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Round 14 Optus WAFL PreviewFriday, July 12, 2019 - 12:39 PM - by Chris Pike

ROUND 14 is spread over Saturday and Sunday this weekend with two matches each at Leederville Oval and Mineral Resources Park highlighted by a top-of-the-table battle between Subiaco and Claremont, and third spot fight between Perth and South Fremantle.

All five matches in Round 14 of the 2019 Optus WAFL Premiership Season have plenty on the line as well whether it's a clash between the top two or bottom two teams, with third and fourth also locking horns, along with the four teams fighting over fifth spot all playing one another.

That sets the stage for quite the season-defining round of WAFL action with two games on Saturday afternoon, one on Saturday evening and then two more on Sunday afternoon.

The Saturday afternoon action gets underway with the bottom two teams locking horns with East Fremantle taking on Swan Districts at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park.

Also on Saturday afternoon, East Perth takes on Peel Thunder at Leederville Oval with both teams attempting to keep their finals prospects alive.

Then at Saturday evening under lights at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park, Perth will host South Fremantle with both teams trying to recapture their form from earlier in the season with the Demons trying to consolidate their top five spot and the Bulldogs snap a three-game losing streak.

The action in Round 14 then continues on Sunday afternoon with the top two teams locking horns with Subiaco hosting Claremont at Leederville Oval.

The Lions are coming into the game on a six-game winning streak and the Tigers have won five straight so it has all the hallmarks of a tremendous contest.

Also on Sunday afternoon is West Perth playing the West Coast Eagles at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park with the Falcons trying to stay in fifth position and the Eagles trying to snatch it off them.

East Fremantle hosts Swan Districts on Saturday afternoon with both teams desperate to return to the winner's list as they currently occupy the bottom two positions on the ladder.

East Fremantle produced a good month of football with wins against Swan Districts, Perth and East Perth in amongst the WA Day Foundation Derby loss to South Fremantle, but the Sharks haven’t been able to continue that momentum.

They have now lost their past three matches to the West Coast Eagles, Claremont and Subiaco to have slipped to a 3-9 record to go with the second worst percentage in the competition.

Meanwhile at Swan Districts, their confidence continues to take blow after blow with their inability to string together a full four quarters of football.

Once against last Saturday, Swans played a strong opening half against East Perth but couldn’t keep it going after half-time and ended up losing at Steel Blue Oval by eight points.

That made it five consecutive losses for the black-and-whites who remain anchored to the bottom of the WAFL ladder with a 2-10 record.

Saturday shouldn't be expected to be a high-scoring affair with East Fremantle averaging just 58.3 points a game and Swan Districts 61.9. Defensively the Sharks are conceding 86.8 points a game and Swans 76.8.

Neither teams are high possession gathering sides either with Swans ranked last at 291.3 a game and the Shark second last at 301.5 per match. Swan Districts has averaged 53 disposals less than its opponents this season and East Fremantle 38 less.

In terms of quarter by quarter performances, Swan Districts hasn’t been too  bad in first halves in 2019 considering they have won two of 12 games.

They have only been outscored by 71 points across those 12 first halves and broken even in third quarters. But then in last terms, Swans have been outscored by 108 points to be the worst finishing team in the league.

East Fremantle is the second worst starting team but its best quarters are the second. Then the Sharks have struggled in second halves being outscored by 120 points in third terms and 105 in fourth stanzas.

Giving Swans some confidence should be the fact that they have won their last two matches at Shark Park, and three of their past four.

The other Saturday afternoon fixture pits East Perth against Peel with both teams trying to stay in contention for a finals position.

Recent meetings between the Royals and Thunder have been tough to predict with alternating winners over the past seven matches. If history suggests anything, it points to an East Perth win on Saturday given Peel beat them by 77 points back in Mandurah in Round 5 of this season.

The last time Peel won consecutive matches against East Perth was when it won four in-a-row across 2016 and 2017.

East Perth comes into Saturday's game at Leederville Oval following a hard fought victory last week over Swan Districts which snapped a three-game losing run to improve them to a 4-8 record and keep them an outside chance of staying in finals contention.

Peel lost last week by eight goals to West Coast at David Grays Arena which saw the Thunder slip from fifth position and to a 5-7 record.

But a win for the Thunder on Saturday and they can return to fifth position at least until West Perth plays on Sunday against West Coast.

Night football then takes place on Saturday evening with plenty on the line when Perth hosts South Fremantle at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park.

The ground's redevelopment to become the home base for the West Coast Eagles has seen some terrific lighting installed at the venue to allow for night fixtures and it should be quite the spectacle on Saturday night with the Demons and Bulldogs battling it out.

It's a significant game for both clubs too who are trying to recapture their early season form.

Perth won its opening five matches of the season but since then have won just two of seven games including suffering a 31-point defeat at the hands of West Perth at HBF Arena last Saturday.

That has the Demons just clinging to fourth position with a 7-5 record and a loss on Saturday evening will leave them vulnerable inside the top five with five matches of the 2019 season remaining.

South Fremantle also started the season tremendously winning eight of its opening nine matches including handing Subiaco its only defeat of the past two years.

But the Bulldogs have now lost their past three matches against Subiaco, West Coast and Claremont to slip to an 8-4 record to have gone from battling over top spot three weeks ago against the Lions to now facing the prospect of slipping to fourth position with a loss to Perth on Saturday night.

However, the positive for South Fremantle is because of its start to the season is that a win against the Demons and depending on how Claremont fares against Subiaco on Sunday, the Bulldogs could either return to second position on the ladder or be only percentage behind the Tigers.

During Perth's run of five wins to open the season, they were averaging a score of 81.2 points a game while conceding just 59.4 points. In the seven games since, they have averaged scoring only 57.6 points while giving up 79.0 points.

In South Fremantle's opening nine games of which they won eight, they were averaging kicking 91.6 points a game and giving up just 66.6 points. In the Bulldogs' past three losses, they have scored just 57.7 points and given up 81.0 points.

The teams have already met once this season and that was Round 2 at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in what turned out to be a tremendous contest with Perth winning by three points.

That was in the middle of the Demons' five-game winning streak to start the season while for the Bulldogs it was the catalyst into their seven-game winning run.

Now Saturday night's game looms as a massive one in the context of the season for both clubs in what shapes as a tremendous contest.

Sunday then features a battle between the two in-form teams of the competition who occupy the top two positions at present with Subiaco hosting Claremont at Leederville Oval.

The Lions come into the game in top spot with an 11-1 run and having now won six straight matches since their first loss in two years against South Fremantle back in Round 6.

The Tigers are in an impressive run of form too having now won five consecutive matches to improve to a 9-3 record to be a game and percentage clear in second position.

A win for Subiaco on Sunday would all but guarantee a fifth consecutive minor premiership for the Lions with a three-game lead on the rest of the field along with a superior percentage with just five matches of the campaign remaining.

Meanwhile, a win for Claremont and not only will the Tigers remain a game and percentage clear in second position at least, but they will also liven up the race for the minor premiership over the final six rounds.

Over the course of the season, Subiaco is ranked first in terms of possessions gathered and Claremont is third with the Tigers first in least disposals gathered against them and the Lions second in that category.

Meanwhile, Subiaco Is the best performing team across the league in first, second and fourth quarters, and ranked second in third terms. Claremont is ranked second in first and second terms, while being ranked first in third quarters and just fourth in final stanzas.

Subiaco is the highest-scoring team in the competition at 90.2 points a game while Claremont only ranks fifth at 74.8 points. But the Tigers are the best defensively conceding only 50.1 points while the Lions are second at 52.2 points.

With both teams on impressive winning runs and putting those streaks on the line looking to continue their good form, there's every reason to expect one of the games of the season.

The other Sunday fixture looms as a fascinating one too with West Perth playing the West Coast Eagles at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park.

It will be the second game at the venue for the weekend with the Falcons shifting their home game against the Eagles from HBF Arena to Lathlain.

It's a big game in the context of the season for both clubs too with West Perth coming into the game in fifth position at 6-6 while West Coast is just a game back at 5-7.

The Falcons are coming off a strong 31-point win against Perth last Saturday at HBF Arena while the Eagles are in their best patch of form of the season having won three straight against East Fremantle, South Fremantle and Peel Thunder.

Now a win on Saturday for West Perth will cement them in the top five and potentially move them up to fourth spot while a win for West Coast and they could also end the round in that fifth spot at the expense of the Falcons.


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