Box Hill's VFL side returned to action on Easter Monday, defeating Geelong by 55 points in a rare outing on the MCG.
The victory moves the Hawks to two-and-zero on the season and into the competition’s top four, despite having a game in hand on all but four of its rivals owing to last weekend’s bye – a fixture quirk which meant Zane Littlejohn and his charges couldn’t immediately consolidate a superb first-up win in Sydney.
Fortunately for Littlejohn, his coaches and all of a brown and gold persuasion, Box Hill’s young Hawks picked up where they left off a fortnight ago, securing an emphatic wire-to-wire victory and, with it, a vital four points in what shapes as another even and exciting season of VFL football.
As if to illustrate the complete nature of the Hawks’ performance, they kept the Cats to two goals through three quarters en route to a 65-point lead at the final change, had seven of the 10 highest-ranked players on the ground come the final siren, finished +35 in disposals, +14 in inside 50s, +12 in hit outs, +12 in clearances, +11 tackles and never trailed.
Wingman Ed Phillips was the standout player on the ground, racking up a team-high 31 disposals and a game-high 10 marks, nine inside 50s and 148 ranking points, while also rating number two on the ground for tackles with seven and contributing a first-quarter goal.
Ruck Max Lynch proved the dominant big man at stoppage all afternoon, winning 34 hit outs and a game-high seven clearances on his way to 19 disposals. Better again, his work in the contest was rewarded when he drifted forward to kick two majors.
Sam Butler and Jaylon Thorpe were the chief destroyers inside forward 50, finishing the day with four apiece.
Butler tallied 16 touches for his four goals, while also playing an important hand in at least three others, while Thorpe’s 14 touches came from eight marks.
Further afield Ned Long left his mark on the contest with 21 touches, eight tackles, five inside 50s and five clearances – impressive enough numbers, but figures which somewhat undersell the big-bodied midfielder’s impact on the match.
Likewise, Co-Captain Cal Porter did his bit in the clinches to set a tone for his side, concluding proceedings with 18 touches, five inside 50s, five tackles and five clearances.
Lachie Bramble and Cal Brown provided plenty of drive with ball in hand, each winning 30 touches and playing important roles in dictating the tempo of the match and Box Hill’s control of it.
The coach was a happy man following todays fantastic win on the ‘G.— Box Hill Hawks (@BoxHillHawks) April 10, 2023
Gather ‘round, take a knee and listen in.
Seamus Mitchell was another who built on an excellent showing in round one. The young Hawk continues to make his mark in a defensive role and tallied 18 touches and six marks in another encouraging display.
The Hawks did well to combat a positive start by the Cats, repelling a number of early forays forward while maintaining a threat on the counterattack. It was a method which served the brown and gold well in the early going, as unanswered goals to Thorpe, Max Ramsden, Phillips and Butler established a foothold from which Box Hill would control the match.
The elements made scoring heavy going in the second term, but the Hawks still came out on top 2.5 to 0.4, thanks to Butler’s second and Ethan Stanley’s first VFL goal.
Stanley, a Frankston YCW product, was excellent on the day, winning 14 touches, driving his side inside 50 seven times and creating chances for his teammates with his positivity and run.
Adjustments were required after the long break, as Box Hill lost James Blanck, who had been designated an emergency for the seniors, and Henry Hustwaite, who came off after a heavy knock.
Even though Box Hill was down two on the bench, you wouldn’t have known it.
Littlejohn’s men slammed on seven goals to one, including six without answer in a 22-minute span, to put the result beyond doubt.
Butler kicked goals three and four, Thorpe his second and third and Lynch chimed in with a double of his own to complement Ramsden’s second to secure their side an unassailable lead with one to play.
The Cats played their best football of the day in a more open final term, winning the period 5.1 to 3.3, but it was minor consolation given the state of the game.
The Hawks return to Box Hill City Oval next Saturday for the Club’s first home game of the new campaign, a day the VFL program will share with its VFLW counterparts in a double-header against Collingwood.
Best: Phillips, Lynch, Butler, Thorpe, Long, Mitchell
Goals: Thorpe, Butler 4, Ramsden, Lynch 2, Stanley, Phillips, Long, Bennetts
Disposals: Phillips 31, Brown 30, Bramble 30, Mascitti 22, Long 21, MacDonald 20