Seniors: Hawks hang on for a pulsating win

A late charge from Williamstown wasn’t enough to deny the senior Box Hill Hawks on Saturday, as they clung on to win by five points in a thriller a Burbank Oval.

The Hawks looked to be in control throughout the second and third quarter, extending the margin to five goals before Williamstown came back late with a flurry.

The sun was shining at Burbank Oval as the Hawks ran out onto the field to take on the Seagulls in the club’s fourth and final practice match before the official 2015 season begins.

In what were perfect conditions, it was a low-scoring opening term with the ferocity of pressure being applied by both teams beyond what would tend to be expected for a practice match.

The resulting pressure made it difficult for each teams to create meaningful inside 50s, with the game predominately being played between the two 50-metre arcs.

Goalless heading into red time in the first quarter, a couple of quick goals to Dallas Willsmore and Mitchell O’Donnell finally got the Hawks on the board and back in touch after Williamstown kicked the opening couple of goals.

A late running goal to Williamstown secured the quarter-time lead for the Seagulls, with the margin a mere four points.

Having reclaimed some momentum in the first quarter, the Hawks carried it on into the second quarter, opening with some quick goals to establish a nine-point lead.

It was goal-for-goal for the rest of the quarter, with Sam Grimley proving a problem for the Seagulls, kicking two second-quarter goals and looking likely for more.

A strong pack mark for David Hale resulted in the big man’s first goal, while several wasted opportunities for the Hawks resulted in a late goal to Williamstown, leaving only a four-point lead to show for the Hawks’ dominance at half time.

It wouldn’t be a Williamstown home game without the weather inexplicably dropping, and so it was for the second half with the only relief from the cold temperature off the field was the Hawks running hot on the field.

The first 15 minutes of the third quarter were ominous for the Hawks, known as the premiership quarter, Box Hill completely dismantle Williamstown through the midfield.

O’Donnell got things underway in the second half for the Hawks with his second goal of the day which was followed quickly by Sam Grimley.

Contrary to the first half where the Seagulls converted all their chances, the rare opportunities Williamstown managed to find in the third quarter were being wasted as the Hawks, with further goals to McEvoy and Woodward, extending the margin out to five goals.

The shell-shocked Seagulls managed to find their composure late in the third quarter, with two late goals giving Williamstown a sniff in the final quarter, with Box Hill holding on to a 16-point lead at the last change.

In a pulsating final quarter, the Hawks looked home several times after goals to Schoenmakers and Spangher seemed to give Box Hill sufficient breathing space, only for the quick reply on both occasions to Williamstown.

With time running out and the game looking won, a burst of two goals to Williamstown towards the death brought the margin back to under a goal from out of no where, with the Hawks under siege in defense.

The David Mirra-led defense was phenomenal in the last few minutes, somehow keeping Williamstown at bay despite the ball being in the Seagulls half of the ground for the entirety of the time with inside 50 after inside 50.

With the Seagulls looking to set up another offensive thrust, the siren sounded to end a pulsating practice match, as Box Hill ran out five-point victors.

The Seniors will get their season underway this Saturday 18 April when they come up against Grand Final opponents Footscray at the Whitten Oval at 12pm in a Channel 7 broadcast game.

Box Hill Hawks 2.3   7.6   11.9  13.11   89

Williamstown    3.1   7.2    9.5   13.6    84

Goals: Grimley 3, O’Donnell 2, McEvoy, Williams, Schoenmakers, Spangher, O’Brien, Hale, Woodward, Willsmore

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