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Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 3:26 PM

WHAT a finish it was to the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season with it going right down to the wire to determine positions inside the top five while there were no shortage of standout performers.

Saturday's four matches presented the last opportunity for the top five teams to gear up for the upcoming finals series and to try and attempt to finish as high on the ladder as they could.

It would also a chance for the teams out of contention to finish on a high and the individuals to put together impressive showings to earn a spot in the Team of the Week, and strengthen their cases for a spot in the Team of the Year.

South Fremantle started on fire at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with six goals in the first 17 minutes before cruising to a 13.17 (95) to 7.8 (50) win over the West Coast Eagles.

Cody Ninyette kicked four goals for the Bulldogs while Jake Florenca amassed 28 disposals and Nick Suban 25. Brayden Ainsworth had 30 disposals for West Coast, Ben Johnson 29 and Hamish Brayshaw 27.

Jake Florenca has made the best possible return from his ruptured Achilles that robbed him of a premiership last year, producing a third straight standout performance for South Fremantle on Saturday.

The 2020 WAFL season was one to treasure for South Fremantle with the Bulldogs winning a first premiership since 2009, but every flag triumph has a hard luck story and that just happened to be Florenca.

Having banged down the door and waited patiently for a regular league opportunity between 2016 and 2018, Florenca cemented himself as a consistent member of the South Fremantle midfield in the Grand Final year of 2019.

He then took his game to another level throughout the 2020 season, averaging almost 20 possessions a game and being a strong contributor to the South Fremantle team that finished the home and away season as minor premiers.

The 24-year-old was then playing well again in the preliminary final that South Fremantle would go on to win against West Perth with 21 possessions, eight marks and eight tackles before disaster struck and he ruptured his Achilles tendon.

Not only did that mean Florenca missed the premiership triumph a week later with his importance to the team highlighted when he finished runner-up in fairest and best voting, but it was going to leave him sidelined for most of 2021.

However, Florenca threw himself into his rehabilitation admirably and was tearing down the training track ahead of his return in the reserves back in the Round 18 derby at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

He got through that game impressively with 19 disposals and nine tackles, and then with another full week of training under his belt over the bye the following week, he was straight into the league team for the following Sunday's clash with West Perth at Joondalup.

He made a stunning return too kicking a brilliant goal in the first quarter to go along with 11 possessions on his way to 29 disposals, eight marks and eight tackles for the afternoon.

Florenca has backed up that form the last two weeks as well on Saturday in the win against the West Coast Eagles, he finished with 28 possessions, five marks, five tackles and four entries inside the forward 50.

FULL-BACK – NOAH STROM (South Fremantle)
He was tremendous once again to lead the South Fremantle defence against the West Coast Eagles in the absence of Blake Schlensog who was forward and Blayne Wilson who was sidelined. Was once again rock solid defensively holding Eagles debutant Nick Watson to three kicks and one goal while having 21 possessions and 12 marks himself.
Times named in 2021: 5

He quite often doesn’t get the recognition for his impact at South Fremantle that he does from inside the club, but once again he was crucial in the Bulldogs' win over the West Coast Eagles with his intercept marking, defensive work and setting up play from the back-line. Ended up with 22 touches, eight marks and three tackles.
Times named in 2021: 4

The dynamic small forward has had a terrific first full season with South Fremantle and he had the most incredible of starts on Saturday against West Perth. By the 15-minute mark of the second term, he already had four goals to his name and while he didn’t add to that, the damage was done and he was instrumental in setting up the important win for the Bulldogs.
Times named in 2021: 3

Angus Dewar (S), Noah Strom (SF), Brandon Erceg (SD)
HALF-BACK: Ben Hancock (PT), Chad Pearson (SF), Jason Carter (C)
CENTRE: Trent Manzone (WP), Leigh Kitchin (S), Bailey Rogers (C)
HALF-FORWARD: Tyrone Thorne (PT), Alex Manuel (C), Greg Clark (S)
FORWARD: Cody Ninyette (SF), Jack Buller (C), Sasha Kernutt (WP) 
RUCK: Lachlan Delahunty (S), Jye Bolton (C), Jake Florenca (SF)
INTERCHANGE: Jesse Turner (SD), Brady Hough (PT), Max Walters (S), Aaron Black (WP)

There were plenty of players who delivered tremendous performances across Round 22 but couldn’t quite fit into the Team of the Week, including:

Claremont's Ryan Lim, Kane Mitchell, Jared Hardisty, Declan Mountford and the returning Oliver Eastland.

Swan Districts' Chris Jones, Jesse Palmer, Jackson Beck, Jehb O'Donohue, Lachlan Riley and Greg Ottaviano.

Peel Thunder's Jack Sears, Stefan Giro and Jackson Merrett.

Subiaco's Wil Hickmott, Liam Hickmott and Harry Marsh.

Perth's Kristian Cary, Brady Grey, Austin Davis, Corey Byrne and Michael Sinclair.

West Perth's Shane Nelson, Tristan Hobley, Steve Potente, Blake Wilhelm and Zac Guadagnin.

South Fremantle's Nick Suban, Jacob Dragovich, Tom Blechynden, Zac Dent, Haiden Schloithe and Zac Strom.

West Coast Eagles' Brayden Ainsworth, Ben Johnson and Hamish Brayshaw.

Players of the Round
Round 1 –
 Josh Schoenfeld (East Fremantle)
Round 2 – Sam Fisher (Swan Districts)
Round 3 – Greg Clark (Subiaco)
Round 5 – Haiden Schloithe (South Fremantle)
Round 6 – Tyrone Thorne (Peel Thunder)
Round 7 – Keegan Knott (West Perth)
Round 8 – Jye Bolton (Claremont)
Round 9 – Tyler Keitel (West Perth)
Round 10/11 – Jonathon Marsh (East Fremantle)
Round 12 – Jackson Ramsay (East Perth)
Round 14 – Warrick Wilson (Swan Districts)
Round 15 – Angus Schumacher (East Perth)
Round 16 – Oliver Eastland (Claremont)
Round 17 – Brandon Matera (Subiaco)
Round 18 – Aidan Lynch (East Perth)
Round 19 – Shane Nelson (West Perth)
Round 20 – Michael Randall (Peel Thunder)
Round 21 – Bailey Rogers (Claremont)
Round 22 – Jake Florenca (South Fremantle)

CREDIT Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 2:20 PM - by Chris Pike WAFL website