Footscray's unbeaten run continued with a close victory over Port Melbourne while Geelong and Werribee stay in touch with the top two.

After strong starts to the season, GWS and North Melbourne have floundered in recent weeks as another loss is chalked up.

Sydney and Gold Coast return to the winner's list while Essendon continue their inconsistent streak with a loss.

Here's a wrap-up of all the action from Round 9 of the VFL.

BYES: Collingwood, Williamstown Seagulls and Coburg Lions

Sydney (79) def. Northern Bullants (58)

The Swans maintained touching distance with the top 10 after a victory over the Bullants, led by Caiden Cleary.

Cleary was dominant, amassing 39 touches, five clearances, five tackles and a goal in the victory.

Joel Hamling and Phill Moi Moi combined for six goals while small forward Jacob Konstanty was busy with two of his own.

The Bullants were valiant in their defeat and the performance from Saad El-Hawli reflected that.

The No.18 collected 33 disposals and kicked two goals, while midfield teammate Jean-Luc Velissaris did his mid-season draft chances no harm, also gathering 33 disposals and 11 clearances.

Carlton (52) def. by Gold Coast (102)

The Suns' seven-goal opening quarter put the game beyond doubt, as forwards Sam Day (four goals), Levi Casboult (three) and Jy Farrar (three) capitalised on the side's dominance.

PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: Sam Day of the Suns looks to pass the ball during the round four AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Gold Coast Suns at Optus Stadium on April 14, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Rory Atkins continued his stellar form, recording 40 disposals and 13 marks while Brayden Fiorini (37 touches, seven marks, six clearances and a goal) and Brandon Ellis (28 possessions, nine marks and two goals) impressed.

Ned Moyle was strong in the ruck while Will Graham plied his contested game well in the reserves.

Jaxon Binns was arguably Carlton's best as the club didn't have a heap of AFL-listed players on the park.

Jesse Motlop was quiet but slotted a goal while key defender Lewis Young proved to be a strong option in defence.

Geelong (110) def. GWS (49)

Mitch Hardie's form deserves to be rewarded with an AFL recall, especially after his latest performance.

Hardie recorded 37 disposals, 10 marks and nine clearances to go with one goal as he was helped by Brandan Parfitt (26 touches, four clearances and three tackles), James Willis (three goals, 16 disposals and five marks) and Ted Clohesy (two goals, 26 possessions and eight tackles).

Small forward Shaun Mannagh slotted three majors in a bid for a senior return.

The heavy loss for the Giants didn't see a lot of strong outings but Max Gruzewski can hold his head high.

The young forward kicked three goals.

Footscray Bulldogs (93) def. Port Melbourne Borough (81)

The Bulldogs' accurate kicking meant the club came away with a win over the impressive Port Melbourne outfit.

Mid-season fancy and former Pie Trent Bianco was pivotal in the victory, gathering 27 disposals, nine clearances and a goal.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 12: Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs in action during the Western Bulldogs training session at Skinner Reserve on January 12, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Rory Lobb - who is likely to replace the injured Aaron Naughton - proved his worth with a pair of majors from 14 touches and five clearances, pinching hitting in the ruck.

Youngster Jordan Croft kicked three goals while Oskar Baker (22 disposals), Luke Cleary (24) and Jedd Busslinger (18 touches and eight marks) were impressive.

Former Bulldog Billy Gowers almost willed his side over the line but inaccuracy in front of goal was his achilles heel.

Gowers kicked 5.6 and was the Borough's best in the loss while Robbie McComb and Josh Green were crucial through the midfield.

Southport Sharks (105) def. Frankston Dolphins (57)

Hugh Dixon's five-goal performance led the Sharks to a strong victory over the Dolphins.

Dixon was pivotal up forward to assist in ticking over the scoreboard, while Jay LockhartBrock Aston and Matt Shannon were all multiple goal-kickers.

Ruckman Brayden Crossley was instrumental in the midfield, recording a whopping 62 hit-outs while also gathering 13 touches and laying eight tackles.

Jacob DawsonBoyd Woodcock and Jacob Heron all found plenty of the ball as well as registering big clearance numbers.

As for the Dolphins, it wasn't all doom and gloom with some of the key players standing up in the eight-goal loss.

Trent Mynott was impressive with his endeavour, recording eight tackles while Sebastian Quirk led the way with 24 disposals.

Box Hill Hawks (34) def. by Brisbane (102)

Box Hill had no answer for the Lions on Saturday as a particular midfielder was everywhere.

Out-of-favour Lion Jarryd Lyons was superb in the win, kicking 4.3 from 22 touches and seven marks.

Jarryd Lyons during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

James Tunstill and Zac Derksen slotted three of their own while Deven Robertson (32 touches, 11 clearances and a goal) was pivotal.

Josh Ward responded to his poor form in the seniors with another strong performance in the VFL, gathering 23 touches and five clearances.

Former Pie Callum Brown also put together a strong outing while youngsters Henry Hustwaite and Finn Maginness found plenty of the ball.

Ned Reeves struggled to make an impact in his bid to return to AFL football.

Richmond (127) def. Essendon (66)

Despite Richmond relying on the depths of their list due to the massive injury toll, they came away with an impressive victory.

Goals to Archie May (4), Sam Davidson (3), and Cam Olden (3) kept the scoreboard ticking over while Jacob Koschitzke clunked 10 marks playing further up the ground.

Ex-Power player Joel Garner was arguably the Tigers best, collecting 30 disposals, nine tackles and seven clearances.

Young defender Tylar Young was confirmed to have ruptured his ACL during the match in a blow to the Tigers.

Interest in Essendon ruckman Nick Bryan will continue to grow after he was dominant on Saturday (46 hit-outs, 10 clearances, 23 touches and a goal).

Ex-Crow Jackson Hately found plenty of the football while small forward Jye Menzie slotted a pair of goals.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 16: Zach Reid of the Bombers receives a rub down during the 2024 AFL Round 01 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 16, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Zach Reid continues his comeback after an injury-interrupted start to 2024 while Sam Weideman was quiet.

Werribee Tigers (99) def. North Melbourne (30)

The 69-point victory flattered North Melbourne on Sunday as Werribee kicked 13.21.

Riley Bice and Bior Malual were impressive in the air as Dom Brew continues to push for an AFL selection, recording 13 clearances and 33 possessions.

Jack Riding (2.3) and Hudson Garoni (3.4) could've had bigger days while Flynn Young couldn't find the big sticks despite plenty of shots on goal.

As for the Roos, Charlie Lazzaro was uncompromising in the contest, laying 11 tackles and recording seven clearances while Will Phillips and recent debutant Riley Hardeman found the ball with ease.

Recruit Dylan Stephens is starting to regain some confidence in the reserves while youngsters Cooper Harvey and Brayden George showed glimpses.

Casey Demobs (98) def. by Sandringham Zebras (111)

In what was the game of the round, the Zebras were victorious in a shoot-out at Casey Fields.

Tim Membrey and Olli Hotton combined for 11 goals in the win, giving Ross Lyon something to think about at the selection table.

Tim Membrey during the AFL match between Hawthorn and St Kilda in Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Untried ruckman Max Heath was strong through the midfield, giving Hunter Clark and Brad Crouch first look.

The latter has returned successfully from injury, with Lyon flagging a potential recall while small forward Dan Butler was busy in front of goals.

Axed youngster Mattaes Phillipou didn't light the world on fire but was serviceable.

Demons forward Matthew Jefferson matched the efforts of Hotton with five goals, while Ben Brown responded strongly to his dropping with three majors.

Bailey Laurie was busy with the ball while Mitch White stacked the stat sheet, collecting 38 disposals, 10 clearances, eight marks and two goals.

Against his old side, Jack Billings was impressive with his 25-possession performance.