Subiaco Lions player Taj Schofield in the WAFL, 2023 (Image via Subiaco Lions FC, Instagram)

The race to the finals has blown wide open following Round 18 of the WAFL with first to fifth still undecided and this past weekend of footy proved why the WAFL is red hot in 2023.

From the Sharks overcoming the Royals to stand alone atop the ladder, to West Perth keeping their finals hopes alive as the Swans proved too good for the Demons, Round 18 was another exciting round.

Check out who stood out in the weekend that was in the WAFL.

EAST FREMANTLE VS EAST PERTH (96-82)

East Fremantle stand alone on top of the WAFL ladder following an exciting 14-point win over East Perth at the W.A.C.A Ground in their first meeting at the venue since 1994.

The Sharks took control of the game with a seven-goal to four second quarter but the Royals got back into the game before three-quarter time to set up an exciting final term.

Harrison Marsh played his season best on the day with an effective shift up forward from midfield late in the game, he finished with 27 disposals, 5 marks, 8 tackles and three goals. He had support up the middle from Kyle Baskerville [20 disposals] and Reuben McGuire [38 hitouts, 7 tackles].

Up forward former Eagle Hugh Dixon continued his form with another three-goal bag, this time on Tom North.

Also with three goals was Christian Ameduri who kicked two in a late burst in the third term to put East Perth into the game. Also with two goals were Michael Randall & Hamish Brayshaw.

Mitchell Crowden was East Perth's best on the day with 26 disposals, 3 marks & 9 tackles. delivering in spades while a lot of his fellow onballers were well held by a solid East Fremantle side.

PEEL THUNDER VS CLAREMONT (91-59)

Peel Thunder kept their hopes of a top two finish alive with a 32-point win over Claremont, which sees the Tigers vulnerable in their fight to even stay in the five.

The game was on a tightrope for three quarters but Peel pulled away with a three-goals-to-nil last quarter to sew up a hard-fought win.

Bailey Banfield was one of Peel's best with 4 goals from 16 disposals with his forward pressure being vital all afternoon.

Will Brodie was hard at the footy all game, finishing with 29 disposals starting from the centre while also receiving handy support from Traye Bennell and Tom Emmett who both amassed 24 disposals.

The usual suspects for Claremont saw plenty of the ball, but it was Zac Mainwaring who stood out inside 50 with three goals from 15 disposals and 6 marks.

Jye Bolton again topped the ball-getters for the Tigers with 30 disposals and 4 tackles while Ben Edwards was good with 26 disposals. Daniel Curtin's second league game was also good with 20 disposals and 8 tackles.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Daniel Curtin of the Team Houli Squad poses for a photo during the 2022 AFL Futures match between Team Houli and Team Murphy at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 24, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

The Tigers prospect firms as a chance to land among the top five selections at this year's draft given his standing as Western Australia's No.1 talent.

PERTH VS SWAN DISTRICTS (70-98)

Swan Districts are still in the fight for fifth place and they kept their hopes intact following a 28-point win over Perth at Mineral Resources Park.

While Perth were competitive but were overrun in the final quarter only kicking two goals to the Swans' six straight to seal the result.

Aidan Clarke was a standout for the Swans with three goals up forward along with 17 disposals in his best game for the season up to this point.

The midfield trio of Jesse Turner, Josh Cipro & Jackson Maclachlan were also crucial in the victory. Turner had 34 disposals and 8 marks, Cipro finished with 27 disposals and 5 inside 50s along with a goal and Maclachlan also had 27 touches and 6 tackles.

Perth's onballers were sensational all game with Charlie Thompson leading the charge, he finished with 32 disposals and 7 marks, continuing his great first-season form. He was supported by Trent Manzone [28 disposals and 7 marks] alongside Jack Avery [26 disposals, 6 marks and 3 tackles].

Michael Sinclair was back to his best up forward after a quiet fortnight with 4 goals from 18 disposals but he was the only prime forward for Perth in a tough but positive hitout.

SUBIACO VS WEST COAST (151-82)

Subiaco jumped up to second place on the ladder after a nine-goal win over a more competitive West Coast Eagles outfit at Leederville Oval.

It was a four-goal game all throughout the first three quarters but then the Lions cut loose in the final term with a nine-goal-to-four last term.

One standout that caught a lot of eyes was Subiaco's Josh Robbins who had played a curtain raiser against a combined Colts team earlier and it was only when Max Walters was ruled out with an ankle injury that he came into the league side. He had 15 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles and 5 inside 50s, an effort that earns its own mention in this wrap-up.

It was a day that belonged to the forwards as Ben Sokol continued his fine run for the Lions kicking five goals from 19 disposals and 10 marks all inside 50. Ryan Borchet was also impressive, kicking three along with Taj Schofield who followed up with 25 touches.

Subiaco Lions player Taj Schofield in the WAFL, 2023 (Image via Subiaco Lions FC, Instagram)

The Eagles had positives all over the ground despite the loss, with Isiah Winder proving his potential once again with 28 disposals, 9 marks and 4 tackles along with 4 inside 50s. Zane Trew was also impressive with 25 disposals and Josh Browne's 25 touches and 4 marks was crucial.

Shannon Lucassen was on fire up forward for the Eagles kicking six goals straight in a brilliant performance, but had little support in the Eagles' forward line.

SOUTH FREMANTLE VS WEST PERTH (55-91)

West Perth had not won at Fremantle Oval against the Bulldogs since the 2018 Preliminary Final, but that run was shattered to the tune of 36 points and it keeps the Falcons in the hunt for fifth.

After leading by nine points at the main break, the reigning premiers turned it on in the second half kicking eight goals to three and giving the Bulldogs another loss at the Port.

Aaron Black left the ground early with a hamstring injury but West Perth's midfield rotation was more than capable of covering his loss, with Luke Meadows [32 disposals, 6 marks, 6 tackles and 3 inside 50's] and Shane Nelson [29 disposals, 9 marks, 2 tackles] providing excellent service from centre into attack.

Noah Pegoraro was a huge difference up forward as his push to swingman no.1 was boosted with three goals from 15 disposals and 3 marks, along with Tyler Keitel who also kicked three as the Falcons forward line was functioning like clockwork at the right time.

South Fremantle ruck Jimmy Miller had another day out with 41 hitouts to go with his 14 disposals while having support from Aaron Drage who is blossoming as a fine league player with 30 disposals.

Two goals each to Roan O'Hehir and Edward Graham highlighted the lack of experienced forward options to combat the Falcons' game-plan.