There will be plenty at stake for both sides when Werribee and the Box Hill Hawks face off at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday.
Sunday, July 23
11am and 2pm at Box Hill City Oval, Box Hill
The Story So Far
Werribee’s season hangs in the balance after last week’s big loss to Richmond. With a record of 7-5, it now sits in seventh place and needs a win to ensure it maintains its position in the eight, particularly given it faces a tough run home over the final five rounds.
The situation is somewhat less critical for ladder leader Box Hill, but it will nonetheless be eager to shore up its spot at the top of the table. The Hawks sit half a game clear as the competition frontrunners following Port Melbourne’s shock defeat to Sandringham last weekend, but a loss would almost certainly see them surrender their position to the winner of this weekend’s clash between the Borough and Williamstown.
There was nothing but pride on the line when Werribee and Box Hill squared off at City Oval in round 18 last year, with both sides facing the unfamiliar prospect of being out of VFL finals contention. A tight early contest saw the Tigers trailing by just three points at half time before the Hawks kicked away in the third term to run out 37-point winners.
• As evidenced by its having 100 more kicks than North Ballarat last week, Box Hill is a side that likes to kick the ball – a lot. The Hawks’ high-possession game plan hinges on an ability to penetrate gaps by foot, so denying them space will be crucial for Werribee.
• While the wide dimensions of City Oval are well suited to Box Hill’s game plan, its two losses this season have both come at home, the Hawks having gone down by 26 points to the Casey Demons in round 10 and by 45 points against Williamstown in round 12.
• The likes of Joe Maishman, Matt Munro, Will Fordham, and Josh Williams have all shown a propensity for run-and-carry football this season, and Sunday could see that aspect of their games take on an added importance for Werribee. Box Hill is renowned as one of the best teams in the competition for setting up behind the play and recovering the ball from lost clearances, so moving the ball forward on foot instead of by foot could be the key to successfully launching into attack from the stoppages.
• Statistics don’t always tell the full story, but there are few key numbers that Werribee will want to improve on from last week’s performance. It laid just five tackles inside its forward 50 compared to Richmond’s 15 and allowed Richmond to take 28 uncontested marks inside 50, so increased pressure at both ends of the ground will go a long way towards reversing its fortunes this week.
• Werribee’s Matt Hanson is widely rated among the best VFL-listed midfielders in the competition, but Box Hill’s Andrew Moore is another whose name often comes up in those sorts of discussions, so expect an interesting battle to unfold in the middle between those two.
The Bottom Line
After the disappointment of last week’s loss, Werribee will need to get back to basics by lifting its pressure rating and closing down on its opposition if it is to turn things around. It may be easier said than done against a precision-passing side like Box Hill, but if the predictions of rain prove accurate and bring skill level down a notch, the result could hinge on the simple question of who wants it more.