REVIEW: Smithy's VFL Round 9 (2023)

A review of all the action from Round 9 of the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season.

With famous comebacks for season-shaping victories, standalone clubs making a mark on the top 10, monumental droughts breaking, plucky displays from underdogs and more nightmares for the competition battlers, Round 9 of the Smithy’s VFL had it all.


BRISBANE LIONS 7.3, 12.5, 18.6, 24.11 (155)
1.0, 4.1, 6.2, 6.2 (38)

THE contrasting fortunes of two Lion prides could not be more stark after Brisbane Lions crushed Coburg by a record 117 points at Michael Voss Oval, Brighton Homes Arena on Saturday.

While the winless but plucky Victorian Lions were always going to face a difficult task against the fully fit and undefeated Queensland Lions, it was a ruthless display by the new ladder-leader as they booted seven goals to one in the first quarter and never looked back, adding five, six and six goals in a complete performance.

Brisbane Lions were +88 in disposals and won hitouts 48-13, clearances 44-26 and inside-50s 70-27 as a rampant Kai Lohmann had 22 disposals, took nine marks, delivered five entries and booted seven goals and Jarryd Lyons (44 possessions, nine marks, 10 clearances, 10 entries, one goal) once again had people marvelling at how he can’t break into the AFL team.

Deven Robertson (39 disposals, 10 clearances, one goal), Rhys Mathieson (35 disposals, eight marks, seven clearances, five entries) and father-son signing Jaspa Fletcher (30 disposals, 12 marks, seven entries, two goals) also did as they pleased with the home team having 11 players rack up at least 20 touches – Jaxon Prior (23 disposals, nine marks, two goals), Nakia Cockatoo (21 disposals, six marks, five entries, two goals) and Harry Arnold (20 disposals, 12 marks, six rebounds) among them – while Henry Smith and Blake Coleman kicked three goals each.

Coburg didn’t give up in the face of all that quality, with Ben Jepson (31 disposals, nine marks, five rebounds), Mitch Podhajski (23 disposals, 10 marks, seven rebounds), Tom McKenzie (25 disposals, 10 marks) and Lachlan Walker (23 disposals, 10 marks) did their best to hold back the tide.


BOX HILL HAWKS 2.3, 5.9, 7.14, 11.18 (84)
2.1, 3.4, 5.5, 6.9 (45)

BOX HILL Hawks turned in their most complete performance of the year to outclass Southport by 39 points at Box Hill City Oval.

After a tight start saw the home team lead by two points at the first break, the Hawks gradually stamped their authority on the game, winning every quarter and only keeping the Sharks in the contest through poor finishing in front of goal.

But they finally got their reward with the last major of the third term and the first four of the last to move to 6-1 as they got the job done despite star full-forward Fergus Greene being held to just 1.3 on his return from the AFL team, with in-form Jaylon Thorpe (three) leading the way and Coates Talent League debutant Ryan Maric impressing with 15 touches, eight marks and 2.2.

First-year Hawks Henry Hustwaite (26 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six tackles, six inside-50s) and Bailey Macdonald (21 disposals, nine marks) were outstanding for Box Hill, as were experienced stars Callum Brown (26 disposals, seven rebounds), Hugh Beasley (21 disposals, five marks, six rebounds), Callum Porter (20 disposals, nine clearances, seven entries), Damian Mascitti (18 disposals, nine marks, eight rebounds) and Ed Phillips (21 disposals, seven entries), while Max Hall had 17, seven marks, seven tackles and two goals.

Sharks ruckman Brayden Crossley dominated the air for the visitors with 20 possessions, six marks and 41 hitouts and also starred on the ground with five clearances, five inside-50s and stunning 11 tackles.

Star midfielders Boyd Woodcock (26 disposals, six clearances, eight entries, one goal) and Jacob Dawson (23 disposals, six tackles) also got plenty of the ball but were down on their usual brilliant outputs, with Dan Charlesworth (22 disposals, eight marks) and Matt McGuinness (19 disposals, 10 rebounds) working hard down back.


WERRIBEE 3.2, 4.4, 8.4, 14.7 (91)
3.1, 11.4, 12.9, 13.11 (89)

THE remarkable rivalry of Werribee and Gold Coast Sunds continues to grow after the Tigers charged home from 42 points down at half-time to win an epic but controversial clash by two points at Avalon Airport Oval and hand the Suns their first defeat of the season and only their second in 17 matches.

The Tigers kicked four goals to one in the third quarter and six to one in the last, but the biggest talking point came in the 11th minute of the final term when Charlie Constable was penalised for a deliberate rushed behind, allowing a simple goal to Shaun Mannagh.

In the ensuing confusion, a second free kick was paid against the Suns for dissent and Jack Boyd made no mistake, cutting a 23-point margin to 11 before returning champion Matt Hanson and Sam Paea goalled from set shots to give Werribee an unlikely lead.

Sandy Brock got it back for Gold Coast with a 25th minute set shot and the Suns held on until the Tigers made one last thrust and an attempt from Jake Stein to knock the ball out of bounds when he could have taken an uncontested mark was sharked by Boyd, who passed to captain Nick Coughlan, with a quick handball over the top to Hudson Garoni sealing victory with less than a minute left.

It seemed like business as usual for the Suns when they piled on eight goals to one in the second quarter to turn a one-point deficit into what appeared to be a matchwinning advantage at the main break.

Sam Flanders was again in outstanding form, being on his way to 36 disposals, 10 marks, five clearances and five inside-50s, Constable (31 disposals, six marks, six clearances, eight tackles, one goal) was having a blinder, Ben Long (25 disposals, 11 marks, six rebounds) was strong in defence, Ned Moyle (21 disposals, six marks, 38 hitouts, six clearances) dominated the ruck and James Tsitas (20 disposals, five tackles, three goals), Jed Anderson (21 disposals, five clearances, one goal) and Caleb Graham (19 disposals, nine marks) also had the better of their opponents.

But with Alex Sexton (1.5) and Chris Burgess (1.3) leaving their radars in Queensland, Werribee retained a sniff – and you don’t give a dual Liston medallist a sniff.

Tom Gribble lifted his team on his shoulders with 41 possessions, five clearances and eight inside-50s and he had plenty of mates willing to climb on for the ride, with Mannagh (33 disposals, eight tackles, six entries, two goals) again raising his AFL Mid-Season Draft capital, Hanson (31 disposals, six marks, six clearances, two goals) showing no signs of ring rust, wingman Kye Declase (35 disposals, five marks) and inside-mid Dom Brew (33 disposals, nine clearances, five tackles, eight entries) brilliant.

Defenders Louis Pinnuck (26 disposals, 10 rebounds) and Coughlan (21 disposals, eight marks, 10 rebounds) also starred, Garoni finished with seven marks and 3.2 and Northern Bullants recruit Boyd kicked two from 18 touches and six marks after breaking back into the team, while Jack Riding had nine touches and kicked a goal as one of two Victorian Premier cricketers to make a VFL debut at the weekend.

Remarkably, the four matches between these teams have resulted in two and one-point wins to the Tigers, a two-point triumph to the Suns and a draw.


CASEY DEMONS 5.1, 9.4, 14.7, 18.9 (117)
4.0, 6.0, 10.4, 16.6 (102)

CASEY Demons consolidated their spot in the top four in holding off North Melbourne by 15 points in an entertaining shootout at Casey Fields.

The Kangaroos kept themselves in the contest with their efficiency, not recording a behind until one was rushed by the Demon defence in the 11th minute of the third quarter, but it appeared the reigning premier had gained the upper hand when it kicked the last four goals of the second quarter to lead by 22 at the half.

That got out to 35 points 10 minutes into the third, but North would not be denied and they stemmed the flow before finishing full of running with six final-term goals to keep the home team on their toes.

Adam Tomlinson (24 disposals, 10 marks, six rebounds) and Dan Turner (22 disposals, 13 marks) were again the twin towers of strength down back for Casey, James Jordan (27 disposals, eight clearances, five tackles, six entries), Bailey Laurie (23 disposals, five marks, two goals), Roan Steele (23 disposals, six marks, one goal), Taj Woewodin (22 disposals, five marks, one goal) and James Harmes (21 disposals, eight clearances, five entries) starred in the middle.

Joel Smith was dangerous early with three first-half goals for the Demons, including one after a spectacular soar in the goal square, while Josh Schache and Jake Melksham also booted three.

But North Melbourne had arguably the more impressive individual performances, none better than first-year player Cooper Harvey, the son of AFL games record holder Brent, who starred with 20 disposals, six marks and five goals

Charlie Lazzaro (33 disposals, five clearances, seven tackles, six entries, one goal) and club great Ben Cunnington (32 disposals, 17 clearances, one goal) were also terrific for the Roos, as was Tarryn Thomas (26 disposals, eight marks, five clearances, nine entries, one goal), Curtis Taylor (24, disposals six marks) and Hamish Free (31 hitouts).


NORTHERN BULLANTS 2.3, 5.3, 6.5, 8.6 (54)
4.0, 7.6, 9.8, 10.11 (71)

FRANKSTON’s experienced players stood tall to help the Dolphins grab their first win at Genis Steel Oval for 24 years by outlasting Preston by 17 points in a tough battle on Saturday.

The Dolphins hadn’t played at Preston since 2007 and hadn’t won since 1999, losing four times there with the majority of their contests played at IKON Park under the Bullants’ Carlton alignment, but they took their chances early to lead by nine points at quarter-time before the radar switched off and their half-time advantage was held to 15.

But while Frankston couldn’t put the plucky Bullants away, it never really looked like losing in leaving a crowd full of club legends from Preston’s 1983 premiership hat-trick and 1963 flag a little disappointed.

Jackson Voss was in startling form for the Dolphins, picking up 30 disposals, taking 13 grabs – including one of the marks of the year over Bullant key forward Tyson Young – and delivering seven rebound-50s, while Kai Owens continued his arrival as a big-bodied midfielder with 30 touches, five marks, 12 clearances, six tackles and seven inside-50s with Will Fordham and Trent Mynott being well held.

Ryley Stoddart (23 disposals, eight marks) did his hopes of a second AFL shot no harm, second-gamer Darcy Gilbert (21 disposals, nine marks) and Taine Barlow (20 disposals, nine marks, five rebounds) impressed in defence and Matt Johnson (four) and Bailey Lambert (two) were ever dangerous up forward with 11 marks and six goals between them.

Backman Spencer Johnson (28 disposals, eight marks, 10 rebounds) was Northern Bullants best alongside Patrick Fairlie (22 disposals, nine marks), Jean-Luc Velissaris (27 disposals, seven marks, five rebounds) and Cam Wild (26 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, one goal) backed up last week’s strong form in the middle.

Young (19 disposals, two goals), Saad El-Hawli (17 disposals, two goals) and John Roumeliotis (two goals) were dangerous in attack in the absence of the suspended and badly-missed Brandon Ryan.


ESSENDON 5.0, 7.4, 10.7, 12.10 (82)
3.4, 5.7, 7.9, 12.12 (84)

IN A significant contrast to what happened later in the night, Richmond powered home from 30 points down seven minutes into the last quarter to stun Essendon by two points at the MCG.

The Bombers took control with the last three goals of the first quarter and extended their lead at every change pushing it out to five goals with the first two of the last term to Patrick Voss and Brad Bernacki.

But after being outplayed all day, the Tigers suddenly came to life, booting the last five goals, including three in three minutes in time-on and taking the lead in the 28th minute when makeshift ruckman Ben Miller received a handball from Biggie Nyuon, took a bounce and banged it home from 48m.

Play spent the last four minutes camped in Essendon’s forward line and Tom Phillips earned a free kick for holding the ball as the siren sounds, but 52m close to the boundary was a fraction too far and he hit the near behind post.

Richmond’s Noah Cumberland claimed the Sir Doug Nicholls Award for best-on-ground with 17 disposals, eight marks, five inside-50s and four goals, finishing off the good work of Tyler Sonsie (28 disposals, seven entries, six rebounds), Cam Olden (22 disposals, six tackles, one goal), Sam Banks (19 disposals, five tackles, one goal) and Lachlan Street (21 disposals).

Nick Bryan dominated the ruck against Miller with 25 disposals, 11 marks, 37 hitouts, eight clearances and six inside-50s, proving the old adage you can make it your moment even if it isn’t your day.

Sam Conforti (26 disposals, six marks, 10 rebounds), Harry Minton-Connell (24 disposals, seven marks, five rebounds), Lewis Hayes (21 disposals, 10 marks, nine rebounds) and Joel Fitzgerald (23, seven marks) were outstanding in defence for Essendon.

Bernacki (26 disposals, eight clearances, five tackles, one goal), former Tiger Riley Loton (23 disposals, five marks, 11 tackles) and Jack Cleaver (22 disposals, eight marks, one goal) were strong further up the ground and Voss (three goals) and Anthony Munkara (two goals) did well in attack, but the Bombers will definitely feel this was one that got away.


PORT MELBOURNE 4.4, 9.6, 13.9, 18.10 (118)
1.2, 3.5, 4.6, 8.7 (55)

PORT Melbourne bounced back from last week’s disappointing loss to Sandringham, thumping Sydney by 63 points at ETU Stadium on Saturday night.

The Borough had control of the game from the outset but the undermanned Swans hung tough until time-on of the second quarter, when four goals in eight minutes turned a 12-point lead into a match-sealing 37-point gap at half-time.

There was no coming back from the Swans as the Borough kicked 9.4 to 5.2 in the second half to record only the second win over their former next-door neighbours in a 21-match history and their first since June 18, 1892, after nine losses in a row.

Fraser Rosman roughed Sydney up with and without the ball on his way to 29 disposals and seven rebounds for the Borough, with Harvey Hooper (27 disposals, five marks, six clearances) and Nash Holmes (22 disposals, seven clearances, six entries) being too much for the visitors to handle in the middle.

Jake Gasper (21 disposals, seven entries, three goals), Tom Hird (21 disposals, six tackles, two goals) and Matt Signorello (17 disposals, four goals) provided plenty of avenues to goal.

Sam Naismith (17 disposals, seven clearances, 43 hitouts) beat up on his former club and debutant ruckman Monty Velthuis and first-year player Cam Owen (14 touches, 31 hitouts between them), while former Richmond Premier cricketer Kyle Viccars impressed on debut for the Borough with 17 touches, eight marks, five entries and two goals.

Corey Warner tried hard for the Swans with 26 possessions, five clearances, five tackles, nine entries and a goal, as did Jake Bartholomaeus (27 disposals, six marks, five clearances, seven tackles, six entries), Lachlan Rankin (21 disposals, six marks, five tackles), Sam Wicks (19 disposals, six clearances, eight tackles), Hugo Hall-Kahan (three goals) and Angus Sheldrick, who fronted up after an AFL substitute appearance earlier in the day to have 18 disposals and kick a goal.


WILLIAMSTOWN 1.1, 6.6, 7.8, 11.14 (80)
3.6, 4.7, 7.11, 8.12 (60)

WILLIAMSTOWN used one of the best home ground advantages in the VFL to the fullest as it outslugged Carlton by 20 points in a Hobsons Bay howler at DSV Stadium on Sunday.

With the prevailing five to six-goal wind blowing straight down the ground to the Barracks End, it was always going to be who used it the best and the Seagulls are experts at doing just that.

The Blues missed the first chance to build a big lead by kicking 3.6 to 1.1 in the first term and the Seagulls made them pay with 5.5 to 1.1 in the second – including one to Darby Henderson when Tom de Koning kicked 50m the wrong way from a boundary throw-in to the top of the goal square, handing up an 11-point lead into the main break.

Carlton dominated the third quarter but again couldn’t put it on the board with 3.4, and Brodie Kemp undid all his team’s good work with a brain explosion shove giving Jack McHale a 50m penalty and Williamstown’s only goal of the term in the 28th minute.

The three-point lead was never going to be enough and the home team added 4.6 to 1.1 to climb to 6-2 and fifth spot on the ladder, with the only downside being a luckless James Cousins reinjuring his hamstring for a third time this season in his first game back from the previous breakdown.

Marty Hore (27 disposals, 15 marks, 15 rebounds) once again proved impassable in defence for Williamstown, with 10 of his grabs being intercepts as Carlton bombed the ball in repeatedly, with Oscar McDonald (16 disposals, seven marks, 12 rebounds) also doing as he pleased with young Blues Harry Lemmey and Hudson O’Keeffe unable to get into the game.

Harry Jones (21 disposals, nine clearances), 298-gamer Ben Jolley (20 disposals, five marks) and Mitch Cox (19 disposals, six marks, six entries, one goal) did well in the middle and Joel Ottavi (eight marks, three goals) and Darby Henderson (18 disposals, six entries, two goals) were dangerous in attack.

Carlton Ball magnet Paddy Dow can’t do any more week-in-week-out to get an AFL game, and he piled up 41 possessions, five marks, 11 clearances and 11 inside-50s. Tom de Koning (24, eight marks, 34 hitouts, 10 clearances, nine inside-50s) had the better of star Seagull Tom Downie and Jaxon Binns (30 disposals, five tackles, five entries), Lachie Fogarty (29 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles), Kemp (23 disposals, seven marks, six entries, six rebounds) and Lachie Plowman (23 disposals, five marks, nine rebounds) were also good.


GWS GIANTS 2.4, 5.6, 8.9, 12.15 (87)
4.4, 5.4, 7.5, 9.6 (60)

GWS claimed its fourth win in a row, wearing Sandringham down to salute by 27 points at Giants Stadium on Saturday.

The Zebras started energetically and claimed a 12-point lead at the first break, but the Giants gradually took control, grabbing a two-point lead by half-time and extending that to 10 at the final break and 27 by the end.

Josh Fahey stuffed the stats sheet for GWS with 43 possessions, 14 marks, five inside-50s and seven rebound-50s as he roamed up and down the field seemingly with nobody near him all day, while Matt Flynn (21 disposals, six marks, 32 hitouts, seven clearances, five tackles, six entries, two goals) outplayed Tom Campbell (12 disposals, 28 hitouts) and Mitch Conn (29 disposals, five entries, one goal) had a breakout game.

No.16 draft pick Harry Rowston (27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances, eight tackles, seven entries) thrust his name in front of the AFL selectors, as did Daniel Lloyd (25 disposals, six marks, two goals) and Jason Gillbee (23 disposals, seven marks, five rebounds), while Barry O’Connor (25 disposals, six clearances, five tackles, seven entries) firmed as a mid-season draft fancy and Wade Derksen kicked three goals.

Jack Bytel did the hard yards for the Zebras, winning 36 touches and 10 clearances, allowing Leo Connolly (30 disposals, five marks, seven entries, Marcus Windhager (25 disposals, five tackles, five entries) and Jack Billings (24 disposals, five entries) to sparkle, while Tyson Milne (32 disposals, six marks, seven rebounds), Tom Highmore (29 disposals, six marks, eight rebounds), captain Anthony Seaton (22 disposals, five marks, five tackles) and Zaine Cordy (18 disposals, six marks, seven rebounds) were tireless in defence and Jordan Segar kicked three goals.

BYE: Collingwood, Footscray, Geelong


Friday, May 26: Sydney Swans vs Carlton (4:05pm, SCG – AFL curtain raiser); Saturday, May 27: Werribee vs Casey Demons (2:05pm, Avalon Airport Oval); Gold Coast Suns vs Footscray Bulldogs (3:30pm, TIO Stadium – AFL curtain raiser); Sandringham vs Coburg (5:10pm, RSEA Park – VFLW double header); Frankston vs Brisbane Lions (7.05pm, Kinetic Stadium). Sunday, May 28: Collingwood vs North Melbourne (11:05am, AIA Centre); Geelong Cats vs Port Melbourne (12:00pm, GMHBA Stadium); Essendon vs Box Hill Hawks (1:05pm, NEC Hangar). Bye: GWS Giants, Northern Bullants, Richmond, Southport, Williamstown.

Click here to view full fixture and ladder.

Broadcast and streaming: All matches in the 2023 Smithy’s VFL and rebel VFLW seasons will be live streamed free via the AFL website ( and AFL Live Official App. Smithy’s VFL broadcast partner, the Seven Network, will continue to show one weekly game live and free on the Seven Network in Victoria and on 7Plus nationally. Casey Radio 97.7FM and 3WBC 94.1FM are also broadcasting matches.

Live scoring and stats: Live scoring and stats will be available via both the AFL Live Official App and VFL App. Download the VFL App from the Apple or Google Play stores.

Ticketing: Where Smithy’s VFL matches are ticketed, entry is $10 for adults, $5 for concession holders and kids under 15 are free. Some venues don't charge for entry. AFL ticketing prices will apply for VFL matches played as curtain-raisers and curtain-closers to AFL matches at AFL venues.


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