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Friday, July 26, 2013 - 6:18 PM
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PERTH derbies do not need any reason to have any added spite to them but this Saturday's clash at Arena Joondalup certainly does with the result to have big repercussions on final positions in the top-four come the end of the season.

Perth derbies between the Falcons and Royals have become the fiercest, most physical and most intense clashes in any WAFL season and now this week's battle will see both teams throwing everything into getting the victory.

West Perth has been looking safe in second position on the ladder for some time now, but a surprise loss to South Fremantle last Saturday at Arena Joondalup has left the Falcons a little vulnerable.

That defeat snapped a four-game winning run for West Perth and sees the Falcons fall to a 10-5 record to be just one win and percentage ahead of the third-placed Perth and fourth-placed East Perth.

The Royals had a shaky start to the season in the first year under new coach Brian Dawson but things have now come together tremendously with six straight victories to improve to a 9-5 record on the season and while their percentage isn’t great, they have a game in hand on the rest of the competition.

The winner of Saturday's derby could very well end up finishing the season in second position as a result setting up a double chance come finals time.

There have already been two Perth derbies this season with West Perth thumping East Perth in Round 1 at Arena Joondalup by 75 points but the Royals hit back in the Foundation (WA) Day clash at Leederville's Medibank Stadium running over the top of the Falcons to win by 19 points.

For the first occasion in some time, West Perth pulled up with a clean bill of health injury-wise from last week's loss to South Fremantle with captain Jason Salecic getting through his first full league game of the season.

Ray Bartholomew returned in the reserves from a calf injury and had 13 possessions to be in contention to come into the league side this Saturday against the Royals.

Back-up ruckman Frank Stockley has been doing all he can in the reserves to keep himself in the mix for a league spot this season and is again in contention this week to take on Paul Johnson and East Perth's big men department.

Small running defender Kris Shannon is also in the mix to come in for the Falcons for what would be his first league appearance of the season, and first since playing in West Perth's two Foxtel Cup matches last year.

East Perth's big men is perhaps its greatest strength with Johnson, Josh Smith and Scott Lycett but one third of that will be missing on Saturday with Lycett called up by the Eagles to replace the sore Nic Naitanui.

However, Brock Higgins has been developing nicely as a key forward option and back-up ruckman and is the likely replacement for Lycett while Adam Selwood should also be back with the Royals after again being dropped by the Eagles.

Another Eagle Blayne Wilson is out of the East Perth line-up as is small forward Arthur Bennell but there are some more than handy players still trying to break into the side at the right time of the year including Danny Chartres, Rowan Brookes, Jordan Wityk and Shaquille McKenzie.