VFL action continued in the northern states on Saturday, with the Brisbane Lions winning a dramatic thriller against Aspley and Southport proving too good for Sydney with a blistering last quarter.

The results mean the Sharks are on top of the ladder – although Casey Demons and Footscray have two games in hand – while the Lions moved to within percentage of the top eight and the Swans and Hornets were left behind the eight-ball in their finals chase.

There were some standout performances as well – and with the matches having been reviewed to increase the stats of most players – here are the stars of Round 8.

JACOB DAWSON (SOUTHPORT)
Another stunning performance from the former Gold Coast Sun as he kept his team in the contest for three quarters and then led it over the top of a star-studded Swans outfit.

Dawson had 19 kicks, 22 handballs and kicked two goals to lift the Sharks into pole position with a 6-1 record that has everyone sitting up and taking notice.

LEWIS TAYLOR (SYDNEY)
Was simply everywhere as he staked his claim as the ‘next man in’ should the Swans decide to make a change for Friday night’s AFL clash with Hawthorn.

Taylor broke the lines off half-back, won clearances in the middle and finished the job up forward, and his final figures of 16 kicks, eight handballs, nine marks and three goals would certainly have won him best-on-ground honours if Sydney had won – it may still have done so.

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MARC SHEATHER (SYDNEY)
The Swans Academy graduate comes from the Pennant Hills club that has produced Lenny Hayes, the McVeigh and Jack brothers, Braeden Campbell and 1980s Swan Terry Thripp among others, and his display up forward suggests he could add his name to that footy factory.

He had 16 kicks, six marks and kicked three goals in his best performance since being taken in last year’s rookie draft.

RHYS MATHIESON (BRISBANE LIONS)
Has been performing well at AFL level and was unlucky to lose his spot to returning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale on Friday night, but he responded as you would expect from a quality player.

“The Barometer” certainly lived up to that name – while the AFL team went down, he clocked up 18 kicks, 21 handballs, four marks and three tackles in a best-on-ground display as the Lions overran the Hornets to win by less than one second.

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MATTHEW HAMMELMANN (ASPLEY)
If it had gone one second longer he would have been the match-winner, but he was still outstanding as he bounced back to form with a powerhouse second half against his old club.

After being held to just one goal in the first half, Hammelmann asserted himself on the game with four second-half majors to finish with 5.2 from eight marks and move back to the top of the Frosty Miller Medal leaderboard.

CONNOR McFADYEN (BRISBANE LIONS)
Was having a solid if unspectacular day for three quarters as Aspley served up everything the Lions could handle at Graham Road, but with the game on the line the Lions Academy graduate stepped it up a notch.

He kicked three goals in the last quarter to twice bring his team back into the contest and finished with 19 disposals and five tackles in an influential display.

JACK ROLLS (ASPLEY)
Aspley’s season has been stuttering since its Round 1 ambush of Port Melbourne and it was staring at a huge challenge of facing the reigning NEAFL premiers on the rebound.

None of that mattered to Rolls, who was dynamic on a great day for forwards, finishing with 12 kicks, nine handballs and three goals to take his team to the brink of victory.