THE teams had a week of frustration to burn off and the result was a fantastic NAIDOC Round of WAFL football on Saturday with another cracking South Fremantle-Claremont battle while West Perth and Swan Districts kept winning, and Subiaco and Peel also had wins.
Round 13 was forced to be postponed last weekend thanks to COVID-19 meaning all 10 WAFL clubs had an extra week to prepare for NAIDOC Round this Saturday and the end result was five fascinating match ups.
What it all means is that all of a sudden top three teams Subiaco, Claremont and South Fremantle are now only separated by percentage while West Perth and Swan Districts are just a game further back so those top five positions could now continue to switch around from week to week.
All five NAIDOC Round match ups took place on Saturday afternoon with Peel Thunder snapping its five-game losing streak by proving too good for Harry Taylor's East Fremantle, winning 13.10 (88) to 9.8 (62) at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park.
Subiaco continued its dominance against Perth as well and did enough to return to top spot on the WAFL ladder as the Lions beat the Demons 10.11 (71) to 6.8 (44) at Leederville Oval.
West Perth is now in some hot form as well having won four games in succession after taking care of East Perth for the Polly Farmer Shield 14.13 (97) to 10.7 (67) at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval.
It was a nail-biting thriller at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval with both teams kicking a go-ahead goal late in the piece but Swan Districts got the last laugh to defeat the West Coast Eagles 10.11 (71) to 9.15 (69).
The last match was the Game of the Round and the now traditional NAIDOC Week contest in the WAFL between last year's Grand Finalists South Fremantle and Claremont.
The contest certainly didn’t disappoint with South Fremantle ending up winning 11.2 (68) to 9.13 (67) on the back of the winning goal being kicked by Cody Ninyette for the Bulldogs.
OPTUS WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON – NAIDOC ROUND
EAST FREMANTLE 9.8 (62) lost to PEEL THUNDER 13.10 (88)
Peel Thunder proved too good for East Fremantle on Saturday despite being away from home and the presence of Harry Taylor for the Sharks.
Peel came into the contest at New Choice Homes Park on a five-game losing streak, but to remain any chance of staying in the finals race for 2021 they needed to halt that slide on Saturday and they did so in style.
The Thunder had put the game to bed with the opening three goals of the third quarter to lead by 59 points before going on to win 13.10 (88) to 9.8 (62).
The result leaves both teams with a 4-7 record for the season to be three games out of the top five.
Luke Valente kicked three goals to go with 20 possessions, five marks, five tackles and five inside-50 entries to continue his tremendous form for Peel while Brodie Lake and Lachlan Cullen kicked two goals apiece.
Jackson Merrett was prolific on the wing for the Thunder with 30 possessions and 11 marks while Michael Randall gathered 27 disposals, Tyrone Thorne 25, Ben Hancock 25 and James Sturrock 24.
Peel's back-line was tremendous even with the absence of Will Schofield with Tobe Watson finishing with 22 disposals and 10 marks while Taylin Duman had 21 touches and 11 marks, and Traye Bennell 19 possessions and eight marks.
Harry Taylor was playing his first game of the season for East Fremantle having retired from his remarkable 280-game AFL career with Geelong after last year's Grand Final. He couldn’t have done much more in attack for the Sharks kicking four goals from 15 possessions and five marks.
Alex Montauban also kicked two goals for the Sharks to go with 15 touches, seven marks, five tackles and five entries inside the forward 50.
Cam Eardley continued his tremendous form in the midfield for East Fremantle with another 28 possessions while Blaine Boekhorst finished with 25 disposals, Tom Bennett 24, Ryan Lester-Smith 22, Jarrad Jansen 21 and Luke English 20.
East Fremantle and Peel came into Saturday's clash both needing a win and they traded goals over the first 20 minutes with majors to Jackson Knight and Luke Valente for Peel, and Brynn Teakle for East Fremantle.
The Thunder then kicked away, though, just before quarter-time with a couple of goals to youngster Brodie Lake.
Harry Taylor then marked his return to East Fremantle with a goal to open the second term but Peel would have all the answers and kick right away with goals to James Sturrock, Tyrone Thorne and Jack Sears to lead by 31 points.
That then became 38 points by half-time with a goal just before the siren to Brayden Lawler.
Any chance of an East Fremantle comeback was quickly snuffed out by Peel in the third quarter with a couple of quick goals to Luke Valente, and another to Lachlan Cullen and the lead was out to 56 points.
East Fremantle did manage to outscore Peel from that point in the game with seven goals to two including three of those coming courtesy of Taylor, but the Thunder still cruised to the 26-point victory to snap their losing streak.
SUBIACO 10.11 (71) defeated PERTH 6.8 (44)
Subiaco continued its dominance against Perth at Leederville Oval on Saturday with the 27-point win enough for the Lions to reclaim top spot on the WAFL ladder.
Subiaco came into the game having won nine straight against Perth including a 98-point Thursday night hammering only six weeks ago.
Subiaco kicked away in the second quarter with six goals to two to set up the eventual win and while it wasn’t quite as emphatic, it was still solid enough for the Lions as they prevailed 10.11 (71) to 6.8 (44).
The 27-point win makes it 10 in-a-row for the Lions over the Demons and sees them move back on top of the WAFL ladder with an 8-3 record while Perth's hopes of back-to-back finals campaigns took another hit with them sitting at 4-7 with the second worst percentage in the league.
Max Walters, Wil Hickmott, Ben Sokol, Michael Braut and Nick Martin all kicked two goals apiece for Subiaco as they spread around the scoring load.
Sandover Medal fancy Greg Clark continued his brilliant form for Subiaco with another 36 possessions, eight inside-50 entries, seven tackles and 12 marks while captain Leigh Kitchin finished with 33 disposals.
Lachlan Delahunty dominated around the ground with 30 disposals while Harry Marsh threatened a big afternoon with 22 disposals and nine marks but he only managed to kick five behinds.
Subiaco's back-line was superb with Aaron Heal finishing with 22 disposals and eight marks, Hayden Kennedy 18 touches and five marks, Angus Dewar 18 possessions and Drew Rohde 17 to go with seven tackles.
Sam Stubbs was the only multiple goal scorer for Perth with two goals from six kicks and seven marks with Perth wearing the Indigenous jumpers for NAIDOC Week that he designed.
Brady Grey racked up 23 possessions for Perth, Austin Davis 22, Matthew Taylor 18, Corey Byrne 16 and Brant Colledge 16.
The game will also prove to be the last at WAFL level for Chris Masten. His WAFL career began with East Fremantle prior to him being drafted to the AFL where he would play 215 games with the West Coast Eagles including winning a premiership before finishing his career at the Demons.
It was going to take quite the turnaround from their last meeting for Perth to take it up to Subiaco, but the Demons got the perfect start with the first goal courtesy of Jayden Quill at the 11-minute mark.
Subiaco responded less than two minutes later with their first goal from Max Walters and the Lions were then up by a goal at quarter-time after Ben Sokol also kicked truly.
Perth had avoided been blown away at least in the first quarter, but that soon changed starting a minute into the second term with a goal to Nick Martin. Wil Hickmott added another and then so did Michael Braut to see the Subiaco lead grow to 25 points.
Perth did get a steadying goal courtesy of Sam Stubbs but Subiaco responded with a second to Braut, Hickmott and Walters to give the Lions a commanding 36-point edge at the half-time break.
There was life left in the Demons, though, and they showed that in the fourth quarter with the only four goals to suddenly turn the pressure back on Subiaco by closing the deficit to 14 points by three quarter-time.
Subiaco held firm, though, holding Perth to just the solitary behind in the final quarter while kicking goals themselves to Sokol and Martin to end up comfortable enough 27-point winners to return to the top of the WAFL ladder.
WEST PERTH 14.13 (97) defeated EAST PERTH 10.7 (67)
West Perth produced a dominant first three quarters to set up a fourth straight win on Saturday against East Perth and to further consolidate their finals spot.
The Falcons might once again be flying under the radar so far this Optus WAFL Premiership Season and maybe that can be put down to the fact they did lose three of their first four matches, but you can't deny their form since.
While West Perth came into the clash at Provident Financial Oval on Saturday on a three-game winning streak, the East Perth form has been improved too since losing to the Falcons back on WA Day at Leederville Oval.
The Royals had won three of their past four games coming into the game so the stage was set for a fascinating derby battle between the fierce rivals, but the Falcons would have none of it.
West Perth piled on five goals to two in the opening quarter to lead by 20 points at quarter-time. Another five goals to one in the second term from the Falcons and in front of their home fans, they were well on top of the Royals leading by 45 points.
The game was all but over as a contest as a result by half-time but the Falcons did continue to extend their advantage with another four goals to two in the third term.
East Perth was able to show some fight in the last quarter with the only five goals but West Perth still cruised to the comfortable and impressive 14.13 (97) to 10.7 (67) victory.
It's a fourth consecutive win for the Falcons who improve to a 7-4 record on the season to be knocking on the door of a top three finish. East Perth slips to 3-8 to be further out of reach of the top five as a result of the loss.
West Perth's forward-line worked a treat once again with the number of options they have running through there even with Rudy Riddoch held goalless.
Tyler Keitel still kicked four goals from 14 possessions and seven marks while Mitch Antonio chimed in with three majors, Keegan Knott two, Conal Lynch two and Nathan Murray two to go with 28 disposals and nine marks.
Falcons skipper Aaron Black was tremendous again with another 32 possessions, nine marks and six tackles while Shane Nelson racked up 29 disposals, Tristan Hobley 27 and Matthew Lloyd 21.
Nathan Murray continues his rapid emergence with another 28 possessions, nine marks and two goals while down back, Zac Guadagnin was again terrific 21 disposals and nine marks. Noah Pegoraro also had 19 touches and five marks, and Mark Hamilton 16 possessions and eight marks.
Tom Edwards-Baldwin was dangerous in attack for East Perth kicking three goals from 13 disposals and five marks while Nick Robertson kicked two majors from 16 possessions and six marks.
East Perth once again had plenty of impressive ball winners with Angus Schumacher racking up 31 possessions, Jackson Ramsay 29, Kye Willcocks 29, Rohan Kerr 28, Aidan Lynch 27 and Angus Scott 24 while Nathan Blee was again strong down back with 24 touches and five marks.
West Perth made a fast start taking confidence from their big win on WA Day and also their recent form. The Falcons kicked the game's first two goals through Tyler Keitel and Tristan Hobley.
The Royals did get one back but the Falcons had the momentum already and another couple of opening quarter goals from Keitel saw the home team in control by 20 points at the first break.
Keegan Knott then got in on the act to start the second quarter for West Perth before Mitch Antonio kicked truly too. A second from Knott saw West Perth's lead grow to 38 points midway through the second term before East Perth did get one back courtesy of Nick Robertson.
But the Falcons closed the half with goals to Conal Lynch and Nathan Murray to hold a 45-point advantage by the main break.
West Perth kicked another four goals to two in the third quarter to have the game wrapped up with a 59-point lead by three quarter-time.
To East Perth's credit they were able to kick the only five goals of the final term but that only served to cut the Falcons' final winning margin to 30 points.
SWAN DISTRICTS 10.11 (71) defeated WEST COAST EAGLES 9.15 (69)
Swan Districts remained undefeated against the West Coast Eagles thanks to the winning goal from second-game ruckman Matthew Germs at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.
Both teams entered the game at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval on Saturday in winning form prior to last week's enforced break with Swans coming off a win over Subiaco to sit comfortably in the top five while the Eagles had won their first two matches of 2021.
It then proved a dramatic contest all afternoon with both sides able to have their moments of dominance, and then in the dramatic finish late feeling as though they had delivered a match-winning goal.
The breeze played a part in the contest all afternoon with West Coast kicking with it to start the game. The Eagles managed nine scoring shots to one as a result and went into quarter-time leading by 18 points on the back of three goals to one.
Swans picked up the breeze behind their backs in the second term and took full advantage with 12 scoring shots to four.
That saw the black-and-whites kick seven goals and they had blown the game wide open with seven goals to one to head into the half-time interval in control leading by 20 points.
West Coast got back that help behind them in the third quarter and it made a difference with the Eagles managing eight scoring shots to five, but they couldn’t quite find their accuracy managing just the two goals.
That saw Swan Districts still hold on to a 12-point three quarter-time edge setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
West Coast kicked the first three goals of the last term and went in front at the 23-minute mark when Cooper Nitschke kicked truly.
Swans needed something special to snatch back the lead and it came two minutes later when second-game ruckman Matthew Germs kicked the first goal of his career to secure the 10.11 (71) to 9.15 (69) victory and to further cement them inside the top five.
In celebration of NAIDOC Round, Warrick Wilson stepped up to kick three goals as the only multiple goal scorer for Swan Districts in the two-point win.
Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher was outstanding in the midfield for Swans compiling 28 possessions, seven marks, five inside 50s, four tackles and a goal while Frank Anderson added 24 disposals, five marks and five tackles.
Jackson Beck impressed for Swans too with 24 disposals and nine marks while Tony Notte proved mighty tough to get past at centre half-back taking 16 marks to go with 18 kicks. Chris Jones also had 16 touches and 13 marks, and Brandon Erceg 14 disposals and seven marks.
Jesse Turner finished with 18 possessions as well for the black-and-whites, Lachlan Riley 17 and Jiah Reidy 16 to go with 10 marks.
Mark Hutchings continued his outstanding form for the Eagles and he just can't do more to try and earn an AFL recall. He finished with 30 possessions and three goals with Jake Waterman also kicking three goals for West Coast and Cooper Nitschke two.
Connor West continued his push for an AFL debut as well for West Coast racking up 33 possessions while Xavier O'Neill gathered 24 disposals, Luke Foley 22 and Brayden Ainsworth 17.
The breeze at Bassendean would have a big say in how the game panned out and it was West Coast who had it at their backs in the opening quarter. As a result the Eagles had the first five scoring shots but only one resulted in a goal to Mark Hutchings.
Swan Districts did well to score against the tide through Corey Gault but West Coast responded with a second to Hutchings and then another to Cooper Nitschke to see them lead by 18 points at quarter-time.
Swans took over having the advantage of the wind in the second quarter and the home team sure took full advantage. It took only two minutes for them to have two goals through Warrick Wilson and Sam Fisher.
Jiah Reidy and Matt Riggio would soon kick a couple in two minutes to put Swans in front for the first time in the game at the 10-minute mark of the quarter.
West Coast did get a goal back against the tide through Xavier O'Neill to briefly regain the lead, but Swans had all the answers with the breeze behind them to close the half with two more goals to Wilson and another to Jak Watson to lead by 20 points at half-time.
The impact of the wind wasn’t quite as pronounced in the second half but the Eagles still kicked two goals to one from Swans in the third quarter. However, Swan Districts still went into three quarter-time leading by 12 points.
Jake Waterman brought West Coast within seven points when he kicked a goal at the eight-minute mark and then he kicked another at 17-minute mark to make it a two-point ball game.
West Coast kept pressing and eventually got the go-ahead goal thanks to Nitschke at the 24-minute mark.
Swan Districts needed to respond and having not scored a goal in more than a quarter, it was second-game ruckman Matthew Germs who kicked the first goal of his career which turned out to be the match-winner in the two-point triumph.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 11.2 (68) defeated CLAREMONT 9.13 (67)
South Fremantle and Claremont continued its hot recent rivalry with another tremendous battle on Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with the Bulldogs holding on for the one-point triumph.
It was back at the same venue as last year's Grand Final where South Fremantle also defeated Claremont but the recent rivalry between the Bulldogs and Tigers has been fascinating beyond that.
This recent rivalry saw South Fremantle win hard fought qualifying and preliminary finals back in 2019 before Claremont had a convincing 47-point win in last year's second semi-final before South Fremantle hit back to win the Grand Final.
Claremont won their earlier battle this season by 16 points at Revo Fitness Stadium but Saturday back at Fremantle Community Bank Oval for NAIDOC Round always loomed as being another chapter.
The two teams have annually played off for the Jimmy Melbourne Cup since 2007 during NAIDOC Week and Claremont has dominated those battles winning 10 of the 13 encounters coming into Saturday's game.
It turned into a see-saw contest most of the way with Nick Suban putting South Fremantle 10 points up 10 minutes into the last quarter only for Claremont to kick the next two goals to be back in front.
Ultimately and fittingly for NAIDOC Week, it was Cody Ninyette who kicked the game's last goal and South Fremantle would go on to win 11.2 (68) to 9.13 (67).
What that means is that both teams are locked on identical 8-3 records for the season and separated by less than four percentage points on the ladder from second to third position.
Claremont might have had nine more scoring shots for the game along with collecting 39 more possessions, taking six more marks and going inside-50 on 10 more occasions, but South Fremantle took its chances better in an efficient display to come out winners while laying 91 tackles.
The new-look South Fremantle forward-line for the day worked a treat with Ben Rioli kicking three goals from his seven kicks and five tackles while Blake Schlensog provided a strong target in the air and kicked two goals from four kicks, three marks and two tackles.
Zac Dent played his first league game since last year's Grand Final and was superb off half-back for South Fremantle with 26 possessions while Haiden Schloithe enjoyed the captaincy role with 23 disposals, eight tackles and a goal.
Jacob Dragovich also had 22 possessions for the Bulldogs, Tom Blechynden 18, Zac Strom 17 and Aiden Hall 15.
South Fremantle's back-line stood up well with Noah Strom and Blayne Wilson combining to hold Claremont key forwards Jack Buller and Jacob Van Rooyen to just the eight combined kicks, four marks and two behinds.
Claremont's small forwards were lively with Isaac Barton kicking three goals and Callan England two while Ryan Lim chipped in with two as well to go with 26 possessions and five marks.
Jye Bolton maintained his brilliant form for Claremont with another 37 possessions and a goal while Jared Hardisty thrived on the contested nature of the contest with 23 disposals and 11 tackles.
Ben Edwards finished with 21 possessions as well for the Tigers, Jake Patmore 20, Ben Elliott 19, Lachlan Martinis 18 and England 18 while Oliver Eastland had 46 hit outs in the ruck.
South Fremantle tried a very much makeshift forward-line in the absence of Mason Shaw, Steve Edwards, Matthew Parker and Dylan Main, and it was Blake Schlensog and Ben Rioli who were what coach Todd Curley came up with.
It paid off immediately with the pair combining for South Fremantle's first three goals of the game inside the opening 15 minutes. Claremont stayed in touch, though, with a Jye Bolton goal and then a couple quickly to Callan England and Ryan Lim saw the Tigers take the lead.
But a clever finish after a good handball from Schlensog to captain-for-the-day Haiden Schloithe had South Fremantle two points up by quarter-time.
The goals dried up significantly in the second quarter with Rioli managing to stretch South Fremantle's lead with his third at the 10-minute mark before Isaac Barton got an answer for Claremont at the 19-minute mark.
The Bulldogs still clung to a two-point advantage at half-time before a second of the day to Barton opened the second half with Claremont taking the lead.
Schlensog's second goal soon after brought scores level again and then Zac Strom took a strong pack mark and converted to put the Bulldogs on top.
But a third to Barton and second to England had Claremont in front again just before three quarter-time. They only were up by a point, though, thanks to a late South Fremantle goal to second-gamer Aiden Hall.
It took only two minutes into the final term for South Fremantle to grab the lead with a crafty snap from Manfred Kelly. Nick Suban then kicked truly in front of the Bulldogs members and celebrated in trademark style as his team's lead grew to 10 points.
Claremont was never going to lie down, though, and responded with the next two goals from Jake Patmore and Lim to take a four-point lead into time-on.
Jimmy Miller found Cody Ninyette in space inside-50 and after a quiet day, the Indigenous star celebrated NAIDOC Week in style by kicking truly to put South Fremantle.
Claremont had a couple of golden chances in front of goal in the dying stages, but couldn’t convert and South Fremantle held on for the one-point win.