SOUTHPORT 12.13 (85)
ESSENDON 13.9 (87)

ESSENDON produced the upset of the Smithy’s VFL season when it came from 14 points down at three quarter-time to stun high-flying Southport by two points in a heartstopping finish at Fankhauser Reserve on Sunday.

The match looked like following the script when the Sharks booted five unanswered goals with the wind to charge out to a 31-point lead the first break, but the Bombers hit back with five to one of their own to cut the margin to seven at half-time.

The visitors put themselves in a winning position with a terrific third quarter in which they held Southport to 3.3 while adding 2.2 of their own and made their move with four goals in 10 minutes midway through the last.

The Sharks desperately tried to fight back, kicking 2.2 after the half-hour mark as the clock ticked on agonisingly for Essendon, before it finally heard the sweet sound of the siren as it hit 39 minutes.

The Bombers had run the Sharks to just four points in the corresponding fixture last year, but it was the first time Southport had lost at Fankhauser Reserve in the VFL, ending an 11-match winning streak on its home ground.

James Stewart was immense for Essendon, booting three second-quarter goals to drag his team back into the game and finishing with 11 marks, 15 disposals and 4.1, while big man Nick Bryan was unstoppable with 18 disposals, seven marks and 45 hitouts, providing armchair service to Stefan Rasinac (24, 10 tackles) and Brad Bernacki (23, 10 clearances, one goal).

Joel Fitzgerald (22, six marks), Jye Menzie (20, five marks, five inside-50s and the sealing goal), Tom Cutler (20, nine rebounds) also starred, while Michael Hurley took six marks and kicked a goal and Aaron Francis had seven rebounds.

Jacob Dawson again starred for Southport, winning 32 disposals and 10 clearances, laying eight tackles and snagging two goals, with fellow co-captain Mike Manteit (27, eight marks, five entries, five rebounds, eight tackles), Max Pescud (20, five marks, one goal) and Brayden Crossley (18, five marks, 29 hitouts, nine tackles) also terrific, while Mitch Johnson grabbed six marks and kicked three goals.

12:50 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Southport v Essendon

Extended highlights of the Sharks and Bombers VFL clash in round 18

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BRISBANE LIONS 13.11 (89)
GOLD COAST SUNS 13.13 (91)

GOLD COAST again proved itself a master of close games, coming from behind to upset the Brisbane Lions by two points in an epic VQClash at Moreton Bay Sports Complex’s Red Rooster Park on Sunday.

The Suns have rocketed into finals contention with three nailbiting wins in a row, overrunning Frankston (four points), Essendon (three points) and now the Lions, to go with two-point victories over Sydney and Werribee early in the season, making them 5-0 in matches decided by under a goal.

On this occasion, the Lions looked in total control when they kicked seven unanswered goals either side of quarter-time to turn a 14-point early deficit into a 29-point advantage just before the main break.

But Gold Coast snagged five of the next six goals to peg them back and Alex Sexton and Sam Day’s third goals in the space of two minutes early in the last gave the Suns the lead and they clung on desperately to hand the Lions their first VFL loss in eight games at Moreton Bay and only their second overall after a 122-point NEAFL reverse to Sydney way back in 2016.

Brayden Fiorini was the standout for Gold Coast with 33 disposals, six marks, eight clearances, seven entries and seven tackles, with Hewago Paul Oea having 20 touches, six tackles and a goal on return from his maiden AFL stint and Jack Bowes enjoyed being released from defence with 20 possessions, seven clearances, five entries, seven tackles and three goals.

Rory Thompson (18, seven marks), Oleg Markov (18, seven marks, five entries), Alex Davies (17, five clearances, six entries, nine tackles), Day (14, eight marks, three goals) and Sexton (three goals) were also important.

Kai Lohmann played his best match since returning from injury for Brisbane Lions, gathering 22 disposals, plucking 11 marks and kicking 1.3 to put his hand up for an AFL recall, as did Deven Robertson (25, five clearances, five entries, seven tackles, one goal), Darcy Fort (17, five marks, 29 hitouts, five clearances), Ryan Lester (19, eight marks, six rebounds, six tackles) and Tom Fullarton (four goals).

Ely Smith (20, six clearances, five entries, one goal) continued his push for an AFL debut, while James Tunstill (21, five clearances) and Harry Sharp (18, six marks, one goal) impressed as well.

14:57 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Sandringham v Port Melbourne

Extended highlights of the Zebras and Borough VFL clash in round 18

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SANDRINGHAM 10.12 (72)
PORT MELBOURNE 19.9 (123)

JAKE Gasper kicked six goals in a breakout performance to lead Port Melbourne to its best victory of the year with a 51-point belting of Sandringham at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Road Oval on Sunday, realistically ending the Zebras’ finals hopes in the process.

The Borough has made massive strides in their rebuild over the past six weeks with wins over Werribee, Carlton and now Sandringham and a heartbreaking loss to Box Hill Hawks while pushing Collingwood to the limit.

The Zebras started like a house on fire with the first three goals to take a 20-point lead midway through the opening term with Tyson Milne in dominant form, but the visitors gradually halted the momentum and took over and were clearly the better team after quarter time before banging on seven goals to one in the last term to run away with their sixth win of the year.

Gasper kicked four goals in the last 20 minutes to finish with 6.0 in a stunning display, finishing off a victory created by Ethan Phillips (18 disposals, 15 marks), Harvey Hooper (24, six marks, eight clearances, eight tackles), Tom O’Sullivan (22, nine marks, one goal), Marcus Lentini (23, five clearances, five entries, five tackles, one goal) and Eli Templeton (25, nine marks, six inside-50s, six tackles), while Corey Wagner (23, five tackles), Tom Cameron (20, six marks) and Matt Signorello (three goals) also starred, with the only low point being a hamstring injury suffered by the luckless Kyle Reid in his first game back from a knee reconstruction.

Nash Holmes was given a tagging role on Zak Jones and nullified his influence, despite the Zebras’ star still having 22 touches, six clearances and six tackles, with the Port man gathered 15 touches and laid an amazing 15 tackles of his own.

Dan Hannebery was Sandringham’s best in his second game back, doing most of the grunt work in close to finish with 25 disposals (eight kicks, 17 handballs) and eight clearances, while Tyson Milne, son of Stephen Milne, had 18 touches in the first half on his way to 25, nine marks and a first career goal.

Tom Highmore (29 possessions, 10 marks) and Darragh Joyce (21, six marks, 11 rebounds) were brilliant in defence, Mitch Owens (24, seven clearances, two goals) was outstanding in attack and Jack Bytel (20, seven tackles), Sam Dunell (15, seven marks), debutant Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera (15, six marks) and Oliver Lowe (six marks, two goals) had their moments, but the Zebras fell to a fifth loss in the six games and six points out of the eight with three games to go.

14:57 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Sandringham v Port Melbourne

Extended highlights of the Zebras and Borough VFL clash in round 18

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Carlton's Alex Mirkov handballs as he is tackled by GWS's Cooper Hamilton. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON 13.17 (95)
GWS 9.4 (58)

CARLTON consolidated its spot in the top four and sent GWS crashing out of the eight after running away with a convincing 37-point victory at Ikon Park on Saturday night.

Blue David Handley delivers one of his 35 disposals clear of Giant Cooper Hamilton. Picture: AFL Photos

The Giants stuck around with accurate kicking in the first half, trailing just 5.8 to 6.0 at the main break, but the Blues found another gear in the third quarter, banging on 6.7 to 0.3 to blow the game wide open.

David Handley, 22, had the game of his life for Carlton, piling up 35 disposals, 10 clearances and five inside-50s in his 13th VFL match, with Joel Trudgeon (29, seven clearances, five tackles), Alex Cincotta (28, nine marks), Tom North (28, six marks, five entries) also magnificent, while Paddy Dow (22, five clearances, two goals) had another fine game.

Caleb Marchbank (18, five marks) did well in his latest comeback, youngsters Archie Stevens (19, five marks, three goals), Patrick Dozzi (26, five marks, five entries), Mitch Moschetti (18, two goals) and Tyreece Lieu (19, eight marks) stood out, Ben Crocker (seven marks, 2.3) and Marc Pittonet (35 hitouts) had an impact and captain Jesse Glass-McCasker booted three goals from just four kicks.

The Giants won the first and last quarters but struggled to get their hands on the ball, with Jarrod Brander (19, seven marks, five clearances, one goal) and full back Cam Fleeton (19, six marks, five rebounds) being their most prolific as they lost the disposal count 412-281 and the hitouts by a ridiculous 51-3 without their two ruckmen in Brayden Preuss and Kieren Briggs.

Debutants Jaelen Pavlidis (18, six clearances), Mackinley Miller (13, eight marks), Luke Lawrence (10, four marks) and Angus Edwards (seven) all had their moment for GWS, which has slumped from fourth to 10th in the past two weeks and has a season-defining Sydney Derby against the Swans to come this week.

Leek Aleer gets a kick for the Giants. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos
12:29 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Carlton v GWS

Extended highlights of the Blues and GWS VFL clash in round 18

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FOOTSCRAY 6.7 (43)
CASEY DEMONS 9.12 (66)

CASEY Demons made it 15 wins on the trot after accounting for Footscray by 23 points in tough conditions at Victoria University Whitten Oval on Saturday.

The Bulldogs kicked the only goal of the first quarter through Stefan Martin in the 27th minute of a tight struggle, but the Demons booted five to two in the second term to take control before holding off a rally of three goals in seven third-quarter minutes to hold the home team at arm’s length for the rest of the day.

Oskar Baker started many of Casey’s attacks on his way to 34 disposals – 30 of them kicks – eight marks and seven rebounds, with Matt Buntine (20, 10 marks), Luke Dunstan (20, eight clearances, five inside-50s, 10 tackles) and Jake Bowey and Blake Howes (20, six marks each), while Kade Chandler continued his purple patch with 18 touches, five marks and four goals as Mitch Brown was held goalless despite taking seven marks.

Lachie Hunter (28 possessions, 10 marks, seven inside-50s) and Martin (22, five marks, 25 hitouts, seven clearances, one goal) did everything in their power to keep Footscray in the game, with Joel Garner (27, seven marks, six rebounds), Louis Butler (23, nine marks, five rebounds), Toby McLean (23, five marks, six entries, eight tackles), Tim O’Brien (21, nine marks), Lachie Sullivan (19, six clearances, 11 tackles, one goal, Ewan Macpherson (20, seven clearances, six tackles) and Nathan Drummond (11 marks) providing strong support.

11:44 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Footscray v Casey

Extended highlights of the Bulldogs and Demons VFL clash in round 18

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SYDNEY 12.17 (89)
FRANKSTON 6.9 (45)

SYDNEY champion Josh Kennedy turned in a wet weather football masterclass as the Swans outslogged Frankston by 44 points in horrendous conditions at Lakeside Oval on Saturday morning to keep the pressure on in the race for a top four spot.

The first half was played in torrential rain and the ground was almost under water in conditions much more befitting of the aquatic versions of Swans and Dolphins, but it was the home team that dominated after conceding the first goal, having 27 inside-50s to five at one stage late in the half as it led 2.9 (21) to 1.3 (9) at the main break.

The sun came out in the second half and the game opened up, with Sydney kicking the first three goals before Frankston answered with three of its own to get within 11 points, only for the Swans to kick seven of the last nine majors to win running away.

Former captain and premiership star Kennedy revelled in the rain, picking up 36 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, five inside-50s and eight tackles to show himself to be ready to return to AFL action, with Lewis Taylor (33, seven marks, six entries, seven tackles, one goal) and Harry Cunningham (26, eight marks) also dominant and Braeden Campbell (25, seven tackles, two goals) showing his class alongside Ben Ronke (25, nine entries, seven tackles, one goal), Hayden McLean (18, five marks, three goals), Matt Roberts (21, five marks, six clearances, six entries, eight tackles), Corey Warner (21, five marks, seven entries), Callum Sinclair (15, 35 hitouts, seven entries) and Harry Morrison (three goals).

Dolphins captain Josh Newman worked tirelessly for his team, earning 33 disposals, 11 clearances and eight tackles, with Taylin Duman (25, seven marks, eight rebounds, seven tackles) starring in defence, Liam Hiscock producing a marvellous effort with countless spoils on Logan McDonald (one goal) and Connor Riley (20, seven clearances, six rebounds) and Will Fordham (20, seven clearances) also doing their bit.

12:00 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Sydney v Frankston

Extended highlights of the Swans and Dolphins VFL clash in round 18

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NORTHERN BULLANTS 8.11 (59)
BOX HILL HAWKS 17.13 (115)

CALLUM Porter turned in one of the most remarkable performances of the season and Fergus Greene and Ben Cavarra slammed on five goals apiece as Box Hill Hawks overwhelmed Northern Bullants by 56 points at Genis Steel Oval on Sunday.

Porter had his own football as he racked up a scarcely believable 45 disposals, 10 marks, nine clearances, 12 inside-50s and 10 tackles, while Greene’s bag drew him level with Gold Coast’s Chris Burgess in the Frosty Miller Medal race on 42 goals and Cavarra moved into outright third on 33 as Box Hill climbed into seventh spot.

The Bullants kicked four of the first six goals to lead midway through the second quarter, but the Hawks broke their backs with four late majors before Cavarra exploded with three more in the opening six minutes of the third term and turned it into a percentage booster with seven goals to three in the last term.

Dan Howe (31, nine marks, five tackles), Tom Phillips (27, 11 marks, five tackles), Ed Phillips (26, five marks, eight entries), Ned Long (24, seven marks), Jack Saunders (21, seven marks, two goals), Jai Serong (21, 10 marks), Stu Horner (21, five marks) and Emerson Jeka (19, eight marks, seven rebounds) all had too much for the Ants to handle.

Will Mitchell was in everything for the home team with 33 possessions, nine clearances and eight rebounds, with strong help coming from Tom Wilson (25, five marks, seven clearances, one goal), Matt Gundry (20, 10 marks), Billy Murphy (24, six tackles), Sunny Brazier (18, five clearances, five tackles), Liam Podhajski (16, five marks, 15 hitouts) and Ethan Penrith (15, nine marks), while Tynan Smith was dangerous up forward with four goals.

13:28 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Northern Bullants v Box Hill

Extended highlights of the Bullants and Hawks VFL clash in round 18

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RICHMOND 10.14 (74)
WILLIAMSTOWN 2.7 (19)

RICHMOND is also back inside the top eight after holding Williamstown to its lowest score in 23 years in winning by 55 points at Swinburne Centre on Saturday.

The Tigers didn’t concede a goal until the 13-minute mark of the third quarter in wintry conditions, extending their lead at every change as Samson Ryan got the better of Williamstown star Tom Downie with 20 disposals, eight marks, 29 hitouts and 3.2 in a devastating display.

Riley Collier-Dawkins (33, six clearances), Thomson Dow (29, eight clearances, seven marks, five tackles), Will Martyn (29, eight marks, seven entries), Jake Aarts (27, five entries, seven tackles, one goal) and Fraser Elliot (26, five clearances, six entries) all did as they pleased.

Downie still had 28 hitouts for the Seagulls as they were held to their lowest score since kicking 2.4 (16) against North Ballarat in 1999, despite the best efforts of returning stars James Cousins (28, five marks, six clearances, five rebounds) and Teia Miles (26, six marks, six rebounds), with Jake Greiser (21, five marks, 10 rebounds), Harry Macreadie (18, seven marks, six rebounds) and Billy Myers (20) all worked hard to turn back the tide.

10:08 Mins
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VFL Mini-Match, R18: Richmond v Williamstown

Extended highlights of the Tigers and Seagulls VFL clash in round 18

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BYE: Coburg, Collingwood, Geelong, North Melbourne, Werribee.

SMITHY’S VFL LADDER, ROUND 18 – click here

Giant Brodie Romensky is tackled by Blue Joel Trudgeon. Romensky kicked two goals. Picture: AFL Photos

THIS WEEK

ROUND 19: Saturday, July 30: Collingwood v Southport (Victoria Park, 10.35am); Casey Demons v Northern Bullants (Casey Fields, 1.05pm); Werribee v Footscray (Avalon Airport Oval, 2.05pm); Williamstown v Carlton (Williamstown Oval, 2.05pm); Sydney v GWS (SCG, 5.35pm). Sunday, July 31: Gold Coast v Port Melbourne (Metricon Stadium, 9.05am); Richmond v Brisbane Lions (Swinburne Centre, 11.05am); Essendon v North Melbourne (Windy Hill, 12.05pm); Geelong v Coburg (GMHBA Stadium, 12.35pm). Bye: Box Hill Hawks, Frankston, Sandringham.

NEXT WEEK: ROUND 20: Saturday, August 6: GWS v Essendon (Giants Stadium, 10.35am); Brisbane Lions v Werribee (Red Rooster Park, Moreton Bay, 11.05am); Footscray v Coburg (Victoria University Whitten Oval, 12.05pm); Collingwood v Williamstown (AIA Centre, 12.35pm); Frankston v Box Hill Hawks (Skybus Stadium, 1.10pm); Geelong v Sandringham (GMHBA Stadium, 3.50pm). Sunday, August 7: North Melbourne v Sydney (Arden St, 11.05am); Northern Bullants v Richmond (Genis Steel Oval, 2.05pm). Bye: Carlton, Casey Demons, Gold Coast, Port Melbourne, Southport.

THEN: ROUND 21: Saturday, August 13: Sandringham v Brisbane Lions (Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval, 11.05am); Gold Coast v Southport (Metricon Stadium, 12.35pm); Coburg v North Melbourne (Piranha Park, 12.35pm); Box Hill Hawks v Geelong (Box Hill City Oval, 2.05pm); Port Melbourne v Frankston (ETU Stadium, 2.05pm). Sunday, August 14: Sydney v Collingwood (SCG, 11.35am); Casey Demons v Carlton (Casey Fields, 12.01pm); Essendon v Werribee (Windy Hill, 12.05pm). Bye: Footscray, GWS, Northern Bullants, Richmond, Williamstown.

Twitter: @BRhodesVFL

Carlton's Ned Cahill kicks into attack. Picture: AFL Photos

All VFL matches in 2022 are live-streamed free. The match of the round can be viewed on Channel 7, while all remaining games are streamed live and on demand via www.afl.com.au and the AFL Live and VFL apps. Radio 3WBC is again broadcasting Box Hill Hawks matches.
To access live scores, results, ladder, stats and to link to live streams/replays, download the VFL/W Official App from the Apple or Google Play stores.

Tom North blasts the footy forward. Picture: AFL Photos
Giant Sebastian Quirk takes a mark. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos
Carlton's Brodie Kemp tries to bust out of a pack. Picture: AFL Photos