Hawthorn is somehow managing to sit atop the AFL ladder and blood youngsters at the same time. Readiness for the AFL and competition for senior selection is what has led the young Box Hill Hawks to a great first half of the season, also topping the VFL ladder. Being led by some talented older heads in Daniel Pratt, Marc Lock and Dave Mirra, Box Hill is teaching young players like Taylor Duryea and Jed Anderson how to be effective at AFL level.

Season so far
Box Hill has been the most consistent and impressive side all year. Going down to Port Melbourne and Geelong in close losses were tough. The Hawks’ season was defined by their 60-point win over Casey.

Big Improver: Sam Iles
Former Collingwood and Gold Coast player Sam Iles has shown that he is still an AFL standard player. In his nine games so far, he’s been in the bests three times and hasn’t had a quiet game as of yet. Against Bendigo, he racked up 13 handball receives, 26 touches and a goal. For a guy who wasn’t traditionally known as an outside midfielder, Iles has worked hard to become a player who his team mates can trust when linking up. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Iles will get another shot at AFL due to the combination of his age and the fact that whilst he’s been great, he hasn’t dominated week in week out.

Big Slider: Amos Frank
The small forward has gone backwards this year, struggling to hit the scoreboard. From seven games, he’s kicked nine goals. He is yet to record more than 13 disposals in any of those matches, so he hasn’t had an impact when he moves up the field. The talent is there and he plays for a successful side, but something is just not going right with his form.

Second Half Preview
The Hawks don’t have an easy run home. With their next three being against Williamstown, Collingwood and Northern Blues, they must win all four so the results against Port Melbourne and Casey are less significant. If the Hawks can cruise through with six or seven victories, then they should be in good stead for a premiership tilt.

End of season prediction: 14 wins, four losses