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NAIDOC Round Optus WAFL PreviewFriday, July 5, 2019 - 1:16 PM - by Chris Pike

IT is NAIDOC Round in the WAFL and with all five games providing a celebration of Aboriginal heritage and what it means to football in Western Australia, all five matches will have plenty at stake as the second half of the 2019 season heats up.

Right across the five matches in Round 13 of the 2019 Optus WAFL Premiership Season, all 10 competing teams will be wearing specially designed Aboriginal jumpers as part of the celebration of NAIDOC Week.

Having started in 2007 with Claremont and South Fremantle creating an annual traditional for meeting in NAIDOC Week and playing for the Jimmy Melbourne Cup, it has become one of the highlights of any WAFL season for the entire competition to take part in.

On top of all the teams wearing specially designed jumpers, the umpire uniforms will also be adorned with Aboriginal artwork while the Burley footballs used across the weekend will also feature artwork created by Shaye and Monique Humphries.


On top of the round being a tremendous celebration of Aboriginal culture and the Indigenous contribution to football over time and to this day, there's plenty on the line in the five matches that are taking place as well.

All five matches take place on Saturday afternoon with the earlier starting fixture taking place at Mandurah's David Grays Arena between Peel Thunder and the West Coast Eagles ahead of the AFL's Western Derby later on that evening at Optus Stadium.

Second spot then goes on the line at Claremont Oval in the traditional NAIDOC Round clash between Claremont and South Fremantle.

The Tigers have now replaced the Bulldogs in second position as a result of a four-game winning streak South Fremantle has lost consecutive matches for the first time in 2019. 

But both teams come into Saturday's clash with identical 8-3 records heightening the importance of their first meeting of the season.

The other three matches on Saturday afternoon all take place from 2.15pm beginning with the sixth placed West Perth hosting the fourth placed Perth at Joondalup's HBF Arena.

West Perth needs a win to be a chance of ending the round back in the top five while Perth can go a long way to securing that elusive first finals appearance since 1997 with a victory.

Two teams desperate for a win also meet at Steel Blue Oval with Swan Districts hosting East Perth. Swans have now lost four straight to be on the bottom of the WAFL ladder while the Royals are only one slot above having lost three in-a-row.

Then there is last year's premiers Subiaco against last year's wooden spooners East Fremantle, but the Sharks will look to continue their improved form from recent times against the league-leaders. 

The round gets underway with the earlier starting fixture at David Grays Arena in the mini-derby with Peel hosting West Coast ahead of the Dockers and Eagles battling later in the day at Optus Stadium.

It's a big game in the context of the seasons for both clubs too with Peel now on a two-game winning run coming off a 79-point thumping of Swan Districts while West Coast is playing its best WAFL football having won two straight after wins over the Sharks and Bulldogs.

That sees Peel coming into the game in fifth position at 5-6 and West Coast in seventh at 4-7 so it will be significant in terms of their finals prospects.

From the peel team that won big over Swan Districts last week, they have had to make plenty of changes with Bailey Banfield returning to strengthen the midfield and Scott Jones to carry the ruck. Banfield will replace Mitch Crowden and Jones the injured Lloyd Meek.

Thunder skipper Ben Howlett returns from a shoulder injury that had him sidelined since Round 1 as well with Ryan Bennell back from State 18s duties. Michael Randall, Luke Valente and Dillon O'Reilly have also been added to the Peel squad.

West Coast was impressive in beating South Fremantle last Saturday and from that team, Matthew Allen, Luke Salomone, Jak Cary, Joel Kalajzic, Sam Lamont, Joel Ashman and Kieran Hug have all been added to the squad.

WAFL Player of the Round Josh Smith is a chance for an AFL call up as are Brendon Ah Chee and Tom Cole with Xavier O'Neill out for the Eagles to take on the Thunder.

Then at Claremont Oval, it's the traditional NAIDOC Week clash between Claremont and South Fremantle with second spot on the WAFL ladder up for grabs.

Claremont comes into the clash in tremendous form on a four-game winning streak to have now replaced South Fremantle in second spot courtesy of a superior percentage.

South Fremantle has lost consecutive matches for the first time in 2019 going down to Subiaco and West Coast the past fortnight following a supremely impressive seven-game winning streak.

Both teams come into Saturday's contest with 8-3 records so the winner will finish the round a game clear in second position.

From Claremont's team that narrowly beat East Fremantle by 10 points last Saturday, dual Sandover and Simpson Medallist Jye Bolton returns with Bailey Bennett, Jordan Law, Ben Rushforth, Harry McCracken and Callan England all in the mix for inclusion.

Jared Hardisty goes straight back out after playing his first game of the season with the in-form Tom Ledger also out of the Claremont line-up along with Alec Waterman.

Meanwhile at South Fremantle with the Bulldogs looking to stop their losing slide at two, they could  unveil another debutant on Saturday with Jonathon Frampton in the selection mix to take on Claremont at Claremont Oval.

Andrew Haydon is a chance to return after losing  his place in the side last week against West Coast while Daniel Cabassi and Seaton Thompson are the other players vying for selection.

The only player out at this stage for South Fremantle is the injured Zac Dent who has so far put together an impressive season off half-back for the Bulldogs.

It's another game with plenty at stake for both participating clubs at HBF Arena on Saturday when West Perth hosts Perth.

The Falcons are trying to get back into the top five following last week's loss to Subiaco while the Demons are out to further consolidate their finals position.

West Perth slipped to 5-6 on the season with the loss to Subiaco to also fall out of the top five at the expense of Peel Thunder. But they are just percentage behind that fifth spot so a win on Saturday would potentially take them back into the top five if Peel doesn’t beat West Coast.

Perth's win last week over East Perth was crucial in their hopes of playing finals for the first time in 22 years. The Demons now sit on a 7-4 record with a two-game edge in fourth position on the chasing pack.

However, for Perth to win on Saturday they will have to turn around their horror recent record against West Perth.

West Perth has now won 16 straight matches against Perth including the 31-point win at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park of Round 6 this season. Those 16 wins for the Falcons have come with an average winning margin of 42.3 points.

The Demons' last win over the Falcons was way back in Round 18, 2011 but at least that was up at Joondalup where they have since lost on their past eight visits.

From the West Perth team that lost to Subiaco last Saturday, the Falcons have made a change in the ruck bringing in Noah Pegoraro for Ben Delaporte. 

Brayden Antonio, Conal Lynch, Sam Rotham and Nathan Alexandre have all come into the Falcons' squad as well with Tom O'Donnell the only other player going out at this stage.

From the Perth team that returned to the winner's list importantly over East Perth last week, Kasey Nicholas, Marshall Jones, Mitch Henderson and Daniel Horan come into the extended squad with Ethan Hansen the only player so far named as an omission.

It is a big game for both Swans and the Royals too as they battle to return to the winner's list at Steel Blue Oval.

Swan Districts comes into the contest sitting on the bottom of the WAFL ladder with a 2-9 record having lost four straight matches while East Perth is sitting one spot above with a 3-8 record and having now lost three games in-a-row as well.

Swan Districts and East Perth have already met once this season and that was a low-scoring slog back in Round 2 at Leederville Oval with the Royals narrowly winning by eight points.

On that occasion, Swans led most of the afternoon but went goalless in the last quarter with East Perth kicking the only two goals of the final term to come from behind to win.

Both teams are the lowest-scoring teams in the competition coming into Saturday's match while the Royals are also the worst ranked side defensively, but Swans are only eighth in that department.

Swans also collect the least amount of possessions across the league with an average of just 289 per game while East Perth averages 338. In contrast, Swans opponents average 346 possessions and the Royals 343.

Highlighting Swans' competitive over the first three quarters this season is the fact that despite winning only two games, they've only been outscored by their opponents by 45 points in first quarters, 39 points in second terms and they have won the third terms by 28 points.

But the final terms have been the problem with Swans' opponents outscoring them by 115 points making the black-and-whites the worst finishing team in the WAFL.

Then East Perth is the worst performing team for each of the first three quarters, but then ranked just seventh in fourth quarters having only been outscored by 58 points.

From the Swan Districts team that lost to Peel Thunder in Mandurah by 79 points last Saturday, Seb Blight has been added to the squad as a potential debutant along with Callum Garcia.

Brad Fullgrabe, Mitchell Bain, Aidan Clarke and Dylan Smith are the other players in the mix to play for Swans against the Royals at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.

At this stage, the three players to make way are Anthony Stephens, Josh Simpson and Jiah Reidy.

And at East Perth, there are household changes coming out of last Saturday's 35-point defeat at the hands of Perth at Leederville Oval.

Jackson Ramsay, Jaxon Cahill, Jamie Rudrum, Joel Houghton, Sharrod Wellingham, Nathan Arbon and Matthew Johnson have been added to East Perth's squad to take on Swan Districts.

Patrick McGinnity, Taylor North, Christian Ameduri and Nathan Eaton are all among the players to go out for the Royals.

The last game of the round takes place at Leederville Oval with Subiaco hosting East Fremantle.

While it's the reigning premiers of last year against the wooden spooners, this is a Sharks team now much better equipped to put in an improved showing against the Lions.

Subiaco has dominated the recent history with East Fremantle though, winning the past six matches by an average of 68.2 points.

Going back further, the Lions have won 11 of the past 12 meetings between the two clubs.

And since Subiaco started calling Leederville Oval home in 2003, Subiaco has won 18 of the 22 contests with East Fremantle at the ground.

Subiaco now comes into Saturday's clash two games and percentage clear on top of the ladder but East Fremantle's season is still alive at 3-8 and just two games outside the top five.

From Subiaco's side that beat West Perth seven days earlier, Tim Sutherland, Jacob Miller, Daniel Leach and Travis Cleggett have all been added to the squad with Craig Hoskins going out.

And for East Fremantle, Andrew Trefry, Cameron Davidson, Ambrose Ryan, Josef Hebiton and Lachlan Bailey are all in the mix at the selection table. Alex Bray and Chris Scott make way in the squad.


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WEST PERTH (5-6, 6th) v PERTH (7-4, 4th) – HBF ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
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