ROUND 17 in the WAFL gets off to an early start with a Thursday night cracker between a Perth team trying to lock in a finals berth and a Subiaco team out to secure a fifth consecutive minor premiership.
After a couple of weeks of having the teams splitting a bye and playing, all 10 teams are once again in action in Round 17 as the race towards the finals in the 2019 Optus WAFL Premiership Season heats up.
That all gets underway under lights at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park on Thursday night with Perth hosting Subiaco from 7.10pm. The game will be broadcast live on 7mate.
The rest of the round then takes place on Saturday afternoon with all four of the contests bouncing down at 2.15pm.
West Perth remains in fifth position despite the bye last weekend as the Falcons now prepare to host East Fremantle at HBF Arena looking to further consolidate that finals position.
Swan Districts managed just the two goals last week in fine conditions against South Fremantle as the black-and-whites now try to end their seven-game losing run against the last team they beat, the West Coast Eagles, at Steel Blue Oval.
East Perth is trying to stay in the finals hunt with the Royals hosting a South Fremantle team who returned to the winners list last Saturday, with the two doing battle at Leederville Oval.
Peel Thunder is then trying to break back into the top five and Claremont hoping to remain in second position when they lock horns at Mandurah's David Grays Arena.
With the ground redevelopment at Mineral Resources Park, the Lathlain venue is now an ideal one to host night WAFL football and for the second time in the last month that will happen this Thursday with Perth taking on Subiaco.
The last night game turned out to be a beauty with Perth coming from behind to beat South Fremantle and now all signs are pointed towards this being another tremendous contest between the Demons and Lions.
Perth comes into the game following a tight loss to Claremont last Saturday but remaining in fourth position on the WAFL ladder with an 8-6 record to remain a game clear of the fifth placed West Perth.
Subiaco, meanwhile, is three games clear on top of the ladder with a 13-1 record and a far superior percentage with the Lions having won eight straight matches since their first loss in the last two years at the hands of South Fremantle.
So that means that another win for Subiaco and with only three games to go this season after Thursday night, the minor premiership for a fifth straight season is all but theirs. While Perth will take another significant step towards a first finals appearance since 1997 if they do win.
Given how dominant a team Subiaco has been in recent times and with Perth's struggles, it's no surprise that the Lions have won the last six games against the Demons and 13 of the last 14 including a 69-point win back in Round 9 of this season in wet conditions at Leederville Oval.
Perth's last win against Subiaco was back in Round 16, 2016 on their home deck even though the Lions were again the dominant team that season.
From the Perth team that lost to Claremont last week, there are two changes and they are unveiling another debutant in the form of Connor Sing. Michael Bennell also comes back into the team with Josh Burke and Zac Hill heading out.
And from the Subiaco side that hammered the West Coast Eagles, there are two changes as well with Ryan Vermeersch and Aaron Heal returning to the line-up.
It's Vermeersch's first game since Round 18, 2017 as he strengthens the forward-line while Heal adds another experienced piece to the back-line as he comes back for his 99th WAFL appearance.
Bailey Matera and Kaidyn Fullgrabe are the two players going out for Subiaco.
Then on Saturday afternoon, West Perth takes on East Fremantle with the Falcons looking to win to retain their fifth position on the WAFL ladder.
West Perth beat East Perth by a goal two weeks ago to remain fifth ahead of the bye and now they can maintain their one-game break at least on the chasing pack with a on Saturday against the Sharks at HBF Arena.
The Falcons could also leap over Perth into fourth position with a win while East Fremantle would keep whatever slim finals hopes it still possess alive with the victory.
From the West Perth team that beat East Perth two weeks ago, Andrew Strijk returns as does Laine Rasmussen with Ben Delaporte, Connor West and potential debutant Jaxon Prior in the hunt.
Dean Munns, Ben King and Slade Hawkins go out for the Falcons.
And from the East Fremantle side that lost to Peel Thunder by 21 points, Milan Murdock, Michael Tassone, Nick Kommer, Tim Bockman, Harry Creasey and Corey Holmes have all been added to the squad.
Sean Fletcher, Alex Montauban and Jesse Adamini go out for the Sharks.
Peel Thunder has the chance to potentially return to the top five as they take on Claremont at Mandurah's David Grays Arena on Saturday afternoon.
It's a big game for both teams with Peel looking to improve on its 6-7 record as they chase a finals appearance while Claremont does need to keep winning to remain in second spot where they currently sit while holding a 10-4 record.
Peel last played two weeks ago when they beat East Fremantle by 21 points and from that side, Jarvis Pina, James Sturrock, Traye Bennell, Scott Jones, Matt Bogensperger, Haydn Matthews, Corey Morris and Matthew Piggott come in.
Tom North, Mitch Crowden, Bailey Banfield, Tobe Watson, Jason Carter, Ryan Nyhuis, Travis Colyer and Luke Valente all go out.
Meanwhile, Claremont is coming off a hard fought win against Perth and from that side, Isaac Barton, Lewis Daisley, Tom Ledger and Ben Rushforth have been added to the squad with Lachlan Martinis the only out at this stage.
On the back of a run of four consecutive losses, South Fremantle got back to winning last Saturday with an 85-point victory against Swan Districts at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
That kept the Bulldogs in third position on the WAFL ladder and still in touch with a top two finish as they hit the road again on Saturday to take on an East Perth who is still trying to maintain their finals prospects for 2019 as well.
South Fremantle had won seven straight matches, including a win over Subiaco, before that run of four losses with defeats at the hands of the Lions, Claremont, West Coast and Perth.
But the Bulldogs bounced back with a dominant performance last Saturday including a run of kicking 13 unanswered goals in between the first and second that Swan Districts kicked for the afternoon.
That has South Fremantle sitting on a 9-5 record this season in third position and depending on how Claremont goes against Peel Thunder on Saturday, a win for the Bulldogs could potentially see them return to second position on the WAFL ladder.
East Perth is coming off a one goal loss to West Perth at HBF Arena two weeks ago but the Royals still remain a chance of reaching the finals in their first season back as a standalone club.
East Perth currently sit eighth with a 5-9 record but they are just two games outside of fifth position but they likely do need to win on Saturday against South Fremantle to keep those finals hopes alive.
It was a thriller when the two teams met earlier in the season in Round 7 when South Fremantle managed to prevail by a solitary point at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
That win made it four in-a-row for South Fremantle against East Perth since the Royals snatched a one-point win against the Bulldogs at the port back in Round 10, 2017.
South Fremantle do enjoy playing East Perth at Leederville Oval as well. In total, the Bulldogs have won 11 of 20 games at Leederville Oval against the Royals including the last three in-a-row, and 10 of the last 13.
Swans improved to a 2-5 record back in Round 7 when they defeated the Eagles last time they met and that 14-point victory meant there was reason for optimism for the black-and-whites that it could spark a run of good form.
Swan Districts hadn’t played as badly over those first seven games that only two wins to show for it suggested and breaking through for that elusive second win of 2019 had the chance to spark a run of winning form.
However, it wasn’t to be with Swans not having won a game in seven attempts since while the Eagles were in terrific form on a four-game winning streak up until a surprisingly heavy 68-point defeat at the hands of Subiaco last Saturday at Leederville Oval.
That has both teams now coming into Saturday's clash at Steel Blue Oval looking to bounce back after disappointing Round 16 showings.
Swans only kicked two goals all afternoon on a fine day to lose to South Fremantle by 85 points at Fremantle Community Bank Oval while West Coast only kicked four goals as well in that 68-point loss to Subiaco.
A lot has changed since that Round 7 win for Swans against the Eagles, but on that afternoon at Steel Blue Oval were able to dig deep and find a way to win, but the ability to remain competitive has diminished week on week since with the team becoming more and more youthful.
Now Swans come into Round 17 sitting in last position on the WAFL ladder with a 2-12 record with that seven-game losing run. They are two games behind the ninth placed East Fremantle.
West Coast comes into the clash still a real chance of playing finals in 2019 currently sitting seventh with a 6-8 record but just a game behind the fifth placed West Perth.
From the Swan Districts team that lost to South Fremantle last Saturday, the black-and-whites could blood another debutant this week in the form of Jake Pasini.
Nathan Ireland, Warrick Wilson, Nathan Blakely and Mitchell Bain are the other players in contention for a return.
David Ellard and Lachlan Riley are the two players to go out of the team at this stage.
There are plenty of changes once again with the Eagles with Brayden Ainsworth, Liam Duggan, Liam Robilliard, Harry Edwards, Daniel Acres, Patrick Bines, Jordan Busher and Joel Kalajzic making up the inclusions to the squad.
Luke Foley, Bailey Williams, Tom Cole, Drew Petrie and Jak Cary are those named out for West Coast at this stage.
OPTUS WAFL ROUND 17
PERTH (8-6, 4th) v SUBIACO (13-1, 1st) – MINERAL RESOURCES PARK, THURSDAY 7.10PM
Live scores, stats
Broadcast – 7mate
WEST PERTH (7-7, 5th) v EAST FREMANTLE (4-10, 9th) – HBF ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Live scores, stats
Broadcast – KIX Digital
SWAN DISTRICTS (2-12, 10th) v WEST COAST EAGLES (6-8, 7th) – STEEL BLUE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Live scores, stats
Broadcast – Livestream
EAST PERTH (5-9, 8th) v SOUTH FREMANTLE (9-5, 3rd) – LEEDERVILLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Live scores, stats
Broadcast – 91.3 SportFM
PEEL THUNDER (6-8, 6th) v CLAREMONT (10-4, 2nd) – DAVID GRAYS ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Live scores, stats