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ROUND 23 PREVIEW V CLAREMONT

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 4:09 PM by Chris Pike
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WEST Perth remains a chance to part in the WAFL Finals Series for 2017 if the Falcons can rise to the occasion in Aaron Black's 150th game this Saturday against Claremont at Claremont Oval.

While nothing is guaranteed for whoever it is that ends up winning Saturday's contest to close the home and away season at Claremont Oval, it at least gives them some hope of still playing a final the next week while the season is over for the loser.

While what happens at Steel Blue Oval between Swan Districts and East Fremantle, and at Leederville Oval between East Perth and Subiaco will have a big say on what Claremont's clash with West Perth ends up counting for, all the Tigers and Falcons can focus on is winning to get a sniff.

While complicated in terms of the implications that have to factor in three games on Saturday, for Claremont and West Perth the first task is winning.

Meanwhile if West Perth wins there are two opportunities for the Falcons to make it. Simply if East Perth loses and West Perth wins, the Falcons are straight in. 

But then if West Perth wins and Swan Districts loses, the Falcons could make it but it will depend on percentage.

If East Perth and Swan Districts both win on Saturday, though, neither Claremont or West Perth can make it even with a win.

If Claremont wins, the Tigers can end up playing finals if East Perth loses to Subiaco and if they end up with a higher percentage which will depend on the margin in both games. If East Perth wins, Claremont can't make it no matter what.

That is a long way around saying that the winner at Claremont Oval can play finals if results at Leederville and Bassendean go their way.

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Claremont kept its finals hopes alive last week with a solid 24-point win over Swan Districts and the Tigers have now won two of their past three games following a four-game losing streak that all but ended their finals chances.

However, the hopes is still there for the Tigers and there's every chance if they are able to sneak in that they are capable of making an impact if they play at their best given the amount of top-level talent they have in the squad.

West Perth's season hasn’t finished in the form that the first half promised but the Falcons did enough by winning seven games in those first 12 rounds to mean that finals remain a possibility still entering the final round.

Injuries and loss of key personnel haven’t helped West Perth during this run of losing seven of the past nine matches, but that has begun to improve in recent weeks with Andrew Strijk, Kody Manning, Michael Lourey, Mark Hamilton and Dean Munns now all having at least one game back.

Claremont and West Perth rarely fail to deliver dramatic and tight finishes in recent seasons either and that will be a good chance of repeating on Saturday with so much riding on the result.

Already this season in Round 14 at Claremont Oval saw just two points separate the two teams in the finish even though West Perth had eight extra scoring shots. Ultimately Corey Chalmers had a tough shot from a tight angle to win the game for West Perth but he narrowly missed.

West Perth's personnel has been getting close to allowing the best 22 to be available in recent weeks and another player from the broken hand brigade looks set to return on Saturday. 

Small defender Scott Nelson played a game back in the reserves last week against Subiaco and he would be an important inclusion against Claremont on Saturday.

Steve Potente could also return to add some extra bite across half-forward for the Falcons for what would be his first league game since Round 16 against Peel Thunder.

Ruckman Chris Keunen could also return to take up the job up against former teammate Mitch Andrews with Conal Lynch the other player in the mix at the selection table.

Brayden Antonio goes out of the West Perth team after getting injured early in last week's loss to Subiaco at Leederville Oval.

Claremont might have only won eight games so far in 2017 but its best football has been outstanding with the problem being able to produce it for four quarters, and from week to week.

But with a defence led by Haydn Busher and Anton Hamp with Keifer Yu and Ryan Murphy giving good drive, Mitch Andrews leading the ruck for midfielders Jye Bolton, Jake Murphy, Bailey Banfield and Jared Hardisty, and then a strong forward-line of Beau Maister, Ian Richardson, Zac Langdon, Alex Manuel and Matt Guelfi, and the Tigers should be a genuine premiership contender.

It hasn’t quite clicked for long enough in 2017 but they could still make the finals and if there, they could still make an impact.

Matthew Davies, Jeremy Goddard, CJ Oakley and Eddie Simpson are the players at Claremont in contention to come into the team to take on West Perth on Saturday at Claremont. Last week's debutant Josh Bennett is straight out of the Tigers side.

ROUND 23
WEST PERTH v CLAREMONT – CLAREMONT OVAL, SATURDAY 2.10PM
Broadcast – Channel 7, Footy Radio

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