John Noble impressed in Collingwood's win over Sandringham in the 2024 Smithy's VFL season opener. Picture: Rob Lawson/AFL Photos

A review of all the action from Round 1 of the 2024 Smithy’s VFL season.


SANDRINGHAM         5.3        5.4        7.12     7.13 (55)
COLLINGWOOD        2.1        7.7        10.9     12.11 (83)

COLLINGWOOD overcame a slow start to overrun Sandringham by 28 points in the season opener at RSEA Park on Friday afternoon.

The Zebras flew out of the blocks with four goals in the first 11 minutes before the Magpies could even blink and led by 26 points when Anthony Caminiti kicked his second at the 25-minute mark.

But veteran gun Tom Wilson got one back on the stroke of quarter-time and it kicked Collingwood into gear as they booted the next 10 goals to turn that deficit into a 31-point lead midway through the third term before holding the home team at bay for the rest of the day.

John Noble staked his claim for a plane ticket to Brisbane with 29 disposals, just behind SSP selection and former Footscray captain Lachie Sullivan (30 disposals, six clearances, six tackles) and a stunning display from ex-Hawk Ned Long (25 disposals, six marks, 17 tackles) as the Magpies had six of the top seven ball-winners on the ground, while Joe Richards booted a career-best three goals.

Shock draft slider Arie Schoenmaker put on a clinic for the Zebras with a game-high 33 possessions and 13 marks, while veteran big man Tom Campbell had 22 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances and 36 hitouts.



FRANKSTON                2.3        4.5        7.9        8.11 (59)
WILLIAMSTOWN       3.2        7.3        10.6     12.8 (80)

WILLIAMSTOWN was forced to fight all the way to shake off a plucky Frankston by 21 points at Kinetic Stadium on Friday night.

In a match with plenty of momentum swings, it was Williamstown’s class that kept them a short step ahead in front of a large and noisy crowd.

Trailing by 15 points at the last change, the Dolphins dominated most of the last quarter but just couldn’t find a way through the quality Seagull defence before a crazy cross from Brodie McLaughlin in the pocket found Josh Browne to sidefoot home soccer style in the 25th minute before a wonderful snap from Noah Gadsby finally broke their hearts in the 28th.

Corey Ellison terrorised Frankston early with eight marks and three goals, forcing Frankston to move Taine Barlow to him from McLaughlin, who had been rarely sighted. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, two into one doesn’t go and while Barlow silenced Ellison to be one of the best on ground, McLaughlin got off the chain to finish with two goals while setting up a couple of others.

Former Dolphin champion Will Fordham looked nervous in the first half of his return to Kinetic Stadium but released the shackles after kicking a team-lifting set shot in the third term to finish as one of Williamstown’s best players, while Ryley Stoddart, who made the same switch, also played well.

Riley Collier-Dawkins did a lot of grunt work under the packs and Fin O’Dwyer carried on from 2023 in defence, while Seb Quirk, George Grey and the returning Tom Murphy were excellent for the Dolphins and Noah Gown kicked three goals on club debut.

But it wasn’t all good news for Williamstown with luckless midfielder James Cousins, whose 2023 was ruined by hamstring injuries, suffered a recurrence on half-time with 18 disposals already under his belt.



GOLD COAST SUNS               2.2        3.5        7.8        7.11 (53)
RICHMOND                               5.3        7.5        10.6     11.10 (76)

RICHMOND landed an early nomination for upset of the year after cruising to a convincing 23-point victory over reigning premier Gold Coast in their Smithy’s VFL season opener at People First Stadium on Saturday.

The Suns lost just two matches last season – by one and two points – on their way to a historic maiden premiership, but after unfurling the flag it was a very different line-up that took the field.

Just eight members of the premiership team remained, and while Gold Coast got the perfect start when No.9 draft pick Ethan Read kicked truly within 35 seconds, the Tigers soon took control, having the next six scores to lead by 19 points at the opening change and not letting the home team back into the game.

The loss of 196 goals from the Suns’ forward line proving telling as they managed just seven for the match, with their only bright spot being a rally from 37 points down eight minutes into the third term to get within 15 midway through the last, only for Richmond to steady through Jacob Koschitzke.

No.40 draft pick Kane McAuliffe made an instant impact for the Tigers in a best-on-ground debut, winning 31 disposals, taking six marks and kicking a goal to put his name in front of Adem Yze and the AFL selectors.

Tyler Sonsie racked up 30 touches, seven marks and a goal, while ruckman Sam Naismith picked up from his Port Melbourne form with 24 possessions, five marks, 31 hitouts and a goal, cashing in on the lack of a Suns ruckman after Ned Moyle’s late promotion and Sandy Brock’s early hand injury.

Meawnhile, skipper Lachie Street, returning midfielder Chad Harris and Hugo Ralphsmith also performed well.

Gold Coast’s 2023 captain James Tsitas missed the flag through suspension and he took six months of frustration out on his first game back with a brilliant effort that yielded 40 disposals, 10 marks and seven tackles.

Darcy Macpherson, Sean Lemmens and 17-year-old premiership player Leo Lombard – who looks up to AFL footy already – all fired for a team that fielded seven Academy players plus three first year graduates in prized draftees Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham.



SOUTHPORT SHARKS           5.4        8.5        11.7     15.7 (97)
PORT MELBOURNE                2.2        4.3        5.4        7.9 (51)

SOUTHPORT superstars Boyd Woodcock and Jacob Dawson put on yet another clinic as the Sharks brushed aside Port Melbourne by 46 points at Fankhauser Reserve.

Woodcock wore out the statistician’s pen with 44 disposals, six marks, 11 clearances and two goals and Dawson piled up 41 and 15 clearances, while the third musketeer Jesse Joyce (31 disposals, eight marks) continues to fly under the radar when he shouldn’t.

The Sharks extended their lead at every change, with Zac Foot (three goals), Hugh Dixon (21 disposals, eight marks, two goals) and Brayden Crossley (15 disposals, 46 hitouts, one goal) also prominent.

Borough captain Harvey Hooper led from the front with 30 touches and Matt Signorello kicked three goals in his 50th game, with Bulldogs recruit Roarke Smith, ex-Saint Tom Highmore and former Swan Lachie Rankin also prominent in a loss that shouldn’t alarm their supporters too much just yet.



ESSENDON                  2.0        3.4        5.4        9.8 (62)
BRISBANE LIONS      2.3        4.5        13.8     15.9 (99)

BRISBANE Lions piled on nine goals in the third quarter to blow a dogged Essendon off the NEC Hangar in a 37-point result.

The Bombers trailed by just seven points at half-time with debutants Tom Toma, Oskar Smartt, Campbell Gray and draftee Archie Roberts making their presence felt, but they had no answer when the Lions flicked the switch.

The Lions top draft pick at No.31, Logan Morris, starred in his second VFL game, booting four goals from 17 disposals and five marks after kicking two on debut for Werribee last year, Morris cashed in on the work of James Tunstill (33 disposals),  Jaxon Prior and Bruce Reville.

Toma was terrific in particular with 20 touches and two goals for an Essendon team that fielded a whopping 17 recruits, while Roberts warmed supporter hearts with 25 disposals, six marks and a goal and Jayden Davey kicked an impressive goal on debut.



GEELONG CATS         2.2        4.4        5.6        7.8 (50)
WERRIBEE                    4.1        6.4        9.6        16.7 (103)

WERRIBEE celebrated captain Nick Coughlan’s 100th VFL match by running away in the last quarter to beat Geelong by 53 points at GMHBA Stadium.

The win quickly put paid to predictions of a significant slide after the retirements of modern-day VFL greats Tom Gribble, Michael Sodomaco and Matt Hanson.

The Tigers fielded 13 members of their Grand Final team and were always a step ahead of the Cats, extending their lead at every change and piling on seven goals to two in the last term as Coughlan himself played a crucial role with 26 disposals, seven marks and a complete blanketing (along with Nathan Cooper) of Shannon Neale, Phoenix Foster and Kaelan Bradtke (22 disposals and two goals between them).

Coughlan vied for top honours with key forward Hudson Garoni, who took nine marks in the first half on his way to 11 grabs and four goals. Gutsy midfielder Dom Brew (30 disposals, 15 tackles) kept the engine room running and brilliant wingman Kye Declase (27 disposals, seven marks, one goal) showed he will do Sodomaco’s No. 3 perfect justice.

Toby Conway was Geelong’s best player, outpointing his older brother Sam with 17 disposals and 37 hitouts in a powerhouse display that will put pressure on the AFL selectors, while Mitch Hardie and Marcus Herbert worked hard at his feet with 54 touches between them. Kade Chalcraft showed signs that he will be able to fill the shoes of big brother Jye.



NORTH MELBOURNE            4.6        6.8        10.12   11.15 (81)
NORTHERN BULLANTS         1.0        4.2        5.3        6.6 (42)

TYLER Sellers had a head-turning debut VFL season for North Melbourne with 30 goals in 16 games to earn an AFL contract.

And the big man thrust his name into selection calculations with a six-goal onslaught to lead the Kangaroos past a Patrick Fairlie-inspired Northern Bullants by 39 points at Arden Street Oval. Sellers took five marks and kicked 6.1 from 15 disposals to hold the Bullants at bay.

Veteran Liam Shiels had 33 touches while the Kangaroos’ other feelgood story, 2022 draftee Brayden George, impressed with 21 disposals in his first game after a knee reconstruction.

But heads were turned on the red side of the ground, where Fairlie was amazing in a losing cause with 46 disposals, 14 marks, seven clearances, six tackles and two goals to challenge for the three Liston votes.

Jean-Luc Velissaris picked up where he left off last year with 37 touches, nine marks and nine clearances and Saad El-Hawli had 32 disposals and 10 marks.



FOOTSCRAY BULLDOGS     4.4        7.6        8.10     14.14 (98)
GWS GIANTS                             2.2        8.6        11.9     12.9 (81)

WESTERN Bulldogs star Jack Macrae added to the confusion around his AFL omission with a stunning 46-disposal salvo as Footscray overran GWS by 17 points on its long-awaited return to Mission Whitten Oval on Sunday.

Playing his first VFL match since 2015 as the Bulldogs came home after a season on the road due to redevelopment, Macrae wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

He had 17 kicks, 29 handballs, seven marks and 16 clearances to help the Bulldogs see off a Giants team that looked set to cause a big upset when they led by 25 points during the third quarter.

Footscray kicked 6.4 without reply in the last quarter until Giant returnee Darcy Jones kicked a goal in the 30th minute for a late consolation.

Riley Garcia (41 disposaks, seven marks, eight tackles, two goals) managed to outshine even Macrae in a dominant double act, while Ethan Hunt racked up 35 touches, Taylor Duryea had 25 in his 50th VFL game. Up forward Rory Lobb booted four goals and ex-Kangaroo Phoenix Spicer three.

Academy graduates Josh Fahey and Harry Rowston were terrific around the ball for Giants as they chased the upset, the shot at which was set up by three early goals to Matthew Harms, with Wade Derksen (21 disposals, 12 marks) also prominent.



SYDNEY SWANS       4.2        8.6        11.8     12.10 (82)
              1.2        1.6        3.8        5.11 (41)

PETER Ladhams put in a best-afield display as Sydney got its season underway with a 41-point win over Coburg at Tramway Oval.

The Swans conceded just one goal in the first half before the Lions rallied to limit the damage, including winning the last quarter in a promising sign for the fans watching at a supporter event at Piranha Park.

Ladhams had 19 disposals and 10 marks on his way to four goals for Sydney, with Caleb Mitchell (30 disposals, 10 marks, one goal), Caiden Cleary (27 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Aaron Francis (25 disposals, 12 marks) also doing well.

Max Kennedy and recruit Joel Trudgeon had 30 touches each and Rhys Galvin grabbed 28 as the Lions fought the game out well.



CASEY DEMONS       2.2        3.5        7.8        7.11 (53)
BOX HILL HAWKS     5.3        7.5        10.6     11.10 (76)

BOX HILL Hawks made a statement of intent with a dominant 41-point win over a flat Casey Demons at Casey Fields on Sunday, but they copped a devastating blow when luckless star James Parsons injured his achilles in the first quarter.

Parsons, who missed last season with a knee injury, started in style with a Smithy’s Snag for the first goal and five classy disposals in the first 15 minutes, but landed awkwardly in a contest shortly after and was helped off the field, finishing the game on crutches and facing another long stint in the rehab room.

The blow came in the middle of a brutal burst that saw the Hawks pile on 5.5 without reply in the opening 21 minutes before they comfortably held the Demons at bay thereafter to record their first win over Casey since 2019 and their first at Casey Fields since 2014.

Lloyd Meek was outstanding for the Hawks as he brutalised Casey’s inexperienced ruck division, with his impact being much stronger than his numbers of 15 disposals, six marks, 26 hitouts and two goals.

He just tipped out Cal Porter for best on ground as the new skipper fearlessly busted through packs and set up plenty of forward thrusts.

Sam Butler (21 disposals, three goals) was always a threat in attack, where Max Ramsden was strong in the air but missed some gettable shots, while Harry Morrison, Henry Hustwaite and Callum Brown provided the run and Ethan Phillips put his hand up for an AFL debut with another quality intercepting display that yielded 15 marks.

Casey struggled to get into the game, but it was no fault of pick No.13 Koltyn Tholstrup, who threw himself into every contest and showed plenty of class and gumption on his way to 21 disposals. Bailey Laurie did all he could to earn a recall, captain Mitch White worked tirelessly to turn the tide and ex-Collingwood VFL captain Campbell Hustwaite showed he would be a perfect replacement for retired club great Jimmy Munro.


BYE: Carlton