WHAT a long weekend of action that was for WA Day Round in the WAFL beginning with a bevy of stars from Subiaco shining on Thursday night before big guns from West Perth and South Fremantle stood up to deliver derby wins for their sides on the holiday Monday.
The WA Day Round action got underway back on Thursday night at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park with Subiaco proving too powerful for an undermanned Perth outfit winning 16.13 (109) to 1.5 (11) with a host of Lions starring all over the field.
There were then two matches on Saturday afternoon with Claremont beating a competitive West Coast Eagles outfit 14.9 (93) to 9.12 (66) at Claremont's Revo Fitness Stadium. Plenty of Tigers won plenty of the ball but none more so than the 49 possessions from superstar Jye Bolton.
Also on Saturday afternoon, Swan Districts beat Peel Thunder in a fought battle 10.7 (67) to 7.17 (59) at Mandurah's David Grays Arena.
That all led into the WA Day Derbies with West Perth too strong for East Perth winning 19.5 (119) to 11.10 (76) at Leederville Oval with Tyler Keitel having a field day kicking eight goals for the Falcons.
South Fremantle then made it 11 straight wins against East Fremantle with the Bulldogs working hard to overcome the Sharks 11.8 (74) to 8.10 (58) at New Choice Homes Park.
The results after nine rounds of the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season see Subiaco (7-1) on top of the ladder just percentage ahead of Claremont (7-1) with reigning premiers South Fremantle just the one game back (6-2) in third.
Swan Districts (5-3) remains in fourth position with West Perth (4-4) rounding out the top five.
Perth (4-4) is just outside the top five followed by Peel Thunder (3-5), East Fremantle (3-5), East Perth (1-7) and West Coast Eagles (0-8).
PLAYER OF THE ROUND – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
Tyler Keitel produced the best goalkicking haul of his 112-game WAFL career in Monday's WA Day Derby as he kicked a match-winning eight goals for West Perth against East Perth.
There's always that added little bit of spice any time Keitel lines up in a West Perth jumper against East Perth after he began his career with the Royals playing some impressive colts football before wanting to join the Falcons.
East Perth put up quite the fight to deny his transfer before he'd even played a league game, but eventually he was cleared midway through the 2015 and the versatile big man has gone from strength to strength ever since.
He initially found his feet as a key defender at WAFL level where his intercept marking and ability to set up play from the back-line for the Falcons were a treat to watch.
However, West Perth needed a key forward target even more and then coach Bill Monaghan settled him in attack from 2017 and the results have been tremendous ever since.
Over the past four seasons he has kicked 146 goals across the 70 games, and now he has kept that form going impressively so far in 2021 including kicking five goals for the WAFL State Team last month against South Australia in Adelaide.
Then just two weeks after seeing his small forward partner kick six goals in a match-winning effort against Peel Thunder, he topped that performance with his own eight-goal haul in Monday's 43-point win to go with 13 kicks and eight marks.
Players of the Round
Round 1 – Josh Schoenfeld (East Fremantle)
Round 2 – Sam Fisher (Swan Districts)
Round 3 – Greg Clark (Subiaco)
Round 5 – Haiden Schloithe (South Fremantle)
Round 6 – Tyrone Thorne (Peel Thunder)
Round 7 – Keegan Knott (West Perth)
Round 8 – Jye Bolton (Claremont)
Round 9 – Tyler Keitel (West Perth)
BACK POCKET – HAYDEN KENNEDY (Subiaco)
The ball wasn’t down in Perth's forward 50 a whole lot on Thursday night in Subiaco's big win but usually when it was, he was the man driving it out for the Lions and setting up play. The premiership defender is right back to his best form so far in 2021 and he had another 29 possessions, five tackles, four marks and four inside-50 entries.
FULL-BACK – NOAH PEGORARO (West Perth)
What an important member of the West Perth team he has become in a short period of time. Now that he's found his groove in a key defensive role, it's helped the rest of the team settle as well and he continues to play tremendous football. Produced another 16 possessions and six marks in Monday's derby win.
BACK POCKET – ZAC GUADAGNIN (West Perth)
He might be the most unheralded yet consistently strong performer of the West Perth team. He just quietly goes about his business down back for the Falcons week after week, and the WA Day derby win over East Perth on Monday at Leederville Oval was no different. Again strong defensively, he also had 21 possessions, seven marks and four tackles.
HALF-BACK FLANK – LACHLAN MARTINIS (Claremont)
Opposition teams have quickly identified him as a player pivotal to Claremont's fortunes but he broke free against the Eagles on Saturday and was instrumental in the eventual Tigers victory. Gave terrific drive and run off half-back as usual to deliver another 36 possessions, eight marks, three tackles and two inside-50 entries.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – CHRIS JONES (Swan Districts)
Swan Districts defence has long been its strength led by the likes of Alex Howard and Tony Notte, but he has settled in seamlessly in 2021 in impressive fashion. Both as an intercept marker and also strong spoiler with defensive qualities, he's quickly becoming an important member of the black-and-whites line-up. He had another 16 possessions and nine marks in the win over Peel.
HALF-BACK FLANK – NELSON WAITE (Swan Districts)
Any impressive defensive unit deserves an attacking and creative threat, and he continues to provide that in spades at Swan Districts showing what he's perhaps always been capable of at WAFL level. Delivered another strong showing in Saturday's win against Peel with 22 possessions and seven marks.
WING – ZAC STROM (South Fremantle)
He won the fairest and best in the premiership year last season for South Fremantle and was right back to top form on the wing in the derby win on Monday for the Bulldogs. Dominated in the air at times and produced a standout all-round performance made up of 26 touches, eight marks, seven inside 50s and four tackles.
CENTRE – GREG CLARK (Subiaco)
The career-best form from the emerging star continued on Thursday as he produced another career-high in terms of possession. He is producing a remarkable season now that he is playing regularly on the ball for the Lions and in Thursday's smashing of Perth, he produced 42 possessions, eight inside-50 entries, three marks, three tackles and a goal under the Lathlain lights.
WING – BAILEY ROGERS (Claremont)
The usual defender is really finding his feet in his permanent move further up the ground this season under new coach Ashley Prescott. Could very well be in career-best form as a result and that continued in Saturday's win against West Coast where he finished with another 37 disposals, 12 marks and two inside-50 entries.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – MITCH ANTONIO (West Perth)
It has been a bit of a rocky journey in his career to get to this point, but he is now showing why his career was worth persevering. Such a naturally talented forward, he is providing that perfect third target for the Falcons alongside Tyler Keitel and Keegan Knott. Kicked three goals in the big derby win for the Falcons from 14 disposals and nine marks.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – HUGH DIXON (East Fremantle)
The big man continues to show just why the Sharks were so keen to bring him on board to be a key target in attack for them in 2021. The big man was impressive in the derby despite the loss to South Fremantle kicking three goals from 10 kicks, nine marks, four tackles and three inside-50 entries.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – KANE MITCHELL (Claremont)
The former premiership star, captain and Sandover Medallist has had to suck a lot up this season no longer being skipper and more often than not being forced out of a regular midfield role, but it's not diminishing his commitment, output and performance for the Tigers. He was a terrific again the Eagles with 30 touches, nine marks and two tackles.
FORWARD POCKET – BEN SOKOL (Subiaco)
The Bernie Naylor Medal winner and premiership forward was on fire early on Thursday night against Perth and was on target for a career-high haul in front of goals. He couldn’t quite complete the jobs and missed some gettable chances in the second half, but that didn’t stop him still setting up the win on his way to six goals from 15 kicks and 10 marks.
FORWARD POCKET – CODY NINYETTE (South Fremantle)
The small forward won a premiership at South Fremantle in just his second game for the club last year, but he's rewarded the Bulldogs for the faith they showed in him well and truly now. He kicked another four goals in his first taste of a WA Day Foundation Derby to go with 10 kicks and three marks.
RUCK – LACHLAN DELAHUNTY (Subiaco)
He was right back to delivering the type of performance as a mobile ruckman that won him a Sandover Medal on Thursday night even if he doesn’t always do that well in the actually ruck knocks. Around the ground he is another beast though, and against the Demons he was in unstoppable form amassing 30 possessions, 24 hit outs, six marks and a goal.
RUCK ROVER – JYE BOLTON (Claremont)
It's hard to imagine that someone who has already won two Sandover Medals and four Simpson Medals already during his 98-game WAFL career with Claremont could be in career-best form, but it's mighty tough to argue against it right now. He was WAFL Player of the Week in Round 8 and now this Saturday, he was simply unstoppable on his way to 49 disposals, 12 marks, six inside-50 entries and a goal.
ROVER – DYLAN MAIN (South Fremantle)
The South Fremantle premiership captain has returned from injury in recent weeks in some of the best form of his career and that continued in the derby win at Shark Park on WA Day. He was superb in the midfield again for the Bulldogs finishing with 30 possessions, five marks, five inside 50s and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – CONNOR WEST (West Coast Eagles)
Just days after being taken by the West Coast Eagles in the AFL mid-season rookie drafted, the West Perth midfielder joined up with the Eagles in the WAFL and performed so well on debut at his new club that an AFL call up might not be far away. He performed admirably against Claremont with 29 possessions, eight inside 50s, seven tackles, six marks and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – BROCK HIGGINS (South Fremantle)
It was a big challenge for the premiership ruckman up against East Fremantle's Luke Strnadica in the WA Day Derby, but by the end of the afternoon he won the match up and was instrumental in the win for South Fremantle. Ended the game with 18 possessions and 39 hit outs while doing well to also limit Strnadica's influence.
INTERCHANGE – JACKSON MERRETT (Peel Thunder)
The reigning Peel fairest and best winner did all he could to try and lift Peel to the win at home against Swan Districts on Saturday. He wasn’t quite successful in achieving that but that was through no fault of his own and he ended the afternoon with 23 possessions, seven marks, five tackles and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – CAM EARDLEY (East Fremantle)
East Fremantle's midfield continues to be decimated week after week through injury but he remains the one constant and is delivering in spaces each week for the Sharks. He couldn’t have done more to try and end the drought against Bulldogs on Monday compiling 31 touches, six marks, four tackles and three entries inside the forward 50.
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across the WA Day Round but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Week, including:
Subiaco's Leigh Kitchin, Harry Marsh, Liam Hickmott and Angus Dewar.
Claremont's Callan England, Ryan Lim, Ben Edwards, Oliver Eastland and Declan Mountford.
West Coast's Kieran Hug, Cooper Nitschke, Hamish Brayshaw, Mark Hutchings and Joey Deegan.
Peel Thunder's Lloyd Meek, Michael Randall, Nathan O'Driscoll, Traye Bennell and Ben Hancock.
Swan Districts' Frank Anderson, Jesse Turner, Sam Fisher, Josh Cipro and Corey Gault.
East Perth's Mitch Dobson, Angus Schumacher, Rohan Kerr, Stan Wright, Angus Scott, Jack Cooley and Aidan Lynch.
West Perth's Shane Nelson, Aaron Black, Tristan Hobley, Mitch Peirce, Matthew Lloyd and Nathan Murray.
East Fremantle's Tim Bockman, Jarrad Jansen, Michael Tassone and Kyle Baskerville.
South Fremantle's Chad Pearson and Mason Shaw.