Zebras on the wrong side of tough shootout against Box Hill
The Sandringham Zebras fell short against the Box Hill Hawks at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval suffering a 30-point defeat in a topsy turvy Round 3 clash.
Photos by Gemma Sliz
On a perfect autumn’s day, Sandringham fans finally got their long overdue football fix as their Zebras returned for the first home game of 2021.
Box Hill had more of the ball early, gaining repeat inside 50s and putting the Zebras defense under pressure, however the Hawks didn’t make the most of their early opportunities kicking just the one goal.
The Zebras back six responded well with Tom Highmore taking three intercept marks in quick succession.
Unfortunately for the Zebras, Dean Kent was ruled out of the remainder of the match after suffering a nasty head knock.
This sparked the Zebs into action, as Jack Lonie put through their first goal of the game with a 35-metre set shot.
Led by Luke Dunstan, the Zebras started dominating the contested ball.
The contest was pretty even at this stage after Jack McHale kicked the Zebras third, but a frenetic ten minutes saw Box Hill kick 5 goals in succession — two through Tyler Brockman.
Mason Wood settled the nerves for Zebs fans with a brilliant contested mark and goal on the quarter time siren, cutting the margin to 19 points.
The Zebs continued their fightback in the second quarter, as Shaun Mckernan converted a difficult chance from the pocket to open the scoring.
Paul Hunter’s tapwork was impressive, giving first use to the Zebs midfield brigade.
The Zebras took advantage of a strong breeze, kicking tough goals through Sam Alabakis and Luke Dunstan to level the scores.
Jack Lonie was finally rewarded for his manic forward pressure, kicking two out of the next three goals for the Zebs as they gained the ascendancy.
A melee broke out after Goy Lok added the Zebras seventh of the quarter, extending their lead to 24 points.
The floodgates had opened, and the Zebras capitalised, taking a 37 point lead into half time.
It was Box Hill who came out firing after the main break, kicking the first goal of the quarter after a scrappy start.
Leo Connolly and Tom Highmore fought hard for the Zebras in the backline, with Connolly courageously running back with the flight of the ball for a spoil.
However, the Hawks finally made the most of their opportunities to kick 5 consecutive goals.
Dunstan’s performance was perhaps the biggest highlight for the Zebras as he consistently won the contested ball in the clutches.
The Zebras intensity lifted after Sam Alabakis took an impressive contested mark on the wing, as Cody Henness steadied the ship with a late goal to ensure Sandringham took a slender three point lead into the final change.
Both teams were desperate to grind out a win as grey skies set in over Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval in the final quarter.
But it was Box Hill who gained the ascendancy early through a long range goal to Michael Hartley, which handed them a nine point lead.
Connolly was again outstanding with several rebounds under immense pressure from a fast-finishing Hawks outfit.
The Hawks added three more goals to their tally, but a late Oscar Clavarino set shot kept them within striking distance.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Hawks kicked another late goal to record a 30-point win over Sandringham in a high-scoring clash.
Zebras Coach, Jake Batchelor said there’s lots of room for improvement heading into the bye.
“We just folded back defensively in the second half and gave them too much space to move the ball — any team is going to cut through that,” he said.
“We’re playing our best when we’re getting off the ground defensively and getting in their faces.”
Despite the loss, Batchelor was pleased with the performances of a few of his troops.
“Tom Highmore was everywhere for us with 30-odd touches and got our best on ground award, I think he got tagged in the second half which is pretty impressive for a defender.”
“Luke Dunstan did the right things and Jack Lonie finished off the game well for us.”
The Zebras sit 20th on the ladder and will welcome the chance to regroup during next week’s bye in Round 4.