A review of all the action from Round 14 of the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season.

A premiership favourite may have emerged from Round 14 of the Smithy’s VFL, but the titleholders reminded everyone they are still around, the grand finalists showed what they are capable of and several lower-ranked teams put up strong performances without getting the chocolates.


GEELONG CATS 1.3, 2.4, 4.9, 5.10 (40)
4.3, 8.8, 8.9, 11.14 (80)

CASEY DEMONS are back in the top six and sent an ominous message to the rest of the competition after swatting Geelong aside by 40 points at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.

Fielding 18 AFL-listed players and only missing 97-gamer Matt Buntine from arguably their best team, the Demons took control from the opening bounce at the Cattery and never let their hosts have a serious look in.

Four goals to one in each of the first and second quarters set things up and while Geelong dominated the third quarter, its propensity to bomb the ball long into the forward line made for easy pickings for best-on-ground Dan Turner and Adam Tomlinson, as the Demons held the Cats to 2.5 before cruising to the finish line.

The home team was also hampered by its finishing – it has now kicked 97.120 for the season after spraying 5.10 in this clash.

Turner was sensational when the game was there to be won, plucking 11 marks in the first half before finishing with 14. That haul was accompanied by 20 disposals and five rebounds, while Tomlinson had 27 touches, nine marks and 10 rebounds in another outstanding display of intercept defending.

James Harmes (27 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, 11 tackles) and Jake Bowey (27 disposals, 12 marks, five tackles) also starred, but it was the tall timber at both ends that made the difference – as well as defenders Turner and Tomlinson.

Ben Brown was terrific in attack and pushing up the field to grab 18 touches, nine marks and two goals, while Josh Schache (15 disposals, five marks, two goals) and Jake Melksham (14 disposals, six marks, four goals) also created headaches.

Ollie Dempsey backed up his match-winning effort against Frankston last week for Geelong, leading all comers with 32 disposals, eight clearances, five tackles and goal, with his support coming from unheralded players Marcus Herbert (26 disposals, nine rebounds), Mace Cousins (20 disposals, five rebounds) and vice-captain Dan Capiron (20 disposals, six marks, seven rebounds).

Jimmy Munro (23 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, six entries) and Brandan Parfitt (25 disposals, five clearances) had an enthralling battle in the middle, Bailey van de Heuvel took 10 marks and Mitch Knevitt laid 12 tackles for the Cats, while Sam Menegola safely negotiated his first game for the year with 15 touches.



COLLINGWOOD 4.4, 6.6, 10.8, 14.10 (94)
0.2, 2.10, 4.11, 9.17 (71)

COLLINGWOOD flew out of the blocks before surviving a concerted challenge from a gutsy Sydney to celebrate Tom Wilson’s 150th VFL match with a 23-point victory at AIA Centre on Saturday.

It looked like being how far the Magpies when they flew out of the gates with the wind to kick four goals in the first eight minutes, including the first of the day to the milestone man before the Swans settled into the game and stemmed the bleeding for the rest of the quarter.

The visitors produced their best footy around the ground in the second term, controlling most aspects of the game but wasting most of their opportunities as they sprayed 2.8 to find themselves still 20 points in arrears at the main break.

Early goals against the wind to Jack Buller and Harry Morrison brought Sydney right back into the contest, but a set shot miss to Buller shortly after opened the door and 50-game co-captain Campbell Hustwaite sparked a four-goal run that put the contest to bed.

Sydney kept fighting and pulled to within 11 points entering time-on, but a 100m penalty for backchat against Corey Warner and Buller proved crucial as the Magpies steadied to secure an important victory for their finals chances, with Wilson adding his team’s final goal to the first.

Collingwood was led by its running defenders, with Jakob Ryan (29 disposals, seven marks, nine rebounds), Trent Bianco (29 disposals, nine marks, six entries) and Trey Ruscoe (24 disposals, five rebounds), while Hustwaite (24 disposals, five marks, nine clearances, five tackles, six entries) and Fin Macrae (24 disposals) were also important and Wilson picked up 17 touches and five inside-50s to go with his two goals.

Tom McCartin made a brilliant return from concussion in just his second match for 11 weeks, earning 25 disposals and six rebounds to go with seven marks to show himself to be ready for an AFL recall, while fellow backman Will Gould snapped out of his recent funk with 24 disposals and five marks.

Dylan Stephens (28 disposals, six marks, five clearances, nine entries) and Caleb Mitchell (23 disposals, five marks) also impressed for Sydney, while Buller kicked 3.3 from 19 disposals and five marks.



SANDRINGHAM 3.2, 6.4, 12.6, 12.7 (79)
1.0, 6.6, 8.7, 11.13 (79)

SANDRINGHAM turned in its best performance of the season to go within a hair’s breadth of landing the upset of the season in a thrilling draw with the high-flying Brisbane Lions at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval.

Callum Ah Chee rescued two points for the Lions with a cool set shot from 40m out with less than two minutes to play, as his team fought back from 23 points down at three quarter-time to move six points ahead of the chasing pack in the race for a top two spot.

The Zebras were on song from the start, kicking three goals to one in the opening quarter before the Lions hit back with five goals to three in the second term to take a two-point advantage into half-time.

The home team put itself in the box seat with six third-quarter goals to two, only for the Lions to show why they are a top-two team, dominating the last term and only cost themselves by kicking 3.6 to 0.1 as Ah Chee proved up to the challenge with it all on the line.

Jack Billings (24 disposals, seven inside-50s, three goals) and Jack Bytel (26 disposals, six clearances, 13 tackles, two goals) were in sparkling touch for Sandringham.

Jack Peris (16 disposals, seven tackles, two goals), Tyson Milne (22 disposals, eight marks, nine rebounds), Tom Highmore (22 disposals, six marks, five rebounds) and Tom Campbell (18 disposals, 40 hitouts, five clearances, eight tackles) provided high quality support.

Brisbane Lions didn’t look comfortable at any stage, but top teams find a way to get something out of games, and Jarryd Lyons (33 disposals, seven clearances, five tackles, eight entries), Noah Answerth (28 disposals, five marks, 13 tackles, five entries, one goal), Jaxon Prior (25 disposals, seven marks, seven entries, one goal) and Ah Chee (24 disposals, six marks, two goals) worked overtime to rescue a share of the points.



SOUTHPORT SHARKS 5.3, 6.6, 7.9, 15.12 (102)
1.2, 4.5, 8.7, 9.8 (62)

SOUTHPORT is back in the top 10, with a Jacob Dawson masterclass helping the Sharks to survive a huge third-quarter scare from a much-improved Coburg to win by 40 points at Fankhauser Reserve.

It looked like business as usual early when the Sharks kicked five goals to one in the first term and led by 32 points when Fraser Thurlow kicked his second goal just after the opening break.

But Sam Mason booted the Lions’ second major in the seventh minute and the visitors roared to life in Nathan Boucher’s 50th game, showing the green shoots coach Jamie Cassidy-McNamara is looking for.

They held Southport goalless for 56 minutes and banged on seven of their own, grabbing the lead entering time-on of the third through Aaron Clarke and stretching it to 10 through Josh D’Intinosante in the 29th minute.

Riley Bowman finally broke the drought for the home side in the dying seconds, however Coburg was still able to hold a three quarter-time lead for the second game in a row.

Unfortunately for Lions’ fans, the huge effort to get back took its toll and the Sharks produced a surge that was just as impressive and even more devastating.

They grabbed the lead within 16 seconds through Jack Sexton and the game was over after three more by the eight-minute mark, as it turned into a nine-goal avalanche before Kyle Weightman broke the streak after the final siren.

Dawson piled up a ridiculous 48 disposals, including 12 clearances, five inside-50s and seven rebounds while taking five marks and still having time to lay seven tackles.

Jackson Edwards (29 disposals, eight rebounds) starred in defence, Boyd Woodcock (27 disposals, five marks, five clearances, six entries, one goal) played his usual dominant midfield role, Tom Fields (22 disposals, nine marks, one goal) and Matt Doran (22, eight marks) were important up the field.

Jack Sexton (19 disposals, nine marks, six entries, two goals) was a catalyst for the final salvo and Brayden Crossley booted three goals.

Ben Jepson (29 disposals, five tackles, six rebounds) is quickly emerging as a star as he enjoys the best season of his career for Coburg, while first-year player Hugo McGlashan (27 disposals, seven marks, five clearances) and second-gamer Luke Bailey (25 disposals, nine clearances, six marks) showed great signs.

Others to impress were Luke Nelson (25 disposals, five marks, five rebounds), Braedyn Gillard (24 disposals, five entries), Lachlan Walker (25 disposals) and Jesse Corigliano (20 disposals, five marks, six rebounds) were also outstanding and Tom McKenzie snagged three goals.



GOLD COAST SUNS 3.2, 8.3, 18.4, 24.5 (149)
3.4, 7.8, 8.10, 12.13 (85)

GOLD COAST produced a scarcely believable 40-minute blitz to emerge as the clear premiership favourite, belting a shellshocked Box Hill Hawks by 64 points at Heritage Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Taking on a genuine challenger to their position in the top two, the Suns took a while to rise as the Hawks jumped out to a 20-point lead before the home team had scored.

The Suns worked their way back to level by quarter-time and edged ahead by a single point at the end of a topsy-turvy second term, but the three quick goals in time-on in hindsight may have provided an indicator of what was to come.

Gold Coast caught fire in the third term, piling on a stunning 10 goals in a row to burn the fourth-placed Hawks to a crisp and leave them gasping for air in the warm conditions.

The Suns added another six goals to four in the last quarter, taking their score from 5.3 at the 25-minute mark of the second term to a remarkably accurate 24.5 by the end.

It all started with Ned Moyle in the middle, with the ruckman finishing with 51 hitouts, plus 20 disposals and seven clearances, allowing the star-studded runners of Connor Blakely (26 disposals, five clearances, one goal), James Tsitas (20 disposals, six entries, one goal) and Oskar Faulkhead (20 disposals, seven marks), while Lloyd Johnston (19 disposals, five marks, five rebounds) was terrific when the game was on the line.

Up forward, the Hawks had no answers to Gold Coast’s four-pronged forward set-up, with Brodie McLaughlin kicking 5.1 to take the lead in the Frosty Miller Medal, with Alex Sexton, Sam Day and Mabior Chol snagging four apiece.

Josh Ward is going to be hard to hold out of Hawthorn’s AFL team after his 38 disposals, five clearances, seven inside-50s and a goal. Others who toiled hard for Box Hill were Cooper Stephens (24 disposals, six clearances, one goal), Henry Hustwaite (22 disposals, seven clearances) and Callum Brown (20 disposals), however they were often under pressure and compiled 20 kicks and 46 handballs between them.



PORT MELBOURNE 3.3, 4.5, 6.9, 13.13 (91)
3.1, 3.1, 4.3, 5.8 (38)

PORT MELBOURNE kept its finals hopes alive after unleashing a final-quarter blitz to thrash a disappointing Essendon by 53 points at ETU Stadium.

A seesawing first quarter saw the Borough up by two points, which they extended to 10 at the main break in a dour second term, where neither team scored for 24 minutes and the Bombers, in fact, did not trouble the scorers at all.

Port ground its way to an 18-point advantage turning for home before exploding in the last quarter with 7.4 to 1.5, adding four goals beyond the 25-minute mark as the Bombers appeared to clock off early.

Captain Harvey Hooper was a standout in keeping Port Melbourne within a game of the top 10, picking up 33 touches, six marks, seven clearances and nine inside-50s

Nash Holmes (29 disposals, one goal) and former Bombers Tom Hird (27 disposals, six marks, six tackles) and Dylan Clarke (four kicks, 25 handballs, seven clearances) getting amongst it.

Anthony Anastasio starred in a new role off half back with 25 disposals, seven marks, seven entries and five rebounds, while Fraser Rosman (24 disposals, 10 marks) did well in the last line, Tom Hofert (16 disposals, 29 hitouts, five tackles) won the ruck and Archi Manton kicked three goals.

Nick Hind (27 disposals, seven marks, 12 rebounds) and Massimo D’Ambrosio (25 disposals, eight marks, five rebounds) responded well to their AFL omissions for Essendon, with Kaine Baldwin (22 disposals, five marks, six rebounds) and Elijah Tsatas (21 disposals, six tackles) also doing plenty of good things in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s 50th VFL game.


BYE: Carlton, Footscray, Frankston, GWS, North Melbourne, Northern Bullants, Richmond, Werribee, Williamstown.


Friday, June 30: Brisbane Lions vs Richmond (11:05am, Michael Voss Oval, Brighton Homes Arena); Sydney Swans vs Geelong Cats (4:05pm, SCG – AFL curtain raiser). Saturday, July 1: Footscray Bulldogs vs Coburg (11.05am, ETU Stadium); Werribee v Sandringham (1:05pm, Avalon Airport Oval); Box Hill Hawks vs Port Melbourne (2:05pm, Box Hill City Oval – VFLW double header); Carlton vs Northern Bullants (2:05pm, IKON Park – VFLW double header). Sunday, July 2: Frankston vs Collingwood (12:00pm, Kinetic Stadium); Casey Demons v GWS Giants (12:05pm, Casey Fields – VFLW double header); North Melbourne vs Williamstown (12:35pm, Arden Street Oval); Essendon vs Gold Coast Suns (1:05pm, Windy Hill). Bye: Southport Sharks

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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