VFL: Round 18 Match Preview

WHERE: Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill
WHEN: Sunday, 2:00pm
HOW TO FOLLOW: We’ll be live tweeting the match via @boxhillhawks and posting quarterly updates on Facebook and Instagram.

Additionally, 3WBC 94.1FM will be providing radio commentary.

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

Round 7, 2017: Port Melbourne 15.18 (108) drew with Box Hill Hawks 16.12 (108)

Round 12, 2016: Port Melbourne 10.11 (71) defeated Box Hill 7.13 (55) at North Port Melbourne

Round 8, 2015: Box Hill 17.13 (115) defeated Port Melbourne 8.12 (60) at Box Hill City Oval

Qualifying Final, 2014: Port Melbourne 12.6 (78) defeated by Box Hill 16.6 (102) at North Port Oval

Round 8, 2014: Box Hill 13.14 (92) defeated by Port Melbourne 15.9 (99) at Box Hill City Oval

FORM

Round 13:
Box Hill defeated North Ballarat (H) by 52
Port Melbourne lost to Sandringham (H) by 8

Round 14:
Box Hill defeated Werribee (H) by 45
Port Melbourne lost to Williamstown (H) by 3


Round 15:
Box Hill defeated Sandringham (A) by 47
Port Melbourne lost to Werribee (A) by 4

Round 16:
Box Hill defeated Geelong (H) by 52
Port Melbourne defeated North Ballarat (A) by 43

Round 17:
Box Hill lost to Essendon (A) by 6
Port Melbourne defeated Coburg (H) by 160

SUMMARY

Back in round seven Box Hill and Port Melbourne played one of the all-time great VFL matches, with a draw a fitting result on the day.

In the weeks that followed both clubs remained at the pointy end, trading places whilst fortunes rose and fell on the rollercoaster that is home and away football.

The Borough were top after round twelve, but a three match skid – during which the aggregate of their three defeats was just fifteen points – dropped them to fifth after round fifteen.

The Hawks relinquished top spot last weekend – the first time since round twelve they hadn’t finished the weekend atop the ladder – as their loss to Essendon and Williamstown’s win over Werribee saw the sides swap places at the summit.

The loss bought an end to four consecutive wins for the Hawks and leaves them a win short of shoring up a top two finish.

The only side that can deprive the brown and gold a guaranteed home Qualifying Final is Port, and two wins over the past fortnight have lifted Gary Ayres’ side back into the top four and onto the coattails of the Hawks.

For the Box Hill and Port to swap second and third places on the table the Hawks would have to drop both matches and Port would need to claim the full eight premiership points.

TALKING POINTS

1. Christmas Comes Early

For footy fans the festive period has always been a couple months ahead of schedule.

Conventional calendars tell us Christmas is in December, but Melburnians know better.

The days are longer, the skies sunnier, the stakes higher. It’s September.

On Saturday, we – the Victorian football public – get a good old fashioned finals preview.

As said above, if the ladder stays as is the two sides will meet in just over a fortnight’s time. A Hawks win on Saturday will mean whoever they play in week one of the finals will have to visit Box Hill City Oval. A loss and it’s possible it’ll be the Hawks doing the travelling – to North Port.

Plenty on the line, then.

More than the finals permutations it’s a great chance to measure up against a fellow top four side this close to the pointy end of the season. On top of that, it’s the chance to get a mental edge ahead of another potential meeting.

Something (the ladder and potential draw, though mathematics and probability were never a strong suit) tells me Box Hill and Port will meet again in 2017. It could be as early as a Qualifying Final. It could be as late as the big dance itself.

2. Port’s Offence

Last weekend Port registered the frankly ludicrous score of 30.17 (197).

Thirty goals. Forty-seven shots on goal. A one-hundred and sixty point win. It wasn’t a great day for Coburg.

As a statistic those numbers are a bit tough one to gauge; impressive, but hard to place. Port averaged 89-points for a game in their first fifteen matches of the year, so that sort of production is a significant upgrade. What it does say is last weekend they were firing on all cylinders.

In VFL game number 199, Toby Pinwill – judged the Borough’s best when the sides last met – racked up 35 touches. Jordan Lisle kicked seven goals. Nine players kicked multiple goals. Former AFL-listed youngsters Dillon Viojo-Rainbow (Carlton) and Eli Templeton (St. Kilda) also continued to impress, winning plenty of ball and hitting the scoreboard.

Dangerous, varied and in top form, Box Hill’s defensive unit will have to be at their very best to contain a potent Port attack.

3. Lead From The Front

It’s on days like these, against opponents like Port and at this time of the season that leadership is tested and, above all, required.

A football club works all summer long to prepare for the season proper. They outline standards, behaviours and expectations that they’ll live and die by and, more importantly, that they’ll benchmark themselves against.

David Mirra spoke last week of leadership density. Last time the two sides met he sat the contest out, enduring the second of nine frustrating weeks on the sidelines.

It’s a fools errand to speculate what his presence is worth to Box Hill, but I’m going to anyway. Surely it’s at least one point.

in his absence – and since his return – the leadership density he spoke of couldn’t have been more evident. Max Warren (Mirra’s deputy), Andrew Moore and Nick Evans, amongst others, have shepherded an emerging group of youngsters into the senior squad and through the trials and tribulations of their first extended campaigns in VFL football.

Anthony Brolic, Sam Switkowski, Chris Jones, Brayden Kilpatrick, Joseph Fisher, Billy Murphy, Jordan Walker et al have all followed the leader, if you will, and the entire playing group will have to adhere to the standards and behaviours they outlined all those months back if they’re to get the points on Sunday.

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