THERE were plenty of standout performers once again in Round 5 of the WAFL to earn spots in the Team of the Week during wins for Subiaco, South Fremantle, Claremont, West Perth and East Fremantle.
The WAFL season resumed on Saturday on the back of the State game the previous Saturday against South Australia.
The action got underway in Kalgoorlie and Subiaco kicked the last three goals of the game to come from behind to defeat Swan Districts 12.10 (82) to 10.8 (68) at Sir Richard Moore Oval.
The rest of the games took place later on Saturday afternoon with Claremont defeated East Perth 14.13 (97) to 7.8 (50) at Revo Fitness Stadium.
South Fremantle also returned to the winner's list despite the absence of coach Todd Curley and captain Dylan Main by beating Peel Thunder 13.11 (89) to 9.9 (63) at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
West Perth returned to the top of the WAFL ladder by beating the West Coast Eagles 17.17 (119) to 6.2 (38) at Joondalup's Pentanet Stadium.
East Fremantle also made it four consecutive wins by defeating Perth 13.20 (98) to 10.12 (72) at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park.
Among the standout performers across the five games started defensively with Swan Districts' Cian Ehlers putting in the best performance of his young career while Riley Colborne had a memorable third game while Declan Hardisty, Toby McQuilkin, Traye Bennell and Cam Eardley were impressive.
Lachlan Delahunty was the standout ruckman of the weekend while there were plenty of big ball winning performances again including from Jye Bolton, Trent Manzone, Leigh Kitchin, Stefan Giro, Milan Murdock, Sam Fisher, Jake Florenca and Shane Nelson.
Tyler Keitel, Ryan Borchet, Ben Sokol and Alex Manuel all kicked at least four goals as well up forward in what was an exciting afternoon of WAFL action.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND – LEIGH KITCHIN (SUBIACO)
The Subiaco premiership captain has had a remarkable 138-game career since moving west to join the Lions, but he might very well be in the best form ever to start the 2022 season and that continued in Kalgoorlie on Saturday.
Fresh of captaining the WAFL State Team once again last Sunday against South Australia where he was so outstanding that he won the Simpson Medal, Kitchin continued his superb form to lead the Lions in Kalgoorlie against Swan Districts on Saturday.
It was a fascinating midfield battle where Kitchin showed the way for Subiaco up against the likes of Sandover Medallist Sam Fisher and his State teammate from the week before Jesse Turner.
It took until the last minutes for Subiaco to take over and kick the last three goals to win but Kitchin was superb all afternoon to finish with 33 possessions to go with eight tackles, six inside-50 entries and six marks.
It continues the stunning run of form for Kitchin who is now averaging 26.8 disposals a game so far in 2022, and it could very well be the best start to the season he's had.
That is saying a lot given just how superb Kitchin has been since arriving at Subiaco for the start of the 2015 season.
Along the way, he has played in four premierships and won two fairest and best awards at the Lions while having represented Western Australia seven times now along the way and being a consistently high poller in the Sandover Medal count.
He has also been named twice in the WAFL Team of the Year, including in 2021, but there are no signs of him slowing down in 2022 as he tries to keep Subiaco in the hunt for what would be his fifth premiership with his 150th game and life membership at the Lions approaching.
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)
WAFL TEAM OF THE WEEK – ROUND 5
BACK: Cian Ehlers (SD), Declan Hardisty (C), Toby McQuilkin (SF)
HALF-BACK: Jye Bolton (C), Riley Colborne (SF), Traye Bennell (PT)
CENTRE: Trent Manzone (WP), Leigh Kitchin (S), Stefan Giro (S)
HALF-FORWARD: Brendon Ah Chee (SF), Ryan Borchet (S), Sam Stubbs (P)
FORWARD: Alex Manuel (C), Tyler Keitel (WP), Keegan Knott (WP)
RUCK: Lachlan Delahunty (S), Jake Florenca (SF), Shane Nelson (WP)
INTERCHANGE: Milan Murdock (EF), Cam Eardley (EF), Ben Sokol (S), Sam Fisher (SD)
BACK POCKET – CIAN EHLERS (Swan Districts)
In just his fourth league appearance, the 19-year-old from High Wycombe was given the significant task of playing on premiership forward and 144-game AFL veteran Brandon Matera. The young Swan Districts defender did a superb job shutting him down to just one handpass for the game even if he wasn’t quite 100 per cent. He also had eight handballs himself in Kalgoorlie.
FULL-BACK – DECLAN HARDISTY (Claremont)
He has consolidated himself as one of the leading defenders in the competition in recent years and the 73-game leader of the Tigers back-line had another standout performance in Saturday's win against East Perth. He was instrumental in helping to keep former Claremont teammate Eddie Simpson goalless while having 13 touches and six marks himself.
BACK POCKET – TOBY MCQUILKIN (South Fremantle)
He burst onto the scene late last season in the South Fremantle back-line and had an outstanding finals series including the Grand Final despite the big loss to Subiaco. He has backed that up to start 2022 and was tremendous again in Saturday's win against Peel Thunder down back finishing with 29 possessions and 13 marks.
HALF-BACK FLANK – JYE BOLTON (Claremont)
The dual Sandover Medallist and four-time Simpson Medal winner again split his time between playing at half-back and through the middle on Saturday in Claremont's big win against East Perth. He finished with another standout performance made up of 30 disposals, three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – RILEY COLBORNE (South Fremantle)
In just his third game for South Fremantle, he produced the best performance of his young career in the win at home against Peel Thunder. Not only did he do well defensively helping to lockdown dangerous small forward Ryan Bennell, but got forward to kick a long goal for his first major of his career and finished with 12 possessions and three marks.
HALF-BACK FLANK – TRAYE BENNELL (Peel Thunder)
He was up against his original WAFL club and while his Peel team lost to South Fremantle on Saturday, he delivered his best performance of the season. The premiership player did well locking down on Brandon Donaldson to keep him scoreless while he was creative coming out of the back-line for the Thunder with 21 possessions and six marks.
WING – TRENT MANZONE (West Perth)
As he approaches 150 games to earn life membership with West Perth since making the move from Queensland, he remains one of the hardest running and most consistent ball winners across the competition. The 146-game veteran wingman was superb again against West Coast with 30 disposals, 14 marks and a goal.
WING – STEFAN GIRO (Subiaco)
The former Fremantle Dockers wingman was fresh off playing for WA in last week's State game and continued his impressive form for Subiaco in Saturday's win in Kalgoorlie over Swan Districts. He delivered another 28 touches, seven inside-50 entries and four tackles.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – BRENDON AH CHEE (South Fremantle)
The former Port Adelaide and West Coast Eagles excitement machine produced his second straight standout performance for South Fremantle as he settles back into life at his original WAFL club. He was terrific in the win over Peel both in the middle and going forward finishing with 24 touches, seven inside 50s, four marks and two goals.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – RYAN BORCHET (Subiaco)
He made a homecoming to Kalgoorlie for Subiaco on Saturday and enjoyed the occasion in attack for the Lions. He ended up kicking four goals in the eventual win for the Lions against Swan Districts from just six kicks and two marks.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – SAM STUBBS (Perth)
He came along well in 2021 to cement his spot in the Perth forward-line and now has taken the next step so far in 2022 to become one of the better forwards in the competition to date. He kicked another three goals in Saturday's loss to East Fremantle from 15 touches, six marks and four entries inside the forward 50.
FORWARD POCKET – ALEX MANUEL (Claremont)
For the second time already in just his three games of 2022, he kicked four goals in the win against East Perth for Claremont. He finished with the four goals to go with nine kicks, four marks and four tackles to go with the four goals he kicked in the Round 1 victory against West Perth.
FULL-FORWARD – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
The dual Bernie Naylor Medallist was virtually unstoppable against the West Coast defence on Saturday. He ended up with 10 shots on goal from 15 kicks and eight marks. It was only some wayward kicking that saw him finish with five goals and five behinds that stopped him from an even more dominant afternoon.
FORWARD POCKET – KEEGAN KNOTT (West Perth)
The best goal sneak in the competition continued his good form to start the 2022 season during West Perth's big win against the West Coast Eagles on Saturday. He kicked another three goals from 16 touches, six tackles and four entries inside the forward 50.
RUCK – LACHLAN DELAHUNTY (Subiaco)
The five-time premiership winning ruckman was fresh off playing for the WAFL State Team for a sixth time the previous Sunday and then put in a commanding performance in the ruck in the Lions' eventual win over Swan Districts. He had his hands full with Matthew Germs who did have 53 hit outs for Swans, but he finished the afternoon with a dominant 29 touches, nine marks, 24 hit outs, seven inside 50s and four tackles.
RUCK ROVER – JAKE FLORENCA (South Fremantle)
What a few weeks it has been for the gun South Fremantle on-baller. On the back of 38 possessions in Round 3 against Claremont, he was called up to make his AFL debut for West Coast and then last Sunday, made his State debut playing for the WAFL against the SANFL. He then was just brilliant against Peel for the Bulldogs on Saturday, not only with his numbers of 41 possessions, eight inside 50s, six marks and two goals, but with the class, composure and clean ball handling he showed.
ROVER – SHANE NELSON (West Perth)
The four-time West Perth fairest and best winner and premiership star earned his spot in the Team of the Week for the first time so far in 2022 on the back of a dominant display in West Perth's big win against West Coast. In his 193rd game for the Falcons, he finished with 34 touches, seven marks, seven inside 50s and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – MILAN MURDOCK (East Fremantle)
Could very well have delivered the best performance of his 33-game career with East Fremantle in Saturday's road win against the Demons. He was superb in the midfield but also drifted forward to be damaging and finished the game with 32 possessions, five marks, five tackles, four inside-50 entries and two goals.
INTERCHANGE – CAM EARDLEY (East Fremantle)
Fresh off playing in the WAFL State game last week against South Australia, he continued his superb form this season for East Fremantle across half-back in the win against Perth at Lathlain. The 133-game veteran finished the afternoon with 28 touches, eight marks and five tackles.
INTERCHANGE – BEN SOKOL (Subiaco)
The Simpson Medallist, Bernie Naylor Medallist and triple premiership player turned match winner once again late in the piece for Subiaco against Swan Districts in Kalgoorlie. He kicked the last three goals of the game to snatch the win for the Lions to end up with four majors for the game to go with eight kicks and seven marks.
INTERCHANGE – SAM FISHER (Swan Districts)
The 2020 Sandover Medal winner has started the 2022 season in outstanding form once again for Swan Districts helping to make up for the absence of his fellow prime on-baller Frank Anderson. He was tremendous in Kalgoorlie again on Saturday against Subiaco with 35 touches, six marks, six inside 50s and five tackles.
There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 5 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:
Subiaco's Liam Hickmott, Chad Harris, Harry Marsh, Drew Rohde and Angus Dewar.
Swan Districts' Chris Jones, Jesse Turner, Aidan Clarke, Mitch Bain, Tobe Watson, Brandon Erceg and Josh Cipro.
Claremont's Jack Buller, Callan England, Lachlan Martinis, Ryan Lim, Ronin O'Connor, Bailey Rogers and Sam Alvarez.
East Perth's Sebit Kuek, Tom Medhat, Hamish Brayshaw, Angus Scott, Harley Sparks, Angus Schumacher, Christian Ameduri, Kye Willcocks and Scott Jones.
South Fremantle's Mason Shaw, Haiden Schloithe, Tom Blechynden, Chad Pearson and Hamish Free.
Peel Thunder's Darcy Tucker, Mitch Crowden, Nathan Wilson, Liam Henry and Sam Sturt.
West Perth's Aaron Black, Aidan Lynch, Conal Lynch, Zac Guadagnin and Tristan Hobley.
West Coast Eagles' Josh Browne, Harry Creasey, Ambrose Ryan, John Levien and Josh Edwards.
Perth's Corey Byrne, Austin Davis, Brayden Ainsworth and Kasey Nicholas.
East Fremantle's Alex Montauban, Luke English, Tom Bennett, Jackson McDonald and Jeremy Goddard.