Box Hill succumbed to its first loss of the VFL season on Saturday afternoon, going down to the Gold Coast Suns by 43 points at People First Stadium. 

Hawks Senior Coach Zane Littlejohn was disappointed with his team’s performance.

“The way we started the game and the way we were able to execute during the game was really disappointing,” Littlejohn said.

“Full credit to Gold Coast, they played a style of footy that really challenged us.

“The important thing now is that we learn from that… and make sure it doesn’t occur again.”

Littlejohn also reviewed all 11 AFL-listed Hawks who featured in the match while also giving a shout-out to a VFL-listed player.

Josh Bennetts (One goal, 22 disposals, four marks, four clearances, four inside 50s) 

“Josh Bennetts had a really good game until he unfortunately hit his head in a dangerous tackle late in the game. He unfortunately enters concussion protocols for us now. But leading up to that, he worked really hard to transition and try to get involved in offence. He still has some areas for improvement in his defensive side of the game but I can’t fault his effort. Over a day where it was challenging for a lot of our group, his effort really stood out.” 

Cooper Stephens (21 disposals, six marks, four clearances) 

“Second game back for Cooper and he was able to find some ball inside. It was a solid return for Cooper. He was able to play a few more minutes and from all reports, he got through the game well. Now he just continues to build and add momentum to his game. Hopefully, this week coming, he gets some more minutes into his legs and we see Cooper start to return to his best - being a real beast inside and making good decisions on the outside too.”

Harry Morrison (21 disposals, seven tackles, six marks, five clearances) 

“Harry was arguably one of our best across the day. It was a tough day for the club all up, but Harry didn’t stop trying and his effort was pleasing. He just didn’t have many helpers on the day. He was able to find some good balance of inside and outside footy.”

Jack Gunston (Two goals, 17 disposals, nine marks) 

“Gunners played some minutes on a wing, played some minutes forward and played some minutes behind the ball. His leadership is invaluable. I bounce heaps off him as a coach. His ability to help the players around him was really pleasing and he was easily one of our better players across the day. It’s just good to see him finding the footy, hitting the scoreboard and looking good.”  

Jai Serong (15 disposals, five marks, three tackles) 

“I thought Jai was probably our best on the day. He was able to compete really well and get the ball to ground. It was a really pleading effort from Jai, he never gave up on his effort all day and just continued to compete. He battled manfully, held up really strong and gave a really good account of himself.”

Bodie Ryan (14 disposals, three marks) 

“Bodie had a pretty solid day, to be honest. I was really pleased with what Bodie was able to provide. He was just a little bit slow defensively behind the ball but he wasn’t a lone soldier in that.” 

Jack O’Sullivan (Two goals, 14 disposals, six marks) 

“Jack was able to hit the scoreboard but he only had the one tackle when we had a real focus on pressure on the ball. The small forwards just didn’t get the numbers we’d like around pressure. However, it was pleasing for him to get through the game and we’ll add more minutes to his game. He continues to grow and become really consistent on both sides of the ball.”

Calsher Dear (11 disposals, four tackles, four hit-outs, two clearances) 

“It was a great learning day for Calsher. He started the first half really slowly and got outmarked when he was in front of the ball. We actually gave him some time in the ruck in the second half. He got around the ground, he competed really hard and every time he came off the ground, you could just see he was exhausted through effort. He was competing against a ruckman that was a lot taller than him and just didn’t give up, so I was really pleased with Calsher’s effort in the second half.”

Clay Tucker (Eight disposals, eight hit-outs, two inside 50s) 

“It was a quiet day for Clay and it was below his expectation and our expectation of what Clay can give. He spent some more minutes in the ruck but didn’t have a huge influence on the game, but it was some really good exposure for him again. He’s continuing to work hard on his ruck craft but it wasn’t his day. We know he’s a developing ruckman and we know development’s not linear so he’ll continue to work really hard on his game to make sure he improves.”

Bailey Macdonald (Five disposals, two marks) 

“It was a really quiet day for Bailey. He went into the game with a little bit of sickness but when you cross that white line, you’re ready to play and he just didn’t provide that usual dash that we expect from Bailey.”

Ned Reeves (18 hit-outs, three disposals, two tackles) 

“Ned only played the first half due to a head knock so he enters concussion protocols, which is unfortunate. He had some good moments of follow-up in the ruck but had some moments where he was beaten in that space too, so he’ll continue to work on that area of his game.”

…and a shout-out for a VFL-listed player

Max Hall (20 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s)

“Max tried hard all day. He played a variety of roles, ran really hard and was arguably one of our better Box Hill players across the day.” 

The Hawks will aim to bounce back from the loss in their first home game of the season at Fenjiu Stadium (Box Hill City Oval) on Saturday afternoon when they take on North Melbourne. 

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