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FALCONS NEW-LOOK IN ATTACK COULD CONTINUE

Friday, July 28, 2017 - 5:07 PM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth's forward-line looked the best it has all season with Nick Rodda alongside Tyler Keitel in Saturday's win over Perth and that could just be the different look the Falcons are after trying to stop their recent struggles against South Fremantle.

Kicking goals has been a bit of a concern for West Perth so far in 2017. Not so much getting shots, but the Falcons are the most inaccurate team in the competition and that has potentially cost a handful of victories already.

West Perth has kicked 178.176 for the season and when you throw in the 33 rushed behinds that takes the total score to 178.209 leaving he Falcons as the only team in the WAFL this season going at less than 50 per cent in front of goal.

Only top two teams South Fremantle (463) and Subiaco (459) have had more than West Perth's 387 shots on goal this season so it's always been the case of if the Falcons can turn their conversion around, they could even rise on their current fifth position on the ladder.

Even though West Perth finished with 18.18 last week in the 53-point win over Perth, it was the performances of Keitel and Rodda in front of goal that would have excited all at the Falcons.

Keitel has been the best key forward in the competition this season. He is taking the most marks and has had more shots than any player in the league, but it's just his conversion that hasn’t quite been on point.

Following a standout season at centre half-back last year, Keitel has moved forward in 2017 and shown the ability to dominate. But a bag of goals had eluded him until Saturday when he booted seven in the win over Perth.

He was joined in attack by Rodda after quarter-time who was relieved of his duties in defence and he also kicked a career-best six goals.

To see the pair combine for 13 goals was something that coach Bill Monaghan was delighted to see.

"I'm rapt for Tyler and I think his progression in his time with us has been outstanding. I still think that at some point in his career he is going to clearly be the best key position player in the competition, he's a fair way off that at the moment," Monaghan said.

"As a 21-year-old who spent last year playing back he still has a lot to learn, but it was great this week for him to get some reward. I thought he led at the ball carrier a lot better and he is the forward who has had the most shots on goal in the competition, but leading into this game 31.33 is clearly not good enough. 

"That's clearly an area he needs to improve and he righted that a little bit kicking 7.4. I thought Nick Rodda was super when he went forward as well. He just competes in the air, leads really hard and maybe that's our combination going forward."

Having seen Keitel and Rodda combine for 13 goals last week would seem to mean it's obvious to start them together in attack again this Saturday against South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

But it's not quite as simple as that. With Mark Hamilton out of the West Perth side and even though Scott Simpson returns, Rodda might be required down back to try to keep in check South Fremantle's star-studded forward-line.

Either way, Monaghan and his coaching staff will be spending plenty of time leading into the game trying to work out which way to go.

"We have some big decisions to make. We play South who have got an exceptionally good forward-line so we have to decide if we can afford to not use Nick Rodda back," he said.

"There's a range of things we will consider but we've been weighing up whether to use Nick forward or not over the past four to six weeks and in the Claremont game he went forward late and kicked a couple of goals in the last quarter. He is a premiership forward when he was a 19-year-old and we like the fact he competes, and Tyler might need that around him as well."

West Perth has now lost its past five games against South Fremantle by an average of 54.6 points so there's good reason to think the Falcons need to try something different against the Bulldogs.

Last time at the port South Fremantle prevailed by 103 points as well having also beaten West Perth in last year's qualifying final.

Whether that means that Rodda plays forward or it's something else Monaghan has up his sleeve, he's under no illusion the Falcons need to find a way to play against South Fremantle significantly better.

"What we've done against South in the first two times we've played them is not good enough. We are in the business of continually exploring what we need to do better as players and coaches with all our processes," Monaghan said.

"We'll be weighing up our options with a fine tooth comb this week and my early indications will be that it will be difficult to not pick Nick Rodda as a forward this week. If we could clone him and have two of him that would be nice.

"Ben King did a reasonable job on Saunders last time, Max Alexander played this week and he can play both ends, Simpson will be back and there's a fair few things that we can try. But we need to be very good against South to beat them and we need to be better against the best sides in the competition. That's our challenge going forward."