Box Hill Senior Coach Zane Littlejohn summed up the performance against Geelong in Round 15 of the VFL.

“The game on the weekend, obviously pumped to get on the right end of it,” said Littlejohn.

“It was a really good game of footy, no doubt our fans who were at the game got a lot of enjoyment out of it as well, finishing on the right side of the ledger.

“The most AFL-listed players we’ve had this year, which is great. It’s full credit to our high-performance staff at Hawthorn and getting the group really healthy to put a good amount of players on the park.

“Great learnings, after a disappointing result the week before against Port Melbourne, against a really good side who sit above us on the ladder in the top six which is really pleasing to beat a side above us as well.”

Littlejohn reviewed the individual performances of the 17 AFL-listed Hawks and highlighted a few VFL players.

Josh Ward (31 disposals, five tackles, five clearances)

“Really solid all-round game from Wardy. Naturally he’s be a bit disappointed with his disposal efficiency, particularly by foot he really prides himself on that. And we know it’s not a trend with Wardy, it’s just a one of, he didn’t use it as well as he would’ve liked to on the day, But ultimately still the fact he’s getting his hands on the footy around congestion and also getting it on the outside with his work rate is realty pleasing. So great return from Wardy”

Bailey Macdonald (28 disposals, seven intercept possessions)

“His best game this year, which is great. Had 11 first-quarter disposals which is really pleasing and just built his game off the back of that, finished with 28, used it at 79 percent. His speed and energy he can provide with ball in hand it really pleasing and helped definitely our offence on the day but also the thing we really love with Baz at the moment is his ability to defend the ground which he’s doing really well at times and learning a lot in that space which is great.”

Jai Serong (27 disposals, five tackles)

“Another solid game from Jai, becoming ever-reliable at VFL-level and just really consistent in getting his role done. Had to play tall and small at times which we know he can do and which makes him so valuable to our program and our footy club. So a really solid all round game and providing great leadership in our back end which is great.”

Henry Hustwaite (24 disposals, seven tackles, five clearances)

“Hus again around the footy, showing great toughness, a really strong clearance game from Henry. And I guess the pleasing thing from Henry of his 24, half of them were contested, half were uncontested, a good balance of inside and finding the ball on the outside as well. Henry would be first to admit he probably let a few out there, if he was a bit cleaner around the contest those numbers could easily be up around the 30s again. He's working really hard on his stoppage craft, which we know is his weapon but he’s still got growth in that area and how he can make sure the advantage ends in his favour around the contest and he’s working really hard in that space and doing a great job.”

Finn Maginness (Two goals, seven tackles, five score involvements, three clearances)

“A really just solid all-round performance again from Finn, two goals, arguably the match-winner as well which was really important. We needed someone to step up and want to be a part of that moment, he was the guy who took it on board, broke 50 and kicked a lovely goal. Working on his stoppage craft and being more damaging around that area, we know Finn’s ability to cover the ground is his real asset and getting contest to contest and making sure he’s using that as a real strength, which he did on the weekend. Nice game. He’d be the first to admit, probably left a few out there with his cleanliness around congestion and he’ll continue to work on being clean in that area and making sure he doesn’t leave too many out there.”

Bodie Ryan (18 disposals, two clearances)

“Bodie had an up and down game, had some moments that were really really good and some moments that he would like to have again, and he was first to say that his good moments were very good and his not so good moments weren’t great. So he’s just got to as a young player, first year in the program just got to continue to bridge that gap, he’s played some really good footy for us this year and we love what he’s showing, but he’s just got to continue to be really consistent in that area and not have lapses or not let that gap be too big.”

Ethan Phillips (17 disposals, seven marks)

“Started to find his mojo again, obviously second week back after a long spell. He was able to play key post for us in our back end and really patrol the area for us. What I love with Easy is his communications, his ability to help others to be better, not just his own game. He’s just continually finding the right balance now around his game, when he needs to spoil and when he needs to mark and his trajectory is quite positive which is great.”

Josh Bennetts (14 disposals, two score involvements)

“Although a quieter day in regards to his numbers, only the 14 and we’ve seen JB get higher numbers in that space, he’s working really hard on playing his role really valuable and the role he plays there’s going to be days where he has these numbers and days where he has big numbers. But he’s turning up and providing a lot of work rate and energy across the whole ground and providing great outlet for us. He’s one player I know if I had to play on I’d have nightmares because he just works so hard and sometimes works so hard just to help others be in better positions or create others more options to be available. Not huge numbers but played his role, can’t fault his role. For JB the biggest growth in his game now is providing pressure as well as offensive threats and weapons so finding that balance but he’s working really hard and showing great signs.”

Denver Grainger-Barras (Six marks, seven intercept possessions)

“I thought arguably Denver’s best game since he’s been back, just all round game. Yes, a lot of people will talk about his two marks at the end but he had the one mark taken on him inside 50, shot on goal, but he’s taken again six marks, one of those contested and just really played a sound game, there was no carry on, he was really solid. So it’s a full credit to Denver, he’s doing a great job in trying to make sure he’s getting better every session and every game. I thought on the weekend our fans, his teammates and coaching staff were really proud of the efforts he was able to put out. So great return from Denver and we can see him consistently see him do that week in, week out now that’s the standard of expected of him and he knows that and he’s working really hard on that. So well done to Denver.”

Jasper Scaife (One goal, three contested marks)

“Could’ve had an amazing day, 1.4, one out of bound on the full, really could’ve broken the game open in the second quarter, naturally he didn’t and at halftime he was a bit down on himself. My main message to him at halftime was ‘Mate you’re getting the footy so that’s promising’ there’s more concerns if he’s not getting it, the fact the footy’s getting to him and his kicking will come along with that. He’s working really hard on that, he's usually a beautiful kick and just on the weekend sometimes you can have a day like that, again not a trend, just a one off. We’ve got no doubt he’ll bounce back from that. But to take three contested marks and provide a great outlet at times is really pleasing.”

Chad Wingard (13 disposals, two clearances)

“Great to have Chad back out there, looked dangerous. Was great to see him attend some centre bounces and provide some real spark around the footy. Let’s not forget he’s an All-Australian, so at our level the leadership and opportunity he can help provide young players, not just Hawthorn but our Box Hill players is invaluable and he’s really buying into that. We’re really loving having him in our program but we also want to get him back to playing his best footy and putting his hand up to play AFL footy sooner rather than later.”

Will McCabe (12 disposals, five intercept possessions)

“Hawthorn fans would have been hanging out to see this young man play, and he didn’t let us down, it was really pleasing to see. He’s played a half of footy, had 12 disposals two of those resulted in a score. He’s taken five marks, one contested, just a really nicely balanced first up performance. Yes as a coach there’s always areas for a young man to improve in his game around his defensive aspects, but ultimately we didn’t want any pressure on him we wanted him to go out and enjoy pulling on the brown and gold for the first time and just be himself and be free and I thought he did that really well and we saw great return. Now it’s just about being consistent, the first game nerves are out of the way so this week will be a good challenge for him to see how he can respond in week two. But some really pleasing signs from Will and good to see him out there.”

Ned Reeves (50 hit outs, 12 disposals)

“So Ned back playing again after a bit of a spell as well, he’s had the 50 hit outs, really dominated the hit outs. Had some trouble early in the game with trying to wrestle too much rather than using his height and his length to dominate the ruck, so gave a few free kicks away early in the game but after halftime when he adjusted and was able to change his mode around the contest he really got some dominance and started to win some free kicks himself, which is really pleasing. His follow up work which I know was a real focus for him after the contest, had some good signs in that as well so that’s a continued area for focus for Ned moving forward, not just his hit outs and what he’s doing there but what he’s doing once the ball has left his hand, what else can he provide around.”

Jack O’Sullivan (One goal, 12 disposals, six score involvements, four tackles)

“Sul, second game back. Had some real focuses going into the game, and watching his tape with him we saw improvement in those areas and that’s all you can ask a player as long as they’re earning and trying to improve in the areas that we see week to week and ultimately we see improvement. Nice return from Jack and he’s now just got to continue to grow his consistency in that space but really hard worker, really diligent in his performance and his reviewing of his own game so about Jack just doing what he does well and focusing on those areas he’s working on with his coaches.”

Cooper Stephens (12 disposals, three clearances)

‘A little bit more game time against his old team, provided some really good energy when he was able to come on around the footy and give us a good spark. Was able to naturally provide some good stoppage work and get on the outside of that as well, from his 12 he’s had six contested and six uncontested. Probably the only thing for Coop was just his sometimes getting ahead of the footy when he’s in clearance and therefore can’t provide pre-clearance pressure at times when we get too far on the fly but what he did provide is a bit of adjustment around our stoppage cause he was getting on the move, so that was pleasing. And now his minutes will continue to grow so it’s about him finding continuity and the more game time he plays which is really exciting for him to get back out there and play some more minutes.”

Max Ramsden (One goal, three hit outs)

“More time forward, but it’s good for Max to continue to split his load between playing forward and ruck. I thought he was going to have an amazing game when he took that first catch inside 50 and kicked a goal for us. Managed to get his hands to an awful lot of footy, just wasn’t able to stick them. The challenge now for Max is to get his hands to that footy and catch it and he’s an elite runner for a 200-plus centimetre player, he’s got to make sure his effort and his work rate is high all the time, cause that’s the real area he can challenge his opposition when he’s playing on those type of players.”

Clay Tucker (Two goals, 8 disposals, nine hit outs)

“So great return to some form for Tuck. Just provided the spark and energy that we needed from him, he’s got a lot of growth in his game and a lot of areas he’s still got to improve on but the fact that Tuck was able to have a presence when he was on the ground this week was really pleasing. Naturally last week was tougher because of the conditions but I thought this week he provided a great presence around the ruck which he’s working on but also when he was able to get forward. A big growth for Tuck now is with his forward craft, what he’s doing when he doesn’t have the ball or he opposition win the ball back, how he can defend the ground for us and provide that side of his game as well, not just when he’s got the ball.”

…and a couple of shout-outs for some VFL-listed players

Tyler Brown (20 disposals)

“I thought his best all round game for us since he’s joined our footy club. Yes, some of the decision making and skill execution was off, but not a trend, normally a really good decision maker, really good skill disposals. But his ability to play a really valuable role for us was impressive and to finish with 20 disposals was really important.”

Ed Phillips (13 disposals)

“Ed missed last week with some hamstring tightness and came back in, just provided a really valuable role, back on his wing. But more importantly his role with creating space and working for others, some areas of growth in his game still that he’s working on, using his legs when he’s got the ball. But very valuable Ed in our team defence, and just playing a role out on that wing and providing great support when linking us from our defensive 50 to our forward 50.”

*Featured image by Craig Dooley.