The Box Hill Hawks defeated Southport on Saturday afternoon to move to six-and-one on the season and consolidate a spot in the competition’s top four.

The hard-nosed, miserly Hawks won every quarter of the contest on their way to a crucial four points, restricting the visiting Sharks to their lowest score of the 2023 season and their second-lowest since joining the VFL in 2021.

For as exciting as Box Hill has been in attack this year, this was unquestionably a win built from the back half and inside the contest. The Hawks finished the day +18 in disposals, +24 in contested ball and +2 in clearances. The last of which is all the more impressive considering they conceded 31 more hit-outs.

The rear guard waxed brilliantly all afternoon to allow just 13 total scoring shots from 54 total inside 50s, confidently repelling attack after attack on its way to a 39-point win. 

Co-captain Hugh Beasley was at the forefront of this effort and was judged his side’s best for his performance on Southport spearhead Fraser Thurlow.

The Sharks’ ace leads the ‘Frosty’ Miller Medal race, but could only manage one major from nine touches on the brilliant Beasley.

For his part, Beasley amassed 21 touches, took five marks, had four score involvements and even managed to win a clearance, controlling both his individual match-up and his back 50 superbly. 

His co-captain Cal Porter was another to impress, establishing and then maintaining a tone inside the contest from the first siren to last.

A wet, cold and muddy day wasn’t going to perturb Porter, who was covered in dirty stuff from the 10-second mark of the first quarter on his way to winning 18 disposals – of which 13 were contested – a game-high seven clearances and a team-high seven inside 50s. 

A pair of Hawks youngsters impressed, too, with Bailey Macdonald and Henry Hustwaite turning in arguably their finest displays of debut seasons in brown and gold. 

Macdonald used his run and poise with ball in hand to alleviate pressure across half-back, eventually tallying 20 disposals for the afternoon at 95% disposal efficiency. As if to illustrate his work rate, he also pulled in eight marks and contributed seven score involvements.

Deployed more on the inside of the contest, Hustwaite was excellent. He finished the day with an equal team-high 26 touches, five clearances, six inside 50s, two rebound 50s, five tackles and five score involvements.

Another fine contributor was Finn Maginness, who was handed a run-with role on the dangerous Tom Fields. The former Blue possesses a racking left boot and is oftentimes an architect for the Sharks out of half back or wing, but couldn’t shake the determined Maginness or impact the contest. Maginness kept the Southport star to just three disposals for the afternoon.

While playing a largely sacrificial or selfless game, the young Hawk won 13 disposals himself.

Another player to impress was Max Hall. The crafty, creative, hard-working half-forward recorded 16 total disposals, laid an equal team-high five tackles, had six score involvements and, in a fine reward for his personal endeavour, kicked two goals. It’s the third match this season the youngster has managed multiple majors at VFL level.

A wet and chilly morning eventually gave way to a relatively still and sometimes sunny afternoon at City Oval, but the time the first bounce came, any fears about needing umbrellas and heavy coats were replaced by a want for wide-brimmed hats and, maybe, sunscreen.

Following an even opening 10-12 minutes, during which the game was played largely between the arcs and both goals were meaningfully threatened only once, goals to Jaylon Thorpe and Ethan Stanley handed the Hawks the early initiative.

Ed Phillips and Fergus Greene missed a pair of half-chances to extend the hosts’ lead before Southport finished the quarter with two goals to inch within two points at the first break.

Thorpe’s second goal of the day arrived just three minutes into the second term to wrestle back the initiative and ascendancy, but some stout defence ensured another was hard to come by. 

The teams traded a pair of behinds before Max Hall’s first gave his side a handy break, but when Southport’s Jed Foggo converted his second of the day it felt like for all of the Hawks’ good play their lead was a tad light.

Fortunately, after three narrow misses, Fergus Greene found his mark right on the stroke of half-time to round out an excellent, albeit slightly wayward quarter of footy.

Thurlow’s first and only goal of the day gave the Sharks the perfect start to the third when play resumed, but it was clear Box Hill would have the opportunity to stretch their legs if they could convert their chances.

Thorpe and Ramsden saw shots sail just wide before debutant Ryan Maric kicked an important goal to re-instate the Hawks' three-goal buffer. Foggo’s third came shortly thereafter, but the returning Jai Serong converted an excellent set shot to keep Southport at arms reach. 

While 21 points to the good at the final change the points were far from safe. 

Fortunately, early goals to Maric and Hall – their second majors of the day – allowed some comfort to go with their side’s control. By the time Serong added a second of his own and Thorpe booted his third the margin had quickly ballooned to a decisive 45-points. 

Southport would pull one back through Boyd Woodcock, but it was the Hawks’ day.

Zane Littlejohn’s men had moved to third on the VFL table and firmly set their sights on Essendon next weekend.





11.18 (84)





6.9 (45)

Beasley, Porter, Macdonald, Maginness, Hustwaite, Hall

Goals: Thorpe 3, Serong, Maric, Hall 2, Stanley, Greene

Disposals: Hustwaite 26, Brown 26, Beasley 21, Macdonald 20, Phillips 20, Mascitti 18