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Sicily, Hallahan impress in VFL decider

James Sicily of Box Hill celebrates after kicking a goal during the VFL Grand Final match between the Footscray Bulldogs and the Box Hill Hawks at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on September 21, 2014. (Photo: Theo Karanikos/AFL Media)
James Sicily of Box Hill celebrates after kicking a goal during the VFL Grand Final match between the Footscray Bulldogs and the Box Hill Hawks at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on September 21, 2014. (Photo: Theo Karanikos/AFL Media)

HAWTHORN youngster James Sicily showed he is an exciting prospect for the future after an impressive performance in Box Hill’s VFL Grand Final loss to Footscray.  

Taken with pick 56 in last year’s National Draft, Sicily Box Hill’s best in the 22-point loss at Etihad Stadium.

Kicking a team-high three goals, the young Hawk forward was his side’s most dangerous forward, capping off an impressive finals series by finishing also with 15 disposals and five marks.

“He was clean with his hands and good in front of goal – he definitely could have kicked at least another one,” Football Academy Development Coordinator Damian Caroll told hawthornfc.com.au

“Even when the ball was at ground level he showed some dash to get around players and give himself a good opportunity to score.

“It was exciting to see him step up. He had some challenges during the year where he went back to the Development league and had to fight his way back into the team.

“He was able to do that and finish the year off very strongly, which was pleasing for us.”

The Hawks got out to a 12-point lead early in the last term but we eventually overrun by a ferocious Bulldogs outfit in the last term.

Box Hill were undone by a number of injuries, and reduced to limited rotations after Luke Andrews and Sam Illes were injured and Cyril Rioli rested in the final quarter.

They were forced to watch on as the Dogs booted six goals to two in the final quarter to runaway with the win.

J.J. Liston Trophy winner Mitch Hallahan did his best to drag his side across the line, finishing with a team-high 31 disposals, nine tackles and two goals.

His leadership was outstanding, particularly when the Dogs threatened to run away with victory in the second quarter.

“He brought his finals and VFL experience to the table. A lot of his possessions were contested,” he said.

“His leadership was huge throughout the whole finals series and helped guide a young group to a really successful season in the end.”

Defender Angus Litherland, who remains in the mix for an AFL Grand Final berth was also among the best.

Litherland, who has played 13 senior games this year impressed both in his defence and his attack off half-back, making use of his penetrating right boot.

“Having players who could play on the talls and also on the smaller types – his adaptability was really good for us,” Caroll said.

“He’s quick and uses the ball well so we were really pleased with his season.”

Despite falling short in their quest for back-to-back premierships, Caroll said the experience of playing three high intensity and close finals was invaluable experience for Hawthorn’s youngsters.

“We were very happy with the way they were able to adapt to the VFL finals,” he said.

“We believe it’s a great starting point to their AFL career because it’s closer to AFL football. The atmosphere on Sunday and the closeness and physical nature of the game probably took it above some of the AFL games in terms of the pressure on the contest.

“For our guys to come in and play goods footy in the finals was really pleasing for us this year.”


FINAL SCORE
FOOTSCRAY 4.2 7.4 10.7 16.13 (109)
BOX HILL HAWKS 4.2 7.3 11.7 13.9 (87)

GOALS
Footscray:
Jones 5, Redpath, Dickson 2, Grant, Tutt, Fogarty, Pearce, Campbell, Young, Howard.
Box Hill Hawks:
Sicily 3, Ross, Hallahan 2, Willsmore, Woodward, Grimley, Collins, Lowden, Hartung.

BEST
Footscray:
Goodes, Jones, Jong, Campbell, Fogarty, Darley.
Box Hill Hawks:
Hallahan, Sicily, Litherland, Brand, Willsmore, Mirra.