THERE were big wins for Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, Peel Thunder and South Fremantle in Round 13 WAFL action on Saturday and once again competition for spots in the Team of the Week was hot.
Saturday's Round 13 action began at Mineral Resources Park and East Fremantle had a big win over the West Coast Eagles to return to top spot in the WAFL, winning 14.14 (98) to 5.6 (36).
Peel Thunder was able to keep its finals prospects alive overpowering Subiaco after quarter-time on the way to an eventual 10.15 (75) to 7.7 (49) win at Mandurah's Lane Group Stadium.
East Perth made it three wins in-a-row to stay in the finals mix too scoring their second big win over Perth for the season, winning 14.17 (101) to 9.9 (63) at Leederville Oval.
Claremont hit back from two disappointing losses to snap the three-game winning run of West Perth with Saturday's 17.7 (109) to 11.14 (80) victory at Revo Fitness Stadium.
Two teams locked on identical records coming into the round then played out a heartstopper at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with South Fremantle prevailing by a point over Swan Districts, 7.14 (56) to 8.7 (55).
Among the ruckmen to put their hands up in the Round 13 Team of the Week were Nathan Ireland, Scott Jones, Lloyd Meek and Josh Rotham.
Some of the impressive running players to standout were Jarvis Pina, Jesse Turner, Aaron Black, Ryan Lim, Angus Scott, Stefan Giro, Liam Henry, Joel Western, Ryan Lester-Smith, Michael Tassone, Luke English, Isiah Winder and Patrick Naish.
There were plenty of inside midfielders who thrived on Saturday as well including Sam Fisher, Haiden Schloithe, Tom Blechynden, 200-game milestone man Shane Nelson, Ben Edwards, Corey Byrne, Angus Schumacher, Leigh Kitchin, Mitch Crowden, Josh Schoenfeld, Jarrad Jansen and Greg Clark.
There were other midfielders to put themselves in contention as well like Aidan Clarke, Nick Suban, Brendon Ah Chee, Mark Hutchings, Bailey Rogers, Kieran Hug, Austin Davis, Regan Clarke, Jack Cooley, Harry Marsh, Haydn Matthews, Darcy Tucker and Blaine Boekhorst.
Tyler Keitel, Jack Buller, Alex Manuel, Tom Medhat and Nick Bonomelli all had good days in front of goal with Mitch Dobson, Callan England and Reuben McGuire other forwards to play well.
There were no shortage of defenders to shine either including Brandon Erceg, Anthony Stephens, Jehb O'Donohue, Tony Notte, Noah Strom, Toby McQuilkin, Chad Pearson, Lachlan Martinis, Matt Taylor, Kye Willcocks, Angus Dewar, Drew Rohde, Nathan Wilson and Cam Eardley.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND – NOAH STROM (SOUTH FREMANTLE)
If you play at full-back you have to get used to not being in the limelight but that doesn’t mean you aren’t among the most important members of your team, and that's certainly the case with South Fremantle's Noah Strom.
Being able to stop goals is every bit as kicking them yourselves, it just doesn’t often grab the attention as much and doesn’t end up on the highlight reels, but make no mistake and the younger Strom brother would be the first picked South Fremantle player each week by coach Todd Curley.
With his older brother Zac about to celebrate his 150th game this coming Saturday against East Fremantle at the WACA Ground to earn South Fremantle life membership, Noah continues to be an impenetrable rock as the anchor of the Bulldogs' back-line.
He was given another significant task on Saturday against Swan Districts at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with the role on Swans' marking machine Chris Jones.
After starting the season in the role he excelled in last year down back for the black-and-whites, Jones has shifted forward this year with Swans and had kicked 22 goals coming into Round 13.
However, the Swans co-captain couldn’t get near it on Saturday finishing with three kicks and one behind. Strom was outstanding in their one-on-one contests while also finishing with 14 possessions, eight marks and three tackles himself.
It has been a fascinating career journey for Strom who had to patiently bide his time for a league opportunity racking up 58 reserves matches with the Bulldogs between 2015 and 2018 on the back of being an impressive colts prospect in 2013 and 2014.
During that time he was watching his brother Zac firstly cement his spot at full-back and then eventually move forward, then onto the wing and settle into being a standout utility.
Eventually Noah got his chance when his brother was a late withdrawal for Round 1, 2018. And he has never looked back.
He has cemented his spot as a key defender at South Fremantle ever since to have now played 84 matches along with being a key member of the 2020 premiership and playing for the WAFL State Team earlier this year.
He will now be given another significant job this Saturday against East Fremantle in his brother's 150th game as he will likely renew his rivalry with Sharks spearhead Jonathon Marsh.
Players of the Round
Round 1 – Jake Florenca (South Fremantle)
Round 2 – Ryan Lim (Claremont)
Round 3 – Luke Meadows (West Perth)
Round 4 – Jesse Turner (Swan Districts)
Round 5 – Leigh Kitchin (Subiaco)
Round 6 – Blair Bell (Peel Thunder)
Round 7 – Oliver Eastland (Claremont)
Round 8 – Matthew Jupp (East Fremantle)
Round 9 – Toby McQuilkin (South Fremantle)
Round 10 – Aaron Black (West Perth)
Round 12 – Blaine Boekhorst (East Fremantle)
Round 13 – Noah Strom (South Fremantle)
WAFL TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 13
BACK: Anthony Stephens (SD), Noah Strom (SF), Angus Dewar (S)
HALF-BACK: Lachlan Martinis (C), Tony Notte (SD), Toby McQuilkin (SF)
CENTRE: Ryan Lim (C), Blaine Boekhorst (EF), Stefan Giro (S)
HALF-FORWARD: Brendon Ah Chee (SF), Tom Medhat (EP), Jarrad Jansen (EF)
FORWARD: Nick Bonomelli (EP), Tyler Keitel (WP), Jack Buller (C)
RUCK: Lloyd Meek (PT), Tom Blechynden (SF), Ben Edwards (C)
INTERCHANGE: Sam Fisher (SD), Mitch Crowden (PT), Angus Schumacher (EP), Haiden Schloithe (SF)
BACK POCKET – ANTHONY STEPHENS (Swan Districts)
Just his remarkable chase down tackle from behind of South Fremantle's Caleb Datson who was strolling into an open goal was enough on its own to deserve his spot in the Team of the Week. At the time, that appeared it could have been a match-winning effort. While it didn’t turn out to be, it was through no fault of his own and he delivered an all-round standout defensive performance to go with 14 possessions.
BACK POCKET – ANGUS DEWAR (Subiaco)
The triple premiership defender had a fascinating duel with Peel Thunder forward and Fremantle's mid-season rookie pick Sebit Kuek. He got under the young forward's skin but did well holding him to one goal and five kicks while having 15 disposals, seven marks and three tackles himself to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a third time in 2022.
HALF-BACK FLANK – LACHLAN MARTINIS (Claremont)
When he is firing and winning plenty of the ball for Claremont off half-back, and being at his creative and running best, very rarely do the Tigers not play well as a team. He was right back to his best on Saturday in the win against West Perth amassing 37 touches, seven marks and three inside 50s for a third selection in the Team of the Week for the season.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – TONY NOTTE (Swan Districts)
Despite it being his 275th game with Swan Districts, he continues to play with the verve someone right at the peak of his powers at centre half-back. Once again proved himself mighty hard for his opponents to find a way to get through with his intercept marking a standout against South Fremantle. Ended the afternoon with 18 possessions and six marks to be named to the Team of the Week for a fifth time this year.
HALF-BACK FLANK – TOBY MCQUILKIN (South Fremantle)
What a remarkable season he continues to have down back for South Fremantle. Equally effective in his defensive efforts as he is in then setting up play going the other way with his ball winning ability and creative flair, he produced another terrific showing for the Bulldogs against Swan Districts. He finished with 28 touches and 11 marks to earn selection in the Team of the Week for a sixth time already.
WING – RYAN LIM (Claremont)
The 142-game veteran is having the best and most consistent season of his WAFL career, and he was superb once again against a West Perth team he has a fascinating history with. He produced a standout performance to end the afternoon with 35 possessions, eight inside 50s, seven marks and three tackles to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a fourth occasion.
CENTRE – BLAINE BOEKHORST (East Fremantle)
Maintained his outstanding form for the Sharks and took on even greater responsibility as an inside midfielder in the absence of Kyle Baskerville and Milan Murdock. Is in the best and most consistent form of his 96-game WAFL career and was named to the Team of the Week for a seventh time already after producing 33 touches, six inside-50 entries and a goal.
WING – STEFAN GIRO (Subiaco)
Was up against the WAFL team he played with when with Fremantle in the AFL and he was terrific on the wing for Subiaco against Peel despite the eventual loss for the reigning premiers. He couldn’t have done much more finishing the afternoon in Mandurah with 34 touches, six inside-50 entries and four marks.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – JARRAD JANSEN (East Fremantle)
He has waited patiently during his 68-game career with East Fremantle to be part of a successful team and he's now a key contributor in whatever role he's asked to play. Has proven himself able to play his familiar role as an inside midfielder but has spent time up forward and as a pinch-hit ruckman, and does them all at a high level. Was brilliant in Saturday's win over West Coast with 33 disposals, seven inside 50s, six marks and two goals.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – TOM MEDHAT (East Perth)
It has proven quite the inspired move for him to join East Perth this year where he's now the No. 1 target in attack and he's showing what he's capable of. He kicked a career-best five goals in the 22nd game of his WAFL career in the win against Perth to now give him 23 goals for the season with the Royals. He also had 13 touches and nine marks for the afternoon.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – BRENDON AH CHEE (South Fremantle)
He has waited most of his senior football career for the chance he is now getting to play as a permanent midfielder in his first season with South Fremantle after his Port Adelaide and West Coast AFL career. Doing well in the middle and then showing his class going forward, he was tremendous again in win over Swan Districts with 30 touches, seven marks and two goals.
FORWARD POCKET – NICK BONOMELLI (East Perth)
What a story he is. Since finishing in East Fremantle's colts in 2016, he had racked up 58 reserves appearances and only eight league matches with the Sharks. However, both East Perth and East Fremantle were able to agree on a trade seeing him come to the Royals and Eddie Simpson go to the Sharks, and he made a spectacular debut for his new club on Saturday. He was an excitement machine in the forward-line kicking four goals but from his nine kicks, eight of those were scores and he might very well be the help up forward the Royals have been crying out for.
FULL-FORWARD – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
The West Perth spearhead continued his best vein of form for the season. For the third straight week he delivered the performance he's built much of his 135-game career around after settling as a key forward after one standout season down back. He kicked four goals from 14 kicks and eight marks for the Falcons in loss to Claremont to be within three goals of Bernie Naylor Medal leader, Ben Sokol.
FORWARD POCKET – JACK BULLER (Claremont)
One area Claremont has been hit and miss with so far in 2022 is finding a reliably consistent key forward goalkicking option. He once again showed on Saturday against West Perth what he's capable of and if he can find some consistency, he has all the tools to be one of the league's best key forwards. He kicked four goals from 11 kicks and nine marks in the Tigers' win over the Falcons.
RUCK – LLOYD MEEK (Peel Thunder)
Subiaco dearly missed their five-time premiership winning star Lachlan Delahunty again in the ruck but even he might not have been able to limit the influence of the Peel big man in Saturday's win for the Thunder. He produced 22 touches, 38 hit outs, five marks, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal in a standout performance from the Fremantle-listed ruckman.
RUCK ROVER – TOM BLECHYNDEN (South Fremantle)
Has turned himself into a consistently big ball winning inside midfielder with South Fremantle simply through the opportunity coming his way, then him full grasping it. Is now in the best form of his 42-game career with the Bulldogs as a result and was superb again against Swan Districts finishing with 39 touches, 10 marks and seven inside-50 entries.
ROVER – BEN EDWARDS (Claremont)
The Claremont midfield brigade did well to get on top of West Perth's strong on-ball division in the win on Saturday and he was at the forefront of it all. He racked up 33 touches, six marks, six inside 50s and a goal for the Tigers to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a third time so far during the 2022 season.
INTERCHANGE – SAM FISHER (Swan Districts)
The 2020 Sandover Medallist missed last week's win over Perth but returned against South Fremantle and was outstanding as an inside midfielder and showed his class going forward as well. Earned selection in the Team of the Week for a sixth time on the back of 29 touches, five tackles, five inside, four marks and two goals.
INTERCHANGE – MITCH CROWDEN (Peel Thunder)
The hard at it Fremantle-listed midfielder might not quite be able to break back into the AFL team consistently, but he is ensuring he remains in good touch when called upon with yet another tremendous performance in the WAFL for Peel against Subiaco. He ended the afternoon with 30 possessions and six inside-50 entries.
INTERCHANGE – ANGUS SCHUMACHER (East Perth)
The big-bodied midfielder continues to be a rock on the ball for East Perth and he delivered yet another standout performance in Saturday's win over Perth. As a result, he was named to the Team of the Week for a sixth time already in 2022 and he ended the afternoon compiling 32 possessions, seven inside 50s and five marks.
INTERCHANGE – HAIDEN SCHLOITHE (South Fremantle)
The longer this season goes, the more he continues to step up to show why he is a cut above most players in the competition with his clean hands, ability to win contested possessions and one-on-one contests, and then to be tremendously clean with his foot skills. Had another strong showing in one-point win over Swan Districts with 31 touches, seven marks, seven tackles and four inside-50 entries in his 193rd game.
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 13 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:
West Coast's Patrick Naish, Josh Rotham, Isiah Winder and Greg Clark.
East Fremantle's Luke English, Michael Tassone, Cam Eardley, Ryan Lester-Smith, Josh Schoenfeld and Reuben McGuire.
Peel Thunder's Darcy Tucker, Liam Henry, Joel Western, Haydn Matthews and Nathan Wilson.
Subiaco's Drew Rohde, Leigh Kitchin and Harry Marsh.
East Perth's Jack Cooley, Angus Scott, Kye Willcocks and Scott Jones.
Perth's Austin Davis, Regan Clarke, Corey Byrne, Kieran Hug and Matt Taylor.
Claremont's Alex Manuel, Bailey Rogers and Callan England.
West Perth's Aaron Black, Shane Nelson, Mark Hutchings and Mitch Dobson.
South Fremantle's Chad Pearson and Nick Suban.
Swan Districts' Aidan Clarke, Jesse Turner, Jehb O'Donohue, Nathan Ireland, Jarvis Pina and Brandon Erceg.