Zebras jump Hawks

By Callum Godde

Box Hill’s AFL Development squad were made to pay the price for a lethargic opening half on Sunday, going down to a desperate Sandringham by 19 points.

Amazingly, the Hawks managed to briefly hit the lead in the fourth term. Before the home side refocused and ran away with the spoils.

Kalem Post was exceptional around the ground and up forward, kicking three goals and finishing as the only Hawk to kick multiple goals.

Upon arrival at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, the sight of Williamstown walloping Frankston greeted the Hawks. It would be a curtain-raiser that had direct implications for Box Hill – as nothing but a win would see them hang on to top spot.

While Sandringham could smell a birth back in the top-five – their first time since Round 7 – if they made it four on-the-trot with a win over the, then, top of the table Hawks.

Box Hill Coach, Kevin Collins, said he had been wary of the Zebras prior to bounce, earmarking the Round 17 clash in advance as a potential danger game.

“They [Sandringham] had to win for their finals hopes. We knew that, we’d seen them and were watching them for three weeks and knew that they could play.

“And they came in and played good footy and finished off better than us in the last quarter.

“That was probably the disappointing thing, we knew what we needed to do [in the last term] and we just couldn’t,” Collins said.

To put Box Hill’s first half effort in perspective, it was unequivocally their worst patch of football they’ve played this season – inclusive of their shock loss to Frankston in Round 5.

The Hawks only managed two goals to half time, and were lucky to find themselves only 18 points behind sixth placed Sandringham. Without the individual polished performances of Corey Cassidy, Nick Evans and Liam Tobin the Hawks may have found themselves considerably further adrift.

The effort of Cassidy, in particular, was outstanding.

“Butch [Corey Cassidy] was very good. He held us in it for a while; he managed to maintain possession well, keep our structure together and added a bit of composure.

“I thought he was exceptional over the whole game, actually,” Collins said.

Perhaps, the most telling statistic of the first half was that the Hawks – who pride themselves on their work around the stoppages  – were down 2/8 in forward-50 clearances.

Some tough truths were laid bare behind closed doors at half time. And rather than go into their shells, the young Hawks responded.

Before this, it was beginning to look fatal for the Hawks – who went without a goal in the entire second quarter – but Collins was able to find a pulse at half time. Thereafter the game, and moreover the Hawks, surged back to life.

A six goal to three third term from the Hawks was a deserved reward, as Collins’ men finally begun to shift out of first gear.

The revival began with Collins swinging utility, Jake Summers, forward. A move that yielded immediate results, as the youngster opportunistically banged one home to give the Hawks the first of the third quarter.

“Jake’s been one of our key defenders in the last couple of weeks. But they [Sandringham] didn’t have that many talls down back… so we threw him forward.

“He really responded. He got us up and about and also split their defenders – taking the pressure off Peter McEvoy,” Collins said.

Goals to Dylan Vizzari, Nick Evans and Peter McEvoy – the competitions leading goalkicker – had the Zebras sweating.

But it was piece of good fortune that levelled the scores. Chased closely while pursuing a loose ball near goal, Corey Cassidy managed to get boot-to-ball as he was dragged down – only to see the sherrin sail through for a miraculous goal.

It was game on.

When Kalem Post gave the Hawks the perfect start, kicking the first of the last quarter, it seemed as if the Hawks might steal it. But Sandringham steadied to clinch a dramatic upset.

The result means the Hawks drop to second behind Williamstown, on percentage.

Box Hill will take on Frankston next Sunday; the clubs penultimate game before finals.

“It’s going to be an interesting last month. We’ll regroup, and be ready for finals,” Collins said.

Box Hill 10.9 (69) defeated by Sandringham 13.10 (88)

Goal Kickers: K. Post 3, J. Walker, B. Wood, C. Cassidy, P. McEvoy, N. Evans, D. Vizzarri, J. Summers
Best Players: M. Thompson, T. Miles, N. Evans, J. Soccio, K. Post, C. Cassidy

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