Semi Final Match Preview

WHERE: North Port Oval
WHEN: Sunday, 2:10 PM
COVERAGE:  Channel 7; 3WBC radio – 94.1FM; SEN 1116


Round 21, 2018: Box Hill 14.9 (93) defeated Geelong 10.12 (72) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 16, 2017: Box Hill 19.23 (137) defeated Geelong 13.7 (85) at Box Hill City Oval
Round 4, 2017: Geelong 8.5 (53) defeated by Box Hill 14.11 (95) at Simmonds Stadium
Round 11, 2016: Geelong 18.10 (118) defeated Box Hill 10.9 (69) at Simmonds Stadium
Round 18, 2015: Geelong 10.11 (71) defeated by Box Hill 19.7 (121) at Simmonds Stadium


One of the game’s greatest rivalries will reignite on Sunday afternoon, when the Hawks and Cats fight to keep their respective finals campaigns alive in a semi-final showdown at North Port Oval.

Two alternate paths have been forged thus far – the Cats required to fall back on their double chance after being taught a football lesson by Casey; and the Hawks progressing via an elimination final victory for the ages, with extra time needed to decide their fate against Port Melbourne.

This week, the slate is wiped clean and both sides must win if they’re to have a shot at the ultimate glory at the end of September.

The eye needn’t be cast back far to see when the two clubs last met, with the fiery clash in the final round of the home and away season, just a fortnight ago. A monumental second half from Box Hill, who flicked a switch at the major break to kick twelve goals to Geelong’s five, ensuring the Hawks would run out 21 points the superior.

However, September remains an entirely different ball game.

While the two sides rank either first or second in the competition for disposals, uncontested possessions, uncontested marks and handball-receives, adopting a precedence for a more controlled style of game play, it may be around the contest where the match is won and lost. Pressure on the opposition will remain crucial to the result, with Box Hill looking to continue recent form and Geelong eager to bounce back and make a statement.

The do-or-die contest will continue the ‘Love the Game’ Finals series, a partnership between AFL Victoria and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation. The Foundation’s ‘Love the Game’ campaign reminds adults and the kids in their care that sport and betting don’t have to go together – whether a player or a fan, it’s about loving the game, not the odds.


Hawks fans are encouraged to get down to North Port Oval to show their support for the brown and gold, with tickets priced at $15 for adults and $10 for all valid concession holders, while children under 15 will be admitted for free. Tickets will be available at the gate or can be pre-purchased here.

However, those unable to attend will be able to watch all the action unfold, with the first bounce to the final siren televised live on Channel 7 from 2:00PM. Alternatively, fans can tune into 3WBC for a live radio broadcast.

Running commentary will also be provided by our official social channels over the course of the match; with Twitter the destination for play by play action, and Facebook and Instagram providing updates by the quarter.


Chris Newman has named 18 senior AFL-listed Hawks in his 27-man squad; yet to omit anyone from the group who secured last week’s extra-time victory, with the final make-up of the team to take the field to be confirmed prior to the first bounce.

Vice-Captain Mitch O’Donnell returns to the selection mix, having missed a fortnight of football with a fractured jaw. Remarkably sustained prior to half-time in the Hawk’s round 20 clash with Casey, O’Donnell went on to play out the match whilst recording a game-high 17 tackles – and as such, would remain a welcome addition given the contested nature of finals football.

Former skipper David Mirra could also figure this week after a stint in the senior side; while livewire Billy Murphy and versatile mid Lachlan Walker round out the potential inclusions.

For the opposition, Geelong make six additions to the side that went down to Casey, headlined by reigning NEAFL MVP, Jordan Keras. Similarly to Box Hill’s O’Donnell, Keras too suffered a broken jaw and just three weeks later is set to make his comeback, seeking to provide a strong physical presence around the contest for the Cats.

A slew of VFL talent return to the frame for Geelong, including running defender Callum Mitchell, utility Sam Siggins, the polished Nathan Horbury, strong forward Sam Dobson and 23rd man, talented youngster Trent McMullan.

Power forward Esava Ratugolea will continue his successful return from injury, playing for the first time when the Cats and Hawks last met, since fracturing his ankle in round ten.

Also returning in that match was promising small forward Lincoln McCarthy, who will likewise continue, after a horror run of injuries restricted the luckless Cat to a lengthy stint on the sidelines earlier in the season.

AFL Cats George Horlin-Smith and Jackson Thurlow will look to provide an inside boost for Geelong, joined in the middle by the explosive Quinton Narkle, hard-nosed Lachie Fogarty and versatile Charlie Constable.

However, the Cats will be without key forward Stewart Crameri, a late withdrawal from last week’s hit-out as a consequence of a niggling groin complaint and unable to reach full fitness for a return this week.


Denied the double chance and forced to an elimination clash, the Hawks were made to earn their spot in the second week of finals by a dogged Port Melbourne outfit.

Last week at North Port Oval, a 30-point half-time Box Hill advantage was evaporated, as the Borough claimed the lead with regular time about to elapse. However, the Hawks saved their season with a last gasp goal in the dying seconds, to send the match to extra time. Box Hill eventually prevailed at the conclusion of two five-minute periods, with two unanswered majors in the first sealing their semi-final berth.

While it was a hard-fought triumph, the Hawks will take confidence from recent form, with their elimination final win over the Borough preceded by victories over Collingwood, Casey and this week’s opponent, Geelong.


Finishing the home and away year narrowly missing a home final – but securing the coveted double chance – the Cats would soon come to realise just how valuable that shot at redemption would be, after being outclassed by Casey on their home deck last week.

The Cats conceded the game’s first seven goals to be 41 points down early in the second quarter – the early burst putting an end to the contest almost as soon as it began. While Geelong hit back to reduce the margin to 23 points midway through the term, they would manage just one further major for the duration to go down by a significant 91 points.

Contrary to the Hawks, the recent form of Geelong has been unconvincing, despite finishing third on the overall table. The Cats have suffered two hard-hitting defeats in a row, with last week’s battering headed by a tough loss to the Hawks in the final match of the home and away season – fortunes that the Cats will be eager to change come Sunday afternoon.


In an elimination final, with the margin standing at six points, 25 second remaining on the clock and the ball situated deep in Box Hill’s defence, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the year may have been done and dusted for the brown and gold.

Enter Oliver Hanrahan.

It was the young speedster who was on the end of an outstanding piece of team play, demonstrating exceptional work rate and a cool head under pressure to slot the season-saving goal in the dying seconds, to send the match to extra time.

Aside from his last-gasp heroics in turn securing the win, Hanrahan demonstrated arguably his best overall performance of the year, racking up 20 disposals in a match where he rotated on-ball and forward – and impacted both lines.

His two goals and withstanding pressure throughout the match exemplified a player rising to the occasion, speaking volumes of the young gun, who will only look to build in the coming weeks of September.

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