Round 9 of the 2023 WAFL Season was electrifying as teams racing for the final five clicked into gear this past weekend, leaving it up to seven teams still with a chance of finals footy come September.
From East Perth ramping up the heat at Leederville Oval to Claremont coming back from the dead at the expense of a stacked Peel Thunder, and West Perth's frenzied final quarter shutdown of the Bulldogs, the weekend had it all.
Let's find out who stood out in Round 9 of the WAFL.
WEST COAST VS SUBIACO (37-166)
In what was the only unsurprising result of Round 9, Subiaco climbed back into the top two by inflicting another triple-digit hammering on the West Coast Eagles at Lathlain.
On a day that belonged to the Subiaco forwards, the Lions kicked 12 goals to four in the first half and were never challenged, as West Coast only kicked one goal in the second half and had few positives in another embarrassing day for the Eagles.
Ben Sokol led the charge in the forward line for the Lions, kicking eight goals and regaining the lead in the Bernie Naylor Medal, with backup coming from Jack Mayo's six majors and Benjamin Golding outstanding with three goals.
In midfield, Liam Hickmott continued his stunning form this season with 32 disposals, four marks and five tackles.
West Coast had Joshua Browne as the only strong point in the midfield rotation with another 29 touches and also bought the ball inside 50 three times along with Darby McCarthy, who contributed five inside 50s.
The backline did have Cooper Nitschke who held his own for West Coast, bringing down eight marks.
CLAREMONT VS PEEL THUNDER (62-60)
With five minutes to go, Peel Thunder were all but home against Claremont on Saturday, but two quick goals to Talon Delacey bought the Tigers back from the brink as they stole the game by two points.
It was the third time this past month Claremont came back from a deficit to win the game at the death, it saw the Tigers go to the top of the ladder while Peel Thunder dropped to third as a result.
Big marks go to Claremont's midfield who lifted up a gear after a sparse first half, where they struggled to get consistent impact. Jye Bolton in particular lifted up to top gear and has led the charge since Bailey Rogers' injury, the dual Sandover medallist amassed 36 disposals, five marks and six inside 50s in another exciting performance.
The back half was also vital in the second half, as Teia Miles (23 disposals, eight marks, four tackles) and Jack Lewsey (22 disposals, eight marks, four tackles) shut down the repeated penetration of the Peel forward line, while up forward Talon Delacey once again was the key, kicking three goals.
Peel should not be disgraced with the performance, especially from Blair Bell who shone on his return from injury in midfield, finishing up with 25 disposals, five marks and five tackles.
EAST PERTH VS EAST FREMANTLE (108-70)
If East Perth's derby win was anything to go by, their 38-point win over East Fremantle on Sunday was another huge statement for Ross McQueen's new and improved Royals.
The Royals' reshuffle around the ground was a key spark, while the Sharks struggled to get any slick ball movement going on a slippery Leederville Oval surface.
Once again it was the usual suspects making the most significant impact, the AFL standard midfield unit of East Perth led by Angus Schumacher, who was sensational with 32 disposals, six marks, five tackles and four inside 50s.
The contributions from Mitch Crowden (27 disposals, seven marks, six tackles) and Shayne Hille (two goals, 18 disposals) held importance, but the big ticks must go to Corey Watts who stepped up to the ruck after Scott Jones broke his leg in the opening seconds, recording 22 hitouts, 19 disposals and 10 tackles.
East Fremantle had many players down, with Milan Murdock (concussion) and Corey Holmes (hamstring) all ending their days early, but Cameron Eardley stepped up a gear, shifting up the ground to amass 30 disposals and nine marks in a brilliant performance.
Dillon O'Reilly was hard to stop for much of the afternoon inside 50, kicking four goals from six marks up forward where the forward setup lacked connection all day.
SWAN DISTRICTS VS PERTH (65-59)
Before Sunday's win, Swan Districts lost five games by less than 10 points, but they finally got it done against Perth by six points with an after-the-siren match-winner from former Eagle Jarrod Cameron.
Swan Districts received a huge boost to their chances of making the final five with this win while Perth are left with more broken hearts.
Swan Districts had many major players fire up on all cylinders with Aidan Clarke turning the game in his team's favour (17 disposals, 11 tackles).
The charge was led by Jackson McLachlan once again, his form since making his debut has been fantastic, finishing with 35 disposals, four marks and eight tackles, supported by Jesse Turner's 28 touches quickly returning towards his best form.
For Perth, Jack Cooley continued his form on the ball with another 32 disposals and four tackles, and had contributions from Samuel Stubbs inside 50, with his three-goal haul a sign that the dynamic forward is back to his best.
Coburg recruit Charlie Thompson's debut season in the WAFL continues to get better with 23 disposals, eight clearances and eight tackles.
WEST PERTH VS SOUTH FREMANTLE (86-59)
It was an inspired switch by a premiership-winning veteran that sparked West Perth's come-from-behind win over South Fremantle.
The victory brings West Perth back into the five while South Fremantle's finals hopes took another severe hit with their second loss in the last three weeks.
The veteran who inspired the revival for the reigning premiers was Aaron Black, making the move to the forward line and kicking three goals to go with his 17 disposals and four marks, most of them inside 50.
West Perth had many players lift in the second half when the chips were down, with Shane Nelson's 33 disposals crucial in setting the tone for the comeback.
Luke Meadows (23 disposals, four tackles) and Joseph Hinder (23 disposals, six marks, nine inside 50s, two goals) also lifted up a gear when it mattered.
South Fremantle had their ball magnet Jake Florenca star once again, his game of 30 disposals and 11 tackles was all class in a losing team that needed a spark this season.
Zac Strom carried his derby form into the forward line with three vital goals, including two late in the third term to give the Bulldogs some breathing space, while Manfred Kelly returned with a bang from injury, kicking two majors in a strong first half.