Williamstown broke its premiership drought on Sunday afternoon by overwhelming the Box Hill Hawks in front of a crowd of 12,900 at Etihad Stadium.
Following an even first half, the Seagulls broke open the game in the third quarter with a five-goal-to-two display before running away 54-point victors and claiming the clubs first flag since becoming a standalone side.
Williamstown’s small and medium forwards were prolific in the win with their pace proving too much for the Hawks defence with Cameron Lockwood, Dylan Conway and Andrew Gallucci kicking three goals each, while Anthony Anastasio and Leigh Masters each kicked two.
Williamstown’s midfield applied pressure and pace in shutting down the Hawks, denying them space and free-flowing football. 20-year-old Seagull Michael Gibbons took home the Norm Goss Medal for his 28-disposal, 11-clearances and one goal performance.
The Hawks were led by AFL experience, with James Sicily and Jed Anderson important in booting two goals each, whilst Jonathan Simpkin and Will Langford gathered plenty of the ball.
Williamstown’s hunger for the ball shone through in a free-flowing first quarter with the inside work of Adam Marcon (22 disposals, six clearances), Willie Wheeler (18 disposals, six clearances) and captain Ben Jolley (24 disposals) generating 18 inside-50 entries for the term and helped secure a 19-point lead at the first change.
The Hawks looked dangerous when they had momentum but Williamstown’s pressure prevented them from implementing the game plan for often and long enough.
Box Hill came out of the blocks in the second quarter a changed team with the reminder a premiership was up for grabs after last years heartbreak. Simpkin (29 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) and Langford (24 disposals, six clearances, six tackles) began using their AFL experience to dominate play, whilst returning ruckman Jonathan Ceglar (11 disposals, 34 hitouts) imposed himself on the ruck battle with Nick Meese.
Sam Grimley, Sicily and Sam Collins all booted goals in the second term to give the Hawks another chance however several easy, missed set-shot opportunities allowed the Seagulls some breathing space with a lead of five-points at the main break.
Williamstown set up the victory by pilling on five unanswered goals to begin the third quarter with the combination of tall forwards and pacey smalls proving too much for the Hawks defence.
The inside work of Ed Carr (22 disposals, eight tackles, six clearances) was critical and Meese’s around the ground work began turning the tables on the ruck duel with Ceglar (13 disposals, 29 hitouts, nine clearances), while retiring Scott Clouston (12 disposals, nine marks, seven inside-50s) starred in his final VFL game as a strong marking target.
An Anderson goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter made the margin just 20 points, but from that point onward it was a procession of goals as the Seagulls’ made their way to victory, winning their first premiership since 2003.
Williamstown 5.5 | 7.7 | 12.10 | 18.12 (120) d Box Hill Hawks 2.3 | 6.8 | 7.14 | 8.18 (66)
Williamstown: Lockwood 3, Conway 3, Gallucci 3, Anastasio 2, Masters 2, Tighe, Clouston, Banner, Gibbons, Carr
Box Hill Hawks: Sicily 2, Anderson 2, Simpkin, Grimley, Collins, Miles
Williamstown: Gibbons 28, Banner 26, Jolley 24, Marcon 22, Carr 22
Box Hill Hawks: Simpkin 29, Langford 24, Whitecross 22, O’Rourke 22, Lock 21