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Foxtel Cup: West Perth holds on in thriller against Box Hill Hawks

Alex Woodward of the Hawks in action during the 2014 NAB Challenge match between Hawthorn Hawks and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on February 13, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Alex Woodward continues his encouraging return from two knee reconstructions

WEST Perth has survived a spirited second-half fightback by the Box Hill Hawks to win a two-point thriller and advance into the semi finals of the Foxtel Cup..

In the battle of last year's VFL and WAFL premiers at Etihad Stadium, the Falcons toppled the Hawks 7.11 (53) to 7.9 (51).

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The thrilling victory sets up a semi-final clash between Tasmanian State League side the Western Storm and West Perth in Perth next month.

The Storm also won the opening match of the competition against West Adelaide by two points.

The Falcons led by 19 points at half-time but watched as Box Hill charged back into the contest thanks to three third-term goals by Hawthorn-listed forward James Sicily.

The 19 year old, Hawthorn’s third and final pick in last year’s national draft, showed he has the ability to develop into a solid, contested marking forward, finishing off much of the good work by Box Hill’s midfield.

The Hawks took the lead in the opening minute of the final term when 2012 VFL best-and-fairest winner (and Hawthorn rookie) Ben Ross snapped a classy goal.

It then appeared Box Hill would run away with the result. However, the Falcons were able to regain control with goals to Ray Bartholomew and Matthew Johnson.

Onballer Shane Nelson (23 possessions) and defender Jordan Jones (22 disposals) were the best for West Perth.

Nelson, who had 19 touches in the first half, said it was a fantastic performance by the Falcons to hold out the fast-finishing Hawks.

“It was a hard-fought game the whole time. They’re a great side and that’s why they’re the best in Melbourne,” Nelson said.

“We just wanted to lock it in the end, get as many stoppages as we could and time ran out so it was great.

“We’re struggling a little bit at home. Everyone pretty much wrote us off coming over here (Melbourne), so to come over and get a good win was a positive and hopefully we can maintain the momentum going into our regular season.”

It was a scrappy opening term with the defences of both sides on top.  

Jones, the former West Coast Eagle, continuously mopped up for the Falcons across half-back while David Mirra did the same for the Hawks.

West Perth dominated possession and had 11 entries into their forward 50m compared to just five by the Hawks.

Box Hill missed several gettable chances that saw it trail by eight points at the first break. It took 22 minutes for the Hawks to kick their first goal of the match via a strong mark from Hawthorn rookie Dallas Willsmore.

The Falcons continued to dominate in the second quarter but did not make the Hawks pay, booting 2.7 for the term.

Hawthorn-listed Alex Woodward continued his encouraging return from two knee reconstructions in the past two seasons.

With a game-high 29 possessions, Woodward was Box Hill’s best and has put himself into the mix for a call-up to the Hawks’ senior side in the next few weeks.

The next match of round one is at the MCG on Tuesday, May 20, when VFL side Williamstown faces the Brisbane-based Aspley Hornets.

WEST PERTH                2.0     4.7     5.9       7.11 (53)
BOX HILL HAWKS        0.4      1.6     5.7      7.9 (51)

GOALS
West Perth: Black, Brown, Adams, Tsalikis, Kerr, Bartholomew, Johnson
Box Hill Hawks: Sicily 3Ross 3Willsmore


BEST
West Perth: Nelson, Jones, Manning, Crisp, Guadagnin, Morrow
Box Hill Hawks: Woodward, Kennedy, Ross, Isles, Sicily, Mirra