FOUR matches in Round 15 of the 2022 WAFL season saw no shortage of excitement and drama, and once more the sports in the Team of the Week were hotly sought after across the board.
All four Round 15 WAFL matches took place on Saturday afternoon with Claremont improving to third position as a result of a 10.12 (72) to 9.9 (63) win against Swan Districts who got knocked out of the top five in the process.
Peel Thunder then moved into fifth position on the WAFL ladder as a result of their 13.15 (93) to 6.4 (40) victory at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park.
East Fremantle put a hammering on the injury-ravaged Perth with the 23.14 (152) to 9.2 (56) win the best possible response to their disappointing derby loss last week also at the WACA Ground.
South Fremantle and West Perth couldn’t be separated at Fremantle Community Bank Oval as they played out a draw 9.11 (65) apiece for the first time between the two clubs since 1984.
Once again across the four matches in Round 15 of the WAFL, plenty of players put themselves in the hunt for selection in the Team of the Week.
That included key defenders Matthew Jupp, Blake Schlensog, Mark Hamilton and Noah Pegoraro along with fellow backmen Toby McQuilkin, Matt Taylor, Traye Bennell, Jehb O'Donohue and Jack Lewsey.
Attacking defenders Lachlan Martinis, Kye Willcocks, Nathan Wilson, Cam Eardley and Glenn Byron all put themselves in calculations as well with their performances.
The conditions weren’t quite ideal for the forwards again on Saturday but still Jack Buller, Nick Robertson, Sam Sturt, Jonathon Marsh, Jed Hagan, Sam Stubbs, Harry Quartermaine and Brandon Donaldson were among those the put in eye-catching displays.
It was a day cut out for inside midfielders and as a result among those to shine were Ben Edwards, Jared Hardisty, Josh Cipro, Hamish Brayshaw, Angus Schumacher, Connor Blakely, Haydn Matthews, Mitch Crowden, Kyle Baskerville, Milan Murdock, Josh Schoenfeld, Corey Byrne, Tom Blechynden, Shane Nelson, Aidan Lynch and Mitch Peirce.
Some of the players on the outside to star were Bailey Rogers, Ryan Lim, Declan Mountford, Jarvis Pina, Angus Scott, Neil Erasmus and Luke English.
Other midfielders to catch the eye were Jye Bolton, Chris Mayne, Aidan Clarke, Christian Ameduri, Darcy Tucker, Tyrone Thorne, Matt Johnson, Blaine Boekhorst, Austin Davis, Haiden Schloithe, Brendon Ah Chee and Luke Meadows.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND – DARCY TUCKER (PEEL THUNDER)
For the second straight week, Darcy Tucker delivered a best on ground performance to lead Peel Thunder to an important WAFL victory and now into fifth position on the ladder as a result.
Already a WAFL premiership player with Peel from 2016, the 105-game AFL midfielder is in some impressive form right now for the Thunder as he attempts to break into the Dockers team ahead of the finals.
However, should be unable to break back into that Fremantle AFL team to add to his 105 matches this year, he is going to remain a key part of Peel's charge to attempt to play in their first finals series since winning back-to-back premierships in 2016 and 2017.
Now 25, Tucker was just 19 years of age when he played in a premiership with the Thunder in 2016 and there's no reason he couldn’t help put Peel in the mix for a third flag this year if he keeps his form up, and so do the team.
He has played 11 matches this AFL season, but his last two performances in the WAFL for Peel have been eye-catching with him widely regarded as the clear best on ground firstly against Perth last week and then against East Perth on Saturday at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park.
After he delivered 32 possessions and two goals in the win last week over the Demons, Tucker went up another level again against the Royals finishing the afternoon with 38 possessions, nine marks, seven tackles, six inside-50 entries and three goals.
It was quite the remarkable individual performance to ensure he is in good touch heading towards the finals this year whether it's in the WAFL with Peel or the AFL with Fremantle.
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)
Round 15 – Darcy Tucker (Peel Thunder)
WAFL TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 15
BACK: Mark Hamilton (WP), Matthew Jupp (EF), Toby McQuilkin (SF)
HALF-BACK: Cam Eardley (EF), Blake Schlensog (SF), Lachlan Martinis (C)
CENTRE: Darcy Tucker (PT), Connor Blakely (PT), Blaine Boekhorst (EF)
HALF-FORWARD: Aidan Clarke (SD), Sam Sturt (PT), Haiden Schloithe (SF)
FORWARD: Bailey Rogers (C), Jonathon Marsh (EF), Jed Hagan (EF)
RUCK: Hamish Free (SF), Shane Nelson (WP), Jye Bolton (C)
INTERCHANGE: Josh Schoenfeld (EF), Tom Blechynden (SF), Declan Mountford (C), Aidan Lynch (WP)
BACK POCKET – MARK HAMILTON (West Perth)
The West Perth key defender did another outstanding job down back on Saturday in the draw with West Perth. Had the job on South Fremantle big man Jimmy Miller and did well keeping him to five kicks and one behind while he had 10 touches and three tackles himself to be named to the Team of the Week for a third time this season as he continues to be a rock for the Falcons 110 games into his career.
FULL-BACK – MATTHEW JUPP (East Fremantle)
It might not have been the most pressure he's been put on down back this season with Perth only going inside-50 on 30 occasions for the day, but he was rock solid and let his team admirably to an emphatic bounce back performance after a derby loss. He finished with 24 possessions and 12 marks to be named to the Team of the Week for a fifth time in 2022.
BACK POCKET – TOBY MCQUILKIN (South Fremantle)
What a season he is putting together with South Fremantle to build on what he did last year with a tremendous finals campaign in his rookie campaign. Did the double job on Saturday against West Perth of shutting down Keegan Knott and keeping him to two behinds while he had 19 possessions, three marks and two tackles to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a seventh time in 2022.
HALF-BACK FLANK – CAM EARDLEY (East Fremantle)
Continues to thrive in the role at half-back that he's now made his own since moving there in early parts of 2021. The 142-game star has found a new lease on life in the defensive role after doing so well as a midfielder most of his career with the Sharks. Was tremendous again in the win against Perth to be named to the Team of the Week for a seventh time this year with 24 touches and 13 marks.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – BLAKE SCHLENSOG (South Fremantle)
After his brilliant first season with South Fremantle, 2022 got off to a slow start with him not playing until Round 7 and his form has been building slowly since. He played his best game of the season on Saturday in the draw with West Perth not only finishing with 15 possessions and five marks but he was also strong defensively to hold Anton Hamp scoreless and to just four kicks and five marks.
HALF-BACK FLANK – LACHLAN MARTINIS (Claremont)
Every time he gets picked in the Team of the Week we seem to say the same thing, but it's no coincidence when Claremont plays well, he is usually a key part of it. The Tigers are just a better looking team when he's at his creative best coming off half-back and he was superb again on Saturday against Swan Districts. He finished with 25 possessions, eight marks and a goal.
CENTRE – CONNOR BLAKELY (Peel Thunder)
He continues to play strong WAFL football with Peel even if it's a struggle for him to find an opening at AFL level with Fremantle. That's to the benefit of the Thunder, though, and he was tremendous again in the midfield in Saturday's win against East Perth. Finished the afternoon with 34 possessions, 11 marks and eight inside-50 entries.
WING – BLAINE BOEKHORST (East Fremantle)
Was sorely missed by the Sharks in the derby loss last week but he made quite the emphatic return on Saturday against Perth also at the WACA Ground. Continued the best run of form in his now 97-game WAFL career either side of his time in the AFL with Carlton with another brilliant display in huge win against the Demons. Ended up with 32 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s and two goals.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – AIDAN CLARKE (Swan Districts)
He came in as a bit of a wild child early in his WAFL career but he's now becoming one of the most consistent performers while having lost his none of his flair or ferocious attack on the contest and opposition. Produced another strong showing on Saturday against Claremont to earn selection in the Team of the Week for a fourth time on the back of 28 touches, nine marks, five inside 50s and two goals.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – SAM STURT (Peel Thunder)
He might very well have time his best performance of the season with Peel to earn an AFL call up with the Fremantle Dockers on the eve of the finals. Has been building solidly throughout the season as a target in attack for the Thunder and it all came together for him on Saturday against East Perth where he kicked four goals from 15 possessions and six marks.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – HAIDEN SCHLOITHE (South Fremantle)
He is truly in a vein of form that must have him thinking of playing on again in 2023 given you are a long time retired, and he remains one of the very best players in the competition 195 games into his remarkably decorated career. Has nothing left to prove as a premiership player, Sandover Medallist and four-time fairest and best winner, but he is in brilliant form that he continued against West Perth with 24 touches, 11 tackles and a goal.
FORWARD POCKET – BAILEY ROGERS (Claremont)
He is spending the majority of his time now in the midfield for Claremont this year but any time he spends forward, he remains one of the toughest one-on-one match ups in the league. The problem is the Tigers just can't do without him for too long in the middle right now. The reigning Sandover Medallist was superb on Saturday against Swan Districts to be named to the Team of the Week for a fifth time with 37 touches, seven marks, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal.
FULL-FORWARD – JONATHON MARSH (East Fremantle)
Continues to be the spearhead in attack that East Fremantle have been craving and he just plays with such a presence that lifts his teammates around him, and can be intimidating to his opponents. Attacks the contest with such ferocity and then has such power in his kicking that he is a rare player in the competition. Kicked five goals in win over Perth to now have 28 for the season to be right in the Bernie Naylor Medal after also having 17 touches and four marks.
FORWARD POCKET – JED HAGAN (East Fremantle)
What a debut it was from the 17-year-old excitement machine who is fresh off taking part in the WA State 18s campaign. While still eligible to be playing colts, the likely draftee for later in the year played a first WAFL league game to remember in East Fremantle's big win over Perth at the WACA Ground. He might be small in stature but is big on talent and kicked two goals from 20 possessions, five tackles and four marks.
RUCK – HAMISH FREE (South Fremantle)
Did his apprenticeship under Brock Higgins last year and now has grabbed the No. 1 spot in the ruck at South Fremantle this year so well that he might be the best ruckman in the competition. He continues to lead the league in hit outs after another 58 of them against West Perth on Saturday where he went up against Troy Yukich who also had 40. He also had nine touches, two marks and two tackles for the day to earn a spot in the Team of the Week for a fifth time.
RUCK ROVER – SHANE NELSON (West Perth)
He is now 202 games into his career and is showing no signs of slowing down as one of the best pure ball winning midfielders in the competition still. Was just about another best on ground performance from him in Saturday's draw with South Fremantle where he finished with 32 touches, 12 tackles and five inside-50 entries to be named to the Team of the Week for a fifth time this season.
ROVER – JYE BOLTON (Claremont)
He might be a little underappreciated just because of what a high standard he's set over his 124-game career with Claremont that's included two Sandover Medals and four Simpson Medals, but he's having another standout season for the Tigers. Produced another 38 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s and a goal in the win against Swan Districts.
INTERCHANGE – JOSH SCHOENFELD (East Fremantle)
Was only playing his fourth game back this season after a horror injury run after he started 2021 on his return to East Fremantle on fire, but is already showing his quality and importance in the midfield. The prolific ball winning midfielder was right back to his best in the big win against Perth with 31 disposals, nine marks, nine tackles, eight entries inside the forward 50 and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – TOM BLECHYNDEN (South Fremantle)
Has turned himself nicely into an impressive inside midfielder with South Fremantle with the opportunities that have opened up for him in 2022. He has stepped up further since the injury to Jake Florenca to become a true prime mover and was outstanding against in the draw with West Perth. Finished Saturday's game with 29 possessions, five tackles, four inside-50 entries and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – DECLAN MOUNTFORD (Claremont)
The Claremont co-captain might not always grab the headlines of his bigger name Sandover Medal winning teammates, but he could be the most selfless player in the league for always being willing to do the role the team needs from him most. On Saturday his job was to run with the league's leading ball winner Jesse Turner. Swan Districts might not have liked everything that went on, but the fact was he kept his opponent to his third lowest possession tally of the season and eight below his average. That was instrumental in the eventual Claremont win and he had 17 touches and four tackles himself.
INTERCHANGE – AIDAN LYNCH (West Perth)
It hasn’t quite been the return to West Perth he was hoping for in 2022 with spots tough to find regularly in that star-studded midfield, but an injury to Mark Hutchings gave him another chance. Was recalled from a stint in the reserves and grabbed his chance with a strong showing in draw with South Fremantle to finish with 23 touches, 10 tackles and a crucial late goal.
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 15 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:
Claremont's Jack Buller, Ben Edwards, Ryan Lim, Jack Lewsey and Jared Hardisty.
Swan Districts' Jehb O'Donohue, Josh Cipro and Jarvis Pina.
East Perth's Nick Robertson, Angus Scott, Hamish Brayshaw, Angus Schumacher, Kye Willcocks and Christian Ameduri.
Peel Thunder's Neil Erasmus, Tyrone Thorne, Matt Johnson, Haydn Matthews, Mitch Crowden, Nathan Wilson and Traye Bennell.
East Fremantle's Luke English, Kyle Baskerville and Milan Murdock.
Perth's Sam Stubbs, Harry Quartermaine, Corey Byrne, Chris Mayne, Matt Taylor and Austin Davis.
South Fremantle's Glenn Byron, Brendon Ah Chee and Brandon Donaldson.
West Perth's Luke Meadows, Noah Pegoraro and Mitch Peirce.