VFL Match Report: Hawks Tame Lions

The Box Hill Hawks have produced their best performance and secured their most impressive result of the 2023 season, accounting for the undefeated and ladder leading Brisbane Lions by 19-points at Box Hill City Oval.

The win sees the Hawks move to 8-2 on the season and further consolidate a place in the competition’s top four, all the while keeping pace with the Lions and Suns – the latter of whom Box Hill face next up after the bye.

Cal Brown was named his side’s best player on the day, with the former-Magpie exceptional as he tallied 30 disposals, four inside 50s, five clearances, eight marks, seven tackles and goal.

But, as I’m sure you can imagine, he was far from a one man band.

Second-year Hawk Josh Ward was superb with 28 touches, six tackles, three clearances and a goal himself, while the ever-reliable Cal Porter competed time and again in the clinches and on the spread as he recorded 21 touches and seven marks.

Harry Morrison backed up his fine display last weekend with another excellent outing at VFL level, winning 30 touches and taking seven marks in an assured performance across half-back. The Hawthorn no.1’s ball use and poise proved invaluable during periods of the match controlled by the visiting Lions. 

Fergus Greene stole the show inside 50, finishing with a game-high five goals from 10 touches and four marks. A fan favourite during his time with Box Hill, the Club’s two-time leading goal kicker found space expertly and finished clinically all afternoon.

And then there’s the evergreen Damian Mascitti. A smooth moving distributor across half-back these days, Mascitti wound back the clock with a 25-disposal, eight mark, two-goal showing across half-forward to prove what a threat he can be in just about any role on the ground.

But, again, today’s result wasn’t down to the efforts of just six men.

Box Hill debutant Chad Wingard impressed with 14 classy touches and a goal – and he could’ve had more if not for the post and a couple of extremely unselfish moments; Ned Long and Henry Hustwaite split 47 touches and were notable for their work in and outside the contest; Jed Rule made his first appearance since round one and kicked three superb goals; Ed Phillips and Finn Maginness worked tirelessly to tally 24 and 21 disposals respectively; and Denver Grainger-Barrass flew fearlessly for everything that entered his area to pull down nine marks. 

And that says nothing of – and is an incredible disservice to – the excellent contributions of those not mentioned. 

In all Box Hill had 60 more disposals, but 10 fewer inside 50s, five less clearances but 23 more tackles. And to further illustrate the control Zane Littlejohn’s men had over the tempo and width of the contest they took 40 more marks. 

Truthfully, it’s a result that feels significant – and it was set up with an excellent first quarter into the breeze. A breeze, it’s worth mentioning, which was unpredictable and made conversion a challenge. 

Littlejohn had spoken pre-match about discipline and with a three-to-four goal breeze pushing the ball to the teeth of Brisbane’s goal, it was discipline which kept that goal safe and, importantly, created opportunities at the other end.

Despite conceding the first two goals of the contest, the Hawks stuck to their task, looked to attack when prudent and willed the ball into dangerous positions.

Fergus Greene got his side’s first of the day after 10 minutes and 12 tight and tense minutes after that Ed Phillips put the Hawks in front – a position they wouldn’t relinquish. Greene’s second capped a fine quarter for both himself and his team and ensured Box Hill would kick with the wind and an advantage to build upon.

When play resumed the Hawks and Lions traded behinds for just shy of 15 minutes, with the blustery conditions and heat of the contest conspiring to make scoring difficult.

Greene’s third broke the deadlock and Jed Rule’s first extended the lead to 18-points mid-way through the term, before the Lions found a steadier.

But goals from Mascitti and Ramsden gave the Hawks a well-deserved four goal lead at the main break.

The third started much the same as the first, with Brisbane kicking two quick goals to trim the margin back to a couple of kicks, but again Box Hill bunkered down into the breeze and saw their discipline rewarded.

Rule kicked his second, Greene his fourth and Wingard his first as the hosts moved in for the kill.

But, as the coach said they would, Brisbane rallied. Five minutes earlier the match looked to be slipping away, but deep into time on the visitors kicked three quick goals to keep the game alive. 

Just eight points to the good with a quarter to play, there was an element of deja vu about the task ahead. Just seven days earlier the Hawks were similarly positioned against the Seagulls, before seeing the contest and the points slip away.

Not again.

Jed Rule got the ball rolling a superbly clean and instinctive gather off hands in the goal square, before Jack O’Sullivan finished off a rollicking period of repeat efforts to jag his first. 

When Cal Brown received a handball and steered through his first goal in brown and gold the Hawks had sprinted out to a game-high 28-point lead with seven-and-a-half minutes played.

Mascitti got in on the act with 13 minutes gone to stretch the lead out beyond five goals and the result looked all but secured.

But the Lions wouldn’t go away. Kai Lohmann’s second was immediately cancelled out by Josh Ward’s first, but just as they’d done in the third term Brisbane found three quick ones in time on to reduce the margin back to just 13-points. 

It was left to Fergus Greene to put the finishing touches on an excellent day. The Hawks’ forward read the play further afield brilliantly, found space out the back, marked unattended and kicked goal number five to hand Box Hill a superb win.

The Hawks will return to action in fortnight’s time when they travel to the Gold Coast to play the Suns.

Box Hill




16.13 109





12.18 90

Brown, Ward, Morrison, Greene, Mascitti, Porter

Disposals: Brown 30, Morrison 30, Ward 28, Mascitti 25, Phillips 24, Hustwaite 24, Long 23

Goals: Greene 5, Rule 3, Mascitti 2, Wingard, Ward, Ramsden, Phillips, O’Sullivan, Brown

Similar Posts