VFL Women’s Round 8: Talking Points

Being a coach requires determination of focus. Box Hill’s VFL Women’s coach Patrick Hill can see the week-to-week development of his side but won’t be satisfied until his Hawks are winning games.

Box Hill went down to ladder-leaders Diamond Creek by 38 points in Round 7 but were within reach for much of the match and were left lamenting not converting on the chances earned in a dominant third quarter.

Their Round 8 meet with the St Kilda Sharks will be a definitive marker of how far Box Hill have come in 2017. In their Round 3 clash with the Sharks, Box Hill surprised all and sundry by matching it with the 2016 finalists for three quarters before St Kilda pulled away in the last. It was a significant leap forward for the side, not only in their self-belief but in Hill’s priority of his side’s perception by their opponents.

Here are five talking points ahead of Round 8…

  1. What to do about Davey?
    In Round 3, St Kilda were missing their best player, and arguably one of the best in VFL Women’s, when half-back/midfielder Brianna Davey was a Thursday night withdrawal. At her best, Davey can break games open with her strength and ability to win contested ball and drive her side into attack. “She’s a very good player and someone we’ve got to be careful of,” says Hill. “We may tag her but we’ll try to back in our midfield systems. They’ve got enough talented players to keep us occupied.”
  2. Round 3: Lessons learnt…
    After getting a good look at St Kilda in Round 3, the Box Hill brains trust has spent the week doing their homework on the strengths and weaknesses of the fifth-placed Sharks to take the result from ‘brave defeat’ to ‘victory’. “I like the way they go forward, they’re very deliberate in that way. We’ll pay a little bit of attention to their entry but we’ll still be looking to stick to our structures.”
  3. …and improvements made
    So what about Box Hill will really make the Sharks sit up and take notice during Sunday’s match? How have we improved and what have we changed? “I thought they were pretty good against St Kilda. Our ball movement has improved week-on-week certainly getting more entries. The girls have a better understanding of how we want to defend the ground.”
  4. Our new secret weapons
    After spending the first two months of the season recovering from pre-season injuries, the much-vaunted Julia Crocket-Grills and Kristy Stratton will at last make their debuts in the brown and gold. Hill says the pair are set to give our midfield an extra set of teeth working alongside Emma Mackie and Mel Kuys. “Julia’s been doing a lot of work on her fitness. Very good ball user, particularly in contested ball, and her run and carry is integral to our ball movement,” says Hill. “Stratton would be one of our best midfielders. On her day, she probably covers the ground the best, she wins the contest and then keeps on going. She has good ball use and she’s a real competitor much in the same way that Emma Mackie is.”
  5. Victory via efficiency
    Except for a comprehensive defeat against Darebin in Round 6, Box Hill have been racing neck-and-neck with their opposition coming into the home strait of late only to be left wanting for poise or skill. Hill says he can’t wait to see what his side can do once they’ve ironed out that last wrinkle.Over the last couple of weeks against Diamond Creek and particularly against the Devils, it’s looked like we haven’t been able to finish the job but we had 14 Inside 50s to five in the last against the Devils and we couldn’t quite capitalise. Across the third quarter last week and early in the fourth quarter we had 10 shots and same thing, couldn’t get the score. We’ve developed an ability to hang into contests but it’s now about finishing off the goals. We’ve got the opportunity to be better in front of the sticks and with Kristy Stratton and Julia Crockett-Grills we’ll have better rotation through the midfield.”

Box Hill face St Kilda at the Peanut Farm Reserve from 2pm.

Photo: Kadek Thatcher Photography

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