A review of all the action from Round 5 of the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season.


GWS GIANTS 4.2, 7.3, 8.6, 11.8 (74)
BRISBANE LIONS 7.5, 12.10, 18.13, 23.19 (157)

BRISBANE LIONS’ ominous start to the Smithy’s VFL season continues to gather pace as they smashed GWS Giants by 83 points at Blacktown International Sports Park on Saturday to climb to the top of the ladder.

The undefeated Lions made their intentions clear from the outset with 3.3 in the first seven minutes and were never challenged, booting seven, five, six and five goals in each of the four quarters to record easily their highest score of the season in a commanding performance.

It’s very hard to compete against quality tall forwards when your backline is undersized and injury hit, and that was again proven with Tom Fullarton (19 disposals, nine marks, 5.4) and captain Wylie Buzza (10 disposals, five marks, 5.0) capitalising on a 64-34 inside-50 dominance, while Kai Lohmann (22 disposals, five marks, 2.4) was also terrific if inaccurate and Nakia Cockatoo (23 disposals, eight marks, five tackles, five entries, one goal) also dangerous.

James Tunstill (32 disposals, five marks, nine clearances, 11 inside-50s, one goal) ran roughshod through the midfield, supported by Rhys Mathieson (33 disposals, six marks, seven clearances, five inside-50s), Noah Answerth (27 disposals, five marks, six clearances, eight tackles, two goals) and Deven Robertson (29 disposals, nine tackles, one goal), having been regularly given first use by a dominant Darcy Fort (23 disposals, 27 hitouts, nine clearances, one goal).

Callum Ah Chee (22 disposals, six marks, six rebounds) and Jaxon Prior (20 disposals, nine marks, four rebounds) were outstanding in defence despite a brilliant performance from Giants spearhead Jake Riccardi, who had 20 touches, took 13 marks and kicked four goals.

Wade Derksen (24 disposals, 12 hitouts, eight clearances), Cam Fleeton (23 disposals, eight marks, seven rebounds), Callum Brown (20 disposals, eight marks, seven rebounds), Barry O’Connor (21 disposals, eight tackles), Jason Gillbee (20 disposals, six rebounds) and Mitchell Conn (20 disposals, seven inside-50s) all battled hard for the Giants against a Lions team that accumulated +97 disposals, +43 marks, +36 hitouts and +25 clearances.

But it was a horror day for the Giants, who also lost midfielder Adam Kennedy to a serious knee injury and key defender Leek Aleer to an ankle problem.



FOOTSCRAY BULLDOGS 4.2, 6.4, 10.8, 10.16 (76)
2.2, 6.3, 10.11, 15.12 (102)

SOUTHPORT put its season back on track, climbing into the top 10 with a pulsating 26-point win over Footscray in a cracking encounter at ETU Stadium on Saturday.

In a high-stakes encounter between two contenders who had only one win each heading in, the Bulldogs put the Sharks on the ropes early with their fierce pressure, leading by 17 points after just 15 minutes when Rhylee West booted a remarkable long-range banana in traffic from the boundary.

Footscray’s game-high lead of 19 point came when Josh Patullo intercepted a short pass in defence to kick his first VFL goal, but it sparked Southport as it fought back to level the scores.

The intensity and rapid ball movement continued in the second half with inaccurate kicking for goal starting to seep in as the legs grew weary, with the Sharks (4.8 to 4.4) sticking their noses in front turning for home.

The Bulldogs had their chances, but 10 shots at goal resulted in eight behinds and two no scores as Southport big man Fraser Thurlow got on the end of a classic burst, Tom Fields bombed another one from downtown and their team slammed on five goals in 13 minutes to finally break the shackles.

Jacob Dawson (37 disposals, eight marks, six tackles, five clearances, six entries), Boyd Woodcock (32 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, six entries, two goals) and Jesse Joyce (26 disposals, five marks, six tackles, six clearances) were everywhere for the Sharks.

Matt Shannon (23 disposals, six clearances, six tackles, two goals) had his best VFL game and Matt McGuinness (22 disposals, six marks, 10 rebounds), 100th State League gamer Max Spencer (21 disposals, 11 marks, 10 rebounds) and Zach Molloy (19 disposals) were crucial in defence.

Skipper Lachie Sullivan (28 disposals, 11 tackles, eight clearances, eight entries) and Ewan Macpherson (25 disposals, 10 tackles, six entries) were massive for the Bulldogs, Category B rookie debutant James O’Donnell looked like he had never been away from footy in taking eight marks and winning 15 possessions across half-back and Joel Garner (19 disposals, eight clearances) and Luke Goater (three goals) also impressed.

Jordan Sweet (10 disposals, 39 hitouts, seven tackles) had a ding-dong battle with Brayden Crossley (13 disposals, 26 hitouts, five clearances), with both being crucial to their team’s performances, while Laitham Vandermeer was injured in his return, suffering rib damage in a tackle which will sideline him for several weeks.



BOX HILL HAWKS 4.2, 8.5, 12.7, 19.10 (124)
3.2, 3.8, 6.14, 6.17 (53)

BOX HILL Hawks buried a gallant Coburg in the last quarter to win by 71 points at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday, remaining undefeated and retaining the ANZAC Cup.

The Lions led by 12 points early, but their terrible kicking for goal (they now have 33.63 for the season) came back to bite them again in the second term as the Hawks compiled a match-winning 27-point advantage by half-time with eight unanswered goals.

The visitors had the better of the third term but only managed 3.6 to 4.2 and the Hawks made them pay with a flurry of seven goals in 17 minutes to run out easy winners.

Lachie Bramble (37 disposals, nine marks, five rebounds) and Callum Brown (33 disposals, eight marks, 10 rebounds) were outstanding in the middle for Box Hill and mopped up well down back alongside Josh Weddle (27 disposals, 10 marks, six rebounds) and Damian Mascitti (23 disposals, eight marks, eight rebounds).

Jack O’Sullivan (27 disposals, seven marks, one goal), Finn Maginness (26 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles, five entries, one goal) and Cooper Stephens (24 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) were dangerous going forward, Lloyd Meek responded his demotion with 16 touches, five marks and 24 hitouts, Jaylon Thorpe (four goals), Jacob Koschitzke (three goals) and Sam Butler (three goals) finished things off and James Blanck won the Gibbs-Lines Medal for his seven tackles and 11 spoils in defence.

Coburg actually won the inside-50 count 53-49 as Ben Jepson put in a blinder with 34 possessions, 13 marks, seven inside-50s and six rebounds), while Flynn Gentile (29 disposals, five marks, five tackles, six clearances, six entries, one goal) starred again.

Hugo McGlashan (27 disposals, eight marks), Braedyn Gillard (23 disposals, five marks, nine clearances) and Tom McKenzie (24 disposals, five marks, five entries) and Max Simpson (21 disposals, nine marks) were strong and Mitch Podhajski (20 disposals, 10 marks, five rebounds) did his best in defence.



CARLTON 3.3, 4.8, 6.11, 9.17 (71)
4.1, 6.2, 8.7, 10.8 (68)

NED Cahill lifted Carlton back into the top eight, but not without an almighty fight as the Blues edged out Sandringham by three points in a tense struggle at IKON Park on Sunday.

Cahill snagged four goals from 19 disposals and seven marks, including the match-winner in the 24th minute of the last quarter as the Blues came from behind four times after trailing at every change.

Carlton snuck to a seven-point lead heading towards time-on before two goals in three minutes from Noah Gown pinched it back and looked to have given the Zebras the upper hand, but Cahill swooped on a loose ball for a classic small forwards’ goal two minutes later.

The teams traded two-goal runs throughout a low-scoring game in which the margin never extended beyond 10 points, with Cahill, ball magnet Paddy Dow (40 disposals, six clearances, six inside-50s, seven rebounds) and Jack Carroll (37 disposals, five marks, five clearances, one goal) and Jaxon Binns (29 disposals, 10 marks, six entries, one goal) being unstoppable for the Blues, while Lachie Fogarty (28 disposals, nine marks, six tackles), Lachie Swaney (23 disposals, eight marks) and Patrick Dozzi (23 disposals, five marks, six entries) also prominent.

Jack Bytel was dominant for the Zebras with 39 touches and nine clearances, Jack Billings (22 disposals, seven marks, three goals) was brilliant in attack and Tom Campbell (19 disposals, six marks, 29 hitouts, six entries, one goal) dominated the ruck, while Tyson Milne (22 disposals, 10 rebounds), Fin Bayne (23 disposals, five marks, five rebounds) and Tom Highmore (19 disposals, seven marks, eight rebounds) gave away nothing in defence.



COLLINGWOOD 4.2, 5.6, 9.9, 14.13 (97)
3.4, 7.7, 11.8, 13.11 (89)

COLLINGWOOD bounced back from consecutive hidings off undefeated duo Brisbane Lions and Box Hill Hawks, charging back from 26 points down in the third quarter to beat Essendon by eight points in a thriller at Victoria Park.

The Magpies looked the goods when they kicked three of the first four goals but the Bombers exploded with eight of the next nine to take a commanding lead midway through the third term.

After the teams traded goals for the next 20 minutes, the Magpies produced a withering burst of seven unanswered majors from 26 minutes into the third until 16 in the last to seal a pulsating victory, with Essendon kicking the last two to close the final margin.

Josh Carmichael was the hero for the Magpies, piling on 33 disposals, seven clearances and seven inside-50s while also kicking three goals, while champion Northern Bullants recruit Tom Wilson dominated at the same time his old team was breaking its drought with 32 possessions, five marks, five tackles and five entries in his best game as a Magpie.

Campbell Lane (28 disposals, seven rebounds), Neville Jetta (21 disposals, eight marks) and Ed Allan (19 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, five entries, five rebounds) were also prominent and Reef McInnes and Sam Glover joined Carmichael with three goals.

John Jorgenson, who started the season as a train-on player, enjoyed a breakout performance to kick five goals for Essendon, finishing off the work of Nick Bryan (18 disposals, 45 hitouts, 10 clearances, seven entries, one goal), Brad Bernacki (22 disposals, eight clearances, one goal), Quinton Narkle (24 disposals, seven clearances, five entries) and Stefan Rasinac (22 disposals, five clearances).



NORTHERN BULLANTS 2.3, 7.5, 9.7, 14.9 (93)
1.4, 4.4, 9.9, 9.12 (66)

NORTHERN Bullants must be wishing they played Sydney every week after smashing a 371-day, 17-match losing streak with a convincing 26-point triumph at Genis Steel Oval that handed new coach Brodie Holland his first win on Sunday.

The Bullants have been competitive through the pre-season and first three games without winning, but dominated for all but a 15-minute period in the third quarter to greet the judge for the first time since April 17, 2022, ironically also against the Swans.

It was also the first time they have won at home since the second of their back-to-back wins over Carlton and Richmond on July 3, 2021 – a 660-day, 10-match drought.

And the Bullants did it in style, overcoming an early salvo from Sydney to lead at quarter-time before making their move with five goals in the second quarter to set up a 19-point lead at half-time.

That became 25 when matchwinner Brandon Ryan kicked the second of his five goals early in the third before a Swans rally saw them kick three goals in three minutes and then take the lead with a quality finish from Hugo Hall-Kahan after the siren.

But just when it looked like Sydney would run away with it, it was the other red and white who responded, with the Bullants piling on 5.2 to 0.3 in the last term for a deserved victory in which the only criticism could be a lack of discipline. It was a problem which afflicted both teams with countless brain fades contributing to a 31-30 free-kick count, plus multiple 50m penalties and both teams giving up easy shots at goal by knocking rivals over off the ball.

Ryan (17 disposals, 10 marks, five goals) was brilliant in attack for the Bullants, Jean-Luc Velissaris (32 disposals, six marks, eight tackles, five clearances, nine inside-50s, two goals) dominated at ground level in his 50th VFL game and Baker Smith (27 disposals, 13 marks) was impassable in defence.

Matthew King (25 disposals, six marks, seven rebounds), Spencer Johnson (24 disposals, six marks, eight rebounds), debutant Cam Wild (22 disposals, seven tackles, six clearances), Tyson Young (21 disposals, six marks, six clearances) and Perry Lewis-Smith (19 disposals, five marks, seven entries, one goal) were also prominent.

Angus Sheldrick was the best man on the ground in a losing cause for the Swans, zipping everywhere for 39 possessions, six marks, nine clearances, seven tackles and two goals to put his hand up for the injured Matt Roberts’ AFL spot. Tom Hickey made a successful return from injury with 13 touches and 17 hitouts and Indhi Kirk (17 disposals, six marks) was impressive.



GOLD COAST SUNS 6.2, 12.7, 16.11, 20.16 (136)
0.2, 3.4, 9.5, 12.8 (80)

GOLD COAST wasted no time stamping its authority over North Melbourne, banging on 11 of the first 12 goals on its way to a 56-point victory at Heritage Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The Suns led by 36 points at quarter-time and 57 at the half and looked headed for another triple figure result before the Kangaroos fought back with six third-quarter goals to put some respectability on the board and win the second half.

Gold Coast was +90 in disposals and +61 in marks as Rory Atkins (32 disposals, eight marks, one goal) found some strong form as Charlie Constable (29 disposals, eight marks), Jeremy Sharp (25 disposals, 13 marks, five entries), Alex Davies (25 disposals, 10 clearances, 10 tackles), Jy Farrar (24 disposals, nine marks), Connor Blakely (24 disposals, six entries) and Tom Berry (23 disposals, six entries, one goal) also won plenty of the ball.

In attack, Alex Sexton (16 disposals, five goals), Brodie McLaughlin (17 disposals, four goals) and James Tsitas (16 disposals, three goals) filled their boots in attack as Frosty Miller medallist Chris Burgess (25 hitouts, one goal) played in the ruck.

Former Sun Hugh Greenwood starred in his VFL debut for North Melbourne with 27 touches, 15 clearances and 10 tackles, No.6 draft pick George Wardlaw (23 disposals, eight tackles, six inside-50s) sparkled around the ball, Jack Mahony (20 disposals, five tackles, one goal) was lively, young ruckman Hamish Free (1 disposals 7, 30 hitouts, seven entries, one goal) won that battle against Burgess, while skipper Jack Watkins contributed 18 touches, 10 tackles and two goals.



CASEY DEMONS 2.4, 2.9, 8.13, 11.16 (82)
1.2, 7.3. 12.4, 14.10 (94)

RICHMOND produced the biggest shock of the weekend, upending reigning premier Casey Demons by 12 points at Casey Fields on Sunday despite a ridiculous double act from Luke Dunstan and James Harmes.

The Demons had not lost at home since a 37-point reverse to Footscray on July 31, 2021, having won their past 14 games at their fortress, but the Tigers took the lead through Angus Hicks six minutes into the second quarter and never looked back, piling on 6.1 to 0.5 for the term and blowing the lead out as far as 34 when Jack Ross kicked his second entering time-on of the third.

Casey rallied with five of the next six to get within nine early in the last, but the Tigers refused to yield, answering through Brad Melville and Ben Bilston-McGillen to land the most significant scalp of all.

Dunstan had an unbelievable 48 disposals, 12 marks, 12 clearances, six inside-50s and two goals, while Harmes added 36 touches, six marks, seven clearances, six entries and three goals, but they had little support as Richmond had 10 of the next 11 ball winners, split only by Taj Woewodin (22).

Ross was similarly influential for the Tigers with 31 possessions, six tackles, eight entries and two goals, but he found a lot more mates.

Tom Bracher (28 disposals, five rebounds), Thomson Dow (26 disposals, seven clearances, five entries), Garrett McDonagh (23 disposals, seven marks, one goal), Austin Johnson (22 disposals, eight marks, six entries), Jacob Bauer (21 disposals, five marks, 12 rebounds), Luke Teal (21 disposals, six marks, five rebounds), Cam Olden (20 disposals, five marks, one goal), James Trezise (19 disposals, seven marks, seven tackles) and Lachlan Street (24 disposals), with Joel Nathan and Melville snaring three goals each.



WERRIBEE 4.3, 8.5, 14.5, 24.10 (154)
0.2, 3.4, 7.5, 9.7 (61)

WHEN 15th on the ladder goes into a game against fifth, they would usually be considered underdogs, even if that team is a quality one coming off a bad defeat.

So nobody could have possibly predicted Sunday’s result at Avalon Airport Oval, where the 15th-placed Werribee dismantled the fifth-placed Williamstown by an unbelievable 93 points.

The writing was on the wall for a Werribee win early when Shaun Mannagh and Hudson Garoni goalled in the first seven minutes and the Tigers booted the first seven of the match, before the Seagulls finally got on the board through Corey Preston in the 22nd minute of the second quarter.

They kicked three before the break and went goal for goal through most of the third quarter but had no answer to Garoni, whose fifth major 24 minutes into the third set off an avalanche.

Werribee blasted 12 goals in the next 30 minutes, including nine in a blistering 22-minute period to start the last term as it recorded its biggest ever home win over Williamstown, beating a 91-point margin in 2005 and second only to a 104-point victory at Williamstown in 1995.

The Tigers dominated almost every stats category, winning disposals 349-278, clearances 52-24, marks 90-78, inside-50s 61-41 and even tackles 73-46 as Garoni kicked six goals and Connor Thar (four), Mannagh (three) and Nick Hayes (three) cashed in.

Tom Gribble (30 disposals, 11 clearances, five tackles, five entries), Dom Brew (25, 10 clearances, 11 tackles, 11 inside-50s), Louis Pinnuck (28, six marks, six rebounds), 50th gamer Bior Malual (25, five marks) and Jack Henderson (25, seven clearances, nine tackles) were all on fire for Werribee as it climbed into the top 10.

Williamstown remains sixth after the thrashing, which came despite Jake Greiser (22, nine marks, seven rebounds), Marty Hore (21, nine marks, seven rebounds) and Oscar McDonald (18, eight marks) doing their best to hold back the tide, while Noah Gadsby (20, five marks) also tried hard.



FRANKSTON 2.2, 7.7, 10.8, 13.11 (89)
6.3, 7.4, 12.6, 16.8 (104)

A REMARKABLE late volley from second-gamer Kyle Borg sealed an epic 15-point victory for Port Melbourne over Frankston in front a big Anzac Day Eve crowd at Kinetic Stadium on Monday night.

In front of about 4000 raucous fans that made the first Anzac Day Eve clash a raging success, the football backed up the expectations as the two standalone clubs put on a ding-dong battle in the second half.

The first half was split two ways, with the Borough in blistering touch with five goals from their first eight inside-50s as the Dolphins had no answer to their fast ball movement and multiple avenues to goal.

But two late steadiers put the home team’s feet on solid ground and they charged back into the contest with five goals to one in the second term, taking the lead into half-time when Bailey Lambert dobbed a set shot after the siren to send his supporters into hysteria.

The teams traded goals throughout the second half with Archi Manton booting three in a row for Port to keep his team in it before the Borough booted three in succession either side of the last break, including Tom Hird’s first of the last term for a significant 16-point advantage.

Frankston wasn’t done, twice pulling within a goal before Borg frantically threw his boot at a wildly bouncing loose ball in a strike that would have made Lionel Messi proud. The goal gave Port the breathing space it needed, and Matt Signorello ran into an open goal moments later to break Dolphin hearts.

Dylan Clarke (20 disposals, 11 tackles) was huge at the coalface for Port Melbourne, Tom Cameron (21 20, 10 rebounds) vital in the backline and Manton (five marks, five goals) brilliant in attack, while Harvey Hooper and Campbell Walker did the jobs asked of them by coach Adam Skrobalak.

The Dolphins were left to rue that horrible first quarter and a leaky defence, going down despite having more disposals (335-293), clearances (by a whopping 61-32) and inside-50s (55-46), while they had the top seven ball winners on the ground.

Ryley Stoddart was heads and shoulders above the rest for Frankston with 37 possessions, six clearances, eight inside-50s and 10 rebounds, with Seb Quirk (25 disposals, six marks, five clearances, six rebounds), Connor Riley (24 disposals, five entries, one goal), Kai Owens (23 disposals, 13 tackles, eight clearances) and Trent Mynott (23 disposals, 11 clearances, nine tackles) also starring and Matt Johnson (four goals) and Josh Butland (three goals) being ever present threats in attack.


BYE: Geelong Cats


Saturday, April 29: Footscray Bulldogs vs Carlton (11:05am, ETU Stadium); Southport Sharks vs Northern Bullants (12:05pm, Fankhauser Reserve). Sunday, April 30: Richmond vs Gold Coast Suns (11:05am, Swinburne Centre); Coburg vs Geelong Cats (12.00pm, Piranha Park); Port Melbourne vs GWS Giants (1:05pm, ETU Stadium – VFLW double header); Box Hill Hawks vs Casey Demons (2:05pm, Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve – VFLW double header). Bye: Brisbane Lions, Collingwood, Essendon, Frankston, North Melbourne, Sandringham, Sydney, Werribee, Williamstown.

Click here to view full fixture and ladder.

Broadcast and streaming: All matches in the 2023 Smithy’s VFL and rebel VFLW seasons will be live streamed free via the AFL website (AFL.com.au) and AFL Live Official App. Smithy’s VFL broadcast partner, the Seven Network, will continue to show one weekly game live and free on the Seven Network in Victoria and on 7Plus nationally. Casey Radio 97.7FM and 3WBC 94.1FM are also broadcasting matches.

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Ticketing: Where Smithy’s VFL matches are ticketed, entry is $10 for adults, $5 for concession holders and kids under 15 are free. Some venues don't charge for entry. AFL ticketing prices will apply for VFL matches played as curtain-raisers and curtain-closers to AFL matches at AFL venues.