of talls (Jones, Vickery) and smalls (Miles, Switkowski, Kilpatrick, Adduci, Stewart) ably supported from further afield with contributions from Moore, O’Donnell and Hanrahan.

It was impossible for Sandy to know who was going to get them and how, such was the varied nature of a potent Box Hill attack.

In somewhat of a surprise Andrew Moore spent a fair chunk of the contest forward, using his size to worry the Sandy defence time and time again. Moore would contest fewer stoppages than expected and instead float forward to create mismatches deep, often marking with his opponent running back towards goal.

Teia Miles got himself a bag of five majors to be the chief destoyer, Anthony Brolic produced a dominant display off a wing and Brayden Kilpartrick showed no signs of second album blues, following up his impressive debut with a fantastic thirty-two possession, two goal display.

Kilpatrick was brilliantly supported by Adduci and Nelson Lane, with the trio providing the run, carry and forward line pressure that was the foundation of countless scoring chains.

The Zebras added a touch of respectability to the scoreboard late-on, kicking eight of the last ten goals. Perhaps the stellar effort of the first three quarters had taken it out of the boys.

Box Hill                5.6   11.7   20.10   22.10 (142)
2.2   2.8   6.8    14.11 (95)

Goals: Miles 5, Moore 4, Jones 3, Vickery 3, Switkowski 2, Kilpatrick, Adduci, O’Donnell, Hanrahan, Stewart

Best: Moore, Miles, Warren, Kilpatrick, Hanrahan, Brolic

Round Sixteen v Geelong (Home)

A terrific month of footy had put us on the cusp of guaranteeing a top two finish to the season and the all-important home final. We’d go into this contest knowing two wins from our final four home and away games would secure first or second spot on the VFL ladder, so the plan was simple and the stakes very clear: win.

A strong start had given us a three goal advantage by quarter time, with an even better second term increasing that lead to forty-three points by the main break.

When the wind kicked up to start the second half Geelong turned the game on its head, setting up a grandstand finish as they surged to within a couple of kicks in the blink of an eye.

Nerves jangled and the game was well and truly on the line, to start the final quarter when, well, we proved the threat to be a false alarm. With the wind at our backs we piled on seven final quarter goals to run out forty-two point winners.

Max Warren was a standout across half-back, playing a pivotal role to quell the Cats and provide rebound out of defence on his way to a season-high thirty disposals, whilst Kade Stewart was named his team’s best on the day having kicked four goals from twenty eight touches.

Billy Murphy also finished with four goals, playing the role of half-forward to brilliant effect as his late season habit of hitting the scoreboard in bursts continued.

Brolic and Kilpatrick also saw their fine form continue, winning twenty-eight and twenty-five disposals apiece to be vitally important to the final result.

Live wire small forward Dale Hehir was rewarded for his superb Development League form and became the latest product of the Hawks’ development program, nabbing a goal to round out a tidy debut display up forward.

Box Hill   4.5   10.11   12.17   19.23 (137)
1.4   4.4       11.7   13.7 (85)

Goals: Murphy 4, Stewart 4, Willsmore 2, Moore, Brolic, Heatherley, Switkowski, Jones, Vickery, Pittonet, N Evans, Hehir

Best: Stewart, Warren, Brolic, Lovell, Heatherley, Murphy

Round Seventeen v Essendon (Away)

What a strange and peculiar game this one was.

Forty-two points up at quarter time, having played some of the most magnificent footy you’ll ever see, became a six point deficit by half time. The trump card? One of the strongest, stiffest breezes to sweep across Windy Hill in many a year.

Both sides managed a single point kicking into that breeze in the first half, whilst only the Bombers managed to kick goals into it all day.

The Hawks bounced back in the third term, though the Bombers made a nuisance of themselves to frustrate us with good ball retention and three huge goals to put themselves in a handy position with half an hour to play.

AFL listed star Jaeger O’Meara made his first appearance following a couple of months out of action, settling about as quickly as you’d expect to kick two in the first quarter, three for the day and post thirty possessions through three quarters of managed game time.

As the match tightened up it was looking like his pre-planned absence, as well as a developing injury crisis that claimed Max Warren and Kieran Lovell mid-match, might be just as telling as the wind.

Each team would manage three scoring shots in a hotly contest final term, with the onset of rain and that depleted bench only adding to the drama.

Switkowski hit the post from an imaginative snap, Stewart watched a brilliant set shot fade just to the left and Hanrahan’s difficult kick for goal drifted just wide; it felt like just one goal would be enough to win it, but creating a good enough chance to kick it required you take the ball to the goal line.

But even a narrow advantage looked defendable, especially with Kurt Heatherley and, particularly, David Mirra in inspired form.

‘Miz’ was absolutely astonishing in a desperate last quarter, producing a string of frankly ridiculous defensive efforts to maintain that slender lead and keep the Bombers at bay.

In the end Essendon kicked three goals and us three points in a tough half an hour of footy, their efforts enough to secure a hard-fought win and deny us what would’ve been a monumental victory.

Box Hill     7.3 7.4 12.8 12.11 (83)
0.1 8.4 11.5 14.5 (89)

Goals: O’Meara 3, Willsmore 2, Moore 2, Puopolo, Hanrahan, Stewart, Warren, Switkowski

Best: Moore, Mirra, O’Meara, Walker, Pittonet, Heatherley

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