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TABtouch Team of Rio Tinto NAIDOC Round 14Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 12:46 PM - by Chris Pike

NAIDOC Round in the WAFL saw the top three teams Subiaco, South Fremantle and West Perth move further clear at the head of the ladder while Perth closed in on a finals spot and Swan Districts, Claremont and Peel Thunder missed their chance to consolidate a position.

NAIDOC Round in the WAFL began on Friday night with Subiaco dominating its Grand Final rematch with Peel Thunder, winning 9.15 (69) to 2.5 (17).

The other three matches all took place on Saturday afternoon with Perth beating Swan Districts 14.17 (101) to 11.11 (77) on the back of five goals from Cody Ninyette and starring midfield performances from Clint Jones, Brant Colledge, Corey Yeo and Cody Leggett.

West Perth kicked nine of the last 11 goals to come from 15 points behind against East Fremantle to win by 30 points on the back of a career-best five goals from Corey Chalmers and 44 possessions from Shane Nelson.

The round then concluded at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with the 12th annual NAIDOC Week contest between South Fremantle and Claremont, and it was the Bulldogs who dominated the second half to win 10.13 (73) to 6.11 (47).

Following 14 rounds of the 2018 WAFL season, Subiaco sits clear on top of the ladder with a perfect 12-0 record and a monster percentage of 226.78 with an average winning margin of 66.7 points.

South Fremantle sits in second position with a 9-3 record and now the Lions and Bulldogs meet this Saturday at Leederville Oval.

West Perth (8-5) is now well clear in third position too after its win over East Fremantle leaving the rest of the competition battling over the last two positions in the top five.

Swan Districts (5-7) and Claremont (5-8) still hold fourth and fifth spot respectively despite Round 14 losses to be ahead of Perth (5-7), Peel Thunder (5-7), East Perth (4-7) and East Fremantle (2-11).


TABtouch TEAM OF THE ROUND (times named)
BACK: Hayden Kennedy (7), Noah Strom (2), Declan Hardisty (1)
HALF-BACK: Jayden Schofield (4), Anton Hamp (5), Michael Sinclair (5)
CENTRE: Kane Mitchell (5), Leigh Kitchin (3), Josh Deluca (5)
HALF-FORWARD: George Hampson (4), Lachlan Delahunty (9), Corey Chalmers (2) 
FORWARD: Keegan Knott (1), Cameron Loersch (1), Cody Ninyette (3)
RUCK: Brock Higgins (5), Shane Nelson (8), Clint Jones (3)
INTERCHANGE: Marlion Pickett (6), Chris Phelan (6), Drew Rohde (2), Brant Colledge (4)

The premiership-winning small defender produced yet another standout performance in a dominant Subiaco back-line. Peel might have only had 26 inside-50 entries on Friday night, but he still managed to have a big night and was named to the Team of the Round for a seventh time in 2018 after finishing with 26 possessions, four inside-50 entries and three marks.

FULL-BACK – NOAH STROM (South Fremantle)
He deserves credit for sticking at it in the reserves the last three years without a league debut and after 56 reserves matches, opportunity presented for his debut in the first game of 2018 and he has never looked back. He continues to do some strong jobs on the opposition key forwards and was tremendous on Saturday keeping Claremont's Kaiden Gilbert to one kick while having 11 disposals, five marks and five tackles himself.

The 20-year-old was playing just his 10th league match and was given the job on former Tiger and triple Bernie Naylor Medallist Ben Saunders. They ended up having a good battle but he did limit Saunders to two goals and did well himself finishing the afternoon with 19 possessions, six marks and six tackles.

His season has been interrupted by a couple of unfortunate suspensions in 2018, but he has still been able to perform well for the most part when in the side despite the struggles of his team. The reigning East Fremantle fairest and best winner provided great run off half-back again against West Perth on Saturday with 33 possessions and nine marks.

He is now a seasoned veteran and one of the leaders at Claremont and even though his early years were spent up forward, he's now well and truly established as one of the best key defenders in the competition. He continued his tremendous season on Saturday with the job on South Fremantle's Mason Shaw and held him to seven kicks and a behind while having 17 disposals and 10 marks himself.

The 2016 Perth fairest and best winner continues to show just how valuable a member of the Demons' line-up he is. He has settled into a role in the back-line and could very well be the best in his league in terms of taking intercept marks, reading the ball coming in from the opposition and then setting up play going the other way. He ended up with a remarkable 35 possessions, 17 marks, five inside 50s and four tackles in Saturday's win over Swan Districts.


The 2012 Sandover Medallist is putting together a fine season on return to Claremont in 2018 on the back of his time in the AFL at Port Adelaide and then a year in 2017 away from football. He enjoyed another standout display despite the Tigers losing to South Fremantle, finishing with 34 possessions, seven marks, five tackles and three entries inside the forward. He had a nasty head clash with former teammate Ben Saunders along the way too and was left bleeding heavily.

The dominant Subiaco midfield was at its best again in Friday night's win over Peel Thunder and the combination of himself, Josh Deluca, Chris Phelan and Kyal Horsley all deserve recognition for their performances. He produced another strong display and ended the evening with 29 possessions, seven tackles, three inside 50s and three marks.

He continues to thrive on return to Subiaco after his time in the AFL system at Fremantle where he won another two premierships in the WAFL with Peel Thunder having already played in a flag with Subiaco. He was tremendous against Peel in Friday night's dominant victory with another 27 possessions, nine tackles, six marks and a goal.

He continues to perform admirably mostly in the midfield with brief stints forward for East Fremantle in what continues to be a challenging season for the Sharks. He couldn’t have possibly done more to try and get his team over the line on Saturday against West Perth finishing with 37 disposals, eight inside 50s, seven marks, four tackles and three goals.

He continues to play a variety of roles through any given game and is in some unstoppable form with a team that is looking invincible. Subiaco had another big win over Peel Thunder on Friday night and he was tremendous again ending the night with 22 possessions, six hit outs, four marks and two goals.

He did start his career with West Perth as a small forward but has turned himself into a prolific ball-winning midfielder over the past two years as he's become a regular in the Falcons' league team. As a result, he hadn’t kicked a goal yet in 2018 and had just seven points to his name leading into Saturday but that all changed in the win against East Fremantle. He kicked a career-best five goals to go with 18 possessions and six marks.

The small forward originally came to West Perth in 2016 after being unable to gain a regular league spot at Claremont and has now returned in 2018 and is producing the best and most consistent patch of form at WAFL level. His pressure as a small forward is tremendous and he is clever around goals, both of which combined for him to kick four goals from 18 possessions and eight marks on Saturday against East Fremantle.

The South Fremantle product couldn’t quite go to the next step with the Gold Coast Suns, but upon return home he went to East Fremantle with the Sharks crying out for a key forward option. Injury has curtailed his impact but he has shown he could be the answer when on the field. He did so again against West Perth kicking four goals from 10 kicks and eight marks.

He was Perth's leading goalkicker last season including a haul of seven in the Demons' last game of 2017 against East Perth, but now he has kicked five goals in two of the past three weeks to be in some stunning form. The dynamic small forward celebrated NAIDOC Week by kicking the five goals for Perth in the win over Swan Districts to go with 21 disposals, five tackles, four marks and four inside 50s.

RUCK – BROCK HIGGINS (South Fremantle)
He is the standout workhorse ruckman in the league and continues to do a power of work while undersized and virtually on his own week after week in the middle for the Bulldogs. His tap work continues to set up his midfielders tremendously and in Saturday's win over Claremont, he finished the afternoon with 16 possessions, 52 hit outs, five tackles, three marks and three inside-50 entries.

What a season he is having and he's already a triple fairest and best winner and premiership player at West Perth, but the 130-game midfielder appears to be getting better all the time. He had another remarkable performance in Saturday's win over East Fremantle finishing with 44 possessions, nine inside-50 entries, six tackles and five marks.

The Perth captain has consistently been outstanding in some tough times with the Demons but now with his team on the improve a genuine finals chance, his form has gone with it and he is leading from the front. He delivered another tremendous performance in Saturday's win over Swan Districts with 33 possessions, eight marks, eight tackles and four inside 50s.

He has turned himself into one of the best midfielders in the competition and that's after three straight years of being a standout defender for South Fremantle. But he continues to have a remarkable impact as an inside midfielder and was terrific again in Saturday's win against Claremont with 23 possessions, 12 marks, eight tackles and five inside-50 entries.

The 161-game dual premiership winning, two-time fairest and best winner is having every bit as good a season as he ever has in 2018 and that form continued on Friday night in the 52-point victory against Peel Thunder. He produced another 28 possessions, seven tackles, five marks and five entries inside the forward 50.

The former West Perth defender had a year out of the WAFL system in 2017 but has become an important and consistent member of the Subiaco back-line upon return to the league in 2018. He had another strong performance against Peel in Friday's commanding win not only shutting down Brayden Lawler but having 22 disposals and a goal himself.

He could very well be in the best patch of form of his career now with his body allowing him to play permanently in the midfield for Perth and his performances are showing just what he is capable of. His form has coincided with the improvement of the Demons too and he produced another 31 possessions, 10 inside 50s and seven tackles on Saturday against Swan Districts.

There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across NAIDOC Round of the WAFL but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Round, including:

East Fremantle's Dion Anthony, Jonathon Marsh, Nick Kommer and Dylan Winton.

West Perth's Luke Meadows, Dean Munns, Aaron Black, Steve Potente, Blake Wilhelm and Tyler Keitel.

South Fremantle's Jacob Dragovich, Haiden Schloithe, Dylan Main, Matthew Parker and Brandon Donaldson.

Claremont's Lachlan Martinis, Jared Hardisty, Ian Richardson and Isaac Wallace.

Subiaco's Kyal Horsley, Rowen Powell, Braden Fimmano and Ben Sokol.

Peel Thunder's Danyle Pearce, Taylin Duman, Ben Howlett, Michael Johnson and Blair Bell.

Swan Districts' Jesse Turner, Matt Riggio, Adam Faulkner, Matthew Rogers, Brayden Noble and Alex Howard.

Perth's Corey Byrne, Corey Yeo and Cody Leggett.