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Friday, April 19, 2013 - 2:21 AM
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WEST Perth puts its unbeaten record to start the 2013 WAFL season on the line this Saturday against a Claremont side also yet to taste defeat and coming off winning the last two premierships.

The Falcons have made a terrific start to the season with wins over East Perth, Subiaco, South Fremantle and Peel Thunder, but now the big test comes in the form of Claremont at Claremont Oval this Saturday.

The two-time reigning premiers have also beaten South Fremantle, Swan Districts, East Perth and Subiaco on its way to a 4-0 record but by Saturday night, one team will be unbeaten still and the clear leaders atop the ladder after six rounds.

West Perth, though, has shown it has a terrific mix all over the field so far this season.

The defence of Dan Hunt, Michael Pettigrew, Laine Rasmussen, Andrew Strijk, Luke Tedesco, Steven Browne and Jordan Jones has been outstanding and on Saturday will have a fascinating battle with Chad Jones, Anton Hamp, Paul Medhurst, Ian Richardson and other dangerous Tigers.

West Perth's midfield led by Shane Nelson, Aaron Black, Mark Hutchings, Jay van Berlo, Matt Guadagnin and ruckman Chris Keunen has been terrific.

And up forward, Rohan Kerr, Nick Rodda, Marc Crisp, Matt Fowler, Anthony Tsalikis, Matt Johnson and Josh Mellington have all been lively.

However, this week presents the big challenge from Claremont who is coming off the two premierships and remains the favourite for a third straight given not only its quality playing squad, but the depth of it.

Claremont has had the better of the battles between the two sides over the past decade winning 16 of the 25 meetings, but West Perth has recorded some impressive wins over the Tigers including in Round 7, 2011 at Claremont Oval when both teams were also unbeaten.

The problem for West Perth against Claremont has been that when the Tigers have tended to win, it has been by big margins. In those 16 wins since West Perth's 2003 premiership win, Claremont has an average winning margin of almost 46 points.

Claremont has also won two finals in that time over the Falcons comprehensively but it was the last meeting of 2012 that is sure to still be in the memory banks of many at West Perth.

The West Perth players that took to Arena Joondalup in Round 18 last year – Black, Strijk, Jones, Crisp, Browne, Guadagnin, Nelson, Keunen, Rasmussen, Tedesco, Ray Bartholomew, Pettigrew and Kody Manning – will all want to make amends for that afternoon.

Claremont hammered West Perth by 119 points on its way to a second straight premiership while it all but ended the Falcons' hopes of sneaking into the finals at the expense of East Perth.

Both sides have plenty of movement at the selection table with West Perth losing Hunt, Johnson, Hutchings and Mellington, but both West Coast's Hatchings and Fremantle's Mellington are still likely to play.

A host of players are pressing to be included with Trent Manzone, Shaun Marusic, Joe Morrow, Anton Saylor, Frank Stockley, potential debutant Mitchell McPhee and Drew Rohde fresh off seven goals in the reserves all making a case to play and take on the Tigers.

Claremont loses Luke Blackwell, Jack Bradshaw and Alex Silvagni to injury but have plenty of depth to cover including premiership defender James Thomson, the experienced Nic Chidgzey and former Fremantle big man Casey Sibosado.

Liam Smith, Hugo Breakey, Thomas Taylor and Matthew Goyder are also making claims to line up for Claremont in what will potentially be one of the games of the WAFL season.