Box Hill 7.2 9.4 12.10 14.15 (99) Geelong 4.3 7.6 7.7 11.12 (78)
GOALS. Box Hill: Grimley 3, Osborne 2, Murphy 2, Simpkin 2, Lowden, Savage, Hallahan, Retzlaff, Iles. Geelong: Walker 4, Bathie 2, West, Kersten, Sheringham, Burbury, Hartman.
BEST Box Hill: Simpkin, Spangher, Iles, Langford, Cheney, Wanganeen. Geelong: West, Walker, Hunt, Smedts, Sheringham, Corrigan. Norm Goss Medal: J Simpkin (Box Hill).
The Box Hill Hawks conquered league powerhouse Geelong to claim just their second senior VFL flag by 21 points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Just two days after AFL affiliate Hawthorn came from behind against the Cats to land a grand final appearance, Box Hill secured the upset win and knockout blow to the Cats in another episode to add to their tantalising rivalry in front of a crowd of 15,199.
This, however, wasn’t typical of the usual Geelong-Hawthorn clashes. There was no pulsating comeback, only a couple of murmurs in the final term. So often Geelong has been deemed outright VFL flag favourite this season given its prowess on the ladder, where it finished minor premier and three games ahead of second. It had won 13 games on the trot before Sunday.
But Box Hill, which it defeated earlier in the season by five points, has always been a danger given it has improved significantly as the season wore on.
The Hawks took a gamble by rotating four players over 200 centimetres in their forward line, but it paid off in the 14.15 (99) to 11.12 (78) win. Sam Grimley kicked three goals – including the important first of the final term – while Luke Lowden, Bryce Retzlaff and Jonathon Ceglar threatened as strong focal points.
Trent West collected 44 hitouts but it was not a field day. Lowden and Ceglar were perhaps more effective when it counted most.
Matt Spangher, at 195 centimetres, was another tall who was just as valuable.
Josh Walker had four goals up until half-time and looked every bit the match-winner. Spangher, who has become a cult figure at Box Hill, quelled his influence in the second half.
In close, Jonathan Simpkin, who won the Norm Goss Medal with 26 disposals and two goals, Sam Iles and Mitch Hallahan were the specialists. So often, the Cats physically challenged the Hawks and all three stood up on countless occasions in the clinches.
Simpkin said playing against his former team inspired him.
‘‘Obviously it’s a little bit of motivation coming up against them to try and play well,’’ Simpkin said.
Box Hill coach Damian Carroll said the win was yet to sink in.
‘‘I think with our timing, it was probably our strongest team all year so we felt pretty confident going in today. It’s a great result.’’