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Round 21 Preview v East Perth

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 2:39 PM
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SWAN Districts can secure a finals position and remain a chance to finish third up against a West Coast-strengthened East Perth in an all-important contest at Leederville Oval on Saturday.

East Perth comes into the game in fifth position and Swan Districts fourth entering the third last round of the 2017 WAFL season making Saturday's clash all the more crucial for both team's finals chances.

The Royals can not only consolidate their place in the finals with a win on home turf but also retain hope of finishing higher than fifth position to potentially be just a game behind both Peel Thunder and Swan Districts.

Swans, meanwhile, can not only lock away a finals position with a victory over the Royals but can also maintain hope of finishing in third position and earn a double chance come finals time. But a loss and the Swans are still not guaranteed of playing finals altogether.

East Perth has responded to a run of losing four of five games to win its last two against Claremont by four points and West Perth by 84 to move into fifth position.

Those wins were vital against the two teams they have been locked in a battle over fifth spot with. The Royals now sit on an 8-9 record to be percentage ahead of West Perth and a game ahead of Claremont.

A win on Saturday for the Royals and they could very well move a game and percentage clear of West Perth if they lose to East Fremantle. They would also remain a game clear of Claremont with the Tigers to be out of the race if they lose to South Fremantle.

Swan Districts lost to Subiaco last Saturday by 29 points at Leederville Oval, but that's hardly any shame given the Lions are on a 17-game winning streak.

But Swans can take heart out of the strong second half against Subiaco and it should hold them in good stead having played on Leederville Oval last week heading into this Saturday's contest as well.

It's a huge game in the context of Swans' season. The black-and-whites come into the game in fourth position with a 10-7 record to be only percentage behind Peel Thunder but two games clear of East Perth.

A win for Swans and a return to the finals is guaranteed and third position is still a chance. But a loss and Swans would only be a game ahead of East Perth and potentially West Perth as well meaning the last two games of the season against Claremont and East Fremantle would be must-win.

That all sets the stage for a terrific contest between two finals hopeful clubs at Leederville Oval on Saturday.

The two teams played one another back in Round 3 at Leederville Oval as well with Swan Districts winning on that occasion by 10 points before also locking horns in Round 14 at Steel Blue Oval with the black-and-whites also prevailing 26 points.

Those results come after East Perth had won nine of its previous 10 meetings with Swan Districts.

Swan Districts' loses star midfielder Matt Riggio to suspension from last week's team that lost to Subiaco with leading goalkicker Ricky Cary and midfielder Jackson Slater also out of the side.

Steven Wityk is in the mix return to add a target for Swans in attack after he had 15 possessions, 11 marks and five goals in the reserves last week.

Tom Smirk, Chad Daniels, Brandon Erceg, Freddie Clutterbuck, Ethan Maguire and ruckman Jake Nuich are the other players in the mix at selection to come in and try to help Swan Districts overcome East Perth in Saturday's crucial contest.

Swan Districts coach Greg Harding knows the significance of the contest.

"The chasing pack are closing with East Perth and Claremont getting the money last week so that means they are closing on us, but third spot is still available even though last week didn’t go our way," Harding said.

"We have to pick ourselves up, get our bodies right and attack East Perth really strong back at Leederville on Saturday."

East Perth fielded a strong team with West Coast-listed players last week to beat West Perth and it looks even stronger this Saturday against Swan Districts.

Jonathan Giles replaces Nathan Vardy to be the No. 1 ruckman while Will Schofield, Chris Masten and Malcolm Karpany will also return for East Perth having lost their places in the West Coast team to play Carlton at Domain Stadium on Saturday night.

One of West Coast's emergencies Sharrod Wellingham, Tom Cole and Josh Hill will be held over for the AFL game but the other two will play for the Royals against Swans.

Tom Lamb will also return for East Perth after missing last week against West Perth while Willie Rioli, Mark Longbottom and Nathan Eaton are all in the mix as well.

ROUND 21
SWAN DISTRICTS v EAST PERTH – LEEDERVILLE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.15PM
Broadcast – 720 ABC Perth

LEAGUE TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/10980
RESERVES TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/11191
COLTS TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/11101

By Chris Pike.