THERE might be just three games in WAFL Round 12 action on Saturday but all are crucial clashes as the top-two teams look to bounce back, two sides near the bottom look to consolidate wins last weekend and then two mid-table sides look to get back towards the top-four.
West Perth hosts Claremont at Arena Joondalup with the Falcons and Tigers trying to bounce back from losses last weekend to East Perth and Subiaco respectively despite still sitting in the top-two positions on the WAFL ladder.
Subiaco takes on South Fremantle at Leederville's Medibank Stadium with the Lions coming off a win over Claremont and the Bulldogs having thumped East Fremantle last weekend.
The other match of the weekend sees East Fremantle host Peel Thunder at East Fremantle Oval with Perth, East Perth and Swan Districts having the bye.
WEST PERTH (6-3, 2nd) v CLAREMONT (9-1, 1st) – ARENA JOONDALUP, SATURDAY 2.10PM
West Perth and Claremont have combined for just four losses this season, but two of them came last weekend adding some extra bite to this Saturday's clash at Arena Joondalup.
The Falcons and Tigers occupy the top-two spots on the ladder but Saturday's game looms as a crucial one for the winner, and indeed the loser.
Claremont could move four wins clear of West Perth on the ladder with a victory to make it incredibly hard for any side in the second half of the season to knock the Tigers off for a fourth straight minor premiership.
However, a West Perth win would move the Falcons to just two wins behind Claremont but more importantly only one defeat with a game in hand.
A Falcons loss, though, would see them vulnerable to the teams below with Perth and East Perth just the one win behind, and possibly East Fremantle as well if the Sharks beat Peel on Saturday.
Claremont won its first nine games of the season and looked set to record a 10th straight last Sunday at home to Subiaco, but the Tigers didn’t manage a final quarter goal with the Lions finishing the stronger to end up winning by 10 points.
West Perth was sitting pretty with a 6-2 record and led most of the game last Monday in the Foundation (WA) Day derby against East Perth at Leederville, but then also didn’t manage a goal in the last quarter as the Royals kicked six to win by 19 points.
Neither the Tiger nor Falcons kicked a last quarter goal in their losses last weekend so leading at three quarter-time come Saturday at Arena Joondalup could be crucial in the final result.
Claremont has won the last four encounters with West Perth including a hard fought 19-point win at Claremont Oval in Round 6 this season in what was a terrific contest.
West Perth has lost captain Jason Salecic following Monday's loss to East Perth and the Falcons are confident that prolific midfielder Shane Nelson will be right to take his place in the side despite injuring his ankle midway through the last quarter after already having racked up 27 possessions.
Matt Fowler, Brayden Antonio, Shaun Marusic and James Batterham are all making a strong push to come into the West Perth league side.
Fowler kicked five goals in the reserves last week against East Perth for the second straight game and could come in to add another forward option for the Falcons.
Antonio has been building some form nicely as well and had another 23 possessions in the reserves and he could be an option to come in, and he can play across half-forward and have the odd run in the midfield.
Batterham and Marusic have both been in solid form as well and could come in to add some further versatility to the West Perth line-up.
Claremont is still without Luke Blackwell, Trinity Handley, Jeremy McGovern, Byron Schammer and Ryan Neates, and also loses Fremantle's Alex Silvagni and West Coast's Patrick McGinnity from the side that lost to Subiaco last Sunday.
Nick Winmar returns after being a late withdrawal last week against the Lions while Ben Daniher might have earned his league debut after continued strong reserves form with another 18 possessions and a goal last week.
Jack Bradshaw could return to add another small forward option after a bad run with niggling injuries while Liam Smith could also return. Brendan Lim is a chance to make his league debut as well after 18 disposals in the reserves last week against the Lions.
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Courtesy of www.wafl.com.au