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wafl.com.au Team and Player of Round 20Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 9:58 AM - by Chris Pike

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SUBIACO, South Fremantle, Claremont and East Perth all won big in Round 20 of the WAFL on Saturday leading to a couple of five-goal individual hauls but there were plenty of other standout performances as well particularly from big men.

All four WAFL Round 20 matches took place on Saturday afternoon with Subiaco making it 17 straight wins beating Swan Districts 11.17 (83) to 8.6 (54) at Leederville Oval with Liam Ryan kicking five goals.

South Fremantle made it seven straight wins beating East Fremantle 22.9 (141) to 15.6 (96) at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with Mason Shaw booting four goals.

Claremont thumped Perth 20.13 (133) to 5.4 (34) at Lathlain Park to keep its season alive with Beau Maister booting five goals.

East Perth moved into fifth position beating West Perth 21.13 (139) to 8.7 (55) at HBF Arena with eight Royals players kicking two goals.

The top two WAFL positions are set with three rounds remaining with Subiaco (17-1) guaranteed of the minor premiership and South Fremantle (14-4) of second spot.

Peel Thunder (10-7) remains third, percentage ahead of Swan Districts (10-7) with East Perth (8-9) now sitting fifth.

West Perth (8-9) is sixth and Claremont (7-10) seventh with only percentage still separating East Fremantle (2-15) and Perth (2-16).

wafl.com.au PLAYER OF THE ROUND – BROCK HIGGINS (South Fremantle)

 

The South Fremantle ruckman is getting set for his 100th WAFL match this Saturday and will be doing so in the best patch of form of his career coming off two dominant performances in the ruck the past fortnight.

Having begun his career at East Perth where he found himself in and out of the team because of the bevy of fellow talls both from the Royals and Eagles while also splitting his time as a key forward, key back and ruckman.

But upon joining South Fremantle in 2014, he has played as a ruckman and has become one of the best and most consistent in the role in the competition. Usually doing the work without too much support, that responsibility is something he thrives on and his best games are often when he plays virtually the whole game on the ball without too much of a break.

His work rate, physicality and natural competitiveness allow him to overcome bigger, more athletic and perhaps fresher opponents given they often attempt to double team him.

He had another dominant display on Saturday in the win over East Fremantle up against both Matthew Watson and Cameron Symonds. He finished with 22 possessions, 52 hit outs, eight entries inside-50, six tackles and four marks.

wafl.com.au TEAM OF THE ROUND (times named)
BACK: Declan Jackson (3), Kyle Anderson (3), Steven Edwards (5)
HALF-BACK: Nathan Blee (2), Haydn Busher (5), Steve Verrier (1)
CENTRE: Patrick McGinnity (3), Adam Cockie (4), Ryan Neates (1)
HALF-FORWARD: Ian Richardson (3), Fraser McInnes (4), Alex Manuel (2)
FORWARD: Mason Shaw (2), Beau Maister (2), Liam Ryan (9)
RUCK: Brock Higgins (6), Jye Bolton (7), Shane Hockey (3)
INTERCHANGE: Corey Gault (6), Leigh Kitchin (8), Aaron Heal (4), Matthew Watson (3)

BACK POCKET – STEVEN EDWARDS (South Fremantle)
Could very well have turned himself into the most exciting and damaging small defender in the competition now. He is also strong defensively and rarely loses one-on-one battles against some of the league's best small forwards. But with the ball he is particularly damaging. Was tremendous again in the win over the Sharks with 24 possessions, five tackles and a terrific running goal.

FULL-BACK – KYLE ANDERSON (East Perth)
The co-captain has picked up right from where he left off before hurting his shoulder in the historic state game victory against Victoria in Melbourne. Has now played three games back to take his career tally to 98 and put in another sound defensive performance in Saturday's 84-point win against East Perth. Also had 10 possessions and four marks.

BACK POCKET – DECLAN JACKSON (Subiaco)
He inherited the No. 23 from Subiaco full-back legend Darren Rumble and has filled his position tremendously since. His numbers might not suggest he has a big impact on games and again on Saturday he had just five possessions and three marks, but he had a significant say in the 29-point defeat helping to ensure Swans' tall forwards had a tough afternoon.

HALF-BACK FLANK – NATHAN BLEE (East Perth)
Is enjoying a tremendous season despite receiving little fanfare. Has played in different roles at times even short stints forward, in the ruck and through the middle. But it remains off half-back where he has his biggest impact. Gave great run and drive in Saturday's big win over West Perth with 27 disposals, 10 marks and a goal.

CENTRE HALF-BACK – HAYDN BUSHER (Claremont)
Continues to be the form key defender of the competition in the second half of the season. Saturday only proved to highlight how good a decision he made to leave Perth for Claremont ahead of the 2015 season as well. He ended the afternoon against his former side with 28 possessions and 15 marks.

HALF-BACK FLANK – STEVE VERRIER (South Fremantle)
Missed most of the first half of the season after breaking his hand in the Round 1 win over Subiaco, but has been working his way back up to top form since and delivered his strongest showing of the year in Saturday's win against East Fremantle. Ended the afternoon with 27 possessions and four marks.

WING – PATRICK McGINNITY (East Perth)
The Royals co-captain is stringing together an outstanding stretch of form now that he's overcome some of the injury troubles that plagued his first half of the season. Is on track of leading his team into the finals for a sixth straight year after another 25 possessions, nine tackles, six marks and a goal in the big win over West Perth on Saturday.

CENTRE – ADAM COCKIE (Subiaco)
Subiaco's midfield was missing captain Kyal Horsley with Chris Phelan still absent but he has more than helped fill the void continuing what is likely the best run of form in his career. Having made him earn his spot in the first half of the season has clearly ignited his hunger and he is playing some tremendously impressive football. Had another 31 possessions and seven inside 50s in the win against Swan Districts. Only blemish was kicking three behinds.

WING – RYAN NEATES (Claremont)
The wingman made his return from injury for his first game since Round 9 after a week in the reserves and showed just how sorely he had been missed. Provided great run and drive through the middle and on the wing for the Tigers racking up 27 possessions, nine marks, five inside 50s and a goal in his 99th appearance with Claremont.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – IAN RICHARDSON (Claremont)
He might not have kicked a goal despite his team kicking 20 of them in the 99-point win against Perth, but the 187-game half-forward was a big reason why his other forwards were able to hit the scoreboard. He continues to have another strong season and ended Saturday with 24 possessions, 12 marks and nine inside-50 entries.

CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – FRASER McINNES (East Perth)
The versatile big man is enjoying a fine season with East Perth even if he has struggled to get much of an AFL look-in at West Coast. Spending some time in the ruck but mostly playing as a hard-leading and presenting centre half-forward, he is going well. Starred again in the win against West Perth with 18 disposals, eight marks, 19 hit outs and two goals.

HALF-FORWARD FLANK – ALEX MANUEL (Claremont)
The lively half-forward enjoyed playing against Perth for the second time in 2017. He was named Player of the Round back in Round 3 and put in another impressive performance in Saturday's 99-point win kicking three goals to go with 20 disposals, nine marks and six entries inside the forward 50.

FORWARD POCKET – MASON SHAW (South Fremantle)
As part of a team that kicked 22 goals again showing its potency against East Fremantle, he stood tall enjoying some drier conditions to make the most of his advantage in the air and take his chances. Ended up kicking four goals from 18 disposals and nine strong marks. Now has 37 goals on the season to be sixth in the league but only fourth at South Fremantle behind Blaine Johnson, Cory Dell'Olio and Ben Saunders highlighting the Bulldogs' scoring prowess.

FULL-FORWARD – BEAU MAISTER (Claremont)
The premiership-winning Simpson Medal winner turned back the clock on Saturday even if he was helped by a struggling opposition and with two of Perth's best defenders Brent Latch and Brad McPhail in the reserves. He had a day out in attack for the Tigers ending up with 11 shots to kick five goals from 17 disposals and 10 marks.

FORWARD POCKET – LIAM RYAN (Subiaco)
Went a long way to securing the Bernie Naylor Medal for 2017 with another five goals from 19 possessions and eight marks in Saturday's 29-point victory against Swan Districts. The dynamic small forward has now kicked 60 goals for the season including 14 over the past three weeks in a team on a 17-game winning streak.

RUCK ROVER – JYE BOLTON (Claremont)
The reigning Sandover Medallist is right back to his best form of 2016 and will have to be in calculations to take out the award again in 2017 based on his outstanding second half of the season. Had a tremendous performance in the midfield during the thumping of Perth with 40 possessions, 14 marks, seven inside 50s, six tackles and a goal.

ROVER – SHANE HOCKEY (South Fremantle)
Another player who is right back to his best from 2016 as well. Won South Fremantle's fairest and best award last year and after a slow start to 2017, is back in some brilliant midfield form and it's coinciding with the wetter tracks suiting his game perfectly. Had another 31 possessions, four tackles and four inside-50 entries.

INTERCHANGE – COREY GAULT (Swan Districts)
Is thriving in his role in the ruck and resting forward on return to the WAFL this season with Swan Districts from Collingwood. Despite his team's loss to Subiaco on Saturday, he could have hardly done much more ending up kicking three goals to go with 27 possessions, nine marks and 30 hit outs.

INTERCHANGE – LEIGH KITCHIN (Subiaco)
The prolific midfielder just continues to play strong, consistent football on the ball for Subiaco and no matter which teammates are alongside him or not, his form rarely fluctuates. He was again rock solid in Saturday's victory against Swan Districts with 27 touches, eight marks and five inside-50 entries.

INTERCHANGE – AARON HEAL (Subiaco)
The state and premiership defender is right back to top form having returned from his fractured jaw in Round 14. Subiaco is conceding a WAFL low of 64.1 points this season and his form continues to be a big reason for that. Does well intercepting opposition attacks and setting up play as well highlighted by his 20 disposals and seven marks on Saturday.

INTERCHANGE – MATTHEW WATSON (East Fremantle)
The big man can't be accused of not giving his all for East Fremantle in 2017, the only problem is the Sharks have just one of him. He has proven their most effective ruckman and forward this season. He would even be handy down back as he was at Carlton if there were three of him. Looked good up forward on Saturday kicking four goals from 24 possessions and seven marks. Also had 20 hit outs and was East Fremantle's best ruckman when he was on the ball.

UNLUCKY BUNCH
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 20 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:

Perth's Clint Jones, Brant Colledge and Kurtis Chester.

Claremont's Jake Murphy, Ryan Lim, Tom Ledger, Zac Langdon, Bailey Banfield, Harrison McCracken and CJ Oakley.

West Perth's Shane Nelson, Aidan Lynch and Luke Meadows.

East Perth's Shayne Hille, Julian Ameduri and Sharrod Wellingham.

South Fremantle's Tim Kelly and Ryan Cook.

East Fremantle's Matthew Jupp, Jack Perham, Jonathon Marsh and Jayden Schofield.

Subiaco's Justin Joyce, Greg Clark, Scott Hancock and Jordan Lockyer. 

Swan Districts' Kirk Ugle, Adam Faulkner, Jesse Turner and Warrick Wilson.