WEST Perth hit back in perfect fashion with a thumping win over Peel before last week's bye and now captain Jason Salecic and his team are setting themselves for a final month that not only brings about some big milestones, but sees the Falcons still fighting for a finals berth.
West Perth had to bounce back from a horror 119-point loss at home to Claremont and do so in Mandurah where it had lost the last two times, but the Falcons won by 99 points and kept their finals hopes alive.
The victory over Peel took West Perth to eight wins from 16 games this season to currently sit two games behind fourth-placed East Perth, and two and-a-half behind third-placed East Fremantle.
The Falcons now finish the season with games against Subiaco, East Fremantle, South Fremantle and East Perth, and winning all four would go a long way to booking in another finals spot, but before that they had to rebound against Peel.
Captain Salecic led the way as all the senior players bounced back after the game against Claremont, and with the likes of Aaron Black, Brayden Antonio, Shane Nelson and Josh Donaldson stepping up in the absence of Dan Hunt, Dion Fleay, Michael Pettigrew and Matt Guadagnin, it was a tremendous performance.
"As leaders you have to set the example and we tried to make sure we did that. We all were very poor last week and as a person you don’t like being beaten," Salecic said.
"It was full credit to the senior guys to come back this week and make their mark and do something when last week we didn’t really do anything.
"It was good to see a lot of younger guys stepping up like Aaron Black, Shane Nelson, Josh Donaldson and even Brayden was good for his first game. Those guys took it upon themselves to have an impact on the game and I thought they were all good, and full credit to them."
As for the loss to Claremont, there was certainly some soul searching to be done after that disappointing performance, but Salecic knew that the only remedy was to make up for it against Peel and that's what they did.
"We probably let ourselves down last week and the coaches as well. I'm a real big rap for Bill and we let him down and we wanted to prove a bit of a point this week to ourselves, to him and the football club that we are better than that," he said.
"Obviously last week was disappointing and I don’t think I have played in a game that bad in my whole career. We were made accountable for it during the week and it was nothing to do with the coaches. We had a game plan and I reckon if we stuck to that we would have been more competitive with Claremont, but we slipped away from it. This week the guys came in with a better attitude and did what was needed.
"A lot of it is a mental game I think. As much as footy is physical, a lot of it is in the head and a lot of guys took it on board to change things this week and we did it all through training. We had a clear mindset on what we wanted to achieve as individuals and a group, and came down here after having lost the last couple of times and started real well. We continued that throughout the day and had that strong mindset that we wanted to achieve something, and we did."
It won't be easy for West Perth to make the finals with a month of the season to go, but while there's hope there is still plenty to play for and Salecic and everyone else at West Perth will be throwing everything at trying to win the last four games.
"We just have to remain focused on what we can do. We have four more games and if we keep winning then we give ourselves a chance, but we can't control what happens to other teams. We are still two games out of the four so we can only do what we do," Salecic said.
"If we finish the season on 12 and-a-half wins then it's been pretty good even if we don’t make the finals. It's not so much an achievement because you want to play finals, but that would still mean we've had a pretty good year and been unlucky to miss out."
While there is plenty to play for as a team over the last month of the season, West Perth will also celebrate some milestones for greats of the club as well.
Salecic is now three games away from reaching 200 games while triple Breckler Medallist Dion Fleay is two away from 150 with four-time leading goalkicker Anthony Tsalikis is also two off reaching the 150-game mark to become a life member.
By getting to 200, Salecic will become the 19th West Perth player to do also and it will add to his growing legacy that already includes the 2003 premiership, five years as captain, the 2009 Breckler Medal and seven times representing WA, but he's more happy for Tsalikis and Fleay to get to 150.
"They will become life members and that is a huge achievement for anyone. Anyone that plays footy knows that you want to win the milestone games and we will be trying our best to do that for our guys," he said.
"It's a milestone and it's probably just another game to me, but I'm truly grateful to play just one game at this football club so to play 200 is something that not a lot of people have had the honour of doing. It would be a huge achievement and something I can reflect on even more when I finish playing footy."
The 28-year-old showed against Peel just how elite of a footballer he still is with his 22 possessions, nine marks, five inside 50s and a goal instrumental in the 99-point victory.
While he is spending more time across half-forward than in the midfield at present, he continues to be a strong performer and is committed to at least playing on in 2013.
"I'm playing a little more up forward and a bit of a different role as a forward pressure type player, but I'm happy to play whatever role I'm asked and to play at the footy club until I get moved on," Salecic said.
"I haven’t really thought about retirement yet because I am still contracted to play next year and I will go on at least for that year, and see what happens from there."