WILLIAMSTOWN's Smithy's VFL season has gone from bad to worse after losing a host of key players to injury in last year's horror loss to Frankston at Williamstown.
Highly-rated youngster Jack Toner, who had been developing into a promising midfielder after starring in the back pocket last season, has been ruled out for the season after suffering an ACL injury, while dangerous forward Corey Rich is out indefinitely with a foot injury, improving midfielder Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds will miss a month with a hamstring and rookie Fraser Phillips was concussed.
Their losses have been offset by the return of giant ruckman Tom Downie, important utility Billy Myers and classy up-and-comers Charlie Molan and Lachie Stapleton for Saturday's trip to Brisbane to take on the Lions, while Calder Cannon Michael Ktona will make his VFL debut.
The Seagulls weren't the only team rocked on the injury front in the past week either, with Richmond's Mykelti Lefau and Frankston's Khyal Jacobson also out for the year with knee injuries, while Geelong's Billy Crofts' year is also over after hurting his achilles.
Less serious but no less important, Carlton star Will Hayes has a quad injury, Southport's Zac Foot is out for two weeks with a foot problem, while Frankston's Taine Barlow is missing a month with the same problem.
In better news, Essendon's Bruno Laguda has fought his way back onto the Bombers' VFL list after a long-term knee injury and will play against Richmond at the MCG on Saturday, with explosive Western Jet Massimo D'Ambrosio forcing his way back into the Tigers' team after two starring roles for the Colgate Young Guns against Vic Metro and Vic Country in the past two weeks.
Coburg welcomes back co-captain Ryan Exon for its must-win clash with Sydney at Piranha Park, with the Swans regaining former skipper Adam Gulden, who hasn't played since Round 1 due to a broken collarbone.
Werribee has rested Michael Sodomaco for its trip to play GWS, but regains star midfielder Matt Hanson, key defender Nick Coughlan and former Giants ruckman Jack Driscoll.
Northern Bullants defender Mutaz El Nour has suffered an untimely blow 10 days out from the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft after being ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, but Tim Jones returns from illness.
14.PORT MELBOURNE (2-5) v 5.SOUTHPORT (5-2)
Saturday, May 21, 12.05pm @ ETU Stadium
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Never Met
IN: Z Carter
OUT: N Stuhldreier (concussion)
IN: R Gilmore, C Searle, M Selsby
OUT: Z Foot (ankle), M Gahan (shoulder), J Townsend (suspended)
Prediction: Southport by 33
15.FOOTSCRAY (2-5) v 13.GOLD COAST (3-3)
Saturday, May 21, 12.05pm @ Victoria University Whitten Oval
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Footscray 1-0. At Whitten Oval: Footscray 1-0. Streak: Footscray 1. Last time: Footscray 16.13 109 def Gold Coast 6.6 42 (Whitten, April 17, 2021)
IN: H Bromell, J Gilbee, R Smith
OUT: C Doultree, C MacIsaac (omit), N Hamad
DEBUT: Hugo Bromell, 19, 185cm, 86kg, Old Scotch
IN: R Atkins, M Corbett (debut), A Davies, J Eckersley (debut), D Macpherson, J Sharp
OUT: J Jeffrey (AFL), P Murtagh (suspended), L Macnab (Sandringham Dragons), J Griffiths, J Lockett (omit)
DEBUT: Marlin Corbett, 18, 188cm, Suns Academy; Jared Eckersley, 18, 192cm, Suns Academy
Prediction: Footscray by 18
20.COBURG (1-5) v 12.SYDNEY (3-3)
Saturday, May 21, 1.05pm @ Piranha Park
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Never Met
IN: R Exon, L Walker, T Warren
OUT: J Ballard (retired), H Andronaco, D Guccione (omit)
IN: A Anderson, B Campbell, A Gulden, H McLean, B Ronke
OUT: J Bell, T Hickey, C O'Riordan, S Wicks (AFL), H Morrison (omit)
Prediction: Sydney by 21
7.BRISBANE LIONS (4-2) v 18.WILLIAMSTOWN (1-6)
Saturday, May 21, 1.35pm @ Moreton Bay Sports Complex
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Never Met
IN: W. Barry, T. Berry, R. Lester, H. Smith
OUT: T. Fullarton (AFL), W. Ashcroft (AFL Academy), E. Smith, D. Uosis (managed)
IN: T. Downie, M. Ktona, C. Molan, B. Myers, L. Stapleton
OUT: H. Bertoli-Simmonds (hamstring), F. Phillips (concussion), C. Rich (foot), J. Toner (knee), B. Woodfull (omit)
DEBUT: Michael Ktona, 19, 176cm, 79kg, Calder Cannons
Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 55
10.RICHMOND (4-3) v 21.ESSENDON (0-7)
Saturday, May 21, 2.45pm @ MCG
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Essendon 26-7. At MCG: Essendon 2-0. Streak: Richmond 3. Last time: Richmond 15.10 100 def Essendon 15.8 98 (Swinburne Centre, Qualifying Final, August 31, 2019)
IN: M D'Ambrosio, N Guiney, R Mansell, B Nyuon
OUT: R Tarrant (AFL), A Hicks, C Olden, S Tucker (omit)
IN: B Bernacki (new), B Cootee, W Golds, B Ham, H Jones, B Laguda, B Zerk-Thatcher
OUT: A McDonald-Tipungwuti (retired), B Jolley, C Anderson, P Bannister, A Hird, C McLeod, L Rayner (omit)
NEW: Brad Bernacki, 22, 177cm, 76kg, Gisborne (Coburg)
Prediction: Richmond by 40
3.GWS (5-1-1) v 16.WERRIBEE (2-4)
Sunday, May 22, 10.05am @ Giants Stadium
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Werribee 1-0. At Giants Stadium: Never Met. Streak: Werribee 1. Last time: Werribee 15.8 98 def GWS 7.8 50 (Avalon, June 19, 2021)
IN: C. Edwards, N. Eynaud, E. Grace, C. Hamilton, M. Monaghan, X. O'Halloran, B. Stewart
OUT: J. Brander, J. Peatling, Z. Sproule, J. Wehr (AFL), L. Benton (Sandringham Dragons), R. Monti (omit)
IN: S. Clohesy, N. Coughlan, J. Driscoll, M. Hanson
OUT: L. Smart (collarbone), M. Sodomaco (managed), S. Paea, L. Rocci (omit)
NEW: Sam Clohesy, 19, 189cm, 74kg, St Joseph’s/(Sydney)
Prediction: GWS by 23
4.CARLTON (5-2) v 6.SANDRINGHAM (4-2-1)
Sunday, May 15, 12.01pm @ Ikon Park
(Channel 7 and https://7plus.com.au, 12pm)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Carlton 3-2. At Ikon Park: Carlton 1-0. Streak: Carlton 3 (last loss 2000). Last time: Carlton 14.25 109 def Sandringham 9.6 60 (Trevor Barker, July 31, 2021)
IN: Z Barzen, J Boyd, N Cahill, H Gallagher, J Honey, Z Maher
OUT: J Motlop (AFL), W Hayes (quad), T North (calf), H Hamilton, C Stephens, A Stevens (omit)
DEBUT: Harvey Gallagher, 18, 179cm, 77kg, Sandhurst/Bendigo Pioneers
IN: D Butler, R Byrnes, M Heath, D Joyce, B Mansfield
OUT: J Billings, C Sharman (AFL), D Kent, J Kyle (managed), O Lowe (omit)
DEBUT: Ben Mansfield, 19, 184cm, 83kg, St Kevin’s
Prediction: Carlton by 8
19.NORTHERN BULLANTS (1-6) v 11.GEELONG (4-2)
Sunday, May 15, 1.05pm @ Genis Steel Oval, Preston
HEAD-TO-HEAD: 14-14. At Preston City: 4-4. Streak: Geelong 2 (last loss 2019). Last time: Geelong 17.15 117 def Northern Bullants 11.6 72 (Marvel Stadium, May 6, 2001)
IN: J Collins, T Jones, S Martin
OUT: M El Nour (hamstring), E Penrith (hamstring), B Hurley (omit)
IN: R Abbott, A Byrne, O Dempsey, F Evans, O Faulkhead, M Knevitt, F Kroeger, C Stephens
OUT: G Rohan (AFL), B Crofts (achilles), S Carlin, W Christie, N Harris, M Herbert, F Marris, B Worme (omit)
DEBUT: Oskar Faulkhead, 19, 179cm, 76kg, Wentworth/Bendigo Pioneers; Flynn Kroeger, 18, 185cm, 85kg, Wandin
Prediction: Geelong by 37
BYE: Box Hill Hawks, Casey Demons, Collingwood, Frankston, North Melbourne
Brendan Rhodes’ winners: Last Round: 4. Season: 54.5
All Smithy’s VFL matches in 2022 can be viewed live and free. The VFL Match of the Round will be televised each week on Channel 7, with all other matches livestreamed via vfl.com.au and the AFL Live Official App. Radio station 3WBC will also again be broadcasting Box Hill Hawks matches.
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