Robbie McComb handpasses during the 2024 Smithy's VFL Round 14 match between the Box Hill Hawks and Port Melbourne at Box Hill City Oval. Picture: Rob Lawson/AFL Photos

A review of all the action from Round 14 of the 2024 Smithy’s VFL season.


SOUTHPORT SHARKS           4.2        8.4        9.6        13.7 (85)
GWS GIANTS                             6.2        11.2     13.7     17.10 (112)

GWS Giants stunned Southport by 27 points to rocket right back into Smithy’s VFL finals contention at Fankhauser Reserve on Saturday.

The Giants, who looked cooked when they lost five in a row by an average of more than six goals from Rounds 7-11, have now hit back with a trip of impressive victories against in-form opposition, and they sunk the Sharks on the back of a first-quarter assault by Aaron Cadman.

It seemed like business as usual when the Sharks banged on the first three goals before Phoenix Gothard put GWS on the board in the 17th minute. The rest of the term was one-way traffic as the Giants piled on six goals to one in the next 14 minutes, three going to the 2022 No.1 draft pick.

Southport tried to hit back in the second term and got within four points, but Gothard and Cadman again hit the target and that was as close as the home team got, with one more three-goal rally midway through the last term again being answered as Cadman filled his bag of five to cap a day that included nine marks.

Fellow tall Lachie Keeffe chipped in with three goals in a row either side of quarter-time to cap the onslaught.

Xavier O’Halloran starred with and without the ball for 27 possessions and 12 tackles while keeping Jacob Dawson to just six disposals in the first half, while second-gamer James Leake took down Boyd Woodcock, restricting the Sharks’ star to just 17 touches and earning 23 himself.

O’Halloran’s fellow AFL omissions James Peatling (35 disposals) and Jacob Wehr (20 disposals, two goals) also starred for GWS and No.12 pick Gothard impressed with 19 disposals and two majors.

Brayden Crossley did as he pleased in the ruck for Southport against boom Giants’ youngster Logan Smith, winning hitouts 54-19 and picking up 17 touches around the ground.

Ben Jepson (25 disposals) mopped up well across half-back, Dawson hit back in the second half to finish with 29 disposals and Jacob Heron booted two goals from 16 touches in his 50th Sharks game.



BRISBANE LIONS      2.6        8.8        15.8     18.11 (119)
COBURG                       1.3        4.5        8.9        10.11 (71)

A SEVEN-goal third-quarter burst proved the difference as the Brisbane Lions shook off a determined Coburg to retain their crown as the King of the Jungle with a 48-point victory at Brighton Homes Arena.

The Queensland Lions struggled to shake off their Victorian raiders early but edged to a nine-point lead at quarter-time before three early goals in the second looked to break the game open.

Coburg held on to a 27-point deficit at half-time and surged back to single figures with two goals to Joel Trudgeon and one to Josh D’Intinosante to open the third term, but the home team then kicked into gear, banging on seven of the next eight goals, and although the Burgers kept fighting, the damage was done.

Mid-season draftee Luke Beecken is waving his magnet in front of Chris Fagan’s nose after another starring role with 29 disposals and 13 marks in defence, with fellow recruits Darcy Craven and Will McLachlan also impressing with two goals each, while James Tunstill (27 disposals, two goals) and Jarryd Lyons (24 disposals, one goal) again showed their class.

Coburg’s midfield, however, more than kept pace with their higher profile rivals, headed by another brilliant showing from Flynn Gentile (38 disposals, 11 clearances) and Trudgeon (31 disposals, eight marks, eight clearances, two goals), with Jesse Corigliano (28 disposals, nine rebounds) and Lachlan Walker (32 disposals) outstanding down back and D’Intinosante kicking three goals.



FRANKSTON                3.4        3.6        6.7        6.11 (47)
GOLD COAST SUNS 3.3        5.6        7.7        12.8 (80)

GOLD COAST consolidated its spot inside the top 10 and closed the gap to the top six after outlasting Frankston by 33 points at Kinetic Stadium.

The Suns fielded 19 AFL-listed players plus two highly-rated Academy prospects but struggled to shake off the desperate Dolphins who kicked the first two goals and controlled the opening quarter but again struggled to overcome the yips in attack.

The game remained tight throughout the day and the home team even hit the lead when Jack Newnes kicked truly 10 minutes into the third term, but that proved to be Frankston’s last goal for the day as the Suns ground them down and kicked away with five snags in the last quarter.

Ned Moyle was the difference for the Suns fresh off signing a four-year contract extension and playing his 50th VFL game, winning a whopping 71 hitouts and 22 disposals while adding the first two goals of the last term to break the contest open.

However, his rival ruckman Angus Grant kicked the first goal for Frankston and ended up with 22 disposals, 25 hitouts and 1.2 in the best attacking game of his young career.

Rory Atkins (33 disposals, 14 rebounds) was terrific in defence for the Suns and Alex Davies and James Tsitas impressed through the middle, while Academy youngster Lachlan Gulbin matched the two-goal outputs of Ethan Read, Will Rowlands and Levi Casboult.

Dolphin Joe Lloyd did a sensational job on boom Sun Jed Walter, holding him to just nine touches and one goal, while Jackson Voss provided excellent rebound with 28 touches.

Tom Murphy, Seb Quirk, Blake O’Leary and Trent Mynott stood up through the middle for the Dolphins, Max Williams and Will Kennedy took the honours against Read and Casboult and Tyson Milne had 16 touches in his 50th game.



ESSENDON                  1.1        5.7        11.11   14.14 (98)
COLLINGWOOD        1.3        5.5        6.6        9.9 (63)

LATE inclusion Jack Jedwab produced the game of his life as Essendon produced a devastating six-goal third-quarter burst to record its second victory over Collingwood this year, winning by 35 points at Windy Hill.

Dropped on Thursday night for the returning Nate Caddy, Jedwab received a late reprieve and responded with a stunning five-goal haul on his birthday as the Bombers turned in their best effort of the season to leave the Magpies mired in the bottom four.

Essendon trailed by 13 points when Fin Macrae kicked truly in the 16th minute of the second quarter, but sprung into action after that, kicking three of the last four goals of the term to pinch a two-point lead at the main break before dominating the third term with six goals in a row to blow the game wide open.

Reef McInnes got one back for the vistiors in the shadows of the siren, but it was answered immediately after the break as the home team cruised to a convincing win.

The Bombers’ suite of top 10 draft picks were the difference, with Elijah Tsatas (38 disposals, 11 clearances), Dylan Shiel (33 disposals, six clearances) and Will Setterfield (26 disposals, six tackles) in dominant touch, while ruckman Nick Bryan handed a lesson to Collingwood youngster Iliro Smit, winning hitouts 46-12 and putting in a powerhouse display around the ground with 26 disposals, 12 clearances and a goal.

Matt Foley (28 disposals) and Archie Roberts (24 disposals, one goal) also shone, while Jared Eckersley continued his fine form with eight marks and three goals.

Captain Campbell Lane led from the back for Collingwood with 25 touches and 10 rebounds, while Jack Bytel (31 disposals), Fin Macrae (26 disposals, one goal) and Sam Glover (21 disposals, 11 rebounds) did their best to keep the Magpies in contention.



NORTHERN BULLANTS         4.1        6.2        6.3        7.5 (47)
CASEY DEMONS                      3.3        5.8        6.14     10.15 (75)

CASEY Demons kept their finals hopes alive for another week after pushing away from the Northern Bullants in the second half to win by 28 points at Genis Steel Oval.

Scores were level at half-time as the Ants took the opportunities the Demons couldn’t but the visitors’ weight of forward forays – they dominated the inside-50 count 68-34 – eventually wore the gallant home team down.

It was still just 11 behinds – yes behinds – the difference turning for home, but Ollie Sestan went bang-bang to start the last and put the contest to bed before Matt Jefferson (two goals) and Shane McAdam (three) finished the job.

Blake Howes (23 disposals, six marks, five rebounds) was named best afield for the Demons, while Bailey Laurie (27 disposals, 13 tackles), ruckman Tom Fullarton (23 disposals, 30 hitouts) and Mitch White (20 disposals, nine marks) weren’t far behind.

West Preston-Lakeside debutant Felix Dreher turned in a stunning first game with 27 disposals, five clearances and five tackles for the Bullants.

Patrick Fairlie (31 disposals) again had good numbers, John Jorgensen caused headaches for the Casey defence with three goals and Jean-Luc Velissaris (21 disposals, one goal) still contributed despite being subjected to a team tag by a rotating group of Demon mids.



BOX HILL HAWKS     1.2        3.9        6.10     9.10 (64)
PORT MELBOURNE  5.2        8.5        9.8        10.11 (71)

PORT Melbourne claimed the scalp of its third premiership contender in four weeks, bravely holding off a late Box Hill Hawks charge to win by seven points at Box Hill City Oval as its charge back towards finals contention gathers momentum.

The Borough built their wins over Williamstown and Geelong on a rollicking start and they repeated the dose in the rain against the Hawks with captain Harvey Hooper inspiring his team with a classic rover’s goal inside the first minute of his 100th VFL match.

When Billy Gowers added another 90 seconds later, Port was up and about and two brilliant snaps from Archi Manton took the visitors to the opening break with a 24-point advantage.

Back-to-back goals from Mitch Lewis to start the second quarter gave both him and his team a confidence boost, but the Borough defended desperately with four rushed behinds as the Hawks added seven minors in a row around a Gowers purple patch that kept Port Melbourne 26 points to the good at the main break.

Box Hill worked overtime to pull the margin back in the second half, eking out six of the next seven goals to draw within a point on the back of a quality snap from Daniel Wood in the 24th minute of the last term, but Port was not going to be denied and Matt Signorello won a goalmouth scramble to seal a famous win.

And it was the milestone man Hooper who led from the front, following up his goal with 32 disposals, nine clearances, nine tackles, eight inside-50s and five rebounds, while Robbie McComb played a valuable role as his right-hand man and Josh Green did the heavy lifting in the packs.

Frosty Miller Medal leader Gowers was important with three goals as the Borough built their first-half lead, while Tom Highmore led a defence that also saw debutant Sam Allen do a good job when he was on Lewis and Lachie Rankin give little away in his 50th game.

Box Hill’s midfield worked overtime to get their team back in the game, led by Henry Hustwaite’s 34 disposals, seven clearances and 12 tackles and Josh Ward’s 29 disposals, eight clearances and nine tackles, plus 10 inside-50s.



NORTH MELBOURNE            2.1        5.2        6.2        10.3 (63)
FOOTSCRAY BULLDOGS     2.3        3.7        7.10     14.13 (97)

FOOTSCRAY ended its two-game losing run in style, blowing North Melbourne away in the last 45 minutes to reassert its premiership credentials at Arden Street Oval.

The Bulldogs had been jumped by the Brisbane Lions and Sydney in their previous two matches and found themselves seven points down at half-time after blowing several goalscoring opportunities.

But they started to gain the rewards of their dominance with 4.3 to 1.0 in the third term and then flexed their muscles in the last, banging on seven goals to four to cruise to a comfortable victory.

Anthony Scott (20 disposals, one goal), Caleb Daniel (22 disposals, two goals) and James Harmes (23 disposals, nine tackles) led the way for Footscray, while Riley Garcia (25 disposals, seven clearances) and Caleb Poulter (22 disposals, nine clearances) continued their strong form.

Jedd Busslinger (24 disposals, six marks, seven rebounds, one goal) again showed himself to be above the level and Jordan Croft kicked three goals from his only three kicks.

Colby McKercher (26 disposals, two goals) dominated a second consecutive VFL game for the Kangaroos, with Charlie Lazzaro (25 disposals, 11 clearances, 11 tackles) and Hugh Greenwood (25 disposals, 12 clearances, 13 tackles) also in outstanding touch, but they didn’t have enough support to beat a genuine premiership contender.



RICHMOND   3.1        5.5        8.7        16.9 (105)
CARLTON        2.2        2.4        6.7        10.9 (69)

RICHMOND produced an eight-goal final-quarter avalanche to cruise to a 36-point win over Carlton at the Swinburne Centre on Sunday to keep the Blues glued to the bottom of the Smithy’s VFL ladder.

The Blues took it up to their top-10 opponents for three-and-a-half quarters, being only 12 points down 18 minutes into the last quarter, but two goals each to Sam Davidson and Steely Green broke their resolve and blew the final margin out to the biggest it had been all day.

Green, in fact, was in career-best form deep in attack, kicking his fifth goal on the final siren to cap the victory in style, while mid-season draftee Campbell Gray produced his best VFL game with five marks and four goals.

Young talent Lachlan Wilson (34 disposals, six clearances) also starred for the Tigers alongside the experienced Joel Garner (28 disposals), while Liam Gheorge (24 disposals, two goals), Matt Coulthard (24 disposals, one goal) and Thomson Dow (26 disposals, eight clearances) were also important.

Logan Prout produced one of his best games for Carlton with 17 touches and nine marks to shadow prolific pair Jack Carroll and Jaxon Binns (28 disposals each), while mid-season pick Cooper Lord (26 disposals) and defenders Lewis Young (17 disposals, 12 marks) and Sam Durdin (18 disposals, eight rebounds) also put in huge efforts, while Harry Lemmey broke out with three goals.



GEELONG CATS         4.3        7.6        11.9     13.10 (88)
SANDRINGHAM         2.2        3.2        6.2        11.7 (73)

SHAUN Mannagh reprised his Norm Goss Medal-winning best with a devastating six-goal performance as Geelong bounced back from its streak-breaking loss to Port Melbourne last week with a 15-point victory over Sandringham at GMHBA Stadium.

Mannagh was simply unstoppable in his best game in the hoops, with his 6.1 coming from 21 disposals, while he added five clearances and five inside-50s and worked tirelessly without the ball to stick 10 tackles as well.

He kicked three of the Cats’ four goals in the first quarter and had his sixth major by the 18th minute of the third term in a timely reminder of why he was finally drafted at the end of last season.

The Cats had the game in their keeping with a 37-point lead at three quarter-time before the Zebras rescued some percentage with a 5.5 to 2.1 last term, as Mattaes Phillipou (31 disposals, nine clearances, nine tackles, two goals) rediscovered his best form.

Mitch Hardie (33 disposals, seven tackles), Ted Clohesy (22 disposals, 12 tackles, one goal) and Brandan Parfitt (23 disposals, seven tackles) also shone for Geelong.

Meanwhile Zak Jones (28 disposals), Liam Stocker (23 disposals), Ryan Byrnes (22 disposals, one goa) and Isaac Keeler (10 marks, one goal) all did well for the Zebras, along with Tim Membrey (20 disposals, seven marks, one goal) in his 50th VFL game.



SYDNEY SWANS       1.2        1.6        1.9        5.15 (45)
WERRIBEE                    2.2        3.2        8.5        9.5 (59)

WERRIBEE consolidated top spot on the ladder with a convincing 14-point victory over a fast-finishing but woefully inaccurate Sydney at Tramway Oval.

The Tigers took their few chances in treacherous conditions to lead by eight points at half-time despite having just five scoring shots but came out of the sheds with a new resolve, banging on five unanswered goals to blow the margin out to 38 points and put the four points in the bank.

By that stage the Swans had kicked a paltry 1.9 and although they fought back gamely in the last quarter with four goals to one, it was only putting respectability on the scoreboard as they fell a game and percentage outside the top 10 with a tough task against Sandringham to come this week.

Nathan Cooper continued his brilliant form at full-back for Werribee, holding the hot hand of State League 100-gamer Joel Hamling to just six disposals and 0.2 despite Sydney winning the inside-50 count 56-43.

Meanwhile skipper Nick Coughlan enjoyed his return from 10 weeks out with a hamstring injury to gather 22 touches, eight marks and eight rebounds.

Louis Pinnuck (27 disposals, 10 marks), Riley Bice (25 disposals, seven marks, 10 rebounds) and Jaelen Pavlidis (17 disposals, nine marks) also performed well down back, while Dom Brew (27 disposals, 16 tackles) and Jack Henderson (24 disposals, seven marks) shone in the middle.

Aaron Francis was Sydney’s best with 17 touches and six rebounds while sneaking forward for a goal, with mids Caleb Mitchell (23 disposals, 11 clearances), Ben Edwards (22 disposals) and Matt Roberts (21 disposals) working hard and Matty Lloyd filling an unfamiliar role in attack to kick three of his team’s five goals.