The VFL returned over the weekend, with a number of fringe players making a case for potential returns to the AFL.

A young Bomber was among several standouts for the Dons in their huge win over GWS, while North Melbourne's returning first-round draftee was impressive in limited minutes.

Here's a quick breakdown of each of the weekend's standout performers and highlights from Round 1 of the VFL.

Carlton Blues vs Geelong Cats (69 - 85)

Geelong secured an early win in their VFL season campaign, with young forwards Oliver Dempsey and Ted Clohesy booting three goals each to claim victory over Carlton at Ikon Park.

Brandan Parfitt led Geelong's midfield with 23 disposals, while top 10 draft selection Jhye Clark managed to boot one goal from his 13 possessions.

Carlton's Paddy Dow got his season off to a flying start, recording 30 disposals, 10 clearances, six marks and four tackles in the loss, while fellow AFL-listed player Lachie Plowman also found plenty of the ball and enjoyed a strong start to the game to end with 29 disposals

Collingwood Magpies vs Coburg Lions (141 - 49)

A convincing 92-point win over Coburg came with plenty of highlights for Collingwood at VFL level, most of which came from their younger ranks.

Midfielder Finlay Macrae amassed 34 touches, nine clearances and six tackles in the win, while draftees Jakob Ryan and Ed Allan recorded 25 touches each.

Tom Wilson booted five goals up front, while spearhead Ash Johnson also built his case for a potential recall to senior level with 4 majors of his own.

First-year midfield-forward hybrid Joe Richards collected 22 possessions and one goal in the win.

Brisbane Lions vs Werribee Tigers (70 - 69)

Rhys Mathieson was back to his ball-winning best for the Lions at VFL level over the weekend, recording 28 disposals and booting two goals against Werribee in a thrilling one-point win.

Irishman James Madden was a defensive stalwart with 10 marks from his 18 touches, while sophomore Kai Lohmann popped up with two goals.

First-round draft pick Jaspa Fletcher managed 11 disposals in his first VFL hitout for the year.

Gold Coast Suns vs Williamstown Seagulls (83 - 52)

After being dropped to the reserves, Mabior Chol led the way for the Suns' goalkickers with three goals, while pre-season signing Brodie McLaughlin added two of his own.

14 touches for top 10 draft pick Bailey Humphrey, while Rory Atkins (27 disposals) and Jy Farrar (25) were the top ball winners for the Suns.

Southport Sharks vs Sandringham Zebras (118 - 32)

With the Siants' list heavily depleted due to injuries from the top down, Sandringham were left with a difficult task to open their VFL campaign, facing 2022 grand finalists Southport in Queensland over the weekend.

Defender Tom Highmore stood tall in the 86-point loss, recording 32 touches, seven marks and seven tackles for the day.

Casey Demons vs Footscray Bulldogs (94 - 57)

Veteran defender Hibberd gave Simon Goodwin a nice reminder ahead of selection for this week, recording 36 touches and 10 marks for Casey in their win over the Bulldogs.

Bailey Laurie also responded to being dropped with 29 touches of his own, while James Jordon recorded 28 disposals and two goals.

Rookie draft recruit Oliver Sestan led the way for the Demons with three goals, while Josh Schache booted two goals before suffering a head knock.

For the Dogs, small forward Mitch Hannan was a highlight, amassing 20 possesions and two goals in the defeat.

North Melbourne vs Port Melbourne (66 - 86)

All eyes were on 2022 No.4 draft selection George Wardlaw, who made his debut for the Roos' reserves on Saturday afternoon. The teenager had an enjoyable evening against the Borough, amassing 12 touches, seven tackles and one goal from less than 50% time on ground.

Veteran defender Aaron Hall led the stats sheet with 38 touches and seven marks, while fellow backmen Blake Drury (26 touches) and Lachie Young (24) also found plenty of the pill.

The Roos' evening was soured by a 20-point loss and an injury to young forward-ruck Jacob Edwards.

Port Melbourne recruit Harley Bennell managed one goal in a quiet first game back in Victoria, having made the move to the Borough to potentially rekindle his AFL career.

Sydney vs Box Hill (70 - 97)

Aaron Francis booted three goals from 16 disposals and seven marks in his first game for the Bloods, albeit in a loss to the Hawks.

Angus Sheldrick led the way for Sydney with 28 touches, five tackles and five clearances in midfield to catch the eye of senior coach John Longmire.

For Box Hill, Seamus Mitchell had 30 touches and nine marks, and Ned Long recorded 29 touches, seven marks and six tackles to help steer the Hawks to a Round 1 win.

Tyler Brockman booted three goals, while VFL-listed utility Jed Rule added four goals to get his season off on the right foot.

Richmond vs Northern Bullants (104 - 57)

Supplemental Selection Period recruit Kaelan Bradtke booted five goals and landed six marks in his first VFL showing for the Tigers in a dominant win over the Bullants.

Jacob Bauer (three goals) and Ben Miller (two) also played a part in attack, with Steve Morris' side piling on 16 goals for the evening.

Jack Ross looms as a chance to return to the senior side given a fresh string of setbacks for multiple AFL midfielders, with his efforts of 29 possessions and one goal helping his case.

Essendon vs GWS (119 - 39)

Bomber Ben Hobbs was a standout for Leigh Tudor's men, recording 36 touches, 10 marks, 11 clearances, 11 inside 50s and two goals against the Giants.

His disposal tally was only bested by Nick Hind, who had 42 possessions for the day, while Jake Stringer got through unscathed in his return from injury with 22 disposals and a goal.

Rhett Montgomerie impressed on the last line with 11 marks and 22 touches, while Patrick Voss booted five goals at the other end of the field.

For GWS, versatile tall Kieren Briggs was among the few highlights, amassing 25 hit-outs and recording 17 disposals.