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ROUND 21 PREVIEW V CLAREMONT

Friday, August 12, 2016 - 2:34 PM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth will look to put a week to forget behind it by returning to HBF Arena on Saturday to take on Claremont with a win for the Falcons going a long way to securing third position on the WAFL ladder.

West Perth and Claremont have already met in two thrilling contests in 2016 with Saturday's clash at HBF Arena another with plenty on the line as the Falcons look to lock in third position and the Tigers try to keep their faint finals hopes alive.

West Perth might have beaten Claremont twice already in 2016, but it hasn’t been without the Tigers putting up quite a fight. The first clash was in Kulin with the Falcons coming from behind to win by seven points back in Round 7.

Then in Round 13 at the Claremont Showground, West Perth built up a match-winning lead being up by as much as 46 points during the third quarter in what was a spiteful and spirited encounter.

But the Tigers came storming home to only fall three points short of what would have been a stunning comeback victory.

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Now the Falcons and Tigers meet for the first time at HBF Arena in 2016 with plenty on the line for both sides.

West Perth has lost two of its last three games to fall out of contention for a top two finish behind Subiaco and South Fremantle, but the Falcons do remain in third spot at 11-7.

But the only way they can guarantee staying there is to win their last two games against Claremont and Swan Districts with a bye in between.

Claremont, meanwhile, remains only a slight hope of playing finals in 2016 but the only way that can happen is by the Tigers winning their remaining three matches against West Perth, East Fremantle and Peel Thunder, and needing the Sharks to beat East Perth in the final round but for plenty of other results to also go their way.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan knows that the Falcons will need to be at their best to get past the Tigers.

"I expect it to be a hotly contested game and Claremont have nothing to lose. They are still a mathematical chance of sneaking into the finals and they need to win to keep that hope alive," Monaghan said.

"That makes them a dangerous opponent and we know they have some good quality through the midfield, and dangerous targets up forward. They will be throwing caution to the wind and they were outstanding last week against Swans, and more importantly were even better the week before against Peel Thunder.

"We will have to be at our best and I would expect that after our average performance on Saturday that the players are smarting from that, and will come out and play the brand of footy that we've played over the last 10 or 12 weeks."

Not only did West Perth come away with a tough loss against Subiaco at Kingsway last Saturday, but there were plenty of players left worse for wear as well.

Star midfielder Shane Nelson suffered a broken nose and fractured cheekbone leaving him sidelined for at least this week against Claremont with the bye to come next week for him to try and get ready in time for the finals.

Drew Rohde was also knocked out by a wayward knee from teammate Kody Manning last Saturday against Claremont and he won't play this week against Claremont either.

Laine Rasmussen, Joe Morrow and Joel Leeson are three more players who pulled up sore from the loss to Subiaco at Kingsway and won't be there to take on Claremont this Saturday back at HBF Arena.

It's not all bad news for West Perth, though, with key defender Nick Rodda to return from a quad injury and just in time as the Falcons look to shutdown Claremont forwards Beau Maister, Darcy Cameron, Jake Waterman and company.

Small forward Steve Potente will also return from a nagging knee complaint after being in career-best form before going out of the Falcons' line-up.

Corey Chalmers, Matt Johnson, Jordan Mills, Mitch Peirce, Kris Shannon and Luke Tedesco are the other West Perth players a chance to come back into the line-up to not only cover those out, but to try and impress sufficiently to book in a finals position.

Last week in the reserves against Subiaco, Chalmers was outstanding despite the loss with 35 possessions and a goal.

Johnson also had 15 disposals for West Perth, Mills 10 touches, Peirce 29 possessions and seven tackles, Shannon 12 disposals and Tedesco 16 touches.

Veteran on-baller Matt Guadagnin will also return in the reserves after missing last week's game against Subiaco with a tight hamstring following his first game back from a knee reconstruction.

Claremont might still need a lot of luck to remain any chance of taking part in finals in 2016, but while there's hope there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

The Tigers have done well beating Peel Thunder and Swan Districts the past two weeks and as a result outgoing coach Michael Broadbridge has no reason to be looking to make too many changes to his side.

But captain Jake Murphy would be a more than handy addition to the midfield that already has Jye Bolton, Tom Shanahan, Ryan Lim, Jared Hardisty and Tom Ledger in good form. Murphy returned in the reserves last week for the Tigers with 29 possessions.

Jack Beeck and Bailey Banfield are two more players in contention of breaking into the Claremont line-up.

Beeck was in some strong form in the reserves last week against Swan Districts with 26 possessions while Banfield could be another teenage debutant following 21 disposals, six tackles and a goal in the reserves last Saturday against the black-and-whites.

ROUND 21
WEST PERTH (11-7, 3rd) v CLAREMONT (6-11, 7th) – HBF ARENA, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Broadcast – 107.3 HFM

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