Box Hill Hawks have continued their build towards season 2021 with a 21-point win against Collingwood in Saturday’s practice match.
It was the Brown and Gold’s second hit out of the pre-season, following last week’s match-up against Footscray.
Sam Mitchell and his coaches called on a blend of AFL-listed players, established VFL-listed talent and development prospects among the 27-man match day squad.
In all, eight of Hawthorn’s list – Michael Hartley, Harry Pepper, Finn Maginness, Josh Morris, Denver Grainger-Barrass, Emerson Jeka, Jack Saunders and Ned Reeves – turned out at the Holden Centre, joining a strong representation of Box Hill’s own talent pathway and off-season acquisitions.
In warm conditions it was Collingwood who started the stronger of the two sides, booting the opening two goals of a hotly contested first term.
The Hawks’ defensive unit did well to withstand the pressure of the early going, with the experienced Michael Hartley gelling well with Stu Horner, Mason De Wit, James Blanck and youngster Denver Grainger-Barras.
Aided by the run of Ed Phillips and strong contested work of Cal Porter, the momentum swung back the Hawks’ way.
Josh Morris kicked his and the team’s first of the day, before Fergus Greene marked well and nailed his first opportunity on goal shortly after.
Jack Saunders and Vincent Adduci were getting busy, and goals to Jesse Cucinotta and Mihaele Zalac capped an encouraging response to the hosts’ great start, confirming a 13-point quarter time lead.
Trent Mynott’s clever, instinctive snap was the Hawks’ fifth goal on the bounce early in the second quarter and it looked as though Box Hill might be able to skip away.
In truth it established a three-goal buffer against which the contest would ebb and flow until the final siren.
Collingwood found a timely response soon after, but Greene and Mynott’s second goals arrived in quick succession to again threaten to blow the game open.
Ned Reeves, covering the ground and competing well in the ruck, saw his hard work rewarded with a goal of his own in the shadows of half-time and that 13-point quarter time lead had become an even four goal advantage at the long break.
Sam Mitchell used the half-time break to encourage his side’s performance but warned the opposition would return from the interval fired up and wanting to respond.
And so they did. Collingwood enjoyed their best spell of the game to post the first three goals of the third quarter and move to within a kick of the lead.
The impressive pair of Phillips and Adduci sat out the second half, replaced by Cayden Maki and Adrian Kalcovski. In his first meaningful contribution the former unselfishly teed up Emerson Jeka to break the Magpies run of three unanswered.
Having waited 20 minutes for the first of the term and weathered Collingwood’s press, a second arrived shortly after. Mackenzie Doreian’s kick to the top of the square found Fergus Greene, who marked strongly and finished easily to reinstate that three-goal lead.
But Collingwood had inched closer and would continue to press with the first goal of the last quarter.
Jeka was in the right spot to kick his second of the day, before the teams traded majors to leave the result in the balance with under five minutes to play.
Despite the prospect of late drama goals from Bowman and Morris concluded the scoring and capped a hard fought 21-point win.
Box Hill will continue its pre-season program next Saturday away to Casey.
Box Hill 4.3 8.4 10.8 14.11 95
Collingwood 2.2 4.4 7.7 11.8. 74
Goals: Greene, Jeka 3, Mynott, Morris 2, Cucinotta, Reeves, Zalac, Maginness
Images courtesy of Kadek Thatcher photography