Jesse Motlop runs with the ball in the Smithy's VFL Round 15 match between GWS Giants and Carlton at Blacktown International Sportspark. Picture: Keith McInnes

A review of all the action from Round 15 of the 2024 Smithy’s VFL season.


GOLD COAST SUNS 2.8        3.13     8.15     11.18 (84)
WILLIAMSTOWN        2.2        4.4        6.5        8.9 (57)

GOLD Coast continued to close the gap to the Smithy’s VFL top six after overcoming a severe case of the yips to account for Williamstown by 27 points at People First Stadium on Saturday.

The Suns were dominant early but sprayed their shots and went to half-time with 3.13 on the board and a slender three-point lead, which they gave up when Jovan Petric hit the target for the Seagulls seven minutes into the third quarter.

The home side then fell seven points down when former Sun Brodie McLaughlin slammed through his third goal eight minutes later.

But that sparked Gold Coast into action and it hit the bullseye five times in a row in a match-defining 11-minute burst that produced a 22-point lead turning for home.

And although the Seagulls got back within 11 points early in the last, the damage was done and the visitors fell to their fourth loss in five games and dropped to ninth on the ladder.

Gold Coast easily won every major stat category – disposals (+110), marks (+46), clearances (+17) and inside-50s (+21).

Brayden Fiorini (42 disposals, 12 clearances, 11 inside-50s, one goal) and Alex Davies (36 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) got leather poisoning and Jake Rogers (31 disposals, seven marks) also had the ball on a string.

Levi Casboult made a rare sojourn into the ruck and beat Tom Downie, while Rory Atkins (30 disposals) and Darcy Macpherson (29 disposals) were again prolific.

Harry Minton-Connell (26 disposals) put in one of the best performances of his career in defence for Williamstown with support from Jake Greiser (22 disposals, 12 rebounds), Luke Parks and Fin O’Dwyer.

Jack Toner (21 disposals) did well in the middle, James Cousins (17 disposals, one goal) looked good on return from injury and Max Philpot had nine touches in his 50th game.



BRISBANE LIONS      4.1        10.5     15.9     18.15 (123)
CASEY DEMONS        5.5        6.5        7.9        11.11 (77)

BRISBANE Lions blew Casey Demons away in the middle two quarters to cruise home by 46 points at Brighton Homes Arena for their seventh straight win and – ominously – a spot in the top two.

Enjoying home comforts for the fourth game in a row, the Lions, who started this run with a dour victory over the Demons in a game where both teams were ravaged by injury in Round 8, have been imperious in the last six weeks, averaging 118 points per game.

The Demons started well this time, booting 5.5 in the first term for a 10-point lead, but the Lions kicked two goals in two minutes to start the second term and took total command, piling on 11 goals to two in the second and third terms.

The Lions’ power-packed midfield was too much for Casey to handle, with Jarryd Lyons (32 disposals, 11 entries, two goals), Deven Robertson (35 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) and Kyle Dunkley (24 disposals, two goals) being too classy.

Jaxon Prior (25 disposals, 10 marks) and Luke Beecken (25 disposals) starred in defence and Henry Smith (21 disposals, eight marks, 21 hitouts, three goals) fired both in attack and the ruck, while 50th gamer James Tunstill managed just 11 disposals as he played on restricted minutes as the first emergency for the AFL team.

Marty Hore (26 disposals, 10 marks, 10 rebounds) made a sparkling return from injury for the Demons supported by Roan Steele (21 disposals, eight rebounds), while Shane McAdam, Matt Jefferson (three goals each) and Josh Schache (two) all managed multiple shots at goal while taking 25 marks between them.



GWS GIANTS 3.3        6.3        11.6     14.9 (93)
CARLTON        1.3        7.4        10.5     17.12 (114)

WILL Hayes made a triumphant return to State league footy as Carlton ended a nine-match losing streak and climbed off the bottom of the ladder for the first time in a month with an upset 21-point win over the GWS Giants at Blacktown International Sportspark.

The result ended the Giants’ three-match winning run and costing them a spot in the top 10.

Playing his first VFL game since 2022, Hayes piled up a stunning 38 disposals, six marks, seven tackles and seven rebounds to again raise questions as to why he lost his spot on the AFL list.

It looked like business as usual as the Giants took a 12-point lead to quarter-time but the Blues showed they meant business with six goals to three in the second term to take the lead at the main break.

GWS hit back in the third term, but Will White’s second goal at the death cut the margin to five points and gave Carlton the belief it needed – and how … the Blues piled on four goals in the first seven minutes of the last quarter and although the home team had one more crack the visitors weren’t giving it up again.

The Blues were boosted by several other quality inclusions on top of Hayes, with Marc Pittonet (26 disposals, six marks, 33 hitouts) a class above in the ruck, Jack Carroll (32 disposals, one goal) and David Cuningham (29 disposals, eight tackles) firing through the middle and Jesse Motlop sparkling in his comeback from injury with four goals.

Meanwhile Lewis Young (23 disposals, 11 marks), Jaxon Binns (27 disposals), Cooper Lord (27 disposals), Billy Wilson (24 disposals) and White (three goals) all made meaningful contributions.

Nick Haynes (32 disposals, 13 marks, eight rebounds) showed all his class and experience again in defence for GWS, with Conor Stone (27 disposals) and Ryan Hebron (24 disposals) providing strong support, while Nathan Wardius fired in his second game back from injury with three majors.



PORT MELBOURNE  2.5        7.8        9.10     11.15 (81)
ESSENDON                    3.1        7.4        12.8     16.11 (107)

ESSENDON banked its third win in four weeks and left Port Melbourne’s finals hopes in the mathematical category after downing the Borough by 26 points at ETU Stadium.

The Bombers kept their own finals thread just intact when they overcame a fast start from Billy Gowers – who kicked two goals in the first four minutes – to lead at quarter-time before making a break for it in the second term.

The Borough hauled in a 21-point deficit with four unanswered goals before the main break but Essendon kept its cool with another burst early in the third and although Port came again, the home team gave away three goals through free kicks or 50m penalties down the final stretch.

Archie Roberts ramped up his claims for an AFL debut for Essendon with the first 30-plus possession game of his debut season, while as top-10 pics Elijah Tsatas (31 disposals, 10 clearances), Will Setterfield (22 disposals, two goals) and Ben Hobbs (21 disposals) all shone and Nick Bryan was in a class of his own in the ruck with 50 hitouts and 20 disposals.

Gowers was electric early and dangerous all day on his way to five marks and 4.2, while Archi Manton added three, capping off the good work of Josh Green (31 disposals) in his 50th NEAFL/VFL game and Robbie McComb.

However, Adam Skrobalak’s 50th VFL match as a coach ended in the Borough’s ninth loss of the year, which leaves them needing to win every game and hope other results go their way to play finals.



WERRIBEE                                      5.2        7.3        10.5     10.9 (69)
FOOTSCRAY BULLDOGS     3.0        4.1        6.2        7.4 (46)

WERRIBEE flexed its ample muscles and moved a game clear atop the Smithy’s VFL ladder with a statement-sending 23-point win over Footscray in their top of the table stoush at Avalon Airport Oval.

In claiming their eighth victory in a row, the Tigers extended a run in which they have not tasted defeat since the Anzac Day thumping from Williamstown, with revenge over the Seagulls being part of the streak.

The home team saw off the Bulldogs’ best shot in a rollicking first quarter, with goals to Jake Smith and Aidan Johnson beyond the half-hour mark setting up a 14-point advantage that was never seriously threatened as the match turned into a fierce battle through the middle for the rest of the day, yielding just 46 inside-50m entries to 32.

And that made it the kingdom of Dom Brew (30 disposals, 11 clearances, 13 tackles, nine inside-50s), who was in his element with support from Bior Malual (23 disposals) and Jack Henderson (22 disposals).

Tigers skipper Nick Coughlan (23 disposals, nine marks) was outstanding when Footscray did go forward, while Sam Conway (42 hitouts, 10 clearances) was the best big man on the ground and Johnson (six marks, three goals) nailed multiple goals for the first time in his 13-match career.

Bulldog star Riley Garcia will challenge Brew for the Liston votes after gathering 27 touches, eight tackles and two goals, with Luke Cleary (28 disposals, nine marks) and Jedd Busslinger (20 disposals, eight marks) excellent in defence, while Lachlan Smith won 40 hitouts and Dan Orgill laid 13 tackles in his 50th game.



SANDRINGHAM         3.3        5.3        6.6        10.8 (68)
SYDNEY SWANS        5.0        8.5        9.6        11.9 (75)

SYDNEY climbed back to within percentage of the top 10 and handed Sandringham a third-consecutive loss after holding on to a seven-point win over the Zebras at RSEA Park on Sunday.

Defeat would have opened up a six-point gap between 10th and 11th and left the Swans two wins outside the finals berth, but their third win in their past four trips to Melbourne not only kept them within striking distance, it also kept several other clubs from falling off the pace and gave coach Damian Truslove success in his 50th VFL game in the hotseat.

After spraying 5.15 against Werribee last week, Sydney switched the radar on early, booting 5.0 in the first quarter to take a nine-point lead before the Zebras hit back with the first two goals of the second term.

The Swans responded with the next three to grab a 20-point advantage at half-time and kept the home team at arm’s length for the rest of the day as Aaron Francis, Will Edwards, Jaiden Magor, Cooper Vickery and Indhi Kirk proved almost impassable at times.

The visitors got out by 25 points entering time-on of the final term before the Zebras booted the last three goals to close the final margin to single digits.

Francis was a clear best-afield for the Swans, gathering 27 disposals, taking 13 marks and delivering eight rebounds in his intercepting role. Edwards held Matt Allison goalless, Magor and Vickery (23 disposals, seven marks each) shone at half-back and Kirk held dangerous Saint Lance Collard to two kicks and no score.

2019 NEAFL MVP Jake Bartholomaeus (26 disposals, nine marks) was terrific on a wing, Corey Warner (23 disposals, one goal) was classy through the middle, Joel Hamling led hard up the ground and ended with 13 marks and two goals and Sam Reid (15 disposals, six marks, one goal) looked fit and strong in his second game from a foot injury.

Tom Campbell was sensational in the first half in the ruck for Sandringham before spending the second half at full-forward where he kicked the last two goals to finish with three.

Hugo Garcia (24 disposals), Zak Jones (20) disposals and Angus Hastie couldn’t have tried harder through the middle, Angus McLennan (19 disposals, 12 marks), Tom Blamires (20 disposals) and Anthony Seaton (18 disposals) were strong in defence and Seb Ross overcame a slow start to finish with 30 disposals and nine clearances.



FRANKSTON                 3.4        9.8        11.12  13.16 (94)
COLLINGWOOD         4.3        6.4        7.6        11.9 (75)

FRANKSTON broke a 10-year drought against Collingwood and a five-match skid to resurrect its finals hopes with an impressive 19-point win over the Magpies in front of a loud Sunday afternoon crowd at Kinetic Stadium.

The Dolphins had lost their previous six games against the Magpies by an average of 62 points and hadn’t won since July 27, 2014, but they had their finals hopes on the line and an opponent at their lowest ebb and simply had to break the drought.

And after Collingwood made a solid start to lead by 17 points just before quarter-time, Frankston kicked into gear, pulling two back including a crucial set shot from Noah Gown after the siren before banging on six to two in the second quarter for a significant 22-point gap at half-time.

The first two goals of the third term gave the Dolphins a 36-point lead and all they had to do was hold on from there, which they were able to comfortably do despite kicking 2.6 to 5.5, handing the Magpies a 10th defeat in succession and dumping them into the bottom two.

Frankston bull Seb Quirk (29 disposals, eight clearances, one goal) continued his terrific season and Trent Mynott (23 disposals, two goals) bounced back to his best, while important defenders Jackson Voss (23 disposals) and Tyson Milne (23 disposals, 12 marks) again got the job done and Blake O’Leary (22 disposals) extended his run of form.

Angus Grant (16 disposals, six marks, 28 hitouts, two goals) had another fine day in the ruck and Gown’s three goals was his best return in five games.

Lachie Sullivan picked up at VFL level where he left off with a game-high 31 touches and seven clearances for Collingwood while Ash Johnson put his hand up for Brody Mihocek’s AFL spot with a powerful five-goal display.

Fin Macrae (30 disposals), Jack Bytel (29 disposals) and star defender Sam Glover (25 disposals, 12 rebounds) were others to perform well for the Magpies.



BOX HILL HAWKS     2.1        6.5        8.8        10.12 (72)
GEELONG CATS          3.3        4.7        7.10     10.11 (71)

FINN Maginness and Denver Grainger-Barras made themselves the heroes as Box Hill celebrated its Hall of Fame day and Mustang heritage with a heart-stopping one-point victory over Geelong at Box Hill City Oval.

Maginness won a boundary line clearance and drilled a marvellous running goal from 50 in the 28th minute of the last quarter to regain a lead the Mustangs had lost through back-to-back goals from Kaelan Bradtke and Connor O’Sullivan midway through the final term.

O’Sullivan’s goal came after what turned out to be a crucial error early in the last when he won a free kick in the back pocket but his attempted switch across goal skewed into the post, handing Box Hill a rushed behind.

The Cats attacked with everything they had for the last four minutes but Brandan Parfitt snapped a shot out on the full and Grainger-Barras took two match-saving marks deep in defence in consecutive plays as the home team grabbed their fourth win in the past five weeks to jump to fifth.

Maginness (24 disposals, two goals), Josh Ward (31 disposals), Bailey Macdonald (28 disposals) and Cal Porter (25 disposals) starred through the middle for the Mustangs.

Meanwhile, Jai Serong (27 disposals, seven marks, 13 rebounds) was brilliant in defence, Ben Cavarra kicked three goals including his 50th in brown and gold and Ned Reeves (50 hitouts) dominated the ruck.

Star Cat Mitch Hardie, however, was the clear best afield in what turned out to be a losing cause, taking his own footy to the game and using it in style to have 38 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances, eight tackles and two goals.

He had ample support from breakout player Marcus Herbert (31 disposals, seven marks, nine rebounds, one goal), with Ted Clohesy (25 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal), George Stevens, Parfitt and Oisin Mullin (25 disposals each) all winning plenty of the ball.

Captain Dan Capiron (21 disposals, eight marks) was a tower of strength and young backman Ryan Eyers shut down Box Hill giant Max Ramsden.



NORTHERN BULLANTS         1.3        1.7        2.7        5.9 (39)
RICHMOND                                   6.0        12.2     16.5     21.8 (134)

SAM Davidson rocketed into Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal contention with a stunning six-goal display as Richmond dished out a brutal 95-point belting of a disappointing Northern Bullants at Genis Steel Oval – breaking a 117-year record in the process.

The Tigers’ previous biggest win over the Bullants was 93 points in 1907 but this one looked for most of the game like it was going to triple digits as Davidson and the visitors ruthlessly picked apart a team that had been more than competitive almost every week so far this season.

22-year-old Davidson kicked three in each half on his way to a haul of 6.1 from 19 disposals and eight marks that took him to 21.7 in 11 appearances this year and 13 goals in his past four matches as the Tigers marked coach Steve Morris’ 50th game in charge in style.

Chad Harris (28 disposals, 13 marks), Matt Clarkson (26 disposals, nine marks), Thomson Dow (23 disposals) and Joel Garner (19 disposals, one goal) were classy through the middle, Austin Johnson played sidekick to Davidson with 2.1 from 19 touches and seven marks and when the ball did go into defence James Trezise (28 disposals, nine rebounds) repeatedly turned it back.

Ants co-captains Liam Mackie (28 disposals, 14 marks) and Matt King (27 disposals, nine marks) never dropped their heads in the face of the onslaught, while second-gamer Felix Dreher (24 disposals, 11 marks), star Jean-Luc Velissaris (31 disposals, seven marks) and veteran Sam Gilbert (22 disposals, 10 marks) all performed well against the odds.