Round 23 Preview v East Fremantle

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 3:38 PM

SWAN Districts is looking to end a three-game losing streak, qualify for finals and guarantee a home elimination final next week with a final round WAFL victory against East Fremantle at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.

Swan Districts has appeared on target to play finals for most of 2017 and was even right in the hunt for a third place finish up until this current three-game losing streak that now has put a finals position altogether in jeopardy somewhat.

Swans can put all that to an end with a victory against the Sharks on Saturday at Steel Blue Oval but that's not going to be quite as easy as it sounds.

East Fremantle's form has been vastly improved for the most part in the second half of the season and now the Sharks have one last chance to avoid the wooden spoon in 2017.

With Perth's upset victory against East Perth last week, East Fremantle slipped back to the bottom of the WAFL ladder with one game remaining. But a Sharks win over Swans on Saturday and they will again leapfrog Perth and avoid the wooden spoon.

While playing for a finals position and to avoid the wooden spoon are vastly different motivating factors, the fact is both teams come into the game with plenty on the line setting up a fascinating contest.

The equation is simple for Swan Districts and a win for the black-and-whites would see them finish the home and away season with an 11-9 record after winning just two games in 2016.

That would guarantee Swans to finish in fourth position and to host either East Perth, West Perth or Claremont in an elimination final next weekend at Steel Blue Oval.

However, a loss for Swan Districts really opens the door for any number of possible outcomes. Swans could still play finals with a loss provided Claremont beats East Perth.

But if East Perth and West Perth both win, Swans can miss out altogether depending on how their percentage stacks up after the game with that of the Falcons.

Swans will be throwing everything into getting the win because a loss and the chance to miss finals would be far from the way the club would be looking to farewell coach Greg Harding and with the prospect there always that it would be the final game of a number of senior players as well.

It's a simple equation for East Fremantle too. If the Sharks win they won't finish last and if they lose they will claim the wooden spoon for 2017.

East Fremantle will also be looking to farewell one of its great servants, 164-game fairest and best winning veteran Andrew Stephen.

The two teams have already met twice this season with Swan Districts winning by 32 points at East Fremantle Oval in Round 5 and again by seven points in Round 16 at Steel Blue Oval.

Swan Districts just needs to try and find more avenues to goal having averaged just 73.7 points a game this season. That is the lowest outside of Peel, Perth and East Fremantle but the Thunder's defence has more than made up for it.

East Fremantle has a similar problem having averaged just 64.4 points a game this season while conceding 99.3.

The Sharks have especially struggled as the worst first quarter team in the competition being outscored by an average of 11 points a game.

They are also the worst last quarter team in the WAFL being outscored on average by 13 points while Swans perform best in fourth terms over the course of 2017.

Since looking strong fighting for third position after beating Peel back in Round 19, Swan Districts has lost to Subiaco by 29 points, East Perth by 54 points and then last week Claremont by 24 points.

From the team that lost to the Tigers last Saturday, Swan Districts regains 155-game veteran midfielder Matt Riggio from suspension to strengthen the on-ball department.

Brayden Noble could come straight back in from the reserves to provide another target in attack while Freddie Clutterbuck would be an outside chance to return from a groin injury.

Mitch Mackenzie, Chad Daniels and Levi Ridley are the other three players at Swan Districts pushing for selection in the crucial Round 23 contest.

Warrick Wilson, Tom Smirk and Steven Wityk are the three players to lose their place in the team that lost to Claremont last week.

East Fremantle looks set to regain one of its leading fairest and best contenders, Jayden Schofield, for the final round clash with Swan Districts while Zac McCarrey, Sean Henson and Tom Omodei are also in contention at the selection table.

Vice-captain and key defender Matthew Jupp is out of the line-up to finish 2017 for the Sharks.

ROUND 23
SWAN DISTRICTS v EAST FREMANTLE – STEEL BLUE OVAL, SATURDAY 2.15PM

LEAGUE TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/10989
RESERVES TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/11200
COLTS TEAMS, LIVE STATS http://www.wafl.com.au/games/view/11110

By Chris Pike.