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VFL grand final 2018: Box Hill Hawks come from behind to defeat Casey Demons in premiership decider

From the Herald-Sun
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The jubilant Hawks celebrate on the siren.

BOX Hill Hawks have completed one of the VFL’s most stirring finals campaigns after a come-from-behind 10-point grand final victory over Casey Demons at Etihad Stadium.

The Hawks, sixth on the ladder after the home-and-away rounds, became the first team to win the premiership from outside the top four since the competition was revamped and a top-eight system introduced in 2000.

The Box Hill Hawks celebrate with the VFL premiership cup. Source: HeraldSun

Box Hill trailed for the entire game until midway through the final quarter after reeling in a 22-point deficit early in the third term.

Kieran Lovell put the Hawks up for the first time in the contest after a classic piece of roving off the palms of dominant ruckman Marc Pittonet, giving the Hawks a two-point advantage.

Draftee Dylan Moore then sealed the come-from-behind win after receiving a free kick in the goalsquare for high contact, giving the Hawks their second state league premiership in six years.


Dylan Moore celebrates and important goal. Source: HeraldSun

Kieran Lovell was among the Hawks final term heroes, and didn't they get around him? Source: HeraldSun

Hawthorn defender David Mirra was adjudged the Norm Goss medallist as the best on ground.

“We would have liked to have played better footy in the first half but Casey’s pressure, they way they were playing, we actually didn’t really look like it at any stage,” Box Hill coach Chris Newman said in the winner’s rooms.

“It felt like we’ve gained energy each game we played so it was a bit surreal because, as I said, we didn’t look like it in the first half.”

David Mirra capped off a stunning season by winning the Norm Goss Medal for best afield in the VFL grand final. Source: HeraldSun

Brendan Whitecross celebrates premiership glory with his children.Source: HeraldSun

The win was made extra special by AFL-listed Hawk Brendan Whitecross finally securing premiership glory.

Whether didn’t get picked or he was injured, Whitecross has missed five premierships in his 11 years in the system.

Hawthorn has won four premierships and Box Hill had won one before today, but he had not been part of any.

"It’s just reward for a lot of hard work," he said on Seven.

"A lot of people didn’t rate us this year. We’ve got a lot of young players and it’s really good for Hawthorn leading into the next five-10 years."

The 10.12 (72) to 8.14 (62) result was Box Hill’s third game this finals series decided by two goals or less.

Their victory put the seal on a September run that began with a gripping extra-time win over fierce rival Port Melbourne in the elimination final.

Save for a goal in the last second of normal time, the Hawks would have been eliminated at the first hurdle.

The following week they got past Geelong in a semi-final and last week they edged out Williamstown by one point when utility Jaylon Thorpe missed a shot by a matter of inches with the last kick of the game.

And for large parts of the decider Box Hill did not look like winning, but managed to get its kicking boots on with seven goals after half-time.

Instead, a finals series of ifs, buts and maybes resulted in Box Hill drinking from the premiership cup.

And Newman was expecting a big one tonight after the Hawthorn women also saluted in the VFLW grand final.

"Congrats to our women’s team that won the grand final before, it’s going to be a good night tonight, I would have thought," Newman said.

"These boys here, I know you’re all hanging to get up here, but I couldn’t love you guys more than what I do."