Round 9 preview: Box Hill Hawks vs Werribee

Werribee will be looking to re-ignite its season with an upset win over the Box Hill Hawks when it travels out to Box Hill City Oval on Saturday.

Match details

Saturday, June 2
2pm at Box Hill City Oval
Listen live on 94.1FM 3WBC from 1pm.

The story so far

Werribee has showed some positive signs in recent weeks without managing to play consistently enough for long enough to salvage a win, but there was no hiding from the disappointment of last week’s 51-point loss to Sandringham at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

It will look to bounce back this week against the fifth-placed Hawks, who got their season off to a flying start but have looked more vulnerable of late with losses to the Casey Demons and North Melbourne across the last three rounds.

Recent history

The two sides last squared off in round 14 last year on a wet and miserable Sunday afternoon at City Oval. Werribee held its own early against the then top-of-the-table Hawks before the home side stretched clear over the second half to run out 45-point winners.

Talking points

• There’s no denying Werribee would love the inside grunt work of injured three-time best-and-fairest winner Matt Hanson right now, but it is far from a one-man show in the middle. The likely return of Dom Brew will add some welcome contested-ball-winning ability and tackling pressure, while Joe Maishman – best on ground for Werribee last week – is developing an ever-more impressive inside game to complement his outside run. Throw Ben Moloney, Tom Gribble, Kurt Aylett, and captain Michael Sodomaco into the mix and Werribee should back itself to go toe to toe with a Hawks midfield led by Andrew Moore, Anthony Brolic, and Will Hams.
• The last time Sam Collins lined up at City Oval, he was in the brown and gold of Box Hill, and the Werribee faithful will be all too glad to see him donning the “big W” this time around. The former Fremantle AFL defender has been a contested-marking colossus down back for Werribee this year, averaging more than 11 marks per game across the opening eight rounds. He will no doubt again feature prominently in defence against the likes of Mitchell Lewis and Conor Nash and – as shown last week against Sandringham – may even swing forward to hit the scoreboard if the occasion calls for it.
• As much as Collins has been something of a lynchpin for the Werribee backline this year through his intercept and contested marking, Dane McFarlane has been crucial to the drive out of defence. As evidenced by his best-on-ground performance against Footscray and last week’s 29-possession haul against the Zebras, the one-time forward now looks completely at home at the opposite end of the ground, and his daring run and carry will again be invaluable against the Hawks as Werribee looks to launch its counterattacks off half-back.
• Averaging an even three goals a game, Josh Corbett has been Werribee’s most potent forward across the start to 2018, but Kye Declase is continuing to emerge as an increasingly important target in front of goal. Despite still learning his forward craft, having spent much of his career playing in defence or on the wing, the former Northern Blue has netted 12 goals from his seven games in Werribee colours and last week finished as Werribee’s top goal scorer for the second time this year. With the Box Hill backline set to be boosted by the returns of David Mirra and Conor Glass this week, Declase will again have an important role to play.
• Despite lacking the support of the injured Nick Nott, big man Jack Berry continues to rise to the challenges being thrown at him each week. The first-year Werribee ruckman produced perhaps his best performance of the year against Sandringham last week, winning 42 hitouts to only be narrowly edged by the St Kilda-listed Billy Longer, and he will no doubt be setting himself for another big performance this week against Marc Pittonet.

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