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NELSON AGAIN LEADS WAY FOR FALCONS IN SANDOVER MEDAL

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 10:12 PM by Chris Pike
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SHANE Nelson has once again led the way for West Perth in the Sandover Medal vote count on Monday night but he couldn’t quite take it out with South Fremantle's Haiden Schloithe winning ahead of teammate Tim Kelly.

Nelson had yet another outstanding season for the Falcons. He played his 100th game along the way and led the league for possessions with 33.2 a game.

That was recognised in the Sandover Medal count on Monday as he led the way for the Falcons with 26 votes.

Despite his strong start to the season, he surprisingly didn’t receive a vote until he for four against Swan Districts in Round 6. He then got five votes the next week against Perth in Round 7. He polled four votes in each of Round 10, 12 and 14 as well before five in Round 18 against Perth when he had 51 possessions.

Luke Meadows wasn’t far behind in the vote count for West Perth ending up with 24 votes for the season including five votes in Round 5 against Peel Thunder.

But it was a fitting end to the vote count for 2017 that Schloithe's nearest rival was his teammate Kelly after the pair had standout seasons with the Bulldogs helping lead them all the way to Sunday's preliminary final before losing to Subiaco.

Little could separate Schloithe and Kelly throughout the WAFL season with South Fremantle both proving tremendous inside midfielders and clearances winners, while able to break away and run and carry the ball, and go forward to kick goals.

But in the end it was Schloithe who claimed the Sandover Medal for 2017 with 52 votes ahead of Kelly who polled 45.

Schloithe polled votes in 13 of the 19 games he played in for the season including best on ground five-vote performances in Rounds 6, 13, 16 and 17. But it was the four-vote games where Schloithe got the job done in Rounds 4, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12.

Between Rounds 4 and 17, the 24-year-old originally from Katanning polled 47 votes to secure the Sandover Medal victory. He didn’t poll in the first three rounds and had just five votes after Round 17.

But the middle period of the season saw Schloithe stamp his authority on the competition as the most damaging WAFL player whether in the midfield or forward.

He ended up averaging 28.5 possessions a game and kicked 27 goals for the season including a career-best five goals to go with 27 disposals in his 100th game against Claremont in Round 16 at Claremont Oval.

The Sandover Medal is a tremendous reward for the work that Schloithe has put in to become an elite player in the competition. After being a colts premiership player with South Fremantle, he was on Fremantle's rookie-list before returning full-time to South Fremantle and winning the fairest and best award in 2014.

Injuries curtailed his impact the past two seasons to some degree, but he was back fully fit in 2017 and turned himself in a strong, consistent performer. 

When in the midfield, he was a strong, contested ball winner or was also damaging in space while when he went forward, he proved near impossible to stop in one-on-one contest.

Schloithe is South Fremantle's first Sandover Medal winner since Toby McGrath in 2005.

The season of his teammate Kelly deserves recognition as well and his polling of 45 votes shows that the umpires certainly noticed his impact on games.

He ended up polling in 12 games as well including five best on ground performances including his remarkable 38 possessions and seven goals in the WA Day Foundation Derby win over East Fremantle.

South Fremantle's preliminary final conquerors Subiaco might not have had a Sandover Medal winner, but their 19-win season was recognised with four players finishing with 30 or more votes.

Inspirational captain Kyal Horsley led the way for the Lions with 39 votes while tough midfielder Leigh Kitchin polled 37, versatile big man Lachlan Delahunty 34 and Bernie Naylor Medallist and excitement machine Liam Ryan 30.

All four now have Sunday's WAFL Grand Final to prepare for against Peel Thunder at Domain Stadium. 

Peel's leading vote winner was once again 2013 Sandover Medallist Rory O'Brien with 17. The 246-game, 31-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down.

Perth captain Clint Jones came fifth with 36 votes after coming third last year in his first season back in the WAFL following his distinguished AFL career at St Kilda following time with South Fremantle where he won a premiership and two fairest and best awards.

Last year's Sandover Medallist Jye Bolton again polled well finishing with 35 votes with 28 of those coming after Round 11. His Claremont midfield teammate Ryan Lim polled well with 25 votes also.

Other awards presented on the night included Perth's Luke English receiving the Jack Clarke Medal as the best player in the colts while East Fremantle's Ben Harding won the Prendergast Medal as best in the reserves.

Liam Ryan received his Bernie Naylor Medal as leading goalkicker having kicked 68 goals in his second WAFL season while Matt Adams claimed the Montgomery Medal as the Umpire of the Year.

Peel Thunder premiership coach Cam Shepherd claimed the JJ Leonard Medal as Coach of the Year with Subiaco winning Rodriguez Shield.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times Volunteer of the Year award went to South West's Tom Busher.

TOP 10 SANDOVER MEDAL VOTE WINNERS
Haiden Schloithe (South Fremantle) – 52 Votes
Tim Kelly (South Fremantle) – 45
Kyal Horsley (Subiaco) – 39
Leigh Kitchin (Subiaco) – 37
Clint Jones (Perth) – 36
Jye Bolton (Claremont) – 35
Lachlan Delahunty (Subiaco) – 34
Liam Ryan (Subiaco) – 30
Shane Nelson (West Perth) – 26
Ryan Lim (Claremont) – 25

WEST PERTH
Shane Nelson – 26
Luke Meadows – 24
Tyler Keitel – 15
Aaron Black – 14*
Aidan Lynch – 14
Corey Chalmers – 12
Andrew Strijk – 12
Trent Manzone – 10
Nick Rodda – 6
Rudy Riddoch – 4
Scott Simpson – 2
Kris Shannon – 1
Jay van Berlo – 1