THE wet weather didn’t stop the quality coming to the fore in Round 14 of the 2022 WAFL season and once again a whole host of players were left putting their hands up for selection in the Team of the Week.
The first Fremantle Derby played at the WACA Ground in 105 years was where a lot of the attention was with the two old rivals battling over a top two position.
In the end it was a familiar result with South Fremantle dominating early to end up beating East Fremantle 9.13 (67) to 5.4 (34) in Zac Strom's 150th game. It made it 14 consecutive derby wins for the Bulldogs against the Sharks.
Claremont also got a crucial win to keep themselves in the top two race by beating Subiaco in a slog at Leederville Oval, 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28).
Swan Districts was able to consolidate their hold on a finals spot as well by beating East Perth 10.7 (67) to 6.8 (44) at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.
Peel Thunder kept its season alive by coming to Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park and beating Perth 11.13 (79) to 7.7 (49).
Lastly was the second half of the double-header at Mineral Resources Park with West Perth back on top with the 12.18 (90) to 4.9 (33) win against the bottom placed West Coast Eagles.
The conditions weren’t cut out for big men on Saturday but there were still some standout performances from ruckmen including Lewis Putt, Callum Jamieson, Oliver Eastland, Scott Jones, Lloyd Meek and Hamish Free.
Plenty of defenders delivered strong performances including key backmen Brandon Erceg, Tony Notte, Matthew Jupp, Kasey Nicholas and Noah Strom, along with Galen Savigni, Angus Dewar and Tyson Moulton.
Attacking defenders to shine included Ben Johnson, Lachlan Martinis, Cam Eardley, Michael Tassone, Jacob Msando, Nathan Wilson, Traye Bennell and Matt Taylor.
Plenty of on-ballers thrived in the tough conditions on Saturday including inside midfielders Josh Cipro, Greg Clark, Shane Nelson, Ronin O'Connor, Ben Edwards, Kyle Baskerville, Hamish Brayshaw, Mitch Crowden, Corey Byrne, Tom Blechynden and Steve Verrier.
Those on the outside to put together strong showings were Stefan Giro, Jesse Turner, Jarvis Pina, Aaron Black, Ryan Lim, Angus Scott, Karl Worner and Glenn Byron.
Other midfielders to catch the eye were Liam Hickmott, Aidan Clarke, Tobe Watson, Josh Browne, Harry Creasey, Luke Meadows, Mitch Peirce, Jye Bolton, Declan Mountford, Bailey Rogers, Milan Murdock, Angus Schumacher, Jackson Ramsay, Darcy Tucker, Neil Erasmus, Sam Perkusich, Haiden Schloithe and Jarrad Doney.
It wasn’t necessarily a day for forwards to fire but still Dylan Main, Lachlan Riley, Conal Lynch, Rudy Riddoch, Tyler Keitel, Jack Buller, Callan England, Alex Montauban, Christian Ameduri, Ethan Hughes and Sam Stubbs had good showings.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND – BRANDON ERCEG (SWAN DISTRICTS)
The respect he's held in inside Swan Districts is shown by him being named co-captain for 2022 and his perseverance through several years of injury interruptions continues to pay off.
It was tough going for Brandon Erceg in the formative years of his WAFL career and he only managed to play 16 games between 2016 and 2019 with a horror run of injuries.
Anyone of less character would have thought it was all too hard and moved on and a club might have made that decision not to continue to support him too if there wasn’t the immense faith of what he would be capable of should his body stand up.
Right throughout everything, Erceg has been a tremendous club person and a great leader around Steel Blue Oval. All he needed was his body to allow him to show what he could do on the field and that is now happening for the third straight season – touchwood.
Erceg was able to play eight matches in the COVID shortened season of 2020 and then it all came together for him as a cornerstone of the back-line at Swan Districts in 2021.
He had a standout season which saw him end up named to the WAFL Team of the Year and he was a key figure in Swans returning to finals action which saw him play in the first final of his career in what was his 43rd league appearance.
On the back of that standout season, the 29-year-old was named co-captain for 2022 and has put together yet another tremendous year so far remaining an anchor in a defensive unit even following the retirement of Alex Howard and with Chris Jones moving forward.
However, alongside the likes of Tony Notte, Will Collins, Tony Stephens, Jehb O'Donohue, Jackson Beck and Cian Ehlers, the Swans back-line is standing tall once again in 2022 and Erceg has been the key piece to it.
Once again on Saturday he was rock solid in the crucial win against East Perth that keeps Swans in fifth position and he ended the afternoon with 28 possessions and eight marks in the 55th game of his career.
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)
Round 14 – Brandon Erceg (Swan Districts)
WAFL TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 14
BACK: Traye Bennell (PT), Noah Strom (SF), Kasey Nicholas (P)
HALF-BACK: Nathan Wilson (PT), Brandon Erceg (SD), Jacob Msando (EP)
CENTRE: Ryan Lim (C), Luke Meadows (WP), Aidan Clarke (SD)
HALF-FORWARD: Haiden Schloithe (SF), Dylan Main (SF), Angus Schumacher (EP)
FORWARD: Ethan Hughes (PT), Tyler Keitel (WP), Conal Lynch (WP)
RUCK: Hamish Free (SF), Ronin O'Connor (C), Darcy Tucker (PT)
INTERCHANGE: Kyle Baskerville (EF), Jarvis Pina (SD), Galen Savigni (S), Jesse Turner (SD)
BACK POCKET – TRAYE BENNELL (Peel Thunder)
The 2017 premiership player continues to be one of the most effective small defenders in the competition 90 games into his WAFL career both in terms of his lockdown roles and being creative setting up play out of the back-line for the Thunder. Put together another strong showing in win against Perth with 17 disposals, nine tackles and three marks to earn a Team of the Week spot for a third time.
FULL-BACK – NOAH STROM (South Fremantle)
On the same day that his older brother Zac celebrated 150 games to earn life membership of South Fremantle, he was rock solid at full-back once again to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a fifth time in 2022. Had the match up on Jonathon Marsh once again and helped hold him goalless for the afternoon as the Bulldogs made it 14 straight derby wins. He also had seven touches and two tackles for the day at the WACA Ground.
BACK POCKET – KASEY NICHOLAS (Perth)
It's turning into another tough season for Perth with a horror injury run and that means more often than not their defence is under siege. That makes it all the more impressive that he continues to hold his head high and has developed into one of the more reliable and consistent key defenders in the competition 52 games into his WAFL career. He had another 16 possessions and seven marks as well as his defensive work at home to Peel on Saturday.
HALF-BACK FLANK – NATHAN WILSON (Peel Thunder)
He is just so poised and creative with the ball in hands that he's such a weapon for Peel coming off the half-back line. He's clearly good enough to be playing AFL and adding to his 151 games, but it's just a tough Fremantle Dockers team to break into. That's to Peel's benefit and he was tremendous in the win against Perth on Saturday with 28 possessions, nine marks, three tackles and three inside 50s.
HALF-BACK FLANK – JACOB MSANDO (East Perth)
He is putting together quite the impressive and consistent season as an attacking small defender for the Royals and he put together another strong showing on Saturday despite the loss at Bassendean to Swan Districts. In the 40th game of his WAFL career, he played well to finish up with 18 possessions, five marks, three inside-50 entries and two tackles.
WING – RYAN LIM (Claremont)
Yet another standout performance in what is the best and most consistent season of a terrific Claremont career. His 143rd appearance on Saturday was another standout one as he thrived on the wide expanses of Leederville Oval. Earned a spot in the Team of the Week for a fifth time on the back of 32 touches, five tackles and four marks.
CENTRE – LUKE MEADOWS (West Perth)
The powerful midfielder thrived in the tough conditions on Saturday night at Lathlain against West Coast by producing one of his best performances of the season in the 111th game of his WAFL career. Was named to the Team of the Week for a fourth time in 2022 as a result of putting together 30 possessions, eight marks and seven entries inside the forward 50.
WING – AIDAN CLARKE (Swan Districts)
Has turned himself into quite the impressive midfielder for Swan Districts with his energy and attack on the ball and contest, and also his ability to rack up plenty of the ball and to be damaging driving the ball forward. Was outstanding once more in Saturday's win against East Perth with 37 touches, 10 marks, seven inside 50s and four tackles to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a third time in 2022.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – HAIDEN SCHLOITHE (South Fremantle)
As he nears 200 games and the longer the 2022 season goes on, the better he is getting once again this year and maybe it's his class, ability to keep his feet in contests and clean hands that's helping him standout in the tough winter conditions at the moment. Produced another standout derby performance at the WACA Ground for South Fremantle with a best on ground performance with 28 touches, a career-best 15 tackles and a goal in game 194.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – DYLAN MAIN (South Fremantle)
It's been a tough last couple of seasons just from an injury perspective for the South Fremantle premiership captain, but he showed his quality in Saturday's derby win by being the most effective forward in the game. Playing as that forward option might be where he settles moving forward and he kicked four goals against East Fremantle for the second time in his career having also kicked five against them in 2018. Also had nine kicks and four marks for the day.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – ANGUS SCHUMACHER (East Perth)
Continues to show that he's an elite midfielder in the WAFL and it wouldn’t surprise to see him earn another opportunity in the AFL on the back of what he continues to show with East Perth. Was tremendous once again in the midfield on Saturday despite the loss to Swan Districts finishing with 41 disposals, eight marks, five inside 50s, four tackles and a goal to be named to the Team of the Week for a seventh time.
FORWARD POCKET – ETHAN HUGHES (Peel Thunder)
He has spent the majority of his 62-game WAFL and 81-game AFL career playing as a defender and as an intercept marker, and player that can set up attacks off half-back. However, he was thrown forward for Peel in Saturday's win against Perth and he proved more than effective in the role. He ended up kicking two goals to go with 21 touches and seven marks.
FULL-FORWARD – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
He might have only kicked the one goal but in all other areas he produced a dominant performance in West Perth's win against West Coast that saw them return to top spot in the WAFL. He was superb with 28 possessions, 10 inside-50 entries and nine marks, with the only thing stopping a truly dominant night out was his kicking of 1.3 for the Falcons.
FORWARD POCKET – CONAL LYNCH (West Perth)
Produced the best performance of his 54-game WAFL career with West Perth as he continues to split his time between some opportunities in the midfield and at half-forward. Is proving equally effective at winning plenty of the ball but then also being clever around goals. That was all on show on Saturday night against the Eagles as he ended up kicking four goals to go with 26 touches, six marks and four tackles.
RUCK – HAMISH FREE (South Fremantle)
East Fremantle might have lost Jeremy Goddard before Saturday's derby at the WACA Ground but brought in Eddie Simpson for his debut so he had to battle him and Reuben McGuire in the ruck, and he stood firm and thrived in the conditions. Earned a spot in the Team of the Week for a fourth time in 2022 on the back of 13 disposals, 56 hit outs and four inside-50 entries.
RUCK ROVER – RONIN O'CONNOR (Claremont)
The former Claremont colts captain is back with the Tigers this year after his time in the AFL with Adelaide and he was made for the tough conditions on Saturday. Able to use his love of the contested ball, he did well winning it himself and applying good pressure thriving on the physicality in his best game of 2022. Finished with 25 touches, 10 tackles and five inside-50 entries in win against Subiaco.
ROVER – DARCY TUCKER (Peel Thunder)
Proved that he's well and truly ready for an AFL call up should a spot open up in the Fremantle midfield by delivering a best on ground performance in the win against Perth on Saturday for the Thunder. He was outstanding racking up 32 possessions, eight inside-50 entries, seven marks, five tackles and two goals.
INTERCHANGE – KYLE BASKERVILLE (East Fremantle)
Made his return for East Fremantle in just his second game since Round 5 and despite the disappointing loss for the Sharks to the Bulldogs for the 14th consecutive time, he couldn’t have done much more. Revelled in the tough conditions to finish the afternoon in the midfield with 29 possessions, 13 tackles and six entries inside the forward 50.
INTERCHANGE – JARVIS PINA (Swan Districts)
Has settled nicely into his new life at Swan Districts in 2022 with his pace and ball carrying ability providing them with exactly what they were hoping he would when they recruited him. Despite the conditions not being that suited to his attacking style, he was tremendous in the win against East Perth on Saturday with 25 possessions, eight marks, five tackles and four inside-50 entries.
INTERCHANGE – GALEN SAVIGNI (Subiaco)
It's been a tough season for Subiaco with their premiership defence never getting off the ground but the positive has been the chance to blood some fresh talent, and he is one that is more than grabbing his opportunities. Has settled nicely into the defensive unit for the Lions and in the seventh game of his career, he finished with 18 disposals and four marks while being strong defensively against Claremont.
INTERCHANGE – JESSE TURNER (Swan Districts)
Continues to be the leading ball winner in the competition, could very well be the Sandover Medal favourite and continues to thrive with his leadership role at Swan Districts as vice-captain in 2022. Produced another standout performance in win against East Perth on Saturday with 36 touches, five marks and three inside 50s to be named to the Team of the Week for an eighth occasion.
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 14 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:
Claremont's Jack Buller, Jye Bolton, Ben Edwards, Declan Mountford, Lachlan Martinis, Oliver Eastland, Bailey Rogers and Callan England.
East Fremantle's Alex Montauban, Cam Eardley, Milan Murdock, Michael Tassone and Matthew Jupp.
East Perth's Hamish Brayshaw, Angus Scott, Jackson Ramsay, Julian Ameduri and Scott Jones.
Peel Thunder's Mitch Crowden, Neil Erasmus, Karl Worner and Lloyd Meek.
Perth's Matt Taylor, Haydn Busher, Corey Byrne, Sam Perkusich and Sam Stubbs.
South Fremantle's Glenn Byron, Tom Blechynden, Steve Verrier and Jarrad Doney.
Subiaco's Stefan Giro, Leigh Kitchin, Liam Hickmott, Lewis Putt and Angus Dewar.
Swan Districts' Lachlan Riley, Tobe Watson, Tony Notte and Josh Cipro.
West Coast's Callum Jamieson, Josh Browne, Greg Clark and Harry Creasey.
West Perth's Rudy Riddoch, Shane Nelson, Mitch Peirce, Aaron Black, Tyson Moulton and Ben Johnson.