ROUND 8 of the 2011 WAFL season sees some intriguing match ups highlighted by the undefeated West Perth taking on South Fremantle and last year's finalists East Perth and Swan Districts doing battle desperate for an important win.
All matches are on Saturday afternoon at 2.15pm with West Perth hosting South Fremantle at Arena Joondalup, East Perth facing Swan Districts at Leederville's Medibank Stadium, Perth playing Claremont at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium and East Fremantle taking on Peel at East Fremantle Oval.
WEST PERTH (6-0, 1st) v SOUTH FREMANTLE (5-1, 3rd) – ARENA JOONDALUP
West Perth and South Fremantle both missed finals action in 2010, but are the two form teams of the competition right now and meet in what should be a cracking contest at Arena Joondalup on Saturday.
Interestingly, South Fremantle has done well at Arena Joondalup since West Perth moved to the venue with the Bulldogs winning 11 of the 18 matches there against the Falcons.
West Perth remains undefeated this season so far following impressive wins over Subiaco, Swan Districts, East Fremantle, East Perth, Peel and then Claremont.
Last week's win over Claremont was supremely impressive as the Falcons were able to lead by five goals at three quarter-time and then withstood a late charge by the Tigers to still win by three points.
It is the first time since Round 4 last year that West Perth sits on top of the WAFL ladder and the Falcons will stay there with a win over the Bulldogs. They will be desperate to now capitalise on this terrific start given last year they also started with four straight wins but missed the finals.
South Fremantle might not be garnering much attention so far this season, but has had a terrific start to the season to be sitting on a 5-1 record.
That has included impressive wins over East Perth, Peel, Swan Districts, East Fremantle and Subiaco, with the Bulldogs' only defeat being by one-point against Perth – so conceivably they could quite comfortably be 6-0.
West Perth is hopeful that key defender Dan Hunt will return after missing last week's win over Claremont with a hamstring strain. The Falcons covered him well with Dion Fleay, Dustin Burns, Brent LeCras, Caleb Shadbolt and Luke Tedesco all fantastic in the back-line.
If Hunt plays, young defender Joe Morrow likely makes way as coach Bill Monaghan currently has few injuries to worry about and has good depth to select out of.
South Fremantle faces a big challenge to attempt to cover the loss of captain, and possibly the WAFL's best ruckman, Jaymie Graham who is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a horrific knee injury last week in the win over Subiaco at Fremantle Oval.
West Coast youngster Andrew Gaff will play his first WAFL game with Subiaco against the Falcons while coach John Dimmer is likely to back in Ryan Murphy and Paul Mugambwa to hold down the fort in the ruck in the absence of Graham. Scott Delmenico is an emergency.
EAST PERTH (1-5, 8th) v SWAN DISTRICTS (2-4, 6th) - MEDIBANK STADIUM
While East Perth desperately needs a win after five straight losses, Swan Districts will have teammate Luke Adams right at the forefront of their thoughts as they take on the Royals on Saturday at Leederville's Medibank Stadium.
Following last week's exciting come-from-behind win over Peel Thunder at Mandurah's Bendigo Bank Stadium, young Swans' ruckman Adams was involved in a nasty incident that ended with him being punched, hitting his head on the concrete and then rushed to hospital.
That is where he still is as he continues to fight for his life, so while the game is a big one for both East Perth and Swan Districts, it will be tough for the black-and-whites to not have their young big man in their thoughts.
The game itself is crucial, though, between the two sides that played off in last year's preliminary final. Swans won that and obviously the grand final, but East Perth was tremendous to finish 2010 and had high hopes coming into this season.
After an impressive win over Swans in Round 1, though, things haven’t gone to plan. Tough losses to South Fremantle, Claremont, West Perth, Subiaco and East Fremantle now leaves the Royals desperate to knock off Swans this week to improve to a 2-5 record.
Falling to 1-6 would make it a long way back to being in contention for the top-four again. East Perth has dominated Swan Districts at the Leederville venue, though, winning 11 of the 14 meetings.
Swans were facing the prospect of a disastrous start after losing their first four games of their premiership defence, but wins over Perth and Peel the last two weeks suddenly has them looking much better at 2-4 and with results going their way, they could even be fourth with a win over East Perth.
East Perth loses Daniel Macaulay, Kane Goodwin and Don Stirling from the team that lost to East Fremantle last week, with Luke Sampey, Michael Swan, Brendan Hancock, Mark Deaves, Nick Kommer and Robbie Saylor pushing their names up for selection.
Clancee Pearce has been selected for Fremantle after a brilliant start to the season with Swan Districts so he goes out of the black-and-whites side as does Luke Miles and obviously Adams.
Stephen Coniglio (pictured), Wes Lammie and Dayle Garlet could return, with Adam Faulkner in line to make his league debut.
PERTH (3-2, 4th) v CLAREMONT (5-1, 2nd) – BROWNES STADIUM
Claremont will be hungry to bounce back from a rare defeat last week, but Perth has shown good signs so far this season and coming off the bye will be ready to put in a good showing against the Tigers.
Claremont suffered a three-point loss at Claremont Oval to West Perth last week, while Perth had been terrific winning three of its first four games before going down to Swan Districts heading into last week's bye.
The Tigers only lost three games all of last season and had comfortably won the first five of 2010 over East Fremantle, Swan Districts, Peel, East Perth and Subiaco, but last week was a slip up against the impressive West Perth line-up.
Claremont fell down by five goals at three quarter-time before storming back in the last term but they still fell three points short in the end.
That will make the Tigers desperate to bounce back this Saturday against Perth, but the Demons will be equally keen to put in a good showing.
Perth did begin the season with a tough Round 2 loss to East Fremantle, but from there the Demons defeated South Fremantle, Peel and Subiaco heading into an Anzac Day clash with Swan Districts that they lost by 49 points.
Claremont's ruck brigade has suffered another blow with Nick Derickx going out of the side with Andrew Ruck also out for the season after requiring a knee reconstruction.
It could open the door for former West Perth ruckman Mitch Andrews who only signed up with Claremont several weeks ago. He could share the duties along with Tom Lee up against the in-form Andrew McDougall from Perth.
Gerrick Weedon is a chance to make his debut for West Coast as well so goes out of the Claremont team as does Andrew Foster.
Along with Andrews, Andrew Browne (pictured), Alroy Gilligan, Matt Orzel, Tom Willett, Ian Rowe and Blake Anderson are pushing themselves forward for selection.
Matt Tedesco will come into the Perth side with the ex-West Perth running defender to make his debut with the Demons while Joel Leeson and Blake Warner are also coming into the side. Damon White, Kade Lang and Justin Bollenhagen all go out.
EAST FREMANTLE (2-4, 7th) v PEEL THUNDER (0-5, 9th) - EAST FREMANTLE OVAL
East Fremantle will be hoping to gather some momentum after a win last week while Peel has shown some good signs so far this season and might not be too far from a first victory.
The Sharks gained plenty of confidence with a dominant second half against East Perth last week for their second win of the 2011 season, and will be hoping to put that form to good use on Saturday at home to Peel.
However, Peel hasn’t been as bad as the 0-5 record suggests and was 26 points up on Swan Districts at three quarter-time last week before losing a thriller so a win potentially is not too far away.
East Fremantle had a terrific 2010 season making the finals for the first time since 2002 after finishing third on the ladder, but had struggled so far this year.
It began with a tough loss to Claremont and then after a good win over Perth, the Sharks went down to Subiaco, West Perth and South Fremantle before last Saturday's impressive 32-point win over East Perth at Medibank Stadium.
East Perth was six goals up early on East Fremantle, but the Sharks got better the longer the game went and ended up going on a 10-goal run, and kicked 11 of the last 12 goals of the game, in what was their best performance of the season to date.
East Fremantle has also dominated clashes with Peel at East Fremantle Oval, winning 14 of the 15 clashes since 1997.
Peel has been much better this season than its 0-5 record suggests. After two byes to start the season, there was losses to Claremont, Perth and South Fremantle before an impressive first half against West Perth.
The second half was disappointing, though, and the Thunder ended up losing by 92 points. However, they bounced back impressively at home to Swan Districts and were in a winning position coming into the last quarter, but just fell short of the win over the reigning premiers.
East Fremantle loses Jamie McNamara from the team that last week beat East Perth, while Corey Yeo and James Bayliss will compete to replace him in the midfield. Adrian Ricciardello and Dom Foster are also pushing their case to strengthen the Sharks' forward-line.
Peel could recall key forwards Ash Thornton and Ryan Herring (pictured), while Lincoln Meyers and Blake Piggot have been in impressive form in the reserves. Will Schofield will go out of the side if he plays with West Coast on Sunday against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.