Box Hill took a significant step towards securing their return to finals football, defeating a spirited and fast-finishing GWS in Sydney last Saturday. 

Several AFL-listed Hawks starred in the clash, including ruckman Lloyd Meek who was influential in the ruck, and mid-season rookie Brandon Ryan who booted four goals. 

Hear what Box Hill Coach Zane Littlejohn had to say on how each senior Hawk performed on the day.

Ned Long (31 disposals, 6 clearances, 1 goal) 

“Ned started the game exceptionally well, his first half was very solid. Overall, he had a nice balanced game. His work rate, clearance work and decision-making were all above the level, which is what we expect, which is fantastic for him. He died out in the game a little as it went on, but he was going at such a high rate earlier on that it would be tough to maintain that for the whole game.” 

Henry Hustwaite (26 disposals, 7 clearances)

“Henry had another solid performance where he was able to finish with 26 disposals. GWS played several AFL-listed players, which gave our guys who haven’t played AFL footy at all, or haven’t been in the AFL side of late, a really good test and challenge to the standards you need to play at consistently. That was one of the lessons for Henry – the running power that’s required to play as a midfielder at VFL-level and even more at AFL-level. He still had a really good game. Six clearances, along with a couple of tackles. He was able to have some influence on the game.”

Cam Mackenzie (20 disposals, 5 clearances)

“Cam had some really nice moments where he was able to drive legs, get out of stoppage and take territory. But again, a bit like Henry, playing on some good midfielders at AFL-level he got some challenges thrown at him with the speed of the game at times. But I thought he made some pretty solid decisions when he had to do that. It’s all education with these boys and part of our VFL program is around that development and teaching them those situations before they get to the AFL-level. We’ll continue to work with Cam and allow him the best possible environment to develop quickly and reach his full potential as soon as possible. It was a really solid game still, he had five clearances, number of inside 50s which was pleasing. We’re excited for what Cam has to produce moving forward.”

Cooper Stephens (1 goal, 19 disposals, 5 marks, 6 clearances)

“Coop played as a forward predominately for the day, and spent some time as a midfielder as well. He was able to finish with seven clearances, hit the scoreboard himself to kick a really nice goal from stoppage. He’s starting to show a bit of tricks in that area, which is nice, and he’s being rewarded for his hard work. Another solid performance off the back of last week. He’s starting to show some real consistency which is what we love to see.”

Lachy Bramble (19 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles)

“Lach had a nice, rounded game. He spent more time on the wing this week, a little time inside but was really solid. After quarter time he was arguably our best player. His work rate, his decision in defence – when to press and not to press – and then also his leadership. I’ve mentioned this a number of times. The experience Brambs can provide our younger players, and the calmness that he provides among the group, we can’t take for granted.”

Lloyd Meek (18 disposals, 31 hit-outs, 1 goal, 6 clearances)

“Meeky came back into the team and was really solid. We had a few tall boys go through the ruck which meant Meeky was able to spend some time forward, was able to hit the scoreboard and take some marks forward of the footy which is really important for his development. He gave us a real option when he was forward. He also had some really nice follow up moments when he was in the ruck, especially around centre bounce. It was a solid performance, he’s just got to keep being consistent in this area. But we're happy with what he was able to show.”

Jai Serong (17 disposals, 5 marks)

"Jai had a really good battle with Aaron Cadman, their number one pick from last year’s draft. We gave Jai the job after a really solid performance last week. In the first half he probably got the chocolates, but in the second half, Cadman probably got on top of him. But that’s an exciting thing with what the VFL provides. Two really good young talented footballers going head to head and it was a great battle. Jai was still able to have some influence on the game and get some good development opportunities by playing on a player like Cadman who is versatile, can get up the ground and play deep, has good agility and speed. It was a good opportunity for Jai to test his game out and did well.”

Brandon Ryan (4 goals, 17 disposals, 4 marks)

“Brandon was really good again in his ability to provide a target up front. He finished with the four goals straight this week which is a great reward for the hard work that he has put in for the short amount of time he’s been at the club. For Brandon now it's about continuing to adjust to the speed of the game and making those decisions defensively and offensively as quick as possible so he can help his teammates. He got caught out a few times with his defensive transition when maybe he thought he couldn’t have an impact in the defensive game. If he responds quicker to what's happening it allows his teammates to adjust and give us a better balance behind the ball. Just those little things we’ll continue to work on, we’ve had some really simple focusses for him and he’s meeting them which is exciting. He is showing some really good signs so hopefully he can continue on that trajectory.”

Emerson Jeka (17 disposals, 7 marks)

“Jek came back from injury and he was solid for us down back. He lost some one-on-one contests, but it's not easy to win them all. I thought he adjusted really well and was positive around the group. He still finished with 17 touches as a defender and arguably was a lone hand at times as a key defender. We don’t want to have Jek play too deep if we can avoid it, he was caught deep at times but defended well. Still, he has got to work on that craft and be consistent in those one-on-ones, so he wins more than he losses or halves more than he loses. But overall, it was a good return for Jek of injury, now its about continuity for him and building it from there."

Max Ramsden (14 disposals, 4 marks, 8 hit-outs, 5 clearances)

"Like Lloyd and Kosi, Max also spent time in the ruck, time up forward. He was really lively early. He gave us a good target up front early, was able to challenge their defenders to defend him, which is what we want our forwards to do. When he was on ball, he managed five clearances, and he’ll continue to develop his ruck craft and have that balance between his ruck and forward game, which he was able to show on the weekend. He kicked two behinds, if that would’ve been two goals and he would’ve had a very pleasing day out."

Jack O’Sullivan (2 goals, 13 disposals)

“Jack again started well, and probably died out the game a little as it went in. He finished with 10 touches, two tackles and two goals which is what we want from our small forwards. He continued to provide a real presence when he was there, he does that regularly for us. It was good to see him finish his work this week and get some reward." 

Sam Butler (12 disposals, 4 tackles)

"It was a quieter day for Buts if I’m honest, in terms of the standard we would expect for himself and what we expect of him. He had some better moments in the second half where he was able to get involved in some offensive chains, which was built off the back of his defence where he was able to pressure and tackle. He wasn’t always rewarded with his tackling, but didn’t lose hope of that and didn’t lose sight which is important for a young player. He wasn’t having the day that he would’ve liked, but was able to build his way into the game which was pleasing."

Josh Bennetts (2 goals, 12 disposals, 5 tackles)

“Again, I say it every week, but Joshy was once again reliable. We know what we are going to get from him. He’s not necessary remarkable, but he kicked two really nice goals and gave a good account of himself as that high half forward. He played a bit deeper at times and was able to finish some work further up the ground which was pleasing. The five tackles is what we’ve been trying to work on with Josh. We know he is able to hit the scoreboard, so it's good to see him have a bit more of a balanced game. He had some good score involvements as well which is really pleasing.” 

Bailey Macdonald (11 disposals)

"A quieter day for Bails, but what we probably haven’t seen from Bails is his work rate in defence. He’s got genuine speed, and we saw that again on the weekend. He had some nice run and dash through the middle of the ground and he set up a Josh Bennetts goal. But a lot of the vision we saw was his speed in defence, he was able to showcase a bit of that which is good and something the fans maybe don’t see all the time. The pleasing thing is we’re seeing some speed in offence and defence, once he becomes more consistent with that he’ll get more looks with the pill in hand and those possessions will increase quickly.”

Jacob Koschitzke (5 disposals)

“A quieter day for Kosi. One of his real strengths is his speed and ability to work hard, he probably just didn’t do that as well as he would expect of himself. He had some opportunities early, and it didn’t quiet go his way. Whether he lost a bit of confidence off the back of that, I’m not sure. But a really good learning curve for Kosi is how he can stay in he game when it’s not going his way. He spent some time in the ruck too, but it was not the day he would’ve liked. He’ll continue to work hard on his game as we know he will and hopefully he can put in a better performance next week.”

And the Box Hill shout-outs go to...

Tristen Waack

“Wacky has been just so versatile and is super reliable. We got him to play key back and he probably hasn’t played a lot of footy there previously, but he just did a really solid job for us. If I was still playing, he would be the type of player I’d love to play with because you know what you’re going to get. He only finished with the 10 disposals, but sometimes as a key defender you sometimes have got to sacrifice your role to get the footy to help others and I thought he did that well. I think his teammates would be really pleased with what he is able to provide."

Damian Mascitti

"Damo moved back to his traditional spot in the back half and led really well. He allowed us to set up our back half as we wanted it. It was noticeable when he was off the ground how our back half looked a little bit shabby. We asked Damo to play bigger minutes so we could maintain the look of our back half, which he was able to do. His leadership that he provides to all of our players, both our VFL and AFL listed. His a very experienced player, he’s a coach and we’re very lucky to have him as part of our program."

Note: Clay Tucker was a late out of the game due to illness.