Saturday, December 17, 2016 - 12:59 AM by Chris Pike

FOLLOWING the Round 1 bye, West Perth's 2017 McDonald's WAFL Premiership Season gets off to a potentially defining start with the opening four matches all against the fellow finalists from 2016.

West Perth again made the finals in 2016 finishing the home and away season in third position.

Now the Falcons open 2017 against East Perth in Round 2 on Sunday March 26 at HBF Arena. The game will also be broadcast on 7mate.

Next up is Subiaco also at HBF Arena in Round 3 before the Falcons head to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to face South Fremantle. The run against the finalists from 2016 concludes in Round 5 in Mandurah when West Perth takes on reigning premiers Peel Thunder on Good Friday.

The first game against a non-finals team from this year is the now annual Anzac battle with Swan Districts at HBF Arena. That's followed by another home game against Perth and another in Round 10 against Claremont.

Following that will be the state game against Victoria in Melbourne on Saturday May 27.

West Perth will return to WAFL action in the WA Day Derby against East Perth at Medibank Stadium.

The Falcons have another two sets of back-to-back home games starting in Rounds 15 and 16 against Subiaco and Peel, and then in Rounds 20 and 21 against East Perth and East Fremantle.

West Perth finish the 2017 home and away season on the road to Subiaco and Claremont.

West Perth will feature prominently in broadcast matches throughout 2017. Not only will the Round 2 derby be shown on 7mate, but the WA Day Derby will be on Channel 7, so will the Round 12 clash with Swan Districts.

The Falcons will play Claremont, East Perth, South Fremantle and Subiaco on three occasions each in 2017.

West Perth will also take on East Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth and Swan Districts twice each.

The 2017 season will feature 23 rounds, with 18 games and the finals series to be televised live on the Seven Network. More than 78 per cent of games have been scheduled in the traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot.

WA Football Commission chief executive Gavin Taylor said the 2017 fixture aimed to grow and enhance the WAFL competition by promoting competitive matches, supporting special feature rounds and offering prime-time television coverage.

"There were a significant number of variables considered in developing the fixture including fan feedback, club byes, feature rounds, achieving a home and away flow for each club, equalisation measures and maximising broadcast opportunities on the 7 Network," Taylor said.

"The WAFL clubs do a terrific job with activities for fans and families at their games. The fans have a unique chance to get up close to the action, see some of WA’s best talent on display, listen to the coaches and enjoy a kick on the ground at the breaks."

Taylor also acknowledged WAFL broadcast partners AHG, Kennards, REIWA, McDonald’s and the Seven Network upon entering the third year of a partnership to broadcast WAFL games on free-to-air television.

In 2016, the total WAFL TV audience grew by 25 per cent to 875,074, which saw the competition ranked first for viewer growth out of all televised WA winter sports teams or competitions.

On average, 38,047 people tuned into each WAFL game on the Seven Network, which was a 20 per cent increase on the previous year’s average audience.

Taylor said it was also exciting that the Seven Network had confirmed Dennis Cometti would be involved with the WAFL as a special commentator in 2017.

"To have somebody of Dennis’ calibre involved with our premier state league, where it all began for him as a commentator, is terrific news for the competition," Taylor said.

"With the combination of a competitive fixture and the excellent coverage by the Seven Network and our other media partners, 2017 promises to be an exciting season which will continue to grow and enhance the WAFL competition and its clubs."

2017 WAFL Fixtures