ROUND 13 of the 2012 WAFL season sees all four games taking place on Saturday afternoon with three of the four teams currently in the top-four looking to further consolidate their spots, while the rest are looking to try and stay in some sort of contention.
With a two and-a-half game gap between fourth and fifth position after 12 rounds of the season, the time is now for West Perth, Subiaco, South Fremantle, Perth or Peel to start making a run for the top-four or it might become too late.
This weekend's action sees East Fremantle play Subiaco at East Fremantle Oval, Perth host West Perth at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium, Peel Thunder take on Swan Districts at Mandurah's Bendigo Bank Stadium and South Fremantle face East Perth at Fremantle Oval.
Claremont has the bye from WAFL action, but will play a Foxtel Cup quarter-final against Mt Gravatt on Saturday morning at Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium.
EAST FREMANTLE (7-3, 4th) v SUBIACO (4-6, 6th) – EAST FREMANTLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
East Fremantle has a horror record over Subiaco in the last decade, but comes into Saturday's clash with the Lions at East Fremantle Oval heavy favourites to record just its third win since 2000 against them.
East Fremantle has now won five of its last six games to improve to a 7-3 record and consolidate fourth position on the ladder with a two and-a-half game gap on fifth-placed West Perth.
Subiaco is three games and massive percentage further behind on a 4-6 record having lost its last six games straight this season.
Remarkably, Subiaco hasn’t won since coming out victorious in its first four games of the season and now virtually must-win against the Sharks on Saturday or face the prospect of being all but out of finals contention despite it being only 13 rounds into the 2012 season.
Subiaco's 70-point loss at home last week to Perth was one of the club's worst in a number of years, but with some key players returning and the pride in the group, they will be sure to bounce back hard against the Sharks this week.
After celebrating Rob Young's 100th game in style last Saturday with an 87-point win over Peel at home, East Fremantle remains at Shark Park this week and will also be celebrating another milestone with Luke Weller notching up his 100th appearance for the Sharks.
East Fremantle welcomes back exciting forward Max Duffy after he went down hurt early in the WA Day derby win over South Fremantle. Aiden Tropiano, Jayden Schofield and Tyler Chalwell are also pushing for a spot in the in-form Sharks' team. At this stage, Cameron Sutcliffe is the only out.
Subiaco is desperate for a victory and has a strengthened line-up to take on the Sharks with.
Fremantle pair Antoni Grover and Jack Anthony both return and will help at either end of the field with key midfielder Jason Bristow also coming back in.
Myles Smythe and Scott Worthington are also a chance to play for Subiaco with Rhett Kerr and Matthew Cullen going out from the team that was thumped by Perth at home last Saturday.
PERTH (3-8, 8th) v WEST PERTH (4-1-5, 5th) – BROWNES STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
Perth and West Perth meet at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium on Saturday in an intriguing match-up with the Demons looking for a second straight win and the Falcons to stay in contention with the top-four.
Perth has had a horror season to date despite coming into 2012 promising so much, but last Saturday everything clicked for the Demons and the result was a resounding 70-point crushing of Subiaco at Medibank Stadium.
That should give Perth plenty of confidence to take into Saturday's clash with West Perth at home and if the Demons can put in another good performance and come away with a win, suddenly they have some momentum to tackle the second half of 2012 with.
However, it's a crucial game for West Perth if the Falcons still hope to be a finals contender.
The Falcons currently sit on a 4-5 record (with one draw) to be in fifth position, but two and-a-half games behind the fourth-placed East Fremantle so if they hope to fight for a finals berth, they can't afford to be dropping games like this to teams below them.
Perth put in its most complete and dominant performance of the season last week to thump Subiaco and now will be determined to make it two in-a-row to start building some real momentum for the second half of 2012.
The other huge bonus of the form last week is that there has been little reason for Perth coach Damien McMahon to make many changes to take on the Falcons this week.
At this stage there are no outs from the team that beat Subiaco with only Aaron Zucconi, Liam Smith and Cameron Manuel being added to the squad.
West Perth is coming off a WA Day draw with East Perth and Foxtel Cup loss to Werribee at the MCG last week. From the team that drew with the Royals, the suspended Kody Manning goes out of the side as does Fremantle's Jay van Berlo.
Among those coming in are Matt Fowler, Marc Crisp, Joseph Morrow, Josh Donaldson and Joel Rice, but all played in the Foxtel Cup clash last Saturday.
From the team that played at the MCG a week ago, Dan Hunt, Michael Pettigrew, Kepler Bradley, Mark Hutchings and Matt Guadagnin all return, and are among West Perth's best and most important players so coach Bill Monaghan will be looking for a massive contribution from each.
PEEL THUNDER (2-8, 9th) v SWAN DISTRICTS (8-2, 1st) – BENDIGO BANK STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
It's top versus bottom once again at Mandurah's Bendigo Bank Stadium with Peel Thunder hosting Swan Districts, but the home side is sure to have been stung into action last week.
It might look to be a mismatch on paper, but when you consider that two weeks ago Peel beat the then league-leaders Claremont at Claremont Oval, and also beat Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval back in Round 5, then this match could be a lot closer than many expect.
Certainly Swan Districts deserve to be heavy favourites having now won four straight games including a hard fought 14-point victory at home last week over South Fremantle that moved the black-and-whites to the top of the ladder for the first time this season.
However, Peel would have been stung by last week's 87-point hammering at the hands of East Fremantle that moved the Thunder back to the bottom of the ladder.
The week before, Peel was outstanding beating Claremont at Claremont Oval, and having beaten Swans earlier this season will be hoping to put in a strong showing for their home fans this Saturday, and have some big inclusions in an attempt to do so.
Peel has suffered two huge blows with the loss of West Coast pair Blayne Wilson and Scott Lycett to injury out of last week's loss to East Fremantle. Wilson has been an outstanding defender and Lycett a strong leading and marking centre half-forward who helped out in the ruck as well.
Despite the loss of those two key players, Peel does welcome back some crucial players who should help the Thunder give Swan Districts a real contest again.
The defence is particularly strengthened with the return of Chris Luff, Peter Faulks and James Flaherty.
They are likely the team's three best defenders along with Wilson so will help up against the Swan Districts forward-line that includes Ash Hansen, Tim Geappen, Tony Notte, Michael Walters and Murray Newman.
Fremantle's Tom Sheridan also returns after missing last week's loss to East Fremantle. The week before he was outstanding with 25 possessions and two goals in the win over Claremont so will add plenty of run and skill to Peel's line-up.
Liam McKenna had 36 possessions for Peel in the reserves last week and that could earn him a call-up also with Brennan Gillam also a chance for his first league appearance of 2012.
Swan Districts is in terrific form to be on top of the ladder and despite the absence of captain Josh Roberts with a broken hand, the black-and-whites are having a good run with injury as well.
There are players pushing up for selection, though, with Brent Latch, Steve Potente and Nathan Broad adding to the squad for Saturday's clash. Potente was particularly impressive last week in the reserves against South Fremantle with 32 possessions and nine marks.
SOUTH FREMANTLE (3-7, 7th) v EAST PERTH (7-1-2, 2nd) – FREMANTLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
East Perth has not lost since way back in Round 3 and has already overcome one hoodoo against South Fremantle this season, but has to break another one at Fremantle Oval this Saturday.
East Perth started the 2012 season with tight losses to Claremont and West Perth, but has not lost since then with seven wins and a draw to see the Royals sitting pretty in second position on the ladder 10 games into the campaign.
It has been a tough year so far for South Fremantle and first-year coach Paul Hasleby.
With some injuries to key players, little in the way of AFL talent and an increasingly young side, the Bulldogs have been competitive and a chance to win most games it has taken part in, but at this stage it has only led to a 3-7 record and for South Fremantle to be in seventh position on the ladder, and having lost its last three games.
While they have been losses to East Perth, East Fremantle and Swan Districts, they have only been by a combined 34 points as the Bulldogs have had a chance to win each of those games against top-four opponents.
It was only back in Round 9 when these two teams last met at Leederville's Medibank Stadium, and in the end the Royals prevailed by 12 points in a see-sawing contest having kicked the last four goals of the game after South Fremantle hit the front by a couple of goals themselves midway through the final quarter.
That win was East Perth's first against South Fremantle since Round 23, 2004 and now the Royals will be looking to beat the Bulldogs at Fremantle Oval this Saturday for the first time since Round 18, 2003.
Prior to East Perth's Round 9 win this year, South Fremantle had won 16 straight games over the Royals in an incredible run of dominance.
South Fremantle has some big outs that make its task of beating East Perth all the tougher this Saturday.
Fremantle's Paul Duffield, West Coast's Ashton Hams, goal kicking midfielder Alex Grima and veteran defender Hayden North are all out of the side that lost, but was competitive, against Swan Districts last week.
Those outs open up some opportunities for others, though, with Shannon Burnett, Adam Doughty, Jacob Martinez, Rhys Miller, Casey Sibosado, Dylan Ross and Matthew Olivieri all among the players pushing for selection and to have an impact in the league side.
East Perth stormed home to beat Claremont after the siren last Sunday, but Kyle Anderson, Brett Eades, Nick Kommer and Stephen Mansfield go out of that side.
Fremantle's Zac Clarke is a massive inclusion, though, and further strengthens the Royals' big men stocks that already includes Paul Johnson, Josh Smith and Tim Martin.
Anthony Kyanga, Don Stirling, Tyson Rudd, Steven Payne, Boston Williamson and Rowan Brookes are also looking to break into the second-placed East Perth line-up.