ROUND 19 of the 2012 WAFL season sees Claremont and East Fremantle battle over top spot with Swan Districts and East Perth looking to try and take over second, and West Perth just out to stay alive.
The action all takes place on Saturday afternoon with Claremont playing East Fremantle at Claremont Oval, Subiaco hosting Swan Districts at Leederville's Medibank Stadium, Perth facing East Perth at Lathlain's Brownes Stadium and Peel Thunder taking on West Perth at Mandurah's Bendigo Bank Stadium.
There's plenty of big names coming back in for the round as well led by West Coast veteran Andrew Embley, his West Coast premiership teammate Ashley Hansen, Fremantle veteran Antoni Grover and East Perth's Dean Cadwallader.
South Fremantle has the bye coming off a win over Subiaco last weekend.
CLAREMONT (11-4, 1st) v EAST FREMANTLE (11-4, 2nd) – CLAREMONT OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
Claremont and East Fremantle will fight over top spot on Saturday at Claremont Oval with a potential home second semi-final up for grabs.
Both sides come into the contest in outstanding form as well with Claremont having won four-straight games highlighted by a 97-point win in another top-of-the-table clash over Swan Districts and then last week's 119-point hammering of West Perth.
East Fremantle has now won four straight games to join Claremont on an 11-4 record, but it has been the last two since a bye that have shown just how good form the Sharks truly are in.
The Sharks have thumped fellow top-four sides Swan Districts and East Perth by 63 and 64 points respectively to lead them into the clash with Claremont full of confidence.
East Fremantle also has good reason to go in against Claremont with extra confidence having won the last three encounters. The most recent was in Round 3 this season when the Sharks kicked 15 goals to three in the second half to win by 34 points.
Then going back to last year even though Claremont ended up winning the premiership and East Fremantle didn’t play finals, the Sharks won the last two encounters including one at Claremont Oval that was their first win there since Round 19, 1996.
The winner of Saturday's clash will move to be a game clear on top of the ladder with just four games of the 2012 season remaining. The loser will then be locked in a battle with Swan Districts and East Perth to finish as high as possible in the top-four.
Claremont has been in dominant form with the massive wins over Swan Districts, Port Melbourne and West Perth the last three weeks, and now the Tigers' depth continues to be on show this week to take on the Sharks.
Gerrick Weedon has been in good form in a new role across half-back and could have earned himself a call up for West Coast, but the inclusions are all of high quality.
Fellow Eagle Tom Swift looks set to return to further strengthen an already outstanding midfield with Keifer Yu, Tom Willett and Alistair Gillespie all trying desperately to break into the line-up as well before the finals. Paul Medhurst and captain Andrew Browne are still to return.
East Fremantle has little reason for change following the 10-plus goal wins over Swan Districts and East Perth the last fortnight, but like at Claremont players desperately want to get into the side to play finals football.
Mitch Boyle and Kieran King have both done well in the league side this year, but depth forced them out last week against Swans and they went back to play well in the reserves.
That put them back in contention for a league berth with Adrian Ricciardello trying to get in for his first league game of the season as a key forward with Jack Perham still out of the side.
SUBIACO (6-9, 6th) v SWAN DISTRICTS (10-5, 3rd) – MEDIBANK STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
If Subiaco was hoping to bounce back at home to Swan Districts this week, the news that Andrew Embley, Ash Hansen and Murray Newman are returning for the black-and-whites wasn’t what the Lions were hoping to hear.
Swan Districts needs to rebound as well after disappointing losses to West Perth, Claremont and East Fremantle has seen them go from being a game clear on top of the ladder to now being a game and huge percentage from second.
A loss to Subiaco on Saturday will see the black-and-whites almost concede any hopes of the minor premiership as well as they would be two games and percentage off top spot, so it's a crucial game for their finals hopes.
Subiaco was in finals contention still just a few weeks ago after a 37-point win over East Perth, but a bye stopped that momentum and now since disappointing losses to Peel and South Fremantle have taken the Lions out of the finals hunt.
With a 6-9 record and low percentage, the Lions are closer to the bottom than the top-four and a loss to Swan Districts on Saturday, and Perth win over East Perth will see the Demons leapfrog them on the ladder while Peel would be just a game behind with a win over West Perth.
Subiaco loses more experience in the form of 100-plus gamers Kane Bloxsidge and Ben Randall with youngster Matthew Cullen out of the side.
While the Loins' inclusions aren’t of the calibre of those at Swan Districts, they should help led by veteran Fremantle defender Antoni Grover. James Garcia and Michael Genovese are a chance to make their league debuts with Rhett Kerr, Rory Muller and Clancy Wheeler looking to return.
Swan Districts is desperate to get back on the winner's list following the losses to West Perth, Claremont and East Fremantle, and is certainly helped in that quest at the selection table.
Not only will Embley play his first WAFL game since 2002, but star goalkicker Hansen returns as does West Coast's small forward Newman and dual state representative Graham Jetta.
Matthew Jukes is also trying to break back into the side after 26 possessions last week in the reserves against East Fremantle. Brett van Groningen and Brent Latch are the only two named out of the side at this stage.
PERTH (5-10, 7th) v EAST PERTH (9-1-5, 4th) – BROWNES STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
Perth and East Perth are going to get to know one another well over the next couple of weeks, and both will be looking to get a win to start that off this Saturday.
The Demons and Royals will again play each other in two weeks time at Leederville's Medibank Stadium, so this weekend's game could certainly give the winner some momentum going into that.
It's especially important for East Perth as well who have the bye in between games against the Demons. If the Royals win both clashes they all but lock in their finals berth as well and they have a strong recent record against Perth to call upon.
East Perth has won seven of the last nine games against Perth and prevailed by an average margin of over 67 points in those victories.
The Royals need to win again, though, this Saturday to avoid leaving the door slightly ajar for West Perth to still replace them in the top-four.
Perth might have long been out of finals contention, but is finding its best form of the season after two 34-point wins over South Fremantle and Peel.
That has taken the Demons all but out of the wooden spoon race and they have a good chance over the last five games to end up finishing as high as fifth and to gain plenty of momentum to take into 2013.
Perth could very well stick with the same line-up that beat Peel last week by 34 points. While nobody is named out at this stage, Matthew Moody, Michael Edwards and Reece Richardson are pushing to be included in the side.
Fremantle's Jayden Pitt and small forwards Anthony Kyanga and Brett Eades all go out of the East Perth side that lost to East Fremantle a fortnight ago by 64 points.
The bye last weekend wasn’t enough to save their positions after quiet afternoons against the Sharks with Pitt picking up only five disposals and Kyanga and Eades combining for just four behinds.
Fremantle's Zac Clarke remains despite playing for the Dockers last week after being dropped back to the WAFL. Dean Cadwallader is also a chance to play his first game in over two years after building form in the reserves and 17 possessions and six entries inside-50 against the Sharks.
Defenders Kyle Anderson and Nick Kommer also look set to return from injury with Shaquille McKenzie, Tyson Rudd and Brett Dobson also looking to break into the Royals' line-up.
PEEL THUNDER (4-11, 9th) v WEST PERTH (7-1-7, 5th) – BENDIGO BANK STADIUM, SATURDAY 2.10PM
Peel Thunder has a chance to again climb off the bottom of the ladder and extinguish West Perth's finals hopes in one swoop at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.
Remarkably, Peel's four wins of the season to date have all come at away venues – Steel Blue Oval, Claremont Oval, Fremantle Oval and Medibank Stadium, so a win at home is something the Thunder is desperate to achieve before the end of the season.
They also have the fact that they have won their last two games against West Perth at home as well to call upon. Peel won last year in Round 13 at Bendigo Bank Stadium by 21 points and the season before in Round 8 by 41 points.
West Perth is coming off a horror 119-point loss to Claremont last week and needs to bounce back to retain touch with the top-four, but some key players are out and there is the loss last week and recent defeats in Mandurah for the Falcons to try and overcome.
There are plenty of changes at Peel following last week's 34-point loss at home to Perth with Eddie Dann, Tom Fleay and Devin McFarlane losing their positions.
There are some debutants pushing for places also with Kyle Westwood and Scott Ugle trying to earn a spot with Fremantle's Tom Sheridan along with Liam McKenna, Callan Eddy and Mitch Green looking to return.
McKenna, Eddy and Green have been in good reserves form with McKenna gathering 22 possessions last week against Perth, Eddy 19 and a goal and Green 12 and five marks.
West Perth must win to keep its season alive and to rebound from last week's horror against Claremont, but the chance to do that won't be helped with four stars going out of the Falcons' team – Matt Guadagnin, Dan Hunt, Dion Fleay and Michael Pettigrew.
Laine Rasmussen is also out with Fremantle's Jay van Berlo leading the list of inclusions that also includes Anthony Tsalikis, Josh Donaldson, Joe Morrow, Brayden Antonio, Alex Elisseou, Nick Rodda and Anton Saylor.