THERE are four matches in Round 15 of the WAFL on Saturday including two battles between teams in the top five, another between two sides trying to stay in the finals race and then East Fremantle looking to bounce back.
With the West Coast Eagles and Subiaco sitting out the Round 15 action with the bye, the other four matches all have plenty at stake for the competing teams.
Each of the four Round 15 matches of the 2022 WAFL season will take place at 2.10pm on Saturday afternoon.
Claremont and Swan Districts will lock horns at Revo Fitness Stadium in what could well be a season-defining match up for both teams.
The Tigers have now won their past two matches to improve to a 9-4 record to be only percentage out of second spot coming into Round 15 while the Swans are fifth at 8-5 following last week's win against East Perth.
East Perth and Peel Thunder are the two teams outside the top five who are still in finals contention when they meet at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park on Saturday.
The Royals slipped two games out of fifth spot with their loss to Swan Districts last week but they can stay in the hunt with a win over Peel but it won't be easy with the Thunder having now won their past two matches to just be a game out of a finals spot at 7-6.
East Fremantle and Perth will then do battle at the WACA Ground for the first time since 1988 on Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks remain in second position on the WAFL ladder but only on percentage following last Saturday's disappointing 14th straight derby loss to South Fremantle. They will be desperate to bounce back against the injury-ravaged Demons who come into the clash on a nine-game losing slide.
Then there is undoubtedly the match of the round between South Fremantle and West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
South Fremantle is in its best patch of form of the season having won three straight including a dominant derby performance last Saturday to now sit at 9-4 to be only percentage out of second position coming into Round 15.
West Perth returned to top spot on the WAFL ladder courtesy of last week's win against the West Coast Eagles and the Falcons can maintain that one-game gap on the chasing pack with a rare win for them in recent times down at the port.
WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON 2022 – ROUND 15
CLAREMONT v SWAN DISTRICTS
It's the battle of fourth against fifth at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday in what looms as a potentially season-defining contest for both Claremont and Swan Districts.
Round 15 of the 2022 WAFL season will see Claremont host Swan Districts at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the battle of the fourth and fifth placed teams on the ladder.
Claremont has now bounced back from disappointing losses to East Perth and South Fremantle by beating West Perth and Subiaco the last two weeks to consolidate fourth spot with a 9-4 record.
Swan Districts comes into the game fresh off a 23-point victory last week at Steel Blue Oval against East Perth which improves them to an 8-5 record on the ladder to be a game clear in fifth spot, and just a game out of second.
That means the stakes are high and Saturday presents a real chance for both Claremont and Swan Districts to make a statement of their intentions for 2022 heading into the Round 16 bye.
It was Swan Districts who finished strongly back in Round 4 this year to score a nine-point win against Claremont at Steel Blue Oval.
That win for the black-and-whites snapped a run of losing nine straight matches against the Tigers dating back to 2017.
It was a confidence boosting win for Swans with Chris Jones showing just what a potent forward option he can be by kicking five goals. Sam Fisher also kicked two goals along with 24 possessions while Jesse Turner racked up 35 touches and Tony Notte 26 to go with 11 marks.
Jack Buller kicked three goals for Claremont while Jye Bolton amassed 51 possessions, Ben Edwards 44, Ryan Lim 38 and Lachlan Martinis 34.
Prior to that win for Swan Districts, Claremont had dominated their recent meetings winning nine in-a-row with that streak starting back on Round 13, 2017 and coming with wins at an average of 37.7 points.
Claremont has enjoyed a dominance over Swan Districts at home in recent times as well having now won the last six meetings at Revo Fitness Stadium by an average of 51.8 points.
The last win for Swans at Tigerland was by 39 points in Round 17, 2013.
On that day, Tony Notte kicked five goals for Swan Districts for the only time in his now 276-game WAFL career. He is the only player from that game who will be out there again on Saturday and it's only he and Anton Hamp who are still current WAFL players nine years later.
On the back of a couple of strong wins against West Perth and Subiaco, there's no need for change at Claremont and they will take the same 22 into this Saturday's clash with Swan Districts than beat the Lions last week.
The Tigers are in a strong position to make a run now towards the finals with virtually all of what they would consider their best 22 available for selection, a rarity for this point in a season.
Swan Districts has made another three changes coming into Saturday's clash with Claremont along with the continued absence of ruckman Matthew Germs and key forward Jesse Palmer.
Mitch Bain will return for the black-and-whites with Brenton Hilton also back into the team and Darcy Jones will make his debut.
Going out is big man Nathan Ireland who had been doing a good job in the ruck in the absence of Germs while key defender Will Collins and young gun Ben Hewett also go out from the team that beat East Perth last Saturday.
EAST PERTH v PEEL THUNDER
The finals aspirations of East Perth and Peel Thunder will both go on the line when they meet at neutral territory on Saturday.
The game will be played at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park after Leederville Oval was deemed unfit to host the fixture but the Royals will be keen to make sure the loss of the home ground advantage doesn’t impact them too significantly.
It's a significant game for both teams too as they attempt to keep themselves in the hunt for a finals position.
East Perth suffered what could have been a crucial loss last week against Swan Districts to leave the Royals now with a 6-7 record and two games out of fifth position meaning they have no choice but to win on Saturday to stay alive.
Peel, meanwhile, has now won its past two matches against Subiaco and Perth to improve to a 7-6 record to be just a game outside the top five.
Working in the Thunder's favour is they have a better percentage than the two teams ahead of them and that's on the back of them being the second best scoring team in the competition with 84.4 points a game.
East Perth and Peel meet for the second time in 2022 with the Thunder having won comprehensively back in Round 9 at Mandurah's Lane Group Stadium with the eventual 65-point victory.
Joel Western and Guy Barnes both kicked four goals each that day for Peel with Neil Erasmus gathering 26 touches, Ethan Hughes 26 and Lloyd Meek 24 to go with 27 hit outs in the ruck.
Tom Medhat kicked three goals for East Perth while Hamish Brayshaw racked up 35 touches, Angus Scott 25, Stan Wright 23 and Jack Cooley 23.
Not surprisingly this will be the first time the two teams have met at East Fremantle Oval. The previous venues they have played at since 1997 are Lane Group Stadium (31 times), Leederville Oval (25) and Perth Oval (five) along with country fixtures in Collie, Donnybrook, Manjimup and Margaret River.
East Perth has made another three changes coming into Saturday's game with their season on the line.
The experienced Shayne Hille will make his long-awaited return for his first game since Round 4. It will double as his 100th appearance for the Royals too as he will book his name on the No. 4 locker.
Cooper Sparks will come into the team as well for East Perth to make his debut with Harley Sparks also returning after missing the past two weeks.
Going out for the Royals from the team that lost to Swans are Jack Cooley, Ben McGuire and Sam Van Diemen.
There are plenty of changes once again for Peel as is the case most weeks as they juggle the partnership with the Fremantle Dockers.
Captain Ben Hancock will return for Peel for just his fourth game of the season with Connor Blakely, Joel Hamling, Riley Smith and reigning fairest and best winner Tyrone Thorne all back into the team as well.
From the side that beat Perth last week for the Thunder, out goes Guy Barnes, Eric Benning, Ben Middleton, James Sturrock and Karl Worner.
EAST FREMANTLE v PERTH
East Fremantle and Perth might be sitting in totally contrasting positions coming into their Round 15 clash, but the Sharks can't afford to take anything for granted against the Demons.
East Fremantle and Perth meet at the WACA Ground on Saturday afternoon with the Sharks sitting in second spot on the WAFL ladder and the Demons are in second last place.
East Fremantle is still clinging to that second spot with a 9-4 record despite last Saturday's disappointing 14th straight derby defeat at the hands of South Fremantle.
Perth, meanwhile, fell to a ninth straight loss last Saturday against losing to Peel Thunder by five goals to see the Demons slip to a 2-11 record coming into this week's clash.
Perth might continue to be hit horribly by injury but it would be a significant scalp if they could knock off East Fremantle on Saturday but the Sharks just can't afford a slip up if they want to still consolidate a finals double chance for 2022.
Saturday's game might be the 82nd time that the two teams have played in history at the WACA Ground, but it will be the first time since Round 1, 1988. On that day, it was a 19-point victory for East Fremantle 34 years ago.
In the big picture, East Fremantle has won 52 of the 81 games against Perth at the WACA Ground with the Demons scoring 27 wins and there have been two draws.
This will be the second clash between the teams this year with East Fremantle winning by 26 points back in Round 5 at Mineral Resources Park.
On that occasion, Milan Murdock was outstanding for the Sharks with 32 possessions and two goals with Luke English also kicking two majors while Cam Eardley gathered 28 touches, Tom Bennett 21, Jackson McDonald 20 and Kyle Baskerville 20.
Sam Stubbs kicked three goals for the Demons with Corey Byrne picking up 25 possessions, Austin Davis 24 and Brayden Ainsworth 22.
East Fremantle will be looking to bounce back from last week's derby loss and is back on their home away from at the WACA Ground to attempt to do so – ironically while a game is being played on their true home ground without them.
The Sharks have made four changes from the team that lost to the Bulldogs with Blaine Boekhorst, Enrique Aiken-Featherstone, Jed Hagan and Matt Williamson all coming into the team.
Going out for East Fremantle are Jamie Meade, Alex Montauban, Max Murphy and Eddie Simpson.
There are three changes for Perth as they attempt to avoid a 10th consecutive loss with Brodie Gray, Simon Hayward and Fraser McInnes all returning into the line-up, and all three are key players.
Going out for the Demons from the side that lost to the Thunder last week are Mitch Browne, Kieran Hug and Damian Sinclair.
SOUTH FREMANTLE v WEST PERTH
The stakes are significant on Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with South Fremantle playing host to West Perth.
With the Bulldogs coming into Saturday's game in third position on the WAFL ladder at 9-4 and West Perth in top spot at 10-3, that says it all about what is on the line between the two clubs.
A win for South Fremantle and it will join West Perth on 10 wins for the season to set up a frantic race for those positions at the top of the ladder.
However, a win for the Falcons and they would stay in top spot at least a game clear of the next closest team and it will be mighty hard to knock them at least from a top two finish in the run home.
South Fremantle comes into the game in its best run of form of the season after wins against Claremont, Swan Districts and East Fremantle as the Bulldogs look to continue their dominance at home over the Falcons having not lost there bar the preliminary of final of 2018 since 2015.
West Perth, meanwhile, bounced back last week to beat West Coast by 57 points at under lights at Mineral Resources Park after a loss to Claremont the prior week to return to top spot on the WAFL ladder.
West Perth has now won the past two meetings between the teams including by six points in Round 20 last year and then Round 4 this season, both at Joondalup.
In that game earlier this year, Sasha Kernutt, Sam Rotham and Mitch Dobson kicked two goals each for West Perth with Luke Meadows collecting 27 touches, Shane Nelson 27 and Aaron Black 22.
Mason Shaw and Brendon Ah Chee kicked two goals apiece for South Fremantle with Ah Chee also gathering 28 possessions, Tom Blechynden 28, Haiden Schloithe 28 and Chad Pearson 25 to go with 14 marks.
Prior to the last two wins from the Falcons, the Bulldogs had enjoyed a dominance between the teams in recent times including having won five straight prior to that win in Round 20 last year.
West Perth did score a shock upset preliminary final win in 2018 but prior to that South Fremantle had also beaten them on nine consecutive occasions.
Prior to these last two wins for West Perth, South Fremantle had won 14 of 15 against the Falcons, and still has won 14 of the past 17 coming into Saturday's match up.
And at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, the Bulldogs have now won all four meetings over the Falcons since the 2018 preliminary final, and prior to that had six straight. So South Fremantle has won 10 of its last 11 home games with West Perth.
Tough selections are needing to be made at South Fremantle with their strong recent form and the health of their list, with Jordan Boullineau and Jake Florenca now pretty much the only regular players unavailable for selection.
From last Saturday's derby win over East Fremantle at the WACA Ground, South Fremantle welcomes back Brendon Ah Chee who had been in some of the best form of his career.
Young defender Riley Colborne also returns after missing the past two weeks while the two unlucky players to lose their place in the team are Ben Rioli and Tyson Headland.
West Perth has made two changes from the team that beat West Coast last Saturday night with Sasha Kernutt back in for his first game since Round 7 with midfielder Aidan Lynch back for his first appearance since Round 8.
Going out for West Perth are Mitch Antonio and Mark Hutchings.