THE history of players starring in a WAFL Colts Grand Final to go on to have standout AFL and WAFL careers is endless, and there were no shortage of players putting up their lights in Saturday's 2021 edition at Optus Stadium.
With the chance to impress AFL recruiters watching live at Optus Stadium or on Channel 7 on Saturday afternoon, the best of the young guns at Swan Districts and Claremont put on a spectacular show in a thrilling Colts Grand Final.
In the end, it was Swan Districts who capped off their one-loss season to beat Claremont 12.14 (86) to 12.6 (78) but it was a game which could have gone either way and that had no shortage of standout performers.
BAILEY JENKIN (Swan Districts)
With the game there to be won in the final term, tough midfielder Bailey Jenkin proved an unlikely hero for the Black Ducks, booting two clutch goals to swing the momentum back in his team's favour. The Upper Swan product did a power of work in the clinches and claimed the Mel Whinnen Medal for his 14-disposal, eight-tackle and two-goal game.
ANGUS SHELDRICK (Claremont)
If there were ever any doubts about Angus Sheldrick’s draft prospects, then he put them to bed with an outstanding Grand Final performance. Taking nothing away from the performance of Bailey Jenkin, but he can consider himself desperately unlucky to not be the Meil Whinnen Medallist as well as awkward as it always is taking out best afield honours in a losing Grand Final side.
The 17-year-old was so clean below his feet and possesses a level of strength and power that saw him able to break free from congestion with ease. He kicked two goals in quick time in a scintillating cameo in the third quarter to put his side in front and was one of the best players on the ground despite his team's loss.
The second of his goals was simply inspirational as he gathered the ball, fended off an attempted tackler and then snapped truly right up against the boundary line. That sort of explosive pace, power and skill to finish is mighty tough to find in one package.
ELIJAH HEWETT (Swan Districts)
Across the four quarters, Hewett was one of Swans most consistent players, winning 22 disposals and sending the ball inside-50 on six occasions. The 17-year-old is a powerful midfielder who has the ability to break lines and will be one of the state’s top draft prospects in 2022. His ability to consistency lay plenty of tackles and rack up lots of the ball make him a rare commodity.
AYDEN CARTWRIGHT (Swan Districts)
He plays with an edge that makes him an excitement machine and a potential match-winner every time he's out on the field, and he took full advantage of his opportunities in Saturday's Grand Final. With his side trailing by 11 points at the first change, Cartwright lit up the second quarter booting two majors, including a remarkable left foot snap, to get his side back into the game. The 19-year-old had numerous score involvements and was a vital link between the midfield and forward line.
JACOB VAN ROOYEN (Claremont)
Van Rooyen was at his devastating best to start the game where he kicked three goals and took two contested marks to be the dominant player on the ground in the first stanza. The tall forward has had a taste of league football already at Claremont in 2021 and coming back to colts level, he has continued to develop and show that there's no reason he can't be a target in an AFL forward-line for the next decade.
He is athletic enough to be effective at ground level but with his length his ability to mark overhead makes him a standout prospect. His full talents were on display in that dominant opening quarter with the three goals and he threatened to tear the game apart in favour of the Tigers.
Van Rooyen’s influence dried up after quarter-time but he still looked incredibly dangerous as a focal point and took a massive contested mark against two opponents to kick a crucial goal on the stroke of three quarter-time. Finished the Grand Final with four goals from seven kicks and three marks.
RILEY HARDEMAN (Swan Districts)
Hardeman was the youngest player on the ground but didn’t look overawed by the occasion as he gathered 12 disposals and three marks. The 16-year-old boasts an exceptional turn of speed and showed composure under pressure to be a valuable contributor in Swan Districts’ first colts premiership since 2014.
PETER COLES (Claremont)
After a quiet first half, Coles sprung to life in the third quarter, kicking two quick goals to get the Tigers back into the contest before he booted a sensational goal from the pocket to put his side back in front the final term. The North Beach product used his athletic traits well and played well as a secondary target to Van Rooyen.
RHETT BAZZO (Swan Districts)
He was thrown quite the challenge for the rest of the Grand Final at quarter-time when he had to try and keep Jacob Van Rooyen in check after his three first quarter goals. But he took to the task tremendously and his defensive performance was a massive factor in Swan Districts coming away with the premiership.
His defensive performance was outstanding to make him one of the most important players on the field and there appears little doubt he has an AFL future as a key defender. It was an emotional premiership win too afterwards as he dedicated the win to his late father Steve who played 230 WAFL games from 1988-2000 between Swan Districts, West Perth and Peel Thunder.
KENDYLL BLURTON (Claremont)
He is another son of a gun and produced an impressive Grand Final performance for Claremont providing plenty of run and drive. His ability to win the football and then use his pace to break the lines and then drive the Tigers forward became a great strength of theirs throughout the afternoon.
Blurton finished the Grand Final for Claremont with 21 possessions, four inside-50 entries and three marks to show he has a bright future to follow in the footsteps of his father Ashley who played 87 WAFL matches at West Perth and Peel Thunder along with 24 in the AFL with both the West Coast Eagles and Richmond.
TYRELL METCALF (Swan Districts)
The Swan Districts forward actually breathed a huge sigh of relief when Claremont won the second semi-final to mean he could serve out his two-week suspension and play in the Grand Final, and he ended up being a significant factor in the black-and-whites winning the premiership.
He is quite the excitement machine in attack with the ability to kick goals from anywhere and to create opportunities that don’t appear to always be there to drive his defenders crazy. He might have only had four kicks in Saturday's Grand Final, but three of them were goals to see him have a big say in the final result.
TALON DELACEY (Claremont)
He sure stood out on Optus Stadium with his fresh hair do but his game was what did the talking the loudest throughout the Grand Final in an impressive performance through the midfield for Claremont. He worked tirelessly to finish the afternoon with 21 possessions and five tackles showing a good blend of ability to win the football and make a physical impact.