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ROUND 22 PREVIEW V SUBIACO

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 4:16 PM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth heads to Leederville Oval on Saturday with the task of ending Subiaco's winning streak at 17 and keeping its own finals hopes alive in the process for the 2017 WAFL season.

The two teams have built up quite the rivalry that has continued in recent years including in the 2015 grand final and so far this season even though Subiaco has beaten West Perth twice, the Falcons have done the best out of any side against the Lions.

Subiaco comes into Saturday's game at Leederville Oval on a 17-game winning streak and that includes wins over West Perth in Round 3 at HBF Arena and also back at the Joondalup venue in Round 15.

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But both those wins came by just 11 points compared to the average of 45.8 points that Subiaco's other 15 games this season have come at.

The Lions might be guaranteed of finishing on top of the ladder for a third straight season as they chase a fourth successive WAFL grand final berth, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty to play for come Saturday against West Perth.

Subiaco is just an 18th straight victory but most importantly the players inside the 22 will be desperate to play well to ensure their spot come finals time with captain Kyal Horsley, Clancy Wheeler and Joel Latham among those to still return in time for the finals.

Unfortunately for Subiaco, dual premiership and fairest and best winning midfielder Chris Phelan now has been ruled out for the rest of the 2017 with a knee injury. He suffered the initial injury playing his 150th game to earn life membership at the Lions against East Fremantle in Round 10.

West Perth comes into the must-win contest having returned to the winner's list last Saturday beating East Fremantle by 13 points at HBF Arena in the final home game of the home and away season for the Falcons.

The Falcons have won just two of their past eight games but the victory did keep their season alive. They improved to a 9-9 record on the season to be just percentage behind the fifth placed East Perth, and two games behind the fourth placed Swan Districts.

If West Perth is able to become the first team since South Fremantle in Round 1 to beat Subiaco on Saturday at Leederville Oval, the Falcons will remain a chance of playing finals in 2017 with a must-win last round clash to come against Claremont at Claremont Oval next Saturday.

However, a loss on Saturday by the Falcons to the Lions and finals are all but out of reach. 

The only way West Perth can lose and stay in the finals hunt is if East Perth suffers the upset loss of the season against Perth. Not only would the Falcons need the Royals to lose, but to be thumped by the Demons as West Perth has a lot of percentage to make up. 

That seems decidedly unlikely so West Perth needs to take care of business itself and find a way to knock off the Lions.

West Perth is also celebrating the 100th game of 2013 premiership player and state representative Kody Manning.

On top of coming into the game on the 17-game winning streak, Subiaco has also won eight of its past 10 matches against West Perth.

Quite simply if West Perth has any hope of beating Subiaco it must find a way to be more accurate in front of goal. So far in 2017, has kicked a total of 205.204 in front of goal to go with 40 rushed behinds.

That ends up with a conversion rate of just 46 per cent on the season and West Perth is the only team in the competition below 50. Subiaco is actually second worst in front of goal on the season kicking 262.213 to go with 39 rushed behinds. They are going at 51 per cent on the season.

Troubling for West Perth is the fact it has only kicked more goals than behinds in five games this season. Subiaco has achieved that eight times. 

Meanwhile, on 14 occasions have West Perth's opponents kicked more goals than points while 12 times have Subiaco had that happen against them too.

West Perth received some good news on the personnel front last week in the win over East Fremantle with Michael Lourey, Andrew Strijk, Mark Hamilton and Kody Manning all returning the line-up and getting through unscathed.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for 192-game premiership-winning veteran Matt Guadagnin who was playing his first league game in over two years but injured a hamstring to end his 2017 season before it really ever started.

Mitch Antonio looks a strong chance to make his league debut with West Perth on Saturday following 33 possessions and four goals last week in the reserves against East Fremantle.

Ruckman Chris Keunen along with Tyson Moulton, Dean Munns and Conal Lynch are all in the mix as well at the selection table to earn a recall into the Falcons league side for the cut-throat clash with Subiaco at Leederville Oval.

West Perth coach Bill Monaghan is looking forward to seeing his team rise to the challenge against Subiaco.

"Given that we've played them twice and we've lost both times by 11 points, I'd say score 12 more points than them. A bit of a theme of our season is that we've been up and down, but we just need to take our opportunities when they arise because we know that a side like Subiaco will dominate periods of the game," Monaghan said.

"We need to minimise the damage in those periods and when we've got control, then we have to find a way to hurt them on the scoreboard. Our short-term dilemma will be whether we try to close the game down and make it a slug or do we take the game on and try to be free-flowing and kick more scores than them. 

"Most sides that have tried either way have found it difficult and there aren’t too many chinks in Subiaco's armour. We have been lucky I guess that we played them early in the year when they weren’t going as well as they are now and we only got beat by 11 points.

"And we lost by 11 points here in the swimming pool game and that was after a goal literally kicked on the siren after we were within five points. I'm not sure whether anyone outside the West Perth players and coaches will believe it, but we think that if we play to our very best and take our chances that we are a chance to win. But we think that every week and we are 2-6 in our last eight games."

Subiaco does have some important inclusions against West Perth on Saturday and most excitingly 2015 premiership forward Kyle Halligan returns for his first league game since Round 5 last year. He has battled knee problems since but appears set to go on Saturday.

Chris Bryan, Corey Adamson and Daniel Perkins are also in the mix to return to the Subiaco team for the second last game of the season.

Midfielder Justin Joyce is out of the team after getting hurt in the win two weeks ago against Swan Districts at Leederville Oval.

ROUND 22
WEST PERTH v SUBIACO – LEEDERVILLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.30PM
Broadcast –
Footy Radio, HFM (107.3FM)

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