VFL Match Preview: Hawks Set to Take On Sharks

The Box Hill Hawks return to VFL action on Saturday afternoon, welcoming Southport to Box Hill City Oval.

Keep reading for a comprehensive-ish tale of the tape!

Who: Southport Sharks
Where: Box Hill City Oval
When: Saturday 20 May
First bounce: 12:05 pm
Gates: 10:30am

A Little Bit of History

‘A little bit of history’ indeed, the Box Hill Hawks and Southport Sharks have met just once before.

While the Sharks joined the VFL for the 2021 season, a series of COVID enforced interruptions saw the season abandoned before the two sides crossed paths. 

When Box Hill and Southport eventually locked horns in round 16, 2022 at Box Hill City Oval, the visiting Sharks proved a touch too strong on the day, running out 15-point winners due in large part to a dominant first half.

Five goals in arrears at the long break, the Hawks rallied in the third term to trim the margin to just 17-points with one to play; in fact, after conceding the open goal of the last quarter the brown and gold got as close as nine points with seven minutes to play. 

Cal Porter was arguably his side’s best on the day, accumulating a team-high 28 touches, laying six tackles, winning six clearances, driving his team inside 50 on six occasions and kicking a goal. 

The evergreen Damian Mascitti was excellent as well, finishing the day with four inside 50s, eight rebound 50s and four clearances on his way to 26 disposals. 

For their part, the Sharks would go on to contest the 2022 VFL Grand Final. They would finish runner-up to Casey.

2023 So Far

Box Hill sit third on the VFL ladder through eight rounds by virtue of a five-and-one record. The Hawks are the only team in the top six – and one of two teams in the top eight – to have had two byes to this point, thus hold a game in hand over a number of their nearest rivals.

The brown and gold hit their most recent bye in winning fashion, bouncing back from a first defeat on the season a week prior to account for the Northern Bullants at Preston City Oval.

Having been kept goal less to quarter time Box Hill came alive in the second term, booting 9.6 to 1.0 to flip the game on it’s head.

While not as dominant or spectacular thereafter, the Hawks won the third and fourth quarters to run out 57-point winners.

Sam Butler and Jaylon Thorpe were the main destroyers inside 50, splitting seven goals between them, while Cam Mackenzie was superb to finish with 30 touches, six marks, eight tackles and a goal.

Big man Max Ramsden was deemed best on ground on the back of a 22 disposals, two goal, 11 clearance, 35 hit-out showing, with Co-Captain Cal Porter also excellent, winning 29 touches, 11 clearances of his own and laying seven tackles. 

Southport are the only team in the VFL to have played all eight possible matches to start 2023.

Having lost three of their first four engagements, the Sharks have enjoyed a strong return to form of late, accounting for Footscray by 26-points, the Bullants by 82-points and Geelong by 44-points before falling to the undefeated, ladder-leading Gold Coast last weekend.

Played at Southport’s Fankhauser Reserve, the hosts trailed by 40-points at three quarter time, only to rattle home in the final half-an-hour. 

26-points down with thirteen minutes played, the Sharks had the last nine scoring shots of the contest, but managed just 3.6 to fall agonisingly short of a sensational comeback. In the last act of the game, speedster Jacob Heron set sail from just on 50m. An accurate kick would win his side the day, alas it pitched just short and bounced askew.  

All told Southport boast the competition’s two most prolific ball-winners in Jacob Dawson and Boyd Woodcock, while Fraser Thurlow leads the race for the Frosty Miller Medal with 23 goals on the season – but Jaylon Thorpe sits just six back with two games in hand. 

While not looking beyond the challenge of Southport this weekend, the Hawks have a potentially season-shaping month ahead.

Once Zane Littlejohn’s charges clear this Saturday’s match-up with the Sharks, they will square off against Essendon the week after, before back-to-back home stands against the fifth-placed Williamstown and second-placed Brisbane Lions. 

Selection News

The Hawks have made seven changes to the side which last played a fortnight ago.

Into the 23-man squad come a quartet of AFL-listed players, comprised of Jack Scrimshaw, Jai Serong, Finn Maginness and Fergus Greene.

Greene’s appearance in a Box Hill guernsey will be his first since swapping his no.56 for a Hawthorn no.26.

Jai Serong will make his first appearance of the 2023 campaign, having overcome a health scare which has kept him sidelined since late March.

Having been rested for the Hawks’ last hit-out, Damian Mascitti returns to the fray off a run for his local club, Doncaster East. 

Finally, a pair of mid-season draft hopefuls have been afforded the chance to impress one last time before Wednesday’s draft. Ethan Stanley, who has put together a terrific start to life at VFL level, is back in the squad after an excellent fortnight in the ‘Young Guns’ set-up, while Gippsland Power top-ager Ryan Maric will feature in his first VFL match.

No Place Like Home

With Hawthorn’s senior side in Tasmania there’s no better place than Box Hill City Oval for fans of the brown and gold to get their footy fix this weekend.

The VFL match-up kicks off a huge double header at 12:05pm, before the VFLW outfit welcome Carlton for a 3:15pm start. 

Valid 2023 Hawthorn members are entitled to free entry on the day, so be sure to wear your colours and head on down. 

Please use our handy game day guide to help plan your visit.

One to Watch

A creative, hard working, skilful half-forward, Max Hall’s second season at City Oval has been as encouraging as it has frustratingly stop-start. 

Aligned programs often ask a lot of their younger talent. It asks you be patient, you perform and train well and, perhaps most importantly, understand excellent form is no guarantee you’ll retain your place in the team. 

The Montrose Demons youngster has twice tallied in excess of 15 touches and twice booted two goals in his four hit-outs to date, making the most of the opportunities he’s been afforded while unluckily missing out on selection against Geelong and Casey. 

Strong overhead, tough as teak and reliable in front of goal, Hall has quickly cast himself as central to the Box Hill Hawks’ plans in 2023. 

How To Follow

Hawks fans can keep up-to-date with all the action via our official social media channels.

Curated match commentary will be provided on Twitter, while further coverage will be available across Instagram and Facebook.  

Where To Watch

All VFL matches can be streamed via the AFL app. Coverage of Sunday’s game starts at 12:00pm and can be found in the match hub or via this link.

Further, radio commentary can be found via our community radio partner, 3WBC 94.1FM.

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