Footscray’s 2023 VFL season has come to an end, after a 20-point loss to Box Hill which saw them eliminated from the finals.
The Dogs, who flew into the second week of the finals off the back of a stunning 11-game winning streak, fell just short of the Hawks in a hotly contested match at Box Hill City Oval.
A five-goal haul from Footscray forward Buku Khamis wasn’t enough to see his team over the line, despite the Bulldogs leading during the third quarter.
After a relatively even first half, the Dogs clicked into gear with the first three goals of the third stanza and led by nine points at the 14-minute mark, but the Hawks booted three straight of their own to snatch back a 10-point lead at the final change.
Box Hill looked to have run away with the win when they kicked three of the first four goals of the final quarter to lead by 27 points, but consecutive goals from Ewan Macpherson, Charlie Clarke and Luke Goater reduced the margin to seven points with 23 minutes played.
But the Hawks finished the stronger, kicking the final two goals of the game to win their way through to the preliminary final.
Lachie Sullivan led all comers for disposals on the day with 30, while Riley Garcia was also prolific with 28 touches and four tackles.
Tim O’Brien took seven marks in defence, while Jordon Sweet dominated the hitouts, collected 18 disposals and laid six tackles.
The Bulldogs were without midfielder Toby McLean for the final, after he was a late withdrawal before the first bounce.
Lachie Bramble was influential in the win for the Hawks, while former Bulldog Fergus Greene kicked three majors – two of which came in the final term.
Box Hill had finished third on the ladder after the home-and-away season and were defeated by Werribee in the qualifying final last week.
Leading into Saturday’s Semi Final, Footscray had not lost a game since May 27 - in Round 10 of the VFL season.
BOX HILL 4.3 5.7 8.10 14.11 (95)
FOOTSCRAY 3.3 3.9 6.12 10.15 (75)
Box Hill: Greene 3, Ryan 3, Arundell 2, Bennetts, Bramble, Butler, Koschitzke, Long, Ramsden
Footscray: Khamis 5, Goater 2, Darcy, Macpherson, Clarke.