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ROUND 21 PREVIEW V EAST FREMANTLE

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 11:49 AM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth plays its final home game at HBF Arena of the season on Saturday in Members' Appreciation Round against East Fremantle in a must-win contest.

Plenty goes on the line between the Falcons and Sharks at HBF Arena on Saturday and while their reasons for winning might be significantly different, the fact that both will be desperate for four points sets up a fascinating contest.

West Perth needs to win to be any chance of returning to the top five not only by Saturday night, but at all this season.

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East Fremantle, meanwhile, could escape the wooden spoon altogether in 2017 by coming away from Joondalup with the victory.

The Falcons come into the game in sixth position on the WAFL ladder having fallen from the top five with last week's 84-point loss at home to East Perth.

West Perth has won just once since Round 12 and that was a 53-point victory against the bottom placed Perth. Either side of that the Falcons have lost to South Fremantle twice by 47 points, to Claremont by two points, Subiaco by 11 points, Peel Thunder by 30 points, and then last week against the Royals.

That has left the Falcons with an 8-9 record and the worst percentage out of the seven teams still in finals contention.

Lack of key personnel is certainly a big reason why West Perth has struggled in recent times but some important players are beginning to come back now and not before time because Saturday is a must-win affair for the Falcons.

If West Perth wins over East Fremantle on Saturday, the Falcons could be back in the top five if East Perth loses to Swan Districts. If Peel and/or Swans lose on Saturday as well and West Perth wins, even finishing higher than fifth isn’t out of the question for the Falcons.

But a loss could be fatal for West Perth with them possibly falling a game and percentage behind East Perth, even dropping below Claremont potentially and needing a lot of luck over the last two rounds to still make finals even if they beat Subiaco and Claremont.

East Fremantle isn’t playing for a finals position but avoiding the wooden spoon is enough motivation.

The Sharks moved off the bottom of the ladder again last Saturday by putting in a competitive performance in losing to South Fremantle by 45 points while Perth went down to Claremont by 99.

East Fremantle has only beaten Perth this season in Rounds 13 and 17, and while they have lost by 61 points and 45 the past two weeks to top two teams Subiaco and South Fremantle, the Sharks have been significantly more competitive than a 2-15 record suggests.

With the motivation that a win would likely deny them the wooden spoon and that their form coming into the game actually is no worse than West Perth, the Sharks deserve to head to HBF Arena with confidence that a win isn’t too far away.

The two teams have met just the once so far in 2017 and that saw West Perth score a 35-point victory at East Fremantle Oval in Round 8.

West Perth has been hit terribly hard by injury in the second half of the season. But there is some rest bite from that this week with the returns of Mark Hamilton, Michael Lourey, Kody Manning and Andrew Strijk. 

They are without question four of West Perth's most important players.

West Perth will also receive another massive boost with 191-game premiership-winning midfielder Matt Guadagnin playing his first game since Round 16, 2015. 

He has since undergone a knee reconstruction and battled soft tissue injuries, but he has stuck at it and his last two weeks in the reserves have been impressive to show he's ready to come back into the league line-up.

James Batterham, Riley Hutchinson and Rudy Riddoch go out of the West Perth team that lost to East Perth last Saturday.

East Fremantle has had its own injury woes right throughout 2017 and that continued last week with George Hampson and Josh Cuneo both suffering hamstring injuries. They go out of the team for this Saturday as a result.

Peter Delaney, Sean Henson, Jesse Mirco, Leon Pearton and Sam Read are all in the mix to return for East Fremantle in search of its third win of the season on Saturday at HBF Arena on Saturday.

ROUND 21
WEST PERTH v EAST FREMANTLE – HBF ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Broadcast – KIX Digital, Footy Radio (WAFL App)

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