Sandringham: 4.2 7.6 8.12 9.15 (69)
Box Hill: 4.1 7.4 11.6 13.13 (91)
Sandringham: Shenton 4, Iudica 2, Answerth, Lee, Holmes
Box Hill: O’Brien 3, Fitzpatrick 2, Stewart 2, Woodward, Willsmore, Mirra, Schoenmakers, Webster, Illes
Sandringham: Shenton, Webster, Sinclair, White, Murdoch, Cook
Box Hill: Switzkowski, Woodward, Heatherley O’Brien, Lock, Illes
Sandringham’s top four hopes hang in the balance after going down to Box Hill by 22-points on Sunday.
Polish, not effort and desire, was Sandringham’s ultimate undoing as they slumped to a fourth loss in last five games. Only percentage keeps them clear of fifth placed Port Melbourne with two games remaining.
Despite matching the Hawks in most key areas, the Zebras will again rue missed opportunities – kicking 9.15 and squandering multiple opportunities at crucial stages.
In a rematch of last year’s preliminary final, the first three quarters suggested Trevor Barker Oval was in for a similar contest. A goal to goal, tug of war between two sides with all to play for.
The last quarter, however, proved one tug too many. Through sheer weight of numbers, Box Hill outmuscled Sandringham to kick away. Clunking marks inside 50 and locking the ball in their half, only inaccuracy denied the Hawks a greater margin.
This wasn’t the case for three quarters though.
Strong in the contest, Sandringham took it to Box Hill and showed glimpses of their early season form. Run off half-back, midfield dominance and forwards presenting - the traits of a top four side.
While they couldn’t get it done where it counted most, the Zebras weren’t shy in the contest - going +6 in marks, +37 in disposals, +13 in hit outs and +24 in tackles.
Jack Sinclair (29 disposals, nine tackles) and Myke Cook (21 touches) were key in the midfield dominance, while Jimmy Webster’s performance (23 disposals) off half-back was labelled “inspirational” post-game by senior coach Paul Hudson.
Neither side could be split in the first half. Leading by one point at quarter time, Sandringham only managed to double their lead at the main break – despite going +8 in tackles, +2 inside 50s and +3 in marks.
With no recognised key forward, Cam Shenton (four goals) played a lone hand inside 50. Anything in his vicinity was marked and he applied a hefty amount of scoreboard pressure. Shenton’s second goal summed up his reliability for Hudson, with a lovely set shot from 40m out when inaccuracy started creeping in.
Second gamer Rob Iudica, who stepped up when Luke Verma went down injury with a hamstring, too was looking dangerous inside 50. A quick, line-breaking goal to help Sandringham re-gain the lead.
But much like their performance against Williamstown, the Zebras were undone by inaccuracy in front of goal and poor disposal in critical times.
As the game remained on a knife’s edge, Sandringham were unable to respond to Box Hill’s challenge in the third. Early quarter goals to the Hawks switched momentum, with the Zebras lacking polish to go with Box Hill.
A run of four straight behinds was broken when Iudica and Shenton teamed up for goal, only for Box Hill to hit back instantly. Then when Iudica’s snap missed fractionally, Tim O’Brien punished Sandringham for their 1.6 quarter with a late goal.
From there, it was all Box Hill. Sandringham’s courage in the contest and hard work was not to be, as the Hawks kicked away for an important win.
After the game, Hudson lamented the lack of polish in an otherwise gutsy performance.
“I said to the boys I really like the way they went about it.” Hudson said.
“No issues for mine, their courage in the contest – we pride ourselves on our trademark and we’ll have some very good clips lets put it that way.
“They took a couple of big marks going inside 50 and we didn’t. We probably needed to change that up, lower the eyes.”
Richmond is next up for Sandringham, who will need to win their last two games if they want to secure that all important double chance.
- Nathan Lay