A review of all the action from the inaugural Smithy’s VFL Wildcard Round.

Ten teams became eight in the race for the premiership as Casey Demons and Collingwood advanced to the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Finals Series in brutal fashion to have the top six feeling a little nervous.

Here’s how the two Wildcard Round matches unfolded.


COLLINGWOOD 4.4, 7.5, 16.7, 21.9 (135)
2.4, 7.7, 8.9, 8.12 (60)

A nine-goal third quarter blitz booked Collingwood an elimination final trip to Williamstown as it thumped an undermanned Richmond by 75 points at the Swinburne Centre.

The Magpies trailed by two points at half-time after the Tigers produced an impressive five-goal-to-three second quarter despite only fielding eight AFL-listed players to their opponents’ 16.

However, Ash Johnson’s major a minute into the third quarter opened the floodgates.

Collingwood kicked eight unanswered goals in 23 minutes to blow the contest sky high and added the last five after Hugo Ralphsmith briefly blocked the avalanche in the shadows of three quarter-time, with the second half scoreline reading 14.4 to 1.5.

Despite having to give up their home ground advantage with Victoria Park being out of action, the Magpies were untroubled by a ground where they have not lost at this level for 129 years.

Collingwood won the disposal count by 83 in holding Richmond to less than 300 possessions and winning every statistical category, including tackles 53-51.

They had no shortage of avenues to goal with 10 players hitting the target including seven multiples, headed by Nathan Kreuger, who took five marks and kicked 4.0. Reef McInnes and Aiden Begg booted three each, with the latter also winning 19 disposals, six marks and 14 hitouts while laying seven tackles.

MicInnes was unfortunately one of two casualties for the victors after hurting his collarbone, while Josh Carmichael was forced from the field following a head knock and did not return.

First-year player Ed Allan starred with 26 touches, 99-game co-captain Lachie Tardrew warmed up for his looming milestone with 24 disposals, six marks, five inside-50s and four rebounds and Fin Macrae backed up from an AFL substitute appearance on Friday night to have 23 and six tackles.

At the back end, Richmond couldn’t find a way past the returning Will Kelly (20 disposals, 10 marks, five rebounds), assistant coach Neville Jetta (20 disposals, nine marks), co-captain Campbell Hustwaite (20 disposals, six clearances, seven tackles, one goal), Campbell Lane (19 disposals, 10 marks) and Trent Bianco (19 disposals, eight marks).

Meanwhile, young ruckman Oscar Steene played one of his best games with 13 touches, 19 hitouts, five clearances and two goals.

Richmond skipper Lachlan Street (27 disposals, five clearances, five tackles, nine entries) and vice-captain Brad Melville (24 disposals, 10 marks, six rebounds) led from the front for the Tigers in their midfield and defensive roles.

Marlion Pickett (22 disposals, seven clearances, six marks, six entries, one goal) responded well to his AFL omission and Ralphsmith (20 disposals, one goal), Billy Cooper (19 disposals, seven marks) and Garrett McDonagh (19 disposals, one goal) also tried hard.

A. Begg, T. Bianco, W. Kelly, E. Allan, N. Kreuger, F. Macrae, L. Tardrew, N. Jetta, C. Hustwaite
Richmond: L. Street, M. Pickett, B. Melville, S. Ryan, M. Lefau, B. Cooper, H. Ralphsmith.

Collingwood: N. Kreuger 4, A. Begg, R. McInnes 3, J. Richards, O. Steene, T.G. Wilson, T. Wilson 2, H. Harrison, C. Hustwaite, A. Johnson
Richmond: N. Cumberland 2, K. Bradtke, A. Hicks, G. McDonagh, M. Pickett, H. Ralphsmith, S. Ryan



CASEY DEMONS 6.1, 10.6, 14.9, 20.14 (134)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1, 4.2, 4.2, 5.3 (33)

REIGNING premier Casey Demons gave North Melbourne a rude reminder of what is required at the business end of the season, dumping the Kangaroos out of the flag race with a 101-point belting at Casey Fields.

The Demons had lost their previous three matches to fall into the repechage games but were at their brutal best against a Roos’ team that slumped to five-consecutive losses after being in the top six at Round 16.

It all started well enough for North Melbourne, with impressive key forward Tyler Sellers booting his team’s first three goals within the opening 12 minutes as the visitors kept pace with their highly-credentialled opponent.

But Tom McDonald responded with three of his own before the break to set up an 18-point lead and it was all one-way traffic from there as Casey only conceded two more goals for the rest of the day and piled on 14 of its own.

The Demons were +77 in disposals and +17 in clearances, setting up a 57-28 inside-50 domination.

They were led by a brilliant display from maligned star Brodie Grundy, who piled up 35 disposals, five marks, 21 hitouts, 11 clearances and three goals to remind everyone of just what he is capable of.

James Jordan put his hand up after losing his AFL spot with a similarly powerful 36 touches, six marks, six clearances, seven tackles and two goals while McDonald was unstoppable in attack with 17 touches, nine marks and five goals to stake his claim for the unlucky Jake Melksham’s AFL spot.

Casey also enjoyed starring roles from James Harmes (26 disposals, eight marks, two goals), vice-captain Jimmy Munro (25 disposals, seven clearances, 15 tackles, one goal), skipper Mitch White (23 disposals, eight entries, one goal), Deakyn Smith (26 disposals, six marks) and Andy Moniz-Wakefield (15 disposals, four goals).

But the win came at a significant cost, with star midfielder Luke Dunstan sustaining an ACL injury.

North Melbourne’s defence had to work overtime, with Ben Davis (28 disposals, 13 marks, seven rebounds), Aiden Bonar (26 disposals, six marks), Louis Butler (21 disposals, six marks, five rebounds) and Jarrod Lienert (20 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds) stopping an even bigger defeat.

Roos captain Jack Watkins (25 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles) was also able to make an impact.

Casey Demons:
B. Grundy, J. Jordan, J. Munro, J. Schache, A. Moniz-Wakefield, T. McDonald, J. Harmes, M. White
North Melbourne: B. Davis, A. Bonar, J. Lienert, L. Butler, J. Watkins, T. O’Sullivan

Casey Demons:
T. McDonald 5, A. Moniz-Wakefield 4, B. Grundy 3, J. Harmes, J. Jordan 2, J. Munro, H. Neocleous, C. Spargo, M. White
North Melbourne: T. Sellers 3, J. Ellwood, J. Hope



Saturday, September 2:
Second Elimination Final:
Footscray Bulldogs (6th) vs. Casey Demons (7th) – 12.00pm, Box Hill City Oval
Second Qualifying Final: Werribee (2nd) vs. Box Hill Hawks (3rd) – 2.05pm, Avalon Airport Oval
First Elimination Final:
Williamstown (5th) vs. Collingwood (8th) – 3.00pm, DSV Stadium
First Qualifying Final: Gold Coast Suns (1st) vs. Brisbane Lions (4th) – 6.05pm, Heritage Bank Stadium


For all matches through to the preliminary finals, admission prices will be adults $15, concession/pensioners $10 and children under 15 free.

Tickets for this weekend’s matches can be pre-purchased at www.intix.com.au/org/vfl. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate, subject to capacity. Spectators purchasing at the gate are advised the payment method is EFTPOS only.


The AFL is pleased to confirm that seven matches in the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Finals Series and Wildcard Round will be broadcast live and free on the Seven Network via Channel 7 and 7plus, including the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Grand Final. Viewers outside of Victoria can tune in to Seven’s VFL coverage via 7plus. 

This week's Seven Network broadcast games are Footscray Bulldogs vs Casey Demons at Box Hill City Oval and Williamstown vs Collingwood at DSV Stadium.

All matches, including the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Grand Final, will be streamed live and free on AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App.


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.