CLAREMONT and East Fremantle are two teams trying to rise up the ladder in 2018 and build some momentum early in the new season leading into their clash to open Round 3 on Saturday at Claremont Oval.
The Tigers and Sharks both missed out on finals action in 2017, finishing seventh and eighth respectively, and each of them welcomed some impressive signings during the off-season in a bid to try to get back into finals contention in 2018.
Both had a mixed start to the season losing in Round 1 with Claremont going down to West Perth at HBF Arena by 18 points and East Fremantle being overrun by Peel Thunder at Bendigo Bank Stadium to lose by 15.
Claremont then had the bye last week so this is their first chance to bounce back from that loss while East Fremantle just managed to hold off last year's wooden spooners Perth to win by seven points last Saturday.
Now this contest on Saturday at Claremont Oval will give a good indication of which team is ready to take a step forward early in 2018 as they try to rise up the ladder and build some early season momentum.
Claremont managed to beat East Fremantle in both meetings in 2017 by 62 points in Round 1 at East Fremantle and then by three points on a day to remember in Round 12 at the official opening of the redeveloped Claremont Oval.
The Tigers also won the last meeting in 2016 to the tune of 99 points at East Fremantle Oval in Round 22 so they have won the past three over the Sharks.
East Fremantle's last win against Claremont came in Round 10, 2016 when they won by five points at the Claremont Showground in a wet weather slog.
But overall, Claremont has won six of its last seven matches with East Fremantle and even 11 of the past 15 with that run including the 2012 Grand Final that the Tigers beat the Sharks in by 26 points.
Claremont would have been disappointed in its Round 1 loss to West Perth at HBF Arena though. Sandover Medallists Kane Mitchell and Jye Bolton were especially prolific through the middle but the Tigers just couldn’t quite fully capitalise.
There are plenty of changes to the Claremont team too from that opening round loss with the bye in between for coach Darren Harris to stew over it.
It's the return of key defender Anton Hamp and key forward Tom Lee that will be most encouraging after both played in the reserves finding form and fitness in the opening round.
Hamp will strengthen Claremont's back-line while Lee will provide a strong option in attack in his first game since Round 9 last year last year.
Jack Beeck, Declan Hardisty, Matthew Palfrey, Eddie Simpson and Nick Yarran are also into the Claremont squad.
Veteran Beau Maister is out of the Claremont line-up just two games shy of earning life membership by reaching 150 games. Tom Ledger, Lachlan Martinis and Corey Mitchell are the other Tigers players unable to hold their spots from the Round 11 loss to West Perth.
East Fremantle will be hoping for an improved performance on the first two rounds where they were overrun by Peel in Mandurah and just held off Perth last Saturday on home turf.
The Sharks will gladly welcome back Jayden Schofield from suspension to face the Tigers with the reigning Lynn Medallist delivering 33 possessions off half-back in Round 1.
Josh Cuneo and Russell Wynne are two more players in the mix at the selection table for the Sharks to face Claremont at Claremont Oval on Saturday.
CLAREMONT (0-1, 7th) v EAST FREMANTLE (1-1, 4th) – CLAREMONT OVAL, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Selected teams, live stats
Broadcast – HFM (107.3FM), Footy Radio (WAFL App)