As hype builds around Michael Barlow’s AFL comeback after 12 months recovering from a broken leg, it is worth noting two other important players that also returned from injury in the WAFL at the weekend.

Defenders Alex Silvagni and Roger Hayden have been sidelined all season with groin and foot injuries respectively, but they impressed in round 13 of the state competition.

The versatile Silvagni played roughly a half for the Peel Thunder reserves, while Hayden got through three quarters with South Fremantle’s reserves side.

“That was the great thing about the weekend, having Alex and Roger back,” assistant coach Simon Lloyd said.

“We saw it with Alex on the track last week when he joined in our match simulation, he’s got a real presence out there. We were very happy with his first outing.

“With Roger, his attack on the contest is what stood out for me for someone that has been out for such a long period of time. His decision making was really sharp.”

Lloyd noted the importance of both players to Fremantle’s structure at senior level and said they would each increase their game time this week in an effort to push for senior selection.

Barlow was Fremantle’s WAFL player of the round following his 33-possession game for Peel Thunder, with Rhys Palmer and Ben Bucovaz both influential in East Fremantle’s win over Perth.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at the MCG, Lloyd shared his WAFL notes with

Peel Thunder 17.13 (115) d West Perth 13.16 (94)

Michael Barlow
Michael covered a lot of ground at good speed in his WAFL league debut for Peel Thunder, winning 33 possessions and showing that gear change when required. He plays a team orientated game, so he works hard defensively, but he reads the state of play really well and switches from defence to offence very quickly. The best thing about Michael’s game was his ability to clear the football from a contested situation and he worked very hard inside to win disputed ball. He showed some really good agility.

Alex Silvagni (reserves)
Alex played in a dour and aggressive fashion from the beginning in his first game back for the Peel reserves. He played a professional defensive game and was always in the opposition’s face. His hands were clean, he took four marks, including a couple of strong contested grabs, and his communication and direction was really impressive. He set up counter attacks with his handball and run and he worked hard under fatigue.

Jay van Berlo
This week’s game was a strong step in the right direction for Jay, who played with a really positive approach to the contest for West Perth. He showed a strong desire to influence the game, positioned well at stoppages and was involved in numerous offensive rebound chains. Jay’s played in a number of positions this year, impressing in both defensive and offensive roles.

East Perth 7.10 (52) lost to Subiaco (14.10 (94)

Hamish Shepheard
Hamish played in the ruck with a high level of competitiveness for East Perth, opposed to accomplished Subiaco ruckman Michael Rix. He worked really well in confined areas, but we want Hamish to focus on using his run and mobility when the ball clears the stoppage. He took a good contested mark, and just needs to work harder once the ball leaves his area.

Dylan Roberton
Dylan had a solid game for East Perth, beating his direct opponents and providing counter-attack run off half-back. He looked a better player after half-time, playing with a lot of spirit and intensity, and he was efficient with his disposal by hand and foot. The opposition attempted to drag him to the last line of defence, but he didn’t allow that to happen this week. Dylan’s playing his best footy when he’s linking up and involved in the chain off half-back.

South Fremantle 18.15 (123) lost to Swan Districts 88.8 (140)

Roger Hayden (reserves)
Roger started the game as a running back and was able to set up as a plus one, showing strong direction to his South Fremantle teammates and running off offensively. He’s a very intelligent footballer, Roger, and it was as though he’d just jumped straight back on the bike. He was only going to play a half, but the role he played wasn’t allowing him to get the conditioning required, so he played an extra quarter in the midfield.

East Fremantle 13.7 (85) d Perth 10.8 (68)

Rhys Palmer
Rhys played 90 per cent of the game in the midfield for East Fremantle, with short periods at half-forward. His attack on the ball and the opposition was impressive and he constantly got first hands on the ball at stoppages. A lot of his handballs were short, sharp gives in traffic. There was a lovely piece of play where he gathered in the centre, broke out and delivered well to Brock O’Brien on the lead. He finished the game full of run.

Ben Bucovaz
Ben played three quarters as a high forward for East Fremantle before moving into a running back role in the last quarter. He looked lively from the start, leading up at the footy and looking to move the ball on quickly. He tackled with intent and aggression in the second quarter and kicked an important long goal in the last term when he was playing back. Overall, it was a solid performance playing at both ends of the ground.

Justin Bollenhagen
Justin played as a high half-forward for Perth and positioned himself well, running hard to kick a goal in the first quarter. A key learning point for Justin in this game was his movement at stoppages. When he was standing still he didn’t really have an impact, but when he was moving at speed he was dangerous. He drew a free kick at one stoppage and he roved off a deep boundary throw-in at another, snapping a very good goal to finish with two for the game.

Casey Sibosado
Casey played a variety of roles for Perth, playing forward, back and in the ruck at one stage, but his game time was down and he struggled to get going. He looked energetic early and took a good contested mark on the wing, and he was competitive when in the ruck, winning two good clearances in the second quarter. We’ll continue to work with Perth to get Casey back playing his best football.

Jayden Pitt
Jayden played on the wing and as a high forward for Perth and although his positioning was good there wasn’t a lot of energy in his game. In the third quarter there was a passage of play where he ran really hard back into defence, which is something we want to look at him doing more often. He got good game time and showed clean hands in traffic. He’s building his game and adjusting to senior football.

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