Peter Jackson VFL Round 15
Sandringham Zebras vs. Box Hill Hawks
Trevor Barker Beach Oval , Sandringham
2:00pm Sunday July 30, 2017
Last 5 – Sandringham: 0, Box Hill: 4 (1 Draw)
Last Time They Met:
Round 19, 2016 – Sandringham 9.15 – 69 DEF BY Box Hill 13.13 – 91
By Nathaniel Sage
A comfortable win over Geelong last weekend has set the stage for a big game at home against the ladder-leading Box Hill Hawks this Sunday at 2pm.
Last Sunday, Box Hill picked up an easy 45-point win over Werribee – 15.18-108 to 9.9-63 – and the margin could have easily been bigger if the Hawks had kicked straight. On Sandy’s side of things, a 27-point win was the final result, impressive given their slow start allowed Geelong to kick four of the first five goals.
In terms of ladder positions, Box Hill sit top with only two defeats all year. Those losses came at home against Williamstown and Casey, meaning the Hawks haven’t yet lost away from home – although they did draw to Port Melbourne at North Port Oval earlier this year.
Sandringham creeped up another spot to 9th after their win. However, it should be noted, along with their relatively low percentage, the Zebras have a bye in Round 17 so really need to win three of their final four games this season to take part in September footy.
Unfortunately, this matchup hasn’t been kind to Sandy in the recent past. Sandringham haven’t defeated Box Hill in their last seven games, with their best result being a draw back in 2014. The Zebras have been in decent form of late though and will be keen to topple another ladder-leader after knocking off Port Melbourne, in first place at the time, a fortnight ago.
Looking at the key players in the win over Geelong, Nick O’Kearney was Sandy’s best and put Geelong to the sword with 33 touches. Ruckman Tom Hickey was a big reason for Nick’s success, winning the ruck matchup with Ryan Abbott with 33 hitouts, and at times acting as another midfielder with his quick hands leading to 27 disposals.
Up forward, Josh Battle presented a strong target all game long and slotted four goals, while goal-sneak Ray Connellan bobbed up for three including a nice dribble kick from the boundary line. Battle’s highlights are available here, and Saints fans would have been encouraged with his relentless work ethic a week after making his debut in the AFL.
Other Saints-listed players Mav Weller and Brandon White made big contributions to the win with 28 and 23 disposals respectively.
For Box Hill, a dominant season continued thanks in large part to their VFL mainstays. Anthony Brolic (#7) led the way with 29 possessions, while Nick Evans (#13) had 27 touches. Chris Jones (#12) was lively with two goals and read the ball well in the air, despite the wet conditions, on his way to 8 marks (2 contested).
Hawthorn-listed big man Marc Pittonet (#72) showed his potential in getting the better of Todd Goldstein. He was able to halve the ruck hit-outs, lay 10 tackles and clunk a couple of contested marks, all while limiting Goldstein to only 8 touches.
Box Hill were able to get the better of Werribee by adapting to the wet conditions, with multiple players finishing with upwards of 10 tackles. While it is currently a way off from gameday, forecasts are predicting a rainy Sunday so Sandringham will need to be quick to adjust to the conditions given Box Hill’s recent success.
While most everyone would have well and truly written Sandringham off after their loss to Coburg at home in Round 10, their form in the last few weeks has been that of a proud group, and they look set to battle right to the end in 2017.
In their own right, Box Hill have responded well after a disappointing 2016, and are surging towards a minor premiership in Chris Newman’s first year in charge.
With Box Hill’s undefeated streak versus Sandringham dating back to 2012, the Zebras know nothing will come easy against the Hawks. Given the importance of this game in keeping the Zebras’ season alive, expect the game to begin with some great intensity that Sandringham will need to maintain.
The ruck battle should be fun to watch with both ruckmen coming off great outings, and whomever comes out on top here could well lead their side to victory.
Sandringham’s development team kick off Sunday’s first game, preceding the Seniors game at 11am. They will be eyeing a rebound win after losing to Coburg at home by 10 points last weekend.
Sandringham Zebras Twitter and Facebook are active on gamedays with score updates and stats so be sure to follow them to keep up to speed.
Teams will be posted when announced.