With the exception of the WAFL, the state leagues are all up and about with storylines aplenty.
Whether it was youngsters performing, key players returning from injury or state players putting their hands up for mid-season draft opportunities, there was plenty to see over the weekend.
Here are our key takeaways:
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Essendon forwards continue to find their footing
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti continues to work his way back to full fitness in the VFL, kicking a goal and picking up 17 disposals in Essendon’s loss to Frankston on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Aaron Francis booted 3.3 from 12 touches as he continues to show his form as a forward.
Essendon’s forward line needs depth and both could slot in soon if required.
For Frankston, ex-Roo Will Fordham booted four majors and picked up 38 disposals, while Trent Mynott kicked 2.3 and had 33 touches.
Stocker ready for Carlton return
The AFL team may have folded, but Carlton’s VFL side remains undefeated and the biggest positive was defender Liam Stocker who found 35 disposals and took five marks in the win over the Gold Coast.
Working his way back from an ankle injury, Stocker now has two games under his belt and should be in line for a senior return against Port Adelaide.
Sam Philp kicked three goals in his return from a rib injury, while Paddy Dow had 24 and kicked a goal himself.
For the Suns, Darcy Macpherson picked up 30 disposals, while no.5 draft pick Mac Andrew found 23 touches and took eight marks.
The veteran leads the way for the Hawks
Hawthorn midfielder Liam Shiels continues to set the standard at VFL level, leading the team with 27 disposals in the win over Sandringham.
Tom Phillips picked up 26 touches, while VFL listed player and former Bulldog Ben Cavarra kicked four goals.
For Sandringham, Jack Bytel, Dean Kent and Mitch Owens led the way with 22 disposals each, while Tom Campbell controlled the ruck with 31 hit-outs and 20 touches.
Ben Brown finds touch after COVID isolation
Sam Weideman may have kept him out of the team on Thursday night, but Ben Brown found some form after being stuck in COVID isolation the previous week.
Brown kicked two goals for Casey to go with six marks in the win over Williamstown.
Oskar Baker and Luke Dunstan led the way with 23 disposals each, while Toby Bedford had 16 and is pressing for a possible senior call-up.
Key Tiger makes VFL return
Kane Lambert made a successful return in his return from a hip injury, picking up 15 disposals in limited minutes against Footscray.
2021 draftees Tom Brown (23 disposals, seven marks), Judson Clarke (four goals), Samuel Banks (19 disposals) and Tyler Sonsie (17 disposals) all impressed.
Defender Bigoa Nyuon was good again with 12 disposals and seven marks while Maurice Rioli Jnr was busy with 21 touches and a goal.
Ivan Soldo looked strong in the ruck, winning 31 hit-outs and kicking a goal. His opponent Stefan Martin had 21 disposals and 12 hit-outs for the Dogs.
Hayden Crozier picked up 21 disposals and took nine marks following his recent scare, while Josh Schache had 20 touches and took eight marks.
Father-son midfielder Rhylee West found 18 disposals and booted a goal in the loss.
Unheralded Cats shine in win over Lions
A pair of unheralded Cats were pivotal in Geelong’s narrow VFL win over Brisbane on Friday.
Oliver Dempsey and Shannon Neale kicked four goals each in the seven-point win at GMHBA Stadium.
2019 first-round draft pick Cooper Stephens picked up 26 touches and five tackles and 2021 second-round pick Mitch Knevitt chimed in with 20 disposals and a goal.
Ely Smith was the Lions’ best with 27 touches, Rhys Mathieson (26 disposals) was again one of his side’s best after 34 touches in Round 2 and pick 16 in last year’s draft, Darcy Wilmothad 22 possessions and seven marks.
Roughead returns as young Magpies impress
It was a match of mixed fortunes for Collingwood who beat the Northern Bullants by 35 points on Saturday.
Key defender Jordan Roughead made a successful return from a shoulder injury on managed minutes. Fellow senior Magpie Mason Cox was busy with 32 hit outs, 18 disposals and a goal while talented youngster Caleb Poulter picked up 21 touches and kicked two goals.
Finlay Macrae and Tyler Brown were also among Collingwood’s best.
Exciting forward Ash Johnsonwho would have been in the mix to replace the injured Jamie Elliott, was carried off after landing awkwardly in a marking contest.
Former Richmond defender Derek Egmolesse-Smith was one of the Magpies’ best with 25 touches and former Demon Neville Jetta had 22 disposals, 11 marks and five tackles.
Swans talls fire
Joel Amartey kicked four goals and 2020 no.4 draft pick Logan McDonald returned three majors (four behinds) and took 11 marks as Sydney proved too good for Port Melbourne.
The tall forward pairing combined for seven of their side’s 10 goals in the narrow win, with one of the duo primed to replace Lance Franklin if he is to miss with a finger injury.
Ryan Clarke picked up 26 disposals, Will Gould had 18 and Swans veteran Cal Sinclair had a fair day in the ruck with 40 hit-outs and 16 touches.
Top Giants draft pick pushing for AFL debut
GWS beat Coburg by 42 points thanks to impressive displays from a number of AFL-listed players.
Last year’s no.3 draft pick Finn Callaghan is building a nice VFL record, putting himself in the mix for a potential AFL debut. He had 22 disposals, eight tackles and a goal on the weekend.
Callaghan now has disposal tallies of 35, 20 and 22 in his first three Giants outings.
Former Eagle Jarrod Brander was one of the Giants’ best with 30 disposals and a goal and third-round draftee Josh Fahey amassed 29 touches and a goal.
Thilthorpe, Hately press for Crows selection
Riley Thilthorpe again pressed his claims for a senior call-up with three goals and nine marks in Adelaide’s 38-point win over North Adelaide.
He also picked up 19 disposals, had seven hit outs and four inside 50s in an accomplished showing up forward, following his three goals in Round 1.
Midfielder Jackson Hately has given Matthew Nicks something to think about after racking up 35 touches, five inside 50s and a goal in the win over the Roosters.
Fellow on-baller Sam Berry was also industrious with 26 possessions, four tackles and a goal.
Finlayson puts his hand up for the Power
Off-season recruit Jeremy Finlayson responded to his recent AFL axing with a bag of six goals in Port Adelaide’s 10-point loss to South Adelaide.
After the Power managed just four majors against Melbourne last Thursday night, Finlayson’s performance will certainly warrant consideration for a Round 5 call-up.
Trent Dumont led the way with 21 touches, 12 tackles, six clearances and seven inside 50s while Martin Frederick and Cam Sutcliffe were also busy with 21 apiece.
Defender Jake Pasini impressed with 20 disposals and nine rebound 50s.
Former Carlton and Crows midfielder and reigning Magarey Medallist Bryce Gibbs racked up 39 disposals and 10 clearances for the victorious Panthers.
The 2022 WAFL season kicks off this Friday, April 15.