VFL Round 2 Match Preview: Hawks Head Down Highway

Who: Geelong
Where: GMHBA Stadium
When: Saturday, 11:05am
Radio: 3WBC, 94.1FM
TV/Streaming: available to stream via the VFL match centre

Double Header

For the second week running our VFL and VFLW sides will be in action back-to-back, searching for a second successive eight-point weekend and the perfect start to 2024.

Both outfits will be out to consolidate excellent performances and results from round one, while Geelong’s men’s and women’s programs will be keen to atone for first up losses.

Our VFL side gets the day’s play at GMHBA Stadium underway from 11:05am, with the VFLW high-flyers following at 2:10pm. 

A Little Bit of History

Let’s make one thing clear: past history has no bearing on what can and will happen on Saturday morning at GMHBA Stadium. If nothing else it can be fun to delve into the record books to reminisce. 

Having said that, Box Hill have an excellent recent record against their round two hosts. The brown and gold have won the past two match-ups between the sides by an average of eight goals and the last seven meetings all told.

Interestingly, the first win in that streak was the last time the sides played off for points at GMHBA Stadium – round four, 2017.

Box Hill and Geelong have contested four finals in the past 15 years – the 2009 Elimination Final, the 2012 Semi-Final, the 2013 Grand Final and the 2018 Semi-Final – with the Hawks boasting a three-and-one record in these September showdowns.

In fact, since defeating Geelong on Grand Final day in 2013 the Hawks have lost to the Cats in VFL action just once – round 11, 2016.

As for the last time the two teams met, it was the Hawks who lead from wire-to-wire on the MCG to record a 55-point win.

Ed Phillips was superb in recording a team-high 31 disposals and finished as the highest rated player on the ground thanks to his seven tackles, 10 marks, four clearances and one goal.

Big man Max Lynch was similarly important to the winning cause, finishing his day’s work with 19 disposals, 34 hit-outs, seven clearances and two goals. 

The tall-and-small combination of Jaylon Thorpe and Sam Butler evenly shared eight goals, while mid-season draftee Ethan Stanley showed his poise on the big stage with 14 touches and a goal of his own.

2023 So Far

The Hawks were excellent in their first-up match for 2024, accounting for Casey to the tune of 41-points on Sunday afternoon.

It was the brown and gold’s first win against the Demons since round one, 2019, and the points were secured on account of as even and strong a performance as any coach would dream about.

Clean in the contest, dominant in the air, efficient by hand and foot, Box Hill boasted the eight highest ranked players on the ground, established an early lead and controlled proceedings until the final siren. 

Cal Brown won 29 touches, using his line breaking run and carry to set his team up all afternoon, while Harry Morrison was just as effective across half-back and the wings with his 28 disposals. 

Henry Hustwaite and Cal Porter won 14 clearances and laid 17 tackles between them to control the inside of the contest, with big Lloyd Meek doing his best to provide them first use of the ball. 

I could go on and on naming excellent contributors, but I’d be here all day.

As for the Cats, they started their 2024 campaign with a 53-point defeat at the hands of 2023 runners-up Werribee.

Though a relatively even contest in and around the ball, Werribee finished the day with 10 of the top 12 disposal winners on the ground, 97 more disposals, 53 more marks and 29 more tackles.

Mitch Hardie and Marcus Herbet were the only players in hoops who eclipsed 20 touches, while former Hawk Emerson Jeka finished with 18 disposals. 

It goes without saying Geelong will hope to be better second up than they were right out of the gate. 

Selection News

I mean, lets not bury the lede. Jack Gunston will play his first match for the Box Hill Hawks in 12 years. The three-time premiership star has kicked 453 senior goals in his illustrious career and managed seven the last time he represented the ‘Stangs. Something like that on Saturday would do nicely. 

He’s joined in the team by big man Ned Reeves, who comes into Box Hill’s 23 for his first game at VFL level since 2021, and midfielder Finn Maginness, who played seven games at the state league level in 2023.

Pleasingly, Cooper Stephens and Jack O’Sullivan will see their first competitive minutes of 2024, having both overcome interrupted pre-seasons.

To make way for these additions Zane Littlejohn loses the magnets of Lloyd Meek, Harry Morrison, Henry Hustwaite, Max Ramsden and James Parsons – the latter of whom had successful surgery to repair his achilles tendon on Thursday. 

One(s) to Watch

Ethan Phillips will look to follow-up last weekend’s excellent 21 disposal, 15 mark performance – and if he can, a senior debut is surely just around the corner. 

The former Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medalist was the final player added to Hawthorn’s list following James Blanck’s ACL in February and the key back did plenty right in his first official match in brown and gold.

Assured overhead, tidy in possession and vocal throughout, the key back waxed brilliantly with Jai Serong and Ben De Bolfo to keep Casey’s forwards under wraps from the first siren. 

How To Follow

Match coverage will be provided via our social channels throughout the day, while a radio call will be available via our wonderful community partners 3WBC 94.1FM.

Where To Watch

The official VFL match centre will carry live coverage of both our VFL and VFLW matches this Saturday.

The VFL livestream kicks off from 11am, while the VFLW stream will come online from 2:00pm.

Membership

Membership, as always, is the best way to support the Box Hill Hawks in 2024!

We play our first home game out of Fenjiu Stadium in Round 4, but getting in early will ensure you’re ready to go for the visit of North Melbourne on April 20th. 

You can purchase your 2024 Box Hill Hawks membership via this link.

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