THERE are just the two games in Round 16 of the 2022 WAFL season but that includes the potential match of the year with top spot on the line between West Perth and East Fremantle.
The split round period of the WAFL season continues in Round 16 on Saturday with the third placed Claremont, fourth placed South Fremantle, fifth placed Peel Thunder, sixth placed Swan Districts, seventh placed East Perth and ninth placed Perth all sitting out with a bye.
That leaves just the four teams in action on Saturday afternoon with one match putting top spot on the line and the other featuring two teams just playing for pride, and looking to finish a tough season off with some momentum to take into the pre-season and 2023.
First up on Saturday at 12.10pm is Subiaco playing the West Coast Eagles on neutral turf at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park with the unavailability of Leederville Oval.
The Lions have won just four games in their premiership defence including their past four coming into the game while the Eagles have just one win to their name in 2022 including losing their past three.
Then at 2.40pm is the main event of the round at Joondalup's Pentanet Stadium with top spot going on the line when West Perth plays host to East Fremantle.
West Perth is still clinging to top spot coming into the contest despite the draw with South Fremantle last week but they now only hold half a game lead over East Fremantle with that draw taking percentage out of the equation between the teams.
The winner of Saturday's match up will occupy top spot by the end of Round 16 and be in the box seat for the minor premiership in what is shaping as the tightest battle for spots inside the top five in memory.
WAFL PREMIERSHIP SEASON 2022 – ROUND 16
SUBIACO v WEST COAST EAGLES
Subiaco and the West Coast Eagles are both looking to end their losing runs when they meet at East Fremantle's New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Lions and Eagles are both coming off byes last weekend in the WAFL and while neither is still in the race for the finals, they will be looking for a win to start building some momentum to finish the season with.
Subiaco comes into the clash having lost its past four matches to mean the Lions won't feature in the finals coming off winning last year's premiership while West Coast has lost three straight but is still a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon with Perth just the one game ahead of them.
This will be the sixth ever meeting between the two teams and the second of 2022 after Subiaco beat West Coast back in Round 9 by 28 points at Optus Stadium.
On that occasion, Ryan Borchet kicked five goals for Subiaco while Liam Hickmott amassed 30 possessions, Lachlan Delahunty 27, Leigh Kitchin 25 and Drew Rohde 23.
Alex Witherden finished wit 32 touches and 16 marks for West Coast with Josh Browne contributing 26 disposals and Josh Rotham 21 to go with 20 hit outs.
Subiaco has won four of the five previous clashes with West Coast's lone win coming in Round 11 of last year at Leederville Oval even though the Lions went on to win the premiership and the Eagles took out the wooden spoon.
This will be the first time Subiaco and West Coast have ever played anywhere but Leederville Oval or Optus Stadium.
While Subiaco has played 97 times at East Fremantle Oval previously this will be only the eighth time in 98 visits where the opponent hasn’t been East Fremantle.
The Lions did play Claremont there twice during the Claremont Oval redevelopment in 2014 and 2017 along with games against West Perth, South Fremantle, North Fremantle, Midland Junction and East Perth in 1906.
Of the previous 97 games Subiaco has played at the venue, the Lions have won 38 of those, lost 57 and drawn twice.
It will be the fifth time that West Coast has played at East Fremantle Oval. While the Eagles have won two of those past four matches, they have all been against the Sharks and the last trip was one to forget when they lost by 123 points back in Round 4 this season.
There are four changes to the Subiaco team that lost to Claremont two weeks ago prior to the bye.
Jordan Faraone, Rylie Morgan, Jake South and Max Walters are the players to come back in for Subiaco but that means five-time premiership winner Lachlan Delahunty remains sidelined.
Ryan Borchet, Lachlan Vanirsen, Michael Braut and Connor Patterson go out of the Lions line-up.
There are plenty of changes at West Coast once more with Jed Kemp, Darby McCarthy, Ethan Regan, Josh Rotham, Zane Sumich, Zane Trew and Alex Witherden all into the team as they chase their second win of 2022.
Going out from the team that lost a fortnight ago to West Perth are Greg Clark, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Jackson Nelson, Callum Jamieson, Nick Watson, Zac Langdon and Hugh Dixon.
WEST PERTH v EAST FREMANTLE
For the second time this season top spot in the WAFL will go on the line when West Perth and East Fremantle do battle.
The Sharks and Falcons played out a cracker at the WACA Ground just eight weeks ago and now they will do it all again this Saturday at Joondalup's Pentanet Stadium with the winner to sit clear on top of the WAFL ladder after Round 16.
East Fremantle reclaimed top spot with a thumping 96-point win against Perth last Saturday which saw the Sharks bounce back in the best possible way to a 14th straight derby defeat the previous week.
West Perth is fresh off a nail-biting draw with South Fremantle last week at Fremantle Community Bank Oval ahead of the Falcons returning home looking to reclaim top spot and celebrate the 100th game of co-captain Dean Munns.
If the last meeting between the two teams back in Round 8 of this season is anything to go by when top spot was also on the line at the WACA Ground, then Saturday's clash is one you sure don't want to miss.
East Fremantle ended up beating West Perth in a stunning thriller 13.12 (90) to 12.16 (88) with the Sharks and Falcons putting on quite the show with top spot on the line.
It ended up being a game full of drama, full of spectacular plays and precious little separating the two teams all the way through but it was East Fremantle holding on to grab top spot on the table at the end of Round 8.
Cody Leggett kicked five goals from 17 kicks and eight marks to be the Sharks' only multiple goal scorer on the afternoon.
Cam Eardley continued his stunning form for the Sharks racking up another 32 possessions and nine marks while Tom Bennett gathered 27 touches, seven marks and seven inside 50s.
Keegan Knott was quite the lively influence on the West Perth forward-line but couldn’t quite capitalise on all his chances to play match-winner. He had nine scores for the afternoon to end up kicking 4.5 from his 11 kicks.
Shane Nelson picked up another 28 possessions for West Perth with Blake Wilhelm gathering 25 disposals off half-back.
That result meant that East Fremantle has now won the last two clashes with West Perth but prior to that the Falcons had won nine in-a-row against the Sharks.
West Perth has enjoyed itself hosting East Fremantle at Arena Joondalup in recent times having won its last seven homes matches against the Sharks. East Fremantle's last win at the venue was back on Round 20, 2014.
Bill Monaghan was the coach of West Perth that day while Aaron Black, Luke Meadows and Shane Nelson were key players for the Falcons who were coming off the 2013 premiership.
East Fremantle defenders Cam Eardley and Matthew Jupp are the only two players from the Sharks who played on that day with a team that featured Mark McGough, Jamie McNamara, Rory O'Brien, Brett Peake, Steven Dodd, Andrew Stephen, Jayden Schofield, Brock O'Brien, Tom Howlett and Rob Young.
Coming into the Round 16 top-of-the-table clash, East Fremantle is the best attacking team in the competition averaging 91.2 points a game while West Perth is third at 79.5. The Falcons are second best defensively at 61.3 points and the Sharks are fifth at 68.0 points conceded.
Not much separates the teams in terms of accuracy. Taking out rushed behinds and both teams are going at 57 per cent for the season. Adding rushed behinds back in East Fremantle is going at 52 per cent and West Perth 51 from the scores.
Breaking it down quarter by quarter, West Perth remains the best first quarter team in the competition having outscored their opponents by 160 points this season so far. East Fremantle is second and not far behind having won their first quarters by 147 points.
Neither team have been as good in second terms with East Fremantle ranked fifth and West Perth sixth while in third terms, it's the Sharks ranked third and the Falcons fifth.
Then in last quarters, West Perth is the second best finishing team having outscored their opponents by 71 points while East Fremantle is ranked seventh having lost theirs by three points over the season.