VFL Round 11 Match Report: Gulls Down Hawks

The Box Hill Hawks have fallen to their second loss on the season, defeated by a fast finishing Williamstown at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday afternoon.

Having trailed at the first change, the Hawks rallied to head the Seagulls at half and three-quarter-time, controlling large patches of the contest in the process. With Box Hill unable to put the game to bed, it was left to the visitors to produce a stirring four goal to nil final term and pinch the points.

Harry Morrison was declared the Hawks’ best player on the day, finishing with a game-high 31 disposals, 13 marks and 138 ranking points.

The creative and courageous half-back showed his class and poise with ball in hand all afternoon, recording four inside 50s, three rebound 50s and four tackles in a fine individual display. 

Midfielders Cooper Stephens, Ed Phillips and Cal Porter also impressed. Stephens tallied 25 touches, while Phillips and Porter finished their days with 20 disposals apiece. 

For his part, Stephens also had six clearances, laid eight tackles and pulled in four marks in, arguably, his best display in brown and gold. 

Phillips lead his side in inside 50s with five, took nine marks and was an outlet on transition throughout the contest; while Porter was typically hard in the clinches, recording seven clearances and a staggering 15 tackles – six more than any other player on the ground. 

In defence it was the tandem of Hugh Beasley and Stu Horner who anchored a sturdy rearguard action, though they were ably supported by a cast of their teammates, including Denver Grainger-Barrass (23 touches, 11 marks) and Jai Serong (16 touches).

Beasley restricted the dangerous Joel Ottavi to just five touches and a solitary goal, while the returning Horner, back in the side following a medium term hamstring injury, was a reliable foil for his skipper in the air and on the deck.

Ultimately, the first meeting between the Hawks and Seagulls in four years was a game of fine margins, with the stats going some way towards painting a picture of two teams employing contrasting yet highly competitive styles.

Box Hill finished +76 in disposals, but +6 in tackles. The top 10 possession winners on the ground wore brown and gold, but they finished -12 in clearance. The Hawks took 32 more marks, finished -5 in scoring shots, but trailed for just nine-and-a-half minutes more than the lead for.

In a see-sawing, entertaining arm-wrestle, at no stage did the margin exceed 15-points – in fact, Box Hill’s biggest lead of the day was just 10-points.

The two teams set the stage for what was to come in an excellent opening quarter in which Box Hill struck first via the boot of Cooper Stephens, before Wliiamstown produced five of the next seven goals to kick out to a dangerous lead.

Josh Morris’ instinctive snap kept the Hawks in touch, before Bennetts pounced on a loose ball in the goal square to poke home his second of the opening term.

Bennetts’ timely goal drew his side within nine points at the first change, but when play resumed Lachie Wynd steered through his first VFL goal of the season and it looked as though Hawks had reclaimed the momentum and initiative.

But, after seeing 10 goals kicked in a little over a quarter of football we’d be made to wait 18-minutes for the next.

Having survived a sustained period of pressure from Williamstown for the concession of just three behinds, the Hawks made their move.

Josh Morris saw a shot sail just wide, before Cooper Stephens added his second of the afternoon to give the Hawks their first lead since early in the first term. 

When Fergus Greene kicked his first of the day mere minutes later Box Hill had turned a nine-point quarter time deficit into a nine-point half-time lead. 

Early goals to Williamstown’s Toby Triffett and Darby Henderson restored the visitor’s advantage, before Max Ramsden’s expertly taken set shot handed his side a slender one-point lead.

As was the case in the second term, this period of high scoring, high tempo footy gave way to trickier, tougher stretch in which to score.

There were 11 scoreless minutes following Ramsden’s goal and 20 goal-less minutes in total before Jack O’Sullivan won a free kick right in front and converted a crucial goal after the three-quarter-time siren.

This set the table for a grandstand finish in which opportunities would likely be scarce and execution would almost certainly decide the day. 

Cooper Stephens and Max Hall saw a pair of half chances register minor scores, before Seagulls skipper Cam Polson converted what proved to be a vital half chance of his own.

Clinging to a single digit lead for over 10 minutes, the Hawks couldn’t find the goal they needed to release the pressure valve and open the game up. Back-to-back goals to Corey Ellison made things tricky, before Corey Preston’s late sealer condemned Box Hill to their second loss of the year. 

In the end it was the Seagulls’ day and Box Hill were left to rue what might have been.

Box Hill

4.0

7.3

9.4

9.7 61

Williamstown

5.3

5.6

7.8

11.10 76


Best:
Morrison, Stephens, Phillips, Beasley, Horner, Porter

Goals:
Stephens, Bennetts 2, Wynd, Ramsden, O’Sullivan, Greene, Morris

Disposals: Morrison 31, Brown 27, Stephens 25, Maginness 25, Grainger-Barrass 23, Mascitti 22

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