FOUR of the five teams currently occupying finals positions lock horns with one another in Round 13 of the 2022 WAFL season while Peel Thunder, Subiaco and East Perth all try to keep themselves in contention.
On the back of NAIDOC Round in the WAFL which was a spectacular event last weekend despite the wet weather, the rain is scheduled to come down once again this Saturday afternoon to greet the Round 13 action with the race for finals spots heating up.
All five Round 13 WAFL match ups this weekend take place on Saturday afternoon beginning at 12.10pm at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park with the West Coast Eagles at home to East Fremantle.
The Eagles are hunting their second win of the season while the Sharks need to keep winning in order to maintain their top two position.
Peel Thunder and Subiaco then continue their rivalry that included two Grand Final clashes by locking horns on Saturday at 2.10pm at Mandurah's Lane Group Stadium.
It's a crucial game for both teams as they can't afford another loss to fall further from the top five, with Peel currently two games behind fifth position and Subiaco another further game back in their premiership defence.
East Perth and Perth will also take on one another on Saturday afternoon at Leederville Oval with the Royals looking to maintain their best patch of form of the season while the Demons attempt to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Next up is what is sure to be another fascinating contest between Claremont and West Perth at Revo Fitness Stadium.
Games between these two teams rarely disappoint and are never short on drama and this Saturday has the Tigers desperate to bounce back from two disappointing losses while the Falcons are a game clear in top spot and are out to maintain that gap.
Adding to the occasion is a significant milestone for one of the modern day WAFL greats. West Perth on-baller Shane Nelson will play his 200th game for the Falcons.
He reaches the mark in tremendous form on the back of another Team of the Week selection as he continues to build on a career that has already seen him win a premiership, earn life membership, win four fairest and best awards, and play for Western Australia five times.
Last up on Saturday is another battle between top five teams with South Fremantle hosting Swan Districts at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Both teams come into the game tied together on 7-4 records with South Fremantle third and Swan Districts fifth just courtesy of percentage so it's a significant match up for both clubs in the race for a finals double chance.
WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON 2022 – ROUND 13
WEST COAST EAGLES v EAST FREMANTLE
East Fremantle has a chance to further cement themselves in the top two when they take on the West Coast Eagles at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks come into the contest in second position on the WAFL ladder with an 8-3 record while the Eagles remain in last place at 1-10.
East Fremantle is fresh off an impressive 25-point win in last week's tough conditions against Subiaco at Leederville Oval and they remain away from home this Saturday to take on West Coast.
A win for the Sharks will keep them in a top two position and they could even end the round in first place depending on what happens with West Perth against Claremont with East Fremantle then having the chance to snap that long losing run to South Fremantle next week.
West Coast won its first game of the season three weeks ago against South Fremantle but then last week following the bye they found the going tough against East Perth losing by 23 points in the wet.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season after they met back in Round 4 in a rescheduled game during the State Game bye at New Choice Homes Park.
It was an afternoon to forget for the Eagles with the Sharks going on to win 22.14 (146) to 3.5 (23).
On that day, Dillon O'Reilly kicked five goals for East Fremantle, Alex Montauban four, Luke English four, Tom Monaghan three and Jarrad Jansen three.
Kyle Baskerville racked up 38 possessions, Blaine Boekhorst 31, Milan Murdock 26, Cody Leggett 24 and Michael Tassone 20 on an afternoon that West Coast would like to forget.
Up until then though, clashes between the two teams have been largely the way of the Eagles who had won three of the previous four match ups. However, the two wins for the Sharks have come by 125 and 123 points.
There are plenty of changes at West Coast once again with Hugh Dixon, Jack Eastough, Jalen McGee, Cooper Nitschke, Calen Penny and Nick Watson coming into the side.
Going out for the Eagles are Jai Culley, Callum Jamieson, Jackson Nelson, Xavier O'Neill, Ambrose Ryan and Alex Witherden.
There are just the two changes at East Fremantle from the team that beat Subiaco last Saturday with Max Murphy and Cody Smith returning with key midfielders Kyle Baskerville and Milan Murdock going out.
PEEL THUNDER v SUBIACO
Peel Thunder and Subiaco meet in a crucial clash on Saturday in Mandurah with both teams trying to stay in the finals hunt for the 2022 WAFL season.
The Thunder are at home to the Lions at Lane Group Stadium in Round 13 of the WAFL and with the top five teams opening up a bit of a gap on the rest of the field, neither team can afford another loss on Saturday.
Peel comes into the game in sixth position with a 5-6 record while reigning premiers Subiaco are 4-7 in eighth spot with the fifth placed team having seven wins so they can't afford to fall further behind.
The Thunder have lost their past two matches to East Fremantle and West Perth but they were tight affairs against the top two teams as they try and bounce back at home on Saturday.
Subiaco, meanwhile, has also lost its last two against Swan Districts and East Fremantle as they continue to be unable to build any momentum in their premiership defence.
This will be the second time the teams have faced off this season and the last clash was back in Round 7 at Leederville Oval where Peel was able to snatch a thriller 11.8 (74) to 10.8 (68) thanks to a late goal to Josh Treacy.
In that match up, Treacy kicked three goals for Peel including that match winner with Guy Barnes and Ben Middleton adding two apiece. That was the day Nat Fyfe made his return too while Haydn Matthews gathered 24 touches for the Thunder, Blair Bell 22 and James Ewing 20.
Ryan Borchet had a good day in attack for Subiaco kicking four goals with James Faraone booting three with Lachlan Delahunty amassing 24 possessions, 15 hit outs and 13 tackles.
Prior to that, Subiaco had won every meeting with Peel after the Thunder beaten them in a second successive Grand Final in 2018.
The Lions strung together seven wins including the two thrilling wins in the last two match ups including in the final round last year where they just clung on for the four-point win that ended up securing them the minor premiership.
Peel is looking to bounce back from a couple of tough losses and welcome Ryan Bennell, Liam Henry, Nathan O'Driscoll, Luke Polson and Nathan Wilson into the line-up.
From the team that lost to West Perth narrowly last week, Heath Chapman, Neil Erasmus, Joel Hamling, Ben Hancock and Karl Worner go out of the Thunder line-up.
Subiaco is in a must win situation if they want to stay in finals contention and they do welcome back premiership trio Chad Harris, Aaron Heal and Drew Rohde with Connor Patterson to make his debut.
Going out of the Lions team that lost to East Fremantle last week are Chayse Grabe-Paparone, Jake South, Jake Stergiou and Max Walters.
EAST PERTH v PERTH
East Perth has a chance to continue to remain in the finals race when they host Perth at Leederville Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The Royals handed the Demons an 81-point hiding when they met back in Round 2 so they would be hoping for a similar result on Saturday while Perth will be determined to make amends.
East Perth comes into the game having won its past two matches impressively against Claremont and West Coast to keep their season alive. The Royals currently sit seventh at 5-6 but if they keep winning then anything is still possible as they look to return to finals.
It's been rough going for Perth again this season and a seven-game losing streak sees them just a game ahead of the bottom placed Eagles at 2-9.
However, Perth has been competitive for the most part including last week leading Swan Districts by 27 points in the first half before ending up being overrun to lose by 17.
The teams clashed back in Round 2 this season at Lathlain's Mineral Resources Park and it turned out to be a thumping 81-point win for the Royals.
Sebit Kuek and Tom Medhat kicked four goals each that day for East Perth with Angus Schumacher amassing 32 possessions, Kye Willcocks 28, Harley Sparks 21 and Angus Scott 20.
It was an evening at home to forget for Perth Dakota Baldwin-Wright kicking two goals and Michael Sinclair picking up 26 touches, Regan Clarke 24, Brayden Ainsworth 23 and Austin Davis 21.
That made it three straight wins for East Perth against Perth but prior to that run the Demons had three in-a-row against the Demons. Going back further, though, and East Perth has won 15 of the past 10 matches against Perth.
East Perth is looking to keep its impressive form going and will add Nick Bonomelli, Kade Dittmar, Brad Fullgrabe and San Van Diemen to the line-up to take on the Demons on Saturday.
Going out of the Royals team from the side that beat the West Coast Eagles last week are Tom Graham, Damon Greaves, Jackson Ramsay and Harley Sparks.
Perth is attempting to snap a seven-game losing streak and welcomes back experienced utility Haydn Busher for his first game since Round 7 and the 143rd of his WAFL career.
Jacob Peletier and Connor Sing are the other two players to come into the Perth line-up while from the team that lost to Swan Districts last week, it's Oscar Bird, Simon Hayward and Denzel More going out.
CLAREMONT v WEST PERTH
There's certainly no dropping off in the feeling between Claremont and West Perth coming into a massive clash at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday.
There's plenty on the line for both clubs as well with the Tigers sitting in fourth spot now on the back of two disappointing losses while the Falcons remain in top spot with a game gap thanks to winning their past three matches.
The two teams have had some remarkable contests in recent years including last year's first semi-final while there's plenty of intrigue with Darren Harris back coaching West Perth as he comes up against a Claremont team he took to the 2020 Grand Final.
Claremont was hot on the heels of the top two teams only three weeks ago, but tough losses to East Perth and South Fremantle since by a combined 60 points has left them back in fourth spot with a 7-4 record.
West Perth remains in top spot on the back of winning its last three matches against Swan Districts, Perth and Peel Thunder.
West Perth will have some added motivation too with the 200th game for the Falcons of inspirational on-baller Shane Nelson.
There's no signs of Nelson slowing down either with him fresh off 70 possessions in his past two matches and to be averaging 27.8 touches a game once again on the season.
Showing his remarkable consistency over his 199 games so far, that's actually down on his career average but he has been remarkable along the way winning a premiership, earning life membership, winning four fairest and best awards and playing for Western Australia five times.
It has been a fascinating recent rivalry between the two teams and that continued back in Round 1 this year when Claremont won a nail-biter by four points over West Perth at Joondalup.
Alex Manuel ended up kicking four goals in the win for the Tigers and Bailey Rogers two to go with 21 touches. Jye Bolton racked up 38 disposals, Lachlan Martinis 35, Sam Alvarez 29, Ronin O'Connor 28, Ryan Lim 27 and Ben Edwards 27.
Tyler Keitel kicked two goals for West Perth while Trent Manzone racked up 32 touches, Aaron Black 32 and Luke Meadows 30.
That was a second straight win for the Tigers over the Falcons dating back to last year's first semi-final where they came from behind to win a tremendous contest by 24 points to book in a place in the preliminary final and end the season of West Perth.
Claremont has won four of the past five clashes but the games have generally been close, tense, dramatic and at times, fiery clashes with no love lost between the two line-ups and it's been that way for a number of years now.
The Tigers have also won their past three games at Revo Fitness Stadium against the Falcons by an average of 35.7 points.
Claremont welcomes back ruckman Oliver Eastland but that leaves some interesting decisions for coach Ashley Prescott after Kieran Gowdie starred last week in his absence so much that he was named as ruckman in the Team of the Week.
Patrick Kitchener will also return for the Tigers as will captain Declan Mountford.
Going out of for Claremont from the team that lost to South Fremantle last week are Bailey Bennett, Oliver Sheldrick and Tyron Smallwood.
West Perth has made just the one change from the team that beat Peel Thunder by three points last week with dangerous forward Rudy Riddoch returning to play his 99th WAFL match at the expense of key defender Noah Pegoraro.
SOUTH FREMANTLE v SWAN DISTRICTS
South Fremantle and Swan Districts are both in good form, they are only separated by percentage this season and one of them can enhance their top three prospects with a win on Saturday.
The Bulldogs will host the Swans at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday in what is shaping up as a fascinating and crucial match up for both teams.
South Fremantle bounced back strongly last week after a dismal showing against the West Coast Eagles to beat Claremont by 34 points which steadied them with a 7-4 record in third position.
Swan Districts came back from a 27-point deficit to beat Perth by 17 points last Saturday at Steel Blue Oval which improved the black-and-whites to a 7-4 record to sit in fifth spot coming into Round 13.
This will be the second meeting between the teams this season after back in Round 6 at Steel Blue Oval it was Swan Districts that beat South Fremantle by nine points.
That win for Swans ended a nine-game losing streak against the Bulldogs and it was an impressive showing with Ryan Kemp, Chris Jones and Jesse Palmer all kicking two goals for the winners.
Sam Fisher also racked up 31 possessions for Swans as did Jesse Palmer while Tobe Watson had 22 touches, Aidan Clarke 21 and Josh Cipro 21 to go with 10 tackles.
Meanwhile in the loss for South Fremantle, Haiden Schloithe finished with 19 touches and two goals while Jake Florenca racked up 32 touches, Tom Blechynden 25 and Toby McQuilkin 23 with Hamish Free racking up 55 hit outs in the ruck.
However, prior to that match up South Fremantle had dominated Swan Districts in recent times with the nine straight victories by an average of 34.8 points.
The last win for Swans against the Bulldogs had been Round 2, 2017 and that meant that the Round 6 win this year was the first time that Swan Districts had beaten South Fremantle with Adam Pickering as coach.
Fremantle Community Bank Oval hasn’t been a happy hunting ground either for Swan Districts with South Fremantle having now won their last eight home matches over them by an average of 35 points.
The last win for the black-and-whites at the port was Round 13, 2014. Zac Strom, Haiden Schloithe, Steve Verrier and Tony Notte are the only remaining players at either club who played on that day.
Following the first 12 rounds of the WAFL season, South Fremantle is comfortably the best defensive team in the competition conceding just 57.1 points a game including giving up just three goals again to Claremont last week.
The Bulldogs' attack hasn’t quite clicked this year, though, with them ranked seventh at 68.6 points a game.
Meanwhile, Swan Districts is ranked fourth in attack at 74.5 points a game and fifth defensively at 68.1 points.
Both teams do well limiting the amount of ball won by their opponents too with South Fremantle conceding just 309 possessions a game and Swan Districts 323.
The start to the game will be fascinating with Swans a good starting team this season having outscored their opponents by 35 points in first quarters while the Bulldogs have struggled to be outscored by 24 points.
That dramatically changes in second quarters where South Fremantle are ranked third and Swan Districts ninth, but then Swans are the best third quarter team in the competition with an average of outscoring their opposition by 13 points a game.
South Fremantle is fourth in third terms as well while in last quarters, Swans are ranked sixth and the Bulldogs come in fifth.
South Fremantle has made just the one change from the team that beat Claremont last Saturday with captain Dylan Main returning with George Wessels going which means that Mason Shaw will spend at least one more week in the reserves.
There are four changes at Swan Districts with defender Cian Ehlers, midfielder Sam Fisher, versatile big man Nathan Ireland and captain and key forward Chris Jones all returning.
From the team that beat Perth last week, Swan Districts loses Mitch Bain, Will Collins, Matthew Germs and Jesse Palmer.