IT was Easter Round in the WAFL with South Fremantle, Swan Districts, West Perth and Subiaco all recording strong victories with a host of starring individual performances along the way.
Round 5 got underway with three matches on Good Friday beginning with West Perth bouncing back from a big loss to South Fremantle to hand Peel Thunder a third straight defeat, winning 15.18 (108) to 11.7 (73).
The battle of the Leederville Oval co-tenants has now become an annual Good Friday event and this time around it was Subiaco proving too good, beating East Perth 20.15 (135) to 6.8 (44).
The last of the Good Friday triple-header was a top-of-the-table clash at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with South Fremantle beating an injury-hit Claremont 17.9 (111) to 6.10 (46).
The lone Saturday match to conclude the round took place at East Fremantle Oval with Swan Districts remaining undefeated and keeping East Fremantle winless with the 12.18 (90) to 8.10 (58) victory.
wafl.com.au PLAYER OF THE ROUND – SCOTT SIMPSON (West Perth)
Scott Simpson has been on an AFL list, played a lot of VFL football and even represented his state against Western Australia back in 2013 in Northam.
West Perth had high hopes on recruiting him for 2017 but it's fair to say he took a while to adjust over the first three weeks.
But that was always as expected giving Simpson had been playing in the Nepean Football League the past two seasons and deserved the chance to adjust to the size of the grounds in the WAFL and the game style.
Nobody was panicking at the Falcons but after the 103-point loss to South Fremantle coach Bill Monaghan knew it was time to change some things around.
One move against Peel Thunder on Good Friday was to again go in without a recognised ruckman. That move didn’t work necessarily last year in the finals but it also wasn’t the reason Peel beat West Perth on the way to the premiership.
But this time around up against Jonathon Griffin and Sean Darcy, Monaghan put the challenge right at Simpson to move from a key defensive role into the ruck and to battle the two AFL-listed big men.
Not only did he match them, but he starred in a brilliant performance that was a big factor in West Perth's 35-point win. He finished with 27 possessions, five marks, 15 hit outs, five inside-50 entries and his first WAFL goal with the Falcons.
wafl.com.au TEAM OF THE ROUND
BACK: Marlion Pickett, Eric Mackenzie, Blayne Wilson
HALF-BACK: Jarrad Blight, Tony Notte, Jayden Schofield
CENTRE: Aaron Black, Chris Phelan, Ryan Cook
HALF-FORWARD: Max Walters, Tyler Keitel, Warrick Wilson
FORWARD: Bailey Matera, Ricky Cary, Liam Ryan
RUCK: Scott Simpson, Ryan Crowley, Luke Meadows
INTERCHANGE: Rory O'Brien, Jake Murphy, Cameron Eardley, Jesse Turner
BACK POCKET – MARLION PICKETT (South Fremantle)
Is a remarkable talent in his ability to keep his own man quiet, get off to support his fellow defenders to impact those contests and then when he gets the ball in his hands, he is brilliant and unstoppable. Was terrific again on Good Friday against Claremont doing well opposed to Alex Manuel for much of the game while also having 18 possessions and five marks himself.
FULL-BACK – ERIC MACKENZIE (East Perth)
His team was well-beaten once again and remains without a win in 2017 but his goal is to keep playing well to earn an AFL recall with the West Coast Eagles. He can't do much more than he's doing putting in another strong performance both defensively and to finish up with 25 touches and 13 marks.
BACK POCKET – BLAYNE WILSON (South Fremantle)
Not only does he continue to be the best intercept defender in the WAFL and had another 19 possessions and seven marks against Claremont on Good Friday, but is also doing well defensively. Teamed with Chris Luff and the pair kept Tom Lee and Beau Maister goalless in pivotal performances in the final result.
HALF-BACK FLANK – JARRAD BLIGHT (Swan Districts)
Injuries have been his toughest opponent right throughout his career and that's why he has still only played 62 games. But when fit he is perhaps Swan Districts' most important player and he's showing why so far in 2017. Both off half-back and through the middle, he can win one-on-one contests, run and carry the ball and use it well. Had another strong showing on Saturday with 22 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and a goal.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – TONY NOTTE (Swan Districts)
Ever-reliable and ever consistent whichever end of the ground he is playing at. Had another rock solid performance at centre half-back in Saturday's 32-point win over East Fremantle finishing with 17 possessions and six marks.
HALF-BACK FLANK – JAYDEN SCHOFIELD (East Fremantle)
Despite his team's struggles with East Fremantle remaining winless in 2017, he continues to be a bright spot with his performances in the back-line to try and set up play constantly. Had another 32 possessions, 13 marks and six inside-50 entries on Saturday against Swan Districts.
WING – AARON BLACK (West Perth)
It's hard to imagine any West Perth player wanted to bounce back from last week's big loss to South Fremantle or to win on Shane Nelson's 100th game more than him. He showed all of that in a dominant display for the Falcons on the wing. Finished the afternoon with 38 possessions showing his hard-running best form.
CENTRE – CHRIS PHELAN (Subiaco)
Despite two premierships, two fairest and best awards and being nearly at 150 games, he continues to be the most consistently outstanding midfielder in the WAFL. Just continues to play well week after week and be a rock on the ball for the Lions. Showed plenty again in Good Friday's win over East Perth finishing with 32 disposals, seven inside-50 entries, five tackles and a goal.
WING – RYAN COOK (South Fremantle)
He is South Fremantle's longest ever serving captain and has had another strong start to the 2017 season. Finds himself in the Team of the Round for the first time after delivering 23 possessions, nine marks, seven inside 50s and two goals in his team's Good Friday win over Claremont.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – MAX WALTERS (Subiaco)
After patiently biding his time waiting for an opportunity in the league side over the last couple of years, he has fit into a role as a half-forward who can go into the midfield at times. Has been consistent over the first five rounds and had another strong display on Good Friday finishing with 22 possessions, 11 marks, six inside 50s and three goals.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – TYLER KEITEL (West Perth)
After a tremendous season in 2016 where he cemented himself as a key defender, he has moved forward to provide a strong target for West Perth in 2017 and it continues to pay off. He delivered another impressive performance in the Good Friday win over the Thunder ending the afternoon in Mandurah with 14 disposals, five marks and three goals. Again if he converted more of his four behinds he could have had a monster day.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – WARRICK WILSON (Swan Districts)
Has always been supremely talented, has just needed to find his role and get his work rate to get the most out of it. Based on the start to 2017 that is now happening. Had a strong performance in Saturday's win across half-forward finishing with 20 possessions and six tackles while kicking two goals on what was a difficult day to score as it went on.
FORWARD POCKET – BAILEY MATERA (Subiaco)
The South Fremantle recruit has fitted right in at Subiaco so far in 2017 and it helps that coach Jarrad Schofield saw a specific role for him as a small forward who has license to go further up the ground. He played his best game in the Good Friday win over East Perth with 18 possessions, five inside-50 entries, four marks and two goals.
FULL-FORWARD – RICKY CARY (Swan Districts)
Has been a great enigma for much of his career to date but now looks capable of settling down into a reliable key target in attack for Swans and there's no doubt the presence of Brayden Noble and Corey Gault is helping tremendously. Was the best forward in the game on Saturday against East Fremantle kicking 3.4 from 12 possessions and eight marks.
FORWARD POCKET – LIAM RYAN (Subiaco)
He continues to do some things that just defy belief and the excitement machine delivered another stunning display across the four quarters for Subiaco against East Perth on Good Friday. Kicked another six goals from 15 kicks and seven marks. His defensive pressure is improving and he had four tackles and he's now kicked 19 goals for the season to be way out in front in the Bernie Naylor Medal race.
RUCK-ROVER – RYAN CROWLEY (Swan Districts)
He might be 32 and has 196 games in the AFL behind him, but showed on Saturday that he is still more than capable of having a significant impact in the midfield for Swan Districts in 2017. Had a big say in the final result and finished with 26 disposals, four marks and a good goal in the last quarter where he read the breeze perfectly at East Fremantle Oval.
ROVER – LUKE MEADOWS (West Perth)
The state defender continues to thrive on his move into the midfield for West Perth in 2017. With his big-body giving him the chance to win plenty of ball in close, he is perfectly suited to playing in the clinches. Then when he gets some space he is a brilliant, long kick and that was all on display in the win over Peel on Good Friday in his 28 disposals, six marks and two goals.
INTERCHANGE – RORY O'BRIEN (Peel Thunder)
The 30-year-old premiership-winning veteran of 229 games has started off 2017 as consistently as ever for Peel whether in the midfield or as a forward showing no signs of slowing down. Despite the loss to West Perth at home on Good Friday, he put together another strong showing too with 33 possessions, 10 tackles and five marks.
INTERCHANGE – CAMERON EARDLEY (East Fremantle)
Delivered his best individual performance of the season despite the Sharks losing once again. He couldn't have possibly done any more in the midfield ending Saturday afternoon with 32 possessions, 12 tackles, five inside-50 entries, four marks and two goals.
INTERCHANGE – JAKE MURPHY (Claremont)
He was fighting against the odds on Good Friday with Claremont losing Jye Bolton, Bailey Rogers, Tom Shanahan and Zac Langdon throughout the game, but battled hard and finished the contest with 26 disposals and a goal.
INTERCHANGE – JESSE TURNER (Swan Districts)
Was another to deliver his best game of the season on Saturday in Swan Districts' win over East Fremantle. Worked tremendously hard laying 13 tackles to go along with 29 possessions and five entries inside the forward 50.
East Fremantle's Jonathon Marsh, Ryan Lester-Smith, Matthew Watson and Tom Marshall were all in consideration for the Team of the Round along with others from rival teams, including:
Subiaco captain Kyal Horsley.
East Perth's Steven Payne and Mark Hutchings.
Peel Thunder's Darcy Tucker and Cameron Sutcliffe.
West Perth's Trent Manzone, Aidan Lynch and Jay van Berlo.
South Fremantle's Haiden Schloithe and Tim Kelly.
Swan Districts' Corey Gault, Adam Faulkner and David Ellard.