A couple of setbacks gave us the opportunity to bounce back in the third block of four games in 2017. Opportunity is borne out of adversity, after all. We lost twice, won twice and spent four of five weeks – including the bye – atop the VFL ladder.

Round Nine – BYE

Round Ten v Casey (Home)

Box Hill     2.1   5.2   8.5     11.7 (73)
5.1   7.7   11.9   14.15 (99)

Top of the ladder, unbeaten and back at home following a week off. Our round ten clash with the seventh placed Casey Demons looked, on paper at least, like the perfect opportunity to confirm our ever-developing premiership credentials.

Sadly, Casey would prove too strong an opponent on the day, getting the fast start and keeping us at arms reach for the remainder of the contest. Try as we might, we just couldn’t get closer than two kicks, as the Demons always seemed to find the timely reply.

Casey spearhead Sam Weideman was unstoppable early, playing the role of destroyer to devastating effect as he kicked five of his six goals by the five minute mark of the second quarter. Kurt Heatherley would do a job to curtail the big forward thereafter, but the Demons kept finding avenues to goal even after his supply dried up.

Jay Kennedy-Harris was also in fine touch, his forty disposals putting his side in pole position to inflict the Hawks’ first loss of 2017.

Moore, Whitecross, Cousins and Warren were key ball-winners for the Hawks, and their efforts and the work of others ensured the contest was still alive into time on of the final quarter.

For the first time this season we couldn’t muster a comeback and the siren didn’t bring with it the club song. I once heard someone say you learn more from a loss, so silver linings and all that.

Goals: Vickery 4, Stewart 2, Brolic 2, Jones, Adduci, Willsmore

Best: Moore, Cousins, Stewart, Whitecross, Vickery, Warren

Round Eleven v Northern Blues (Away)

Box Hill                   3.4   4.7   8.10   11.11 (77)
Northern Blues      
1.1    3.7   4.11    6.19 (55)

With just two and half games separating first and eighth, the ladder was tightening up and the chasing pack was keen to make ground. A loss to the fifth placed Northern Blues would almost certainly cost the Hawks top spot and having faltered the week prior we were in no mood to go back-to-back.

Ultimately it was a hard fought, stop-start affair, with the Hawks always looking the more likely but never quite able to break clear.

Despite a narrow margin for most of the day we were never really seriously threatened, though the Blues’ wastefulness, especially in the final term, might well have cost them any chance of putting us under greater pressure and denied them a grandstand finish.

A four goal burst in the third term created some breathing room which the boys managed to maintain until the final siren and ultimately proved good enough to win the points.

Anthony Brolic and Vincent Adduci would each kick three goals from an aggregate of just twenty disposals, showing how important it was to take your chances when they presented themselves, whilst Chris Jones and Ty Vickery were a standout double act deep in attack and across the half-forward line, working well in tandem to trouble the Blues defence throughout.

Brendan Whitecross continued to use his experience to good effect, winning a place in the best for his twenty-five disposal, one goal performance.

After the disappointment of a week prior we’d found the perfect response: a winning one.

Goals: Adduci 3, Vickery 3, Brolic 3, Whitecross, Stewart

Best: B Evans, Miles, Jones, Brolic, Vickery, Gibson

Round Twelve v Williamstown (Home)

With the two sides sitting in the top four and having played a cracker of a match just ten weeks prior, Williamstown’s round twelve visit to Box Hill City Oval shaped as a tantalising match-up.

We started the contest on the front foot and looked a good chance to go two-for-two against the ‘Gulls following a terrific first quarter, but that was where our joy for the day ended.

Willy would find their groove after the first change to kick eight second quarter goals to mark a six goal turnaround, before adding another five goals in the third quarter to race to a forty-five point lead at the last break.

A little like the Casey game of a fortnight prior it wasn’t a case of lacking effort or application, but rather a struggle to find our rhythm and make that which we know works work. Ultimately that all comes down to the terrific performance of our opponents on the day.

The Hawks and Seagulls would cancel each other out in an even final term, finishing the game separated by the same margin at full time as they were at three quarter time, as the visitors inflicted our second home defeat on the bounce.

Morrison, Willsmore, Cousins and Moore were our principle ball-winners on a day in which Williamstown did a fine job to stifle our more dangerous players, ensuring clean looks at our attacking goal were few and far between.

Anthony Brolic’s performance was a positive, however, with the young star putting together a run of very impressive and consistent form through the middle part of the season.

Box Hill                   4.4     6.5     8.8      10.13 (73)
2.3   10.5   15.11   17.16 (118)

Goals: Brolic 2, Cousins, Moore, Hanrahan, Switkowski, Willsmore, Vickery, B Evans, Lewis

Best: Morrison, Hanrahan, Willsmore, Fisher, Moore, Brolic

Round Thirteen v North Ballarat (Home)

Like I said, the best response is always a winning one. Just as we’d done at Preston City Oval two weeks prior, we won following a loss to reclaim top spot.

The emphasis during the week must’ve been on a fast start because the intensity was outstanding from the off, putting the travelling Roosters to the sword early and often in a clinical first quarter.

Only five weeks earlier we’d made the longest road trip in the VFL to play Ballarat on their own deck and struggled to break them down. This time around, with a ruthless attitude and commitment to fast, team orientated footy and in familiar and slightly more temperate surrounds, we ended the game as a contest by half-time.

Having managed eleven and ten goals in the previous two weeks it was a return to the equal opportunity offence of earlier in the season, with five players kicking multiple goals and twelve in total splitting the big sticks over the course of the game.

Brolic continued his wonderful run with another three goals, whilst Jones and Vickery proved a handful to split four evenly between them.

Nelson Lane, playing his tenth game of the year, would amass a season-high twenty-one disposals and kick two goals himself to mark one of the standout displays of his debut campaign.

The Roosters dug in and produced some good football in the last to win the quarter and keep the scoreline respectable, denying us what at one stage looked like a potentially percentage boosting bonus to go with the four points.

As pleasing as the win was, perhaps more heartening was the return of skipper David Mirra. On managed game time following a longer than expected layoff, ‘Miz’ would enjoy a solid hit out, finishing with twenty-three disposals for the day.

Box Hill                 5.3   8.8   15.11   18.13 (121)
North Ballarat       0.3   2.10   4.13   9.18 (72)

Goals: Brolic 3, Lane 2, Jones 2, Willsmore 2, Vickery 2, Miles, Switkowski, B Evans, Hanrahan, Williams, Bond, Murphy

Best: Moore, Whitecross, Vickery, Lane, Willsmore, Miles

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