Werribee learned just what perhaps the toughest task in VFL football looks like when it travelled to Box Hill City Oval on Sunday, going down to the Box Hill Hawks by 45 points in miserable conditions.
In their milestone 1000th match, the visitors held their own against the competition frontrunners for much of the day and competed well in their first genuine wet-weather outing for the season, but the Hawks always looked in control on their way to retaining the beyondblue VFL Cup.
Werribee got the positive start it needed after last week’s heavy loss to Richmond, Josh Corbett’s opening goal kicking off a first-quarter arm wrestle that had Matt Munro in the thick of the scoring action with a goal assist and one of his own and had the Hawks two goals clear at the first change.
But as the heavens opened through the second quarter, Box Hill continued to grind its rivals down as it took control of the contest and made better use of the slippery ball. At the main break, it had extended its lead to 23 points, and the 43-point advantage it held by three-quarter time could well have been more if not for a wasteful 4.9 in the third term.
Some shuffling of the magnets at the final change looked to be the circuit breaker the Tigers needed, Corbett kicking his second and defender Ryley Barrack pushing forward for a rare goal to kick off the term before two late goals to the Hawks again pushed the margin out to effectively produce a last-quarter stalemate.
Despite his side’s much-improved performance against a quality team, Werribee coach John Lamont was far from satisfied with the result.
“In the first half, we just didn’t take a couple of opportunities that we needed to but at the same time leaked some goals to Box Hill,” said Lamont.
“We went in with a four-goal deficit at half time, but then our third quarter was really poor. We just lost our way around the ball.”
Seemingly perfectly suited to the muddy track, Dom Brew was a standout for the Tigers, finishing with 23 disposals and nine clearances and again leading his team’s tackling effort with 15.
Barrack was again strong in defence, as was Declan Watson, who returned from injury for his first game since round three and competed well against Hawks big man Ty Vickery.
Also making his return, Lindsay Thomas was the pick of the forwards with three goals, while Corbett again provided a strong forward presence, finishing with seven marks to go alongside his two goals.
In his first outing for Werribee for the year, Todd Goldstein proved a welcome addition to the ruck stocks, shouldering the bulk of the tap work and finishing with 53 hitouts to just about break even with the Box Hill duo of Marc Pittonet and Vickery.
The match marked the eighth edition of the beyondblue VFL Cup, which the two clubs contest each year in order to encourage conversations about anxiety and depression.
Former Prime Minister, beyondblue Chair, and Werribee Club Patron Julia Gillard was in attendance for the event, making a special player sponsor presentation to Corbett.
The result sees Werribee slip to eighth place and locked with sixth-placed Essendon, seventh placed Casey, and ninth-placed Sandringham on 28 points.
While it was a tough day for Werribee’s VFL side, it was a much tougher outing for the club’s Development League team, which went down to the Box Hill Hawks by 119 points earlier in the day.
The Tigers started promisingly enough to trail by 13 points at the first change before the Hawks took charge during the second term and never let up.
One pleasing aspect of the game for Werribee was the successful return of Kurt Aylett, who finished as his side’s best in his first game since suffering a serious ankle injury more than a year ago.
Nick Buykx was also impressive in defence and did his chances of a senior recall no harm.
Werribee’s tough run for home continues with another double header next Sunday, when both the VFL and Development League sides will head to RAMS Arena in Craigieburn for a home fixture against Port Melbourne.
Peter Jackson VFL
Box Hill Hawks: 5.4 9.5 13.14 15.18 (108)
Werribee: 3.4 5.6 7.7 9.9 (63)
Box Hill Hawks: W. Murphy 3, B. Kilpatrick 2, C. Jones 2, O. Hanrahan 2, T. Miles 2, S. Switkowski, K. Stewart, T. Vickery, M. Pittonet
Werribee: L. Thomas 3, J. Corbett 2, D. Brew, M. Munro, R. Barrack, H. King
Box Hill Hawks: A. Brolic, M. Pittonet, C. Jones, N. Evans, M. O'Donnell, M. Warren
Werribee: D. Brew, R. Barrack, D. Watson, J. Corbett, L. Thomas, T. Goldstein
AFL Victoria Development League
Box Hill Hawks: 3.4 9.6 15.6 23.14 (153)
Werribee: 1.3 1.6 3.8 4.10 (34)
Box Hill Hawks: D. Hehir 4, S. Parsons 2, M. Traynor 2, X. Dimasi 2, C. O''Sullivan 2, L. Jeffs 2, L. Cox, H. Burt, T. Davies, J. Walker, J. Haynes, S. Gibson, L. Williams, A. Bond, M. Knoll
Werribee: T. Jeffries, J. Anderson, M. Hodgetts, K. Galloway
Box Hill Hawks: A. Bond, D. Hehir, L. Cox, C. O''Sullivan, J. Walker, X. Dimasi
Werribee: K. Aylett, N. Buykx, J. Edwards, B. Hodgson, B. Iles