Friday, September 1, 2017 - 4:50 PM by Chris Pike

WEST Perth is back in WAFL finals action in 2017 and after having fight hard to be there will be looking to make the most of it starting Sunday in the elimination final against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval.

Neither team might be entering the AHG WAFL Finals Series in peak form but that will count for little when their seasons go on the line Sunday at the Bassendean venue.

With precious little separating the two teams over the course of the season with both winning 10 games and then Swan Districts only finishing in fourth position with a percentage 1.44 greater than that of West Perth, that says it all about the tightness of the contest that awaits.

The fact that Swan Districts comes into the game on a four-game losing streak and West Perth having lost seven of its past 10 matches actually only adds to the intrigue as well.

Now coming into Sunday's contest the reward is a first semi-final meeting with South Fremantle next Sunday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval while the season is over for the loser.


It is not as if Swan Districts-West Perth games need any more incentive to be cracking contests either and the recent history and going back the past decade has seen the two clubs produce some of the most remarkable contests in the WAFL.

They have had some finals meetings as well to remember with the most famous being the 2008 preliminary final at HBF Arena. 

West Perth looked in control at half-time but then Mark Seaby got injured and a young Swans outfit inspired by Nic Naitanui and Chris Yarran got over the line after being 35 points down midway through the third quarter.

They played in a first semi-final the next year with Swan Districts also winning by 37 points with Ashley Hansen kicking six goals which was the last final the two teams have played off in before Sunday.

West Perth has won both meetings this season starting with a five-point victory at HBF Arena in Round 6 and then an eight-point triumph at Steel Blue Oval in Round 12.

Overall the Falcons have won their last five matches against Swans with the last win over West Perth for the black-and-whites coming in Round 17, 2015.

Swan Districts finished the season with a 10-10 record in fourth position on the WAFL ladder which is a significant achievement considering they won just two games in 2016 and claimed the wooden spoon.

They have lost their past four games entering the finals against Subiaco, East Perth, Claremont and East Fremantle, but will be hoping to have the ability to turn that around come Sunday in front in what will be their last home game no matter what for 2017.

Adding motivation for Swan Districts is that the game will be the 200th in the WAFL for versatile big man Tony Notte while a loss would mean it's the end of the career of club legend Tallan Ames and coach Greg Harding who has been at the helm since 2011.

West Perth also finished the home and away season with a 10-10 record and despite having lost seven of its past nine games heading into last Saturday's must-win clash with Claremont, the Falcons got the job done to win by four points and book their spot in September.

The Falcons were firmly entrenched in the top five for the majority of the season and it was only when a horror run of injuries, particularly broken hands, that saw the form begin to slip and their spot in the top five be in jeopardy.

But West Perth had a strong season up until that point and earned that finals position which they will look to make the most of come Sunday at Steel Blue Oval.

West Perth will weigh up bringing in veteran ruckman Chris Keunen to try and curb the influence of in-form Swan Districts big man Corey Gault.

He has been added to the squad for the elimination final along with Max Alexander, Nathan Alexandre and Conal Lynch from the team that beat Claremont by four points last Saturday at Claremont Oval.

Coming off those four losses and a 61-point defeat to the lowly East Fremantle, Swan Districts has pulled a selection shock naming Jacob Ness for what would be his first league appearance for 2017.

Levi Ridley is the other inclusion into the side to face the Falcons while big man Jake Nuich and West Perth recruit Ben McGillivray have lost their place in the line-up.

Meanwhile, the day begins on Sunday at Steel Blue Oval with the colts qualifying final between Claremont and Swan Districts, beginning at 9.20am. 

Then from 11.50am will be the reserves elimination final between Perth and Swan Districts.

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